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Shooting heads and rod selection

557 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  fatman
Over the winter I’ve been doing my normal routine of tying flies and resisting the urge to buy new gear. I’ve always fished tfo rods as I feel their price to performance ratio is very good but I’m always wondering what the 1000 dollar rod would cast like but as I read the reviews I’ve noticed most of high priced models are designed to be cast with long head bone fish or permit lines.

Here in the north east we fish mostly shooting head lines when in the surf. My two main rods are a tfo ticrx and axiom 2x both fast rods with the ticrx being a broom stick. This got me thinking that the high performance rods designed to gently land a fly to a feeding bonefish probably would fall flat for what we do up here and the finely tuned taper would be wasted.

I guess my question is what do you look for in a fly rod for surf fishing? Since shooting head fishing is not that refined do you feel like rod choice matters less besides being a broom stick able to launch a heavy line? I’d like 10 wt rod with a bit less swing weight than the axiom 2x or maybe upgrade my 8 wt from a ticrx for this season but it seems you need a rod that is stout to fish with this type of line.
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A "broomstick" is a good choice, but any fast stiff rod will work fine. Its more important that you pick the right line for the rod than that you have any particular rod. My Salt HDs throw a sinking shooting head a country mile, but so would other stiffish rods.
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I have caught more fish in the surf here on the gulf coast with my BVK 8wt than any other rod. For us here, the more distance you can get the better. It doesn't have to be that stiff, but be able to cast the fly you are using. Match the line to the rod to get the most distance out of it in the surf. Sight casting in the bay, you want something that is accurate and distance isn't that important, but a stiff rod that loads quickly with less false casts is.
Have you considered two handed overhead rods? The T&T guys or people at the bears den might be worth chatting with. The SOL forum also has a bunch of guys who surf fish. My sense is they prefer two handed rods for this fishery……at least if you are referring to fishing open ocean beaches.
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You don't need a $1k rod for shooting head fishing. It's not worth it. Go with the fastest, stiffest TFO they make.

Shooting heads are overweighted and also love double hauling and fast line speed. I fish my stiffest rods when I am going with shooting heads. I tell anglers on my boat to "haul the sh!t out of it" and their cast improves immediately. It is a much more aggressive haul than say fishing for reds or bones. The heavier line also doesn't carry well in the air - it drops faster than floating line due to the weight. Because of this, the stiffer rod is better to haul fast and shoot, minimizing the false casts. It isn't an accuracy game - its hand grenades, not horse shoes.
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Thanks for the replies I kind of figured this type of fishing isn’t going to benefit from a high priced outfit. The 10 wt axiom 2x does a pretty good job fishing the heads but it does get tiring on my neck/shoulder after a couple hours of blind casting.

I have a tfo ticrx two hand adapter that I use with my 8 wt ticrx rod and can cast a 10 wt outbound short on it but I don’t think there much advantage over a 10 wt single hand because you can’t double haul other than being less tiring and being a bit safer at night.

I have an account on SOL and have talked to Mike Oliver about two hand rods. He seems to think it’s not worth going two hand unless the rod can sling 600 grains because of lacking the ability to double haul.
There have been some rods that have come out in the last few years that claim to be specialized for casting shooting head lines and big flies. The rods that come to mind are the T&T Exocett SS, Sage Payload, Winston Alpha+, Loomis NRX+ Swim, and I am sure there are others that I am leaving out. An outside the box option could be the Diamondback Tactical Long Rod. I have not casted it but would imagine that the extra length would be helpful in the surf.

When casting shooting head lines and larger flies, I know that it can be helpful to cast a more open loop, but I cannot tell you what rod design elements helps facilitate them (my hunch is a stiffer bottom half with a softer tip).

My only other advice would be to take the line you like to throw and try it on as many rods as possible at your local fly shops.
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Be careful when buying your new shooting head or integrated shooting head. The manufacturers ratings are all over the map. The old rule was one line size heavier and it still works. That is, compare your current line's first 30 feet weight and then the same to your new shooting head. One size larger gets you there. I highly recommend the head be attached to braided mono running line. This will shoot farther than any of the integrated lines and its not too bad to handle. A cheap full sinking line is a good way to make your own.
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