Certainly there had to be at least one nice rainbow or brown sitting at the bottom among those rocks.
Then for an instant the indicator stopped its motion. I instantly raised the rod, and set the hook on some critter below. It shook violently, and from the way my rod was bending and quivering, I knew it had to be a good fish.
When it finally emerged to the surface, I caught a glimpse of the brownie, he caught a glimpse of me, and it was off to the races!
A brown trout on the White River has the strength of a redfish twice its size. If you've ever seen the White at full generation, you'll know why these fish are so strong. And yet, in order to entice this fish to hit, I had to use a tiny size 18 nymph tied on a hair-thin 7x tippet. The "thin line between love and hate" was protected only by my trusty Orvis Superfine Tight Loop rod.
The Tight Loop is an 8-foot, 4-weight four-piece rod that has a moderate, or full-flex, action. That means it bends all the way past the midpoint of the rod. Call it wimpy, but it can cast even a 2-weight line out to 50 feet.
Lightweight rods — 0-weight to 4-weight — like the Tight Loop offer a delicate presentation, protect thin tippets from breakage against big fish or hard strikes, and turn bluegills and brookies into bruisers.
It's the one-two combination of small-fish fun and big-fish capability that make them an indispensible part of every fly angler's arsenal. Their only drawbacks are the inability to cast big flies or punch line into a good breeze.
In addition to the Tight Loop, my other favorite light rods are the St. Croix Avid 8-foot, 6-inch 4-weight four-piece, a PacBay IM6 7-foot, 9-inch 3-weight, everything in the Sage VPS Light series, all of which are three- or four-piece rods, and the Sage 0-weight three-piece.
The PacBay is a custom rod, but the finished rod is available under the Versitex brand name. With the 0-weight Sage, you need a gaff to land a bull bream.
Of course, there's always the new stuff. In that regards, having cast the Temple Fork 8-foot 2-weight and the Scott V2, a 6 1/2-foot 3-weight, I can sense them being part of my future arsenal.
I asked fellow members of "Rod Addicts Anonymous" to weigh in (pardon the pun) on their favorite lightweight rods. Here's what a few had to say.
• Merv Herbert: "Winston rules, but it ain't cheap. More in my budget, I've fished Diamondback for the longest time and find it to be delightful. The action of the 7 1/2-foot 3-weight is quickly becoming legend. Flex occurs in the middle of the rod, and it loads with only a few feet of line out and will comfortably cast out to 40 feet. It tracks incredibly well with only one false cast.
"The Sage DS 380 four-piece 3-weight runs a very close second. At $260 and the warranty, this is a best buy for certain.
"My runner-ups go to the Bass Pro Conservationist 7-foot, 9-inch 3-weight (three-piece) and the Cabela's Stowaway five-piece 8-foot, 6-inch 3-weight. Very inexpensive, only bad thing to talk about is lack of warranty.
"I've not tried the new Temple Forks; not only do they sound sweet, but great prices and they're all multipiece. I no longer buy any two-piece rods."
• Steve Lee: "If you're looking for a light travel rod for casting small flies to wary trout, the Winston LT 7-foot, 9-inch 3-weight (five-piece, $655) casts like a dream, and the Sage SLT 8-foot, 3-inch 3-weight (four-piece, $585) is as smooth as silk and will place a fly on a dime.
"Unfortunately, one glance at the price tags sent me into sticker shock.
"Luckily, there are many excellent rods that will fit the budget of the average fly fisher. My personal pick for a lightweight rod is the Temple Fork Outfitters Professional 8-foot, 2-weight (four-piece, $140). I haven't found another rod within its price range that can compare to its smooth stroke and light presentation. When you throw in an unconditional lifetime replacement warranty for a $25 surcharge, the TFO is a hard deal to beat."
• Jody Titone: "I own a couple of the old Sage LL rods, 279, 389, now known as VPS Light. The four-piece Elkhorn rods are not as cosmetically aesthetic as the Sage rods but for the price ($159) and the warranty offer a very smooth moderate action.
"My overall favorite is a 6 1/2-foot Lamiglas 3-weight fiberglass rod. Yes, fiberglass! These new high-tech glass rods are very light in hand and make a minnow feel like a big fish. The short length is perfect for working in tight spaces or casting under trees and overhangs."