Ambling Afield: Two-weight rods just the ticket  for small streams and small fish

A two-weight fly rod is perfect for Michigan’s average-sized brook trout.

I’ve been studying a two-weight fly rod at the sporting goods store I frequent the most for several weeks now. I’m determined to make it mine someday. I’m getting a little opposition, though, from this person I hang around with who happens to do the family budgeting. She declares I have all the fly rods I need.

Ah, I don’t have a two-weight, though.

And this may require an explanation.

Fly rods come with weight designations. The designations come from the weight of the line the rods are designed to be fished with. A fly line is given a designation based the weight of the first 30 feet of the line. Thus, the heavier the rod weight, the stouter the rod.

And although some innovators are doing some outside-the-box things with rods, the industry standard has long been that fly rods come in weights 1-14. Industry representatives claim that five- and six-weight rods are good, all-purpose rods. I started out years ago with a five-weight rod and soon decided it was more rod than I needed for most stream trout.

The advantage of a heavier line is that it can buck wind better. The advantage of a heavier rod is that it can subdue a fish faster. The advantage of a lighter line is that it makes a more delicate fly presentation. The advantage of a lighter rod is that it’s more fun to play a fish on one. Frankly, playing a typical brook trout on a five-weight rod is like playing one on a telephone pole.

That original five-weight rod came to an ill-fated end during a run-in with a car door. I never really missed it. By the time it died, I’d already added a couple of heavier rods for bass, salmon and steelhead. I’d also added a four-weight and a three-weight rod for the stream trout I love so much.

Those lighter rods are perfect, too, even for the occasional large trout I hook. With my four-weight rod, I landed a truly mammoth brown trout once on the %&#$@** River. And I didn’t have to overplay it to wear it down, either.

It would seem I have a surfeit of fly rods. Ah, I don’t have a two-weight, though.

Perhaps this strange passion for two-weight rods is fueled by my love of the Clam River. I love fishing the stream for its colorful brook trout. And, let’s face it: Most of the Clam’s brookies are small. They’re tiny gems. I love catching an eight-incher. Five-, six- and seven-inchers are far more common. And the occasional 12-inch and larger fish I hook there are rare indeed.

But I might have more on my mind than just the Clam. I think a trip to the Smoky Mountains lies in my near future. And weather is always unpredictable. It was in the Smokies one March that I endured one of the worst blizzards of my life. I lived through the blizzards of ‘78 and ’79 here in Michigan, too, so I know a blizzard when I see one.

I have high hopes, though, of feeling balmy zephyrs dance across my neck while playing an Appalachian Mountain brook trout while river anglers in Michigan are wearing mountains of clothing and fishing for steelhead.

I’ve been keeping an eye on Smoky Mountain weather reports. Rivers are high, but they’re warm enough for activated trout and for insect hatches. And my proposed trip is still several weeks away. With a bit of luck, the temperatures will remain warm and the water will fall. But even if my trip doesn’t materialize or the streams are out of shape when I’m down there, the Clam is still beckoning me. That dandy little rod, though, is still sitting on the rack at the store. We’ll see how long it remains there.