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Presented from Issue 100

As the years progress and the fishing gods pull you further under their spell (and your partner allows you) somehow you seem to gather quite a collection of gear. Fly rods are no exception to this rule and I have even had to build an outside room so I am able to keep my collection away from certain eyes, if you know what I mean!. In recent years light line fishing has become more and more popular. With the number of people now going “Twigging” increasing, so to is the availability of the lighter line weight rods in varying lengths. Twigging is commonly referred to as fishing with 3 weight rods or lighter. You can now buy rods right down to a 000 line weight, and by the time you read this I will have one in the rod rack ( thanks Nick). Until that rod arrives at Essential Fly Fisher from the US the 3wt is as light as I own. Over the past few years I have become a lot more interested in the smaller stream fishing. There is just so many of these streams all around the state that are full of hungry fish it seems crazy not to fish them. As a result of this stream and river fishing I have built a small collection of 3wt rods.

5’9” 3 wt...... The most recent addition to my light line collection has been a Vision 5’ 9” 3 weight. This rod is out of their Cult fibre range, and is a whole lot of fun. It is actually labelled as a 3-4 weight but I have not ran a 4 line on it as it is perfect with a 3wt Rio Selective Trout 2 line on it.

On one of my regular trips into East Devonport for a chat with Leroy from Big Fin he pulled out one of these rods to show me as he knew I would be interested in what it had to offer. As soon as I had it in my hand I knew it would be a blast to use, and the brain started ticking. A phone call a week later from Leroy only managed to fuel the fire and the rod was ordered. I couldn’t wait to get it out on a creek and see what it could do. As soon as it arrived I took it home, matched it up with the above mentioned line and an Abel Super 2 reel and headed off to my local favourite creek for a fish.

I had never used a rod this short before so I was interested to see how it would perform. Some sections of the creek I was fishing have become quite grown over in the last couple of years and the short rod really shone in these conditions. Being a fibreglass rod it has quite a slow, soft action. Where it really shines is in its ability to fire off a nice tight roll cast. I have this season fished this rod in small creeks under a number of different conditions and it has performed surprisingly well. From single nymph, dry/ nymph combinations to single dry flies this rod has done all I have asked of it.

But its real calling is firing a single dry tight in under cover to those hard to reach fish, and as we know some of them can be quite surprising in size in these smaller waterways. If you have never played a fish on light fibreglass rods I suggest you give it a go, what a blast. Thanks for introducing me to the glass Leroy, I owe you one.

7’6” 3 wt......

Before the introduction of the above mentioned glass rod the 7’6” 3wt was my go to small water rod. My rod in this length is out of the Sage ZXL range and it is a beauty. It is more of a medium action and for its size and length is still surprisingly powerful when needed. It still amazes me how they manage to pack so much rod into something that only weighs a touch over two and a half ounces.

Before I owned longer rods in this line class I would use it for everything from small creeks to our bigger rivers, and even on tailing fish at the lakes. Now it is reserved mainly for places such as the upper Meander, Minnow and waters of that size where sometimes that extra bit of length is required for mending and reaching over or around bigger boulders and the like.

I have caught countless fish on this rod in the Mersey River and other bigger waterways and it will handle any size fish that come out of these waters with ease, the only area that lets it down is the slight lack of reach you get with line control in the bigger rivers. On the up side, being a 4 piece rod at that length it packs up to nearly nothing, so it is always in the car along with a Fishpond pack carrying all the required gear for a fishing session if and when needed. You never know what might be under the next bridge you cross so it pays to be prepared. The good thing being it is still a lot of fun to fish if you stumble across an unknown small creek, but quite capable of getting you onto a fish on a bigger river as well.

8’ 3wt.....

In the 8 foot class my rod of choice is a G Loomis. It is from the old IMX range of rods and it is not far off being my all time favourite rod ( at the moment anyway). This rod was previously owned by my brother in-law and it took a lot of annoying the crap out of him before he finally gave in and offloaded it to me. What a great day that was! It is a two piece rod and with a classic old sliding band real seat it is a thing of beauty. I now reserve this rod mainly for use on tailing fish at the lakes.

Compared to other 3 weight rods I would class it as a medium/fast action rod. For places like Little Pine Lagoon where on occasions you need to get back off the waters edge and cast around 40 feet of line to its tailing fish this rod shines. I have hooked many fish in the shallows of Little Pine and other lakes across the central plateau on this rod, and let me tell you when you get an angry fish in the 2 to 4 pound class with nowhere to go but away from you it will have you yelling with joy as much as my youngest son when he gets to go to the skate-park on his new bike!

100 light rod vision

100 light rod vision sage

A Vision and Sage rod compete for glory.

9’ 3wt.....

This is the rod currently getting the most use out of all my 3 weights. It is from the XP range of Sage rods and is a two piece. I swapped a very fast actioned powerful 4 weight rod for this one and it turned out to be an excellent decision. I made the choice to swap as I thought this rod would be perfectly suited to the bigger rivers around the state. It has plenty of grunt but is still light enough in the hand to be loads of fun on the smaller fish that can be encountered on these rivers.

On the Mersey River over the last few seasons I have done everything from double nymph rigs, tungsten nymphs, nymph/dries, two dries and single dries either big or small and have yet to encounter anything this rod would not handle. Last season in a faster run I hooked and landed a nice brown that when slipped into the weigh net turned out to be three and a half pound, it always amazes me how big some of these fish turn out to be. When you see them rising in the half light of evening it can be quite a surprise when you get to set the hook and they explode out of the water.

I had a memorable session on the Mersey with the XP this year on Devonport Show day. I decided to head out for a midday session, which I don’t get to do all that often on the rivers. I arrived at one of my favourite sections of river and it looked sweet. I couldn’t set up quick enough and I was knee deep in the water in a flash.

It was a beautiful clear day and there were a few duns drifting down past me in the current. It was only a matter of minutes and a fish came up under my never fail parachute and turned off it at the last second!. Never mind, I could live with that, cant catch them all can we. Two more fish followed with the same reaction and it was time for a change of flies.

In the next hour I cast to plenty of fish and went through all my go to Mersey flies for one fish. In a moment of desperation I went for a fly I rarely use, and to be honest was never a big fan of, the CDC F-fly. I have always carried them in my box but not used them, just a mental thing really. As soon I tied one on it was like a switch was flicked, the fish was all over it. Every fish I saw move and covered and a lot that I didn’t see rose to the little F-fly. A lot were lost or missed on the strike but plenty were slid into the weigh net as well.

It also brought about an encounter with my best river fish to date. I came up to a pool that had a nice deep run on the opposite bank that was lined with willows and a shallow gravel bar on my side. I waded out and started to work what looked like the perfect bubble line. Two casts and I was into a nice brown that went just over two pound. After he was safely released I waded a bit further up and started to work the bubble line again. For some reason I looked behind me in the shallows and laying just upstream from me in about a foot of water was a good fish. Initially, going on the size of it I just didn’t think it was a fish, but it was. I crouched down and landed the f-fly just in front of him. It drifted down past the big brown and he turned on it straight away, only to drift back on station at the last moment.

Bugger it, I thought to myself that would be my only shot but I cast again anyway. This time the fly sank, as they can have a habit of doing and drifted towards the fish. Once again he turned as though he was going to scoff it but turned away again. By now I am thinking I am running out of chances, but had another shot at him anyway. The fly landed right on track and this time it floated again. When it got to the spot the big brownie rose up and sucked it in without a care in the world. I set the hook and he nearly bent the 3 weight in half with a couple of massive jumps as he left the gravel bar. After a couple of minutes I had him beat in front of me. I grabbed the weigh net and reached out for the fish when all of a sudden the hook pulled out. He gave one big kick of his tail and slipped down over the drop off into the deeper water as I had one last lunge with the net. He was gone, I was gutted. I don’t like to mention missed or lost fish to much as people tend to give it the “Yeah, right o mate”. But he was a big fish, at least five pound going on other fish I have landed. It was a fun fight on the 3 weight while it lasted though. Sorry, got side tracked there a bit.

Setting up.....

When fishing the shorter versions of the 3 weight rods I like to keep leader lengths around the same length as the rod you are using. I have found this formula has served me well, especially in the tighter creeks as it is more about getting your fly in there than it is about presentation. As the water starts to open up you can adjust leader lengths for better drag free drifts and the like. I like to keep it simple with gear as sometimes you can do a lot of leg work in a day on a creek.

I carry a small sling-bag style pack with a box of flies, tippet, spare leader and floatant and then carry my camera on its shoulder strap wrapped in a dry sack. Don’t forget the most important piece of equipment, the forceps. These smaller fish are famous for engulfing the flies and sometimes they can be difficult to remove without harming the fish. The forceps do a great job eliminating this risk so they can be released unharmed.

You know you want to.....

When you are next in the market for a new rod why not have a look at a 3 weight. You can go shorter for the small creeks or longer for the rivers. Try a stiffer rod for throwing nymphs or a slower, softer rod for delicate dry fly work. You can even take it to the lakes for some real fun if you feel like it. Once you hook a fish on the lighter rods you will realise what you have been missing out on. If you are in the East Devonport area call in and see Leroy and get him to hook you up with one of the new glass rods, excitement guaranteed. So grab yourself a 3 weight and get out on the water, and if we happen to come across each other stop for a chat and tell me some of your stories about the 3 weight action.

Gavin Hicks