What does fly rod action mean? What does fast action, medium-fast, or slow action mean and why is it important when picking a rod? Rod action can be confusing to understand for many anglers. One of reasons why action is hard to explain, is that there is no set standard or definition within the fly fishing industry for what action means. What is fast for one company might be medium-fast for another and vice versa. Also one companies definition of action might be slightly different from another. Here is a short list of words and definitions that will help you to understand fly rod action to a greater degree.
1. Recovery speed - How fast the rod returns to straight after being bent or cast. The stiffer the rod the faster the recovery.
2. Flex or rod profile - Where the rod blank bends. A mid flex rod bends closer to the middle of the rod when cast. A tip flex rod bends more towards the tip when cast.
3. Line speed - How fast the line move through the guides when being cast. Rods that generate higher line speeds will shoot line further after a proper cast.
4. Action - A combination of flex profile or taper (where the rod bends) and stiffness (the rods recovery time after being bent).
The benefits of fast action rods are that they typically cast further and generate higher line speeds, while the downside being a lack of feel and accuracy during shorter casts. Not all fast action rods are designed exactly the same, this is where rod profile becomes critical to understand. A fast rod with a flexible tip will have more feel and acuracy in closer ranges than those with stiffer tips. A fast action rod with a stiff tip can typically cast a mile, but can be a chore up close. Next time you are looking for a rod don't just focus on action, but pay attention to the flex profile. Also fast rods are not necessarily better than slower rods. The slower the action the more forgiving a rod is during a bad cast. A medium or medium-fast rod are typically better performers for short range fishing situation (and can be more enjoyable to fish because of the ability to feel the rod to a greater degree during the cast). There is no right or wrong rods (well there are some rods that are wrong for everybody). Your rod choice should be determined by your experience level, preference, fishing situation, and budget (for most people).