The virtue of cheap rods

I sometimes paint. Pictures, not houses. If I start with a blank white canvas, I often find it difficult to get started, so I tend to just scrub all over the canvas with raw umber and then once it’s ‘ruined’ I can get on with the painting without spoiling the lovely pristine whiteness.

This is still only my fourth season of fly-fishing, so I count myself *just* out of the novice stage, but still something less than fully proficient. I have bought one or two fairly nice [read: expensive] rods and can crack on with them OK.

However, I decided I would like to go after sea trout this year, so bought myself a cheap £99 rod, a Fulling Mill Gold something or other, 10ft 7 weight (apparently a re-badged TFO). It’s a cracker. Oddly, and perhaps sadly, I cast much better with this than some much more expensive kit. The first time I tried to double haul with it, it worked (this has been pretty much a hit-and-miss exercise for me so far, with other rods 😉 ). And the better quality of casting works consistently. I was even able to fish properly down some good sea trout pools in pitch darkness, with two flies, with no tangles and nice soft, accurate presentation (though no fish…).

Now I put this down to the fact that I don’t really care about “living up to the rod”. I’m sure the rod is good, but it is unlikely to be better (whatever that means, and however you judge it) than some of the more expensive kit I own. My first rod was an SLT (nice first rod, I hear you say—well, yes) and now that it is relegated to ‘secondary’ rod, I fish much better with it.

In a slightly similar vein, my most successful fishing day last season came when I consciously thought at the start of the day, “Don’t try and do everything ‘right’—just relax and have some fun.” And I did.

I’ve found this with all sorts of things in life—cameras (you have to take the perfect picture, until you ding the camera; motorbikes—you don’t ride it hard enough while it’s still shiny; etc etc.)

Or perhaps this is all just barmy and the Fulling Mill is genuinely a brilliant rod, and I should sell all my Scotts and Sages and invest in TFO instead.

Anyone else had any similar experience?

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