Understanding Tip-Flex, Mid-Flex and Full-Flex Action Fly Rods


With such a wide variety of fly rod actions available today, it can be confusing to many fly casters to find that exact action needed for the job. Most fly rod manufacturers offer varying degrees of casting performance and this is done for a good reason. The way one casts, the size and configuration of the waters fished and the choice of rod weight can all be important factors when choosing a particular fly rod. Even the strength of the preferred tippet can determine the proper rod performance and it will help the fly fisher to know these tendencies when choosing a particular fly rod. Lets examine the different flex capacities found in many fly rods and it will help you tremendously in choosing the right one for your likes and needs.

Most fly rod manufacturers, including those TRR sells such as Orvis, Sage, Loop and Temple Fork, offer rods in Full-Flex, Mid-Flex and Tip-Flex models. These terms refer to the strength and bend through the rod from the butt to the tip. Generally, Tip-Flex models will have a stiffer bend through most of the rod and will become more flexible through the final quarter or so of the rod. This creates a stronger backbone and allows for more heavy-handed and quicker casting with larger presentations such as big foam patterns and streamers. Tip-Flex rods are a favorite in our region as they also cut through windy days with much more ease. When casting large streamers and heavier tippets, a stiffer, faster-action rod (Tip-Flex) is the preferred hardware for strong hook sets and possibly larger quarry.

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Conversely, Full-Flex rods will have a “traditional” bend and have less of a noticeable backbone throughout. What this creates is a rod with a more parabolic, or traditional bend all the way from the handle to the tip (See 1 & 2 Weight Fly Rods). This type of Full-Flex bend creates what most would call a caster’s rod. It calls for much more subtle casting techniques and one would tend to let the rod do most of the work as muscling a softer, Full-Flex rod will only counteract the performance of these highly technical rods. This rod action helps the angler to perform delicate, precise and close-range casts. As an example, most casters that are fishing lighter tippets and smaller presentations would prefer this Full-Flex performance as subtlety and accuracy are the names of the game. Also, when using lighter tippets down to 6X and 7X strengths, setting the hook with authority will need the forgiving bend of these softer rods to avoid breaking the tippets time after time.

To round out these different actions, the Mid-Flex rods are usually a happy medium between the two actions noted above. It offers excellent performance with a combination of butt strength and medium flex for less casting effort (Look at 5& 6 Weight Fly Rods). These rods also offer quality performance over a wide range of casting conditions and styles. The Mid-Flex rod is one that I go to every time when I need to combine all these varieties of flex into one fly rod.

Of course, casting a rod before you purchase it is always recommended and we at Three Rivers Ranch are more than willing to let you do just that. If you have questions regarding the rods you currently have or rods that you are looking at please feel free to contact our shop here in Driggs or Ashton and we will be happy to show you the options best suited for your needs. Thank you for joining THE EDDY and have a great New Year!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>