This section is from the book "The Boy Mechanic Vol. 2 1000 Things for Boys to Do", by Popular Mechanics Co.. Also available from Amazon: The Boy Mechanic, Vol2: 1000 Things for Boys to Do.
The ordinary fishing pole may be bought offhand at almost any hardware store, but a well-balanced rod for fly fishing should be well tested out beforehand. The requirements call for a rod of comparatively light weight, a rod that is elastic and resilient, and yet strong enough to prove durable under the continued strain of much fishing. If the angler has made his own rod, as suggested in former chapters, he will have a good dependable fly rod, but the large majority of anglers who are about to purchase their first fishing kit should carefully consider the selection of the rod. At the outset it must be understood that good tackle is simply a matter of price, the finest rods and reels are necessarily high in price, and the same thing may be said of lines and flies. Providing the angler has no objection to paying $15, or more, for a rod, the choice will naturally fall upon the handmade split bamboo. For this amount of money a fair quality fly rod may be purchased, the finer split bamboos costing anywhere up to $50, but under $15 it is very doubtful whether the angler can procure a built-up rod that is in every way satisfactory. The question may arise, Is a split-bamboo rod necessary? The writer's own long experience says that it is not, and that a finely made solid-wood rod, of greenheart or da-game, is quite as satisfactory in the hands of the average angler as the most expensive split bamboo. A good rod of this sort may be had for $10, and with reasonable care ought to last a lifetime.
The points to look for in a fly rod, whether the material is split bamboo or solid wood, is an even taper from the butt to the tip; that is, the rod should register a uniform curve, or arc, the entire length. For general fly casting 9 ft. is a handy length, and a rod of 6 1/2 oz. weight will prove more durable than a lighter tool. A good elastic rod is wanted for fly casting, but a too willowy or whippy action had best be avoided. However, for small-brook fishing, where the overgrown banks prohibit long casts, a somewhat shorter and stiffer rod will be more useful. For casting in large northern streams, where the current is swift and the trout run to a larger size, a 9 1/2 or 10-ft. rod of 8 oz. weight is often preferred. Of course, the veteran angler can safely use a much lighter rod than the beginner, and one occasionally meets a man on the stream that uses a 5-oz. rod for pretty heavy fishing. To be on the safe side, the novice will make no mistake in choosing a rod of fair length and conservative weight.
When selecting a rod in the tackle shop, do not rest content with a mere examination of the appearance, but have the dealer affix a reel of the weight and size intended to be used with it. By reeling on a short length of line and reeving it through the guides and then fastening the end to a weight lying upon the floor, a very good idea of the rod's behavior may be gained, since by reeling in the line and putting tension on the rod its elasticity and curve may be seen and felt as well as in actual fishing. To give the utmost satisfaction, the rod should fit its owner, and several rods should be tried until one is found that most fully meets the angler's idea of what a rod should be. If one happens to have a good fly reel, by all means take it along and attach it to the rod while making the tests. It is practically impossible to gauge the balance of a rod without affixing the reel, and many a finely balanced tool will appear badly balanced until the proper-weight reel is affixed to it.