I used to have a lot of preconceived negative notions about fiberglass fly rods, which is probably why I avoided them for most of my fly fishing life. It wasn't until this website was started that I've actually had some legit personal experience with the newer versions and even considered buying a glass rod for occasional personal use. Regardless of how rods from the distant past performed, all I know is that the latest examples I've casted and reviewed have (mostly) been quite good. I can fully understand why there's been such enthusiasm with fiberglass once again!
With all of that said, glass has characteristics that are quite different than graphite, and that takes a lot of getting used to for some of us. Here's a few aspects of glass that might be tougher to warm up to if you've been a lifelong graphite enthusiast like myself....
Casting Stroke- Some people naturally have a slower, more easygoing casting stroke. I sure don't. A quicker casting stroke feels most comfortable to me, and therefore a fast graphite rod is the most intuitive match. Don't get me wrong, casting a good glass rod is a lot of fun, but it's more challenging for me to comfortably adjust to it. Since I naturally want to cast with a quicker stroke, slowing it down is an ongoing fight between my brain and arm. I have to constantly think about my cast and tell myself to take it easy. That's something I don't have to do with my typical graphite sticks.
Glass fly rods are often made shorter in part to help them feel more crisp. That definitely helps, but even the shorter and/or "faster" versions still feel quite different when compared to graphite. If you've never thrown a fiberglass fly rod and are thinking of buying one, I highly recommend tossing one before purchasing.
Less Sensitivity- Glass has more of a spongy feel and isn't as sensitive as graphite. Lack of sensitivity can be a huge deal with conventional rods, but it also makes a difference in fly fishing, too. Personally speaking, I sometimes don't feel quite as "connected" while fishing and even fighting fish is a bit more vague to me. With a graphite rod, I like that extra sensitivity and added feeling of precision it helps convey. Despite the very different feel, this can be a big attractant to glass rods....they just offer a new experience!
Heavier Weight- Fiberglass rods are typically heavier. However, remember that things like components, epoxy, and paint all factor into overall weight, too. Plus, glass rods are often built shorter than "standard" 9-foot fly rods, thus helping save some weight and improving balance which can make a rod feel lighter than you'd expect. I've certainly held a few that felt surprisingly lightweight. Of course, for these improvements you'll have to deal with fishing a shortened rod which may or may not be your cup of tea. While the weight difference between similar glass and graphite rods is not always drastic, some glass rods can definitely feel much heavier than you're used to.
Don't let this piece completely sway you from trying a fiberglass fly rod. They are fun to fish and offer a really unique, different experience, but it's good to know the pros and cons. For more of a positive spin on the subject, check out my post right here discussing why you might want to try a glass rod!