Alamo Fly Fishers as the basis for this commentary.
I give credit to Cameron Mortenson of the Fiberglass Manifesto for first peaking my interest in glass rods, but I admit to knowing little or nothing about them when I first discovered his blog. Then as I got involved with Alamo Fly Fishers I got know several members that swore by glass rods for "perch jerk'n."
"Perch Jerk'n" is targeting sunfish and the occasional black bass. Here in central Texas that translates to wading in gin clear streams and targeting fish in shade (even fish know to get out of the heat in Texas summers). In general, I would be fishing flies in size 10 or 12 (check the Siren Flies Facebook page for the flies).
Initially, on these "perch jerk'n" fishing excursions I fished my graphite rods, but found myself very quickly moving from a 5wt to a 2wt to get the most action our of these hard fighting little fish. My fishing buddies, however were casting old glass rods (the enthusiasts will appreciate that they were either Fenwicks or Wonderods) ranging from a 3wt to a 6wt.
I got the chance to cast them once or twice and could not get over the flex in the rods......the term noodle seemed appropriate.....I knew I wanted to try one for a day of fishing and looked around for a cheep deal online. I ended up with an eagle claw feather light 4/5 wt and fished it, but never could quite find the right fly line to suite it from those I owned. (Update: I settled on a 6 weight...no idea on the brand...it was buried in box I had not opened in along time). I was pleased to discover that even this inexpensive rod felt like the "ultralite" fishing my buddies had described, and like all good fly fishermen that meant I needed to try out some other rods
Next came Cabelas CGT glass rod. This is a rod I really like and would be my recommendation for an easily available rod to start with. The above Eagle Claw is cheeper, but I think $150 gets you a very good rod (and if you watch the online bargain bin they seem to go on sale regularly. The 3wt CGT I own has all the bend I wanted, but admittedly casts on the faster end of glass.
In response I decided I had to go old glass to get more feel for my glass exploits. To Ebay and flea markets I went....
I'm still questing for the perfect feel and to be fair I know more now....but I consider myself a novice about all this stuff. I now have an 8 wt St. Croix glass rod(casts a 7wt SA redifsh line great), a yellow Wonderod #1370B-8'6" (approx. 8wt), a 7wt Action Glass, and a spin fly combo wonderrod (6wt). These older rods definitely get you a different feel in your casting and offer unique benefits in the right situation. There are limitations the slowness of these rods would limit their utility in high wind situations like the jetties, and thats not what I when I need to punch line out into the wind. Just to be clear I can get plenty of distance with glass rods, but the slowness leads to greater influence on the line by the wind.
Ultimately I have these final thoughts. Put the right tool to the right task. You can throw 7 wts and greater on our TX streams, with small flies and catch fish, but you will lose so much of the battle happening with that sun fish and small bass. In contrast should you hook into a large fish on a smaller glass rod it will have the back bone to handle it, but the flex will ensure you feel every turn the fish makes.
Go Glass on rivers in Central TX and you will never look back.