An AFTMA Fairy Tale

Ever wonder why you struggle to make sense of AFTMA numbers?  A little story for you:

A not entirely fictional story.

Joe Public walks into an upmarket fly shop and looks lovingly over the rod racks, his recently acquired production bonus burning a hole in his pocket. He has been reading up in his favoured fly fishing magazines and has already been convinced by the marketing department that “faster actioned rods help you cast better and further” so that is what he is after. He searches along the rows of tackle. He is looking for light gear as he plans to fish some small overgrown streams on his next vacation.

There on the shelf is a gleaming new light weight rod, supposedly designated as a “three weight” and he remembers fishing with a three weight on a small stream some years back; the gear provided by his guide for the unusually tight fishing and close quarter casting required was a dream.

Fantastic, he selects a rod from the Acme Rod and Reel Company because they offer a lifetime guarantee against breakage.. He tells the sales guy that he would like to test cast it on the pond outside. A three weight line is found and off he goes, flailing madly he can’t make the rod work. “Don’t worry” says the sales guy “We have some new three weight lines which I think will be better, they are called lines and a half and are specifically made for faster rods”. Well so it proves and our customer is now happy, the rod is flexing and it feels nice in his hands “You know someone else told me those Master Caster lines weren’t any good”, comments Joe “This one is much better”.

Later he gets to tell his mates that he has just caught some fantastic fish on his new “three weight rod” but he warns them “don’t get the master caster lines, get one of these new ones they are much better”

Later that year the CEO at Master Caster Lines has a meeting with his staff, “Listen guys we are losing market share, everyone thinks that our lines are under-rated. What do we do?”. “Ah says one of the engineers, “why don’t we just make the lines heavier”. “We can’t do that, what about the AFTMA standards?” ask the PR manager, “We won’t have to break the rules we can call them something different” says the engineer… “How about AFTMA PLUS Lines?” suggests the marketing guy..

“Brilliant” shouts the CEO, and Master Caster lines go into immediate production of their new heavier AFTMA PLUS lines. They are an instant success, everyone is casting better than before.. the lines are flying off the shelves. Retailers are recommending them to every new customer. Many customers who were unhappy with their new ultrafast super stiff ultra-modern nanotech, carbon fibre rods upgrade to the AFTMA PLUS lines and find instant success.

It is a marketing coup, Master Caster lines are on the top of the heap, sales skyrocket and their share price is climbing steadily. They become famed for their new lines “Designed to perfectly compliment modern high tec fast actioned fly rods” it proudly states in its glossy brochure.

Meanwhile a design meeting at Acme Rod and Reel is in progress, the financial director is looking down at heart and the marketing director is trembling just a little.. Sales are down, the only business they are getting is the replacement work from their lifetime guarantee rods.. 30% of production is now dedicated to guarantees and the only profit they are making is by marking up the postage.. “We need something new” says the marketing director.. “Well” says the engineer, who has recently been head hunted from Master Caster due to the success of his new AFTMA PLUS lines “With these new AFTMA PLUS lines so popular we can make the rods faster than anyone else’s”.. “Hell that’s good” says the marketing guy, “The fastest rods in their class, that sounds good, we can sell that idea”..

Discussion continues but with reduced revenues brought on by low sales volumes and too much guarantee work the capital investment for a new rod isn’t there “We can’t afford it” chips in the Financial Director “We have to do something” moans the marketing director.. “Why not just mark all our rods one line weight lighter and change the colour” suggests the engineer. “We can call them AFTMA PLUS rods”. The engineer is promoted to Chief Production Manager and everyone is very pleased with themselves. 

A season or two passes and Joe Public books with the guide with whom he fished years before, on a delightful little stream, demanding of stream craft and close accurate casting. But he now has the latest AFTMA PLUS three weight rod and complimentary AFTMA PLUS line so he is sure he is well kitted out for the excursion.

On arrival he tells the guide that he now has his own light gear so not to worry. However on the stream he is struggling to cast in the tight brush, the small trout he catches are rapidly overpowered and he keeps breaking his fine tippet on the strike. The guide has a cast or two with the new rod “What rod is this?” he asks Joe. “It is my new ACME Rod and Reel three weight PLUS with an AFTMA PLUS line” replies Joe beaming from ear to ear and feeling terribly proud of his new kit… “Feels more like a F%^ing five weight to me” says the guide.


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16 Responses to “An AFTMA Fairy Tale”

  1. howsmallatrout5 Says:

    You’re subversive. I like it.

  2. paracaddis Says:

    Does telling it like you see it make one subversive? Oh well I must be then.. ha ha. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Craig Says:

    tee hee

  4. Deon Says:

    You give sage advice Tim….. Is it wrong to say sage…..

  5. paracaddis Says:

    @ Deon, you see those grammar lessons weren’t wasted, you might have saved yourself from legal action just due to the lack of capitalisation..Actually I think that the problem exists across the board though.

  6. okusluk Says:


  7. Carl McNeil Says:

    Very good, very good indeed. Been tying to get this point across for years!
    The problem is pervasive across the industry.

  8. Mike Heritage Says:

    Cool stuff, even I understood most of it.

  9. paracaddis Says:

    Thanks Carl, sorry I have been away, (fishing thankfully) and out of computer contact up to this point. It seems that there are more than a few of us who feel that this tale is more true than we would like.

  10. If it ain’t broke, Don’t fix it. « The Fishing Gene Says:

    […] I have complained about this love affair that the marketing departments seem to have with fast actioned rods previously on this blog. An AFTMA fairy tale. […]

  11. gfen Says:

    Have you ever compared the Master Crafter GPX weights with AFTMA? Their 5WFF head was the equivilent to an AFTMA 7WFF according to their posted informtion.

    Not sure where the “half” part of “half weight” came from at that rate. Oddly, I’m now fishing a 6wt rated ’70s Fenwick and AFTMA correct line with the same style and flies that I prior fished a 4wt rated rod with GPX 4WFF line.

    Odd, isn’t it?

  12. Casting About | The Fishing Gene Says:

    […] has read much of my opinion on line ratings, casting and the vagaries of the AFTMA system (read: ) knows that it is something that I find both fascinating and annoying in equal […]

  13. grant Says:

    like it — know guys here that crap on about catching pelagics on 2wts… with 4+ weight lines on them lol

  14. AFTM Numbers | The Fishing Gene Says:

    […] For a more humorous discussion on the subject you may also enjoy reading a post from this blog from some time back. […]

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