I have fly fished saltwater for over 20 years - Snook, Reds, Tarpon and Jacks in Florida - Striped Bass on Cape Cod.
It was the Stripers over a decade ago that started me building fly rods to deal with the challenges of the various venues - deep wading, calm beaches, out front on rough
east-facing beaches and bay and ocean boat fishing.  All this in various wind conditions.
To be able to fish in all these conditions - all of the time - it was advantageous to have multiple fly rods of both the single-hand and the two-hand variety.

Like most builders I built on whatever I could get my hands on.  Then Andy Dear, one of my blank suppliers, sent me a blank made in New Zealand by a company called "Composite Tube Systems" - "CTS" (
I soon became convinced that CTS' blanks were far superior to the others.

The fact that, for an engineering fee, CTS will "roll-and-bake" a blank to a customer's specifications was also a meaningful advantage.  But, putting that aside, their stock blanks produced rods that were lighter-in-the-hand than most factory rods of lesser line weight classification without compromising durability.

Since then I have given-up building on other manufacturer's blanks.  Over the years the CTS product has improved in all regards - materials, tapers, straightness, durability, ferrule strength, recovery, liveliness and finish. 
But one of the most glaring characteristics of their blanks is still their uncanny ability to feel "lighter-in-the-hand" than rods built on other blanks. 

To maximize the CTS light-in-the-hand advantage it is essential that the builder use the lightest components available - especially in the tip section(s).  That is why I frequently use "REC - Component" recoil single-foot or snake running guides and tip-tops.  These components are manufactured from a titanium-nickel alloy which, besides being extremely light in weight, remain corrosion and discoloration free after exposure to salt water.  
As an alternative, for blanks suitable for greater line weights, I use Snakebrand Universal snake guides.  Many use them right out of the box.  But I like to prep the ends of the feet to a needle sharp point for easier, neater wrapping.  Of course one is removing the chrome from the stainless steel wire and are exposing yourself to possible discoloration.  But on the tip section of a fly rod I feel it is necessary to do that.  I find that the Snakebrand guides feel slicker, and perhaps shoot fly line better, than the lighter REC's.  Not a perfect world.

"Moment of inertia" is the reason that builders should keep their blank's tip section as light as possible.  Inertia causes a heavy tip section to resist recovery in both the back-cast and the forward cast.  This is the same effect a caster would get by overlining the rod but without the advantages that overlining provides.  The heavy-tipped rod will feel as though it is easier to load - just like overlining does - but performance will suffer as the blank's power is sapped.

Arguably the most popular rod used in the N.E striper fishery is the Vapor Trail.  Some will say that it eclipses all other rods with it's casting distance capabilities.  The blank has recently (2014-2015) been re-designed to include a stiffer butt section for more power. Most popular is the 11'0" one-piece model.  But reportedly the 12'0", two-piece model will get you more distance.  To keep the ferrules from twisting when using a very powerful two-piece rod you have to be careful to have the rod tip travel in a straight line path. If your tip travels in an arch the uneven load will twist the ferrules such that the sections will not line-up and you run the risk of loosening the ferrules.

To round out the surf blanks there are the powerful S7 and S8.  The S7 is very popular in the Carolina's for huge red drum - redfish for you southern guys. 

I will leave this for you to explore the  site. 

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Be safe fishing,

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