Adam--Great point about the rod Mark Cathey has in the well-known photo of him. In truth I had never thought of it, but the rod is definitely 8'6" or 9'. On the flip side of the coin, one of the finest fly fishermen I ever knew, Frank Young (I mention him a number of times in my book) sometimes fished with a quite short rod; other times with a long one. I have a three-piece F. E. Thomas bamboo which was once his that is, I believe, 8'6". The single best fisherman I have spent time on a stream with, Marty Maxwell (he's the guy on the cover of my book) uses a very long rod--9', 9'6", or even 10', and he can handle it in tight quarters such as Little Snowbird with no problems at all.
Thanks for your keen observation on Cathey, and rest assured I'll make use of this tidbit at some point in time down the road.
Jim Casada