If you’re already an avid fly angler, you probably already have a good idea of what you want in a fly fishing rod.
On the other hand, if you’re fairly new to the sport, there can be a confusing array of information and marketing aimed at you before you make the decision as to which rod to buy.
Let’s take a look at some of the more general things you should know about before you buy your next fly rod:
Fly rods are available in a huge variety of lengths and ‘line weight’ ratings. Some are designed for specific types of fish, some fly rods are made for saltwater, while others are meant for small stream light fishing. Where you will be fishing with the rod and the fish you’ll be after will help you narrow down the rod length and weight you’ll want.
If this is your first rod, it would be a good idea not to purchase a rod that is meant for specific situations such as spey casting, or a rod that will be either too heavy or too light. Of course, if you will primarily be fishing for large salmon or steel head, you’ll probably want a rod that is in the 10′ to 12′ range, and that will cast an 8wt. line or higher.
Light Line Weights.
Light line fishing rods are those considered to be under 5 wt. These rods are available from a variety of manufacturers and in a variety of lengths. If you will be primarily fishing small streams, and for smaller fish such as brook trout and small pan fish, then you’ll probably want to seriously consider a light rod.
The length of your rod should be determined by the predominate wind conditions and the area you will be fishing. If fishing tight areas such as streams in bushy or well treed areas, consider rods under 8′. If breezy conditions are the norm, and there is a lot of room for casting, then 9′ would be an ideal choice.
Medium Line Weights.
By far the most preferred choice by beginning anglers are those that are rated from medium line weights, from 5 wt. to 7 wt. My own preference for fishing medium size rivers where I may catch species such as small mouth or large mouth bass, rainbow, or small carp would be a 9’6″ to 10′ 6 wt. A good quality rod of this length and weight will offer a good degree of control in breezy conditions, and cast a variety of sizes of flies well.
Heavy and Saltwater
If you are primarily planning on fishing saltwater and/or going after big prey, then small and medium rods simply won’t do the job for you. You will need to look at some of the heavier rods available, 8 wt. and higher. You’ll also want the extra length of a fighting butt that comes with this rod to help you battle the big ones.
Graphite is the choice of most people today when buying fishing rods. But, beware – not all graphite fishing rods are made the same! Many of the low end cheap rods that claim to be graphite are in fact a ‘graphite composite’ – the rod blank might have very little graphite, in fact!
Just because a rod is made with graphite doesn’t mean that it is of high quality. There are many considerations that will affect the performance of the rod, including the taper, the types of guides, the handle material, and it’s length.
If you’re on a tight budget, buying a $500.00 fishing rod can be out of the question! On the other hand, you do get what you pay for, especially as you move down the price ladder. Don’t expect to get a new rod that will you will be happy with for under $80.00. Cheap rods generally have poor quality components including the grip, reel seat, and guides. The material itself will likely be sub-standard as will the workmanship. Expect to pay at least $100.00 for a rod that you will enjoy casting with.
The above is just a guideline to help you in choosing your fly rod. There are of course, a huge number of other rods you could consider, from a custom built to a split cane, to specially casting rods like Spey rods, etc. Typically, these rods are not considered by the novice at first, but certainly are worthwhile considering after that fly fishing passion has become a part of you.
Related Resource: Fly Fishing Beginners Leaders, Line &Tippet