On the fly: Choosing a rod
June 3, 2011
BASALT – Never before has there been such a plethora of quality fly fishing rods available from current manufacturers. Many of these rods are even touted as species-specific or technique-specific. Finding the right rod for the situation at hand is often perplexing for casual fly fishers. Let’s take a look at various rod lengths, line weights and flex patterns to determine what rod will suit your needs.
Most single-handed fly rods vary in length from 7 feet to 10 feet. Most often, rods in the 8-foot to 9-foot category are common for the rivers, lakes and streams in the Rocky Mountain West. These rods perform most tasks very well, hence their popularity. Shorter rods are often employed for small creeks where cover is often present in the form of heavy vegetation and casting is more restricted. Longer rods, on the other hand, are best suited to larger rivers and lakes, where casting lanes are not restricted. Many anglers are beginning to use 10-foot rods for Czech nymphing techniques, in which one fishes a taut line with sinking flies and no strike indicator.
Fly rods are based on a numerical “line weight” system that ranges from 0 to 12; essentially the larger the number, the heavier the rod. For most trout-fishing applications, rods in the 3- to 7-weight category are suitable with a 5 weight being considered the best all-purpose trout rod. Often, lighter trout-rod weights (3, 4) are considered dry fly rods where anglers fish nearly weightless offerings, while heavier rods (6, 7) are more applicable to tossing heavily weighted flies.
Fly rods also come in different flex patterns ranging from stiff to soft. Most casters are comfortable using mid-flex rods as they cast weighted and unweighted flies equally well. Softer rods are generally found in the lighter line weights while stiffer rods are typically found in the heavier line weights. In essence, I consider fly rods to be much akin to golf clubs. There are different clubs for different situations, and the same applies to fly rods. Stop by your local fly shop and cast numerous rods to determine the right fly rod for you.