How to Choose A Fly Fishing Rod For Beginners

fly fishing rods

When it comes to fly fishing, there may not be a piece of gear more important than how to choose a fly rod. Unlike regular fishing, where the reel gets used the most, in fly fishing the rod is key. The reel is just used as a line holder.

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Without proper length and weight of a fly rod, you will have a hard time making the proper presentation. Ultimately your catch rates will suffer because of that.

In this article we will take a look at what makes a good fly rod. Also we will discuss how to choose the fly rod that is right for you and your conditions.

How to Select The Perfect Fly Rod Length

One of the first things that you will notice when shopping for a fly rod is the rod length options.

You will find rods anywhere from 6 feet all the way to 9 feet. Fly rod length is important for many reasons.

Think primarily about the areas where you plan on using this rod. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • Are you fishing in steep canyons?
  • Is there going to be heavy or dense shrubbery?
  • Will you be fly fishing a river, lake, or a stream?
  • What species are you going after?

If you are going to be fishing small streams for trout, where you might find yourself in some severely overgrown woods, you are not going to want to be whipping a 9 foot fly rod around, since you are just going to get yourself tangled up in the overhanging branches too often.

fly fishing rod

Conversely, if you are going to be fishing Stillwater, or larger streams and rivers, you are not going to want too short of a rod. You will tire yourself out putting too much effort into every cast in order to get the distance that you need to reach the fish.

Generally, most people find the 8-foot to 9-foot rods to be a sweet spot for the majority of their fly fishing. This gives you enough length where you can reach out to further distances easily and isn’t too unwieldy.

If you are unsure about where you will be fishing, a rod in the 7-9 foot length range will be fine for you. If you know for sure you will be fishing small skinny water or smaller fish, you can choose a smaller fly rod.

Need more information about fly fishing? I got you covered!

How to Choose Fly Fishing Rod Weight for Beginners

Another factor in your choice is going to be rod “weight”.

Contrary to how it sounds, this has nothing to do with how heavy the rod is in your hand, but rather the strength of the rod.

The “rod weight” refers to the recommended line size for that specific rod.

For example, if you are using a 5 wt fly fishing rod, then you should be spooling fly line that is 5 wt as well. Generally speaking many professionals say you can “line up” or “line down” one size in either direction and still be fine.

The fly rod is only there to move the line through the air, the fly line is ultimately what propels the fly.

This is going to be important to match to the type of fish you are trying to catch, and also to the type of flies you plan on fishing.

A general rule of thumb is that if you are fishing for bluegills and other panfish you should look for a 2-4 weight.

If you are fishing for trout you should be looking at a 3-5, maybe a 6 weight.

If you are going to be bass fishing you will want a 5-7 weight ideally. , Toothy critters like northern pike and musky, or other large fish like salmon or steelhead, you will want to look in the 8 weight and up category.

Fly Rod Handles

One thing to keep in mind when you are looking at a rod is handle type. Although not quite as important as length and weight, handle type provides comfort.

fly fishing rod and reel

You will notice that some rods have a fighting butt on the handle. If your fishing for larger fish like bass, carp, northern, steelhead, consider a fighting butt.

This goes for anything that is really going to put up a fight. This can be very handy as it makes it more comfortable to rest against your waders when you are fighting the fish.

If you are fishing for smaller, lighter fish such as trout or panfish you usually will not see too many rods with fighting butts. Typical fly fishing rods handle these smaller fish just fine.

Other Fly Fishing Rod Considerations for Beginners

Here are some other fly rod key points to consider.

  • Will you be traveling often to fly fish? If so consider the difficulty of packing or shipping a fly rod.
  • Do you have proper rod storage? When I refer to rod storage I am talking about your vehicle. You may not want a 1 piece fly rod if it wont fit in your car.
  • Save money with a combo! Often times new fly anglers will start off by purchasing a fly rod combo. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Combos can range in price, but at least you can try it out for very little money or investment.
  • Upgrade you fly rod when appropriate. If you do choose a fly rod combo as your first rod that’s great. Do not hesitate to upgrade your fly rod once you have decided that this is something you are going to do more of. Premium fly fishing equipment really outperforms that cheap stuff. When your ready, invest in something nice like Redingotn or Sage. It will last a lifetime and create a smoother fishing experience for you.

Final Thoughts On Beginner Fly Fishing Rods

Hopefully you found this article to be informative, and you are walking away feeling like you understand a bit more about what makes a particular fly rod a good choice for a given person and situation.

Fly rod consideration review

  • Consider you fish species, big, medium, or small.
  • Location you are fishing, will you have ample room?
  • Will you need a fighting butt?
  • Storage
  • Combos

A good fly rod is an investment, but it is an investment that will last for many years. Fly fishing can bring great joy to your life.

Good luck, tight lines, and always remember that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office!

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