Your First Fly Rod - What to Know Before Buying

4 years ago

 Selecting the best rod, reel and line combination is dependent on your location and the species you will target. You'll want to choose a line weight that matches your rod weight and select a reel that will hold the line and balance the rod. For example, you would choose a 5 weight line to match a 5 weight rod. You would also require a mid-sized reel to round out the combination.

So consider the following before buying your first fly rod:

Rod Actions:

The action of a fly rod determines where the rod flexes to load your fly line. Slower actions have a deeper load point on the rod. Faster actions load closer to the tip for quick, powerful casting strokes.

Slow – Deep load that requires a slow, well-timed cast. Not a common choice for beginners. Ideal for dry fly specific situations.

Medium – Load point near the center of the rod. Requires a smooth, moderate paced casting stroke. Ideal for dry flies and light nymphing applications.

Medium-Fast – The most common choice for beginners. Ideal for dry flies, nymphs and streamers. Forgiving and versatile. 

Fast – Requires a powerful casting stroke with precise timing. A great choice for distance casting, windy conditions and bulky flies.


Choosing the Best Weight:

The rod and line weight must match to properly load the rod. Choose a lighter line and you will struggle to produce power. Choose a heavier line and the rod will flex too far and pile your cast. Choose a rod and line weight that is appropriate for your location and favorite species.

0-4 Weight – Small streams with small trout and panfish. Dry fly and nymph applications.

4-6 Weight – Trout, panfish and bass in a wide range of rivers and lakes. The 5 or 6 weight is the most common size for beginners.

6-8 Weight – Trout, bass, pike, some steelhead and salmon. Ideal for heavy flies and larger bodies of water.

8-10 Weight – Bass, pike, salmon, steelhead and saltwater fishing. This range covers large waters, large flies and bigger species.

10-12 Weight – Big game fishing in saltwater and large rivers and lakes.


Line Types:

Lines come in many different forms with labels that sometimes confuse the fly linesbeginner. They are labeled with an abbreviation indicating the taper or line type followed by a number to indicate the weight.

Double Taper Floating – Typically labeled as DT-F on the packaging followed by the weight. This line has a moderate head followed by a long belly and another moderate head. The head on either end matches and you can reverse the line when one end becomes worn. This is a smooth dry fly choice but does not shoot through the guides as forcefully as a weight forward line.

Weight Forward Floating – Labeled as WF-FThe most common choice for beginners and really for all anglers. It has a heavy taper towards the head of the line. This helps the line gain momentum and shoot through the guides. It works well for all styles of fly fishing. Go with a WF Floating line to match your rod and you are covered for the majority of your fishing applications.

Slow Sinking  - The slow sinking lines work well for stillwaters but a floating line with a lightly weighted fly is sufficient.

Intermediate Sinking – This is a popular option for stillwater fishing. It sinks at a moderate rate, somewhere between one and two inches per second. It is a specialty line but a good choice as a second line for stillwater anglers.

Fast Sinking – Fast sinking lines are rated by their weight in grains. They are best used on six weight and heavier rods.


Buying a Complete Package:

Package deals are a great option for beginning anglers. Many of the leading brands sell package combinations with a rod, reel and line. The package saves you time and effort because the line is pre-rigged. Many also come with a leader, a few flies and an instructional video.



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