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:
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.
Lines come in many different forms with labels that sometimes confuse the beginner. 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.