Choosing a Fly Rod for trout
Which length and weight of trout fly rod is best for you and your fishing needs?
Selecting a trout fly rod is not as complex as it may seem. What follows is a generalized discussion that will help you make good choices when selecting fly rods for trout fishing.
The vast majority of time, trout anglers are fly fishing with rods in line weights 3 through 6. Though you might use a two weight on a small Appalachian creek, or a seven weight on a large Montana river, these situations are rarer and will be treated as outliers.
Each rod weight has an ideal length and ideal application, more or less regardless of manufacturer or brand. Of course, some extremely specialized fly rods exist at every line weight, but we believe our clients are best served by this concise selection of trout fly rods.
The Three Weight Fly Rod
Three weights are the rods to choose for fishing spring creeks. For this application, a fly rod around 8ft 9in is ideal. It gives you the right balance of accuracy and control because it’s a little shorter than the standard nine feet, but also has the length you’ll need for precise mends and line control on the water.
You should buy an 8ft 9in three weight fly rod if:
1. You’re targeting seriously educated trout, as you would find in spring creeks
2. Flies used are small, like size 14 and smaller
The Four Weight Fly Rod
To our thinking, there are two types of four weights. For fishing small water with a variety of flies, a four weight fly rod around 7ft 6in is ideal. This compact length allows you to work in tight amongst the brush that can line small streams, while a four weight line has the guts to carry some of the larger, bushier dry flies, like size 8 Stimmies, that are so fun to fish.
You should buy a 7ft 6in four weight fly rod if:
1. You’re planning to fish small streams and creeks or fly fishing the backcountry with a variety of flies.
Meanwhile, for fishing dry flies on rivers, a four weight trout rod around 8ft 6in is ideal. Much like the spring creek 3 weight discussed above, this four weight has the right balance of accuracy and reach, and it’s got a little more oomph for distance, larger flies, or a stiff breeze.
You should buy an 8ft 6in four weight fly rod if:
1. You’re looking for a dry fly specialty rod
2. The dry flies you want to fish are normal-sized, ie size 6 to 18
The Five Weight Fly Rod
Five weights are arguably the most versatile trout fly rods. They can place small flies with delicacy, but have the guts to handle larger flies, and longer casts in wind. In our opinion, the 9ft five weight fly rod is the rod that will serve anglers well in the broadest range of angling situations.
You should buy a 9ft five weight fly rod if:
1. You’re looking for the all-around trout rod
2. You’re not sure what trout rod you should get
The Six Weight Fly Rod
To us, six weights are streamer rods. They are more powerful than five weights and can better control bulky and/or heavy flies in the air. So if you love to fish streamers or out-sized dry flies like mouse patterns, reach for a six weight.
You should buy a 9ft six weight fly rod if:
1. You’re looking for a streamer specialty rod
So as you can see, the two primary factors that determine trout fly rod selection are: (1) type and size of fly you’ll be using and (2) the type of water you’ll be fishing.
Now, there are two other considerations that may push your choice up a line weight: (a) if the place you’ll be fishing is known for consistently strong winds, you might consider going up a line weight; (b) likewise, if the trout you’ll be fishing for are known for being consistently large or being very powerful fighters, you might consider going up a line weight. As an example, if you were looking for a dry fly specialty rod to use in a very windy place like Patagonia, you might be better served by a 9ft 5wt than an 8ft 6in 4wt.
Hopefully this helped resolve some of the uncertainty regarding fly rod selection. Based on our collective experience, these are the specific models of trout fly rods that serve our clients best. If you follow the guidelines laid out above, you can’t go wrong, but if you have any questions at all, just give us a call or livechat us.