There is nothing quite like picking out that first fly rod. Of course not all of us had the luxury of choosing the first rod. God bless my dad for trying, but my first fly pole he got me was one of those bargain basement jobbers from the big box store complete with foam grip and both spinning reel and fly reels.

Thank goodness that thing fell apart in short order and I wound up building my next fly rod that has lasted me all these years later. Of course you may not want to go through
the trouble of assembling, wrapping and finishing a rod and fortunately there are many off the shelf rods that are perfectly capable performers when it comes to trout fishing.

But when it comes to a rod for trout fishing, typically you hear about picking a moderation action 5 weight rod. I think that instead of following the herd, when selecting a rod, get one that matches the exact type of water and conditions you usually fish for the best match.

There are two main aspects to zero in on when choosing a fly rod; line weight and rod action.

First up is line weight. I agree that 5 weight is a good all-around size when it comes to trout fishing, for most conditions. But I tend to regularly hit small rivers and creeks with wily, but small, brook trout. In these streams a 5 weight would be overkill so I stick with a svelte 3 weight rod that measures seven feet six inches in length and is feather lite.

This allows maneuvering around bushes and overhanging tree branches with just enough length for tossing a roll cast every now and then. For any lake fishing this setup is totally inadequate and just does not have the casting distance needed. If large lakes are your norm then go with the 5 weight or even 6 weight rod and a weight forward line that can conjure up the muscle for distance casting.

But what about rod action? Again, in my usual fishing setting I am working delicate dry fly presentation in brushy streams. I can’t have my fly splashing down… and this lends itself towards a moderate or even slow rod action where gentle landings on smooth pools and drifts are the norm.

But a lite setup can’t handle even a breath of wind. It simply does not have the strength to punch the line through wind. The other benefit to a moderate action is the forgiveness for beginning fly casters that may have a little loop or slop in their casts.

If you plan on hitting large open waters that have bad conditions like wind and whopper rainbows then you should step up to a fly rod with a nice fast action that can punch the line through the wind with the backbone to put the hammer down on big fish.

Using the method of matching rod to water is going to incur the cost of more than one all around fly rod, and you will probably want to pickup some extra spools for your reel. But there is something to using feather weight tackle on small streams for little or big fish and then switching over to the big guns only when needed.

John Andersen is a long time fly fisherman, tyer and more recently fly rod builder. Be sure to check out his trout fly
resources web site.

By John Anderson