Sure, there is a lot of hype about the ingredients of a fly rod; graphite, boron, high modulous, “most accurate tapers ever,” etc. But, what does all this mean? What does adding boron to your rod add to your fishing experience, especially as a beginner to intermediate fly fisherperson. Not much!
Just put away the notion the fancy rod technology is going to up your success on the water or ensure you a quality time on the water with friends and family. Take a minute to think about what we are all out there for. The experience, the adventure….the smiles.
Over the years I’ve had rods in my quiver that run the gamut of all the major brands offered in the USA. All the top names. Most are amazing, some aren’t. Some feel better than others and all have a different application. The truth is however, none of these rods have made my day nor did any of them break my day. Picking the right rod for the job is easier than you’ve been lead to believe. Sure you can spend days/weeks/months researching the rod with the best technology, talk to the local fly shop about the rod they prefer when casting 90 ft to tailing bonefish, or discuss which rod is going to allow you to fish the lightest tippet to the spookiest trout in Harriman Ranch.
As an alternative to that, here is a helpful and extremely simple break down of where different-sized graphite rods fall in the fly fishing world based on species:
A 9 foot 5 weight is generally accepted as the baseline trout rod. However, trout rods range from 7.5 foot to 11 foot in weight ranges 2 weight to 7 weight depending on the anglers fine tuned specific application. No need for complicating things though, if you’re interested in trout fishing, a 9 foot 5 weight is the ticket. It is handy to have a rod that is made up of four pieces and comes with an adequate carrying case for the rods protection while traveling to and from the water.
Bass and Carp can be targeted with your standard trout 9ft 5wt; no need to get a second rod if you’re just getting started. These species can also be targeted with a smaller or larger rod weight, ranging between 4wt up to an 8wt.
A 9 foot 8 weight is considered the starter rod size for these species. Similar to the Trout/Bass/Carp rod spectrum; Permit, Bonefish, and Steelhead can be targeted with rods ranging from 9ft 6wt to 9ft 9wt. However, the best all-around rod size to effectively target and fight these types of hard-pulling game fish is the 9ft 8wt. Steelhead rods can get fairly complicated as far as their rod length and rod size. Again, start with the 9ft 8wt to keep the rod quiver as unpolluted as possible.
When getting into these larger game fish, you’ll be looking at some real broomsticks. A 9 foot 11 weight is the middle of the road rod for targeting these fish. When wrangling sails from the bow of a 35-foot center console, you’re most likely going to want to run a 12 weight or bigger with a foregrip, or your offshore buddies are going to be rolling their eyes at how long it takes you to land your fish. Don’t give those guys any more reason to chuckle at us fly fishermen. For adult Tarpon you don’t want to go any smaller than a 10 weight. Anything smaller is too light and common consensus is it will take you too long to leader the fish, leaving it vulnerable to fatigue and predation from the tax man. A 9ft 11wt has you covered for most offshore or inshore giant salty game fish.
The bottom line is to pick a rod that feels right in your hand, has a price tag you’re comfortable with, and from a brand that actually cares about their warranty obligations. There is no need to over complicate your rod-purchasing decision. Keep it simple and you’ll have more money to spend getting to your favorite fishing spot and keeping a smile on your face.