Fly Fishing for Beginners – How To Choose A Rod

Its probably obvious but selecting a fly fishing rod is your most important task as a fly fishermen. Though there are probably thousands of rods to choose from, there are only three things you will ever need to know:

  • Rod weight
  • Rod length
  • Rod action

Almost all rods that are sold today are made from graphite which is a big improvement from past rod design.  The main advantages of graphite rods are that they are light, strong, and consistent.  For a beginner fly fishermen, I would not consider anything but a graphite rod.

fishing rodMost manufacturers have unconditional replacement and repair warranties for their rods.  Don’t buy a rod that does not have a warranty.  The majority of fishermen have broken a rod or two in their lives and knowing you can get a replacement is worth paying some extra money for.

The prices of graphite rods can range anywhere from $45 to over $1,200. You should be able to purchase a good quality graphite rod with a lifetime warranty for about $90.

Rod Weight – The basic purpose of a fly fishing rod is to cast your fly to a desired spot to catch some fish. Since the fly tied at the end of the line is light in weight, the fishing line must have weight so it will cast it any distance. This is very different than spin cast fishing where the weight comes from the lure.

Fly fishing rod manufacturers design fishing rods to cast a specific line weight to achieve the best results.  3, 4, and 5 weight fly fishing rods are designed to catch small, light fish and casting relatively short distances.

They are best for small rivers, streams or fly fishing in small lakes. 6 and 7 weight rods are good general purpose rods that can be used just about anywhere. Rods weight 8 and larger rods are best for fishing for bigger fish like salmon where you will tend to catch a heavier fish or cast longer distances.

If most of your fly fishing going to be in smaller streams, rivers, and lakes, a 6 weight rod is all you need.  As you become more experienced and decide to try your hand at smaller creeks or for larger fish, you can always purchase other fishing rods.

Rod Length – Fly fishing rods come in various lengths that range from 6 to over 11 feet.  However the majority are made around 9 or 10 feet in length.  You need a shorter rod if you are casting short distances or tight areas with brush or trees near you.

Short rods are also light weight rods. Longer fly fishing rods are available if you need to cast a longer distance with few obstacles around you.

A 10 foot rod is a good length for general purpose fishing unless you know for a fact that you will need a shorter or longer fly fishing rod.

Rods are made from 3 pieces so they can be disassembled and stored easier.  They usually come in 2, 3, 4, and rarely 5 pieces that are pushed together to make your length.  There is no less performance with a rod that breaks down in more pieces, so its best to purchase a 3 or 4 piece rod.  They will cost a bit more, but they much easier to carry around than a 2 piece rod.

Rod Action – The action of the fishing rod is a more difficult to define than rod weight or length.  The action is where the rod bends when a load is applied.  Rods usually come in three types: slow, medium, and fast.

Slow action rods will usually bend in the bottom third of the rod near the reel. A slow action rod are described as whippy and tend to be hard to cast longer distances.  A Medium action rod will bend in the middle of the rod.  Fast action rods are considered stiff and bend only in the last third of the rod.

The rods provide more power when casting and will give you more distance. The major drawback is that fast action rods are more likely to break near the tip if not used correctly.

As a general rule most beginners should buy a fast action rod as they are easier and more accurate to cast longer distances. You should try casting the rod before purchasing it if possible. It will help you determine what action is best for your style of casting.

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