Fly Fishing Rod Selection

What You Should Know

I’ve just started to learn about the importance of your fly fishing rod selection. I initially wrote this piece in a complete parallel to selecting a man, but no matter how I tried – the metaphors came across as way too sexual. We’ll keep to literal fly fishing rod selection here and embarrass no one.

The first set-up I ever purchased was a St. Croix graphite rod with a Pop Cassette reel – which I promptly destroyed with a car door and a rush to get down I-70 before the ski traffic kicked in.

My second fly fishing rod was much more of an investment and VAST improvement to my gear collection and ultimately to over-all ability to catch fish. I bought an Orvis Trident 9’ 6W – a great size for most of your fishing adventures.

I seriously thought weight and length selection was simply a matter of preference – whatever felt good in your hand. It never occurred to me that your intended use dictated your rod selection. Now that I’m finding myself exploring different water types; wide rivers, skinny tail waters, glassy lakes – I get it.


ElkHorn Rod & ReelElkHorn Rod

ACTION I urge you to try the rod out before you buy it to see how it feels casting. What you’re looking for is a feeling of sensitivity combined with power. See why selecting a good rod is very much like selecting a good man? Everyone’s casting style is different and no matter how the website, salesperson, or marketing materials describe that rod – you must try it out and feel for yourself.

Fly fishing rod actions are often classified as moderate, fast, or very fast. You probably won’t find a slow-action rod because there’s really no use for them. Moderate actions are designed for delicate presentations; they load efficiently and may be the best choice for a beginning caster. Fast to very fast actions give greater power and accuracy for longer casts or windy conditions. Try them out and see what feels good in your hand and lets you do your dance.

ROD LENGTH Rods blanks, (the stick part) come in lengths from 6 to 15 feet. The shorter rods are for small streams surrounded with tippet eating bushes. Long rods perform roll casts better and are great for keeping your rigging high when floating in a tube.

LINE/ROD WEIGHT Your line weight will match your rod weight, (unless you become uber-pro and figure out how to mix and match the two to achieve optimal results in adverse conditions – but we won’t go there now.) Line weights can range from 0, (I have no idea what you fish for with a zero except maybe gold-fish but I’m sure it has to do with the desire to cast to the spookiest of fish), to a whopping 15 weight for long casts, large flies, and windy conditions. Your tradeoff in small vs. large is delicacy versus power.

HOW MUCH? You get what you pay for. The expense has much to do with what the rod is actually made of and graphite itself is a relatively expensive material. If the company puts great care into the design of the rod, you’re paying for that expertise. And if they built the rod with quality materials and workmanship, then most certainly they used quality components throughout; the grip, guides and reel seat. Also – look for a warranty and ask about customer support. My advice? Buy the best rod you can afford – you won’t go wrong. (Keep reading to save about $100)

My latest purchase? Brian from Elkhorn Fly Rod & Reel geared me up with a 5X, 8’6”, #3, 5 piece rod in “finger-nail polish” pink. I adore this fly rod. It feels smooth like butter in my hands and allows me to cast like a rifle. Bonus? It’s GORGEOUS and gets a lot of compliments on the river. Want one? For a limited time, go to my CONTACT page and drop me a line and I’ll tell Brian to sell you one for $350 – that's for EVERYTHING you need - complete setup: rod, reel, line, backing, and leader. Beautiful colors too - grey, pink, purple, raspberry, and camo. Make one your signature color!

ElkHorn Rod & Reel

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