Orvis Fly Fishing
How Do I Choose My First Fly Rod?
One of the first steps to starting fly fishing is buying a fly rod. This is a personal experience, and the best way to do it is to try as many different rods as possible. Without being clouded by all advertisements, prices, brands and opinions, holding a few fly rods and experiencing how they feel will tell you which one is right for you.
Each species you intend to fish for requires a rod suited to that species. Once you have an idea what you’ll be primarily fishing for you can help yourself narrow down the wide range of rod weights, lengths, styles of handles and construction. Try to keep it simple and find what’s most comfortable in your hand.
If you’re interested in trout, look for a 5WT or 6WT rod (WT = weight). For bass, look at 6WT and 7WT rods. If you’re going to be fishing for steelhead and salmon, go bigger and look in the range of 7, 8 and 9WT rods.
Too long or just right?
Along with different weights, fly rods come in a variety of lengths, too. Many nymph fisherman like longer rods to help them mend line and keep more of the fly line off the water while making drifts.
Small stream fisherman tend to like rods in the 6-7’ range because smaller rods easier to navigate through brush and are ideal for making short casts. Generally speaking, a rod in the 9’ range is most common and the most versatile of all the fly rod lengths.
If you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for, try a graphite 9’, 6WT rod. It’s not too light and not too heavy. It can be sensitive enough for dry fly fishing while also providing enough power to turn over streamer flies.
You’ll be spending a lot of time with the rod in your hand and it should feel good, match your unique style, and hold up to the task of catching your fist fish on a fly.
Pick your price
Price is an undeniable variable when it comes to fly rods. They can be extremely affordable or extremely expensive. Think about it like car buying: they all serve the same purpose, but vary greatly in price due to components and features.
Fly rods are made of a variety of materials. Graphite is the lightest and most common. It accommodates most casting styles nicely. For a slower casting stroke, fiberglass is a great choice. Bamboo rods offer the most delicate and personal choice in fly rod selection. Some graphite rods cost more than bamboo and some bamboo rods cost more than used cars.
What’s right is up to you
In the end, spend what you can afford. Your first rod doesn’t need to cost a lot. Once you get started casting and get to know your own foibles and the intricacies of your fishing style, you may want to pick up another rod.
These days, few fishermen have just one rod. If you live in a place where you can’t hold and test rods, customer reviews are a great way to get an idea about other people’s satisfaction with a specific rod. If anyone you know has a few rods, ask if you can try them out.
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