Anything Fly Fishing

More Thoughts on Fly Rod Selection

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Some previous articles have delved into the subject of fly rod selection. After some consideration, this is a topic that deserves a deeper look into what type of rod suits a particular situation or prey.

Wade Fishing versus Kayak Fishing

If you are a fly fisherman who enjoys both wade fishing for cold-water species as well as kayak fishing for warm-water species, you might need to consider the types of rods that would be most beneficial for each pursuit.

Wade fishing allows for the use of a wider range of rod types due to the fact that the fisherman is in a standing position. While you might find a rod that is used for such will also suffice for kayak fishing, keep in mind that being in a seated position in a kayak makes the use of a longer rod more suitable. In fact, I have a 9-foot, 5 weight rod that serves well for both types of fishing. In reality, even a 10-foot or 11-foot rod would be an advantage in kayak fishing.

For wade fishing, I have used everything from 6-foot to 9-foot rods. On small, brushy streams, the shorter rod is an advantage, but on the bigger, open streams the longer rod shines. If you are limited to one rod, the 9-footer is an all-around favorite. If you are fishing a small stream with the long rod, try “dapping”. This is a technique where a fly is dropped into a small pocket and “jigged” to attract fish. You might be surprised at the size fish that inhabit these small pools.

Brook trout in pre-spawn.

Fly Size used is a Factor in Fly Rod Selection

Fly size is usually determined by the quarry you choose to stalk. By the same token, the fly size used should be a factor in determining the fly rod selection. If you are fishing for large bass or salmon, it may be that an 8 or 9 weight rod of 8 or 9 feet would be a good choice. On the other hand, if you are fishing a stream for small to moderate sized trout or a pond for panfish, a lighter rod of 3 or 4 weight might be better suited.

Fishing for larger species such as bass or salmon might entail the use of huge popping bugs or heavy, bulky streamers. The heavier, longer rods will definitely be an asset.

If you are pursuing panfish or smaller trout; dry flies, small poppers and smaller streamers will allow the smaller rods to excel.

Discussion of Weight and Length

Basic physics is involved in the inter-action of weight and length of a fly rod. A longer, lightweight rod will be “whippy” and will not have the back-bone to propel a large popper or streamer. Similarly, a short, heavy weight fly rod will be stiff and unresponsive. These attributes must be a vital part of rod selection. A poor choice can lead to a lot of unwarranted frustration on the water and can be easily avoided.

Cost as a Consideration

A good fly rod, properly cared for, can be a long-term investment. Cost does not guarantee a fly rod that will meet all your requirements. It is also a purchase that will help determine the amount of pleasure you will find on the water. It is a time to realize that a few extra dollars might well contribute to years of fly fishing joy.

Remember to bring along all your other fly fishing necessities.

Don’t forget to take advantage of those special holidays such as Father’s Day to plant a few suggestive seeds about that special rod you have been ogling. I can’t think of a gift that would provide as much pleasure over a long period of time.


Ross has written 42 books on a wide array of outdoors-oriented subjects. You can find them at Amazon or Amazon Kindle. For signed copies email

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