Fishing is probably one of the most popular forms of recreation in the world. All age groups, genders and people from all walks of life enjoy fishing. The equipment needed to fish is very limited; a fishing rod, reel, fishing line, hooks and lures.
For the uninitiated, fly fishing may seem like a huge mountain to climb but the key to entering the magical world of fly fishing lies in getting the basics right. The fishing rod is the most important piece of equipment.
What is The Best Fly Fishing Rod For a Beginner?
- What is The Best Fly Fishing Rod For a Beginner?
- What Are The Features Of A Fly Fishing Rod
- What Does Fly Fishing Rod Action Mean?
- What Length Fly Fishing Rod Is Best For Me?
- What Should I Do To Keep My Fly Fishing Rod In Best Condition?
- What Should I Check For When Buying A Second Hand Fly Fishing Rod?
- How Much Do I Need To Spend To Get A Reasonable Fly Fishing Rod?
- Best Fly Fishing Rod Recommendation
There are two questions that need to be answered: “What sort of fishing am I going to do?” That’s the first question. Are you going to fish in still waters, big lakes, big rivers or small rivers? Depending on the location, you would need a rod that is the perfect length and weight. As a beginner, it is important to choose a rod that can work well in a lot of situations. It is not advisable to go for a 10 foot rod of 8# for small rivers or an 8 foot one of 4# for a big river. For example, if the fishing is going to be done in water with dense brush, then a shorter rod would be a better choice.
The second thing to consider is the budget. Depending on how deep one’s pocket is, a beginner can get an expensive one, but it must be told that there are plenty of good and cheap fishing rods on the market. Understanding the basics of casting and asking around would help a beginner find a good deal.
The beginner is likely to be attracted to the faster, tip action rods, but having a rod that is too flexible or too stiff, too short or too long will take the fun out of fly fishing even before getting started. Here are some important factors to consider.
Weight Of The Fishing Rod
One of the important factors that beginners should look at is the weight of the rod. A light weight rod is the way to go as it is easier to manage and learn with.
There are three common types of fly fishing rods: Graphite, Cane and Fiberglass.
Although, cane and fiberglass rods are cheaper than the graphite rods; the advantage with graphite rods is that they are light and easy to use as well as being durable, especially so for a beginner. Having a lot of weight to carry around in the beginning makes it difficult. A five or six weight is considered to be good.
Length Of The Rod
A 9-foot long rod is ideal for catching trout. Of course, as mentioned earlier, the location of fishing plays a very important role in determining the length of the rod.
Action Of The Rod
Action specifies the bending resistance of the rod. A medium action would be better for a beginner as this allows good flexibility in any weather conditions, even on a windy day.
The easiest line to use is said to be one that is thinner at the end near the fly and weight-forward – the double-taper.
Type Of Reel
The reel should relate to the weight and length of the rod. If the length and weight of the rod is medium, a medium reel would be perfect.
The best place to purchase a fishing rod is at a bait and tackle shop or a real pro shop. Pro shops usually have an exchange policy where they will replace the rod. This can be great for a beginner who can only know if the rod is comfortable or not after checking it out. The casting technique in beginners is not sufficiently developed and when they end up using the wrong rod that is either too powerful or heavy, it results in not deriving full enjoyment from fly fishing.
The sheer magnificence and the elegance of fly fishing is what attracts people to this very ancient sport. It is almost like an artist’s canvas that brings out the creativity – the art of attracting or luring those beautiful fish. This art takes time and immense patience to perfect but no angler has ever complained.
What Are The Features Of A Fly Fishing Rod
Fly rods let the fly lines be cast with power and/or accuracy. A good rod is one that can do both and take the fly and fly line to exactly where the fish are.
If casting is important, then control is the key. Once the fly is in the water, a good rod helps to control the fly effectively.
The fly rod is used to set the hook, fight and catch the fish. It needs to be flexible but strong enough not to break or snap when it bends.
There are other features that should be carefully considered to making fly fishing an enjoyable sport. Based on the need, one should look into the power, action, weight of the line, lure weight, and number of pieces.
Fly fishing rods can vary vastly in the power they hold. There are rods that are Ultra Light, Light, Medium Light, Medium, Medium Heavy, Heavy, Ultra Heavy, and some more combinations. Choosing the right powered rod is important and is based on the type of fishing, type of fish, size of fish being caught. There is nothing complicated about this. It is obvious that the ultra light rods are perfect for catching small fish or in situations where the rod has to be very responsive. Similarly the heavy rods are great for deep sea fishing, surf fishing or catching fish that are heavier. Why is this feature very important? You can catch any fish with any rod, but imagine the horror of trying to catch a huge fish with the ultra light rod. Forget about enjoyment, it will be a battle and the end result could be a broken tackle with the fish swimming away happily.
Action refers to the measure of the fly rod’s flexibility. There are three main types of actions available: Slow Action, Medium Action and Fast Action.
- Slow Action Rods are extremely flexible for the whole length and will bend to almost a U shape. They are used to make slow and accurate casts. They cannot be used in strong winds and not good for long casts.
- Medium Action Rods are only flexible for half the length; from the middle of the rod to the tip. These rods are very popular as they are very versatile and work well with many different water conditions. They are very easy to control and can be used by beginners as well as veterans, who use them as a matter of preference.
- Fast Action Rods arestiff for the whole length and have flexibility only at the tip of the rod. These rods can cast the line further than the other types. They are useful when landing bigger and heavier fish. They are easy to use in windy conditions. However, these are not considered suitable for beginners because of the difficulty in controlling them. They are perfect for fast flowing waters where a long cast is needed.
Fly Line Weight
This is one of the most important features of a fly fishing rod apart from the action of the rod. When we say weight, we are not talking about the weight of the rod itself. We are talking about the fly line weight that the rod can properly cast. These weights are expressed in numbers from 1 to 14 (4wt, 5wt, 6wt). By and large, a rod can cast any fly line weight, but the rod’s power and action will change if the line weight is greater or lesser than the specified number. If a rod is meant to be used with a fly line weight of 4 and it is used with a 7, it can be really a bad experience. Since fly lines use the same numbering system as fly rods, it must be ensured that the fly rod matches the weight of the fly line being used.
The performance of a fly fishing rod depends on the lure weight that the rod can support. The lure weight is given in grams or ounces.
Fly fishing hooks come in several shapes, sizes and materials with each variety serving a different purpose. The Eye is where the leader is threaded and tied; The Bend is the curved part; The Shank is the straight part that extends from behind the eye to the starting of the bend; The Gap is what is between the shank and the point of the hook; The Barb is what makes the hook stick in the mouth of a fish.
Number of Pieces
This feature needs to be considered carefully, as single piece rods are supposed to be the best. However, many people find it difficult to transport them safely because of the length. Then there are rods that are two pieces attached together.
In theory, an ideal rod is one that has all these features in perfect unison to allow for greater casting distance, accuracy and fish fighting quality.
What Does Fly Fishing Rod Action Mean?
One of the terms you will hear a lot in fly fishing is the ‘action’ of the rod. This refers to the flexibility of the fly fishing rod. The faster the action, the stiffer the rod! These days many manufacturers put a marking on them that tells us the action of the rod. Action is also referred to as flex in fly fishing parlance.
Types of actions
- Fast action/tip flex
- Medium action/mid flex
- Slow action/full flex
Fast action/tip flex – This is the least flexible of all fly rods and is stiff for most of its length, except at the tip of the rod. This means, when you cast the fly fishing rod, it bends only at the end. The rest of the fly rod will be straight without any flexibility. With this, you need to exert very little energy for casting and it will cast very far. It is easier to move or change the position of the line using this rod than it is with slow action rods.
Medium action/mid flex – This rod has better flexibility than the fast action rods but not as much as the slow ones. This is the reason they are called medium action. When you cast the medium fly fishing rod, it bends half the length, from the middle to the tip and the rest of the rod remains completely stiff.
Slow action/full flex – As the name suggests, this has slow action and is the most flexible of all three and it bends for most of its length, almost assuming a U shape when casting. These rods cannot be cast as far as the others and most of the casting energy is on the rod and not on the line. But they are great shock absorbers when fighting a fish.
The more flexible the rod is, the less forgiving it is. The easiest way to determine the action of a fly fishing rod is to take the rod in your hand and shake it to see how flexible or where it flexes.
Now that you’ve determined what the action of a fly fishing rod is, let us look into which one is good for you.
The action that you should have for your fly fishing rod is dependent on what type of fishing you are going to do, what type of fish you will be going for, where you will be fishing and the weather conditions.
Fast Action – If you are going to make longer casts, interested in fishing for larger fish and fishing in windy conditions on a regular basis, then the fast action fly fishing rods are excellent for use in such conditions. These rods are very powerful and ensure quick and long casts, and you can catch the largest of fish with ease. The drawback with these rods is that they cannot be used in small creeks or rivers and fishing for trout on light tippets can be a nightmare. They are very tough for beginners to handle and will take away the fun from learning.
Medium Action – If you are a beginner, then you would do well to go in for a medium action fly fishing rods. These rods are wonderfully versatile and allow slower line cast, giving you more control. They are used by many expert anglers too. They can easily make longer casts and are as good in smaller creeks or rivers. If you have the intention of fishing in all types of waters; from large rivers to the smaller creeks and you cannot afford to or do not wish to buy different rods for various conditions, then the medium action rods are perfect for you. These are the most popular rods in the market.
Slow Action – If small creeks and small rivers are where you are going to fish most of the time, or you are going to fish for trout with light tackle, then it is advisable to go in for a slow action fly fishing rod. Beginners will have better control over them and are great for making short casts. Smaller fish can be caught with ease using the slow action rods. These are not meant for long casts and windy conditions, and are not versatile like the medium action rods.
Before spending all that money on buying a fly fishing rod, it is essential to understand the action of the rod based on what and how you are going to be using your fly fishing rod.
What Length Fly Fishing Rod Is Best For Me?
The question of what the length of the fly fishing rod should be, elicits another question in response, “what is your height?” There is no “one size fits all” with a fly fishing rod. If the height of the angler is 5’4”, a rod that is seven feet long is as good as not having a rod. If the person is thin, then they certainly would not want to end up with a weight that is unmanageable.
It is important to choose a rod that fits the buyer’s specific needs and not what someone else has. The first criteria when looking for a rod of the perfect length is the comfort it affords when holding and casting it for a few hours at a stretch. Believe me! It is going to be very disappointing if the rod does not feel comfortable.
While the angler’s size matters, there are other crucial factors that need to be taken into account.
- Type of fishing
- Location of fishing
- Weather conditions
Let’s break things down further, in order to arrive at the perfect length of a fly fishing rod.
Short Fly Rods – If the fishing is going to be done in a small stream or a small spring creek with lots of brush, a small or shorter fly fishing rod, about 7½ feet if the casting conditions are very tight, is easier to control and the chances of it breaking between the trees are going to be less. There are even smaller ones that can be chosen. If a 9-feet rod is used in a small stream, it is going to hit the brush. Since the short rods are not as powerful as the long ones, they have slower line speeds and cannot be cast far or used effectively in windy conditions.
Medium Fly Rods – Medium-sized fly fishing rods are great for use in open places with 50 feet or more room and not covered with brush, such as rivers. The longer the fly rod, the better control it offers over casting as well as giving the ability to mend the line, and do other things that cannot be expected with a short line. The 8-feet length fly fishing rods are good for trout fishing on small to medium sized rivers. They are also good for people who are small and short, as they are not as challenging and there is less weight to move when casting.
Large Fly Rods – Large fly fishing rods are good for larger rivers. Usually a 9-feet rod is used for fishing in large rivers, float fishing or for casting in windy conditions. One of the most popular sizes is the 8½-feet rod, as this is considered by many as striking a balance between the large and medium; as it neither too big nor too small. There are also 10-feet rods or bigger available for big saltwater game fish.
This should give a pretty good idea of what one should be getting. In case it does not, read on to look at it from another angle.
For a beginner or an angler who fishes in several different sized rivers, ponds, lakes; an 8-feet rod is good. For an intermediate or advanced angler who will be fly fishing in larger waters, windy conditions or looking to catch very large trout, then a 9-feet rod is great. For people looking to catch fish that require light tackle, such as brown trout or smaller trout, then a rod between 8 and 8½-feet works well.
As long as the rod meets the angler’s specific needs, it can’t go wrong. Generally, 8 to 9 feet rods suit most fly fishing situations. However, the length of the rod depends on the type of waters, physical size of the person and the comfort it provides when fly fishing for hours on end.
What Should I Do To Keep My Fly Fishing Rod In Best Condition?
The rods of today are made with long-lasting materials and provide high performance, but they certainly cannot take care of themselves. Serious anglers expect a lot from their fly fishing rods and place high demands on them. But for a fly rod to provide its master a lifetime of angling enjoyment, it has to be in perfect condition.
The care of the precious rod begins the day a decision to bring it home is made.
Every angler wants a great rod that feels comfortable, that is multi-purpose and lasts long. But how much sense does it make to use a single rod for all conditions and all species of fish? This will not only provide an unsatisfactory fly fishing experience but also break or spoil the rod. It is important to pay attention to the specifications of each rod and choose one that meets the exact needs. Just remember, there is no super-rod that can do it all.
A passionate angler gives the care and respect the fly fishing rod deserves.
Grease The Connections
When using multi-piece rods, the modern designs ensure the rods do not break easily but you have to be careful with rod connections. There is a very good chance of the rod connections breaking, when they are jammed too tightly together and force has to be used to bring them apart. Just a little greasing each time they are connected can make a huge difference. Paraffin wax can also be used. This helps the rods stay tight when using and easy to separate the connections after the job is done.
Keep Guides In Good Shape
Lures can prove to be damaging to the guides. Many anglers make the mistake of hanging the hooks on the guides, but the barbs can scratch the surface of the guides. This is where a hook hanger comes in handy as it is made specifically to handle sharp hooks. Another important thing to keep in mind is to never reel back the spinner all the way to the tip of the rod. Doing that creates an impact that can damage the leading guide. As long as the guides are protected, the rod will continue to cast spectacularly for years.
Do Not Lift The Rod Too High
For an angler, the ultimate excitement of a fly fishing lies in a prize catch. They forget everything else at that moment, and it has been seen that many anglers high-stick when bringing their catch in. This means, they over-angle the rod which puts a lot of pressure on the tip of the rod and can easily snap the rod. Once the fish is brought close, it is important to consciously remember not to lift the rod more than 90 degrees. Of course, the rod has to be kept taut, but not over arched. This will prevent from putting pressure on the tip.
Let Your Dirty Handle Be
Nobody likes to get their handle dirty, but this is something that cannot be prevented. With regular usage, the beautiful and pristine cork handle (which is what most of the latest rods use because it gives a great grip and feels soft) darkens in color or starts chipping. No amount of washing can actually help it stay brand new forever. In fact, scrubbing or washing the handles can only disfigure them further. Never use harsh cleaners in an attempt to make the handles shine. Just leave them alone and they will last for a long, long time to come. Just look at the old handle as a way of remembering the years of enjoyment it has given.
Wipe The Rods Clean
The fly fishing rods have to be wiped clean after every fishing trip. While this gets rid of salt water corrosion that eats away at the metal components, it also ensures that harmful contaminates do not build up on the rod. Long gaps between wiping does not help, it has to be done each time fishing is done. Rinsing off with a spritz of fresh water will keep the rod looking clean for long.
Transportation And Storing The Rods
This is where most rod damage is done, much more than the actual fishing. Most people keep the rods in trunks and trunk beds until it is time to fish. If the rod breaks when fishing, it is natural for an angler to think of fishing as the culprit, when in fact, it was the wrong storage that has spoiled the rod. It helps to invest in some of the latest storage devices available in the market, with which the rod can be stowed away safely. It is important to keep the rod away from any heavy objects or anything that can damage the rod’s surface or the guides. Then there are the overhead fans, puppies that chew cork and car doors to avoid.
Spelling this out may sound silly, but believe me, there are countless number of anglers who have broken their rods just by laying them on the ground (people step on it). Do not get into the wrong habit of tossing the rod in the back seat of your car.
Check The Guarantee
Okay, this is nothing to do with maintenance of the rod, but it is always necessary to look over the guarantee when buying a fly fishing rod. Some offer lifetime replacement to the original owner, while others offer a replacement for a modest fee, and with some there is none. This is true even with rods in the same price range.
In spite of taking all the precautions in the world, sometimes the rod may break if the angler encounters a fierce fish or when trying to catch a bigger fish. But then there is the consolation that the rod did not break from negligence.
What Should I Check For When Buying A Second Hand Fly Fishing Rod?
People buy used fly fishing rods to save money or due to lack of budget to get a new one. There are plenty of happy users who have never had problems with the used rods they purchased and continued to use them for years; on the other hand, there are as many unhappy buyers of used fly fishing rods. One has to be extra careful when getting a used rod and many people are just so excited that they are getting a rod for cheap, that they do not spend enough time checking it out.
To ensure you get value for money, the fly fishing rods need to be thoroughly checked before paying for them. There are six important areas that should be inspected.
It is very important to check out the cork for chipping or any other damage. You can easily figure out that the rod has been used a lot by looking at the discoloration of the cork. The darker it is, the more/longer it has been used. But then you must also be aware that there are ways of cleaning the cork to look less-used if not completely new; so a clean grip may not always mean the rod hasn’t been used much.
The most important part of a reel seat is the threads on it. Look for damaged threads. Try screwing up the locking nuts and loosening them to make sure you are able to do it easily. Try to twist the grip and reel seat using moderate pressure to see if they are loose. You should also take your reel with you when you go to inspect the rod and attach it to the rod, to see if the reel seat fits. If you do not do this, you may find the reel feet too thick to fit the reel seat. Hold the grip and make sure the reel seat does not twist once the reel is attached. If the rod has a metal butt cap, you should look for any dents or scratches on it.
Caress the rod all over slowly with your fingers after the initial visual inspection. There may be some roughness that you cannot see with the naked eye. You should be looking for scratches, color changes and other blemishes of the graphite. Since it is a used rod, it is understandable that there will be some minor scratches but deep scratches are a big no. If you see or feel a spot, you will have to be very careful, as this means the rod has been damaged by hitting something when casting or by impact. You should never think of buying such a rod, as this can lead to the rod breaking when fishing. Any impact damage can easily be felt with the fingers.
When checking guides, you should look for broken, bent or loose guides. The best method of checking a guide is with the use of a cotton ball that has been rolled thin and long between the palms. You can dampen your palms if needed. Once that is done, run this cotton ball through the guides. The secret here is that if there is any damage to the guides, the cotton will stick to the guide. Next, just hold the guide and exert a little pressure to see if it is loose. If there are inserts on the stripping guides, check to see if the inserts are broken or if they have any cracks.
Check the tip top the same way as you do the guides. Inspect the wraps for any damage. See if there are any cracks in the finish over the wraps.
Run your eyes carefully on the ferrules to see if there is any damage. Usually the glue joints have cracks, so check them out. Hold the male ferrule and see if it is loose. Put the male ferrule in the female ferrule and make sure the joint is tight. Assemble the complete rod and move it around to see if it feels loose.
Ask the owner if there is a rod tube from the manufacturers, and if there is, then you should be getting it with the rod. Of course, do not get all worked up if it is a TFO rod and you are not given the rod tube, as some TFO rods do not come with a tube and the seller will not want to give away the rod tube he paid for.
One of the best ways to check a fly fishing rod is to cast the rod before paying for it.
When buying used rods, you are most likely to face the problem of “no warranty.” Many manufacturers clearly state that the warranty is applicable only for the original buyer. Another good idea that many people seem to be happy with, is buying factory demos as they come with warranty cards, and they are cheaper than buying new fly fishing rods from fly shops.
If you make sure you perform the checks as stated above, you cannot go wrong with your used rod purchase.
How Much Do I Need To Spend To Get A Reasonable Fly Fishing Rod?
I wish we fly fishers could be like golfers, with a big bag full of rods. No matter what situation we encounter, we would have the right rod to use. After a few years of fly fishing, you may accumulate a selection of rods for different fishing conditions. But how much should you spend on your fly fishing rod now?
As much as we would all love to cast a $3000 piece of art, there are so many reasonably priced fishing rods in the market that you can get hold of one without having to take another mortgage loan.
There are low priced, mid-range and high-end fly fishing rods. The low priced rods of today are of good quality and will work for a few years without problems. The mid-range certainly provides best value for the buck and they target anglers looking for reasonably priced rods.
Without a doubt, the most popular today are graphite rods. These are relatively new rods and there are different types of graphite fly fishing rods. When looking for rods, you will realize that the lighter the rod the more expensive. Reasonably priced does not always mean cheap, because in many cases, this may lead to purchasing another rod in just a few years because of the bad quality of the first rod. In terms of price, these rods are usually mid-range. They are usually less expensive than a similar bamboo rod and more expensive than a fiberglass rod.
The most important thing to do is to invest in the best rod you can afford. As with everything else, there is also a “value for price” relationship where fly fishing rods are concerned. You can certainly use a $60 fly fishing rod but you will only end up unhappy and frustrated, especially if you are a beginner. Good quality rods are not very expensive these days. You can get a very good fly fishing rod in the $100 and $150 range. Most of the major fly rod manufacturers stock rods in this price range. Even if spending $600 or $800 is not a big deal for you, it is highly unlikely that even the expert anglers will be able to tell you that the expensive rod is three or four times better than the cheaper one. If you are willing to go up to $300, then you will be able to get a great rod and reel, and perhaps a backing or a line.
Another suggestion if you’re looking for a reasonably priced fly fishing rod is not to go for bamboo rods or even fiberglass rods. Good bamboo rods are on the expensive side, so even if you find one that is within your budget, it is most likely not a quality one. Looks like fiberglass rods are going the way of the dinosaur. They can be appealing to a first-time buyer as they are the least expensive. However, many anglers have begun trading their heavier fiberglass rods with the much lighter, easier to cast and more forgiving graphite rods. These rods are mid-priced and in spite of the fact that you may have to spend a few dollars extra on them when compared to fiberglass rods, they come under the “reasonably priced” category and offer best value for money. There are plenty of reasonably priced rods out there, and TFO is one of the major manufacturers that people talk about in the same breath as reasonable pricing.
To cut a long story short, you can get a great fly fishing rod for a few dollars more than $100 and if you’re really looking for a bargain on the reel too, check out eBay and you may just find one for about $70. Now, get a rod you can kick around, go out and have fun, without breaking the bank in the process.
Best Fly Fishing Rod Recommendation
- G. Loomis Asquith Global All-Water Fly Fishing Rod
- Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Lefty Kreh Professional Series II Braided Graphite Fly Fishing Rods
- Sage Fly Fishing Fly Fishing 6119-4 Method 2HD 6WT 11’9″ L Rod (Piece 4)
- G. Loomis Asquith Spey Rod, ASQ 7130-4
- Sage Fly Fishing Salt HD Series Saltwater Fly Rod
We contain everything you could ever need to know about fly fishing rods. It is the most comprehensive and useful guide to fly fishing rods on the internet.
Until now, to get useful information about fly fishing rods you had to sift through masses of diverse websites scanning for diverse articles and then piece together the scraps of information. Well now all the information that you need is one easy accessible place, hope you guys like it.
A suitable fly fishing rod will give you a better fishing experience.