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Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2008/10/25 14:19
From York County
Posts: 2124
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Choosing the right fly rod is an important decision when starting out. Many beginners do not know much about rod weights or lengths. You do not want to end up with something to heavy, too light, too long or short. Oppinions may vary a little on what is the prefered rod weight or length for a given species fishing of fish or fishing situation.

What you have ask yourself is what kind of fishing are you going to be doing? If you spin fish, think of the water you typically fish. Is it a small trout stream you could almost jump across, a medium sized creek or larger river.

There are a lot of oppinions floating around but I hear a lot of people say that a 5 weight rod about 8' 6" to 9' 0" is the most typical trout rod used in Pennsylvania. While that is generally a pretty good all around rod size and weight, and fairly commonly used as well, don't assume it is the right rod for you.

When I first started out fly fishing in Northeastern Pennsylvania I drove to the nearest fly shop I could find just over the border in New York and stocked up on all kinds of fly gear including an 8'6" 5/6 weight Browning fly rod, which I was told was a typical setup.

It turns out, this is a great rod for medium and large streams with plenty of nice sized trout maybe 14-18 inches in size, however, unfortunely for me I usually fished very small tight streams with smaller trout.

For me the transition using an oversized rod was very tough. Before then, my weapon of choice was a tiny 5 foot ultralite spinnining rod, and I would bow and arrow cast tiny jigs under bushes and overhangs on small brushy streams or under a pine tree canopy with dead branches hanging in the way everywhere.

I found myself fishing water I normally didn't fish. I fished for bass in large ponds and larger streams just so I could improve my casting. I found that the rod was too large and heavy for smaller streams and it barely bent when a small trout was hooked on it.

A few years later, after learning more about the sport I purchased a 7' 6" 4 weight St. Croix outfit. This is a foot shorter and a little bit lighter weight rod for smaller streams and smaller fish. I found myself using it more and more on smaller streams where I would normally spinfish, and fly fishing became more enjoyable.

Feel free to to add your own oppinions or personal experience on rod size and weight. This is just a post to get oppinions flowing, and to shed some light on what rod weight/length people prefer for their style of fishing.

Posted on: 2010/3/12 13:33
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Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2008/6/13 0:26
From Pine Grove
Posts: 184
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JakesLeakyWaders definately hit a lot of good points, but one thing I'd like to add is everything is dependant on preference. I personally started on a 9ft 5wt but now almost 100% of the time fish a 7'6" 3wt, It provides good action is the common pa streams, although at times it can feel a bit undersized.

Another very important aspect to rod choice is HOW do you fish, I carry my rod and aimlessly follow streams for miles at times, the 9ft just couldn't cut it, I can't even tell you how many times it got caught up, hung up, snagged you name it, it at some point was hooked on it. The smaller rods are a very large amount more manageable when hiking and walking in the woods.

I have caught some rather large trout on my 3wt, even a large amount of smallmouth, but it isn't easy. If you enjoy the fighting aspect of fishing, i'd personally recommend a 3/4 weight package for the majority of PA stream fishing.

Posted on: 2010/3/13 11:49
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Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

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2008/11/4 15:20
From Upper Saucon, PA
Posts: 204
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I started out under the watchful eye of the gent who taught me from A to Z. I used one of his setups until I was comfortable enough to work water on my own. At that time I bought what I could afford and worked my way up from there.

For me since I do mostly native streams, I started out short and fast action which felt best for me.

I built on that setup, for some of the larger water like the Lehigh, then moved onto a steelie setup.

Now I pretty much have everything I need to work most if not all water in PA and most surrounding states.

Posted on: 2010/3/13 12:35
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Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2010/1/31 16:53
From St.Clair
Posts: 337
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I pretty much do exactly what gemiller does. I believe if you are starting out a 8'6-9' 5 or 6 wt. medium action is the easiest to get the hang of. And, that setup is fine if you plan to mainly fish bigger streams and rivers. But, for me, most of my fishing is done in tighter quarters. I use a 7'6 3 wt. Superfine. I prefer a slow action rod for smaller streams for increased accuracy and delicacy. So, the superfine fits me perfectly. Fly rod choice is a matter of preference, you have to try a bunch of different rods and see what you like. Every angler is different

Posted on: 2010/3/13 13:25


Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2006/9/9 11:22
From New Castle, PA
Posts: 1625
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Jake,

I think that is a pretty good summary of how a beginner should make their slection. Interestingly, you make no mention of action in your recomendations. Usually, people go off on a tangent about how a beginner *needs* a slow rod, slow rods are more forgiving, etc. et. Personally I think that is a bunch of rubbish that is either a result of someone trying to impose their own preferences or cover their own lack of skill. Here are the criteria on which I think a beginner should select a rod.

1) Price. There is no avoiding the cost factor and one must consider that a beginner is going to likely also need a reel, line, waders etc. The beginner needs to set a budget for each piece of equipment and thus will eliminate a lot of of the brand and model choices.

2) Length and Line Weight. Important, but I think that the majority of anglers are going to want to get a "general purpose" rod that will perform well in most situations. Thus, an 8' 6" - 9' rod for #5 or 6 line. If the angler is ceratin that most of his or her fishing will be on a certain size or type of creek, then a shorter or longer length and a different line weight might be called for. But I would still tend to lean toward the longest rod and heaviest lines practical. For instance a 7'6" 4 or 5wt for small stream fishing. Such a rod still has a good amount of versatility.





...and lastly...





3)Action, Feel, Ju-Ju, Hocus-Pocus. If you are a raw beginner you don't know how a fly rod is "supposed" to "feel." Period. You are starting from scratch.
There is nothing hard about learning to cast any action of rod as long as you get good, solid instruction. The worst thing that can happen is somebody else teaches you their bad habits. Buy a rod that suits the fishing conditions you will be encountering and get good casting instruction. Then, practice like crazy until it become second nature.


Kev

Posted on: 2010/3/20 10:56


Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2008/10/25 14:19
From York County
Posts: 2124
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I was hoping the thread would take off on it's own.

Personally I like the way a slower action handles a larger trout on the line but would prefer a little faster action for casting and distance. So I guess I have to say a medium action is good for me. I still like the relaxed way a medium/slow action casts though.

I have a little 7' 5 weight for all around small tight streams and throwing big buggers and weighted nymphs. Man that thing is like the musky rod of small stream rods, it feels fast. I can really zing them big ones with that little short stout rod. It'll throw a great 30 foot roll cast with a big clouser crayfish on the end. And being so short for a 5 weight, it still feels ok with a smaller 10-12 inch trout on.

For fishing smaller trout say 7-10 inch wild trout I'd prefer a medium action rod in a 2 weight, somewhere around 7 feet. That is if I were exclusively fishing tiny streams for small trout.

I gettin' ready to go out and have a few drinks, so take the ball and run with it. Like I said, I was hoping for this topic to gather some steam as rod selection is pretty important topic for a beginner interested in the sport.

Posted on: 2010/3/20 22:21
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Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2009/1/22 21:53
From Cogan Station, PA
Posts: 124
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I'm starting out this tear with an 8'6" 5wt based on recommendations from this site. I'm still apprehensive considering it's length, but I really have no idea. When I was spin fishing regularly, I rarely fished the bigger waters. Lycoming and Loyalsock were the only two, and most portions of Lycoming that I frequented were narrower portions above Trout Run. I figured 8'6" would be too large, but I have little invested in this setup (it's a Cahill setup from Cabelas), so I'm just going to go at it and see how it all works out. I'm thinking I will want to transition to a 7'6' 3-4wt, but I don't want to invest in too much gear early on without truly knowing what I'll need. Make sense?

Posted on: 2010/3/22 15:12


Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners
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Joined:
2006/9/11 8:26
From Chester County
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mgh,

Many spin guys that start to FF often consider fly rods too long.
A longer rod offers more line control on the water called mending.

As a beginner, I highly recommend that you fish more open water to give yourself a chance to develop your casting skills. If and when you decide to FF small streams, you may want to consider a shorter rod, but I fished a long time with just one fly rod, a 9' 5wt.

As far as rod weight, a 3wt is a specialty rod and limits your casting on windy days, casting weighted flies or split shot, and fishing larger or wind resistant flies. There's not one thing a 3wt can do that a 4wt can't.

Save your money for now, the 8'6" 5wt rod you have is nearly ideal for trout fishing in PA. Good fishing.

Posted on: 2010/3/22 15:32


Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13423
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I totally agree with the picking the rod based on where you plan to fish. Everyone seems to have a different idea about what rod is perfect for PA streams. Part of that is just personal preference, but a big part of it is that we all have different ideas of what "typical PA streams" are because we fish different areas of the state and different streams.

I tend to fish a lot of small, infertile freestone, headwater streams for native brookies. These streams are often thick, and the fish are rarely drag shy or line shy, but they are people shy. The name of the game is to get as much distance as possible (which still isn't that far with the thick surroundings). Thus, I tend to like short, stout rods, where you can throw tight loops through that tight window below the hemlock branch and above log in the water. My favorite compromise tool for these situations is a 7'6" 5 wt, loaded with 6 wt line. More open water and I'd like a little longer rod, lower line weight. Tighter water and I'd like shorter and even heavier line weight.

If you're "matching the hatch" with small flies like midges, tricos, BWO's, etc. where the fish are drag shy and the fishing could be described as "delicate", to me thats when the soft action, 3 and 4 wt rods come into their own. Streams where you'll be doing this tend to be a bit larger and more fertile.

But I agree, that on medium and large trout streams, with a mix of nymphing and larger dries fished at distance, a 9' 5 wt with a fairly fast action is the best all round tool for the job. For beginners, I'd recommend backing off to a medium action, they are more forgiving of casting mistakes and easier to learn on, both with the slower stroke and the ability to "feel" the line load the rod and thus time your forward stroke.

Posted on: 2010/3/22 16:25


Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2009/5/29 6:40
From harlansburg
Posts: 4427
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quote
"Personally I like the way a slower action handles a larger trout on the line but would prefer a little faster action for casting and distance. So I guess I have to say a medium action is good for me. I still like the relaxed way a medium/slow action casts though. "

one word, fiberglass. what you want is out there, check out steffen brothers, mcfarland, hardy, just to name a few. glass is not dead and these new glass rods might just offer what you are looking for. I have an 8ft 5wt mcfarland that is the smoothest thing I've ever cast, plenty of power to cast through some wind, yet a joy to play a nice fish with.

Posted on: 2010/3/25 7:02


Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

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2006/10/18 15:46
From Patterson twp, Pa (Beaver Falls)
Posts: 6482
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I love the diversity of people on this site... we all have our own prospective on things. There's the new generation in their 20's and 30's that likes lightweight graphite rods in all the name brands for anything to little brookie stream 2wts to 6wt streamer chuckers and then as we think that's the way this thread is going bikerfish chimes in with his old school fiberglass suggestion. I don't think this is a bad thing at all. It shows the diversity of this site which covers the diversity of the sport. We all have a difference of opinion and all give good advice, but to each his own!

Posted on: 2010/3/25 11:42
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Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2009/5/29 6:40
From harlansburg
Posts: 4427
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I agree Ryan! they all catch fish when used properly, it's just a matter of what you like!
oh trust me, there are days when I'll use nothing but a fast graphite. I just like to mix it up. one day bamboo, next day glass, next day graphite. they all work! of course, I usually pick the wrong one for any given day!! LOL
I think you'd be surprised with the newer glass rods, very light, smooth, and powerful when needed. I'll let you try my mcfarland next time we fish.

Posted on: 2010/3/25 16:42


Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2008/10/25 14:19
From York County
Posts: 2124
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I'd really like to try some fiberglass, I looked into some fibergalss stuff, the "Hardy Aln" a very short 2 weight. I almost bought a Fenwick 5 weight last year I think it was fiberglass.

Funny thing is,this is a thread about what 3 fly rods you would choose and I'm already at three and looking at another rod or two. What I'd choose if I started over and what I currently have are two different things.

I currently have a,

7' 0" #5, for small brushy streams and big nymphs if needed

7' 9" #4, all around small to medium sized creeks for trout

9' 0" #7 for smallmouth on the river or large creeks

I could easily squeeze a couple different rods in there.

I'd love to have a

6'0"- 7'0" #2 for small wild trout on very small streams and a

9' 0" #5 would round out the collection and fill in that gap between my 4 and 7 weight. It would also be a good rod for Penn's Creek @ the Jam in May.

I actually am thinking about bringing my 7 weight and tossin' some streamers around if conditions are right, it would also throw a big drake pretty far. I'm sure there are plenty of bigger rods on Penn's anyway. Due to not usually fishing water as large as Penns for trout, I am slightly under gunned using my go to rod, my 7'9" #4 Tfo finnese.

Posted on: 2010/3/25 20:51
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~ Fly Fishing ~ Personal therapy on the water. Equipment and travel rates apply.


Re: Fly Rod Selection for Beginners

Joined:
2009/5/29 6:40
From harlansburg
Posts: 4427
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Jake, you can cast my mcfarland as well, as can everyone else who is interested(if mike sells any rods from this, I should get a fee!!)LOL! anyways, those fenwicks are VERY desireable among the glass faithful, especially in the shorter/lighter line versions.

Posted on: 2010/3/26 8:14






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