All around trout rod for Northeastern streams

hornberg

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Considering a higher-end ($500+) “all-around” trout rod for PA, NY, and New England streams. In researching I’ve realized that so many reviews are based on large, windy, Western rivers that might not apply to the typical East Coast streams. I’ve tried to narrow my search to be more PA and NY focused and noticed some interesting “recommendations” that don’t follow the typical 9’ 5wt “default”.
  • Fran Betters - 8‘ - 8.5’ 4/5wt
  • Joe Humphreys - 9’, 6wt
  • Telluride Angler review of a Sage X 8’6” 5wt - “Very fun 5 weight that East Coast freestone fisherman should pay attention to”.
  • George Daniels - 10’ 4wt (outside his euro setup)
I’d be interested in getting opinions from those who routinely fish the “typical” PA & NY trout streams (Tulpehocken, Yellow Breeches, State College area streams, and upstate New York - like the AuSable). What would be some suggestions for a higher end “Northeastern” all arounder from those who spend the majority of their time fishing these waters?
 

joebamboo

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Personally I think anything more than a 5wt is too heavy for the streams you have mentioned. If you are going to include Steelhead fishing, a 6wt would be appropriate. 10ft 3 or 4wt would work just fine.
 

afishinado

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Considering a higher-end ($500+) “all-around” trout rod for PA, NY, and New England streams. In researching I’ve realized that so many reviews are based on large, windy, Western rivers that might not apply to the typical East Coast streams. I’ve tried to narrow my search to be more PA and NY focused and noticed some interesting “recommendations” that don’t follow the typical 9’ 5wt “default”.
  • Fran Betters - 8‘ - 8.5’ 4/5wt
  • Joe Humphreys - 9’, 6wt
  • Telluride Angler review of a Sage X 8’6” 5wt - “Very fun 5 weight that East Coast freestone fisherman should pay attention to”.
  • George Daniels - 10’ 4wt (outside his euro setup)
I’d be interested in getting opinions from those who routinely fish the “typical” PA & NY trout streams (Tulpehocken, Yellow Breeches, State College area streams, and upstate New York - like the AuSable). What would be some suggestions for a higher end “Northeastern” all arounder from those who spend the majority of their time fishing these waters?
All the streams you mentioned above are larger streams. I fish and have fished every one of them. I like my 10' 4wt rod since I tightline and well as fish dries, wets and streamers and will fish all of them with that rod since it handles every aforementioned technique well for me. I would say though the most popular rod choice for these streams would be the ubiquitous 9' 5wt. You simply cannot go wrong having one in your arsenal of fly rods. From there you can go up and down in weight and length depending on the stream, conditions and technique used, but the 9-5 is a real workhorse that can handle most anything.
 

Bamboozle

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Hornberg:

First off, there is nothing wrong with a 6 or even a 7wt, it's just that today's anglers are terrified of any line weight over 4.

On the streams you mentioned I'd typically grab a 9 foot rod (I don't own anything longer), probably a 5wt depending on wind and the size flies I was planning to fish. HOWEVER, I've fished all of them with an 8'0" or 8'6" rod and in some spots a 7'6" rod.

The question you need to ask yourself is do you ONLY want to use your "higher-end ($500+) “all-around” trout rod" on bigger water? Because there are parts of all of the streams you mentioned where I WOULDN'T choose a 9 foot rod.

A consensus among fly fishermen these days is about a rare as one in Congress. That being said, there was a time not so long ago if someone asked what an “all-around” PA trout rod was the answer would have been a 7'6" or 8' 5wt.

I fish almost exclusively in PA on trout streams of all sizes and I grab an 8 foot rod more than any other.

Good luck!
 

hornberg

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Something I should have clarified. At least by my definition, an all-arounder would be a jack of all trades to handle drys, nymphs, and small streamers across the streams I mentioned above and most others you’d come across in PA. I could see it being part of a 3 rod set where the other 2 are more specialized tools: 10’ 2/3wt ESN and a 7/8wt for larger Kelly Galloup style streamers.

That being said, there was a time not so long ago if someone asked what an “all-around” PA trout rod was the answer would have been a 7'6" or 8' 5wt.
That’s what I found when I started researching this. Fran Betters and many threads of this forum all promote an 8’ rod. It caused me to think a bit more about this as I had defaulted to a 9’ 5wt in my search. Marketing is a powerful factor in todays fly fishing industry and feedback from forums like this are really helpful.
 

Bamboozle

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As I am sure you already know, there are more than a few different types of trout fly anglers out there.

There are some who like to fish a certain style more than others, some who like to fish certain types of flies more than others and finally those who like to fish a certain type or size of stream more than others. It’s because of these differences that you have so many preferences in rod length, action & line weight.

You would be hard pressed to convince short rod/small stream dry fly guys that Czech nymphers have something worth looking into or vice versa so it’s important to know what YOU want to do before pulling the trigger, especially at that price point.

Just take it from me that IF you go the 5wt or heavier route regardless of the length of the rod, you will have a LOT more flexibility in the size flies you can effectively throw WITHOUT hampering your ability to fish small stuff. Don’t get me wrong, 4wts & 3wts are great, a lot of fun and I own more than a few…

…but they suck for streamer fishing if that is something you like to do on occasion.

In regards to length, I like the longest rod I can get away with regardless of where I am fishing so I won't fish a short rod where a longer one will give me better reach nor a long one where I feel hemmed in. Fortunately, I have the luxury of a lot of choices, However, sometimes the RIGHT shorter rod works in places where you always used something longer and you won't know it until you try.

Case in point, one weekend I was in the Poconos and had NO plans to fish a particular stream where my choice of rod is always a 9'0" 5wt so I left it home. Well as fortune had it, I ended up there so I used an 8'0" 5wt I had with me. The shorter rod performed so well despite my preconceived notions that rod is now in the rotation for that and a lot of other streams where I always fished longer rods.

Finally, in the very beginning long before I had the money to be susceptible to the urges of "specialization," I owned 3 fly rods and pretty much fished everywhere for everything; an 8'6" 6wt, a 7'6' 5wt and a 5'0" 4wt.

Bottom line, know your tools and use them effectively and you'll probably find you need less tools.

Again, good luck!!
 

afishinado

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Something I should have clarified. At least by my definition, an all-arounder would be a jack of all trades to handle drys, nymphs, and small streamers across the streams I mentioned above and most others you’d come across in PA. I could see it being part of a 3 rod set where the other 2 are more specialized tools: 10’ 2/3wt ESN and a 7/8wt for larger Kelly Galloup style streamers.


That’s what I found when I started researching this. Fran Betters and many threads of this forum all promote an 8’ rod. It caused me to think a bit more about this as I had defaulted to a 9’ 5wt in my search. Marketing is a powerful factor in todays fly fishing industry and feedback from forums like this are really helpful.
For fishing the streams you mentioned in your OP (“typical” PA & NY trout streams (Tulpehocken, Yellow Breeches, State College area streams, and upstate New York - like the AuSable") an all-rounder rod again would be a 9" 5wt. In bigger waters such as these a shorter rod is not needed. A longer rod gives you better line control for mending and roll casting. I can tell you that by far the most popular rod for trout fishing based on sales, at least for the rod company I worked for, is a 9' 5wt rod. Again, I would recommend you start with a 9-5 and later purchase longer or shorter and lighter or heavier rods to fit the fishing conditions and fish.
 

wbranch

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My preference for all my dry fly fishing is a 9' #5 Recon. For smaller dries and shorter throws a 9' #4 Helios. For my smallmouth a 9' #7, and for steelhead a 10' #6.
 

discomidge

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I picked up a nice lightweight 9'#6 this fall after breaking the stout #5 previously filling that slot and learning a repair would take 12 weeks. I got it mainly to use as nymph/streamer rod for the winter, but I've been really surprised by just how well it does just about anything I want to do. Even #24 parachute midges on top, not that I really want to do that. If was headed to a trout stream (that's not super tight) and I didn't know what I was gonna get into, I'd take this rod before any other in my arsenal. As much as I'd like to keep acquiring a variety of gear, I could totally be happy with only a 9'#6 and a 7.5' #3 or #4 for the central PA fishing I do. YMMV.
 

moon1284

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I'll go against the grain. I would want a rod shorter than 9' on all the waters you listed.

For new rods, I'd look at the following:

Scott gs844
Scott gs885
Scott gs886

If anyone made a nice 8.5' 6wt that's what I would want. Not a fast one though, something with a moderate action. A moderate 6 is way more versatile in my hands than a fast 4 or 5.
 

hornberg

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I'll go against the grain. I would want a rod shorter than 9' on all the waters you listed.

For new rods, I'd look at the following:

Scott gs844
Scott gs885
Scott gs886

If anyone made a nice 8.5' 6wt that's what I would want. Not a fast one though, something with a moderate action. A moderate 6 is way more versatile in my hands than a fast 4 or 5.

The Scott GS885, 886, and the Sage Trout LL 586 went to the top of my list when I started thinking about rods < 9ft.
 

moon1284

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The Scott GS885, 886, and the Sage Trout LL 586 went to the top of my list when I started thinking about rods < 9ft.
I've never cast a sage trout ll but I'd imagine it's a nice rod.

The original Scott g 856 (8.5 6wt) would be the perfect rod but they are hard to find. A scott g 845 (8'4 5wt) is also a great rod. I think I am in the minority though. Most people would want a faster 9' 5wt.
 

afishinado

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I'll go against the grain. I would want a rod shorter than 9' on all the waters you listed.

For new rods, I'd look at the following:

Scott gs844
Scott gs885
Scott gs886

If anyone made a nice 8.5' 6wt that's what I would want. Not a fast one though, something with a moderate action. A moderate 6 is way more versatile in my hands than a fast 4 or 5.
Why?! What advantage is there to a shorter rod on big waters?

I'm pretty sure all these posts confused the OP as a beginner.....it sure has confused me. Many of us have our own little preferences and idiosyncrasies which work for us, but are outliers for most. Try not to impart them to a beginner just starting out and confusing them. In my first post I stated I fish a 10'4wt rod on the streams mentioned, but recommended a 9" 5wt to start out FFing. I'm sure when/if the beginner fly fishes for a while they will pick up things and do things a little different from the norm. But until then, it's best to keep things simple and direct.
 

falcon

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8 1/5 5wt (maybe 9ft it depends). The Sage X 5wt in 8 1/2ft is excellent. If you want a great rod and want to save a few $$ look at Taylor's Anomoly Z. I have the 9ft 6wt and it is superb. Overseas rods Stickman (Hungary) and Epic (NZ) are outstanding. These rods are Med Fast. If looking for a more Med action rod Sage LL is a great choice. I like it better than my Scott GS rods which is saying something. (the LL is just a hair faster .. not by much).

I am not trying to confuse him. However as a beginner I would recommend a Echo Carbon XL or Redington Classic Trout in 8 1/2 to 9ft in 5wt. (both not expensive and are nice rods) If he wants to spend the cash and feels he will continue to fly fish my choices stand.
 
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moon1284

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Why?! What advantage is there to a shorter rod on big waters?

I'm pretty sure all these posts confused the OP as a beginner.....it sure has confused me. Many of us have our own little preferences and idiosyncrasies which work for us, but are outliers for most. Try not to impart them to a beginner just starting out and confusing them. In my first post I stated I fish a 10'4wt rod on the streams mentioned, but recommended a 9" 5wt to start out FFing. I'm sure when/if the beginner fly fishes for a while they will pick up things and do things a little different from the norm. But until then, it's best to keep things simple and direct.
Honestly none of those waters are big waters.

Penns wasn't mentioned but it's the biggest of the state college waters imo. When I fish Penns I use an 8'4 6wt. Someone isn't wrong if they use a longer rod on Penns, but it's really not big water.

I have way too many rods and have pretty much any configuration you can think of from 4 to 9 weight. No 10' 4, but 10' in every other weight.

Big water to me is something that is 600cfs plus (when it's at a low level). I.e. upper delaware excluding upper east branch, west branch penobscot, south holsten, white river, Madison River, henrys fork, etc. No doubt a 9 foot rod is the best choice on big water (or longer if that's your thing).
 

kbobb

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I usually subscribe to the longest rod I can get away with for a particular stream. for the general streams you mention 8 1/2 or 9' always and usually a 5 wt. I will use a long 3 or 4 wt if it is primarily BWO, trico or midge fishing.
Also, as you most likely know, a lot of modern rods labeled as a 5 wt will also throw a 6 wt line fairly well (especially in close) if you decide you want to use bigger or heavier flies. I will sometimes put a 6 wt line on my 590 Sage z axis as I did fishing cicadas last summer.
 

tomgamber

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My first "good" rod was an LLBean 9ft 5/6 . remember when you could get a something/something rod? WF5 and DT6 covered just about everything. Of course I bought other rods like everyone else...;)
 

pcray1231

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It's pretty simple. A long rod fishes better. It casts farther. It eases mending. It allows you to lift line above cross currents. I don't really know of any exceptions. Dries, nymphs, streamers, etc.

But the caveat is, "if you have the space to do it."

A short rod is better when you got stuff around you, trying to get that backcast under that overhanging limb. It's also easier to carry when you're negotiating brush and such.

We're also talking graphite here. In the bamboo world, rods are shorter due to weight.

For me, I shoot right to the 9 footer for even medium sized streams. Like Spring Creek, Valley, etc. And I've thought about adding a 10 footer to the mix for these waters, just haven't done it yet. The 7-8 ft range is for truly small streams. Brookie streams, brush busting. Which is something I do often so not knocking it.
 

dryflyguy

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If I were to have only one rod for all around use - 8'6" 5 weight.
Be a little more manageable on small streams
 
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