Selecting a Fly Rod

By Chris Jackson

Published at : Hub Pages

If you are new to the sport of fly fishing, then the fi

Selecting a Fly Rod?

rst thing for you to do will be selecting a fly rod.  Selecting a fly rod is not difficult, but is very important as there are many different sizes, lengths, and tapers to choose from.   Many people think that all you need is a fly rod and that will cover all of your fly fishing needs, but that is not true.

There are several factors that will determine what fly rod you will want to buy, but to keep it simple we will focus on the three main factors: size, action, quality.  To help you in selecting a rod, let’s take a look at these factors and narrow you search down a bit so you can be confident that you are selecting the right fly rod so you can enjoy the sport and learn the fastest.

*** To skip this valuable information and to find out exactly what we recommend, go straight to our gear guide by clicking here:   The information below will help prepare you to make a decision on a fly rod, so you can read it and then click the link at the end if you would like.***


There are many different sizes of fish, so there are many different sizes of fly rods to choose from.  The same rod that you use for trout will not be ideal for salmon, or vice versa.  Fly rod size uses a scale from 1 – 15 and higher, and is denoted by weight (wt) where a 1wt is very light and for small fish and a 15wt is heavy and made for huge fish like Marlin and Sharks.  Here is a generic list of fish and the rod size you will need for each.  Most fish species vary in size, so your situation might be a little different but this will get you close.

2wt        small trout, pan fish

4wt        trout, pan fish

6wt        bass, trout,

8wt        steelhead, bass, saltwater

10wt      salmon, steelhead, tuna, saltwater

12wt      saltwater, dorado, sail fish

14wt      saltwater, sail fish, marlin, shark

The most common rod size for a first fly rod is a 6wt, as it is light enough to cast dry flies to trout with delicacy, as well as cast bigger flies to bass and even steelhead, and has enough backbone to fight larger fish.


Fly rods are designed with different Actions.  This means they bend at different areas throughout the rod and make the line behave differently as a result.  When selecting a fly rod, you will want to pay special attention to action because some are much easier to cast than others.  Here is a list of the types of action you will choose from.

  • Slow Action: whole rod bends when casting.  Made for small streams and short casts.
  • Medium Action: rod bends in the mid section of the rod.  This is the easiest rod to cast but will lack the distance and accuracy of faster action rods.
  • Fast Action: rod bends mostly at the tip.  These rods are best suited for experienced casters and are built for high line speed good for long casts, accuracy, wind conditions, and casting large flies.
  • There are also actions in between these actions such as medium slow, medium fast, and even very fast action (or whatever the fly rod manufacture wants to call it)

For a beginner, a medium action rod will be the easiest to cast, but will limit you once casting becomes comfortable.  The solution is a rod between medium and fast, and is known as a medium fast action.  This will give anybody the benefits of both and is my recommendation for a first fly rod.  If you are selecting a fly rod designed for saltwater, then you will want to stick with a fast action rod as most likely you will be casting big flies and doing so in the wind.


When selecting a fly rod, a good thing to remember is that you get what you pay for.  Sure, you can go to Wal-Mart and pick up a cheap combo set for under $50, but once you hold a quality rod in your hand you will probably end up with your own sooner than later.  Fly Rods vary in price exponentially with quality.  In other words, as quality goes up, price goes up even faster.  Here are my two recommendations: Go with the best fly rod you can afford and buy a rod with a lifetime warranty.  Any rod with a lifetime warranty is going to be of good quality and one that you will own for life.  At some point you will break a rod and the warranty will come in handy.  At my website, all rods that I recommend come with a lifetime warranty and the manufactures are very good about honoring them.  To buy a rod with such a warranty you will need to spend around $200 or more, which is quite cheap considering a graphite rod can run up to $1000 + and a Bamboo Fly Rod can be over $3000.

Here is a list of the Benefits that you will have if you select a quality fly rod:

  1. Easier casting
  2. Light weight
  3. Great feel
  4. Lifetime warranty
  5. Stronger than cheap rod
  6. Long and accurate casting
  7. Proud
  8. Quicker learning curve


Now that you have an idea of size, action and quality of the fly fishing rod that you need to buy, it is time to narrow your search down to specific brands and models, which is another daunting task.  For help picking out the exact rod you will be happy with for a lifetime, go to where there is a complete gear guide designed to help you with selecting a fly rod, reel, line, and other fly fishing necessities.  If you are considering purchasing your first fly rod, then good luck to you.  You have many new experiences to come.  I wish I had never caught a fish on a fly rod, just so I could do it for the first time all over again, although it is sure nice to be over the learning curve and soon, with the right gear and a little practice, you will be too.

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