Choosing a Rod

Myth 23 Fly Fishing Western Wyoming

Choosing a Rod

There are always those who say, “You should buy this rod because it is best.” Like many things in life, there are no definitive black and white answers regarding rods. Every rod has its advantages and disadvantages and with modern technology, a very good rod can be purchased for under $300.00. Let’s discuss various factors when considering a rod purchase or use.


  –  A long rod (9-10 ½ ft.)


  1. 1) More leverage allows for longer casts including roll and spay casts.
  2. 2) High sticking and on-the-water mends are easier.
  3. 3) In tight situations, the use of the bow and arrow cast can save the day.
  4. 4) If you are wade fishing or fishing from a float tube or kayak, the added length can be a godsend.


  1. By using a longer lever any casting error is exacerbated.
  2. The longer lever makes fighting and landing fish more difficult.
  3. The rod weighs more and can be more fatiguing.
  4. Storage and airplane travel can be a problem.

   – A short rod (7’- 8.5 ft.)


  1. Better at fighting and landing fish.
  2. Lighter and easier to cast.
  3. Casting errors are reduced.
  4. Better in some tight situations.
  5. Easy to transport and store.


  1. A poor mending and high-sticking rod.
  2. Distance is compromised, especially when wading, etc..

Rod Action: This refers to how “stiff” or “fast” a rod is. This basically refers to how fast a rod recovers from bending or loading. The faster it unbends, the “faster” it is considered to be.

–  “Fast” Action


  1. Can generate high line speeds useful in distance and wind casting.
  2. Generally throws heavy or bulky terminal tackle more easily.
  3. Is more forgiving if casting mechanics, especially acceleration, is erratic. (Fewer tailing loops.)


  1. Usually less sensitive when detecting strikes.
  2. Many people don’t like the “feel” when casting.
  3. More difficult to cast at short distances. (More difficult to load the rod.)
  4. Less effective at fighting fish.
  5. Can be more difficult to make delicate presentations.

–  “Slow” Action


  1. Good fish-fighter
  2. Many people like the feel – similar to fiberglass or bamboo.
  3. More sensitive to subtle movements in your line.
  4. Casts well at a short distance.
  5. Easy to make short-distance delicate presentations and mends.


  1. More difficult to develop line speed.
  2. More difficult to cast large or heavy terminal tackle.
  3. More likely to cause problems if casting stroke acceleration is erratic.

Rod Size:

0, 1, 2, 3 weight rods: I consider most of these specialty rods. While I sometimes fish the Hams Fork with 8 ½ ft., fast 3 weight, I often wish I had more rod. Heavy winds, streamers, and multiple nymph rigs take some of the fun out of the process.

4,5 weight rods: These rods are good for most dry fly, small streamer, and minimal nymph rig situations. I use these rods almost exclusively for bass and bream, most trout streams, and canal fishing in the Everglades. They are less effective with heavy winds, heavy or big streamers, and big nymph rigs. I have a slow 10 ½ ft., 4wt and a medium 10ft., 5wt. rod.

6, 7, 8 weight rods:  I have a number of medium to fast rods in these weights. I use them on big western rivers when I throw sinking lines or streamers. They are also my go-to rods for flats fishing for Redfish, Bonefish,  Snook, etc.. My favorite wade-fishing rod is a 9 ½’, 7wt. I use it for big Carp, surf fishing in Southern California, as well as some Steelhead fishing in the west.

9, 10 weight rods:  I have a couple of these rods that are fast to medium fast and 9ft long. I use them for surf fishing in Baja, nighttime Snook fishing under the docks in Florida, and for Permit and baby Tarpon.

11, 12 weight rods:  These are for Tarpon.

13, 14, 15 weight rods:  I do not own any of these. Marlin, Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish might be handled best with these rods.

So, what to Buy?

If you are fishing mostly dry flies on small to medium rivers and you like the feel of “slow/soft” rods, then you might as well enjoy a fiberglass, bamboo, or graphite rod of 4 or 5wt. If you fish the same type of water but want to have a bit more rod for small streamers, Bass fishing, and windy conditions, a 4 or 5wt medium fast rod could work for you. In my opinion, if you have only one rod, and you are going to be fishing for Trout, Bass, and maybe some surf fishing or flats fishing, a 6 or 7wt. rod about 9’ long, and medium/fast would be a great choice. If you can afford 3 rods, I would get a 4, 6, and 8wt..  90% of most people’s fishing would be covered.

How Much Should You Pay?

For most fishing applications, there are plenty of very good rods in the $150.00 to $300.00 range!  Echo, Redington, TFO, and others have really nice rods for very reasonable prices. (You may want to check out warranty plans before you purchase a rod.)

I hope this helps and, of course, this reflects my opinions only and some (many?) may disagree. In any case, we hope your summer has started off great and that you have found time to fish! Don’t forget to check out our FaceBook page Fly Fishing Western Wyoming for almost daily Wyoming fishing news, our website:, and follow us on Instagram @FlyFishingWesternWyoming. If you have friends that might enjoy this monthly newsletter, please have them contact us so we can add them!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *