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Salmonfly.Net Salmon and Steelhead Fly Tying Guide  In Memory of Yuri Shumakov


Choosing a Fly Rod: Fly Rod Weight - Steve Burke

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The Basics

One of your first questions will probably be, “how do I match a particular weight fly rod with a particular weight fly line”, but more logically, the question should be, “what weight rod should I use”. You should choose your rod weight according to the fish species that you are targeting, the size of the flies, and the conditions. Lighter rods are usually considered for smaller streams, smaller fish and flies and delicate presentations, while heavier rods are used for stronger fish, larger flies, and larger waters. A typical fly rod for trout, smaller flies, and a small creek, for instance, might be a fly rod somewhere in the 2-3 weight range, but a typical rod for larger trout streams or Largemouth Bass might be a 5-7 weight rod. Rods in the 8 weight range are generally considered good steelhead or small salmon rods; 9-10 weight for larger salmon, albacore and light tuna, and on up to very large weights for very large fish.

Matching Rod Weight to Line Weight

Once the rod weight is chosen, it is a simple matter, not considering the other fly line factors, to choose a line weight, because generally speaking, the rod weight is designed to cast specific line weights. Thus a 3 weight rod usually matches up with 3 weight line, a 5 weight rod with a 5 weight line, a 10 with a 10, etc. If the weight of the line is too small for the rod, your cast will not be delivered accurately, too heavy and there will not be enough power in the rod to deliver it. Theoretically, then, you should consider not only the size of the fish, but the size of the fly when choosing a rod. The larger, heavy flies require a larger weight line, and therefore a larger rod to cast the line. I like my 9 weight, not only because it is strong enough for the Chinook I fish for, but also because it casts my 2/0, weighted flies well.

Performance and Angling Experience

The other factor, as always, is the consideration of angler enjoyment of the fishing experience. Taking a step down in rod size is sometimes means and angler will feel more fight with a fish and conversely, a heavier rod will decrease the feel of the fight. The problem is that many anglers often use fly rods that either too light or too heavy. Obviously, using a 5 weight rod to play a large King Salmon would be a problem that is if you could cast the right weight fly in the first place. The fish would probably just snap the rod in short order. Or the fish would soon exhaust you, annoy everyone else around you for the length of time you played it, and exhaust the fish to the extent that it would not be able to be released without expiring. So you must strike a reasonable balance between performance and making the experience enjoyable.

Also See:

Also See:

Choosing a Fly Rod: Fly Rod Action

Choosing a Fly Rod: Fly Rod Materials


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