So you’ve decided to take the plunge into fly fishing and you want to start with trout. Good choice! Pursuing trout on the fly is steeped in tradition and has a rich history in America. Many will argue that witnessing a large trout rise to your dry fly is the pinnacle of the fly fishing experience.
So where do you start with gear?
Selecting a rod comes down to 3 primary factors: Length, Line Weight, and Action.
Fly Rod Length
Let’s make this very simple. Longer rods = distance, short rods = accuracy. A 9′ fly rod is the most common length. If you are fishing smaller streams and want a more accurate presentation, an 8′ or 8’6″ is probably the ticket. If you are fishing creeks, a 7’6″ might be even more appropriate. If you fish lakes or larger rivers a rod 9′ or larger is preferable. Many lake anglers use 9’6″ or 10′ rods. Just starting out a 9′ rod is probably going to be the best all around rod for you and will handle the most amount of fishing opportunities.
Rods are designed to cast a plastic coated line, specifically a line that weighs a particular amount measured in grains. Nerding out on the intricacies of grain weights for lines at this point would not be much help. So to keep things simple for all of us, the industry has adopted a line weight standard (abbreviated as wt). For now, just believe me when I say that a 6wt weighs more than a 5wt. Rods are designed around line weights, and so you don’t end up with a rod designed for tuna, make sure you get the appropriate trout rod that is rated for a trout line. The meat and potatoes of trout rods are between 3-6 wts with 5wts being the most popular. Almost every angler has a 5wt in their quiver. Once again, small creeks and small fish are best targeted with a 2wt or 3wt, where as big rivers and lakes with generally larger fish are best fished with a 4, 5, or 6wt.
Not all rods cast the line the same. Several different factors are at play. Some of these factors are the type of graphite used and the taper of the rod. If the rod has a deep bend, we call that slow action. If the rod barely flexes and just in the tip of the rod, we call that fast action. Slow action rods have a slower casting cadence. They’re very comfortable to cast and are great for a delicate presentation of small flies. Faster action rods create a lot of line speed velocity and can cast further than slow action rods. They’re great for punching flies into the wind, larger water when long casts are needed, and big flies. Anglers looking for their first trout rod should pick a rod that is a medium or medium-fast action. Not too slow, and not too fast.
At the fly shop we consistently have new customers telling or showing us their new gear and unfortunately only about half the time it is appropriate for what they intend to do. Hopefully this information helps you make purchases that don’t waste your time or your money. To ease your mind about your first rod purchase, we offer a 30 day fly rod satisfaction guarantee on all rods. If the rod you purchase isn’t perfect for you, we’ll exchange it for the right one.
The Redington Path Combo is a great way to start out and is easy on the budget. The 9′ 5wt rod configuration is what we would recommend and comes with everything you need.
If you are looking for more of an upgrade, the Redington Hydrogen, Sage Pulse, and Scott Flex are excellent mid-level rods. For the best of the best, we like the Sage X, Sage MOD, Scott Radian, and Winston AIR.
When it comes to reels with trout fishing, a sophisticated drag system is nice but not necessary. A lot of reels are available and the key to look for is size and weight. You want a reel for your line weight and a weight that balances the rod. For example, on a lot of 9′ 5wt rods we prefer a reel around 4.5-5 ounces.
For lines, the best all purpose trout line we’ve found is the Rio Gold. It’s exceptional for dry flies and will handle nymphs as well as small to mid sized streamers.
Now since you’re dialed on gear, you just need to find a spot to go fish! Check out the Neighborhood on our website for maps to all sorts of fishing spots.