Living in the Puget Sound area we have a lot of fly fishing opportunity in our backyard. If you’re new to fly fishing, getting your feet wet in Puget Sound is a great idea! Success on the beaches of Puget Sound means it is essential to have the right gear.

Previously we discussed here about how to choose the right freshwater trout rod. We’ll frame our discussion here for Puget Sound rods with the same format so it is understandable.

When you’re just starting out fly fishing, there are a few factors when discerning the perfect rod for Puget Sound fishing: Length, Line Weight, Action, & Components.

Fly Rod Lengthdsc_2977

A longer fly rod is a longer lever. It moves more line. And moving more line means longer casts. Puget Sound is a big water and most of the time we are making long casts to cover a lot of water. The average fly rod is 9′ and for Puget Sound you won’t want anything shorter. For beach fishing we typically fish a 9’6″ or 9′ rod. For kayak and boat fishing we prefer just a 9′ rod as a longer rod makes landing large fish difficult.

Line Weight

Rods are designed to cast a particular weight of line that is measured in grains. So when we talk about the weight of the rod we’re not talking about its physical weight but the weight of line it is meant to cast. We have been asked more than once if there is a perfect rod for Puget Sound, there really isn’t. We have quite the diversity in Puget Sound fishing options. Are you interested in catching 10-18 inch sea run cutthroat trout? Or catching salmon such as coho or chums? The rod you use to wrestle with big chum salmon is not the same rod you would use to catch trout in the salt. A 5wt or 6wt rod is perfect for sea run cutthroat. 6wts are sometimes used for the smaller pink salmon but 7-8wt rods are necessary for the larger salmon species. If we had to recommend just one rod starting off, we’d recommend a 6wt.

Rod Action

How deep the rod bends has a lot to do with the cast. Rods that bend deeply in the cast have a slower action and are not good Puget Sound rods. It is difficult to make distance casts with such a rod. A stiffer, fast action rod is what you want for the Sound. Paired with the right shooting head line (and a little practice), a fast action rod can easily bomb casts you had only dreamed were possible! Rods with a medium-fast or fast action are perfect for fishing our saltwater backyard.


There are a couple additional things we look for in a good Puget Sound rod. Having saltwater resistant components on the rod like the reel seat and guides is good. But when a rod is designed for saltwater use it also usually has a full wells grip ( it swoops up on both ends) and a fighting butt (small extension below the reel seat).

In our Puget Sound Beach Clinic, I frequently have customers showing me their gear and asking if it is appropriate for Puget Sound. Even when it is not ideal I tell them to use what they got and see if they dig beach fishing. If they enjoy it they can gear up appropriately. But if you’re starting fresh and don’t have gear yet, don’t waste your time and money getting the wrong gear. Make sure the rod is an appropriate Puget Sound rod with the above attributes. We want to help you get the right gear for you. We even have a fly rod satisfaction guarantee. Purchase any rod from us and you have 30 days to use it. If you don’t love it we’ll exchange it for the right one for you.

Suggested Gear

Because Puget Sound is a fairly specialized fishery, combos are not readily available pre-packaged from manufacturers and they need to be customized and assembled for you.

5-6wt suggestions for sea run cutthroat:

For entry level rods under $200 the Echo ION XL 9′ 6wt and Redington Vice 9’6″ 6wt are both good options.

Excellent mid-priced rods include the Redington Predator 9′ 5wt or 6wt, Sage Pulse 9’6″ 6wt or Sage Motive 9′ 6wt, and Scott Flex 9’6″ 6wt.

For the best of the best we love the Sage X 591-4 or 697-4, Sage SALT 590-4, Scott Meridian 906/4, Scott Radian 906/4 or 956/4, and Winston B3 Plus 5wt.

7-8wt suggestions for larger fish:

For entry level rods under $200 the Echo ION XL 9′ 7wt or 8wt and Redington Vice 9′ 8wt are both good options.

Excellent mid-priced rods include the Redington Predator 9′ 7wt or 8wtSage Motive 9′ 7wt or 8wt, and Scott Tidal 9′ 7wt.

For the top shelf stuff, we love the Sage X 890-4, Sage SALT 790-4, Scott Meridian 908/4, and Winston B3 Plus 8wt.

There are a lot of different lines that are great for Puget Sound. Different conditions call for different lines but to keep this simple for those of you just starting out, we recommend starting with a Rio Outbound Short floating if you’re fishing cutthroat, and a Rio Coastal Quickshooter if you’re chasing salmon.

There are a lot of beaches around Puget Sound to explore. We have made it easy for you to start out. Check out The Neighborhood on our website for dozens of access spots.

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