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Fly Fishing Learning Center

How To Pick The Right Rod Length (3 of 15)

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Ok, so you have your line size decided, that's the hard part. The next thing you decide is the length and that's quite a bit easier. Fly rods are designated by a length and a line size - typically that's all you need to know. So, 7-and-a-half for a 3, 8 for a 6, 9 for a 9. The first number is the length, the second number is the line size. And that's all you really have to remember. We don't worry too much about the physical weight of our rods. Nobody goes around saying, I have a 2-and-a-half-ounce fly rod, because it doesn't really mean anything. You can change the weight of a rod by changing the taper or by changing the hardware you put on it. So don't worry about the physical weight of your fly rod. Today's graphite rods are so light anyways, the physical weight is an insignificant issue.

So, how do you pick the length, well I'm going to make it easy for you again. If you remember nothing else, remember 9-footer. In this case, 9-footer is an even more universal length, or a universal size that you'd pick. 9-foot is typically the standard trout rod, 9-foot is typically the standard saltwater rod, and the only time you would go to a shorter or longer rod would be in special circumstances. So, let me give you an example: Let's say you fish mostly medium sized streams, maybe 40 or 50 feet wide and you're never really getting out into the big wide open rivers where you need a longer rod to cast against the wind or to lift your line over the water, then an 8-and-a-half foot rod will probably be fine. And for smaller trout streams, an 8-and-a-half-foot rod is kind of the standard rod.

Now, you can get much shorter fly rods, they can be as short as 6 feet long. But I would urge you not to go too short. Even really small, tiny mountain trout streams I think are best fished with a 7-and-a-half to an 8-and-a-half-foot rod. The only time you want to go to a 7-foot rod and below is when you have a really tight, brushy stream where you can barely move your rod and you gotta poke your rod into the brush. So, a 7-and-a-half-foot rod or an 8 foot rod is going to enable you to do a lot more things, and you can usually find some back cast room even in a small stream. So only go to those really short rods if you need to or if you just feel like fishing a short little 6 foot rod, that's fine, if that appeals to you then go ahead and do it.

The one thing I would advise you is not to saddle a youngster with a really short fly rod. People tend to buy 5-foot, 6-foot fly rods for their kids thinking they're cute, but actually you are doing them a disservice because a 5- and a 6-foot fly rod is a very difficult thing to cast. Casting is much easier between an 8 and a 9-foot rod. Since these rods, even a 9-foot rod only weighs a couple ounces these days, why saddle your kid with a short little thing that really is going to hinder their casting. Put an adult rod in their hands, let them use the same rod you do, and they're going to learn a lot easier.

You can also get rods longer than 9 feet and there are times when you might want a rod that's longer than 9 feet. 10-foot rods, 9-and-a-half or 10-foot rods are fairly standard lengths for bigger rivers, where you need to cast farther. A longer rod is going to cast farther a little bit easier. You lose a tiny bit of accuracy. In other words, if you're fishing say, 40 feet or under, a 9-foot rod is going to be a touch more accurate than a 10-footer because a 10-footer has a little bit more stuff wiggling out at the end there and you're not quite as precise, but it's minuscule and fractional. But what the extra length gives you - it gives you longer casts, it gives you the ability to hold more line over the water so that you can manipulate your line. And also people that fish lakes and ponds like 10-footers. Often they are fishing low in a boat, a kayak, a float-tube, or a canoe and that extra length helps get the cast up there. So, stillwater anglers like the 10-footers, trout anglers and big rivers, steelhead, and salmon anglers.

Now you can get fly rods longer than 10-footers. You can get 11-footers, 12-footers, even 15-footers. Typically these ultra-long rods are switch and spey rods. They are rods that throw a special two-handed cast called spey casts. There's lots of different kinds of spey casts. Basically it's a big long rolling roll cast that allows you to make a long cast without a back cast. We're not going to talk about those rods now. That's a place for another whole video. Today we're just talking about single-handed fly rods.
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