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Fly Rod Weight Selection

  • Tim S.
    Participant
    Posts: 4
    #2052622

    Hi,

    I am looking to get into fly fishing and need some help picking what fly rod weight to pick. My core species are wild brown trout ranging from 8″- 25″ and great lake steelhead. A secondary species would be smallmouth. That being said, what would be a good weight that would allow a fun fight with 8″ trout but will also work for steelhead? I just dont want to get one that sacrifices the fight of small trout but at the same time I want it to be good for steelhead.

    Thanks

    chuck100
    Participant
    Platteville,Wi.
    Posts: 1666
    #2052631

    Is Rootski in the house?

    catmando
    Participant
    wis
    Posts: 1809
    #2052645

    Bigger rivers you can get by with a 7wt, I use an 8 or 9 wt, I fish some smaller rivers with a lot of cover for steelhead. Trout rod I would go with a 6wt if you have a chance at a big brown. Now if your fishing say .like out west, wide-open rivers you can get by with a lighter rod. my 2 cents DK.

    Steve Root
    Participant
    South St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 5161
    #2052647

    Hello Tim,

    That’s a tall order for one fly rod!

    When it comes to fly rod weights, there are three things to consider. One is your ability to fight the fish. Second is being able to comfortably cast the size fly you need. And finally how big are the waters you’re fishing. A typical Brown Trout might be 12 inches long and looking for a #14 fly. A smallie might be 16 to 18 inches and wants to eat something a lot bigger, like a popper tied n a 1/0 hook. And Steelhead while might prefer a small fly at times, but you will have your hands full when you hook one as they are large. Are you fishing small streams, bigger rivers, or lakes? Lighter weight fly rods work well on small creeks and streams where you need to be stealthy. Out on a big river or a lake, a heavier weight rod will let you throw a big fly into the wind without tiring yourself out.

    Right now, the majority of fly rods meant for Trout fishing are 9 foot 5 weights. That seems to be very popular size. Smallies could be covered by anything from that same 5 weight up to an 8 weight. I fish the upper Mississippi and the St. Croix, big water ands big fish, and an 8 weight is a lot easier to use over the course of the day. A lot of guys fishing Steelhead are using 7 or 8 weights, and a reel with a good drag. So as you can see, one size doesn’t fit all.

    If you’re just starting out, a 6 or 7 weight might be a good compromise. It’s a little heavy for Trout but it would work. And it would allow you to throw bigger streamers or top waters for Bass. Steelhead are a species I don’t have a lot of experience with (in spite of considerable effort on my part) but a 7 weight would work. A 6 weight might be a little light.

    A 7 weight fly rod is a lot like a 6 foot, medium weight spinning rod. It’s an all purpose tool that convers lot of situations, while not being optimum for any of them. I still have the first 7 weight rod I ever bought.

    Have fun and good luck with those Steelhead!

    SR

    Randy Wieland
    Participant
    Lebanon. WI
    Posts: 12948
    #2052663

    My thoughts differ a little bit from Steve’s. Since your primary is inland trout, I would look for a good quality five weight or possibly a six weight. Stay away from inexpensive glass rods. Select a quality blank that is a good graphite composite. A good back bone, the rod will load up well and cast easily.

    I cannot even begin to put a number on how many steelhead I’ve caught on my 4 weight. Granted that is on the lighter side, but a five or six weight is more than adequate.

    As Steve mentioned, typically you’ll use larger flies For bass. I love my 9 x 9 or most bass and Pike baits. However it is heavy once I am fighting fish

    tegg
    Participant
    Hudson, Wi/Aitkin Co
    Posts: 1450
    #2052696

    Another thing worth mentioning is consideration to how accomplished of a caster you are. I likely fall more in the intermediate camp and start to notice my casting deficiencies in a 7-wt when I start stepping up the size of various bass flies. I don’t doubt better casters can do more with a 6-wt than I can do with a 7-wt but it is something to think about when you get into larger hair bugs or streamers. The rod may be able to handle the situation but the caster’s ability may not be quite there.

    You’re likely looking at a sacrifice by choosing one rod. Smaller streams may be better suited to a shorter rod with a slower action for shorter casts and tighter quarters. Conversely, larger streams/rivers/lakes are better suited to a longer rod with a faster action for longer casts and better mending capability. It’s simply easier to mend line with a longer rod. You may find you need different rods for the types of fishing you want to do.

    tswoboda
    Participant
    Posts: 3650
    #2052715

    That being said, what would be a good weight that would allow a fun fight with 8″ trout but will also work for steelhead? I just dont want to get one that sacrifices the fight of small trout but at the same time I want it to be good for steelhead.

    For reference… this is like asking for a spinning or casting rod that can pull largemouth out of heavy cover, but also allow a “fun fight” with bluegills. It’s really not possible.

    Most popular great lakes steelhead rod is an 8 wt. Most popular inland trout rod is a 5 wt. One rod for both is going to be a big compromise somewhere in between.

    catmando
    Participant
    wis
    Posts: 1809
    #2052732

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Tim S. wrote:</div>
    That being said, what would be a good weight that would allow a fun fight with 8″ trout but will also work for steelhead? I just dont want to get one that sacrifices the fight of small trout but at the same time I want it to be good for steelhead.

    For reference… this is like asking for a spinning or casting rod that can pull largemouth out of heavy cover, but also allow a “fun fight” with bluegills. It’s really not possible.

    Most popular great lakes steelhead rod is an 8 wt. Most popular inland trout rod is a 5 wt. One rod for both is going to be a big compromise somewhere in between.

    Ditto, you need 2 rods minimum, you go after steelhead in the waters I fish like the Cranberry, you will have fun with a 5wt, but you wouldn’t get dinner often.Big holes and long runs are made for a lighter wt rod and big fish.

    tegg
    Participant
    Hudson, Wi/Aitkin Co
    Posts: 1450
    #2052765

    For reference… this is like asking for a spinning or casting rod that can pull largemouth out of heavy cover, but also allow a “fun fight” with bluegills. It’s really not possible.

    Most popular great lakes steelhead rod is an 8 wt. Most popular inland trout rod is a 5 wt. One rod for both is going to be a big compromise somewhere in between.

    This would be my take. There will be some exceptions but if you asked a number of driftless fly anglers you’d likely find out people are commonly using 3 to 5 wt rods. Common bass or Great Lakes steelhead setups are going to be 8 wt (perhaps some lighter for Superior and some heavier for Michigan).

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