Finding a fly rod that’s just right for you

It has been quite some time since I have purchased a new fly rod.

It has been quite some time since I have purchased a new fly rod.

To the best of my recollection it’s been at least a year – give or take.

I’ll admit I already own a fair number of what anglers commonly refer to as ‘specialty’ fly rods, you know, the type one needs to fish in certain situations for certain types of fish under specific circumstances. However, I now find myself in need of a new six weight, the rod I use most often in most situations. No, I did not break my favourite Thomas and Thomas rod. I seem to have lost it though, or at least misplaced it. The bottom line is I can’t find it and I am heading off shortly to fish the lakes, rivers and streams of the East Kootenay, so I have buy another.

It won’t be an easy task. I’ve used that old T and T Paradigm for a good 20 years. It felt just right and cast just the way I wanted.

A person doesn’t go out and buy any old rod. It takes time and perseverance. You have to shop around until you find a rod and know instinctively this is the one for you, this is the one that will get the job done.

In order to select the right fly rod, it is important to determine the size and species of fish you will be pursuing, the size and type of flies you will be casting and the size of the waters you will be fishing.

In general, longer rods are better for larger waters, shorter rods for smaller waters. Rods of the same length can be designed to cast lighter or heavier lines. But not both. A rod with a three-weight designation is designed specifically to cast a three-weight line, just as an eight-weight rod is for an eight-weight line. A three- or four-weight rod is more appropriate for catching smaller fish such as small rainbow or cutthroat trout in small streams, while a six-weight rod would be required to handle larger rainbows in lakes and rivers. And an eight or nine weight would be needed for fish such as salmon and steelhead, and so on. There’s an endless number of rods designed to cast different line weights on different types of water for different species of fish.

Modern graphite rods are lighter, stronger, easier to cast and much more sensitive. Just remember there is little sport in catching 12 to 14 inch rainbows on an eight weight. And you will only stress and harm the fish if you end up overplaying a five-pound rainbow on a three-weight rod. Choose a rod that will allow you to play a fish, control it and bring it in as quickly as possible so it can be released back into the water.

There is no one rod that will allow you to fish all waters and situations. However, if I had to select but one rod to fish Interior waters I would choose a nine foot, six weight with moderate to fast action. A nine foot, six weight is adequate for most Interior lakes and streams. It will allow an angler to cast large caddis flies a fair distance in windy conditions while still allowing them to present small dry flies to cautious fish feeding on the surface.

Do your homework before you spend your money on a rod. Speak to anglers who have fished the waters you will be fishing. Talk to the people at several fly shops – get more than one opinion. Just as different rods have different casting characteristics, different anglers have different casting strokes and different capabilities. Try a rod out before you buy it. If you have the opportunity, attend a casting demonstration put on by a local fly shop or fly fishing club. That way you will discover which rod is best for you, as well as, the type of fishing you will be doing.

You will also discover that in the long run, it is better to invest in a good rod right from the beginning. Good quality rods come with good warranties. We all make mistakes with our gear and it can be comforting to know  your expensive rod will be replaced by the manufacturer if you happen to make one of those mistakes. Unless, of course, you happen to misplace it and then you have to fork out the money all by yourself.


Salmon Arm Observer