Choosing the Right Rod

Fly Fishing has been stereotyped with the stigma that Fly Fishing is only for the wealthy folks to target trout. I am here to tear down the stereotypes of fly fishing by presenting affordable equipment that you can use to target just about any freshwater species of fish. For the beginning fly fisher, it is important to stick to the basics and therefore I will only cover the most important aspects when picking out your first fly rod and reel. First it is important to identify which species of fish you will primarily be targeting so can choose the proper rod weight. The rod is marked on the rod and determines which line weight will properly load the rod for casting. Sometimes a rod will have two line weights marked on it. Many times the lower is the ideal weight for a sinking line and the higher is the ideal weight for a floating line. Many people are misled to believe that the fly rod weight is a function of the size of fish that is targeted. This is only partially true. The fly rod weight is more of a function of the size and weight of the fly to be thrown. For instance if you are targeting largemouth and smallmouth bass, you will be throwing bigger and more wind resistant flies than you would for panfish. Since the fly is propelled by the weight of the line and the rod weight is directly related to the weight of the line, it only makes sense that bigger flies require heavier line which requires higher weight rods. Now there are always those special cases. I can easily cast the flies needed to catch big carp on a 4 weight rod, but I recommend nothing less than a 7 weight rod if you want to avoid breaking your rod or fighting that carp for a few days. Once you have determined your primary target you can choose a weight needed for your rod. At Midwest Fishing Adventures, we primarily target smallmouth and largemouth bass and therefore use 7 and 8 weight rods the majority of time. Check out this chart to determine which weight suits you:

Recommended Fly Rod Weights per Species
Species Recommended Weights Low Budget Option Mid Budget Option
Panfish 2,3,4 Redington Crosswater Ross Essence
Most trout 4,5,6 Redington Crosswater Ross Essence
Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass 6,7,8 Scientific Anglers Bass Kit Redington Predator
Steelhead and Salmon 7,8,9 Scientific Anglers Bass Kit
Redington Crosswater
Redington Predator
Northern Pike and Musky 8,9,10 Redington Crosswater Redington Predator

Targeting Multiple Species

Notice that some rod weights are well suited for targeting multiple species. For example an 8 weight rod can be used to target smallmouth, largemouth, steelhead, salmon, pike and musky.

We are targeting smallmouth and largemouth bass and have decided a 7 or 8 weight rod is the best rod weight. Now we need to pick an action that allow us to power those heavier and more wind resistant flies through the air atleast 35 or 40 feet. Rod action simplified is how the rod bends. There are 3 actions to keep in mind. Tip Flex(fast), Mid Flex(medium) and Full Flex(slow). Look at this chart to see why we use Mid Flex and Tip Flex action rods here at Midwest Fishing Adventures:

Fly Rod Actions
Action Benefits
Tip Flex or Fast Action
  1. Creates more line speed for throwing heavier more wind resistant flies
  2. Helps with distance casting
  3. Has lots of strength for fighting bigger fish
  4. Helps when casting in the wind
Mid Flex or Medium Action
  1. Provides a little more accuracy
  2. Allows for a more quiet fly impact
  3. Provides some tippet protection without compromising all of its backbone for fighting fish
Full Flex or Slow Action
  1. Provides the best tippet protection
  2. Great short distance casting
  3. Helps present the fly quietly