THE FLY ROD is what sets us apart, the method of utilising it a tell even at distance, and a badge of honor among devotees bringing us together. It wasn’t that long ago there would be curious questions on even the White and Norfork, about the unfamiliar “long poles”.
Buying a fly rod, whether stepping across the threshold for your first, or your 10th can be a daunting prospect, rows of shiny graphite, all pretty much looking the same. Think of it this way, the rod rack is like a tool box: every rod is sized and built to do a specific job. Figure out the job and you can select the tool, or at least narrow it down to a selection to cast.
Here’s our guide to help selecting the right rod for you, the things to look for, understanding the language, with the aim of you walking away with the right rod and a smile on your face.
THE FIRST ROD
Every fly fisher remembers that first rod, the first cast and the first fish. If you are chasing trout in the Ozarks its easy to remember a 9′ 5wt. as the all around choice to learn the game.
A 5wt is the right package for most North American trout, .Shorter rods are fun, and longer rods have their place but to get started a 9 footer works as Tom McGuane wrote:
A rod better have a great reason for being over nine feet or under eight. Nine is a wonderful length for a trout, tarpon, or billfish rod. It’s a length the human body likes.
Moderate fast, progressive actions tend not to punish the errors that naturally come with learning to fly cast and they aren’t still foregiving on light tippet. Outfits, with a prepacked line, reel, rod put together by the maker are probably the best value for the beginner.
The Orvis Encounter or TFO NXT make getting set easy, or you can step up to outfit offerings from the the Orvis Clearwater or Sage Approach. If you want a more tailored approach we can put together any reel, line and rod set up you fancy.
Make sure you cast the rods. You don’t need to know what you are feeling, just pick the rod giving the best cast with the easiest effort. That way you will spend less time thinking about casting and more about fishing.
SMALLJAWS AND STREAMERS
If you fish the Ozarks there’s going to be a time you want a rod to fish bigger flies than your standard trout fare. Stepping up a rod weight into a 6wt or even 7wt will let you fish big hoppers in the wind, midsize streamers for trout and creek bass even some of the bigger trout streamers for monster White River browns.
There is huge variety in these sticks, so think where your time will be spent. More hopper fishing, perhaps some nymphing where mending is key look at the more standard all around rods, TFO’s BVK the Orvis Recon or Sage’s Accel or stepping up try the Sage X or Helios 2.
BASS AND BIG STUFF
The same thing applies with the bigger rods. The ultimate big streamer rod for the White River beasts is the Sage Method. But if you are going to spend plenty of days using your 8-weight fishing for largemouth bass with poppers, perhaps redfish or Alaskan salmon the tasks are quite different.
The shorter casts needed for LA redfish or Arkansas bass ponds suits rods which bend deeper with less line out, rods like the TFO Mangrove, Orvis Helios 2 or the Bolt.
If you will be spending more time on the flats, then try a Sage Salt