Fly Rods & Fly Line Weight
So, what the heck is fly line weight? And why should you care?
Simple. Today, the weight of a fly line is measured in a tiny unit called
grains. Rather helpfully, the fly line manufacturers came up with a numbering
system that helped how heavy or light a particular fly line is. This
numbering system runs from 1 (ultralight) to 14 and beyond (heavy).
Well...thats nice....but so what? Actually, it's important to understand
this concept. Remember, in fly fishing, it is the weight of the fly
line that casts the fly! If you choose the wrong weight fly line
for the types of flies you plan on using, you are going to have many,
many problems when it comes to casting and control.
Thus, if you put on a tiny size 14 dry fly onto a fly line that has
a weight of 7, control will be lost and when the fly hits the water -
it will hit it with a splash due to the heavy weight of the line (which
pulls the fly down harder). Conversely, attach a heavy fly to a fly line
that has a light weight - and the fly will literally go all over the
place. Control will be next to impossible and, once again, the fly will
crash into the water.
Because of all this, it is crucial - repeat crucial - to make sure
has been designed to "mate up" with the fly line you'll be using.
But....how do you know what weight of fly line to use? That, happily,
is simple. Just match up what you'll be fishing for with the chart below.
- Fly Line Weight 1-3 : Use this weight if you plan on fishing for
tiny fish, such as tiny trout or panfish.
- Fly Line Weight 4 : A good all-around fly line weight for all small
fish species such as panfish, as well as small to medium-sized trout.
- Fly Line Weight 5 : Another good all-around fly line weight. Works
ok for small fish, but some of the fun goes out of it. On the other
hand, works ok for average sized bass and virtually all trout.
- Fly line Weight 6 : A heavier version of 5. Not much fun to use for
small fish. But idea for all trout fishing. Works well for bass too
and even small salmon.
- Fly Line Weight 7 : Use this line weight for all bass fishing if
you want no worries. Also works well for monster trout fishing. Hopeless
overkill for average trout and panfish. This line weight is also popular
for steelhead and small to medium sized salmon.
- Fly Line Weight 8 and Above : These line weights are used for ever
larger and stronger fish, particular saltwater species. If you'll be
in Montana or plan on fishing for trout, there is no need for anything
Let's Match Them Up
Now you know why its so important to determine what you plan on fishing
for BEFORE doing anything else. Knowing what you plan on fishing for
allows you to choose the right fly line weight to use - which then determines
what fly rod weight/fly reel weight to use.
Thus, the rule here is:
Fly Line Weight = Fly Rod Weight = Fly Reel Weight
A happy marriage.
Just be sure to match everything up EXACTLY. While it won't kill you,
you will definitely have a better experience - particularly as a beginner
- if you match everything up.
Thus, if you are going to use a 5-weight
fly line, you will be best served using a 5-weight fly rod and 5-weight
fly reel too.
In theory, you can go up one and down one level. However,
there IS a performance drop - so there is no reason to "invite" degrading
performance unless you have no choice.
Fly Rod Length
Figuring out fly rod length is pretty easy. Depending on what you plan
on fishing for and where you plan on doing it, get something from 8 feet
to 9 feet.
- Get 9 feet if you need to make long casts, use a heavy fly line or fish
frequently in the wind.
- Get 8.5 feet for general, all-around fly fishing in a wide variety
- Get 8 feet for shorter, more precise casts, or for small stream fishing.
Or for chasing after panfish with a light fly line.
Here's some other considerations to think about when you are shopping
for a fly rod.
- How Many Pieces? : If you plan on doing lots of travel, carting along
a long fly rod that only breaks down into two pieces can be difficult
at time. If travel, especially by airline, is common - considering getting
a travel fly rod that breaks down into four or more pieces.
- Fly Rod Construction? : While they are becoming as rare as dinosaurs
anymore, fiberglass fly rods can still be found. Unless you need a
fly rod for the kids, I suggest avoiding them and getting what virtually
all other fly rods are made of today - graphite. Graphite is lighter
than fibergalss and is stronger too. It also allows for better casts.
- Consider Getting a Fly Rod Combo : Fly Rod combos
are nice. A fly rod combo includes the fly rod, the fly reel and the
fly line (already
put on the spool). These combos not only save you money but also guarantee
that the whole fly rod outfit (rod/reel/line) is balanced. For beginners,
I think this is the way to go if you don't already have one or more
pieces of the fly rod outfit.
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