by Staff Writer
Choosing fly-fishing gear requires patience and the right information, and fly-fishing rods are no exception. Today's fly-fishing rods are made from a variety of different materials and in a variety of different lengths, actions and weights. If you're a beginning fly fisherman, it's important that your first fly rod performs well and matches the kinds of conditions you're facing; few things can be more frustrating to a budding fly fisherman than the wrong pole. To help you choose the right pole for yourself or for a friend or loved one, we've put together a list of important facts about fly poles. Keep reading to find out some of the basic factors that should guide your choice as you shop for fly poles.
Fly-fishing rod "action" determines flexibility. Fly rods come in slow-action, medium-action and fast-action models. While it may sound like a fast-action rod is the best kind of rod -- the faster, the better, right? -- each type of action is suited to different type of fly fishing. Fast-action fly rods flex near the tip of the rod but remain stiff throughout the rest of the rod. These work well for quick, long casts. Medium-action rods are flexible everywhere except near the base of the rod and are very versatile. If you only plan to own one fly rod, a medium-action rod is a good choice, since they are sensitive enough for fishing in small streams, but fast enough for long casts on open waters. Slow-action rods are flexible throughout the rod, which slows down the line when you cast. This makes long casts difficult, but it allows for very precise casts, perfect when you're fishing for small fish.
The weight of your fly-fishing rod should match the weight of your line. Fly-fishing rods come in different weights -- anywhere from 0 to 16. However, the weight of a fly rod has less to do with physical weight than it does with how well a rod complements the weight of the line you plan to use. For example, a 5-weight rod may not be much heavier than a 3-weight rod, but may be much stiffer so as to accommodate a heavier line. It is always wise to match the weight of your rod with the weight of the fishing line you plan to use.
The length of the fly-fishing rod you buy should match the fishing you do. Fly-fishing rods come in lengths that range from seven feet to nine feet, and, like fly-rod action, the length of the rod you buy should match the kind of fishing you do. If you plan on fishing in small streams that have a lot of brush, then a seven-foot rod may be a good choice because it will make walking through the brush much easier and will allow for more controlled, shorter casts. A nine-foot fly rod works well on large rivers, lakes and any time you're using a float tube because you can make long casts and keep your line well out of the water when you're casting. If you plan on fishing a variety of different lakes, rivers and streams, an eight-foot fly-fishing rod will function well in all but the smallest streams and largest lakes.
Most fly-fishing rods are made from several different materials. The least expensive material used to make fly rods is fiberglass. Fiberglass fly rods are very inexpensive and very durable, but they are not as popular as they once were because they are relatively heavy. Graphite poles are currently the most popular kind of pole. Graphite is as strong as fiberglass and weighs much less. While most fly rods on the market are made from graphite, they still range widely in price; usually, the more expensive the graphite pole, the less it weighs. Early fly-fishing rods were made from wedges of bamboo bound together, and some fly fisherman still use bamboo fly rods. Bamboo fly rods are expensive, require more maintenance than other rods and have limited versatility (bamboo rods are always slow-action rods), but they have excellent sensitivity and control, and some fisherman claim that bamboo fly rods are the best rods available for fishing small trout.