A Guide to Choosing the Best Fly Rod for Beginners

Selecting the right fly rod will make learning to fly fish easier. It’s also likely to enhance the beginner’s enjoyment of fly-fishing. On the other hand, using the wrong rod to start out with can quickly crush a beginner’s enthusiasm and interest in fly fishing.

There’s a lot to consider when trying to choose the best fly rod for beginners. Fly rod length, weight and action must be correctly combined in a fly rod that’s suitable for a fly-fisherman who’s just starting out. The question of quality and brand and how much one should invest in a beginner’s fly rod must also be considered.

The Best Fly Rod Length for Beginners

I would recommend that the novice fly-fisher buy an 8 foot 6 inch or 9 foot carbon-fibre rod. A rod of about this length is perfectly suited to most situations and will allow a beginner to fish a wide variety of different kinds of water, which is exactly what a beginner should try to do while building up fly-fishing abilities and gaining experience.

Fly Rod Weight Recommendations for Beginners

As for weight, I think a 6 weight rod is perfect. Experts with a great deal of experience generally prefer to use a 4 or 5 weight rod, because such rods are so light in the hand and allow great finesse in casting. However, a beginner fly-fisher should be focussing more on mastering the basics and not so much on enjoying the sport’s finer points. A 6 weight outfit will be a bit more forgiv­ing – that is, it will mask a learner’s mistakes more readily than a lighter rod will.

But having said all that, the difference between a 5 and a 6 weight rod is in fact fairly minimal. Thus a novice who is really committed to developing into an expert angler might just as sensibly opt for a 5 weight rod instead of a 6 weight.

Fly Rod Action Guidelines for Beginners

I believe that a beginner fly angler should go for a medium action rod. Fast action rods are really for the expert who wants to make long casts without losing too much accuracy. Beginner anglers should concentrate on casting only short distances.

If you are a beginner and you try to cast big distances, you are bound to end up with nothing but frustrating tangles and false starts. A medium action rod is by far the best fly rod to learn on.

Choose the Best Fly Rod for Local Conditions

When deciding what sort of rod to buy, it’s very important to consider local conditions. It may well be that because of where you live you will be mostly doing a particular kind of fly-fishing that calls for a very heavy – or indeed very light – combination of rod and line. In this case, there may be no point in buy­ing a generic 5 or 6 weight outfit.

The obvious thing to do is to get in touch with other fly-fishermen in your area and find out what weight rod and line they normally use when they go out fishing. Buying something that is mark­edly different from what everyone else seems to be using is clearly a silly move.

The following table provides a brief summary of rod types and uses:

Click on Image to View Full Size.

Click on Image to View Full Size.

How Much to Spend on a Beginner’s Fly Rod

Many beginners think they should spend as little as possible on their first fly rod. The argument is, they might not enjoy fly-fishing as much as they thought they would, so why buy the best fly rod out there?

The solution to this dilemma is to purchase a middle-of-the-range fly rod by a well known maker such as Penn, Fenwick or Scierra. Rods by these manufacturers are reasonably expensive but don’t cost the Earth – and they are certainly of solid good quality.

But the best thing about a middle-range rod is that, should you really enjoy fly-fishing and decide to upgrade to a top-flight rod, you will be able to sell your middle-range rod as a second-hand item far more readily than you would a cheap and nasty rod. Either that or you can keep hold of your first rod and use it as a back-up to your magnificent new G.Loomis or Sage rod.

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