Selecting your Rod
Selecting your first rod can be quite daunting as there are literally thousands of options but there are three things you should know.
The Rod Weight
Fly fishing rod manufacturers produce rods to cast a specific line weight to achieve best results for your casting.
2 to 4 weight rods are designed primarily to catch smaller fish over fairly short distances. These types of rods are ideal for streams and small lakes.
5 and 6 weight rods make good general purpose fly fishing rods. They can be used just about anywhere and can be a good option for the novice.
7 + Rods can be good for fly fishing for bigger fish or if you need to need cast greater distances.
The Rod Length
Rods come in varying lengths, from 7 to over 10 feet. The most popular being between 9 to 9.5 You are likely to want a shorter rod if you are casting in confined areas with large amounts of shrub or tree growth. The majority of short rods are generally lighter weight rods. This would also imply that the longer the rod the greater the casting distance and long rods would not be suitable in heavily obstructed areas.
A 9 foot rod is a good length for general purpose fly fishing unless you know for sure that you will need a longer or shorter rod.
Essentially the action of a rod is to do with where on the rod it flexes when a load is applied. Rods come in three action types:
slow, medium, and fast.
On a slow action rod the bend occurs in the bottom 3rd of the rod (near your reel). It feels whip like and can be difficult to cast long distances.
On Medium action rod this bend, when under a load, will occur near the middle of the rod.
On a Fast action rod the bend occurs on the last 3rd and could be considered as Stiff. A fast action rod provides more power when casting and increases the castable distance.
Before you purchase your rod you should try casting the rod and see if it’s right for you. Take it for a test drive. This will determine what action best suites your casting style.
Also take advice from your reputable fly fishing dealer for the best rod for you.
Selecting your reel
The purpose of a reel is to hold your fly line and it keeps pressure on the fish during a “run” and eases retrieval. You need to size your reel with the line and rod weight. This will ensure the correct balance of your rod.
Just like fly rods, there are many different types of reels and prices. There is no question that the more expensive reels are better quality than that of less expensive ones. If you are intending to fish saltwater species, you will need to make sure your rode is salt waterproof.
Once again consult with your dealer to what would best suite your requirements.
Selecting your Line
Some consider your fly line is the most important part of your fishing equipment. Certainly with out it your rod and reel are redundant. A good quality line will cast well on cheep and expensive rods.
Fly lines come in a variety of buoyancy, from floating to fast sinking lines. If I were to buy just one single line to start with it would be a floating line.
Manufacturers use the same designations for fly lines that relate to the taper of the line. Taper is how the diameter of the line changes through out its length. They are classified as double taper, weight forward, level, and triangle taper. Your line should be matched to the weight of your rod and reel.
Double Taper (DT) Lines – Double taper lines are tapered on both ends of the line. Double taper lines have a more gradual taper than weight forward lines. The design increases the precision of the cast and gently lies down on the water. This would indicate that these would make good lines for beginners.
Weight Forward (WF) Lines – Weight forward lines have a section of the largest taper near the end of the line. This puts most of the mass at the end of the line allowing anglers to more easily and quickly load their rod for more casting power. You can make longer casts but these are likely to be less accurate.
You need to match your line weight with the type of fishing you will be doing as with your rod and reel size. Weight forward lines can be matched to the action of your rod being produced as either slow, medium, and fast action.
Level Lines – Level lines have the same diameter thickness throughout the line. These lines are hard to cast and not as accurate as double taper or weight forward lines.
Backing – Backing is a inexpensive cord material wound on the spool of the reel before the line. The fly line is attached to the backing. The backing fills the spool to its capacity making it easier to reel. It also provides backup line in case a big fish takes all the line off your spool. Refer to the manufacturers guidelines for how much back you will require.
Fly Selection Basics
Dry flies float on the surface of the water and represent the adult stage of the insect’s life. Specific Fly patterns have been developed to imitate an individual variety of insect life. Also you can get general attractor patterns that represent a variety of insects and can be very effective. (Bob’s Bits)
Nymphs are subsurface flies that represent the insect in its larvae stage. Fish primarily feed on nymphs. So a few nymphs are always good to have especially if fish are not moving on the surface or you main goal is to land a few fish.
Streamers are an imitator of smaller fish and other aquatic creatures. These can be effectively fished for catching larger specimens in deeper water.