How to Choose a Fly Rod

How To Choose a Fly Rod

Temple Fork Professional Fly Rod – Click to View

| The right fly fishing rod can make fly fishing an absolute pleasure or turn it into a frustrating hassle. This is why, when you first get into fly fishing, it is extremely important to make the correct selection so you don’t wind up so frustrated that you end up quitting altogether. To make things more complex, the rod should fit the species you are fishing for, the size fly you are casting, and the conditions. As a beginner, there are some rods that are great choices – check five of them out by clicking here. There are several things it is important to know when choosing a fly fishing rod – weight, length, action, pieces, and the warranty it is covered under.


Weight in this case refers to the “weight” of the line that the rod is designed to cast easily. Some lines are thicker and heavier, and thus designed for bigger fish and flies, and others are lighter and thinner and thus designed for lighter flies and smaller fish. Each rod is designed specifically to cast a certain weight of line – basically, the spine and flex of the rod are engineered perfectly to have the perfect amount of power to get that line out as efficiently as possible.

If you have too light of a rod for the line you are using, the rod will struggle to cast the line and you won’t get the natural cast that makes fly fishing fun. If the rod is too heavy of an action, it won’t transfer enough power to the line to cast it well either, as it will be too stiff and not springy enough to keep the line moving.

This is extremely important and perhaps the number one item to remember when buying fly rods. Here is a chart that will help you decide which weight of rod to look for.

Panfish, Smaller Trout in Smaller Creeks0-4
Average Sized Trout4-6
Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass5-8
Bonefish and Redfish7-9
Northern Pike and Muskie8-12
False Albacore, Striped Bass, Peacock Bass, Golden Dorado8-12
Sailfish and Marlin14-15

Additionally, you can read more about the weight of fly fishing setups here.


Fly rods for an average fish species generally come in an 8 to 9 foot range. The longer rods have a little more casting power and work well for bigger fish as well. 8 foot rods are a pretty good middle ground for rods, and anything less is perfect for small stream fishing or fishing for small species like panfish.


The Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod, a Moderate Action – Click to View

Fly rods are like any other rod when it comes to action, which refers to the spine of a rod. They range from fast to slow action, and basically the slower the action, the further down towards the butt of the rod it bends when casting or fighting a fish.

A fast action rod will have a slight bend in the very tip when casting or when fighting the size fish the rod is designed for. It feels stiffer and has more casting power to cut through wind or cast further. These rods are a great choice when fishing a larger river or lake in order to cast far and pull the fly back over the fish. The fast action tip will also save your arm, as they don’t require so much work to push the line since they are stiffer.

A medium, or moderate, action rod bends almost midway down the rod when fighting or casting. This flex makes these rods a solid all around choice for finesse casts, yet still having the power to make distance, though not as much as the fast action.

A slow action rod bends most of the way down the rod when casting and is very springy. Since these don’t have much spine, they don’t cast far or hard, but this makes them a good choice for finesse casting at close distances. These would be great for stream fishing or any other close distance fishing where you want a great fight.

The action plays a large role in how a rod feels, but if you adhere to the conditions each rod excels under, you will be well off. It is noteworthy that rods can come in either medium-fast or medium-slow actions, which is merely the middle ground of each action.

Pieces of the Rod

Fly rods can come in many different pieces due to their length, ranging from one piece to seven or eight. The difference between these is how many sections the rod can break down into, which primarily affects traveling and storage. The eight piece rods break down into many small sections to fit easily into a small suitcase, while obviously a 9 foot long single piece rod won’t travel well on an airplane or long car ride.

People do have preferences as far as sensitivity and performance go. For many, it isn’t possible to fish with a one piece, but it would perform the best since the whole spine is fully attached. It is said that the more pieces you get, the less sensitivity and performance you will get out of your rod. For many, 2 to 4 pieces are optimal as they break down small enough to travel well without being broken, but still don’t have a very noticeable difference in performance.


The warranty varies widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some will warranty the rod for it’s entire lifetime, while others only warranty for a year against manufacturer’s defects. Companies like Temple Fork Outfitters offer a lifetime no fault warranty, so if it breaks for any reason, you would send in 30 dollars and the broken rod and will get a repaired or new rod. This is something important to watch for, as it may not mean much now, but in a couple years when your buddy accidentally slams your rod in his tailgate, it becomes of utmost importance.


Each fly rod has it’s own distinct characteristics, and hopefully this list has helped you learn more about what to look for. I have compiled a list of the 5 best fly rods under $200 dollars here if you are looking for a solid rod on a budget. Thanks for reading!


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