Choosing a fly rod weight can be easy once you decide the type of fly fishing you plan on doing.
Small mountain streams call for a totally different rod than a larger river. This is just the first step in learning the fly fishing basics.
Fly rod manufacturers determine the fly rod weight by the weight of the fly line that the rod is designed to cast by the average person. This is not how heavy the rod is. This weight is marked on the rod near the handle.
According to the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association (AFTMA), the fly line weight is measured in grains (of wheat) per 30 feet of line. To answer your next question, there are approximately 475 grains to an ounce. In fly-casting the weight of the line is what you are casting.
You can vary the line weight used on any rod by one size either way depending on the conditions. This is an issue that we will talk about when we look at fly lines. Click here to learn more about fly-fishing line.
000-3 weight rods are designed for small stream fishing where delicate presentations and small flies are more common. These are not real good against the wind. I often fish small streams where I don’t use the reel at all, just short casts with ten to fifteen feet of line out. Most of the time these rods are used to cast less than 35 feet.
Lightweight fly rods often have a slow action. To learn more about rod action click here.
4-6 weight rods are more popular because you can cast farther and are better against the wind. Casting 45 to 65 feet is possible. These are good for medium to large streams.
But don’t get caught up in the distance you need to cast. I used to think I needed to make most of my casts far out into the stream. I caught my first steelhead trout on a fly about ten feet from the bank.
7-8 weight fly rods are designed for larger flies and larger fish. These are more commonly used to fish for steelhead trout. Casting distance is also longer, often up to 90 feet.
Switch rods used for fly fishing for steelhead often come in 7 or 8 weight and will be 11 feet in length.
9-12 weight rods come in lengths up to 14 feet and can cast up to 110 feet. These fly rods are most commonly two-handed Spey rods used on large rivers and are not the best rods for the novice to start with.
So what is the best rod weight for trout?
If you are just learning the fly fishing basics, get a five or six weight. These offer a good compromise between delicate presentations needed on a clear trout stream and the distance that will sometimes be called for.