What do I mean? Simple. Are you looking for ultralight fly rods that are designed for smaller streams, or are you looking for a very lightweight fly rod that is easy to pack into the backcountry?
Let’s look at both!
The first thing to acknowledge about the ultralight rods made today is that they are not toys. (OK, maybe they are, but let’s not get into a conversation here about a man and his toys.)
They can however give you some serious fun on the water. Ultralight fly rods are labeled sizes 3, 2, 1, Ought and Double-Ought weights. Learn more about fly rod weights.
There is no question about it; ultralight rods allow you to feel the strength of a smaller trout. The question becomes whether it is sporting when you hook into a large trout. Can you land a large trout fast enough so as not to kill it?
Yes, you can land a large trout just as fast with ultralight rods. Think about it for a minute. If you are using a six-weight fly rod and conditions call for a light 5X tippet, you will be fighting the fish with caution. You have a stiff rod with a light tippet, and you should be careful.
If on the other hand you are fighting a large trout with an ultralight 1-weight with a 5x tippet, your rod will flex more and protect the tippet from breaking. You also fight a large fish by keeping the rod lower and using a consistent smooth pressure on it with the reel's drag system.
The Tenkara fly rod is an answer for the backcountry fly fisher because they only weigh about 2.3 ounces. Because they do not use a reel the overall weight of your fly gear can be as low as 6 ounces.
Here are some facts about the Tenkara rod:
The ultralight fly rod is your best fly rod for small streams. If you are thinking of buying one go at least two weights lighter than the lightest rod you currently own. If you are unsure about where to start, start with a 3-weight; I love mine. You will find fewer manufacturers making the lighter weight rods.
If possible cast the rod before you buy it. This will also help you decide which line you want to buy. Giving the rod a shake in the store just will not tell you much.
If you do a lot of backpacking, consider a Tenkara rod.