How to choose the perfect fly rod

A carefully selected fly rod can make or break your experience on the water, and knowing which type you need isn’t always as simple as it seems. Fly rods vary in weight, length, and action, and when it comes to choosing the right fly fishing rod, it all comes down to where you’re fishing and what type of fish you’re targeting. So which fly rod is perfect for you? Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fly fisherman, Wild Water Fly Fishing will help you explore the different types of fly fishing rods available and can provide you with everything you need to know for a successful day on the water.

Fly fishing is a sport of personal preference and style. Choose a versatile fly rod that adapts to the environment, both the water and your surroundings, in which you will fish the most. Don’t be surprised if a rod serves you well one day and not the next as fishing locations and conditions change. When selecting a fly rod, it is important to consider line weight, rod length, and rod action. These variables are the distinguishing factors between fly rods, and below we will explore each of these variables in depth.

Line width

First things first: What are you hoping to catch? The size of the fish, as well as the type of body of water it inhabits, will determine the weight of your fly rod. As a general rule: the bigger the fish and the choppier the water, the heavier the line should be.

If you are fishing for large trout or smallmouth bass, you will most likely find yourself wading and fishing in small to medium sized rivers and streams, and possibly lakes. Targeting these types of fish will require a 7 or 8 weight fly rod. When facing bass, carp, or salmon in lakes, large rivers, open freshwater, or coastal saltwater, you’ll need to up the ante when it comes to fly rod length and line weight, in which case you’ll want a 10 peso line.

Lighter rods lend themselves better to calmer streams, small rivers and lakes. The higher the intensity of the river or lake, the heavier your rod should be. Saltwater species also tend to be stronger and faster than freshwater fish. They fight longer and require a heavier line weight and heavier fly rod that can take on these fish.

rod length

Fly fishing rods can range from very short (about 6 feet) to very long (12 to 14 feet). There are advantages and disadvantages to each. A long rod provides extra reach to cast and cover more water. They are also better at repairing, drifting, steering, and lifting fish through long drifts. They are ideal for medium-sized rivers and lakes. Long rods require additional space to cast. If there are lots of trees, bushes, or other obstacles, a shorter rod may work better. Short rods are best when targeting smaller fish or fishing in smaller streams. They are also great for children to use while learning. As a child develops her skills and grows taller, he can eventually work his way up to a longer bar. If you are looking for an intermediate rod or a highly recommended rod, start with a 9 foot rod.

rod action

Now that we have discussed rod length and line thickness, next we will explore the different types of rod action. Rod action refers to the ability of a rod to bend under pressure and return to its natural shape. The tip section of any rod will always have the most flex. Anglers with more advanced casting skills can cast farther and in windier conditions with a fast action rod. These rods are normally bent ½ or ⅔ towards the tip. Fast action rods also have the stiffness to forcefully land heavier fish.

Wild Water recommends starting with a medium-fast action fly rod to help learn how to cast. This rod is not too soft or fast and will still be useful and give great casting performance once you get the hang of fly fishing. We also recommend a 9 foot rod unless you have a specific type of fly fishing you want to do. A medium-fast action rod will bend deep to half its length with minimal line in use. This type of rod is universally suitable for most fly fishing methods.

Are you ready to fly fish?

When choosing the right fly fishing rod, keep in mind that you won’t be using the same rod for your entire career. Fly fishermen will build their rod collections over time. It’s common to go between rods, depending on where you’re fishing, what you’re heading for, and how you’re casting, on a given day or time of year. As you gain more confidence and experience, your preferences will most likely change as you begin to try different rod lengths, actions, and line weights.

For more fly fishing tips, stay tuned to the Wild Water Fly Fishing blog or check out our learning pages!

About Wild Water Fly Fishing

Wild Water Fly Fishing represents a dedication to bringing friends and family together by providing everything you’ll need to prepare for a trip to the lake. If you are a parent or grandparent looking to foster a child’s interest in fly fishing, Wild Water offers the best tools to make your fly fishing trip an unforgettable experience. Wild Water Fly Fishing is the only company that focuses exclusively on affordable, easy-to-use fly fishing starter packs for all fish species. Learn more about wild water fishing by visiting us at