So in the last post we talked in general about trout fishing and what equipment is required to start off as a beginner. Now we shall go into more depth in each area so you can better understand the sport. In this post we shall discuss the differences in makes and models of trout fly rods.
First off each fly rod is stamped with a line rating on its butt section. This line rating is designed to allow you to match up the correct fly line and reel so the setup is balanced and suitable for casting properly.
The AFTM Association of Fishing Tackle Manufacturers came up with the system many years ago to help manufacturers make products to match so retailer and anglers could be easier provided for.
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What size of trout rod to use?
The main principal behind it is each line rating from 0-16 gets heavier as you go up in size and will take a stronger and usually longer rod to cast it properly. In general a 4 or 5 weight line rating would be for a 8ft rod catching trout up to 2lbs a 5-6 would be 9ft trout up to 4-5lbs and 6-7 10ft for trout up to 10-15lbs. These are not exact figures but general approximations.
The larger line ratings are for salmon, pike and larger species and not really used for trout unless you are going after 20-25lb trout in which case an 8-9 weight rod may be required.
So when you have decided what size of trout you will be targeting you can decide on the line rating that suits best. As a beginner I would opt for something between 9-10ft with a 6-7 line rating this gives you the best starting point and covers a lot of situations.
You can always add to your collection as you get more experienced and as time goes bye. Any fly fishing angler I know has a large collection of fly rods and in some cases it becomes an obsession.
I myself have about a dozen rods ranging from an 8ft 5 weight to 15ft 12 weight salmon rod with options in between. There are so many manufacturers making good quality fly rods that is always nice to have options to try on a days fly fishing for trout.
Lights, camera, action! Not that kind of action.
OK so we have opted for a 10ft 7 weight fly rod, the next thing to consider is the action. The action of a fly rod is measured in flexibility the softer the rod is, the easier it is to cast as the timing is longer between forward and back casts.
The faster a rod is the quicker you need to be to get the cast performed. In so doing this keeps the loop formed by the fly line tighter which leads to further casts. This is the reason more anglers are going for faster actioned rods to get distance in the cast.
Fly fishing is not all about distance!
This is a miss conception, you do not need to be a master at distance to catch trout on the fly. If anything obsession with distances can hinder a fly angler in the art of actually learning how to fly fish. When more concerned with distance they are missing the water between them and the fly.
That being said there will be times when a trout is showing just beyond your reach that teases you time and time again by breaching. My response is forget about it and target one closer and just enjoy the show.
Do not fall into the trap of distance casting. For example I went on a fishing trip to Russia a few years ago with a group of twelve anglers. We were all geared up with 12ft plus double handed fly rods and large shooting head lines all designed to get the fly out far.
All OK so far however there was one angler with us who had never salmon fished before but was an accomplished trout fly fisherman. While we were all trying to cast out flies to the far banking this guy was only making it half way. Never-the-less he managed to catch more fish for the week than the rest of us.
My point you do not need to be a big caster to cast salmon or trout. You will catch more fish casting within your limits and fishing the flies correctly.
Those are the two main things to consider when purchasing a new fly fishing trout rod although they are not the only things. Another important point would be the number of sections the rod comes in.
Frequent flyer are you?
Ideally a fly rod would come as one piece as then there would be no compromises in action through the connections. However this is impracticable as putting a 11ft rod into a small car is going to be a problem.
As more and more anglers travel to fishing destinations by aeroplane the need to pack a rod into a small space is needed. This is where the frequent flyer rod series has come into existence.
Rods for travelling are usually 4-7 pieces in length and fill the need fairly well however, the extra connections in the rod length do cause small lapses in action and can be make them more difficult to cast than a 2-3 piece fly rod. This fly rod is one to add to your collection for those dream destinations but not necessary for fishing local rivers and lakes.
Other differences in trout fly rods are colour, ring type, butt type and reel seat. For colour these can vary from very light to dark and matt to high gloss. This is very much a personal choice but I would stay away from high gloss and bright colours.
Trout can be very wary in certain lakes and fisheries and a flashing bright rod will cause them to move away from you. I would recommend a neutral colour that is matt or soft sheen then you should avoid this happening.
Snakes go fly fishing too!
Rod rings come in many types from snake rings to single leg and double leg attachments. Of these snake and double rings are the strongest but add to the weight of the rod although this would be minimal.
These also come in many metals and the strongest lightest material costing the most. For our beginner rod I would opt for snake rings which are cheap but amply strong for learning.
The fly fishing rod handle has a few options. From full and half wells to fighting butts and extensions. This is not that important for our first rod but something you can add to your collection.
However the addition of a fighting butt which can be screwed on or of can add an extra function for fighting larger trout. In essence it extends the rod at the butt so you can put your second hand on it to help land a prize trout. Not really necessary for small trout.
The reel seat can also be a personal choice as the connecting of a reel to the rod is fairly similar except for some manufacturers putting in images of fish or engravings which add to the look of the rod but not much to the function.
So to sum up if fishing for trout in the 2-10lb range I would opt for a 6-7 weight 9-10ft, 2-3 piece rod which is neutral matt in colour with a full wells handle and snake rings. This should offer you a good functional rod that will cover many situations. Then as you grow in the sport you can add additional rods of different lengths and weights to cover more situations as your budget allows.