Making Sense of Fly Rods & Line Selections

It’s dizzying. Walking into a fly shop and seeing 100’s of rods with writing that might as well be Sanskrit on it. Line weights, lengths, and actions can be confusing, so here’s a run-down.

Fly rods are designed to carry a fly line that is a certain weight. The line weight in grains corresponds to a line weight that is industry standard. For example an 8 wt fly rod will handle lines in the 200-220 grain class easily. With trout fishing, where the flies are small and presentation is paramount, a lighter line will be more beneficial.

The lighter your rod, the more tippet protection you will have: The rod will bend and absorb the strain of a stretching leader. In saltwater where leaders often exceed 12lbs, this is not as much an issue.

Length of rods can also be confusing to beginners

Length of rods can also be confusing to beginners. In today’s world, we consider a 9′ rod a standard length for most fly fishing. In saltwater, 98% will be 9 footers. Rods that are shorter (6-8′) are helpful in very tight quarters such as the Southern Appalachian mountains.

Consequently mending (or controlling the speed of the drift by manipulating the line) becomes harder with the shorter rods in streams and rivers. Two handed rods,or Spey rods, can reach 16′ and are the ultimate in line control. Rod actions are listed as slow, medium, or fast action.

The slowest rods are delicate presentation masters that are generally easier to learn to fly cast since you feel the rod loading and unloading easier. The faster action rods can be considered the Ferraris of fly fishing.

They are harder to control and cast, but as you get progressively better at casting, these will have more to offer you. They cast a tighter loop, thus beating windy conditions and long casts.

Most Red fishing, here in Charleston, is done with floating lines

Fly lines can be just as confusing. Most red fishing, here in Charleston, is done with floating lines. An 8 wt floater would be designated as a WF8F, or weight for- wards floating line.

In different scenarios, slow to fast sink lines will get you into the fishes zone more effectively. A WF8i would be an intermediate sinking line. Most of today’s fly lines are weight forward.

The inner core of fly lines is very important. Lines labeled “tropical” are designed to fish waters from 60-90 degrees. Their core remains stable at these temps, however, if you were to fish them in a cold trout stream, they would not be pliable enough to properly cast.

On the other hand, a cold water trout line will turn into a limp noodle in the heat, and it will be impossible to cast.

We hope this helps shorten the learning curve on fly gear.  If you have any more quetions please visit us at our online store or send us a message

Scotty Davis | Lowcountry Fly Shop |