There are very few feelings in this world that are better than hooking, fighting, and then landing a nice-sized trout on not-so-heavy gear. Except maybe when you do it again, and again, then a few times more!
Trout fishing is one of the most popular fishing types worldwide. It’s currently ranked fourth in North America in terms of fishing preference behind bass, panfish, and catfish in that order.
This article is designed to help you make the correct rod choice. If we have you “hooked,” read on.
Fly Rod Sizes for Trout
Fly rods are sized according to the line weight they’ll use. Matching the two together is very important. A very stiff, fast-action fly rod casts well with distance when matched with a heavier weight fly line, for example.
The actual length of a rod can range from as short as 6 ft up to a lengthy 14 ft. A 9 ft rod seems to be the most commonly used.
Given the length of fly fishing rods in general, we point out that they come in multi-pieces for easier transportation and storage. One rod can range from two to seven pieces, but the most popular is the four-piece.
0-3 Weight; 8 ft 9 in
Small mountain streams/creeks
4-6 Weight; 7 ft 6 in-9 ft
Small - medium size rivers
7-8 Weight; 8-10 ft
Medium - large rivers/lakes
9-12 Weight; 10-12 ft
High banks/brush and wind
13+ Weight; 12-14 ft
Surf from shore - long casting
This size is best for catching panfish and smaller trout in smaller spring creeks. It also provides way more fun when hooking and landing—or netting— those slightly larger specimens!
The rod best suited to this type of fishing and weight would be around 8 ft 9 in. Flies used would be around size 14 or smaller.
The recommended weight for targeting the average-sized trout and grayling. Four weight should be used to fish small creeks and streams using a variety of flies. Use a 7ft 6in rod for this. To fish using dry flies on rivers, a four-weight rod of around 8 ft 6in would be ideal.
Five weights are probably the most versatile of trout fly rods. They can handle small to larger flies with precision and enable longer casts in wind. The five-weight fly rod that’s 9 ft long is the one best suited to serve anglers in different situations. This is the rod length and weight combination most recommended by the experts.
Six weights are generally for heavier or more bulky flies. They’re usually attached to a 9-ft long rod.
Seven to eight weights are best suited to fishing for the bigger steelhead trout. They’re normally attached to an 8-10 ft fly fishing rod. This length and weight of rod is better used in larger bodies of water.
Except for the occasional, larger steelhead, these weights are more suited to windy conditions and salt-water fly fishing and not really applicable to this topic.
As mentioned above, these are for salt-water game fishing and fall outside of the scope of our “fly rod for trout” discussion.
Advantages of Each Rod Size
- Longer rods provide more assistance in windy conditions
- Shorter rods are more manageable in smaller bodies of water
- Medium rods are more versatile
Disadvantages of Each Rod Size
- Longer rods are heavier to hold
- Shorter rods provide less casting distance
- Longer rods are more cumbersome to transport
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Fly Rod for Trout
There are many different fly rods on today’s market designed to suit all possible fishing situations and your pockets.
Determining what size fly rod is best for trout can be somewhat perplexing. While the expert opinion seems to be that the five-weight fly rod is the most versatile and a good all-around trout rod to start with, the following factors should also be considered.
What Type of Water Will You Fish?
A thing to remember about trout is that they mostly prefer cold water.
This could be anything from a little mountain creek or stream, a small to a large river, a dam or even a lake, depending on your personal circumstances and preferences. Among the various species of trout, one can even encounter the steelhead, which is classified as a rainbow trout but spends much of its time in the ocean or the great lakes.
Like the salmon, the steelhead will return to freshwater rivers and streams to spawn. This habit breeds toughness and size that pleases many a trout angler.
Best Fly Rod Materials
Fly rods are mostly made from three different materials.
These are fibreglass, graphite, and bamboo. While the bamboo version is rich in tradition, looks good, and casts very well, it’s more expensive and not recommended for the beginner. We’ll concentrate on the other two.
Fibreglass rods are generally more durable and less expensive. Fibreglass tends to be heavier and softer in feel than graphite. Under 8 ft in length, fibreglass rods can feel as smooth as—and give the same action as—bamboo, making them ideal for creeks and small streams.
Graphite fly rods are the most popular because they are lighter, have faster actions, and are easier to handle in winds. If taken care of, they’ll last a lifetime.
Choosing the Right Fly Rod Weight
This is the weight of the line the rod is designed for, not how much the rod itself weighs.
Choosing the right weight should be considered when you decide what you want out of your fishing experience. The four weight for trout is good on smaller streams, rivers, or from a boat on a lake. You’ll likely find it to be more enjoyable because it feels lighter and makes the average trout a more exciting catch. Yet, it still has enough weight to cast and overcome a decent breeze.
Choosing the Best Fly Rod Action
Action in a fly rod is the amount of flex within that rod.
A slow-action rod flexes all the way to the handle while a fast action rod has much less flex. For the most part, lighter weight rods have a slower action, which is important for delicate presentations in clear trout streams. This extra flex also gives more protection to the lighter tippets normally used there.
A moderate to moderate-fast action fly rod is a good choice for those with more relaxed casting actions. This can be used for all trout fishing and is probably the best choice for the intermediate angler.
Faster action rods, with much less flex, provide a better feel at medium to longer distances and perform better in the wind. These are a good choice if you plan to fish in varying places using different techniques.
Once you have the rod size that suits you best, combined with a compatible and correctly spooled reel, and other necessary equipment, you can’t go wrong with having chosen trout fishing as your way of unwinding.
Using the pointers provided in this article, simply find a good, well-stocked location and fish to your heart's content.