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Determining the correct length of fishing rod for beginners

At a sports show recently, I heard someone from an exhibitor ask if he could recommend a suitable length for fly rods for beginners. I didn’t stay to hear the answer as I knew the answer would depend on where you fish, what type you are looking for, what end gear you use, and so on. If you don’t know these things beforehand, it will be difficult to determine the right fly rod length for beginners, indeed the right type of fly fishing outfit (rod-reel-line). To fix this, let’s first check what a fly rod does.

Properties of the fly rod

Fly tackle differs from other types of fishing equipment (spinning, bait throwing, etc.) in that the principle involves throwing a very light object (a type of fly) with a heavy, large diameter line. The rod is designed in such a way that during a cast it builds up an impulse to drive the fly to the intended target with this heavy line.

The reel holder on a fly rod is located near the piston, the guides are small, and the length varies from 5 to 10 feet in general use, although special circumstances call for 12 to 14 feet or longer rods. Because fly lines are characterized by weight and not by breaking strength, fly rods are designed to cast a specific weight line. Thus, a 5 weight bar is designed for use with a 5 weight line, and an 8 weight bar is designed for use with an 8 weight line. Rod makers design their rods (especially stiffness and resilience) to get the best cast of a line of designated weight.

General fly rod length for beginners

It is most often the case that a lighter bar is shorter than a heavier bar and that the weight designation is generally a bigger problem than the length. Determining the correct length of fishing rod for beginners is closely related to determining the correct weight of fishing rod for your intended applications.

When fishing small streams for trout, you don’t have to cast very far or use really large flies, and you will generally catch small fish, so a lighter rod and line, probably a 3 or 4 weight, would do the job. However, if you want to fish for largemouth bass where bulky flies are required and the fish may need to be removed from obstacles and cover, an 8 or 9 weight rod is required, especially if you are new to flycasting. The 3 weight for trout would likely be about 7 or 7½ feet long while the 9 weight for bass could be about 9 feet long.

Is there an all-round fishing rod length for beginners?

If you’re just starting out with fly fishing, you might be looking for a versatile outfit that is suitable for all-round use. Honestly, it’s hard to come by. The 9-weight rod mentioned in the previous paragraph would be too long and stiff to be cast in small streams and would overwhelm small fish. The 3 weight would not allow you to achieve distance or accuracy with large flies in greater water. However, that does not mean that they can only be used for the situations mentioned.

The 3-weight rod could also be used, for example, for casting small flies in ponds and the quieter sections of lakes. There you could have a lot of fun with bluegills, clam crackers, crappie, yellow perch and maybe bullheads. The 9-weight rod is great for species other than bass. It could also be used for pike, chain pickers and freshwater carp, as well as small to medium-sized specimens of coastal species on the coast such as striped bass, spotted sea trout and redfish.

If you are a beginner at fly fishing, think about where you will fly fishing and what you will be pursuing. Then get your fishing license and go to a fly shop where knowledgeable staff can help you explore the options.

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