Getting Started in Flyfishing
For most flyfishing beginners, I recommend a 9-foot, 6-weight rod, and not a $35 Eagle Claw cheapie either. If you think you'll try this sport more than once, the difference in casting performance in a cheap rod and a good rod is incredible. Redington, Orvis, LL Bean, St. Croix and many other companies all make excellent starter rods, usually under $125. Some have a nice package deal with a reel and line, for $175 or less. But to get started and have a rod that won't impede your casting and will perform and last, you will have to spend close to 100 buckaroos.
That said, you are not committed to a 6-weight rod. That weight is ideal for multi-use purposes. If you plan to fish for both trout and bass, if you plan to fish in windy conditions, if you plan to hook up with some hoggish catfish, then a 6-weight is the weight for you. But if you have designs on tackling small streams for brook trout, a 3- or 4-weight rod will work even better. No need to have that big old whip of a 6-weight on a little brook. If you are going on a trip to Alaska to fish for salmon, you're going to need to buy a heavier rod.
You are going to be bombarded with questions, such as"What action do I want for my rod? Fast, medium or slow?" or "What length rod will I need?" or "What the heck does 'weight' mean?" The experts selling the rods, who can determine what your needs will be, how you cast, and your body type, can help you more than I can. Typically, beginners will not be able to cast a fast-action rod well, but you might be the exception. A 1-weight is the lightest weight for a flyrod. A 3- or 4-weight rod is made for small streams and delicate flies. 5- and 6- weight rods are typically trout rods, best for medium to big rivers and fighting through windy conditions. The higher the number weight, the more it is designed for bigger fish, bigger waters.
If you decide you like flyfishing, you can spend the $300 to $500 later for a great rod. One caveat: don't buy a rod unless you cast it first. Most stores will have an area set up where you can try out the rod.
If you need to skimp on a piece of gear, buy a cheap reel to begin with, somewhere in the $30 to $50 range. If you have the bucks you can go ahead and get a $100 reel that will serve you for a long time, but a cheapie reel for a beginner is fine.
And flyline? If you are fishing for trout, you will want weight-forward flyline in most cases. For bass or striper or other big fish, you might want to think about sinktip or sinking lines. Flylines come in a dazzling array of colors and promises. Find a muted color in the weight that matches your rod for about $40 and move on. If you buy your reel at the same time, the clerks will put the line on your reel (and backing). If you bought the two separately, take them into any flyshop and they will be glad to put the line on the reel. You can also do it yourself but your head will be spinning trying to remember the difference between a leader and a tippet, so go ahead and let them do it.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication