Any way you put it, there are optimal weight rods for each and every scenario.
Regardless of the weight and what I am using it for, I like to use a light, fast action rod so that I can get my line and fly out there as quickly as possible with as much accuracy and distance that is necessary.
Let’s start off with the purest, most desirable and sought-after trout fishing scenario possible: Dry fly fishing. Whenever I am fishing dries, I like to use a 5 weight rod with floating line. This way, no matter the wind conditions or distance needed, you are able to shoot the line out quickly and with as much distance needed, while also having the ability to pick any amount of line up off the water when mending. A lot of people use 4 weights for this purpose, however, if the wind conditions change it’s a little easier to get that fly where it needs to be with a 5 weight. I prefer a 4 weight on streams such as the Gallatin River, where not a lot of distance is required and wind speed is usually at a minimum.
For small streams, such as fishing in the Smoky Mountains National Park for wild Brook Trout, I really enjoy fishing with a very small 2 or 3 weight rod. This is the only time when I will use a slower action glass rod. Even under heavy brush, you can use a bow-and-arrow cast to get the fly where it needs to be.
For nymph fishing, I prefer a 6 weight rod. Whether you are throwing a short dropper with small #22 midges under an indicator, or a long dropper with double stoneflies and a lot of weight and a large indicator, a 6 weight is able to get those nymphs out from under the water and where it needs to be.
When I am streamer fishing, a larger 8 weight rod
with sink tip line is my favorite. This way, regardless of how heavy your streamer is, you are able to get the streamer out as far as you can, even against the wind. When a big fish hits, setting the hook and fighting the fish is easier. In my opinion, there is no need to stick with a smaller rod when streamer fishing. When fishing a bigger river, such as the Missouri River, the farther you can get that streamer out there, the better.
Recommended Weight for Trout: 3 – 7
Lower weight rods for smaller flies and smaller streams/fish. We like to use slower action rods when you want a delicate dry fly presentation.
Recommended Weight for Bass: 4 – 8
Depending on the flies you are throwing you can get away with some smaller poppers with a 4 weight rod. Optimally you will want to be throwing a 6 weight to get the distance you need and get a strong hook set on bass.
Recommended Weight for Bonefish: 7 – 9
The 8 weight would be the bonefish sweet spot, don’t be afraid to size up in windy conditions.
Recommended Weight for Tarpon: 10 – 12
Let’s just say if you hook a 100-pound tarpon you won’t be disappointed in picking a 12 weight.
Fast action rods are typically better for salt water, this way you can cut your line through windy conditions a little better.
If you have any questions about what rods to use for other species please leave it in the comment section below, and we will do our best to get back to you!
Photos provided by the Flylords team. Writing by Flylords intern Turner Rowland. You can find Turner on Instagram @turnerrowland1