When you first start learning to fly fish, you may find it difficult to know what the best fly rod length is and style to start with. I’ve compiled the essential information for novice fly fishermen below.
So what is the best fly rod length for a beginner? Most novice fly fishermen should start with a rod between 8 and 9 feet long. A rod that is too long can be difficult to judge distances on the back cast, and a rod that is too short will require a firmer movement to keep the fly above the ground.
If you have experience as a spinning or bait fisherman, you can understand the importance of choosing a good rod. However, if you are just learning to fish, there may be many unknown factors that come into play when choosing the right one.
Read on to find the perfect rod to learn with!
Short rods vs. long rods
Fly rods come in many different lengths ranging from 5 feet to 15 feet. The different lengths of each rod help the rod perform different tasks such as reaching longer distances, picking up bigger fish, or being “delicate” in the water.
The length of rod you choose will change the amount of effort or technique you must put into your cast. When you first learn to cast a fly rod, it can be quite difficult, and choosing a rod that is too long or too short can make learning to cast even more challenging.
Fly rod length Description Pros Cons
- Less than 7 feet shorter fly rods; often called “mosquito” rods easier to cast in areas with limited space; unobtrusive to fish more difficult to learn to cast; minimal rod tip movement.
- 7 to 8 feet common length; optimum rod length for beginners easier to cast; has more line control; Alembics work well in restricted casting areas. not as suitable for small watering areas; not big enough for larger fish
- 8 to 9 feet |most common length; still a good size for beginners can be used in most settings; easy to cast; stays upside down above heavier vegetation not suitable for limited casting area
- 9 to 10 feet made for larger fish; open-water settings stronger than other small rods; intended for larger bodies of water; better retrieve rules too long for small streams; heavier
- 10 to 12 feet |long enough for big fish in open water; primarily saltwater fly rods | casts long distances; has the power to fight big fish | much heavier much harder to cast accurately
- 12 to 15 foot larger fly rods; generally specialized for a particular purpose stronger for much larger fish; ideal for ocean fly fishing must be a skilled caster; heavier rod length; requires strength to fight larger fish
- Short rods need a little more power to make the line go farther.
However, a shorter rod is useful when trying to cast under low trees, along a mountain stream or anywhere with limited casting space.
Short rods can also be useful when fishing for smaller fish.
Long rods help carry the line farther with less effort than a shorter fly rod. If you are fishing in an open area such as a lake or even the ocean, a longer rod will help you get to the farthest fish.
If you are going to concentrate primarily on catching small fish, you may want to choose a rod that is a little shorter than the general size.
In general, a novice angler should start fishing with a short to long rod. Once they get the hang of the rod, they can start experimenting with different lengths.
A good starting size is a fly rod between 7 and 9 feet long.
Going longer than 10 feet as a beginner can make it difficult for you to control your casts and learn how to properly set and fly your line.
Perfect length rods for beginners.
Now that you know what size rod to use as a beginner, I’ve provided you with some of my favorite rods and combo sets that are the perfect length for any beginner to use!
Fenwick Nighthawk Fly Combo
My top choice for a beginner fly rod is the Fenwick Nighthawk Fly Combo.
Not only is this rod the perfect length for a novice fly fisherman, but the combo also comes with a fly reel, fly line, leader and carry bag.
In case your rod breaks, this combo also comes with a 5-year warranty to ensure you get the most out of your purchase.
For beginners who purchase this 7 or 8 foot rod, they can learn how to cast properly.
The Fenwick Nighthawk Fly Combo can be found on Amazon for only $121.22.
Eagle Claw Featherlight Fly Rod.
- The Eagle Claw Featherlight Fly Rod is 8 feet long and splits into two pieces for easy travel.
- This rod has a 5 to 6-pound speed and is medium power.
- The only drawback to this rod is that it is only sold as the rod itself.
- You must then purchase line, backing and a fly reel to match this rod (which can get complicated).
- The Eagle Claw Featherlight fly rod is only $25.09.
Wild Waters Freshwater Fly Fishing Combo.
My last choice for beginner rods is the Wild Waters Freshwater Fly Fishing Combo.
- Wild Waters ensures that everything you need for fly fishing is in this rod combo.
- This set comes with the fly rod, a floating fly box (suitable for over 300 flies!), A carrying case with a protective cover for your rod, frags, guides, a fly reel (fully loaded with backing and fly line), and a lifetime warranty.
- Get yours for only $127.00 Wild Waters.zero freshwater fly fishing combo.
Choosing a rod
While the size of fly rod you choose is extremely important for your fishing trip, there are many factors that go into choosing a successful fly rod.
Follow my tips below to make sure you find the perfect fly rod for you and your fly fishing needs!
Choose a good length.
Depending on your skill level and the type of fish you want to catch, you should choose the rod that suits your needs.
Remember that short rods work best for lighter fish where you want to use a more delicate technique in the water.
Meanwhile, longer rods are useful for larger fish and for casting longer distances.
Find the right weight
The weight you choose for your rod will depend on the type of fish you expect to catch.
Heavier fish need a heavier, more durable line, while lighter fish can be caught on a lighter, more flexible fly rod.
Refer to the chart below to help you choose the correct weight rating for your fly rod.
Type of fish Rod
|small brook trout||0-4|
|Bonefish / redfish||7-9|
|pike / muskie||8-12|
|Striped bass / False albacore||8-12|
|Peacock Bass / Golden Dorado||8-12|
|Tarpon / Giant Horse Mackerel||10-12|
|Sailfish / Marlin||14|
Most beginners start out learning to fly trout, so a fly rod weighing 4-6 should be strong enough.
Consider the action
The action of your rod simply refers to the speed at which the rod unloads and loads the fishing line. Slower action rods are made to be more detailed and delicate in their casts. However, fast fly rods are designed to cast farther and harder. These faster action rods are suitable for casting in high winds and open water.
As a beginner, you’ll want a medium action rod.
Match your rod, line and reel.
When deciding which reel to use and what line to use with it, don’t forget to consider the weight of the rod. The weight of the reel and line should not exceed the weight of the rod.
An easy way to tell if the rod, line and reel are compatible is to follow this simple equation.
reel weight + line weight = rod weight
If you exceed the weight of the rod, the rod may break. Given the higher price of fly rods, you don’t want to break your new rod. Remember to use the above formula when combining a new reel, line and rod. Most beginners won’t quite understand how to properly align these three items – consider buying some fly rod combo kits to go with them all!
Not only do you have to do the work of matching rod, reel and line, but these fly rod combo kits also come at a lower price!
Buy rods suitable for travel.
If you plan to travel long distances to fish, you’ll want a rod that can travel easily.
If you drive a truck with a long bed, a sturdy fly rod is not a big deal. However, if you drive a smaller car, such as a sedan, a 9-foot rod may not fit in the car.
Look into buying a collapsible fly rod. Many fly rods can be separated into about 4 pieces and come with a carrying set. They are the best combination for anyone in a smaller vehicle.
Don’t think too expensive
Fly fishing rods can cost several hundred dollars very quickly. Since you are just starting out and will have to pay for some setup equipment and a new rod, you don’t want to break the bank.
As you learn to fly fish, buy a more common, less expensive rod. You don’t need a special rod to achieve certain types of drifts, as you are still learning how to achieve them yourself.
In case you choose not to continue fly fishing over time (I’m not saying you should), you don’t want to spend too much money on a fly rod you won’t even use anymore.
Do longer fly rods cast farther?
The longer the rod, the farther you’ll cast. The type of lure you use will also affect how far you can cast. You may have more control when casting a lighter lure on a shorter rod.
How long are standard rods?
Rods vary in size, but generally start at no less than 6 feet and can run from about 9 feet long. Fly rods are usually the most flexible and can be up to 10.5 feet long.