close up of one anglers fly rod in hand as multiple anglers walk along a dirt path toward the river

How To Choose A Fly Rod

Reading Time: 3 minutes
With all the options and all the details, choosing the right fly rod can be overwhelming. The best way to pick a fly rod is to come into a fly shop and talk about it with a fly fishing expert, such as Jans fly fishing expert, Larry Culley.  Larry, who has fished on ESPN’s Destination Outdoors and has judged ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games, helps anglers who come into Jans with this process all the time. Read on for some of his advice on the basics of how to choose a fly rod.

Where Are You Fishing?
Will you be fishing in fresh water or saltwater? For saltwater fly fishing, you’ll need a much stouter rod, such as the classic and very powerful Sage Xi3. Most fly rods are specifically intended for one or the other, but do-it-all fly rods, such as the Sage One and the Hardy Zenith, exist as well.

What Are You Fishing For?
Maybe you want one rod for everything.

Or you can also get more specialized. For example, Larry uses one fly rod for when he’s backpacking around in the Uintas, a different one for floating on the Green River, and another for fly fishing the Provo River.

Action Is Critical
It is important to match your casting skill level with your fly rod. Softer, medium to medium fast action rods are more forgiving and can cast short distances more easily than a fast action rod, making them great for beginners.

Ocean fly fishing requires stout, heavy rods. A long, stiff, stout fly rod is appropriate for fishing with heavy flies into the wind, whereas smaller, lighter rods make sense for smaller streams. A flexible option is the Sage Circa, a light classic dry fly casting rod which can cast anything, but is made for delicate presentation, and has a very light feel in hand.

Size Matters
Short fly rods are good for tiny creeks where there isn’t enough space for a big cast. Conversely, longer fly rods are good for longer casting distances. A 10 or 11 foot rod can be good to nymph fish with, allowing the angler to mend the fly line to keep a long, perfect drift.

A good rule of thumb is to use a smaller fly rod when going after a smaller fish – but that’s not always the case.

Price Range
If you’re willing to invest, you can enjoy the latest technology in fly rods with all the details that can really make a difference. However, there are also some great value options such as the Greys XF2 Streamflex which does everything, is very forgiving, and can be perfect for beginners to use as their skills advance.

It’s A Matter Of Taste
The above paragraphs offer some general guidelines, but of course personal preference comes into play as well. For example, while many experienced fly fishers go for fast action rods, some may like a softer rod, just because they feel most comfortable with that.

Some anglers chase the latest fly fishing technology, while others are into a more old school feel. Those who want to fly fish like their grandfather and their great-grandfather did, may enjoy something like the Hardy Test fiberglass fly rod, which has a light feel for small streams or close-in fishing on big rivers. It’s self limiting, and doesn’t have the power for a long cast, but makes every little fish feels like a giant.

Overall, when choosing a fly rod, you can start to narrow down your search by determining where you want to fish, what you want to fish for, and what your abilities, price range, and preferences are.

Larry’s best case scenario advice on how to choose a fly rod is to come chat with him, answer his questions about your fly fishing habits and preferences, get your hands on some rods, feel the flex and fit, put a line on and try out some casting out in the grass, and even better yet, take out a demo to really get an idea of which fly rod may be right for you. Larry and the other fly fishing experts at Jans are more than happy to help you find the fly fishing gear you’re looking for.

Before you come in the shop, feel free to browse our offering of fly rods online.

Kendall Fischer, Content Writer