Choosing Your First Fly Fishing Rod and Reel
Where to begin? Fly fishing can’t be done without a fly rod. So ask yourself these questions in no particular order.
1. What do I want to catch?
2. Where am I going to catch these fish? A pond, a small brush-lined stream, a large river or lake.
In my case, the answers are all of the above. Most publications do say to start with between a 8 or 9 foot rod. Preferably a 5 or 6 wt (I know… sounds confusing). I agree with this. But the 6 wt will handle many fishing situations. Good enough for bass and not terribly overpowering for smaller fish like bluegill or resident trout. Bluegill are a blast on a fly rod. I admit, that I used to “snub” these small wonders.
How Much Should You Spend?
Consider one obvious factor. Cost. You’re new to the sport and you aren’t too sure if fly fishing is right for you. I’ve heard many stories of the newcomer who spent $600 on their first rod and gave up on it… quickly. Why spend huge dollars on a rod that you aren’t sure you will use? My first rod was bought from Wal-Mart after our visit to Erie, PA. It was a 3-piece fibreglass rod from Shakespeare. It cost me $15.. but it got me hooked (it included rod, reel, line, backing and leader. Companies like Albright (click on link) offer combinations for a very reasonable price. Not to mention they occasionally have sales that are 80% off sometimes. You can try box stores as well like a Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops.
Recently, I needed a shorter rod for the opening of trout season here in Southern Ontario. I wasn’t too sure how often I would need a 7 foot 4 wt rod so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I picked up a Dogwood Canyon combination (Bass Pro Shops) which included rod, reel, line and backing for $101. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the performance of this rod. I have not spent more than this on any rod. Places like LeBaron Outdoors have great deals. I bought a couple Scientific Angler rods for $15 each and another combination (an 8 wt) by Cortland for $85 last season.
One final consideration on cost. Warranties. Sometimes with the cheaper rods there is either no warranty or an extremely limited one. My Dogwood Canyon came with a 30-day warranty.
Alex Toth writes on his own website found at http://www.newtoflyfishing.blogspot.com/