How Many Fly Rods Do You Need?
If you're wondering how many fly rods you should buy, you're likely a true fly fishing enthusiast and are past the beginning stages. That's great! The problem is, as an angler moves forward in the sport, there can be increased confusion (and cost) when building out a tackle arsenal. After all, unless someone's fly fishing opportunities are very narrow, they're likely going to need more than just one setup.
Simply put, there's no single answer for everyone. Depending on where an angler lives, where they travel to, the targeted species, and other factors, the number of fly rods they need can range from one to ten or more!
First, let's take me for example. I get bored doing one thing too often, so I've always really enjoyed fly fishing for fresh and saltwater species equally. While the brands of my personal setups change over time, the line weights have been pretty standard through the years. Here's what I currently own and what I typically use them (or intend to use them) for. Of course, keep in mind that each combo can be used for far more than what my usage includes.
7'6" 4-weight: pond fishing, small-stream trout
8'6" 4-weight: pond and lake fishing, trout in small to medium waters
(2) 9'0" 5-weights: pond and lake fishing, all-around trout
9'0" 6-weight: bass, beach snook, streamer fishing for trout
9'0" 7-weight: bass, bay/beach/flats fishing on calmer days
9'0" 9-weight: HD bass fishing, bay/beach/flats fishing on windy days or with big flies
9'0" 10-weight: small to medium tarpon, light to medium offshore/bluewater fishing
9'0" 12-weight: adult tarpon, medium to heavy duty offshore/bluewater fishing
Different fly rods are needed not just for fish of different sizes, but to overcome variables like casting big flies or cutting through strong winds. For instance, while my 7-weight might be a fun rod for casting medium-sized flies to schoolie stripers on a calmer day, I'm going to be picking up the more powerful 9-weight on a windy day or if I'm tossing a heavier/larger fly to those exact same schoolies.
If an angler likes chasing different species like I do, the long-standing recommendation out there is to start with a 5 and 8 weight. Although I never personally followed this exact advice, it is an excellent starting point for many folks. The popular 5-weight is a great choice for a variety of trout and lighter freshwater situations, and the 8-weight is a wonderful rod size for heavier freshwater fishing and saltwater species like baby tarpon, bonefish, redfish, snook, and stripers.
Although they might not be absolutely perfect choices for everyone, 5 and 8-weight fly rods are highly versatile and make great "core" rods to base your tackle collection from. The nice thing is, many people start their fly fishing journey with a 5-weight rod, so that part is often already taken care of. Once a fly angler gains more experience and becomes increasingly familiar with the sport and their angling preferences, they can then be a bit more specific when making additional fly rod purchases in the future.
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