My last blog discussed my affection for the 7-weight rod and its strengths over an 8-weight. Despite the great versatility of an 8-weight, my next favorite rod size skips past this oh-so-popular choice in favor of the 9-weight. When the flies and fish are bigger or the wind is cranking up, a 9 can be your best friend. For many years, 9-weights have been great companions to my various 7-weights and have always been one of my favored and most-used rod sizes. Why is this such a good rod size to own?
Wind: Wind can often mean better fishing, but it also means tougher fly casting. The heavier 9-weight rod and line will deliver flies effectively in a moderate breeze without taking the fun out of battling smaller specimens of bonefish, snook, redfish, schoolie stripers, etc. The 9-weight is right on the edge of where the true "heavy duty" fly rods begin. You may notice that 10-weight and heavier rods often have bigger fighting butts since these rod sizes are geared more towards strictly targeting big fish.
Big Fish: I just mentioned how the 9-weight still lets you enjoy the fight of a smaller fish, but most good 9's have ample power for tangling with the big boys, too. The 9 has been my longtime "go to" rod for performing double duty throwing long streamers for west coast stripers (which are often smaller fish) while still being able to handle the brutal deep water battle of a hefty false albacore here in Florida. My current rod—a G. Loomis NRX 9 weight—has all the backbone and lifting power I could ever ask for from this rod size. This power also helps when pulling a fish of any size away from adjacent cover or structure. To see a past review of this particular NRX, click here.
Big Flies: Need to toss a big or heavy fly? The 9-weight may be the rod for you. One thing I love here is that it has the guts to push out a large fly but still remains castable. While the fly itself may make casting a bit of a chore, most 9's are still pleasant enough to throw which helps alleviate some of the overall work involved. Like chasing big bass on the fly? A quality 9-weight will deliver chunky bass bugs and help control fish with authority.
Not just a saltwater rod, the 9 serves a purpose for heavy freshwater fly fishing as well. Largemouth bass, pike, musky, landlocked stripers, and king salmon are some of the species that you may find it effective on. Despite the great versatility of an 8-weight, I've always been partial to using both 7 and 9 weights—the 7 for calmer days and lighter duties, the 9 for bigger fish or more demanding conditions—and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Try a 9 sometime.....I think you'll like it!