How to Choose a Fly Rod

When you think of fly fishing, you might picture a fisherman waist-deep in a river gracefully wielding a long fly rod across the water. As you begin your fly fishing journey, choosing a fly rod can feel overwhelming with so many options on the market. Whether you're a seasoned angler or just starting out, finding the right fly rod is crucial for a successful fishing experience. This guide will break down my three criteria for choosing the best fly rod to help you catch more fish.

1. Choose a Fly Rod Based on your Flies

Yes, I know, I know, you're going and catching the next world record fish and that's the most important thing. However, most - if not all - of fly fishing is simply casting flies. The whole point in fishing is to present your offerings the best way possible, so basing your fly rod choice on your type of flies should be your highest priority. Here are a few examples of what rods to pair with specific flies:

  • Dry flies: Try a moderate action rod to make a more delicate presentation in a 3-4 weight
  • Large, feathered flies: Try a 10-12 weight to properly throw the bulky shape
  • Streamers, poppers, and large nymphs: Try a 5-6 weight to help turn over those flies properly

2. Choose a Fly Rod Based on the Water

Water plays an equally significant role in the type of fly rod you choose.  After you know what flies you are throwing, figure out where you are throwing them and adjust accordingly. Large bodies of water require a larger fly rod size, so increase your rod weight by one. Tighter, covered areas are better suited for a shorter rod measuring 7 to 8 feet. A longer rod, such as an 11 foot, is ideal for streams with lots of eddies and boulders to provide you with more reach. 

3. Choose a Fly Rod Based on the Fish

While fish play a role in choosing your fly rod, they shouldn't influence you as much as the flies and water. Unless you're catching fish every cast because you're blessed by Jesus to cast on the right side of the boat, or you're just an amazing fisherman (aka a liar), this reason belongs right here at number three.  If you're fishing a small mountain stream, you're never going to encounter a fish over 8". Consider step a 3-weight rod down to a lower weight to make your experience more enjoyable. If you're targeting bluegill in a farm pond but may encounter a few large bass, then that 3 weight might be a little too light to handle them and you should step up to a 4.


With all this being said, the most important thing in fishing is just enjoying your time on the water.  Hopefully these tips will help you enjoy it just a bit more.  If you still have any questions on choosing the best rod feel free to reach out to our expert team at Risen Fly at any time.


Written not so eloquently by:

Ryan Gouldsbarry

Owner of Risen Fly



  • paul linski

    good job ryan i leqarned alot on my own and from shop owners such as yourself! I believe in this sport there is no end to the learning curve! But that is ok thats half the fun.The other half is progressing in a sport you love and seeing my wifes face when i say i have to stop at a fly shop lmao!

  • Jason Myers

    Good topic, helpful information and not drawn out into a 8 page sales tactic. Short, sweet and on point to help the reader choose a rod based on practical information. Looking forward to more.

  • Jim Schafhauser

    Well done Ryan that’s actually a nice help for the old rookie like me. A good read.

  • Jim Rauch

    Nice job on the first blog Ryan, I thought it was a good choice of topics.

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