Trout Fishing Fly Rods Tackle Tips

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Rod Length



In order of importance the rod size will depend on:

  • How large you are.

  • The size of the water to be fished.

  • The size of fish expected

  • The methods to be used

Children need small rods with a narrow handle. Even for an adult a rod longer than 12' is to big to be efficient and rods from 8' to 11.5' are the norm

Short rods 7' to 9' are best suited to small streams, brooks and burns. Longer rods 9' to 10' are best suited to rivers and reservoirs, while longer rods are used for loch style boat fishing and sea trout.

A rod of 9'6" is probably the best all rounder.

If you are fishing a put and take or reservoir for big rainbows you should use a 9'6" or 10' rod. Wild brownies tend to be much smaller, but there are exceptions!

Rods over 10' tend to be for specialist fishing for loch style drifting, where the extra length allows you to dibble the fly close to the boat for longer.

                  Buying a rod
Unless you are already familiar with a rod the advice is try it before you buy it. Many tackle shops today have a testing area and even if you don't but it from them - have a go.

You will often see people in shops pressing a rod against a roof - so say to see what the test curve is like. No doubt a few rods get broken that way and a few sales made. Here is a better way:

Assemble the rod and hold it horizontally (preferably outside!).
Wiggle the rod up and down quickly.

The rings on the rod will become a blur - except for one.

This is the pivot point.

The closer is is to the butt the more through action the rod will have. On the other hand if the pivot point is close to the tip then you have a tip action rod in you hands.

                  Buying from the States
Rods (and much fishing tackle) is much cheaper in the US. Most rods cost in Dollars what we pay in Sterling. So check out some of the on-line shops. Just be aware of tax (?), shipping, packaging and insurance.


The AFTM number (American Fly-fishing Tackle Manufacturers) is used to match line weight against a rod. If you don't match you rod to your line you will really struggle to make a decent cast. The AFTM measures the weight of the first 10 yards of line, which is what most trout anglers will use to load up the rod before shooting the line. For trout rods it is a very useful number.

Irrespective of their length a fly rod can carry quite different AFTM's. A high AFTM 9/10 indicates a heavy rod with a heavy line. A low AFTM is a light rod rod a light line. Light lines offer much better presentation (less splash) and are preferred for dry fly work and nymphing. Heavy lines and rods are better for distance casting, heavy lures and high winds.

Typically short rods are for light lines and longer rods are for heavier lines, but there are exceptions. Some people (including me!) like a long rod with a light line.

                  AFTM and nylon strength
There is no point equipping a stiff heavy rod with a light nylon tippet, you will be broken every time as the rod is unlikely to have the flexibility to absorb the shock. As a general rule of thumb your nylon tippet should be close to the AFTM. Thus an AFTM 4 rod can be matched to 2- 6lb nylon while and AFTM 7/8 can handle 4 - 10lb nylon. But it depends on how good you are and the test curve of the rod.

You can always insert a bit of Powergum into your leader, but it does mess up turnover.

                  Rings - Snakes Vs. Eyes
Snake rings are made from wire, while eyed rings have an insert often made from ceramic. The bottom ring is invariably an eyed ring while the rest are a matter of personal choice. Snake rings tend to be lighter, but they are slightly more likely to trap a poor knot. I have to say I like snakes.

                  Reel Seats and Fittings
Go for a good quality seat. All metal seats and fittings tend to come loose.

Matt rods are better than glossy ones, they scare fish less.

Modern materials (carbon etc.) rule the waves in my book, so much lighter and stronger, but don't be overawed by technical specifications.

Cane rods are nice for the tradionallist, they are not as efficient, but they have their place.

Glass fibre rods should be condemned to the museum, unless you insist on fishing in a thunderstorm.




Enough technicality - what's the best all rounder?
Answer a 9'6" AFTM 7/8.


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