Fly Rods -
Without a fly rod, there is no fly fishing...if there is no fly fishing, life would be much less enjoyable.
In my view and, I am sure that of most other fly fishers, the fly rod is the most important piece of fly fishing equipment for every fisherman. First, it is the fly rod that makes it all possible. Second, the fly rod more or less dictates the size of the fly line and the reel. It also dictates to a large degree the size and species of fish you will be properly equipped to chase. It is critical that the fly rod, the fly line and the reel all "match". When I say "match", I do not mean color coordinated. I mean that the weight (wt) of the rod must closely match that of the fly line. The reel too has a weight (wt) associated with it (typically 4-5 or 7-8)...see more on choosing a reel here... All fly rods have a weight (wt.) associated with them and were designed to cast a fly line of the same approximate weight.
Not to put too fine a point on this but the rod and line combination also has a significant impact on the size of flies you can "properly" cast. As an example, let's say you are planning to fish mostly small ponds for panfish. Because the fish will not be very large, a 4 wt. rod, line, etc. would be just fine. If however, you plan to fish a lot of popper flies or larger streamers, you might well want a rod a little heavier...say a 5 wt. It is not because the flies weigh more, it is because they are larger and therefore have more "wind resistance". With the 4 wt., you may be able to adjust your cast by applying more power to the casting stroke but for many fly casters, this is a recipe for trouble. when you have to overpower your cast to get a fly to its target, all sorts of bad things can happen...tailing loops, piled up casts and a loss of timing. A good experienced caster can probably handle this situation...many fly fishers cannot. A lot of practice will overcome some of these less important issues related to rod/line weight. However, a good many fly fishers just want to go out for a couple of hours and just have some fun.
Here you will find information on fly rods, links to manufacturers, discussion of rod types, weights, what is best for your specific purpose and why. Without a fly rod you cannot fly fish...right? Links to fly rod manufacturers...see more...
Note: Before we get into a longer and much more detailed discussion of fly rods, I want to warn you that you will see much discussion about the "action" of a fly rod (fast...slow...medium). If you are not at least an "intermediate" caster with a good deal of experience with a fly rod, do not pay too much attention to the "action" of a particular rod.
The average fly fisher wants a rod that works for them and their particular fishing situation. Almost all of the talk about fly rod action is from fly fishers/writers, etc. that are much better than average casters of the fly. They talk about a rod's action like it is the most important factor when choosing a fly rod...it is not. In my 40 years of fly fishing, I have become an "accomplished" caster...by comparison to many, I am not a great caster. My point here is that I can adjust from a very fast action graphite rod to a much slower bamboo rod in a matter of minutes. If you really understand the fly casting basics and can put them to use, you can easily make the adjustment between the two extremes. The lesson here is really learn to cast.
A little bit of fly rod history...
Based upon my reading and a little research, the very first reference to a fly rod was in a book published around 200 AD. The book was written by a Roman by the name of Aelian and he talks about the Macedonian fishing method in which dyed red wool was tied to a hook and then to a tree branch. They were quite heavy by any standard and the practice continued for hundreds of years and was still the practice when Izaak Newton wrote The Compleat Angler that was first published in 1653. See more...
Here are the basics on choosing the rod weight:
As a general rule:
1-4 wt. - bluegill, sunfish and small/medium trout, small streams
4-6 wt. - typical trout rod, for larger rivers and lakes
6-8 wt. - bass, carp, light steelhead small saltwater species
8-10 wt. - steelhead, salmon, mid-size saltwater species
10-14 wt. - large saltwater species, tarpon, sailfish/marlin
Note: There are a number of articles out there that make the case for deciding what size fly line you need before choosing a fly rod. This "school of thought" makes a great deal of sense to me. It all revolves around the concept of "turning the fly over". You hear a lot about it in fly casting articles and videos but see little about it in articles about choosing a fly rod. As an example, you want a light rod for panfish. If you think you might want to cast streamers and/or poppers, you might want to consider a little heavier rod than is really necessary for the size of fish you are targeting. These larger flies need a heavier line to turn them over and the heavier line needs a heavier rod.
Here are some articles on how to choose the right fly rod:
Selecting a Fly Rod --- Choosing the Right One for You - by Michael Gorman
How to Select a Fly Rod by Big Sky Fishing.com
Choosing the Right Fly Fishing Outfit - Written by Charlie Robinton
Links to fly rod manufacturers...see more...