3 Tips for Buying your First Fly Rod
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3 Tips for Buying your First Fly Rod

posted in: Fly Fishing | 2

I will never forget my first fly rod. A $99 dollar 5-weight that was, in my opinion, the finest piece of graphite I had ever owned in my life.

Purchasing your first fly rod can be a daunting task, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of options available to the consumer today.

Scott Tidal 9010/4 (right) – Scott Meridian 908/4 (right) sitting pretty on Ambergris Caye, Belize

Medium-fast action, fast-action, ultra-fast, soft rod tip, high-modulus. What do these terms even mean, and are they important?

In short, yes, but that does not mean you need to learn everything there is about the fly rod in order to invest in the perfect fly rod for you.

There are so many different locations, species, conditions and waterbodies that will affect what will be the best rod for you as an angler, these are three key pieces of advice when buying your first rod.

1) Consult with an Expert

It is extremely valuable to consult with a specialty fly shop before purchasing a rod, especially if it is your first. Often, you are able to cast a few different rods at a few different price points and determine which suits you best.

Having an extra set of eyes on your casting stroke, followed by the advice they give on what sort of action will be best suited to you will ensure that you are outfitted with the most appropriate rod from the get-go.

Just because a rod is worth a lot of money, does not mean it is exactly the one you need.

For example, the rod I use for throwing intermediate sinking lines for Tarpon costs half of what the rod I use for Bonefish & Permit does.

Does it mean that it is half as good? Absolutely not, it is just more suited to a certain style of fishing. Allowing an industry professional to advise you with a variety of options and price points is the quickest way to making a smart purchase.

2) Consider your Fishery

Taking into account the size of fish you regularly pursue is a giant part of the equation. A 9′ 12-weight is great in the Southern Caribbean, an 8’6″ 3-weight is perfect for small trout on spring creeks, and a 10′ 5-weight is great for BC stillwaters, but notice the drastic difference in dimensions between these rods.

Choose a rod that is both appropriate for the size of water, and the size of fish you are pursuing. Having a rod with appropriate backbone for landing fish in a quick manner is imperative from a conservation standpoint.

british columbia fly fishing

3) Trust your Gut!

So much about choosing fly fishing equipment is what feels right. Don’t choose a rod solely based on how well it scored in a magazine shootout, or because it is a few hundred dollars more than the one you really, truly want.

I fish rods that both suit my casting style and rods that simply feel good in my hand. I once owned a two-handed rod that I purchased strictly due to the praise it received, only to find out it was much too fast for my liking.


Before purchasing any fly rod, make sure that you are covered under a lifetime, unconditional warranty. This ensures that even if you (highly unlikely) break the rod in five places, you will still be paying the same flat-rate warranty fee.

I have broken rods taking them out of the case, slammed them in car doors, shut them in the door of the fly shop, stepped on them, hit the blank with heavy flies, and occasionally broken them on fish.

Now all that is left to do is go support your local fly shop, and make a calculated investment on your first rod! If you have any questions, drop us an email or leave a comment below.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Darrel Winser
    | Reply

    Great info Jordan. There is one more thing that is very hard to do, and that is TRY the rod out on the water. I have bought rods because of how great they casted, but they did not land fish worth a darn…they were to noodley. Keep the good stuff coming!!!

    • Jordan Oelrich
      Jordan Oelrich
      | Reply

      Morning Darrel,

      Thanks very much for the comment. Trying the rod on the water, especially with two-handed rods, is yet another huge step in the right direction before purchasing.

      Thanks for reading!

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