Tackle Talk The Most Versatile Rod Weight

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    Chris Beech

    For those starting their fly fishing journey, choosing your first outfit can be a daunting task. And for those looking to rationalise a collection, some justification towards keeping or moving on could be helpful.

    So, what is the most versatile rod weight and length?

    My view is a fast action 9′ #6 weight is enough rod for light saltwater, most warm water and a pretty good all round trout stick.


    What’s your take?


    • This topic was modified 6 days, 20 hours ago by  Chris Beech.

    Stephen Hill

    How about a medium action 8’6” 5 weight?

    A more forgiving action for those starting on their casting journey. Able to use on lakes with reasonable size flies or rivers with a variety of multiple fly setups.

    Not too long for tighter waters…..,,


    john l gower

    I think for most people it going to be cost my first rod was a gl4  now look at me LOL,   I’d probably still go a 6# again








    Chris, thanks for an interesting topic to stir discussion away from the usual classifieds.

    Twenty-thirty years ago, I would have said a 6 wt was a good start for a beginner, at least for freshwater fishing, and that’s at a time when many Tasmanian lake fishermen used 7s or 8s. Given the quality of rods and lines these days I’d be more inclined to agree with Stephen and recommend a 5 wt, 9’ or 8’ 6”. I also agree with Stephen about going for a medium action rod or even a slow-medium for a learner. I consider fast action rods to be specialist rods requiring good established casting skills, and not suitable for a learner. It would be like teaching a learner to play golf by starting with a top end 1 wood driver. In my 40 years of fly-fishing, 95% of the fish I’ve taken have been within just a few rod lengths where presentation is far more important than power or distance, and that’s about the same distance for most fishers in their early years of learning to cast.

    Continuing with the golfing theme, I also believe that you can’t use just one rod for everything, any more than you can play golf properly with just one club. Unless, of course, you are only interested in one style of fishing on one bit of water. I usually carry 3 rods with me to my favourite pond, a Kilwell 6 wt for very windy conditions (it’s old and tired like an old jumper, but I’ve grown use to it), a 5 wt Douglas DXF as my first choice and 4 wt 7’ 6” slow-medium Composite Development that I built. The 4 wt was originally my small stream rod but now use it mainly for chasing tailing fish at dawn patrol when I’m usually on hands and knees casting to spooky fussy fish. The softer 4 wt gives me the delicate presentation needed, and protects the tippet when dealing with 3 to 4 lb fish charging out to the middle of the lake. I have other rods for other purposes.

    Money is an issue for most people starting to fly-fish. It was for me. The advice I give to learners is to first consider what type of fishing you are likely to be interested in (what, where, when etc.). Then, rather than going straight for just one $1000-1500 top end rod, which will last your lifetime and then hand to your grandchild, perhaps consider the rods in the $200-500 range and develop an arsenal of two or three rods better suited for your range of fishing activity. The quality of rods in the sub-$500 range is quite impressive these days. Of course, second hand is always an option, especially for top end rods.





    Thirty plus years ago in WA I started out with a 9ft 6-7wt Kilwell. It was okay but knowing what I know now I would choose something with a much softer, slower action. I have six rods these days and the one that gets most use is my 9ft 6wt Sage ZXL, a medium soft action. It’s versatile and forgiving and beginners that try it to seem to get on very well with it.



    A fibreglass 8-weight saw me through my teenage years on Tas lakes and rivers back in the day. 8s were common on the lakes where casting into the wind can be a major consideration. I caught more fish back then too!

    It wasn’t until a trip to England in 87 when John Rumpf made me use his 6-weight Sage on the chalkstreams, and I loved it so much he built one for me when we got home. It had the same grunt but was lighter in the hand.

    These days I use a #5 for just about everything anywhere in trout country.

    As a compromise with estuaries and light salt in mind as well as trout, I could happily live with a #6.



    Nine foot six weight can do pretty much everything to a high standard. it’ still the most versatile rod.



    Time for a hand grenade.

    I would go for my double handed 13 footer in 6wt. I have been known to fish just the tip section tenkara style in a tight creek and casting half a rod is pretty common. Yep… its weird… I acknowledge that. But your Joe Sixpack  8 1/2 footer is going to get blown away when it hits 20 knots and I will be laughing till my abs hurt with a scandi tied on and blasting junk downrange.

    But anyone with over say…. 10 rods, clearly needs some sort of support network or counselling. Such is the joy of fly fishing.

    Cheers… Jimmy



    I’d go a 5wt. I fished my GL4 9’ 5wr for many years.



    I started out around 10 years ago with a 9′ 5 weight. I still have it and occasionally take it out onto the lawn for a cast. I caught my first trout on it so its a keeper.

    However most of the river and stream fishing over here in WA is, in my opinion, more enjoyable with shorter 3 and 4 weights. There’s a few dams, lakes and river sections where a longer rod is useful, but for the most part the bush-bashing, blackberry wrestling and short ‘casting’ we are so fortunate to enjoy on this side of the desert is best enjoyed with something more modest in length.



    I would opt for the 8′ 6″ 5 weight for freshwater to cover the range from small creeks to windy lakes.

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