So you’re in the market for a fly rod. Here are 5 tips to help you make the right choice.
- Decide what you’re after. You need to narrow things down a little bit more than ‘I need a 6 weight’. The right 6 weight for float tubing for bass is probably different than the right 6 weight for throwing hoppers on the Yakima. Yes, modern fly rods are generally pretty versatile, but the more specific you can be about your intended use, the happier you’re going to be with your choice.
- Pick a price range. There are quality $100 fly rods out there, and there are quality $1000 fly rods out there. Setting a budget before you start will help narrow down your choices. One important part of setting your price is deciding whether you want a rod that’s made in the USA – if that’s important to you, you need to know going in that a US-made rod is going to be more expensive.
- Cast a few if possible. Even if you’re just starting out and may not know what sort of action you prefer, holding and casting a rod helps a lot. Rods vary a lot in terms of things like size and shape of the cork grip, fit and finish, and weight – trying them out will help you decide what suits you. One important note: try hard to cast the rods with the same line, and the line that you’re likely to use on the one you buy. Fly lines can impact casting feel and performance as much as, or even more than, the rod they’re lined up on. If you don’t live near a fly shop and choose to buy online, make sure you understand return policies in advance in case you’re not thrilled with your new baby when it arrives.
- Learn about warranty policies. ‘Lifetime warranties’ are the norm these days, but the details of how these warranties work can vary quite a bit. What’s the fee to replace a section if and when your rod breaks? What’s the normal turnaround time for repairs? Lifetime warranties are not all the same.
- Buy from someone you trust. If you like having a fly shop in town that offers quality products, good advice and great customer service, you should buy your rod from that shop, plain and simple. If you don’t have a local shop or you prefer shopping online, buy from a reputable online retailer that’s doing some good for the industry – two we know and trust are Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters and Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters.
Most importantly, have fun with your new toy!