Fly Rod Weights: a Species-by-Species Guide
“Here’s the how to select the right fly rod weight for everything from brook trout to tarpon
There are a lot of numbers in fly fishing, and some of the numbering may not make sense to the uninitiated—or to the initiated, for that matter. A higher number means a smaller hook, yet the opposite is true when it comes to fly rod weights. It can be a little counter-intuitive. But we fly-fishers pursue a very wide range of species, from tiny sunfish to bluewater tuna, so specialized gear is necessary, and you have to categorize it all somehow.
Fly rods are organized by “weight”—not the actual weight of the rod, but the number assigned to rods and lines for particular kinds of fish. Using the right rod weight to use for the species is crucial for effective and enjoyable fishing. Here’s the breakdown, starting with a few words on the nature of fly lines, which are what fly rod weights are based on.
Fly Line vs Other Kinds of Fishing Line
A fly line is very different from the monofilament or braided line you would spool onto a spinning reel. Conventional fishing line does just one thing: allows you to retrieve your lure or baited hook after you’ve cast. They are sold by the hundreds of yards to replace line that’s gotten too old or was lost to tangles and snags. They play no real role in the actual casting.
A fly line is a single thing, usually 90 feet long. The front 30 feet or so is often thicker than the rest, which is known as “weight forward” and makes it easier to cast. The back end of the line is tied to the backing (strong, thin string) spooled onto your reel. At the front of the fly line is a leader, 10 feet or so of clear, tapered monofilament, and the front of that is where your fly is tied on.”
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Photo Credit: Original Author