You can tell a lot about a person by the specific type of fly rod that they fish. To be clear, I am not talking about the brand or how expensive the rod is. I think it was Gary LaFontaine that told me a long time ago that you can make a cheap fly rod cast really good with an expensive line, but you can’t make an expensive rod cast good with a cheap fly line. I’ve always sort of lived by that premise, because in the hands of a skilled caster, an inexpensive rod can cast just about as well as any top shelf rod. I know there are subtle differences and splitting hairs and the rod geeks may disagree vehemently, but in general terms of getting a fly from point A to point B, it can be done rather effortlessly with just about any rod in the right hands and the right fly line.
One thing I’ve noticed about my own scenario is that as I’ve gotten older my interests in “types” of fly rods has gravitated to two extremes. The rods that I generally build for myself fall into two distinct categories. The first one is small, delicate stream rods. I am always searching for that perfect 2 or 3 weight rod in that 7-8 foot range. I am looking for that sweet spot where the casting is automatic and there is enough soul in that small fly rod to make an eight inch brook trout feel like a tarpon when it breaks the water. My other passion are the big canons, the two handers, the switch and spey rods. Again, there is a delicate balance of being able to huk a huge payload eighty feet or more while still being able to appreciate the fight of an A run steelhead. Over the past fifteen years I have focused a large part of my fishing time into what is now being coined, “trout spey”. In the early years I was using the lightest steelhead gear I could find to chase trout but now it has its own category. I’ve just about driven myself crazy with two handed rods, they have become an obsession.
If you look at the industry though, the most popular size and weight fly rod for “most” fly fishing remains that 9 foot five weight fly rod. This is usually everyone’s first and primary fly rod. It makes some sense in that it covers most of your bases although it is overkill on a small stream and woefully under gunned on a Coho river. Since I don’t really nymph anymore and most of my dry fly fishing is in tight quarters on smaller streams, I don’t find this particular size and weight rod terribly effective for my style of fishing. One area where this size rod does work well is in stillwater fishing. I have converted most of my 5 and 6 weights to lake/pond fishing. I’m now loading them with specialty intermediate and sink type lines designed for lakes. They work really well here and are about the right size for the fish that I am stalking in lakes.