What is the Best Fly Rod Length for a Beginner?

When starting to learn how to fly fish, you may find that it can be difficult to know what length and style of rod you should start with. I have gathered the essential info for beginner fly fishermen below.

So, what is the best fly rod length for a beginner? Most beginning fly fishermen should start with a rod between 8 and 9 feet in length. A rod that is too long can be difficult to judge distances on the back cast, and a rod that is too short requires a more brisk motion to keep the fly above the ground.

If you have experience as a spin or bait fishermen, then you may understand the importance of choosing a good sized fishing rod. However, if you are just learning how to fish there can be a lot of unknown factors that go into choosing the correct one. Continue reading below to find the perfect rod to start learning on!

Short Rods vs. Long Rods

Fly rods come in many different lengths ranging anywhere from 5-feet to 15-feet.

The different lengths of each rod help the rod to accomplish different tasks such as reaching longer distances, reeling in larger fish, or being more “delicate” on the water.

The length of the rod you choose will change how much effort or technique you need to put into your cast.

When you are first learning to cast a fly rod it can be quite difficult, and choosing a rod that is either too long or too short can make learning to cast even more of a challenge.

Fly Rod Length DescriptionProsCons
less than 7 feetshortest fly rods; often called “midge” rodseasier to cast in areas of limited space; discreet to the fishhardest to learn to cast; least rod tip movement
7 to 8 feetcommon length; optimal beginner rod lengtheasiest to cast; has more line control; stills works well in limited casting areasnot as useful for small casting areas; not big enough to use for larger fish
8 to 9 feetmost common length; still a good size for beginnerscan be used in most scenarios; easy to cast; keeps backcast above vegetationheavier; not suitable for limited casting area
9 to 10 feetmade for bigger fish; open water scenariosstronger than other small rods; meant for larger waters; better line mendingtoo long for small streams; heavier
10 to 12 feetlong enough for big fish in open waters; usually saltwater fly rodscasts over great distances; has the strength to fight big fishmuch heavier; much harder to cast accurately
12 to 15 feetlongest size of fly rods; usually specialized for a certain purposestronger for much larger fish; great for ocean fly fishingmust be a proficient caster; heaviest rod length; requires endurance to fight larger fish

Content Credit: Fly Fishing in Schools

Short rods require a little more power to make the line go a farther distance.

However, a shorter rod comes in handy when trying to cast under low hanging trees, along a mountain creek, or somewhere with a limited amount of casting space.

Short rods may also come in handy for trying to catch smaller fish.

Long rods help deliver the line further with less required effort than a shorter fly rod. If you are fishing in an open area such as a lake or even on the ocean, then a longer rod will help you to reach even the furthest fish.

If you are going to be primarily focusing on catching small fish, then you can choose a rod a little shorter than the general size.

In general, a beginner fisherman should start fishing with a rod somewhere between short and long. Once they gain a handle on the rod they can begin experimenting with different lengths.

A good starting size would be a fly rod between 7 and 9 feet long.

Going any longer than 9 feet as a beginner may make it harder for you to control your casts and to learn how to properly position your line and fly.

Rods the Perfect Length for Beginners

Now that you know what size of fly rod you should use as a beginner, I have provided some of my favorite rods and combo kits that are the perfect length for any beginner to use!

1. Fenwick Nighthawk Fly Combo

My top pick for a beginner fly rod is the Fenwick Nighthawk Fly Combo.

Not only is this rod the perfect length for a beginner fly fisherman, but the combo also comes with a fly reel, fly line, a leader, and a carrying case.

In the event that your rod breaks, this combo also comes with a 5-year warranty to ensure you get the most out of your purchase.

For beginners purchasing this rod in either 7 or 8 feet will allow you to learn how to cast properly.

The Fenwick Nighthawk Fly Combo can be found on Amazon for only $121.22.

2. Eagle Claw Featherlight Fly Rod

The Eagle Claw Featherlight Fly Rod is 8 feet in length and splits into two pieces for easy travel.

This rod is rate at 5 to 6 pounds and has a medium power rating.

The only downside of this rod is that it is sold solely as the rod itself.

You will then need to purchase line, backing, and a fly reel that match with this rod (which can get complicated).

The Eagle Claw Featherlight Fly Rod is only $25.09.

3. Wild Waters Freshwater Fly Fishing Combo

My final beginner rod choice is the Wild Waters Freshwater Fly Fishing Combo.

Wild Waters makes sure to include everything you could need while fly fishing in this rod combo.

This set comes with the fly fishing rod, a floating fly box (capable of storing over 300 flies!), a carry case with a protective sleeve for your rod, snippets, leaders, a fly reel (fully loaded with backing and fly line), and a lifetime warranty.

For only $127.00 you can have your own Wild Waters Freshwater Fly Fishing Combo.null

Choosing a Rod

While the size of the fly rod you choose is extremely important to your fishing trip, there are many factors that also play into choosing a successful fly rod.

Follow my tips below to ensure that you find the fly rod that is the perfect match for you and your fly fishing needs!

1. Choose a Good Length

Depending on your skill level and type of fish you want to catch, you will need to choose the rod that suits your needs.

Remember that short rods work best for lighter fish where you want to use a more delicate technique on the water.

Meanwhile, longer rods are useful for larger fish and for casting over greater distances.

2. Find the Correct Weight

The weight you choose for your rod depends on the type of fish that you are hoping to catch.

Heavier fish will need a heavier more durable fly line; meanwhile, lighter fish can be caught using a lighter more flexible fly rod.

Check out the table below to help choose the correct weight rating for your fly rod.

Type of FishWeight of Rod
Small Creek Trout0-4
Average Trout4-6
Smallmouth Bass5-8
Largemouth Bass5-9
Northern Pike/Muskie8-12
Striped Bass/False Albacore8-12
Peacock Bass/Golden Dorado8-12
Tarpon/Giant Trevally10-12

Content Credit: cabelas.com

Most beginners start learning how to fly fish with trout so a fly rod with a weight of 4 to 6 should be strong enough.

3. Consider the Action

The action of your rod simply refers to the speed with which the rod unloads and loads the fishing line.

Slower action rods are made to be more detailed and delicate in their casts.

However, fast action fly fishing rods are designed to cast further and stronger. These faster action rods are suitable for casting against strong winds and for wide-open waters.

As a beginner you will want a rod with medium-action.

4. Match Your Rod, Line, and Reel

When deciding which reel you want and which line you will use with it, do not forget to consider the rod’s weight rating.

The weight of the reel and line should not exceed the rod’s weight rating.

An easy way to know if the rod, line, and reel are compatible is to follow this simple equation.

reel weight + line weight = rod weight rating

Exceeding the rod weight rating can result in the rod breaking. Considering the higher price for fly rods, you do not want to break your new rod.

Remember to use the formula above when matching a new reel, line, and rod together.

Most beginners will not quite understand how to properly match these three items together. Look into purchasing some fly rod combo kits that match them all for you!

Not only do you have to do the work to match the rod, reel, and line, but these fly rod combo kits tend to come at a cheaper price too!

5. Get Travel Appropriate Rods

If you plan on traveling great distances to fly fish then you will want a rod that travels easily.

If you drive a truck with a long bed then a solid fly rod will not be as big of a problem. However, if you drive a smaller car such as a sedan, then a 9-foot rod may not fit in the car.

Look at purchasing a collapsible rod. Many fly rods detach into 4 or so pieces and come with a carrying kit. These will be the best match for anyone who is in a smaller vehicle.

6. Don’t Think Too Expensive

Fly fishing rods can climb upwards of several hundred dollars very quickly.

Since you are just beginning to learn and will have to pay for some set-up gear as well as a new rod, you do not want to break the bank.

While learning how to fly fish, purchase a more generalized cheaper rod. You will not need a rod specialized to accomplish certain types of drifts since you are still learning how to accomplish them yourself.

Just in case you choose not to continue fly fishing after some time (not saying you should), you would not want to have spent an excessive amount of money on a fly rod that you are not even going to use anymore.

Related Questions:

Do longer fly rods cast further? The longer the rod, essentially the further you cast. The type of lure you are using will also affect the distance at which you can cast. You can have more control when casting a lighter lure on a shorter rod.

How long are normal fishing rods? Fishing rods vary in size but typically start at no smaller than 6 feet and can be anywhere around 9 feet long. Fly fishing rods are the usually the most flexible style of fishing rod and can be up to 10.5 feet long.

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Striped Bass.

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