The Best Trout Fly Rods
Trout fly rods represent one of the largest single segment of the fly fishing gear market, and the most common fly fishing rod size sold today is the 9-foot, 5-weight. This configuration provides the best versatility when targeting trout in a wide range of conditions and water bodies. Rods designed for 4-weight or 6-weight lines are also popular and fit within the “trout rod” category.
The fact that trout are the most common target for anglers using these rods doesn’t mean that they are the only fish for which the rods are suitable. Trout fly rods are generally the most versatile of all fly rods. Indeed, the 9-foot, 5-weight rod is the far-and-away the best-selling rod configuration today largely because of its great versatility. A good 5-weight proves effective in fishing for everything from bass to walleye. Trout, bluegill, whitefish, char, grayling, and even carp can be taken effectively with a 5-weight.
In testing a good trout fly rod, we do consider its versatility. We test its ability to cast small dry flies accurately with a delicate presentation, as well as throwing heavy streamers a good distance. We also look at the rod’s power in casting in windy conditions, and strength in fighting strong deep-diving fish.
The weight and feel of the rod also play a role in the rods’ ratings. Trout fishermen frequent spend most of a day casting. Swinging a rod for 6 or 8 hours a day can be tiring, especially if the rod is unbalanced, or fits poorly in hand. So, we cast each rod we test. Our team casts in wind, and in tight casting conditions. We cast from shore, and we cast from boats. We cast, and cast some more — usually logging at least a hundred hours with each rod in hand.
It’s worth noting, too, that price is seldom a serious consideration in determining our “best in class” ratings. Top-notch quality and performance do at times come at a higher financial cost, but not always. Sometimes, small differences in weight due to the use of less expensive components can cause a difference in total score between a $200 rod and an $800 one. It’s up to the end user to decide if that higher price is worth the modest difference in weight and total performance.