Originally Posted by MoscaPescador
Welcome to the forum.
How about get a new rod that fits your needs and get some casting help?
Do you buy your ski gear at a specialty shop, or do you buy it online? If you buy your ski gear from a specialty shop, why not visit a fly fishing specialty shop? If you prefer to have the expertise of a ski shop, you may end up liking the expertise of a fly fishing shop.
Try this for size. Bring your old rod with you, and show it to the sales guy. Tell him what you like and dislike about it, and have him pick a rod, or two or three that meet the criteria that you have established. Have him watch you cast, and let him be candid on what you can do to improve your stroke.
Since you may visit a specialty shop, why not ask the sales guy his opinion on what the right length of rod that you should be using. You said that you mostly fish pocket water at the Bighorns, so 8'6" may be too short.
This is just an opinion. An 8 foot 5 weight isn't the right rod as a first rod. In the hands of an unskilled caster, it may lack enough length for the caster to notice the load. With a 9 foot rod, the unskilled caster will have extra length to spread the line mass to get that load.
Regardless of which rod you end up with, you still will need help with casting. You can get casting instruction through a fly shop, guide, fly fishing club, or a fishing buddy.
As for rod recommendations, I'll let the specialty shop figure that out for you.
What shop do you work at? I have never been to Kienes, but have been to American Fly Fishing and they dont even have a spot to cast the rods. I think Kienes does. Have been to Fish First! in Chico and they also didnt have anyplace to cast a rod.
Kind of like going to a ice cream shop and not being able to taste the ice cream before you order. Fly shop employees are usually fairly knowledgable, but alot of times they are only knowledgable about what they have to sell to you!! And often it wont be what you are looking for. MP, how many 6 -10 piece rods are you familiar with? How many have you cast?
Now MP is on to something, fly fishing shows have been the best experience for me to try rods out, like FFR in Denver.
To the original post, where do you live? We may be able to direct you to a fly shop, or there may be a consumer fly fishing show near you soon.