Re: Affordable fly rod.
Welcome to the board WMCook,
I have been fishing in Texas chasing after bass, white bass, and sometimes strippers and sun fish and what have you. And I have been using mostly 5 to 6 weight rods and I thought that these two rods have given me enough leverage to catch bass and carp, some of which were about 4 to 8 pounds.
You can use 8 wt for bass but I think 9 wt sounds really a overkill. I do think that many anglers in this forum may agree with me. One advantage of 8 wt rod will be that it has fighting butt which helps you deal with chunky fish weighing perhaps up to 20 lbs or more. So if you are going after really heavy fish, you may want to go for 8 wt. But I believe that these 8 wt rods will not automatically help you throw big flies. So, I suggest that before you buy any of those heavy duty stuff, try to learn double haul, a type of casting skill which allows you to increase line speed and helps you to throw bigger flies even with a 4 wt rod. Another advantage of this skill is that you can cast even in a windy day. You can find some tutorials from you tube. If you want to master this casting, you want to learn from some good casters perhaps from your local fly shops. If you already learn and use this skill and can not throw big bugs, then you may want to go for 8 wt.
Anyway, this is fly fishing and if you want to go for 9 wt, you can do it because fly fishing for everybody is different and you will learn by trying many different things. One of my fly fishing mentors in texas, whom I call a fly casting Jedi, is using 3 wt and 4 wt rod for bass, and with his super great line control he can deal with some of heavy fish. That is him and I, a fly fishing padawan, am using a 6 wt rod and that is me.