I LOVE the Okuma SLV 5/6. I have one on my 9' 7 weight bass rod, and one on my 8.5' 5/6 weight rod. I just bought a 4 weight rod, and I'm watching some SLV 4/5 size for that. I used to have a cast-framed Orvis Battenkill on my 7 weight rod, but I sold it when I bought the Okuma. The Okuma is lighter, has a very smooth drag, and cost less than half what I sold the Battenkill for.
As for rods, a 6 weight is pretty versatile. Not too heavy for trout, stout enough to throw weighted streamers and bass bugs, if it's not too windy. I haven't used the Martin you mentioned, but I've had good luck with the lower-priced Orvis, Cortland, and even Bass Pro models. Just don't go for the large chain stores (anything with a "mart" at the end). Buy a good line, though. A $30 rod with a $60 line will cast better and farther than a $60 rod with $30 line.
Get yourself something decent you can afford, and then keep an eye out for sales. I bought my 9 ft Orvis Rocky Mountain rod (retailed for about $250 at the time) used from a friend for $40, and later got the Cortland 4 piece 5/6 weight rod, with aluminum tube, brand new for $35 from a sporting goods store that was gettng out of fly tackle.
You don't need a real expensive rod or reel to catch fish. Things you will notice a difference in the rod you select if the flex of the tip and how well it helps to protect you tippet. Some rods cast much better then other. On the reel, the drag is very important, especially when you are using light tippet. When you said Martin, WalMart poped up in my mind. I'd stay away from the Wal Mart rigs and get something better. If you enjoy fly fishing, which it sounds like you will if you are already tieing flies, you will want a better rig so you might as well get something good to start with. Just my 2 cents.
You must be mistaken. I've seen Pfleuger and Scientific Angler at Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire (yes I'm Canadian eh?), but not Martin. Here's their website. They've been around the longest...since 1884.
Anyways, thanks for the tips and I definitely agree. I've fished with spinning and baitcasting and know how having a good drag is important! I love fishing ultralight spinning and catching 10lb. + pike is a blast! As you said you definitely need good drag for those dirty runs!
What about length? Obviously a longer rod will cast further much like spinning and baitcasting. Also would a longer rod help take more of the weight of the fish off the reel like in spinning or baitcasting? Just wondering.
8 1/2 foot is a good average. If you're fishing mostly from a boat or in large rivers, the longer rod is no problem. Even in tight streams, a loinger rod sometimes is easier for roll casting and drifting nymphs with just the leader in the water. I had a 7 foot 4 weight I thought would be fun for bluegills, but I just replaced it with an 8 ft 4 weight just for the length. On the other hand, I get tired after casting with my 9 footer a couple hours, but that's probably more becasue I use it with heavier lines and wind-resistant bass bugs. I don't think the "extra" distance casts you get from a slightly longer rod means anything for the fish you mentioned in your original post. Those fish aren't too boat shy anyway. Shorter, smoother casts that you can control the presentation are more effective and enjoyable than longer casts that wear you out and let you get sloppy.
Oh, and the Wal Marts down here are full of the lower-end Martin reels. The old U S made Martins have nothing in common with today's reels except the name. The upper end Martins are OK, I think, but I'd still put them in the upper part of the low grade reels, or the low end of the middle grade reels.
I went to a local shop yesterday and setup a couple rod/reel combo's and felt how they are. I think I'll go with a 7/8 reel with a 7 wt. rod. That seems to feel the nicest for me as well it'll do some bigger bass bugs and pike flies, though if I want to get into some 'real' pike then I'll probably need a bigger setup, atleast an 8 wt.
The best feeling rod for me was the TFO Lefty Kreh Series One 9' 2pc. 7wt. This rod was wicked. Excellent in the hand, nice and light, not too floppy with good enough backbone to get a hook into a bass' mouth. I paired it up with the Martin Mohawk and though a little heavier than the Okuma, it felt like a pendulum with the Martin on. With this feeling it actually was more comfortable and very well balanced. I do like the longer rod and am not overly concerned about the weight of the setup. I throw Suicks, Believer's, Cisco Kids, Pig's, and Jakes, all day with my baitcasting setup. ;-)
Sorry, I wasn't aware that Martin is in Wal-Mart in the south.
So I think that's what I'll go for. The 2pc. I like better than the 4pc. I won't be backpacking in anywhere and the 2pc. is small enough. If I was doing some backcountry flyfishing then I would consider the 4pc in a bit smaller rod.
Anyways, thanks for the help. Anyone own TFO rods? I hear they've got some pretty good stuff.
TFO rods are one of the best buys on the planet, though I like ECHO rods www.thefullcreel.com carries just as well. I really recommend getting a 4 pc rod. They are much more convenient to store in a vehicle, and can be carried on planes. Try to cast a rod before buying if at all possible. On reels- most all over $60 are good nowadays. The Cortland Endurance is a good one and alos available through the Full Creel.
I have a 2 piece TFO Professional series 7wt. that I'm going to use on my saltwater trip in June. I need lots of practice casting large, weighted flies with it before I go. I have a Pfleuger trion on that rod.