A very long time ago, I fished the trout streams in central PA with an Orvis Far and Fine 5 wt - mostly terrestrials - they worked! Streams widths ranged from 30 ft across to about 60' - always wading. Trout caught - 10" to 16". All GREAT memories. I still have the rod and reel.
Work - family - etc took me away from fly fishing for about 40 years.
$ and R&R time are now available. Time for a 2nd rod.
Will be traveling to Cody and Southern NY later this yr (Sept). Some lake - some stream. EVERYthing I've read says 6 wt ideal. OK.............
I've begun with lessons from someone I like a lot - very practical, good teacher. Next is the rod choice for "TROUT." (?)
Speaking from a huge wealth of ignorance - my instincts (based on my past) tell me that I don't want to lose the feel and finesse. I can afford the $600 rod + a good reel. But - not having the experience so many of you have - I'll trust your valued opinion. Fast or medium fast? Please be rod specific, ie, make, model, length, etc - and why.
I greatly appreciate any advice you can offer - thank you in advance for your suggestions.
Danny50: Welcome to the forum and welcome back to fly fishing! When you start talking about rods in the $600+ range I think all of the major manufactures are making excellent rods, it all boils down to how the rod feels in YOUR hand. I'd recommend you find a couple different fly shops in your area and ask to try casting different rods. You already know what a great fly rod should feel like. I like Orvis because of their excellent warranty. I fish with an Orvis TLS 9ft 5 wt. which is a fast action rod that helps deal with the wind we encounter in WY. For fishing in and around Cody a 5 wt will do just fine. If you plan on doing a lot of streamer fishing then I would suggest getting a 6 wt, but for dry/nymph fishing a 5 wt will do fine. If money were no object I would purchase an Orvis Helios rod, but like I said there are numerous excellent rods on the market, you just need to find the rod that feels best for your casting stroke. For reels, I'm partial to the Lamson Litespeed (it has an extremely smooth drag), but Galvan and Ross also offer some very nice reels.
Don't be in a rush to purchase your rod. If possible, take the time to cast the upper echelon rods. I don't think you can really gain an appreciation of a rod until you cast it. I know it helped me immensely when I took four rods in my price range, strung them all up and cast them side by side on a casting pond. I was really surprised at the difference in feel and accuracy I experienced. Every person's cast is different, so there may be a particular road that suits you better than the next guy.
When you say traveling to Cody, do you mean Cody, Wyoming? If so, let me know when and I'll see if I can help you out.
I do mainly dry fly fishing and nymph fishing. Assuming you will be doing the same, I would recommend a 5 wt, 9 footer. It is a pretty ubiquitos rod and should do a fine job in most trout applications.
A few brands to look at in no particular order:
Thomas & Thomas
A few reel brands that I like in no particular order:
Reading about rods voraciously. Scott G2 - Sage Z Axis - Winston BIIX - Burkheimer - Loomis GLX - T&T........
Why 6 wt? Only because "they" say it's better for Western fishing and some lake stuff. Right now I have no interest in "really big" water - just want to get a step beyond my F&F 5 wt.
It isn't that I have money to throw away because I don't. Just want to buy quality - stellar warranty - Great performing rod. Am being particular because I can't afford a half dozen rods.
"They" say the Z Axis is easier to cast with a lot of all around versatility. Same for the BIIX. Helios - mixed reports (sorry). I live in NC and fly shops are not all that plentiful - making comparisons somewhat difficult. Stopped in VA while traveling and looked at the BIIX and the G2. Both were very nice. The G2 in the 4 wt seemed incredible (for me at least). Have not seen the GLX or the Z Axis.
I very much want to drop the hammer and make my purchase - just want to make sure i get the "right" rod for me. Great reports on the Lightspeed - will likely go that direction or possibly Tibor.
If you can clear up some of your projects and generate a free day, then I recommend that you get in the car and make a trip to a good fly shop to cast some rods. The feel of some of the rods that you've mentioned, or that you've received recommendations on, actually varies quite a bit when they're in the hand and since nobody's casting stroke is exactly like someone else's, the first hand information that you'll get by casting a groups of rods is going to make the trip worthwhile.
Here are some of my take away impressions which, as above, may not be particularly relevant to helping you make a choice, but could serve as additional food for thought.
In a 5 wt. I like Sage's 9'0" Z-axis. For me, it's a good all around rod and I caught a 27" rainbow on it last March; so it had plenty of backbone to land good sized fish. It will get your casts out there well into the backing, if that's one of the elements that may be important to you. Under 25', I find it somewhat stiff, but I rarely fish at those distances with that rod; preferring a 3 wt. for the 15-40' range. It's a very nice rod, with what I think is a pretty good warranty. Case in point, about 6 weeks ago I hooked into a nice fish and in the excitement of the moment, forgot that I was standing under a low bridge, set the hook vertically and snapped the tip off on the bridge superstructure - and, worst of all, I lost the fish! I took it to my local shop that day and 3 weeks later it was back in my hand as good as new. Cost for my mistake - $50.00, no questions asked.
Here's another take on rod choice. My wife fishes Winston's BIIx in a 8'6" 5 wt. and loves it. I sometimes switch rods with her, just to enjoy the differences. The BIIx has plenty of muscle, but is a much more subtle stick with a very gentle tip. It throws razor sharp loops almost effortlessly, can get me into the backing with a little effort, feels like a 3 wt. rod in the hand and let's you feel the fish on the line better than most other 5 wts. that I've tested. Frankly, I offer to switch rods with her more often that I would if this was a random exchange, so that should be telling me something.
I use a 6 wt. if I'm going to be throwing large streamers into the wind. And that's about it. For the rest of my fishing on rivers the size that you describe and on the very occasional lake that I fish, I stick to a 5 wt. rod. The 6 wt. that I use is GLoomis's Max GLX, which is a very stiff rod, but which I find can get big flies way out there and which almost neutralizes the effect of a 10-15 knot wind for me. I like this rod a lot and will, in fact be fishing it today as I go after some big fish that I know inhabit one of the local plunge pools that's difficult to get to and that means that I'll be looking at my backing a lot today. I'll fish it with a 250 grain sink-tip line and either a good sized bugger or a double/triple nymph set-up with split shot. So, that will give you an idea of the power of this rod.
The truth is, and it's a good truth, that if you can afford an upper end rod and reel (by the way, for a reel choice, I'd recommend Abel's Super 5N, but Lamson's Litespeed would be my second choice, Ross's Evolution 3rd) then you're highly likely to end up with more than one of them; unless you're truely disciplined; which not many fly fishermen seem to be; since it's simply more fun to enjoy some variety in everything, including fishing. So, I would approch this as your first new rod, not your only new rod. For me, a 5 wt. and a 6 wt. would cover you for most of the trout fishing that you'll probably be doing. If you find that fishing small streams for native Brookies is one of the things that you like to do, then I would also add a 3 wt. I fish Sage's 7'6" ZXL 3 wt. and like it a lot for that application.
Buying a new rod(s) is fun. But, as in the first pp above, I, like the other posters, would strongly suggest that you make the time to go cast some rods before you "pull the trigger" on a purchase.