I'm relatively new to fly fishing. I'm currently fishing with a 8'6" 5 weight from Dick's sporting goods (a Cortland Rod) I believe. It's caught it's fair share of fish but I'm ready to buy a new rod. I'm looking to keep it under $300 as I'm expecting a child soon.
Here's my problem. I'm not sure of the size or action that would best suite my needs. I fish primarily small rivers and streams (50ft cast being far plenty). I fish about 80% sub-surface. I fish size 12 bead heads, to tandem rigs, down to size 32 on 6x and 7x fluorocarbon.
I've been looking at the TFO BVK 3 weight due to its reviews but I'm not sure that is what would work for me. The Fly Fishing Show will be around town this coming weekend and I'd like to cast as many rods as I can to see which feels the best.
A 3wt would work well for those little guys, but if you're tossing double nymph rigs and those #12 beadheads (streamers or nymphs?) you're going to be really pushing the limits of a 3wt. You'd probably be better off with at least a 4wt, or to cover that range of applications you might be better off with 2 rods.
Double nymphs, 12 beadheads say 4wt, 9 foot to me. There's lots of great options for under $300. If you want to get an idea as to which rods might be in your budget, look around on some of the online fly shops. Make a list of the ones that fit your budget and have reviews that appeal to you. Then make it a point to try and cast them at the show. Good move on your part! What I or others might recommend for you might not necessarily be what feels good in your hands. This link might be a good primer for you to get some perspective. If nothing else, an entertaining read.
The thing to remember about the BVK 3 Wt is you can get it with a kit that gives you an 8' AND a 10" rod as well. I have fished that rod up at both lengths and was really taken with how well the rod fished. As a 10 footer, I think you could nymph effectively with as much garbage to cast as a normal 4 wt would handle. It roll cast like a cannon for me.
My disclaimer: Never fished a 4wt in my life. Just 3's and 5's, so the other guys suggesting 4wts might be right...but I'd wiggle that rod set up both ways and see what I thought. It's a little over your budget, unless they've come down. :-(
The conversion kit was another reason I was looking at the BVK. I was just wondering if a 3 weight was too small? I guess I could always bring the 5 weight along just in case...
As far as the fluoro goes... In my opinion it does lead to more hook ups. It's stronger than mono and is less visible. I switched to fluoro under the recommendation of the local fly shop and don't hesitate to spend the extra money. Maybe others have different opinions...
May I suggest you not put too much weight on the opinion of others, including me. Rod length and weight are the easy part. Rod action is another. The only way you will know if a rod is "right" for you is to try one. Try many. Friends... shows.... casting someone elses at the water edge... whatever means necessary, try them with no regard as to cost. You may prefer a $400 rod or a $120 rod. The key is whether it is a "fit". Ignore logos, status, trends, advertising, etc. Consider used rods. The sport is flooded with new designs that are SO much better than those of 10 years ago, those same rods that were SO much better than the rods 10 years before them. My favorite rod is a 10' 6wt Sage RPL that is o-l-d. I am looking daily for a 5wt version (hard to find, darn it). Why? Because it would be a "fit". The technology was brilliant when it was made but is now considered archiac. Fine by me. Good luck in your search. Wish you well.