I recently returned from my first ever fly fishing trip. We fished the Madison River and some private lakes in Montana. I am now hooked and looking to purchase my first fly fishing rod and reel. I live in central Kentucky and want to be able to fish for both bass and trout with the same rod and reel to start with.
I used a 6 wt. rod in Montana and it worked well for trout up to 21 inches.
What weight should I get for my first rod? I would also like your input on the best reasonably priced rod to buy. I am looking at a Redington CPX rod.
I would appreciate your thoughts.
First, there is no "best". We all have preferences for brands & models, based on what we do with them & largely due to personal choices. Some folks like specific brands or a particular model better than what others will like. Opinions will vary greatly, because we're all different. The best rod for you may not be the best for another person. However, there's no way to determine what might be best for you until you try a few different rods. That unfortunately is not always an easy task to accomplish. If you have any fly shops in your area, then that would be the best place to try out different rods. You may find you'll like certain brands better than others.
For myself, I own several rods of different brands & they all do what I want them to do. I really like TFO rods, because for me they feel "right". It's not a technical feature, just I'm very comfortable with casting them. However, I also own a couple of Redington rods & like the way they cast also.
Fly rods are no different than any other type of rod. No single rod will do everything. There will always be compromises. A 6 wt rod is a good choice to start with IMO for light bass & trout fishing. It may be too light for some large flies that are used for bass, and possibly too heavy for some flies used for trout, but is certainly in a category that fits with many situations for both species. I've fished for bass quite a bit with a 6 wt, and have used it for trout, as well as panfish & some saltwater species. In my area for trout or panfish a lighter rod is IMO, a better choice, as the fish are not usually large, & the waters relatively small, so I like a 3 or 4 wt rod better for chasing those species. I've used the smaller rods for some stream bass too, where the streams are very small & the bass will only be about 12" or smaller.
Choosing any fly rod is a compromise based on the waters, the size of the fish & the fly sizes we intend to use. Plus, of course budgets come into play also!
You might also want to see if there is a fly fishing club of any sort in your area. Most such clubs have members who would allow you to cast different rods & aid with casting technique. It's difficult for a new fly angler to really know what rod is best for them until they have some experiences with different rods.
I know this doesn't really answer your questions, but hopefully will get you going in the right direction.
+1 for what Bigjim said. With the 6wt you might loose a bit of finesse throwing small flies to trout but I probably wouldn't stress about it too much. I'll use my 6wt sometimes fishing dries for trout if it is a windy day. It could be a good compromise that'll let you go for trout and bass. Down the road you could get a 4wt for trout, and then you'll want to target bigger bass or pike and you'll get an 8wt and so on
There are a lot of good options. Allen fly fishing is running a 50% off sale on reels. I have one of their trout reels on my 6wt rods and like it, lots of people on the forum love their stuff. If you go that route, remember that these sale items ship more slowly so it might take a bit longer to get the reel. Could be worth checking out their rods to. Like Jim said, check local shops or if there is a Cabelas or Bass Pro near you they often have good prices. I have an Albright Topwater rod that is a 5/6 weight that I like.
I'm still relatively new to fly fishing and one of my biggest frustrations was realizing the limits regarding how large a fly each rod weight can comfortably cast. I started with a 6 wt based on advise from a more experienced angler and it was a good decision. It's overkill for very small gills, but a better option for bass and trout. I later also bought 4 wt gear and that confirmed that if I had started with a 4 wt, I would have been very limited in my fly selection for bass (especially topwater). Go with a 6 for your first rod and assume this incurable disease will lead you to eventually add a 4 weight.
A fly rod does two things. It casts flies and it fights fish.
For trout the 6 wt will cast the flies and fight fish fine. It will be too heavy for spooky fish in clear water but for the type of trout fishing you will do it is a good choice.
A 6 wt rod will cast fine with a 7 wt line. So if you find that you are having a hard time casting bigger flies for bass with the 6 wt line; go up a line size and buy a bass taper line.
If you hook a big bass that overpowers you rod, use the butt of the rod rather than the upper end to fight the fish. You do this by lowing the rod angle and pointing the rod tip more towards the fish, this will transfer the stress towards the lower part of the fly rod.
I really like the CPX rods and the new Link series as well. As mentioned they are very fast and maybe borderline stiff to some people. If you were fishing a true 6 wt. rod and enjoyed it, you might want to consider the 5 wt. CPX with Rio Grand or SA GPX overweight line. You could also easily go with a 6 wt. line on the 5 wt. CPX.
To give you an idea, I have a 6 wt. Z-Axis and my son has a 5 wt CPX. The CPX will easily empty the reel even with a hillbilly like me doing the casting. The Z will too probably with a better caster at the controls, but for me I can only get within several turns of the backing with my best double haul.
If wind, distance and larger flies are in the mix you will enjoy the CPX, it is a cannon. If small streams, fine tippets and small dry flies come into play you will need some very delicate hands.
To help your rod perform dual duty as a bass + trouter, you might consider having two different lines: One with a compact head and shorter tapers to help toss big the big stuff, and a second line with a longer front taper to soften your presentation when trouting.
Just something to keep in mind if budget permits. A spare spool would make this setup more user friendly if bass and trout aren't confined to separate seasons.
My two cents, I hooked a 35 lb king on the Navarro river at its lowest flow one late October about 30 years ago. I was hoping to hook a steelhead and I reasoned the river was flowing about 30 cfs and small, so had taken my 5 wt. After it had run downstream and was in my backing, I knew that rod wasn't up to the task. At that point, my only choice was to run after that fish to keep any line on the reel. For me, the thought of breaking the fish off at the backing and it taking my line with it really didn't appeal to me at all.
I am not a fan of using a lighter rod. The drawbacks to the fish are that you can't turn them as easily, and in a freestone stream or one with lots of junk, they will take you under a rock, ledge or downed tree. Additionally, unless you are very skilled, you will play the fish longer and tire it more than if you bring it quickly to hand with a stouter rod. You can always throttle back your presentation and tie on a longer leader or tippet.
I finally landed that king with the help of a USFWS agent who happened to be on patrol that day. The salmon were out of season at that time and he helped me revive and release it. He was an avid steelheader and scolded me for my choice of rod weight.
My opinion, if you are playing bass, I wouldn't go lower than a 6. Casting big junk for bass is easier with an 8. For trout on a freestone stream up to 25", a 5 wt is adequate. I lost a 20+" brown on the Rio Grande earlier this year on my 5 wt, I almost broke the rod trying to keep it out from under the boulder I was standing on. So, I'd go with the 6.