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Old 01-10-2009, 06:49 PM
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Default Maximum Fly Size for a Given Rod Weight

Is there a general rule of thumb for the maximum size fly you can throw for a given weight of rod? For example, you shouldn't try to throw larger than a size 10 fly on a 4wt, etc... I understand it has a lot to do with one's casting ability, but for the average to beginning caster what would be a good rule to go by? In my limited experience, I have had frustration from trying to throw too large a fly for a given rod.
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Old 01-10-2009, 08:42 PM
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Default Re: Maximum Fly Size for a Given Rod Weight

Bevo,

Guess it depends on how far you're trying to throw it. I use what ever rod I'm carrying for whatever I need to fish with. I change leaders to accommodate the fly I want to cast. Heavier butt and tippet = bigger fly regardless of the rod. Even with a nine weight if I lighten the leader I can present a #14 or 16 dry fly or nymph if need be.

So, don't worry too much about rod to fly proportions unless you're going to toss big #2 streamers all day at long range. In that case I would like a 7wt. and a 12 pound level leader at least.

Hope this helps,

Ard
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Old 01-10-2009, 09:46 PM
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Default Re: Maximum Fly Size for a Given Rod Weight

Tx-

As just a seat of the pants guideline- as opposed to a “rule” you can kinda-sorta match line weights and hook sizes. But as Ard points out, you can stretch the range for larger flies (or heavily weighted or wind resistant stuff like poppers, or casting anything in windy conditions) by going to a shorter, stiffer, heavier leader/tippet, and go to smaller sizes with longer, lighter tippet. Here’s a seat of the pants match up for reference, but feel free to paint outside the lines:

Rod/Line Weight: Fly Size
1: 16-28
2: 14-28
3: 12-26
4: 10-26
5: 6-24
6: 4-20
7: 2-14
8: 1/0 - 12
9: 2/0 - 8
10: 4/0 - 2
11: 5/0 – 1/0
12: 6/0 – 1/0

Rods for heavier line weights can throw always throw smaller flies easily. You can throw a size 32 fly with a 12 weight, but since you’ll be using lighter tippets, the increased sensitivity of a lighter weight rod is helpful to reduce break offs, and there’s less splash down with lighter weight lines.

There are also ways to tinker around with gear. As an example, if you chase bass around a lot with a 5 weight, using a bass bug taper or overlining to a 6 weight line might help throw poppers and other larger size stuff a bit better than a standard weight forward. But having a good casting stroke is the best way to expand your range and throw larger stuff more easily. There are some phenomenal casters, like Mark Sedotti, that do demos at shows throwing 18“ 6/0 flies 120 feet on a 6 weight.

There are also some fly designs that sail better than others but imitate the same things—shad type baitfish made of EP fibers or rabbit strips can be very wind resistant and be like casting a wet mop—a sparse bucktail “hollow tye” or flatwing streamer will fly much better but give the same full meaty profile in the water.

Hope this helps. Let us know what you're using (rod, line, leader, length/size, and fly pattern/size), what you're chasing and the problems you're running into. Maybe there are some tweaks you can make to your set up that could help a bit.

peregrines
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:48 AM
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Default Re: Maximum Fly Size for a Given Rod Weight

Thanks peregrines. That guideline is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. Most of the trouble I get into is with weighted flies. I don't seem to have much problem with dries and can cast them fairly well. When a I get a little bigger weighted flies (say size 8 or larger) is when I start having problems. I have even had some problems throwing weighted size 8 with my 9' 6wt Sage. I think maybe my leader/tippett was off somewhat. I have learned not to go larger than a size 10 with my 4 wt. I hope that as my casting skills get better I can throw some larger stuff. Distance is not my biggest concern at this point.
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Old 01-11-2009, 03:37 AM
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Default Re: Maximum Fly Size for a Given Rod Weight

TXBEVO-

TX=

Yeah, weighted flies or wind resistant poppers can compound problems. With your 4 weight you could probably throw an unweighted bucktail size 8 pretty easily, but a heavily weighted size 8 bugger but be a bit tougher. A couple suggestions—

Work on the timing of your backcast to make sure you’re waiting long enough for the line to straighten out behind you. With weighted flies you should feel a bit of a tug. You always want to do this, but with weighted flies it’s more important. If you start the forward cast too early it’ll cause shock waves in the fly line when the weight "hits", reducing distance and causing tangles. The less false casting the better. Try and get it out there—ideally that means pick up, back cast, pause, forward cast, shoot. The more false casts, the more opportunity for things to go wrong, especially with weight slinging around (split shot, heavily weighted flies, whatever).

Smooth and easy does it. Try to use timing rather than trying to power through casts. You can add a haul with your off hand as you start the forward cast to help accelerate the line, but do this after you’ve made sure your timing is good, instead of using it as a crutch.

Pick a target when you’re casting, but aim for 2-3 feet above it from the surface. This will give time for the leader and fly to straighten out before it lands, helping to reduce tangles, and prevents you from coming too far forward (wide arc = wide loop = bad).

If your weighted fly is ending up in a heap of tippet, it maybe that the leader/tippet is too light. As a another rough rule of thumb, I usually match fly hook size divided by 3 to get tippet X. If I’m tossing size 18 flies, that would be a 6X tippet. For weighted or wind resistant stuff (poppers, bass bugs) divide hook size by 4, so on a size 8 weighted bugger, use 2X tippet (if you thought you could get away with it). Sometimes it’s not practical--- if I’m fishing a combination of things, dries, wets, nymphs, I’ll usually have a 9’ leader tapered down to 4X plus various tippet spools (4-7X). If I tie on a heavy stonefly nymph or whatever, I’ll just go with a short length of 4X and deal with it, since it wouldn’t make much sense to attach 2x tippet to a 4X leader, and I may not want to hack up the leader to a thicker section. But if I know in advance I’ll be chucking streamers, or fishing for bass, I’ll use a 7 ½ foot leader tapered to 2x (or thicker) and have a bunch of spools of tippet 2-7X. If I decided to switch and throw size 18 dries, I’d add a section of 4X to the 2X leader, and attach a length of 6x to the other end of the 4X for a nice taper to the smaller fly.

Anyway, just some ideas to try if you’re not already doing them. How's the fishing been?

peregrines
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:26 AM
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Default Casting weighted flys

One other option you may consider is to learn the Belgian or oval cast. This is something that helped me quite a bit with weighted nymphs.
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