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fishosopher 12-14-2009 12:26 PM

How important is rod length?
I have an 8 wt. 9' that meets a wide variety of fishing needs. I've read that a 9'6" or better yet a 10' rod is better for steelhead and other river-run fish. You can cover more water and control your line better. Usually I'm on a Great Lakes tributary.

Also, I'm beginning to plan a trip to Alaska. Again, some writers favor the longer rod.

What do you all think?

Guest1 12-14-2009 01:00 PM

Re: How important is rod length?
I always prefer longer. Cast farther, easier to mend. If you fish real big water you may even want to consider a spey rod. I started spey casting with a 15' Meiser. I can cast way farther than I can with a single hand rod and I need almost no space behind me. If you like the 9' rod you have now, an extra 6" or a foot are not going to be that mch improvement on distance. The spey rod will be. I noticed you are in MN, me too.

MoscaPescador 12-14-2009 01:03 PM

Re: How important is rod length?
What you have learned about longer rods is true.

Here is how I look at it.

The 10 footer is a great tool for nymphing. That extra foot gives you an extention for better line control. Mends will be easier. You can have less line on the water which will give you less drag on your nymphing system. Downside is that if you overhead cast, now you have to deal with a foot of extra mass to wave around all day. That could get tiresome.

The 9'6" length is a compromise length. I used this length in a 6 weight for years. It gives you the extra length for better line control, but it doesn't give you too much mass to wave around if you want to do some overhead casting.


Edit: I use a switch rod quite a bit. The 11 foot length allows me to have a long nymphing stick. I can also fish it like a two hander to throw those long bomb casts. It's wonderful to throw 60 to 80 feet of line when I only have 5 feet of backcasting room. The best thing is that I am less fatigued by the end of the day compared to using a single hander.

BigCliff 12-14-2009 01:08 PM

Re: How important is rod length?
A 9'6" or 10' rod does offer substantial line control and roll casting benefits over a 9' rod, though nothing compared to a 13'-16' spey rod. 9' and shorter rods however tend to work better for throwing tighter loops and more accurate presentations, thus their popularity in saltwater flats fishing.

The main downside to a longer rod is that it gives the fish a longer lever to use against you. There's a reason why you rarely see the 14wt rods intended for offshore use in lengths over 8'6". (the layout of a handle on a spey rod makes this dynamic quite different)

If you're taking a single handed rod to Alaska and chasing rainbows, steelhead, and non-king salmon, I'd recommend a 9'6" 8wt. A 13-14' 8wt spey would be ideal for those same species. If you're going to fish for kings I'd recommend a 9' 10wt.

Frank Whiton 12-14-2009 04:00 PM

Re: How important is rod length?
Hi Alligator,

My favorite nymph rod is a 5wt 9'6" and I find it a very good length in the particular rod I selected. You need to use some caution with 8wt and up weights when you start going over 9'. If you ever needed to cast a rod before buying it is for sure with longer one handed rods in heavier weights. Some of the cheaper rods that are a little heavy in a 9' may be terrible at the longer lengths. In Alaska I was using Sage 9' 8wts and decided to get a 9'6" 8wt. I found the extra 6" in the exact same rod made the tip too soft. I used it a lot but never did get use to the soft tip.

I don't know about you but I dislike tip heavy rods and wouldn't buy a 9wt or 10' rod in anything over 9' with out casting it for sure. In fact a 8'6" length is a good length for a 10wt. As someone mentioned, you have to take the fatigue element serious. I don't think it is a good choice to buy a one handed 10' 8wt and then find it wears you out.

Fishing in Alaska I never thought I had a problem with a 9' 8wt rod. The majority of the Alaska rivers that I fished were not large. There are some big rivers, the Kenai, the Yukon, the Nushagak and the Kuskokwian. These rivers are so large that you need a boat to fish them and a Spey rod is not going to make that much difference. Your best approach is to pick your target water and then pick a rod, or rods, that best meets those requirements.



Guest1 12-14-2009 04:38 PM

Re: How important is rod length?
I should have mentioned, my 15' rod was a bit big for some of the rivers on the N. shore of Superior. I tried it a the Lester and it was a bit big for the river but perfect for bombing casts out from the mouth into the lake. It would be great at the knife. I liked it at the Lester for getting casts where I had no room to backcast. A shorter spey or switch rod would work for that though.

arfishinbear 12-15-2009 08:39 AM

Re: How important is rod length?
A couple things on the longer rods. The first one I bought was a 7wt 10 foot rod for bass fishing around ponds. The ponds I fished in MO often had tall grass growing around them and the extra foot helped me keep the back cast high and out of teh grass, but it really didnt add that much to my distance and at the end of the day my arm and back were alot more sore from the extra wieght. Like others have said, they are great for niphming in trout fishing. Every rod from 6' to 10' has its place and time in fly fishing, if you have the money, hell go ahead and buy 'em, each one will help ya at times.

wjc 12-15-2009 08:55 AM

Re: How important is rod length?
In the vein as many others here, I bought a 10' 9wt a couple years ago. It was a mistake. I am no longer strong enough to handle that long a rod with that much weight out that far.


Rip Tide 12-15-2009 09:31 AM

Re: How important is rod length?
I have four 8wts. including a 10' IM6 that I use mostly in the surf
In the hand, the casting weight seems to be about the same as my 9', 10wt and that's about as heavy as I'd want to go and still be able to make it through a full day.
I'm not sure that there's any extra casting distance, but the 10' length makes a big difference for me in terms of the better line control.

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