Stay Fly: Different rods for different folks

By Ray Kyle Stay Fly

As you develop as an angler, you’ll start getting the urge to buy new rods specific for different situations or techniques. Rod companies have created a rod for every type of scenario an angler might come across. There are rods specifically designed to catch anything from tiny brook trout to giant tarpon and sailfish. If you are starting to look for a new rod to add to your arsenal then this article is for you.

The Colorado Standard

The best all around rod for Colorado and most western states is a 9-foot 5-weight rod. This rod can do almost anything. It can cast and present a dry-fly delicately enough to fool most trout. It can make roll casts with a three fly nymph rig with a strike indicator and split shot. And it can also make long cast with small to mid sized streamers to the most aggressive fish. This is the rod that sells the most at any local fly shop and most of them have a wide selection of brands and models to choose from.

The Streamer Specialist

The first rod that I bought outside of the standard 9-foot 5-weight was a 9-foot 6-weight rod with a fighting butt to throw larger streamers. The rod I got is designed to throw heavy flies in stronger wind. The rod itself has a stiffer backbone which makes it easier to make longer casts. This backbone also comes into play when you are fighting larger fish. I like pairing my streamer rod with line that has a heavy short head useful for turning over large flies. I also have a line that has a sink tip built in so that it brings the flies down quick to the zone I think they are holding. If throwing big articulated flies then a dedicated streamer rod is a must in your rod collection.

The Creek Assassin

The next rod I purchased was a creek specific rod to target small brook trout and cutthroats in high mountain creeks and streams. I choose a 7-foot 3-weight fiberglass rod to delicately place dry flies in tight spots. Fiberglass rods have much more flex than other types of rods. This flex really makes it fun to target and catch smaller fish. It also makes you really slow down your cast which for some might take a little time to get used to. This is my go-to rod when I hike in the high country or fish the local small creeks.

The Euro Trash Rod

European nymphing is a technique that competitive fly-fishermen use extensively. This technique uses ultra thin fly line, no indicator and heavy tungsten beaded flies to get down to where the big fish are holding. The rod you use is typically a 3-weight rod with the length being longer than 10 feet. This added length helps with the high sticking commonly associated with czech or euro nymphing. Three-weight rods are used to help protect extra light 6x and 7x tippets that implode to get those flies down faster. This style of fishing is extremely effective when done right, and when you pair the rod with this technique, it is downright deadly.

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The Trout Two Hander

Two handed fishing rods are not commonly associated with trout fishing in the Rockies, however things are changing. Typically these rods are found on the salmon and steelhead rivers in the northwest or Alaska. A trout two hander or commonly known as a micro spey is a slightly shrunk down version of what people use in the pacific northwest. These rods are great at launching lightweight flies across medium to large sized rivers using a modified roll cast and allows the flies to swing in the current, triggering some awesome strikes. The line is much different than a standard trout line. The line system consists of backing, running line, a shooting head, a sink tip, a leader to the fly rather than the simple backing to line that you find on “normal” trout rods. The shooting head is very heavily weighted to make it easy to shoot line a long distance. Sink tips come in different sink rates to address different depths of water you may encounter. This style of rod is the newest addition to my collection and has quickly become one of my favorites.


Whenever you are thinking about purchasing a new rod, whatever its use is, be sure to buy it from a shop that will let you take it outside and cast it. The in store “wiggle test” is something everyone does, however it doesn’t fully demonstrate the capabilities and potential of the rod until it has a line on it. When test casting a rod, don’t just huck the line as far as possible, take some time and put it through the types of situation you may encounter on the river.

Whatever type of fly-fishing you enjoy most, there’s likely a rod out there that will make it even more enjoyable. I think the perfect quiver of rods is a 9-foot 5-weight all around trout rod; 9-foot 6-weight streamer rod; and a 7-foot 3-weight creek rod, however the other speciality rods are a blast and can be a game changer.

Ray Kyle is the guide service coordinator and a guide at Vail Valley Anglers. He can be reached at 970-926-0900 or

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