How to Determine Fly Rod Weight

How to Determine Fly Rod Weight

“Fly rod weight” is a confusing term, because it has nothing to do with how much a fly fishing rod physically weighs. The term “rod weight” is also popular among anglers. It refers to the “weight class” of the rod. In this post, first we will discuss fly rod weight and then show you how to determine fly rod weight.

Fly rods come in “weights”, and the range can be 1-15. The lightest weight is 1 and the heaviest weight is 15. The figure is 0 when the rod is just coming out. The weight classification is often abbreviated as “wt”. It is used for many fly fishing things like line, rods, and reels.

Determining a fly rod weight

The type of fly fishing determines the choice of a fly rod weight. The same rod is not used for fishing in a small mountain stream and in a large river. You should know this fact before you learn the basics of fly fishing.

When determining fly rod weight, we have to take the weight of the line into consideration. When it comes to line selection, the type of fly is an important thing to consider. For example, if the size is 12 or less, a 100-grain line will be needed. In such a case, you will need a 4 weight fly rod and 4 weight fly line. It can also be 5. You will need to consider this when choosing the appropriate fly reel as well. Now let us take a look at different fly rods:

0-3 weight fly rods

If you are planning for small stream fishing, you probably need a 0-3 weight rod. In a small stream, you will need small flies and delicate presentations. These fly rods are not good in a place with strong wind.

In a small stream you may not even need a reel. What you need is just short casts. It is important to note here that these rods are not suitable for casting more than 35 feet.

4-6 weight rods

These fly rods are designed for casting farther, and they are really great against the wind. Sometimes you can even cast 50-60 feet. These rods are really a good choice when you are fishing in a medium-sized stream.

New anglers often find it hard to determine the distance they need to cast. Determining the distance takes some time and practice. You can catch steelhead trout even if you cast just 10-12 feet from the bank.

7-8 weight rods

These rods are suitable for larger flies. They can help you catch larger fish. 7-8 weight rods are particularly useful for catching steelhead trout. They provide longer casting distance. Sometimes the distance can be up to 80 feet. Rods that are intended for fly fishing can be up to 11 feet long.

9-12 weight rods

The length of these rods can be up to 14 feet. With these rods you can expect to cast up to a hundred feet. These fly rods are suitable for fishing in large rivers. For new anglers, these fly rods are not great to start with. They are for experienced anglers.

Before you learn how to determine fly rod weight, it is important to know how fly rods are categorized. As we have discussed earlier, fly rods come in what is known as weights. This knowledge will help you know which one is suitable for you.

While a gigantic fly rod can be 15 weights, a small slider can be only two to three weights. If you are a regular angler, you may have a collection of fly rods of different weights. Some are used for freshwater fishing and some are used for saltwater fishing.

If you talk to an experienced angler, you will find that a 7 weight fly rod is an inseparable part of fishing. This is because a 7 weight fly rod is neither too small nor too big, which ideal for both freshwater and saltwater is fishing.

You will notice the difference if you hold different fly rods up together. There is a huge difference between a 3 weight fly rod and a 7 weight fly rod. You simply cannot use a 3 weight fly rod when you need a 7 weight rod.

The same thing applies to the line. Your fishing line should be consistent with your fly rod. A 3 weight line is far smaller than a 7 weight line.

Match them up

Before you do anything else, make sure you determine how you are going to fish. Choosing the right fly rod weight is easier when you have a clear idea of what you are going to do. There is a general rule that you must know if you want to learn how to determine fly rod weight. Here is a general rule:

Fly rod weight = Fly line weight = Fly reel weight

According to this rule, if you are using a 6-weight fly rod, you have to make sure that you have a 6-weight fly line and a 6-weight fly reel. This is the only rule you have to remember if you want to learn how to determine fly rod weight.

You will find things a lot easier if everything is matched up exactly. If you are a new angler, this matching will give you a better experience. Going one level up or down is okay. But we recommend not doing it unless you are left with no choice.

Fly rod length

Fly rod length

It is pretty easy to figure out the length of a fly rod. You will need an 8-9 feet rod depending on what and where you plan to fish. The choice should also be determined by the level of your experience. If you are an inexperienced angler, you may not find it easy to use a 12 weight fly rod, because it is not only heavier but also longer.

If you are going to make frequent, long casts and fish with a heavy fly line, you will need a 9-feet long fly rod. For all-around, general fly fishing, an 8-foot long rod is a good choice. For fishing in a small stream; you will have to make precise casts. For that purpose, an 8-feet long fly rod is a good choice.

Important things to remember

When you are going to purchase a fly rod, there are some other things to consider. For the best results, take the following factors seriously. Take an accurate measurement from the cork grip to the rod tip. You do not need to measure the entire length of the rod. Once you have come up with the number, divide it by 10.

When you keep the rods next to a wall, keep them in horizontal lines. On the wall, find where the tip of the rod goes and mark the position. You can use a pencil to do it.

Find a plastic bag and a paper clip and hang them to the rod tip. Add small weights such as nuts, washers and coins. Stop once the tip of the rod is fixed at 1/10 of the length of the rod.

When measuring the weight, you should remove everything you have added: weights, paper clips, plastic bags. These additional things will add weight to your fly rod, leading to miscalculations.

Now you know the length and weight of the rod. Divide the weight by the length. You will come up with a ratio of gram and length. Then you have to make sure that the recommended weight of the line is a good match for the ratio. You can get some great recommendations by doing a Google search.

Other considerations 

When purchasing a fly rod, there are some other considerations. In fact, you can not determine fly rod weight without paying close attention to these things. Take the following factors into consideration.

Number of pieces 

If you are going to travel a lot, you find it hard to move with a fly rod that can only be folded in half. That is why you should choose a travel fly rod that is designed to be folded into three to four pieces. If you really want to learn how to determine fly rod weight, you must take this factor into consideration.

Fly rod construction 

Fiberglass fly rods are getting rare these days, but they are still available in many shops. The most important thing to know about fiberglass rods is that they are not suitable for heavyweight fly fishing. But it should also be noted here that fiberglass is not a bad option if you are buying rods for kids.

For you, graphite is a far Better choice. There are beautiful fly rods made of graphite. Choose one of them. Another great thing about graphite is that it is far lighter than fiberglass. It is stronger too. For better casts, use a graphite rod.

Fly-rod combination 

There are fly rod combos, and they are pretty good. In a combo, you get a fly line, a fly reel and a fly rod. This combination keeps the fly rod outfit balanced. If you are just a beginner, try to keep this combination as it is. It will obviously give you a better experience.


The bottom line is simple: to learn how to determine fly rod weight, you have to learn how fly rods are categorized. Once you have gained some experience, choosing the right fly rod will become almost intuitive. We hope you will learn about fly rod weights and make an informed decision.

Happy fishing!