The Good Small Stream Fly Rod

Fly fishing for native trout on a small stream within the again county can result in one of the vital rewarding experiences of a lifetime. Getting off the crushed path to search out finicky fish in untouched waters is what the pioneers of the game really supposed. Then again, some small streams are simply off the roadway however are simply as prepared, or unwilling, to surrender their inhabitants to the expert angler. The right clothes, flies and gear might help you make absolutely the most of your journey. The fly rod could also be an important side of your small stream arrange.

One query that I usually hear is, “what’s the good small stream fly rod”. Nicely, permit me to clear this up proper now… there isn’t a good small stream fly rod. There, now you have got it. I ought to cease right here and go away it at that, however you understand that I will not.

Watch out, there are lots of self proclaimed fly fishing specialists which are all too keen to provide their opinion on the best rod for the smaller streams. Do not be too hasty to just accept their remarks as gospel and run out and purchase a rod merely base on their opinions. I want I may offer you a lower and dried, etched in stone, reply and determine the particular rod that may be good for any small stream chances are you’ll encounter in your fly fishing lifetime… however I can not do this. Neither can anybody else.

Most folk merely don’t notice the elements concerned in making a small stream rod choice. There are a number of issues to fastidiously ponder earlier than dropping the bucks for a brand new rod. That is precisely what we will do right here. We’ll focus on a number of essential rod and stream elements that govern a small stream rod choice. After arming your self with the right info, it’s you who will find yourself making the last word choice as to which rod is finest for you.

What’s a Small Stream?

First issues first… we in all probability must determine precisely what constitutes a small stream. So, what sort of water will you be fishing? Is it a small stream, a spring creek or a slim river? Are all three of those actually the identical factor? All fly fishers will not be on the identical web page right here.

OK, lookup “small stream” within the dictionary. What do you discover? Nothing, proper? There isn’t a formal definition of this time period. I do know what I imply once I say “small stream”. However do you see in your thoughts the identical factor that I see? Possibly, possibly not.

The Cimarron River in, New Mexico is little question a slim river however do not let the phrase “river” idiot you. It consists largely of small stream attributes. Many of the public water is lined with willows, cottonwoods and alders and gives anglers with undercut banks, riffles, runs, bend swimming pools and pocket water. I fish this river as a small stream. The St. Vrain River in Colorado is one other nice instance. There isn’t a place on its banks the place you possibly can’t comfortably roll forged to the opposite facet. When the water is evident, there isn’t a place the place you possibly can’t see the underside. Then again, Younger’s Creek in Montana is about the identical measurement and in some areas it’s a lot wider than many stretches of the Cimarron and St. Vrain Rivers. I fish all three principally the identical manner.

Let’s simply say {that a} small stream is one that you could forged throughout simply nearly wherever on it, that you could wade, usually cross in hip boots, that’s manner too small for boats, and has most of its construction uncovered to view. Additionally, most significantly, we’ll assume it has trout in it.

Again to the Rods

So now, what concerning the rod and stream elements? I’ll break issues down by discussing every issue. As you research these bits of knowledge, it’s best to start to develop an image, in your thoughts, of what sort of small stream fishing you may be doing and what rod you may be needing. You might discover that, for you, one rod merely will not get the job completed. You might uncover that you just want two or extra rods to fulfill your small stream needs. How unhealthy may that be? You have got now given your self an excuse, and hopefully permission, to purchase extra rods.

Our rod choice elements embrace weight, size, motion, materials, sections, shade and several other stream traits. We should additionally spend slightly time on fly strains as a result of this will additionally influence our rod selection. Additionally, there isn’t a must get fancy with a small stream rod. Phrases akin to modulus, IM no matter, titanium, and different high-tech sounding phrases ceaselessly make their manner into the fly rod purchasing course of. The excellent news is that these are issues that ought to not fear you throughout you choice course of. You do not want the X15 Tremendous Modulated Ballistic Fly Rod designed to forged 1 / 4 mile on any small stream. Let’s simply hold it easy.

Rod Weight

Something from a 0wt to 5wt will work properly relying on the state of affairs. The last word selection of the rod weight has rather a lot to do with the dimensions fish you may be after. Many small streams solely help small trout. Some streams, in fact, have bigger fish. I’ve caught some wholesome 16 inchers in streams, like Bear Creek in Southwest Colorado, which you’ll be able to virtually soar throughout. Typically although, you are in all probability catching fish from 6 to 10 inches. You will get an occasional 12 incher and several other Jack Fish. Oh… what’s a Jack Fish you ask? These are the fish, usually known as fry, which are so small that whenever you set the hook you jack them up out of the water they usually sail again over your head.

So, the battle of a small fish feels higher to the angler in the event that they’re utilizing a light-weight fly rod akin to a 2 wt. The 16 inchers will really feel nice on a 2 wt rod additionally however there are some distinct disadvantages with this situation. One is that by the point you get the large fish landed, it might be exhausted to the purpose of no return and will quickly die after its launch. If you are going to eat it then that’s actually mute level. Secondly, you run the danger of breaking your rod from the pressure. If you happen to’re deep within the wilderness fishing a pleasant little stream, the very last thing you want is to your stick to interrupt.

One other factor to contemplate is hook set. The lighter weight flimsy fly rods give you little assist in setting the hook. I’ve a 1wt rod that could be a pleasure to make use of. The issue is that I lose an excellent quantity of fish inside two seconds of the hook set (or lack there of). If you happen to’re utilizing this sort of rod you had finest be sure your fly hooks are debarbed and honed needle sharp. I can use my 2wt with little issues of getting the hook set correctly.

I’m a 2 and 3wt fan on the subject of small stream rods. I just like the light-weight really feel of those rods. I wish to really feel the fish battle. For me, there lighter weight rods permits me to current a fly extra delicately. The play within the rods presents me some chief safety on days once I should use very tremendous tippets. Sadly, I do not catch many behemoths on the small streams that I frequent, so over preventing the fish is often not an issue.

Castibilty is one other challenge with rod weights. A 5wt rod is way simpler to forged than a 1wt rod… interval. So, for the newbie, I might not advocate and intensely mild weight rod. Maybe a 4wt could be a more sensible choice at this stage of talent stage. However then, then again, many small streams are so small that you just’re actually not casting anyway. You are solely flipping and dapping with an occasional roll forged. If you happen to have a look at it that manner, first-class casting abilities will not be overly essential. It relies upon upon the dimensions of the stream, brush, bushes and even wind as to how a lot actual casting chances are you’ll or will not be doing. For instance, a typical small meandering stream that snakes by a valley meadow will seemingly don’t have any bushes and minimal brush to take care of. Nonetheless, the wind could create an issue when making an attempt to forged a 2wt. You may very well want a four or 5 wt so as get the fly the place you need it.

You’ll be able to see that on the subject of the best rod weight for small streams opinions differ. One single rod weight is just not going to be ideally suited for each small stream software. I’ll enterprise to say that a lot of the anglers that I do know use a three or 4wt rod on this state of affairs. These are good all-around rod weights that may deal with a big number of small stream functions.

Rod Size

My very first small stream fly rod was a 2/three wt, 7ft rod. I as soon as took a fishing journey to the Cimarron River the place I booked Doc Thompson of Excessive Nation Anglers. We fished the Cita which is a personal stretch of the Cimarron simply bellow the Cimarron Canyon State Park entrance. This part is a traditional small stream simply loaded with hungry Browns. I met Doc on the path and began to assemble my gear. He patiently watched as I assemble my 7ft rod. He then calmly mentioned, “Why do not you allow that rod right here, we’ll take my 9ft 4wt as an alternative”. I used to be bit confused and my emotions had been slightly damage. I used to be taught that you just want a brief rod for small streams and that is undoubtedly a small stream. Nonetheless, I figured he was the skilled on this river so I am going to take his phrase for it. We had been quickly on the financial institution and Doc identified a pleasant pool to forged to.

After I made a couple of drifts, he mentioned, “Right here, let me see your rod for a minute”. He then taught me how you can correctly excessive stick. I then noticed the benefits of an extended rod on a small stream. Doc had me to forged out with solely about 1 or 2 ft of fly line hanging out of the tip my rod. He then had me carry the rod excessive whereas conserving it parallel to the bottom. I used to be making an attempt to maintain the entire fly line and as a lot of the chief as I may off of the water. This was creating, in fact, a wonderfully drag free drift. Often I used to be capable of carry all the chief from the water in order that the one factor touching the water was my dry fly. This took rather a lot observe however I lastly acquired the method down pat and caught numerous fish. I made only a few overhead casts. I largely flipped and rolled so the comb and bushes had been actually not a lot of an issue.

Rod size is a vital consideration and, in some conditions, possibly much more essential than rod weight. As you possibly can see, there’s multiple faculty of thought concerning the right rod size for small streams. The quick rod advocates are steadfast of their beliefs. The lengthy rod proponents are equally satisfied there method is superior. I can see that each rods have their place. That is the place the character of the stream itself will show you how to in figuring out the most effective size for you in a given state of affairs.

Shorter rods, 5 to 7ft, could also be ideally suited for the tightest and brushiest of creeks. Better of all, these quick rods are so cute and so candy. On the other facet we could discover the necessity for that lengthy rod. An 8’6″, a 9ft, or even perhaps longer rod could also be your best option for the meadow stream that gives little casting impediments. Possibly you may be excessive sticking to finicky trout and also you want that further attain. The International dorbeR Group in Flippin, Arkansas now produces a 10ft 1wt fly rod clean for this sort of fishing.

Rod Motion

In case your time goes to be spent chasing Brookies s on a smaller stream, then a quick motion will not be your best option. Medium and gradual motion rods are higher fitted to small streams. They provide higher management, extra accuracy, extra tippet safety and softer shows. I do know there are some quick motion fanatics on the market and that is tremendous. If a quick motion rod feels good to you, then by all means use it. Myself, I want a medium motion rod. The medium motion simply feels good to me. They provide extra forgiveness of my generally lazy casting stroke. They actually do provide the accuracy and the fragile shows that I usually want on these small creeks. The medium motion rod barely out performs the gradual motion within the hook set, but the gradual motion stays one other nice selection for fishing for small fish.


I suppose our fundamental selections listed here are bamboo, fiberglass and graphite. Most rods bought at the moment are graphite. Overwhelmingly so. Graphite rods are lighter in weight, extra delicate, and have a sooner response than a bamboo or fiberglass rod. Greater than seemingly you may find yourself with a graphite rod and your choice to take action will likely be sound and protected.

It will be significant although to not overlook fiberglass and bamboo. With glass and bamboo, you have got a stable construction consisting of fibers with various densities. With graphite you have got a hole tube of uniformmaterial. The result’s that tumbler and bamboo is smoother, nearer to pure motion and rather less tiring.

You might hear that bamboo rods are heavier. That is true, nonetheless, this comparatively small improve in weight can be one in all its benefits, for this extra weight provides these rods an inherent loading attribute that makes them very easy casting. Cut up bamboo rods are additionally a fly fishing murals. They definitely have an aesthetic benefit over glass and graphite. One downside is that they are often fairly costly.

Glass rods could also be a greater different to bamboo. Doug Macnair, very long time casting teacher and fly fishing author, says “Within the quick rod format, fiberglass handles very very like bamboo and for my part beats graphite each time. I might suppose that my all time small stream favourite is the Little Betts fiberglass 6-footer from 1963.” You will in all probability not discover many 1963 Little Betts round however you possibly can nonetheless get good fiberglass rods at the moment. Diamondback’s Diamondglass rods are an ideal instance of recent fiberglass fly rods at their finest.


I’ve a 7pc 3wt fly rod that packs down into an 18″ rod tube. I believed it will make an ideal small stream rod as a result of it disassembled into such a hid bundle. I may retailer it wherever. The final time I used it I used to be with a pal who had a 2pc rod. We drove as much as just a few yards from the creek. We began rigging up for the fish. In a matter of what appeared like seconds, my pal was catching fish whereas I used to be nonetheless assembling my fly rod.

So, what number of sections ought to your new small stream rod break into? It’s a matter of desire in addition to performance. A 2pc rod is so handy. You solely have two sections to fret about. Aligning the guides throughout meeting is so easy. A 7 or 8pc rod can be handy in its personal manner. Their tubes are very quick which makes for an ideal journey or pack rod. In case you are mountain climbing or backpacking any important distance to the again nation stream then these rods are ideally suited. It simply takes slightly longer to assemble them in a way in order that the guides are all lined up. It is in all probability protected to say that the biggest promoting rods are available in four sections.

It is a good suggestion to contemplate how you’ll often be touring to you fly fishing vacation spot. Will you fly or drive? If you happen to fly, properly, that opens up an entire different can of worms. We’re not speaking San Juan worms both. This will get fairly nasty generally. Typically there isn’t a downside flying with a 4 piece rod, with out reel, as keep it up. However like numerous keep it up guidelines at the moment, rather a lot depends upon who’s working the safety verify level on the time you cross by. Attempting to hold on a reel is an enormous no-no at the moment. Airline officers have mentioned there’s sufficient fly line and backing to tie up an entire flight crew. The factor to recollect is that the enforcement and interpretation of those guidelines are very inconsistent.

One excellent resolution is to buy one of many new rolling duffels which have a devoted area within the backside to carry a number of 4 piece rod tubes and verify it as baggage. Fishpond, Orvis and Cabela’s have baggage with this characteristic. Simply verify the bags and hope for the most effective. It ought to arrive safely. Then again, in case you attempt to carry it on and get stopped on the terminal and are requested to verify your fly rod tube, the possibilities of by no means seeing your rod once more have simply elevated

One different resolution is to FedEx or UPS your gear to the lodge or lodge forward of your arrival and prepare for a pay as you go choose up after you allow. This additionally presents higher insurance coverage protection than hassling with an airline if one thing is misplaced.

Fly Line

Now that I’ve enlightened you on some elements and traits to strongly contemplate when buying your new fly rod I’m completed, proper? Nicely, in all good conscience, I can not simply flip you unfastened proper now with out no less than mentioning fly line and the way it will have an effect on your small stream rod.

To start with, let me make this completely clear, I often advocate staying with the producer’s prompt line suggestions or, within the case of the heavier weights 6-9, underlining by one weight relying on the circumstances. Wait a minute… did I say underline? Sure I did. Macnair opened my eyes to this idea. You see, it is within the quantity of line you aerialize in making the forged. Contemplate for a second that when you and I now know the load in grains for the primary 30-feet of our line, we do not know the load of the rest that sometimes consists of the remainder of the pinnacle, its rear taper, and the working line … An attention-grabbing thought? It ought to be, as a result of for each ten to fifteen ft we add to the preliminary 30 hanging within the air, we successfully add one other line weight to the load carried by the rod. Mentioned one other manner: a 5-weight line turns into the equal of a 6-weight when 40-feet of line are aerialized, a 7-weight with 60 to 65-feet within the air, and so on. In some unspecified time in the future, in fact, our 5-weight rod will overload leading to both a collapsed forged or worse, a damaged rod. Then, as Doug would say, the Historical Fishing Gods will likely be laughing.

OK, so what does this idea of underling a 7wt fly rod have with a small stream rod? Loads… the identical idea applies however in reverse. For example you are utilizing a 3wt rod with a 3wt line on a small stream. Most of your casts are going to be lower than 15 or 20 ft. Take away the chief and also you solely have about 10 ft or so of fly line aerialized. Nicely that is not sufficient line weight to permit the rod to carry out as designed. So, on this case, its makes good since to overline your rod. Ten ft of a 4wt line may offer you sufficient aerialized weight to permit the rod to carry out higher and thus enhance your casting. So give it some thought. You might need to overline your new rod relying on how far you assume you may be casting.


OK… there you have got it. Now, have I coated each attainable side of choosing the best creek rod? In all probability not… however you understand have sufficient info to help you in selecting the right stick to your particular functions. I feel you now notice that no single rod will do.