Saturday, March 5, 2011

Experimenting With Line Weights and Rod Weights

I was experimenting the other day with line weights and decided to switch my fly reels loaded with 3, 4, and 5 weight lines to my different rod weights that I fish. In trying these different combo’s I also used different weighted flies with the fly lines such as big bass poppers, and a tiny size 28 midges. I found the answer to all this interchanging was pretty significant. In other words overloading a heavy weighted line on light 3 wt rod could make for a long and frustrating day on the water. The same thing hold true for the opposite end of the spectrum. This experiment only proves what I knew, but was curious to try, that selecting the right weight line to match the correct weighted rod is imperative when fly fishing. The following guide is an excellent example to use when selecting the right line weight when fishing for a particular species of fish. What category do you fall in?

Determining the Right Fly Line Weight

So, what line weight is right for you? A summary of recommended line weights for various fishing by species and conditions is:

Fly Line Weight 1-3: Small trout, panfish, other small fish. Used when casting small flies on short casts.

Fly Line Weight 4: Small to medium sized trout and other similarly sized fish. Used when casting small flies and medium sized flies using short to medium-short casts.

Fly Line Weight 5-6: The most versatile of the line weights. This line weight fishes well for all but the smallest and all but the largest trout. Also performs adequately for smaller bass (not the lunkers in some Florida lake). Fishes well when using small, medium and larger sized flies (not massive streamers, though). Allows for longer casts yet performs short casts fairly well.

Fly Line Weight 7-8: Designed for very large trout and large bass as well as some saltwater species. Used for pitching large streamers and large flies. Longer casts are excellent. Not the best for short casts. And most definitely not designed for smaller fish and smaller flies.

Fly Line Weight 9-14: Large fish territory. Mainly used for saltwater fishing and fishing for Salmon and Steelhead.


  1. If it were only that simple! A line weight shift can be used to give you more control on shorter casts like when fishing a small creek. There you might load a rod one size larger to give you a positive turn over. In very delicate fishing situations you might want to drop a line size so that your rod loads at a longer distance.

  2. Ray
    Very true, but to load two line weights beyond the rod weight could be a bit much. This I found on my 3 wt. rod using 5 wt line the other day. Thanks for the comment

  3. Well, this is always an interesting topic...And I am going to remember this little diddy this week on my trip! I will be using a larger rod and line for the first time...should be wild!

  4. River
    I know that rules are to to broken in fly fishing, but when it comes to line wt and rod wt, I stay withe the norm. Thanks for the comment

  5. Hey Bill,

    Good info. The rod companies kinda complicate things by not having set standards for the different rod weights. A Sage TCR 5 wt. is a much different rod than, say, an Orvis TLS 5 wt. That TCR is like a broomstick and actually casts better when up-lined by a line size or two. I think you're right about staying within the norm and the designated line wt for a given rod most of the time, but it's fun to cast different lines on a rod to see what works best. Interesting stuff.

  6. Ty
    When it comes to fishing for me, it is not just about catching the fish----but it is also about having my equipment working and performing to perfection. If that is happening then if makes for a more enjoyable trip. The line and rod needs to compliment each other and that is why I do stick with the recommended ratio. Thanks for the comment