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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

Dorsal view of a Skwala (Perlodidae) (Large Springfly) Stonefly Nymph from the Yakima River in Washington
This Skwala nymph still has a couple months left to go before hatching, but it's still a good representative of its species, which was extremely abundant in my sample for a stonefly of this size. It's obvious why the Yakima is known for its Skwala hatch.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Roguerat's profile picture
Posts: 456
Roguerat on May 31, 2017May 31st, 2017, 8:01 am EDT
I'm on a posting roll today but here goes, anyway...

I've been asked by a rank beginner, never held a fly rod but wants to try it 'what is the best rod to start with?'
I gave him what seems to be the standard '5 wt, 9-foot' and 'buy the best you can reasonably afford' advice.
In retrospect I'm second-guessing myself and question if the 5 wt/9-ft is the do-all, be-all for a beginner. I based my response on his intent of fishing trout only, smallish to medium waters and starting small.

Any advice or comment would be welcome, and my apologies in advance if this topic is a rehash of any former posts by other TN's- I should have done a site search, I guess.


'Less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe
David82nd's profile picture
Upstate,New York

Posts: 63
David82nd on May 31, 2017May 31st, 2017, 9:00 am EDT
Sounds legit to me , 5-9 and there are plenty of starter set ups , I think Remington has a nice rod/ reel combo with case and a few leaders , he will get the basic needs and after learning , he will then know to pursue or not , I remember when I was 18 I got a nice carbellas " sweetwater" set , a 5-9 , rod tube and the essential backing and line , I taught myself to cast and after several years began purchasing more and more gear , I loved that rod , still have it and use it on occasion ,
Partsman's profile picture
bancroft michigan

Posts: 321
Partsman on Jun 1, 2017June 1st, 2017, 11:59 am EDT
Rogue, I think you got it right, I have 3 5wts, the latest a gloomis nrx and I love it. I have a little pond behind my house with some nice bluegills and bass, and the 5 wts are great for bluegills and bass. The 9 ft. rod fishes good on medium to large rivers, and lakes and ponds. I also have the 5 wt. recon which is nice rod, just not even close to gloomis in casting and feel, but a nice rod to start off with. I have a epic 8 ft. 5 wt. and I find myself using other rods for smaller streams. I like glass for small stream rods, I have a cbarly 70p, great rod for small streams! There are just some many great choices in rods these days.
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Jun 2, 2017June 2nd, 2017, 1:59 am EDT
I agree that the 9' #5 rod is ideal for casting all dries, nymphs, and wet flies #10 - #22 but it is a much less than ideal rod for casting anything but the lightest streamers. Once you try to cast any weighted streamers like a cone head or a Clouser it will really test your casting abilities as the rod just isn't designed to be doing that kind of work. A mid flex 9' #6 will do everything and for a rank beginner he won't miss the finer nuances of the 9' #5. Let him get into the game first and be able to use the full array of flies. Then if he likes it he can start to build up his arsenal of fly rods.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Roguerat's profile picture
Posts: 456
Roguerat on Jun 2, 2017June 2nd, 2017, 6:58 am EDT

good point on streamers, and since this fly is one I tend not to cast it simply didn't occur to me that a beginner rod should be more than a dry-fly/nymph tool. Justin (rank beginner) found a St Croix 9' 5 wt for around $ 35.00 (wish I'd seen if first, all things considered!) and is going to snag it. Thus his question to me 'is this a good rod to start with?' and my query to the TN's. I'll advise him about the light streamer thing, maybe even tie some stuff for him now and then.
I've already supplied him with some Intruders for late season steel-heading since he found an old, beat-up Orvis 9' 8 wt setup last fall and was casting the backing as line...I advised him to get a real line and leader on the rod and then started slipping flies his way...so Justin's not a rank beginner after all but a 'beginner' for dry flies and such.

other than my own kids, and now grandkids, I've never been in a position to mentor anybody on flyfishing. Kind of a crazy responsibility, gotta' be thoughtful how I go about this.


'Less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe
TimD's profile picture

Posts: 1
TimD on Oct 12, 2017October 12th, 2017, 1:13 pm EDT
@ WBranch, that's actually a really smart way to look at it. People often default to the 5 wt, but you're right, it's a little light for anything with a cone head. I guess 5/6 rods would be a decent suggestion? I never know if those rods should throw a 5 or 6 wt line though. I assume go heavier to get the rod to load best...
NE pa

Posts: 1
Paonthefly1 on Nov 6, 2017November 6th, 2017, 11:24 pm EST
new to the page.. but still figured id give my opinion.

Roguerat- I would suggest the TFO Pro 2 series in 9' 5wt. has plenty of backbone to land large fish. At 169.95 you can't beat the price, plus they have a lifetime warranty, 35.00 no questions asked!!
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Nov 7, 2017November 7th, 2017, 10:55 am EST
Hello Paonthefly1,

Welcome aboard to Troutnut! I think you will enjoy the info that is freely expressed here and the chance to meet a great bunch of fly fishers. This is a great site if you want to learn more about casting, reading the water, fly tying, and of course there is a huge wealth aquatic insect information provided by gentlemen who offer hands on knowledge of all the insects that the fish we pursue like to eat.

That TFO Pro sounds like a great rod. I will have to look into it as I'm in the market for a 9' #5 4 piece.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Iasgair's profile picture

Posts: 148
Iasgair on Nov 13, 2017November 13th, 2017, 4:10 am EST
Ok, just a thought here. Why throw everything at a beginner at one time? Now as for Westbranches idea of a 9' 6wt mid flex rod, that's a great idea. Besides, beginners due tend to cast better with a mid flex rod because fast rods are unforgiving on bad casts.
I'd say start him on the basics. You don't feed a baby steak do you? Take him out with the St. Croix and see how he does on a nice long run nymphing. He should catch something & in the process get hooked on fishing from there. Then introduce dries. This is where he is going to really cast a line. Now by then, he should be able to read the water well enough to go catch a fish on his own. And while he is messing around with nymphs & dries, he can save up and get a heavier rod for the streamers.

Roguerat's profile picture
Posts: 456
Roguerat on Nov 15, 2017November 15th, 2017, 11:04 pm EST
Thanks, all, for the input here-

My erstwhile pupil is concentrating on Steelhead (with his Orvis 8 wt) since that's what he fished with spinning gear...Justin's back on the high-traffic, 'combat fishing' runs of the Grand River here in W MI. Any MI TN's will be somewhat familiar with 6th Street dam and all, along with the attendant madness and short-fused anglers crowding the water.
Not my cup of tea, or mug of brew, or whatever...I still slip him some Intruders and Wiggle Hexes, etc. now and then but I can't take the crowds.

No time on the water for more than a month now, work and more work piling up.


'Less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe

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