best all around fly rod

The Best All-Around Fly Rod Weight (And 6 Tips to Get Yours Right)

A fly rod is an exceptional tool designed for casting the fly by building some momentum in the line and managing its distance and direction. A fly rod can also help you fight the fish; therefore, the strength and size of your target fish can help you determine the correct weight of the fly rod. But since purchasing over 5 rods can be very costly, I’m sure you’re wondering what the best all-around fly rod weight you can use to fish in any lake or river is.

The best all-around fly rod for freshwater fly fishing is a 5-weight. A 5-weight fly rod offers the most versatility for everything from panfish, bass and small salmon. A 5-weight is also great as a “back-up” fly rod once you grow as a fly fisher.

Despite being a fun activity, fly fishing gear can be very costly, which is why most anglers, including beginners, prefer an all-around fly rod weight. So in this article, we’ll show you which is the best comprehensive fly rod weight? We’ll also include tips on how to get the best fly rod for your future fly fishing trips.

With so much to learn about fly rods let me help with these articles:

Understanding What Fly Rod Weights Are

If you have just gotten into fly fishing and you hear other anglers talk about the fly rod weights, you may assume that they are referring to the weight of the rod or how much weight it can support when fighting a giant fish.

Select Fly Rod and Weight
Select Fly Rod and Weight

However, that’s not the case; rod weight refers to the weight of a fly rod that you can use with a particular rod. (source)

Fly rods function well when matched with the right line weight. For example, if you have a 5-weight fly rod, it means that you can only use a 5-weight line. The weight rating of fly rods ranges between 1-weight and 16-weight, readily available. And each rod is designed to tackle a specific fly line and catch certain fish species.

Generally, 1-weight and 2-weight are ideal for casting smaller flies and catching panfish. 3-weight and 4-weight are perfect for small streams, while 5-weight is for general freshwater fishing. 6-weight and 7-weight rods are for fishing on large rivers, large warm-water fishes, fishing with streamers. You can also use a 6-weight and 7-weight in calm water fishing for small-sized saltwater species.

The 8-weight to 9-weight are exceptional for catching salmon and steelhead in medium-sized rivers. You can also use the 8-weight to 9-weight rods for fishing carp, bass, and inshore saltwater use.

The best fly rod weight for tackling huge saltwater fishes like snooks and tarpons ranges between 10-weight and 11-weight. Any rod above 12-weight can tackle bluewater fishes like tuna and billfish. (5)  

Guide Pro Tip: One of the most versatile fly rods is called a “Switch Rod” Read more about it 👉 What is a Switch Rod (A secret weapon for fly fishing)

What is the Best All-Around Fly Rod Weight?

The fly rods are designed to cast weighted fly lines since the artificial flies have extremely low densities and weights. And that is because the weight of the line makes it possible for anglers to cast the artificial flies. Therefore, the weight on the fly rod denotes the weight of the fly line that it can comfortably cast. (source) Fortunately, the most all-around fly rod weight in most places is either 5-weight or 6-weight. (source)

However, the 5-weight 9-foot fly rod is the most common in some parts of the world, with others preferring a 6-weight 9.5-foot rod. The additional lengths can come in handy when keeping your backcast off the river or lake when you’re trying to wade deep.

Guide Tip: I know it can be confusing. All those numbers, terms and jargon. I’ve got a great article that explains

Numbers on a fly rod
Numbers on a fly rod

On the other hand, the extra line weight helps with the strong wind in Spring. But most importantly, a 6-weight rod can cast a little further than a 5-weight rod, and distance is crucial when fishing in huge lakes. (source)

Lighter bamboo and graphite rods have a special place in fishing; unfortunately, they’re not the best option for most of the weather conditions you may encounter in huge lakes. Plus, many anglers cannot cast over 40 feet using a 3-weight or 4-weight fly rod.

Therefore, when picking the right fly rod weight, you must consider several things. Some of these factors include the fish and fly size and the type of water you’ll be fishing. After all, the bigger the lake, the stiffer the wind, the bigger the target fish, the heavier the artificial fly, the bigger the weight rating of your fly rod. (source

Tips for Picking the Right Fly Rod Weight

Generally, there are numerous factors you have to consider when picking the right all-around fly rod weight. After all, many options in the market vary in length and material used to make them. And buying the wrong fly rod can be a costly mistake. So here are a few things you must consider when picking the right fly rod:

1)   The Size of the Fish You’re Targeting

The bigger the fish, the stronger the rod you will need; therefore, your target option matters when picking the suitable species. After all, every fly rod weight is designed for using a certain fly line weight.

So make sure you choose a matching fly line that can tackle a particular fish species. Remember, when casting, you will be using the weight of the fly line and not the fly.

Casting a 9 foot - 5 weight fly rod
Casting a 9 foot – 5 weight fly rod

For example, if you plan to do general freshwater fishing or go after trout, you should try a 5-weight fly rod. If your goal is small-stream fishing, then a 5-weight fly rod can be too heavy for you. Therefore, casting the line and attaining the proper distance can be challenging. (source) Make sure you pick the right option for the fish species you’re targeting.

2)   The Style of Fly Fishing

Other than your casting technique, the bait you’ll be using can play a crucial role in picking the right fly rod. After all, not every fly rod can cast streamers, nymphs, and dry flies. If you plan to swing some streamers, you need a 6-weight or 7-weight fly rod. (source)

The best options for casting small flies for smaller trout are 1-weight and 2-weight fly rods. But if your focus is dry flies, then the best choice should be a 5-weight fly rod. (source)

3)   Wind Conditions

Fishing in strong winds can be very challenging with a 5-weight fly rod. So if you tend to fish in places with strong winds and powerful fish, you need a saltwater fly rod. With a lighter fly rod and line casting, long distances and accurately can be very challenging. A 10-weight to 11 weight rod can come in handy when dealing with high surf or wind. (source)

4)   The Size of the Lake or River

The bigger the lake, the further you will need to cast and the longer your fly rod needs to be. Longer rods are perfect for lakes and the sea, while shorter rods (6 to 8 ft.) are perfect for smaller creeks with many obstacles. (source)

5)   Flex and Action

Flex refers to how your rod will bend when casting, and for most parts, this range is split into three categories (full, mid, and tip flex). With full-flex, the rod flexes to its grip when casting. Mid-flex rods can flex to the center of the rod when casting, while with tip flex rods, only the first third of its length flexes.

This classification is usually determined by how fast fly rods unload and load. Fast action rods unload and load quickly and vice versa. The flex and action of your rod will depend on the casting stroke. Fast action rods with less flex are ideal for individuals with powerful casting strokes.

Fast casting rods can power flies through stiff winds while guaranteeing accuracy and extreme distance. (source)

6)   Price

Fortunately, there are fly rods for all price ranges; therefore, you can get something within your price range. The price of fly rods is determined by the materials used to make them. So if you need a high-quality rod, you have to be ready to pay more. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that affordable rods cannot guarantee accuracy and extreme distance.


What Is A 5-Weight Rod Good For?

It is the most versatile and popular rod for freshwater fishing. This highly versatile rod can do more than help you catch trout. It can also catch carp, whitefish, perch, bass, and bluegills.

What Is the Most Versatile Rod Weight for Freshwater Fishing?

The most versatile trout rod is a 9 foot, 5-weight rod. This rod is perfect for anyone who fishes in rivers, creeks, and lakes. So if you don’t know where you’re going to fish on your next trip, then you should get a 9′ 5-weight rod.

How Can You Size Fly Rods?

Generally, fly rods are typically designated by the size of the line and length. Therefore, you will hear or see things like 9 ft 9 or 8 ft 6. The second number refers to the line size, while the first is the rod length.  

One More Cast

The best all-around fly rod weight that is quite popular with freshwater anglers is the 5-weight rods. You can use this rod for fishing in creeks, lakes, rivers, and streams. This rod weight is perfect for beginners who perfect their fishing skills before investing in other rod weights.

Hi David Humphries Owner of Guide Recommended. I love everything to do with fly fishing. Casting, Tying, YouTube, writing about it and even teaching. I’ve got a FREE video workshop teaching how to dry fly fish at this link How to Fly Fish


  1. Mathew Brost, Fly rod buyer’s guide, Accessed December 15, 2021
  2. Paul Weamer, fly fishing guide for the upper Delaware river, Accessed December 15, 2021
  3. Cliff Hauptman, How to Fly fish, Accessed December 15, 2021
  4. Wikipedia contributor, Fly rods, Accessed December 15, 2021
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