As Christmas rapidly approaches, many people are trying to find that perfect gift for the angler on their list.
In last week’s column I suggested giving flies as a Christmas gift. I stated that flies could be a relatively inexpensive gift that would always be appreciated by any angler. Since then a number of people have also asked me about giving a fly rod as a gift. The answer is not all that simple.
First of all, it depends on the species of fish an angler will be pursuing, the size and type of flies they will be casting and the waters they will be fishing.
Then there’s the question of whether the angler (intended recipient) prefers to fish lakes or streams, from a boat, from shore, will they be after big fish, small fish?
In general, longer rods are better for larger waters, shorter rods for smaller waters. Rods of the same length can be designed to cast lighter or heavier lines. But not both. A rod with a three-weight designation is designed specifically to cast a three-weight line. Just as an eight-weight rod is for designed to cast an eight weight line.
A three- or four-weight rod is more appropriate for catching smaller fish such as small rainbow or cutthroat trout in small streams, while a six-weight rod would be required to handle larger rainbows in lakes and rivers. And an eight- or nine-weight is required for fish such as salmon and steelhead, and so on.
There are an endless number of rods designed to cast different line weights on different types of water for different species of fish. The choices are many and varied. That is why it is important to determine, beforehand, what kind of fishing the intended recipient will be doing.
Quite simply, there is no one rod that will allow you to fish all waters and situations. Now having said that, if I could only pick one rod, it would most likely be a nine-foot six-weight rod.
A nine-foot six-weight would certainly be more than adequate for most Interior lakes and streams. It will allow an angler to cast large caddis flies a fair distance in windy conditions while still allowing them to present small, dry flies to cautious fish feeding on the surface.
Also, just as different rods have different casting characteristics, different anglers have different casting strokes and different capabilities.
If possible, try a rod out before buying it. Better yet, have the recipient try it out, even though that may take all the surprise out of your gift. In the long run, it is better to invest money in one good rod right from the beginning.
Good-quality rods come with good warranties. We all make mistakes with our gear and it can be comforting to know that an expensive rod will be replaced by the manufacturer if damaged.
Like I said, choosing the right rod is not a simple matter. The thing is to choose a rod that will allow an angler to play a fish, control it and bring it in as quickly as possible so that it can be released back into the water.
Remember that there is little sport in catching 12- to 14-inch rainbows on an eight-weight, and they will only be stressing and harming the fish if they end up overplaying a five-pound rainbow on a three-weight rod.
When it comes right down to it, the trick is to ask the right questions and get answers before spending your hard-earned money on a fly rod as a gift.
We are lucky to have a good local tackle store where the employees will be able to answer your questions and give proper advice.
In the end, if you are satisfied with your purchase, the recipient of your gift will most likely also be just as satisfied.