Nobody can know what is best for you better than you, but it certainly helps to do some research and cast various setups before buying. The information outlined is specific to fishing in Florida but can easily be applied to many different scenarios. Also note, this is based off experience, but is still an opinion!
To help narrow down the ranges provided in each location, first consider these factors:
What is the experience level of the angler?
A beginner is usually looking for a good all-around rod, in which case the go-to is an 8 weight. Keep in mind when choosing a size that the lighter rods can be more challenging to cast for a beginner. In addition, beginners are generally able to cast fly lines with shorter head lengths more efficiently than other options (ex. Rio Bonefish QuickShooter, Rio Summer Redfish, Wulff Bermuda Triangle, Cortland Guide).
If the angler has any experience casting, they may be able to determine whether they are a more aggressive caster in need of a faster action, a less aggressive caster in need of a slower action, or someone in the middle. With that information, it’s possible to narrow down your options based on the action of the rod:
- Very Fast Action: Sage Igniter, G Loomis NRX, Waterworks Lamson
- Fast Action: Douglas Sky, Sage Salt HD, G Loomis Asquith, Redington Path, Redington Predator
- Moderately Fast Action: Sage X, Sage Motive, G Loomis IMX Pro
What will the weather conditions be?
This is easier to answer when there is a trip in mind, but is also important when trying to choose a year-round setup. When fishing windier conditions, throwing a heavier fly line with a shorter head length (ex. Rio Bonefish QuickShooter, Rio Summer Redfish, Wulff Bermuda Triangle, Cortland Guide) and a heavier rod that can carry these lines is ideal.
On the flip side, what about those slick calm days? Reach for a fly line with a longer front taper (ex. Rio DirectCore Bonefish, Cortland Tropic Plus Bonefish) for a softer presentation, a lighter fly, and a lighter rod.
What size fly will you be throwing?
Flies can range from tiny foam ants to large baitfish flies without traveling far in this region. Take into consideration the size, aerodynamics, and weight of the flies that will be used and choose a rod proportionately. For example, the average Snook can be caught on an 8 weight without any issues but if you’re trying to throw a large baitfish fly that is not very aerodynamic, you’ll want to bump up to a 9 weight to effectively turn the fly over. Also note, the larger flies turn over better with a fly line that has a shorter head length and the smaller flies work best with a longer front taper.
Where will you be fishing?
The ranges provided below can be narrowed down when answering the questions above.
When targeting fish such as Snook, Redfish, Seatrout, small Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit, etc., a rod can range from a size 5 to a 12 weight; the more common sizes being sizes a 7-9 weight. The heavier sizes 10-12 are ideal for areas with bigger Tarpon, areas with obstacles such as docks that you may have to fight around, and for scenarios where you would be casting at larger fish on the flats such as Cobia and large Permit. The lighter sizes 5-6 can be used to help with landing the line on the water softer when the fish are easily spooked. Also note, the smaller sizes take much less effort to cast but may require more skill.
There is an abundance of species that can be targeted in the surf, and the beaches of Florida are very different on the west coast versus the east coast. Rod sizes can range from a 6 weight through a 12 weight; the most common sizes being an 8-9 weight. The heavier sizes 10-12 are ideal when targeting large Tarpon, Snook, Jack Crevalle, etc. and the lighter sizes 6-7 are for smaller fish eating smaller flies and closer to shore. As far as lines go, an intermediate line is a great all around line to fish the surf with but when fishing shallower or calmer water (such as the Gulf in many areas) a floating line may be more fitting.
Two-handed rods (aka Spey rods) can be very useful when fishing from the beach. They take much less effort and cast much further than a single handed fly rod. Also, large baitfish flies are commonly used when fishing the beach and these rods can handle the task of turning these flies over much better than a single handed rod of the same weight. There are fly lines with shooting heads specifically designed for two handed rods that would be recommended to use even though a Spey cast isn’t often used on the Florida beaches.
It would be difficult to choose an all-around rod size for near shore unless a target fish is in mind but we can say an intermediate fly line is a good choice. Rod sizes can range from an 8 weight to a 12 weight. The lighter sizes 8-10 would be for smaller fish such as Spanish Mackerel or smaller Jack Crevalle and Bonita ( False Albacore ). The heavier sizes 10-12 would be more appropriate for Tarpon, Kingfish, and Cobia. Also note, when targeting fish that are eating on the surface, a floating line may be a better choice.
Storage can be tricky, but if there’s room, at least a 10 weight will be required. When targeting Dolphin, Kingfish, Blackfin Tuna, Sailfish, etc. a 10-12 weight with an intermediate line should suffice. Bigger species such as Yellowfin Tuna and Marlin need a 14 weight or better and generally a fast sinking line. At this point in the game, things are getting pretty technical and calling the shop is highly recommended!
Freshwater excursions in various ponds, canals, and ditches AKA ditch hopping. The bodies of water are much smaller, as are the fish, so the rod range is only a 5 weight to an 8 weight. As mentioned previously, smaller rods take less effort but more skill to cast so keep that in mind when choosing a size. Also mentioned, an 8 weight is a great all-around rod if flats fishing is a possibility. On the other hand, if ditch hopping is the only purpose of the setup, sizes 6-7 is the most popular.
What about the reel???
Up to this point, choosing a reel hasn’t been mentioned because the size is determined by the size of the rod. We carry brands that we believe to be the best quality and most fitting for our region. Often times customers decide based on their price range and as expected, the higher the quality, the higher the cost. Many people have personal preferences but that is something the individual must decide for themselves. Figure out what is most important (ie. price, weight, ability to disassemble, drag) and research (calling us counts as research 772-492-6203) which reel will fulfill your specific needs.