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sweetdaddyjones 11-09-2005 02:55 PM

New fly fisherman
I have never fly fished, but I am looking to get into it this fall. My main application will be brookies in small/ shallow mountain streams, although I may use it for river smallies from time to time. I'm hoping to stay at or below $200 on this rig, although I can be persuaded to spend a little more if there really is a benefit that is noticeable for a beginner.

The guy in the BPS fly shop said I should go with an 8'6" rod with 5 line weight and pointed me to a White River combo for $75. Is the White River worth anything, or can I get something noticeably better within my price range? How does the St. Croix Premier and the entry level Orvis stack up to others in their price range?

I've been reading up on tackle, and I have learned that reels aren't very important when fishing for small fish. The native brookies I will be fishing for tend to be pretty small (9-12"), so I plan to get a Pflueger Medalist or something similar, based on how much I spend on the rod and line.

As for line, I know absolutely nothing. Being used to spending $5.99 for a spool of Trilene mono for my baitcast and spinning rigs, I was pretty shocked to see the price of fly line. If you have any advice to offer in this regard, I'm all ears.

Thanks for any and all advice you can pass along.

griz 11-10-2005 12:38 AM

I'd say you are on the right track.

A 5 wt rod 8 1/2 ft would be a good all around choice for small mtn streams. The St. Croix Premier would be my recommendation. I've been fishing mostly with St. Croix rods since I started fly fishing. Even the lower end ones have served me well. Since you are planning on mountain streams and will be hiking allot, I would strongly recommend a 4 pc rod vs a 2 pc. rod. You can break them down and hike with them on the outside of your backpack quite nicely.

A plfueger will serve you well for your purpose. I have quite a few of them as back up reels with back up lines on them. Usually when a line needs replacing but is still servicable, I'll get another medalist and throw the old line on it. Comes in handy when a friend or two wants to try out fly fishing one weekend or just to have spares around on remote trips.

A good line is probably the most important thing you will buy,in my opinion. Worth the $ to get cortland or similar quality line. Also, it's worth getting good tippet material. I use climax or umpqua. Climax has great color.

FlyfishingItaly 11-10-2005 08:34 AM

I take it your already a fisherman and knew flyfishing from before you thought on picking it up. I'm thinking not a quiter either and flyfishing wasn't thought up as a whim for this fall. $200 bucks can be alot for a whim, see and if not go for a St. Croix Ultra series. St. Croix has a life time first owner warrenty and you won't regret the rod for as long as you use it. They're right up there with every other top end rod on the market.
Asyour completely new I'll add this quick note:
If you take care of your gear you'll use only 1 single rod for the rest of your life.
here's a link to maintenance on

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sweetdaddyjones 11-10-2005 01:05 PM

I take it that Pflueger and St. Croix are as good a value for fly fishing gear as they are for spinning/ baitcasting tackle. Thus, I will undoubtedly go with that since I've had such good luck with those brands in the past. Yes, I'm already a fisherman and no, this isn't a whim. However, I'm not ready to throw down $300 for a Legend, because, after all, I've never done any fly fishing, and I may end up hating it, although I highly doubt it. For the lifetime guarantee alone, I may consider moving up to the Avid though, assuming the guarantees are the same for fly rods as they are for spinning rods.

A question about 4 pc. vs. 2 pc: On spinning rods, the 2-piece rods are considered inferior to the 1-piece rods because of loss of feel. However, I've noticed that the 4-piece fly rods tend to be more expensive than the 2-piece rods. How do the 2 fly rod types compare as far as feel? Or is that not as big an issue in fly fishing since I won't be bumping lures off the bottom of the river?

Thanks again for the input.

FlyfishingItaly 11-10-2005 01:25 PM

Here's a thought ...
AFT865 8' 6" 5wt 4pc Mod. Fast 3.30 oz $210.00

griz 11-10-2005 02:03 PM

Since the St. Criox warranty has been mentioned a couple times I thougt I would mention this ...

About 10 years ago I broke my St. Croix rod being stupid. They replaced the broken section w/o question. However, last year my dad's St. Croix rod broke in the same way for no good reason. Just setting up on a fish in a normal way. St. Croix gave a real song and dance and said his rod never came with a lifetime warranty and was void after ten years or something like that. It was real BS on their part. They did sell him a new rod for 50% off. So save your hang tags from the rod that say lifetime warranty on them for sure so if they try it on you then you will have some ammo against them.Not totally awful experience but a little lame on their part. He got a good new rod for less than $100 but having a company deny their warranty is weak to say the least. I still recommend the rods due to price and general quality but I do think allot less of the company than before that incident.

4pc vs 2 pc feel... hard for me to say. The ease of backpacking with a 4 pc outweighs any slight difference in feel. I suspect the price difference is the extra labor of making a 4 pc but I'm not a rod maker.

BigDave 11-10-2005 02:12 PM

You will be fine with the medalist or sci anglers reel for trout.

You might want to look at the Temple Forks Outfitters Professional Series rods. I think they go for $120 or so. Google it and you will see how popular they are. Lots of bang for the buck and a great warrantee.

Number of peices is not much of a factor in terms of performance anymore. Many of the top-end models only come in 4pc.

flytyer 11-10-2005 06:43 PM


I grew up in northeast PA and did a lot of fishing in the type of small, mountain streams you are going to be fishing brookies in. I mention this because I disagree with the recommendation of an 8'6" rod because you will find it getting in the branches overhead the vast majority of the time in those streams. You already know how the trees form a canopy over the streams from your spin fishing, imagine what it would be like trying to use an 8'6" spinning rod on those streams.

Therefore, You would be far better off with a 7'6" 5 wt rod because it will prove to be less of a problem with the tree canopy on those small streams you will be spending most of your time on. And at 7'6", it will allow you to fish a larger river for smallmouth. When I lived in northeast PA, the rod I used most of the time was a 7'6" 6 wt because I fished those small streams 75% of the time. I used the rod on the Delaware (a very big river) and even on the Susquahanna (a huge river that is over 1 mile wide) for smallmouth.

The above is why I think you'd be much better served and happier with a 7'6" 5 wt. And you don't need a St. Croix Advid series rod as a beginner. The St. Croix Imperial series, TFO, ECHO, Redington, and Lamiglas G1000 are all very good rods that sell for between $75.00 and $150.00. Loomis and Redington (the RedStart series) sell a complete fly fishing package for under $200.00 that will include a rod, line, reel, backing, and leader (unfortunately the Loomis 7'6" one is a 4 wt) and you can often find shops (including BPS) selling St. Croix Imperial series rods or TFO rods as a package that includes reel, line, backing, and leader for under $200.00.

The Pfleuger Medalist reel at one time (back in the 50's through the 70's) was considered to be one of the best reels. Joe Brooks even used them to catch 100# tarpon. Although they are no longer considered to be among the best reels, they are still a good value. Martin is another reel make that you might consider looking into, they are excellent values as are Okuma, Scientific Anglers Concept reels, and the low-priced reels Cortland offers.

If you don't buy one of the packages that include a fly line, RIO, Scientific Anglers, and Cortland all offer an excellent beginner's fly line that are built on tapers specifically designed to help a new fly caster develop good technique. These lines sell for around $25.00 and a WF 5 to match the 5 wt rod is the way to go.

sweetdaddyjones 11-11-2005 12:26 PM

Yeah, I backed off the Avid idea pretty quickly when I saw that it was so much more expensive than its spinning counterpart. I guess the Imperial is St. Croix's flyrod offering in that price range. Thanks for the suggestion of the 7'6". Getting hung up in stream-side flora is a concern I have. Why would the shorter rod be better for smallies?

By the way, I fished the Susquehanna on a 2-day float trip this summer. The fishing was extremely slow on Saturday because of the mysterious fish kill occurring on that river among others in the region, but it picked up some on Sunday. That is a great river.

flytyer 11-11-2005 02:01 PM

The longer rod would be better for smallies; but the biggest consideration if you are only going to get one rod (which is a good idea by the way when you are starting out in fly fishing) is to have something that will work better on the small streams you mentioned you will be fishing most with it. The longer 8'6"-10' rods would be better on the larger streams and rivers for smallies; but they will get hung up in the tree branche canopy a lot on the small streams in your area.

A shorter rod can always be used on bigger water; but a long rod cannot always be used on a small stream with a tree canopy like those in the Allegheny Mountains.

I strongly suspect the fish kill on the rivers was due to very high water temps due to the high air temps (it was in the mid-90's to low 100's each day we were there and lower than normal rainfall this past summer. My family and I visited my father the last week of July and the air temps were very high. Dad told us it had been like that since early June, so the river temps would have been very high with the low water and high air temps that had lasted for all those weeks.

Since you fished the Susquahanna, you know how large a river it is. It is also an excellent smallmouth fishery. Despite its size, I was able to fish it effectively with the Fenwick glass 7'6" 6 wt rod I bought when 15 and used through college.

As a point of reference, that Fenwick rod, one of the best glass rods on the market at the time, was $90.00 in 1968 when I bought it (in today's equivalent dollars it would be about $350.00) and it took a lot of hours working for $1.50/hr to get the $90.00 to buy it back in 1968. Now there are rods on the market for the same or even a little less that are as good as or better than that Fenwick and it takes fewer hours of work to be able to get the $90.00 together to get one. Newcomers to fly fishing are entering it at a time when there are some very nice rods on the market for rather low prices compared to 30 or more years ago.

Dble Haul 11-11-2005 02:43 PM

The fish kills on the Susquahanna this season are being blamed on very warm water and an unusually high amount of fertilizer runoff into the river. Interesting though how the smallmouth bass were affected far, far more than any of the largemouth bass in the river system.

I agree with the shorter rod length for fishing the small streams with tree canopies. It can be done with a longer rod, but that would involve choking up on the rod to effectively shorten it in those situations, and this is not easy for a beginner.

Good luck, and have fun.

sweetdaddyjones 11-14-2005 10:56 AM

I went to the BPS this weekend to buy a rod. However, they didn't have any 5 wt. rods smaller than 8'6". Would I be able to do any smallie fishing on a 4 wt. rod, or am I going to have to choose between fishing for trout and panfish only vs. getting my rod stuck in the trees on the small streams? Or, can someone point me to a good 7'6" 5 wt. rod? Neither Temple Forks nor St. Croix makes one.

flytyer 11-18-2005 12:29 AM


TFO makes a 7'6" 5 wt, it is model #TFO 5-76-4P and has a retail price of $139.95. It is one of their professional series rods.

teflon_jones 11-18-2005 01:30 AM


Originally Posted by sweetdaddyjones
Would I be able to do any smallie fishing on a 4 wt. rod, or am I going to have to choose between fishing for trout and panfish only vs. getting my rod stuck in the trees on the small streams?

You'll be fine with a 4 wt for smallmouth. I landed a number of 3 pd river smallies on my 7'6 4 wt this summer in Maine. I couple were pushing 4 pds too. The only thing that was difficult was bringing the bigger smallies to me right in the current where I was casting from. I had to back up into shallower/slower water to land the fish because the 4 wt lacked the muscle to pull them upriver to me in the current.

A 5 wt would have been a better rod, but a 4 wt makes a 3 pd smallie feel like the fish of a lifetime, and a 4 pd fish is just unreal!

flytie 01-21-2006 07:33 PM

Fly Rod Under $100
A buddy of mine bought his first fly rod from Cabela's..... the 5 piece Stowaway. I wasn't sure how it would handle due to the 5 pieces, but I must say.... I was pretty impressed. I ended up owning 2 stowaways and love them. I originally bought them for my so-called "trash rods" (something that I could throw behind the seat of my truck).... They are proving themselves to be better than I expected.

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