“What fly rod and line combo do you fish with?”
As a seasoned Montana fly fishing guide, I am frequently asked questions about fly tackle, fly rod reviews, reels and rod and line combinations. client called me recently and said he wanted to buy a new fly rod for his next Montana fishing outing and that the rod I lent him last spring on the Madison was what he had in mind.
“What fly rod and line combo do you fish with?” Kyle asked recalling that rather breezy day last spring on Montana’s’ Madison River. My initial reply was “My buddies that I’m fishing with that day” he laughed and I went on to answering him honestly.
My main rod for fly fishing around southwest Montana, and the rod I lent my client that spring day, is a Sage 9’6″ Z-Axis over-lined with a 7 wt weight forward Rio Grand fly line. Over-lining means to use a line weight heavier than the manufacturer’s suggested line weight. The reel was a boat floor beaten a Ross G series with line grooves in the frame that should be replaced but still holds line and works fine. I explained that Sage had discontinued the Z-Axis and replaced it with “The One”. I have found this to be an an amazingly accurate rod that tracks very straight and has virtually no resilient vibration.
I also like Winston’s Boron BIIIX for handling these situations with a little less weight than the Sage, your shoulder will be thankful at the end of the day. The Winston will also be much more at home delivering a slack line cast with 5x and #18 Parachute Adams than the Sage. But this is more a suggestion on fishing slightly longer, over-lined rods rather than a gear review on a specific product.
A slightly longer rod, nine foot six inches my preference, comes in handy when picking up a cast with a couple weighted nymphs and a bobber (oh I mean indicator) as well as when the day calls for slinging streamer’s. The extra grain weight in over-lining allows anglers to set up the cast with less back casting and delivers that extra ‘thump’ in the turn over. I find we can hit more spots because our flies spend less time in the air being false cast, and that usually results in more fish caught. I can adjust a cast when needed for small dries by stopping my rod a little sooner and setting down the presentation with more slack in the line. Not to confuse matters but I always have a 9′ 5 weight dry fly rod strung and ready in the boat because we do fish dries and It’s my job to be prepared, but if I’m bringing one rod it’s likely to be a 9’6″ 5 or 6 weight over-lined by one line weight with a weight forward line.
In short, the combination of a 9’6″ fly rod loaded with a 7 weight weight forward floating line may seem a bit over-gunned to some but I prefer being little over-gunned adjusting my cast for small dries rather than struggling with a rod that can’t handle the notorious wind that we often encounter on river’s like The Madison, Jefferson, Big Hole and Beaverhead. It made Kyle’s day on The Madison River a lot more productive and fun.
Here’s some links to the products discussed here.