Rods, reels, and line. The basic gear for your fly fishing experience. Guides have their favorites, for sure, and they also have their favorite combinations – a specific rod coupled with a particular reel that’s loaded with their choice of line. And it is difficult to recommend a specific rod, reel, or line – or a combination – because there are so many variables. What type of fishing does the fly fisher want to pursue (stillwater, all dries, streamer, small stream or big river)? How does the angler cast? So, with those variables in mind, here are the Guides’ comments regarding the rods that they use.
Neil Luehring: These days I primarily use Helios, Helios 2, or a Sage One rod. The Helios and H2 rods have one great characteristic that I love: they will throw a short amount of line as well as make long casts. I am a firm believer in making the shortest cast possible to a fish as it minimizes the line control issues and provides for a quicker hook set. I rarely fish over 30 feet of line in our home waters.
David Carragher: The rod I use for day-to day-nymph fishing is the Orvis Helios. Mine is an original Helios 6wt tip flex. I love this rod. It’s lightweight, and it casts beautifully in the wind. For me, it is the best wind rod around.
My Winston rods are used primarily for dry flies although the BIII SX is an all-around rod. In my opinion, the Winston rods are unsurpassed for making short casts to rising fish. They lay the line gently on the water without spooking the fish.
For small streams I love my 3wt. Sage XLT. This rod is on my never-sell list.
Kenny Romero: I use a variety of different rods, reels, and line set ups depending on what type of fishing I'm doing. For the casual fly fisher, you cannot beat an Orvis Clearwater rod and reel set up.
Kenny’s combo: As far as a standard, everyday river and stillwater nymph rig, I prefer a 9 ft. 5 wt Orvis Recon or TFO Lefty Kreh matched with Orvis Hydros or Lamson large arbor reel. When fishing small dries (24 Tricos and midges), I really prefer the Orvis Recon 9 ft 5 weight for its great reflex and sensitivity. I couple those with Orvis Hydros, Scientific Angler Mastery, or Rio Gold WF 5 weight lines.
When fishing small streams like Beaver Creek, or the small streams that flow out of the Sangre De Cristo high mountain lakes like Sand Creek, I use a 3 weight Sage One for the great sensitivity that is just pure fun on small high country cutthroats.
When stripping streamers, I use a 9 ft 6 weight Sage Graphite III for extra casting distance and this rod can handle big Spinney Mountain rainbows and big pike.
Greg Blessing: For rods, I like the Sage ONE and the Sage MOD, the Orvis (H2,Recon), and the Scott (Radian),Winston (Boron). I mostly use 4 weights (depending on the size of river). I lean toward lighter equipment (for women, it's a plus) because there will be fewer fish lost. Fishing the brand names help with people in the know -- beginners watch what we use and want to own the same equipment!
Zack Tokach: Right now I'm a big fan of the Orvis Recon. This rod has a light fast action with a comfortable feel in the hand. What is the benefit of putting that gear into a client’s hand? Confidence! You know they are casting a great rod that will help them get the bug in front of the fish!
Paul Martinez: Well, a question about equipment cannot be answered with one rod/reel/line manufacturer. I use a variety of equipment for different fly fishing situations and conditions.
Martinez Mix: For the most part, I fish in Colorado, and the western U.S., with a 5 & 6 weight Orvis H2 rod with a Mirage lll reel loaded with Hydros HD WF line in a natural willow color. I love the H2 rod series, as they are the lightest rods on the market and very versatile. When you are making a few hundred to a thousand casts in a day, having a light rod sure saves your arm -- and keeps you from having to take Ibuprofen at night. Not only is it light, but the H2 is very versatile. I can cast big heavy weighted nymph rigs, streamers, and then switch to a dry fly rig with a size 22 Trico to make a very delicate cast to picky trout. I love this rod!
Jon Easdon: I fish with a variety of set ups. There are so many great products out there these days. The choices are vast. I’ve been on a 10-footer kick lately. I love the extra length. My go-to daily driver rods are:
10’ 5 weight Sage ONE for standard nymphing/straight lining. The rod is quick but also has enough power to cast through brutal wind. It’s also delicate enough to Czech/straight line nymph effectively.
I have an Orvis Recon 10’ 5 weight for pitching dry flies. It’s kind of funny; I typically use a 9 foot 4 weight for most of my dry fly fishing and last year I was in a situation where I only had access to a 10 footer. I used it and fell in love with it. Nothing like throwing huge dries 75 feet out on stillwater. It does well in the river, too. The Recon loads exceptionally well and has great power in the sweet spot. It’s a very comfortable rod in hand.
For streamers, my go-to is an Orvis H2 6 weight tip flex. This thing tosses big and small streamers with ease. It’s got a great backbone for fighting fish, too.
This Saturday, at the Colorado Springs Fly Fishing Show, you have a chance to win a new Sage MOD fly rod (retail value $850.00). Check it out in this video:
301 Fly Tying with Greg Blessing: Colorado Guide flies, Part 1
Fy Tying with Juan Ramirez. Caddis