View Full Version : Small stream rods - What weight do you use most?

05-06-2011, 12:44 PM
So, it's a simple question: What weight rod is your most often used on your favorite small stream?

05-06-2011, 01:04 PM
I use a tenkara rod most, followed by a zero weight.

05-06-2011, 04:01 PM
I pretty much always use a 5 wt due to constant winds and versatility.

05-07-2011, 03:57 PM
Gus, back East, a small stream can be a small river to some in the West. Small stream is relative to the person who you are targeting. A small stream to me is about 6' across. A stream is less than 20' across and a small river is something wider than that.

05-07-2011, 06:52 PM
Totally get that... Of course, when I think river, I think 2000CFS on a slow day... :) it's all relative, I suppose. Either way, I think up to 5wt covers it, don't you? Maybe up to 6?

05-10-2011, 06:32 AM
It is a simple question, and a good question, but I start at the other end of things to answer it.

When I get a look at the stream, usually from a road crossing, I'll decide which type of fly I will use. It depends on the time of the year, the time of the day, and the look of the water. Sometimes it's a big streamer, sometimes a soft hackle, sometimes a small dry fly. Then I'll choose a reel with a line and leader that will deliver the preferred fly accurately at the distances I expect to cast. I do like a light line, but they aren't very efficient with a size 6 weighted streamer, and I don't like to spend the time it takes to pick the streamer out of the back of my hat.

When I have the flies, leader, line, and reel figured out, I'll pick a rod to match. Slower and shorter for calm days and short accurate casts, faster and longer for windy conditions and longer casts.

For my favorite small stream I voted for a 3 wt rod, and I have two bamboo rods under 7 feet that do just fine. A 3 wt is what I use the most. But if I guess wrong on the fishing at the beginning of the day, I'm not adverse to going back to the truck for a 4 or 5 wt outfit.

05-11-2011, 04:56 AM
I tested different rods the last years.
For my way of fishing and my favourite small stream a class 4 cane rod between 5' and 6' does the best job.
Maybe a class 3 cane rod would be also great. This has to be tested as soon as I find a matching rod.

05-12-2011, 09:30 AM
It's a tie between a 4wt and a 5wt for me.

05-12-2011, 10:11 PM
Mostly 4wt - 75% and 3wt the other 25%.

05-13-2011, 01:03 PM
i usually use my specially commissioned Garrison taper 7 foot for 4# bamboo of course, matched to a 5# line sometimes, sometimes a 4#.

For bigger days it's a Hardy Palakona Perfection 8.5 5# or even today i used Hardy Palakona Perfection 9 foot 5# both use a Cortland Sylh wf 6#.

my utility rod is a Loop Multi 9' 4# with a Mastery xps wf4# & Hardy Marquis.

05-14-2011, 04:36 PM
In the Sierra , I consider a small stream to be 4 to 30' accross...but when 30' across we are talking 6" to 12" deep...spring fed . or a low CFS ( under 400 ) freestone... Gus , if you fished , when growing up , you might remember the Clavey , ( off 108 ) or Beaver Creek off 4...A Stream , to me is the same width , with more water ( deeper ) and faster...
I use a 2 Wt as much as possible... graduating to a 4wt when I have to...The Fall , Hat , Hot , Owens etc

05-16-2011, 05:30 PM
I use an 8ft 4wt Diamondglass rod mostly. The next two most used rods are an early model Orvis 7ft 9in 2wt and a Di-glass 6ft 6in 3wt. For bigger water I might bust out my custom built 8ft 9in 3wt built on a Shikari blank.

05-17-2011, 08:27 AM
Our streams are tiny, tiny flys, small fish, super light lines...

If I had only one choice, it would be a eight foot four weight in four piece.

That would suffice for most water, flys, fish.

Otherwise I use a 9', 11', or 12' 7 to 10 section 6:4 or 7:3 light action Japanese crafted tenkara rod and reversed hackle wet flys.

...and I am brewing lunch streamside.

Fishing solo.

Sharing again, my experiences here.

05-18-2011, 07:31 AM

Wow you guys use heavy lines on the streams! I never go above a #3,weight on any stream! Usually alternate between #2, and #3, weight lines with 6ft, and 7ft rods!

On large rivers I'd use a #4, weight and that's my heaviest line.

05-20-2011, 08:27 AM

I voted for the 3 wt. I share your preference for light lines, but I always keep the option of going larger.

Yesterday after work I visited for the first time a small stream near our new home. The water was high and fast. It is a mean looking place to fish. There is a lot of wood in the water, creating log jams over the best trout living quarters. There are lots of overhanging trees to make casting difficult. I opted for the 5 wt yesterday, because the best way to fish was to hang a streamer under the logs from the upstream side. I'm glad I took the 5. The fishing started slow, but as the evening wore on I caught a number of browns of about ten or eleven inches, and one of fourteen inches. To land them, I had to drag the fish out from under the logs and upstream through heavy currents. One of my 5 wt workhorse rods was a better choice than one of the 3 wt bamboo rods.

Another day I got to a popular stream and found it in near flood stage. I decided to fish anyway, and pulled out a 6 wt graphite rod to cast four inch long streamers. I thought the big streamers would be necessary in the high dirty water. I didn't catch a lot of fish, but I got three between 14 and 20 inches, which were pretty big for this little stream. I found two guys camping in a farmer's pasture. They were rigged up for the small hatches that are common in that month. Most of the time, a 3 wt rod would be fine there. On that day, the campers weren't catching a thing, because they couldn't respond to the stream conditions.

A 3 wt is a delight to use, and I've caught some big fish with my little rods. It's not the size of the fish or the size of the stream that determines the line weight for me; it's the size of the fly and the presentation method. I come across many different fishing conditions, and I want to be able to adjust.


06-04-2011, 10:52 PM
2wt... if it's windy i'll use my 5wt if i cannot find a stream that is sheltered by a bluff blocking the direction of the wind

06-14-2011, 08:05 PM
I'm a real newbie and I only have one rod, a 5 wt that I built. I wanted to know what went into building a rod so I could assess the quality of a mass build when I can afford a new stick. I'd like to get a 3 wt as my next rod. The streams I fish are about 20 feet wide and mostly slow (no real hills in Delaware!).


07-21-2011, 11:41 PM
I use a 5/6 weight Graphite. Once I get my 4weight Boo rod finished (reel seat, wrapped, & dipped), it will be my small stream rod !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

07-22-2011, 03:52 AM
I'm a real newbie and I only have one rod, a 5 wt that I built. I wanted to know what went into building a rod so I could assess the quality of a mass build when I can afford a new stick. I'd like to get a 3 wt as my next rod. The streams I fish are about 20 feet wide and mostly slow (no real hills in Delaware!).



My respect to someone who only has one rod; and who has made it himself! Good luck with the #3, weight, are you making that one also? I'd like to try a 6ft.6in #1, weight rod, I love the feeling of fishing with a lightweight rod and line!

07-22-2011, 06:38 AM
I agree with Mostyn, light on the small streams is the ultimate.
I fish some very small waters and have fished different weight, and length rods. I purchased a TFO, 6ft 2wt and it is a dream.
I have only had this rod a few months, but it's been used a great deal, and I love it.

Brk Trt

Apache Trout
07-22-2011, 07:44 AM
I have two Hardy Glass 3 weights that I like to fish on small streams, a 6 footer & a 7 footer.

08-27-2011, 03:11 PM
I fish a 3 wt. alot 7'10 scott rod that I built and a 7' bamboo 4 wt. a garrison 201 that I bought as a blank and completed it. I also fis a 7' 4wt. TL Johon fiberglass that I also built from a blank.

j.k 8
08-27-2011, 04:51 PM
I use a 4 wt right now and that seems to be a great option for the driftless area streams, but im looking to purchase a 2wt for smaller streams and some bluegill fishing, but my 8' 4wt works great right now

08-28-2011, 12:16 AM
I mostly fish a pair of 4 weights, a WW Grigg 8 footer, and a Cabela's 8'6". The Grigg is usually fished with a #3 double taper, the Cabela's a #5 WF line. The Grigg usually sees more dry fly, or small wet/nymph work, while the Cabela's will handle larger nymphs and streamers, as well as dries and wets.

09-22-2011, 03:10 AM
Over the years I have tried many rods and reel combinations, split cane, fibre glass and now carbon fiber. Should I have to choose an all round rod for all the small streams I have fished for over sixty years I would choose an 8ft 6in medium action carbon fiber 5wt with a dull colour DT line very carfully matched to the rod. As most casting is less than 10 meters a 6wt is often the first choice as the rod is more easily loaded with an over weighted line. Only on very small streams which are heavily overgrown is a short rod neccessary and one that I have in mind I used a 6ft 6in split cane rod in the tunnel of trees that overhung the water. That was until I hooked a small salmon which smashed rod line and all. This only goes to show that small streams at certain times of year can hold some very large fish. My daughter has a rather nice expression which fitts this thread "What ever floats your boat is the best!"

Big C
12-14-2011, 06:17 PM
My western rods are 4 and 5 wt. Mostly fish with these Tenkara rods, 11 ft Iwana, 13 ft Amago. Put in for an Ito that is adjustable from 13 to 14.7 with Santa...

12-15-2011, 05:02 PM
I put a 2 weight (6') but that is what I would use for a stream that I think I could jump almost 2/3 of the way across and maybe a bit bigger. For anything larger normally a #5 (8'6"). I do have a #7/8 in 10'6" that i use for sea trout.

01-13-2012, 12:54 AM
For me 4wt does the good work. and sometime 5wt too :)

01-13-2012, 07:57 AM
I have a 7 foot TFO 3 weight that I love. I can roll cast it with ease...I have a SA 678 system 1 reel on there loaded with a 4weight wf Lefty Kreh moss green line. Gives me the most options from tossing a small dry to a mid-sized streamer...

Frankly this rod is becoming my go to on most streams and rivers now. If I can't reach a fish with this rod I either move or just tip my hat and find another.

01-13-2012, 12:42 PM
It really depends on the rod that we are using. it looks like 3wt, 4wt and 5wt is the most used.

01-20-2012, 03:50 PM
Love my 2wt. I have a 3wt. and a 5wt. and haven't fished the 5wt. in at least two years. I might drag it out if I go for steelhead yet this year. Then again, the steelhead in the Rocky River (Ohio) aren't too big for a properly rigged 3wt.

03-20-2012, 05:29 AM
I haven't been able to get out yet. Last season I started using my 8ft 5wt Di-glass rod with a DT5 Sylk line. It has taken a while to get used to that slow of a rod. There are two beautiful small creeks that wind all through the area I cover on my school bus runs, what a tease!

07-28-2012, 11:20 AM
If I never fished anything orthe than a single dry fly, I would use a #3, but since I often use a dropper or a weighted fly, I use a #4. My favorite is an ACR, but I also like the new Aleka, which I used a lot this summer.


09-25-2012, 03:19 PM
This year it has been a 7' 1wt with Hardy Fly-weight reel. Last year it was mostly a St Croix 2wt.

10-01-2012, 08:14 PM
Orvis Silver Label 804 (8' 4wt) here for me, (most of my fishing is on small to medium streams...)
Mike B
When in backwoods, an original Orvis One-weight, (which is a bit more like a two, really).

10-01-2012, 09:30 PM
For small water a hollowbuilt Bamboo 7'10" 3pc 3wt. Nothing like cane...

10-02-2012, 11:08 AM
Hollowbuilt... one of Chris Raine's works of art??