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What is a fly rod?
Fly rods are fishing rods built specifically for fly-fishing and are similar to any fishing rod in many ways, but also very different
The guides are often very small and mounted close to the blank - the rod itself - and the reel seat is located at the very lower end of the rod, below the handle when you hold the rod upright. The reel is mounted here to create balance in the rod when it's used, and the reel is not used as a baitcasting or spinning reel to pull in line when fishing. Many fly-anglers pull line off the reel when they start fishing and don't wind it back on the reel until they are done for the day.
Rods for the lowest line classes 0, 1 and 2 are rods for small flies on light lines aimed at small fish on small waters.
Rods for the highest line classes over 10 and 11 are mainly used for larger fish in larger waters - either saltwater rods for tarpon, tuna, billfish and other large species or salmon rods used for large salmon and steelhead on large rivers.
The most common line classes range from 3 and 4 to about 8 and 9.
Some rods are specified to be useful for several line classes like a 3-4 weight or a 10-11 weight, which has enough leeway to handle several different line classes. Since neither rods nor lines are scientifically calibrated, matching rod and line is often a question of trying it out rather than trusting the indicated weights.
Some manufacturers also write a recommended casting weight in ounces and grams on their rods, but these numbers can be hard to use unless you know exactly what your fly line weighs.
The most common rod lengths are 7-8-9 feet, and rods in this length are useful in most places for the most common kinds of fishing. Rods can also be measured in half feet and sometimes in inches.
The rod is almost always made from several pieces (sections) that connect via ferrules (joints). The number of sections vary, but 2 and 4 piece rods are the most common.
Rod specifications can be written in different ways.
A 6' 2 pc. #4 rod would cast a 4 weight line, be 6 feet or 1.8 meters long and break down to two pieces for transport and storage.
A 6-7 weight 9'4" 3 piece rod is meant to cast a 6 or a 7 weight line and is 9 feet and 4 inches long or about 2.8 meters long and can be taken apart into three sections.
The vast majority of modern fly rods are made from carbon fiber like all other fishing rods, but some fly rods are made from glass fiber or bamboo.
The handles are almost exclusively made from cork, sometimes mixed with so called burl - cork mass in different colors - but very rarely made from neoprene as it's often seen on spinning rods. The handle shape varies depending on the rod weight and usage and on the preference of the angler.
Fly-rods are almost always more expensive than spinning rods of the same length and basic construction. Mainly because they are made by hand in smaller numbers by smaller manufacturers, but also because fly-anglers seem willing to pay more for their gear than most anglers.