Fly Fishing Set-up for backpacking... Not Tenkara

topher89

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Hey dudes,

I am looking to put together a fly fishing set up for the backcountry. Not interested in Tenkara. I have tried it and while its enjoyable for the most part, I have not enjoyed maneuvering 12 feet of rod through brushy creeks or trying to use it on bigger lakes.

I am having trouble deciding on a rod though. My backpacking has been pretty evenly split between high alpine lakes and areas with small streams/beaver ponds. I currently have a 9ft 5wt rod. I feel like this is a good choice for the high lakes and does fine on the small streams.

I want to get a shorter, lighter set up for small streams and beaver ponds, that could also be used out on the lakes from time to time.

I have been thinking about a 3wt somewhere between 7 and 8 feet but I am worried that it won't be able to handle a dry dropper rig. Are 3wts one fly only rods? Or do they have enough backbone to throw out a Copper John trailing a dry? Should I go with a 4wt?

Thanks!
 

Jason Snyder

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A lot of that depends on the action of the rod. A slower action 3 weight isn't going to work well with a dropper. However, a faster action 8-9 footer might do the trick. A 4 weight will certainly be more versatile for double fly rigs. I have an older Sage 8' 4wt (Light line model) and I can throw a double fly rig with it. I also have a 8'9" 3 weight (also a LL model). I could do a double fly rig with it, but you'll need to be a really good caster and have some room behind you to work with.
 

clip

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Ohio
I have a 3wt in my truck at all times, but it's an 8'6". I've never hesitate using 2 flies depending on conditions,and a dry and weighted midge are certainly doable. like most things in hunting/fishing it's a trade off and not perfect.
 
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topher89

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Thanks for the feedback so far. I am probably overthinking this. When I fish high streams and beaver ponds, it is all dry fly or terrestrials. A 3wt can definitely handle that. I should probably use the 3wt when I will be around streams and the 5wt for high lakes, windy days and the bigger rivers I can drive up to.

Keep the thoughts coming!
 

bhylton

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cabelas stowaway 6. its a 6 piece rod that has many many options for length and weight. breaks down to like 15 or 18inches long maybe 120 with a reel???
 
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Fjelljeger

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Alaska
Another user of the Cabelas Stowaway 6. Have one in 8'6" and 9'. 5-6wt. Those are the only fly rods we currently have. Good for traveling and normal use.....for a beginners like us.
 

oldgoat

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Arvada, CO
I have an old 3 weight 2piece rod that's only 6ft long and it's one of my favorite rods! Last year though I bought a 7 or 8ft Redington think it was and it's a 4 piece and it worked great back packing. It didn't break the bank either! I'd love to have a short tenkara style with a beefier tip section for dabbing in the Creeks!
 

KH_bowfly

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Nov 1, 2014
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Vancouver, WA
I usually use a 2 or 4 wt rod in the backcountry, depending on the trip. I really like the two weight (I'm biased because I built it - TFO Lefty Kreh finesse series I think) but use the 4 (cabelas - forget the model) if I'm going to a lake and want a bit more distance on my cast. I also have a cabelas 6 wt stowaway I built that I'll take if it's a bigger lake and windy - I find I don't use my 6 often.


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Texasraised

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My sage and my TFO came in a carry tube that slides nicely in my kifaru side pocket.


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FreeRange

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A change I've made over the years and I've convinced some guys of is that for small water a 9' rod can still be the right choice. If you change your approach from wanting a shorter rod you can cast on small water to a longer rod you can high stick or dab more easily it will result in better presentation and less flies snagged on the bank. And of course once you get out on an alpine lake you'll be happy with the 9' stick. While I love nothing more than fishing dries on small streams with my 7.5' 3 wt, it's not what I take when I might need it to pull double duty on lakes and streams in the high country with the occasional streamer thrown in for big hungry goldens. A 9' 4wt is what I end up grabbing most often as a do-all rod.
 
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topher89

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A change I've made over the years and I've convinced some guys of is that for small water a 9' rod can still be the right choice. If you change your approach from wanting a shorter rod you can cast on small water to a longer rod you can high stick or dab more easily it will result in better presentation and less flies snagged on the bank. And of course once you get out on an alpine lake you'll be happy with the 9' stick. While I love nothing more than fishing dries on small streams with my 7.5' 3 wt, it's not what I take when I might need it to pull double duty on lakes and streams in the high country with the occasional streamer thrown in for big hungry goldens. A 9' 4wt is what I end up grabbing most often as a do-all rod.
You summed up my dilemma... do I buy a "specialized" 3wt that I use to fish dries on small streams or something a little more general like a 8-9ft 4wt that can pull double duty when I need it to?

Part of my dilemma is that my 5wt is a one of those Orvis Encounter beginner set-ups. I love it, I learned to fly fish on it and I have never had a problem with it but I do find myself wanting to spend some more money and go higher quality. A 4wt would be a better "replacement" than the 3.

Choices, choices, choices....
 

clip

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Part of my dilemma is that my 5wt is a one of those Orvis Encounter beginner set-ups. I love it, I learned to fly fish on it and I have never had a problem with it but I do find myself wanting to spend some more money and go higher quality. A 4wt would be a better "replacement" than the 3.

Almost every rod I sell will never be cast as well as it's potential, I can use any stick in the place and my rods are TFO's with a couple Scotts's for the salt. just my 2cents, but a better fly line will improve your casting more than a high dollar rod will.

Choices, choices, choices....[/QUOTE]
 

Sam's dad

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Dec 13, 2016
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A lot of that depends on the action of the rod. A slower action 3 weight isn't going to work well with a dropper. However, a faster action 8-9 footer might do the trick. A 4 weight will certainly be more versatile for double fly rigs. I have an older Sage 8' 4wt (Light line model) and I can throw a double fly rig with it. I also have a 8'9" 3 weight (also a LL model). I could do a double fly rig with it, but you'll need to be a really good caster and have some room behind you to work with.
Sweet rods! if you ever want to get rid of that three weight, let me know!
 

Jason Snyder

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Sweet rods! if you ever want to get rid of that three weight, let me know!
I doubt I'll ever get rid of them, they are great rods. The 3 wt quickly became my dry fly favorite on a trip to Rock Creek in Montana a few years ago. It won't handle much wind, but it sure is nice to throw dry flies with.

I built both of them way back about 20+ years ago. I found a shop in Seattle that carried Sage blemish blanks and sold them for about 75 bucks. I built a lot of rods off of those. Some I sold, some I kept. The 3 wt actually sat in the cabinet for many years because I didn't think it would be stout enough to handle really strong fish. I was very pleasantly surprised. My 4 wt used to be my go to rod, but it might have gotten bumped to the #2 hole now.

The only bummer is they are both 2 piece rods, so they are a little awkward for backpacking if bushwhacking is required. Both were built before 3 and 4 piece rods were very common.
 
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Whaledriver

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Feb 4, 2014
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Colorado
I use a Stowaway from Cabelas 5wt for backpacking. Cannot beat it. Will throw anything. Have a Sage 5wt when it is windy and I need some help. I have been flyfishing for 25 years and have never really needed anything else.
 

COlineman78

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cabelas stowaway 6. its a 6 piece rod that has many many options for length and weight. breaks down to like 15 or 18inches long maybe 120 with a reel???
I have a Cabela's Stowaway as well and I hate it. I'm not the most experienced fly fisherman but I have real trouble casting with it, especially in the wind. I am much more willing to deal with more 4 piece Gray's GR30 than the Cabela's. If someone wants to give the Cabelas a shot, especially if you are a skilled fly fisherman and more comfortable casting than I am give me a shout and I'd sell mine.
 

bhylton

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I have a Cabela's Stowaway as well and I hate it. I'm not the most experienced fly fisherman but I have real trouble casting with it, especially in the wind. I am much more willing to deal with more 4 piece Gray's GR30 than the Cabela's. If someone wants to give the Cabelas a shot, especially if you are a skilled fly fisherman and more comfortable casting than I am give me a shout and I'd sell mine.
Do you think it's the difference in rod action that makes the Cabela's less friendly to you?

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