That is a loaded question…such a matter of personal preference. If I had to go with just one, I’d choose a 5 wt 9′ in medium fast action to protect tippets. On the cheaper side TFO Finesse 589. On the less cheap high quality side I gravitate to older pre-owned Sage rods like the RPL, SP, SLT. I think the Sage Mod would be the current one. If I were buying, I’d go to a shop and cast em, and rent one and fish it if I could. BTW, no self-respecting fly angler wants to be limited to one rod. If the wind ain’t blowing hard I’m taking a 4 wt.! 🙂
Happy Hunting! (for the rod and the trout)
The rod I use most often on the Guadalupe is a Cabelas CZN 11′ 4wt dedicated nymph/indicator rod. Don’t underestimate the value of a proper line, something similar to the Airflo Kelly Galloup Nymph/indicator. That line, on almost any rod, makes the short, precision drift presentation much easier; in my opinion.
I switched to a 10ft rod last year and been loving the benefits. It’s kelly gallops signature St Croix high stick drifter in a 5wt. It’s not a euro style rod but still a nymphing specific rod with great features. If I’m taking one rod out on the Guad this is the one. If needed it’ll still cast a streamer even a dry fly with ease.
Euro or not a longer rod has many benefits when nymphing. A consideration with a longer rod is a reel that balances the rod farther down into the grip, a front heavy rod will quickly tire out your arms after hours of high sticking.
Yeah, this is a loaded question.
I would say it depends what you’re targeting(I know most everyone here is trout only, or maybe bass too) but I tend to start at the dam and target everything that swims as we paddle down; Striper, bows, butter, texas gold, the occasional koi, Guads, smallies and florida LMB.
For streamer flinging, my all time favorite is a 6wt, Bad Ass Glass, or the 8wt variant, both in the quickshot.
For Czech, I onlt have one true nymphing rod and its a budget rod; Moonshine Epiphany. Its wieght gives me confidence that I don’t have with the higher-end sticks, mostly because the guad is rough on rods, even more-so when you’re paddling. I have gotten good at anchoring in eddies and hitting deeper rifs standing on my Amigo, but have gotten excited pulling in a trutchador and fallen in netting or playing the fish.
I plan do a quite a bit more wading this year with the lease access pass and access to other properties, so it may change but I’m likely to have the tall stick in hand until I see something busting baitfish.
I probably shouldn’t add to this with my obsession, but…..
Years ago (1970’s) when I started flyfishing the Guadalupe I started with a Bass Bug rod I already had. It was a Fenwick HMG 9 1/2′ 9wt. It was way too much rod for nymphing for 8-12″ Trout that were common back then. Often when I would set the hook I would launch the little Trout out of the water and over my shoulder,… “A little too much Gun!”
The next rod I purchased I went to a short and light rod, a Fenwick HMG 7 1/2′ 4wt. Again it was right for the small fish, but I almost immediately missed the length of my 9wt. So I purchased a Fenwick HMG 9′ 6wt. Finally I hit the sweet spot. It would do just about anything and it was my go to rod till Sage came out with their RPLs. Again I went with a 9′ 6wt. and it was everything the Fenwick rod was only better.
I mainly fished; 9’… 4, 5, or 6wt. rods on the Guadalupe through 2000. RPL, RPL+, SP, SP+, XPs in a never ending progression of the latest and greatest. Then I moved to a 10′ 5wt. Z Axis and it was a revelation in the difference the extra foot made in drift control. I added a 10′ 6wt. but it was really too heavy (But a good light Steelhead rod). I also purchased a 10′ 4wt. Sage One and I use it when flows drop or I’m fishing nothing but midges.
Today when I head to the Guadalupe, a 10′ rod either 5wt. or 4wt., a 9′ 5wt. and 6wt. almost always are put in the car. For Nymphing it’s the 10’ers, but if I’m throwing streamers it’s the 9′ 6wt. and sometimes 5wt. that gets pulled out of the truck.
European Nymphing techniques and those specialty rods have really taken off. Many anglers now use 2 or 3wt, 10-11′ specialized nymphing rods. I have fished them but I prefer a little heavier rod. It’s partly because of my Tournament Bass fishing years where you should always prepare yourself for that fish of a lifetime and I tend towards the heavy side of rod selection. My Z Axis is now about 18 years old and I intend to build another 10′ 5wt. this time a Sage X.
With all that said it’s more about what you can do than the rod can do. Learn to drift nymphs, mend the line, follow the indicator, and detect strikes. Then work on fighting and landing the fish quickly. A good flyfisherman can use just about any rod and catch a bunch of fish. A poor flyfisherman can use the very best equipment and still not catch many fish. Work on refining your abilities and everything else is just icing on the cake.
P.S. Disclaimer: I am a gear junkie. I own more rods than I can use in a week. My obsession has evolved into having the perfect rod for the water and the technique I’m going to fish. Many of you have seen my summer trips and know I usually take about 16 different rods for these trips. I am a devoted dryfly fisherman and many rods are specifically for dryfly fishing. Most years I’ll use about 8-10 of them on those trips. But I always take along several rods that are “Maybe” rods. I might fish this or that way and need “That” rod.
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