What fly rod for the Kelvin?

One of the questions that folk ask an awful lot is what weight of fly rod you need to use for the Kelvin.

Look - if a 4 weight is good enough for Lord Kelvin...

Have I got to explain it? Ok – essentially the weight of a rod is irrelevant – it is the AFTM rating that you have got to look out for. Secretly fly fishers like to kid on they know what the AFTM rating is – roughly it is to do with the weight of the fly line, or more importantly the first part. You have got to match the rating of the line to the weight of the rod – that is easy enough!

An easy peasy explanation is the bigger the fish the higher the rating – I can hear a thousand angry technical gurus screaming in fury however really it is the most simple explanation I can give.

So – when I fish for monstrous Pike I use my nine weight or my ten weight depending on conditions – this is because I am catching big strong fish and must catch them by using big flies –a higher rating rod and line makes this easier.

You need a big rod for these beasts..

I hear most people use a 7 weigh when fishing at fisheries for Rainbow trout. In big rivers when you are going to catch big trout you will want a rod that is nice and sensitive to cast smaller flies but still have backbone for bigger fish (or to pull your fly out a tree with greater force).

For my own river fishing I have two rods – a 4 weight Orvis Superfine and a Sage SLT 5 weight. I use the 5 weight on bigger rivers like the Clyde and the Tummel and I use the 4 weight on smaller rivers like the Kelvin and …er, other smaller rivers like my shite pipe river.

Orvis 4 weight

However the important thing to remember is that not all 4 and 5 weights are created equal – they all have different “actions” – essentially this means how bendy it is – if it is very bendy it is called being a “slow” rod and if it not very bendy it is called a “fast” rod. For the record if you have a bendy rod you can cast easier as it covers up all your mistakes – both my river rods are medium bendy. I also have a 4 weight bamboo rod that is extremely bendy and will keep on being bendy and wiggling about for ten minutes after I have cast – that is maybe too bendy for some people but sure is a lot of fun when you catch a small fish.

Ok – so we have covered the numbers on the rod and the bendy factor and you can see that with the size of trout you will catch in the Kelvin you want a nice light rod that has enough backbone to handle the occasional pounder – a 4 weight will be ideal. Once you get better at casting you can delve into the world of 3 weights, 2 weights and 1 weight.

So – you want a four weight for the Kelvin although if you were ever only going to buy one rod for all your trout river fishing – for example if you fished a big river like the Clyde every other day then you would be better off with a 5 weight. Although saying that a lot of it is down to personal preference as some days I use my 4 weight on the Clyde yet never use my 5 weight on the Kelvin.

I hope that made some sense.

Questions? Comments?


  1. David · January 27, 2011

    And Orvis have those lovely bendy Superfine 804-4’s on sale at the moment (£120 or so off the previous price).

    It would be rude not to 😉

  2. Stuart_Lands · January 27, 2011

    Great post 🙂

    For anyone looking at an initial investment which won’t break the bank, the Fladden Vantage rods have been recommended by several sources, including previous comments on the forum here. They are around £30 and come in various sizes and weights, so should be able to find something suitable online. They are also all 3 or 4 peice rods, so ideal for travel.

    I’ve got a #5 Orivs, but thinking of getting both a #2 or #3 for the river, and #9 for pike / sea, as at the price you can’t complain!

  3. Chuck Graves · January 27, 2011

    I agree with the Alistair. Low numbers, small fish, larger numbers, bigger fish. Also note, with the lower number of the rod you typically get a smaller length, a must on those tight rivers.


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