Ultralight fly rods are designed for small streams, or to be easily packed into the backcountry.

Ultralight Fly Rods are Serious Fun!

The first thing to acknowledge about the ultralight rods made today is that they are not toys. (OK, maybe they are, but let’s not get into a conversation here about a man and his toys.)

They can however give you some serious fun on the water. Ultralight fly rods are labeled sizes 3, 2, 1, Ought and Double-Ought weights.

Learn more about fly rod weights.

Reasons to Look Into Ultralight Fly Rods

There are lots of reasons to consider an ultralight fly rod. It all depends on where and how you want to fish.

•They allow you to make quiet, delicate presentations.

•They allow you to feel the fight from a small to medium-size trout.

•They are lighter in overall weight and therefore easier on us physically.

•You can land large trout because it will protect a light tippet that is sometime called for.

How to Fight a Large Trout With an Ultralight Rod

There is no question about it; ultralight rods allow you to feel the strength of a smaller trout. The question becomes whether it is sporting when you hook into a large trout. Can you land a large trout fast enough so as not to kill it?

Yes, you can land a large trout just as fast with ultralight rods. Think about it for a minute. If you are using a six-weight fly rod and conditions call for a light 5X tippet, you will be fighting the fish with caution. You have a stiff rod with a light tippet, and you should be careful.

If on the other hand you are fighting a large trout with an ultralight 1-weight with a 5x tippet, your rod will flex more and protect the tippet from breaking.

You also fight a large fish by keeping the rod lower and using a consistent smooth pressure on it with the reel’s drag system.

Learn more about disk drag systems.

Tenkara Lightweight Fly Rods for the Backcountry

The Tenkara fly rod is an answer for the backcountry fly fisher because they only weigh about 2.3 ounces. Because they do not use a reel the overall weight of your fly gear can be as low as 6 ounces.

Here are some facts about the Tenkara rod

•It is a long collapsible rod making it very portable. Perfect for backpacking.

•There is no reel and the line is connected directly to the end of the rod.

•They are very useful on small streams with little or no overhead canopy.

•They are not used for steelhead trout.

•These rods tend toward a softer rod action.


The ultralight fly rod is your best fly rod for small streams. If you are thinking of buying one go at least two weights lighter than the lightest rod you currently own. If you are unsure about where to start, start with a 3-weight; I love mine. You will find fewer manufacturers making the lighter weight rods.

If possible cast the rod before you buy it. This will also help you decide which line you want to buy. Giving the rod a shake in the store just will not tell you much.

If you do a lot of backpacking, consider a Tenkara rod.

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