Rod size selection according to the average size of target fish on rivers.

Forward from Lindsay Simpson

Frantisek Hanak needs no introduction many of you will have no doubt used at one time or another a 'Hanak' product. Arguably the Czech fishing team are one of, if not the best fishing team in the world. They have made huge developments in the sport that of course filters its way down to us mere mortals. What Franta explains here is my thoughts on fishing rods just a lot better than I could. There is no such thing as one rod fits all!  

Rod size selection according to the average size of target fish on rivers.

The reason I am writing this brief universal tutorial about the selection of rod weight to suit both conditions and size of targeted fish, is due to the amount of people asking me the same question over and over again: “What 3 weight rod do you recommend for targeting the trophy rainbow and marble trout?” 

The answer is easy – NONE!

Here is a simple table of my recommended rod weights. The key to successful fly-fishing equipment is perfect balance. This means that you have to adapt the size of rod, size of hook and the diameter of the leader to match the conditions you are faced with. You must also take into account the method you are using (dry fly, nymph, streamer), the size of river, the depth of the water, the strength of the current but mainly the size of the target fish. The table below gives you a good guide as to what equipment you should be looking at using to target certain fish sizes:

Target fish

Rod weight

Hook size

Diameter of fluorocarbon

up to 30 cm



0,08 – 0,12

30 – 40 cm



0,10 – 0,14

40 – 50 cm



0,12 – 0,16

50 cm and more



0,14 – 0,20

Of course, even with a 3 weight rod you can tame a trophy sized fish of over 60 cm, but in the process you will overload the rod (which can snap the rod). However more importantly by prolonging the fight you can over play the fish which could lead to exhaustion and significantly decrease its chance of survival when released.

Don’t forget that successful hook ups depend on hook size and the strength of the strike. The lift of the rod is very often enough to set the hook with a fine needle-sharp size 20 hook, especially into the soft mouth of a small grayling (also making sure you don’t break fine leaders), but to penetrate hard jaw of trophy trout requires a decent hook and a much stronger strike (and of course strong leader).

An exception to the rule a completely different approach is competition fly fishing. With their experience and skills they can normally get a trophy fish to the net before it even knows its been hooked!

Rod length usually depends on the technique, power of flow and what space you have for casting and playing of the fish.


Recommended length of rod

Dry fly

275 cm / 9ft and possibly in large rivers 290 cm / 9,6 ft

Wet fly

mostly 290 cm / 9.6 ft and smaller streams even 275 cm / 9 ft


mostly 305 cm / 10 ft but according to conditions 275 cm / 9 ft – 335 cm / 11 ft


mostly 275 cm / 9ft


I wish you many wonderful experiences out on the water, and while you are deciding what rod to go for please just take into consideration the size of your target fish. You don’t want to be the last person that gets to release it back into its watery home!

František Hanák