Fishing in Vail Valley: What fishing rods to have in your quiver


Anglers can compete on any type of water with any type of rod in the Biggest Fish virtual competition.
Anthony Thornton | Daily archive photo

As you develop as a fisherman, you will begin to feel the urge to buy new rods specific to different situations or techniques. Rod companies have created a rod for every type of scenario a fisherman may face.

There are rods specially designed to catch anything from small speckled trout to giant tarpon and sailboat. If you are starting to look for a new rod to add to your arsenal, this article is for you.

Colorado standard



The best all-round rod for Colorado and most western states is a 9ft 5in weight rod. This cane can do almost anything.

It can cast and present a dry fly delicately enough to fool most trout. It can perform putt throws with a three-fly nymph rig with a strike indicator and split shot. And it can also do long casts with small to medium sized streamers to the most aggressive fish.



This is the top selling rod in any local fly shop and most of them have a wide selection of brands and models to choose from.

The streamer specialist

The first rod I bought outside of the standard 9ft 5in weight was a 9ft 6in rod with a fighting end for throwing bigger streamers.



The rod I received is designed for throwing heavy flies in strong winds. The rod itself has a stiffer backbone, which makes longer casts easier. This backbone also comes into play when fighting larger fish.

I like to pair my streamer rod with a line that has a short, heavy head useful for turning big flies. I also have a line with a built-in tip so that the flies quickly descend into the area that I think they are holding back. If you are casting large articulated flies, a dedicated streamer rod is a must in your rod collection.

The Stream Assassin

The next rod I purchased was a stream specific rod for targeting small brook trout and cutthroat in high mountain streams and streams. I chose a 7ft 3in fiberglass rod to gently place dry flies in tight spots.

Fiberglass rods have a lot more flex than other types of rods. This flex makes it really fun to target and catch smaller fish. It also really makes you slow down your casting, which for some can take a bit of getting used to.

This is my go-to rod of choice when hiking in the high countries or fishing in small local coves.

Euro trash

The European nymph is a technique widely used by competitive fly fishermen. This technique uses an ultra-fine, indicator-less fly line and heavy tungsten bead flies to descend to where the big fish are.

The cane you use is usually a three-weight cane that is more than 10 feet in length. This added length contributes to the strong grip typically associated with Czech or European nymphs.

Tri-weight rods are used to help protect the extra light spikes that implode to bring down those flies faster. This style of fishing is extremely effective when done right and when you pair the rod with this technique, it’s downright deadly.

Two-handed trout

Two-handed fishing rods aren’t typically associated with rocky mountain trout fishing, but things are changing.

Typically, these rods are found on salmon and rainbow trout rivers in the Northwest or Alaska. A two-handed trout, or commonly known as a micro spey, is a slightly scaled-down version of what people use in the Pacific Northwest.

These rods are ideal for casting light flies on medium to large rivers using a modified roll cast and allow the flies to swing in the current, unleashing impressive strikes.

The line is very different from a standard trout line. The line system consists of a backing, a running line, a shooting head, a plunging tip, a fly leader rather than the simple backing to line as the found on “normal” trout rods. The shooting head is very heavily weighted to facilitate shooting over long distances.

Sink tips are available in different immersion rates to suit the different water depths you may encounter. This style of cane is the newest addition to my collection and quickly became one of my favorites.

“Agitation test”

Whenever you are considering buying a new rod, whatever its use, be sure to buy it from a store that will allow you to take it out and throw it.

The in-store “move test” is something everyone does, but it does not fully demonstrate the capabilities and potential of the rod until there is a line on it. When testing a rod toss, don’t push the line as far as possible, instead take the time and put it through the types of situations you may encounter on the river.

Whatever type of fly fishing you enjoy the most, there is probably a fishing rod that will make it even more enjoyable. I think the perfect rod quiver is a versatile 9ft 5in trout rod, 9ft 6in streamer rod, and 7ft 3in stream rod, but other specialty rods are awesome and can change. gives it.

Ray Kyle is the Store Supervisor and Guide at Vail Valley Anglers. He can be reached at 970-926-0900 or [email protected].


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