4 Weight vs 5 Weight Fly Rod-Which One to Pick

5-weight fly rods are, by far, the most used for fly-fishing rods. They can be used in streams, ponds, saltwater, and rivers. A 5-weight rod is excellent for bass and other fish species. However, you should not let 5-weight popularity cloud your judgment in choosing the best fly-fishing rods. After all, the best one will depend on several factors. In this blog, I will compare 4-weight and 5-weight fly rods to help you make an informed decision. 

5-Weight Fly Rods 

Since 5-weight fly rods are the most common, allow me to discuss them first. If you plan to use a 5-weight rod, here are the basic things you should consider before purchasing one. 


There are hundreds of 5-weight fly rods, some of which are relatively affordable, while others are hugely expensive. With so many options, the likelihood of buying a rod that is not worth it is always high. For that reason, take your time and research online to get the best fly rod within your budget.

However, it is crucial to set a realistic budget. Don’t expect to use $15 and get a fly-fishing rod that will last for years. You must be willing to invest at least a hundred dollars to get a high-quality 5-weight fly rod. 

Fishing Location 

A 5-weight fly rod is considered the best all-around, meaning you can use it in most fishing locations, including lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds. Of late, you can find excellent 5-weight fly-fishing rods for saltwater fishing. 

Just ensure to purchase a rod that is recommended for saltwater fishing if you plan to fish in the open sea. Failure to that, your rod may not last as long as it is supposed to last. Also, consider going for a 4-weight rod if you plan to catch smaller species. 4-weight rods are slightly better for light fishing in freshwater. 

Cast Action 

Typically, fishing rods come with four major cast actions. These actions include fast, slow, medium, and medium-fast. A fast action rod is slightly more sensitive than medium and slow actions, but this sensitivity comes at the expense of casting distance. 

This means that a slow-action fishing rod has a better casting distance than a fast-action rod. Additionally, most slow-action rods tend to be stiffer, and resists snaps better. 

For that reason, I usually recommend going for medium or medium-fast action rods. That way, you can balance sensitivity and castability. However, if you plan to catch smaller fish like trout, choose sensitivity over castability. 

Number of Pieces 

If you are a person who likes traveling around with your fishing gear, you got to consider your rod’s packability. In most cases, the higher the number of pieces, the easier it is to pack and carry a rod. That means a rod that comes in four or two pieces is easier to pack and travel with during hikes. 

For that reason, I always consider purchasing a rod with at least two pieces if you travel a lot. You can still travel with your one-piece rod, but it is slightly challenging. 

Rod Length 

Typically, a 5-weight rod measures about 9 ft. However, it is still possible to find longer or shorter F5-weight rods. A longer rod will improve your casting distance, while a shorter rod will improve the cast’s accuracy. 

Longer rods are often more sensitive, but they are not as powerful as shorter rods. Thus, a longer rod is excellent for smaller fish, and shorter rods are excellent for larger fish. Shorter rods also handle the wind better, although they limit your casting distance. 

If you fish in a highly vegetated area, I suggest going for a shorter rod for increased accuracy. On the other hand, if you plan to fish in the open sea, I suggest choosing a long rod for increased castability. If you can’t figure out the best length for your needs, choose the standard length, 9 ft. Standard fly-fishing rods always get the job done, and they are beginner-friendly. 

Line Weight 

Today, line manufacturers have come with a line weight measurement known as grains. An ultralight fishing rod will use the lightest line, measuring from 1-grain, while a heavy rod can use a heavy fly-fishing line measuring up to 14 grains. Remember, for the best castability; you will need to balance the line and rod weight. 

Here is how to know which line to use:

  • Use fly line weight 1-3 for tiny fish such as trout and panfish. 
  • Use fly line weight 4 for small and medium-sized fish such as panfish and mid-sized trout. 
  • Use a 5 for mid-sized fish.
  • A line weight-6 is excellent for bass fishing. 
  • A line weight-7 is also excellent for bass fishing. However, it may be overkill for panfish and some trouts. 
  • Use a fly line weight-8 and above for larger and stronger fish. 

To get the right balance, use almost the same weight for rod, line, and reel. Fly reel weight = fly rod weight= fly line weight. Therefore, if you choose a 5-weight fly-fishing rod, choose a 5-weight reel and line. That way, you can be assured of exceptional performance. 

Where to Buy 5-weight Fly-fishing Rods 

Typically, you can buy a 5-weight fly rod in leading online stores, including Amazon and Fish West. You can also find some in your local fishing stores and retail stores, such as Walmart. Just ensure to consider everything I have mentioned before settling for one. 

4-Weight Fly Rods 

4-weight fly-fishing rods are excellent and versatile, but they are often underutilized. However, those who use them are aware of just how good they are for nymphing and light fishing. To help you understand why 4-weight rods are as important as 5-weight ones, I will break down several benefits of 4-weight rods. But first, what should you consider when purchasing a 4-weight fly rod?

What to Consider When Purchasing a 4-Weight Fly Rod 

You will need to consider the factors we considered for 5-weight fly rods. These factors include:

  • Rod length 
  • Rod construction 
  • Number of pieces 
  • Fishing location 
  • Line weight 
  • Rod action 
  • Budget 

4-weight fly rods are available in online stores such as Amazon, and you can buy one in retail stores such as Walmart. Additionally, you are likely to find a 4-weight fly rod in your local fishing store. 

Are 4-Weight Better Than 5-Weight Fly Rods?

Typically, 4-weight and 5-weight fly rods are like brothers. However, it seems like most people have stigmatized 4-weight rods for nymphing, and they never use them for anything else. This has made many people believe 5-weight rods are much better, but that’s not the case. They are both great in their own ways. 

For example, 4-weight fly rods are perfect for trout fishing. This is because about 80 percent of trout’s diet is subsurface and a 4-weight rod is perfect for presenting smaller baits such as nymph.

Additionally, a 4-weight rod can handle just about anything you want to cast as long as they are not too heavy. You can cast flies and other baits with precision. Here are some benefits of 4-weight rods:


A 4-weight fly rod is as capable as a 5-weight rod. You can use it in streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. It is capable of lifting small fish and mid-sized fish with zero problems. In fact, 4-weight rods are more sensitive, so you will feel even the smallest bites. 

Lightweight But Can Catch Bigger Stuff 

You can still use your 4-weight rods to catch larger stuff such as peacock and largemouth bass hassle-free. A 4-weight fly rod will offer more finesse than a 5-weight, and it still has the power to lift these larger species. Furthermore, you won’t feel too tired if you use a 4-weight fly rod. 

Makes Catching Smaller Fish More Enjoyable 

If you typically use a 5-weight in an area full of smaller fish, try a 4-weight, and you will see how that change can make smaller fishing much more fun. The lightweight nature and less power of 4-weight rods combine and amplify the thrill of lifting a smaller fish. 

How Does 4-Weight Fly Rods Handle Wind?

Some people think that 4-weight rods become useless when there is the wind, but that’s not the case. A 4-weight rod handles wind as well as a 5-weight. It only limits your castability a little but not as much as some anglers think. 

What Fish Can I Catch with a 4-Weight?

4-weight rods are typically meant for most freshwater fish species. In most cases, they are used for trout, but you can use them for light-duty bass and panfish. You can even use a 4-weight rod in saltwater for smaller species like snook and bonefish. 

4-Weight vs. 5-Weight Fly Rod: Wrapping Up 

If you are an enthusiastic angler, it will be nice to incorporate several rods that can take different line weights. Having several rods allows you to fine-tune your fishing conditions and enjoy your experience maximumly. Two rods I would suggest to add to your collection is 4-weight and 5-weight rods. They are both excellent for different fishing conditions.

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