8 or 9 Weight fly rods – Which one is better for which action

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Are you an angler or a fly-fishing enthusiast preparing for your next or first fly-fishing trip? You’ve done some research, and you’ve been told the 8 and 9 weight fly rods are the best for quick casts and catching big fish. 

In this article, I’ll make it easy for you to pick one from these weight classes, based on what you expect from the rod and what you fish for.

8 Weight Flyrods: The Favorite for Saltwater Anglers 

If you’re like me, the most selected rod in your kit are always the eight weights. The sheer versatility of an eight-weight fly rod is one of the main reasons it gets picked out of the lineup than most other rods in anglers’ kits. But what does it look like in terms of the materials used, the design, look, feel, and action?

Orvis Clearwater 8 WeightOrvis Clearwater 8 Weight
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Orvis Helios 3D 8-WeightOrvis Helios 3D 8-Weight
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The material and construction determine how your rod bends and tips. The blank of 8 weights is usually an alloy of carbon and fiberglass. There are also models with graphite constructions. This is the most recommended if you want to dampen vibrations from your fly lures.

The Design

The eight weights are a popular model in most fly rod sets. I observed that they are often the heaviest in a lot of freshwater rod kits. They are also the lightest in many saltwater rod lineups. This is why they’re commonly referred to as “all water rods.” 

The eight weights are very powerful and designed to be extra forgiving. They are designed to resist corrosion which is usually a problem for saltwater rods. So, you can watch out for corrosion-resistant platings such as the anodized finish, especially on the line guides and the reel seat. 

The Look

Like nine weights, there’s not much of a difference between how an eight-weight rod looks compared to other rods in the set. 

However, being the most popular in a pack, alongside the five weights, they look more beautifully and sturdily designed. They often have an anodized finish for decoration and protection. 

This detail ensures they can be helpful in saltwater, a criterion that I think is very important while choosing an eight-weight rod. 

The Feel 

An eight-weight flyrod feels great and reassuring in hand, thanks to their incredible blanks. Because of their medium action, you feel the cast better than fast nine-weight rods and other ultrafast rods. 

Pro Tip

An eight weight has a high tendency to snap a big fish off, compared to when you use a nine. 

The Action 

The action is used to refer to how a flyrod bends while you’re casting your flies and pulling up fish. Depending on the weights, there are slow/parabolic, medium/semi-parabolic, fast, and extra-fast actions. However, I generally see eight weights as flyrods with medium-type blank actions. 

8WT fly rod blanks with slow or medium action are much slower than nine weights, which are generally fast and used for fast-moving and bigger fish. The slow to medium eight-weight rod is better for trout fishing. They are most ideal for beginners to intermediate-level anglers. 

The Price 

Eight weights are not usually the most expensive in the set. The price is generally determined by the material used and the brand. But, when you pick a model from renowned brands like Moonshine, Sage, Echo, and G. Loomis, you’ll get greater value for money. 

To give a range, eight weight rods mostly cost between $70 to around $300. They’re usually a little bit cheaper than nine weights, depending on the lengths. 

Pros – What I Like Most About Them 

  • They are great for big fly lures
  • 8 weight rods are ideal for high winds
  • They make quick casts
  • Ideal for bushwhacking
  • I find them great for chasing big fish 

Cons – What I Consider as Downsides 

  • You may get less accuracy at short ranges 
  • You may snap a big fish off easily with some 8 weights

What Sets it Apart From the Others?

What impresses me most about the slow action rods is that, compared to others, they are great for high winds. You can use them for making quick casts of big flies and chasing big fish. 

It’s your best bet for a relatively gentle fight for medium to big fish which have fragile mouths. These rods are also great for high line speeds. They’ll also let you cast even in windy situations. 

Who Is it For?

Eight-weight flyrods are very popular among anglers fishing in saltwater with beginner to intermediate level experience. They’re unlike nine weights which are faster and used for casting bigger flies and catching bigger fish. 

It is excellent for bonefish, precisely due to their generally light weight. I also think they are also well-suited for fishing freshwater species such as salmon, golden dorado, large trout, and bass. 

9 Weight Flyrods: The Ultimate Fast Action Rods 

Nine-weight flyrods are not as popular among anglers as eight or five weights are. But it has its category of users and deserves some love too! 

Also, it is a bit similar to eight-weight rods. In this section, we’ll see some of its main features, and I’ll tell you whether it’s for you or you need to look the other way. 

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The nine-weight fly rods that are commercially available nowadays are mostly made of carbon fiber material. They are not often made of fiberglass, neither do I recommend this as this results in a slower action. A slow action is not something you want as an advanced angler who sets big flies and heavy lines. 

Therefore, I recommend fly rods made of carbon fiber or composite materials with aluminum reel seats. Besides, these are the most used material on nine weights. Due to their low weight, they allow the fisherman very precise, stable, and above all, quick handling. 

One of my favorite nine-weight flyrods is the Redington Crosswater 990-4 Fly Fishing Rod. The reel is made of composite materials, something you’d prefer if you need one for a lot of saltwater usage. 

The Design

Nine weights usually have reel seats made of aluminum, alignment dots for ease of setup, and sturdy design for aggressive and fast actions. 

The problem, however, with this weight category is its versatility and low resistance to damaging natural elements, which is why the eight weight models are always picked first. 

The Look 

Nine weights don’t have much to offer in the aesthetic department if you ask me. They’re more of the action-oriented rod than aesthetic or decorative types. But like most other rods, there are many models with sleek, beautiful, and protective finishes.

The Feel 

The one thing you notice with nine weight rods, in general, is they’re very light-feeling rods. They may not be as light as some 8-weights, but they are more lightweight than 10 weights. 

A 9 weight rod lets you, the angler be able to cast small flies into shallow water. This weight, also like most 8-weight rods, enables you to cast heavy lines and larger flies. 

It’s a light casting rod with incredible responsiveness. It handles a broad range of lines. 

The Action 

Nine weight flyrods are fast tip action blank flyrods. I think these actions are indicated for fishing requiring a certain sensitivity, from the bottom of the water, for example.

These blanks will therefore be perfect for jig fishing or bottom fishing. The Riverruns Z Fly Fishing Rod series fall within the fast tip action category of flyrods. 

When I fish striped bass, the nine weights have a few characteristics in their action, which are interesting. It tends to bend mostly in the upper two-thirds; that’s where it does most of its work when casting. It is also nicer during windy situations. 

It’s a fast action rod built for aggressive casting stroke so you can get the maximum lining speed.                       


Nine-weight flyrods are often more expensive in rod lineups than the eight weights. But the price difference is usually not that telling. Again, the brand, features, and construction materials determine the price. Expect anywhere from $100 to $500 for a brand new model. 

Pros – What I Like Most About Them 

  • They allow anglers to cast heavy lines 
  • I prefer it for casting bigger flies than with 8 weights
  • It’s ideal for chasing fast-moving fish on the water surface 
  • Has a lot of reserve power 
  • Nicer to use in windy situations than the 8 weight 
  • They’re mostly designed for advanced users 

Cons – What I Consider as Downsides 

  • Would give beginners a tough day at sea as they’re not easy to cast

What Sets it Apart From the Others

It is faster and heavier than the eight weight and most other rods in manufacturers’ lineups. This is more ideal for lifting and fighting more aggressive fish with less risk of snapping off. 

Usually equipped with a stiffer butt than other models, it will help you with lifting big fish. Wind enables you to fish better, but it makes fly casting tougher. A nine weight performs better than most versions in the lower rung of the weight classes. 

Who Is it For?

The nine-weight flyrod is designed for heavier freshwater and light saltwater use. It’s unlike the eight weights, which is ideal for heavy-duty use in saltwater. Nine weights are most suitable for anglers who cast big flies and look to handle and catch big fish. They are what you call upon when things get windy. 

8 Weight vs. 9 Weight Flyrods — What are the Differences?

An eight-weight flyrod is more of an all-water rod and performs better in saltwater than nine models. Nine weights are for heavy-duty use in freshwater and light use in saltwater. 

Eight weight rods have medium/semi-parabolic action blanks, while nine weights are fast action rods for aggressive casting strokes. 

Eight weights are more for beginner level to intermediate users, while the second is for advanced anglers. Also, windy situations are where a nine weight edges the eight weight. You can use the nine-weight rod more for casting heavy lines during turbulent conditions. 

8 Weight vs. 9 Weight Fly Rod: a Side-by-Side Comparison

Comparing between criteria such as the actions, application, and your experience level, below is how both weight classes differ from each other:

Eight weightsNine weights
MaterialCarbon fiber, graphite, fiberglassCarbon fiber, graphite 
Action Slow to medium action Fast action 
Water applicationSaltwater and freshwaterFreshwater and medium saltwater
Ideal for Big bass, salmons, steelheads, trouts, and striped bassLargemouth bass, bonefish, redfish, and schoolie stripers
Experience level Beginner to intermediate angler For advanced anglers  

Final Verdict 

I think eight-weight rods are strong enough to overpower large salmons and trouts. Meanwhile, nine-weight fly rods are fast action fly rods. I recommend this for casting big flies, catching big fish, and for fishing in the wind. The nine weights are strictly used by professionals. They are a perfect weight for striped bass. 

The similarity, however, is that 8 and 9 weight rods are heavy-duty rods for big hauls found in saltwater. You can’t use them for casting for small to medium-sized fish, or you may be in for a bad day on the water!


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