On another thread requesting recommendations for a 3 weight combo to be used predominantly for panfish fishing, the opinion was expressed that a heavier line weight might be more appropriate. This in turn led to a few more comments, and rather than hijack that post, I felt it was appropriate to start a new thread and express my own feelings on the subject here.

First let me say that I am a biased fool, and fall squarely in the ultralight line camp. I'm also very active on the forum referenced in the other thread, and go by the same name there as here. (http://ultralightflyfishing.com/forum) I may not post as much on this forum, but I've been a member here since 2003, and even wrote a book review (Master the Cast) chronicling my daughter's and mine's foray into fly fishing. So I "know" many of the good folks here through your posts, and mean no disrespect to anyone.

My very first fly rod was a 3 weight. An Orvis Superfine (7'-9") purchased from the Orvis store that used to exist in the SLC area. That was well over ten years ago, and the sales associate was pretty vocal in claiming that it was a mistake for me to not be buying the 5 weight he recommended as my first rod. Looking back, he probably had a valid point, but I do not regret my decision in the least. It may have slightly hindered my learning to cast properly, but I still believe it was the right decision for me. I have fished 3 weights almost exclusively since that time, even though I've had plenty of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 weight rods as well over the years. The 3 weights just do it for me, and that has nothing to do with bragging rights (which is an argument I've never understood by the way) nor does it have to do with how the fish feels when fighting it on such a pliable rod. (Though I do enjoy this aspect.) My decision to initially purchase a 3 weight was made after some lengthy research and ultimately careful consideration regarding the flies I intended to be using. Having used a clear plastic bobber and a fly on a very small spinning rod/reel for more years than I care to admit before finally breaking down and purchasing a fly rod. I had ample proof that a small, light, pliable rod was plenty capable of reeling in very large fish. I also knew that whether you were using a 1 weight or a 10 weight, your tippet had better break before your fly line did, and the amount of pressure I could apply to bring the fish to hand was going to be determined by that little piece of "plastic". As such all the arguments I heard regarding "fish fighting" capabilities of any fly line weight went right out the window.

In the interest of brevity, (and I know this post isn't brief) I'll continue with the real point of all this: The flies you are going to use SHOULD dictate what fly line weight you use, which in turn will dictate the rod and reel required to cast and hold that line. The flies should (in fact) also dictate the tippet size you are using. In my case I rarely cast any fly larger than a size 14 dry fly. Most are 16s to 22s. I never use weighted flies, shot, multiple fly rigs (tandem, hopper-dropper, etc.) or indicators. I'm not a dry fly only purist, as I'll gladly swing wets and soft hackles, drift the occasional unweighted nymph, and even use a few small streamers. But everything is "small and unweighted". I also fish small to tiny moving water almost exclusively. That's simply what I enjoy. As such a 3 weight rod really suits me, and I love the lightness, swing weight etc. of them. But if you are into "chuck and duck", using big and/or weighted flies, etc. a heavier line is probably advisable. Someone may be able to take a 2/0 weighted Streamer and "get it out there" with their "ultralight" fly line and rod, but you can hammer a nail with a screwdriver too.

I used to fish exclusively for trout. Being transplanted to "warm water" land, I now fish for panfish more times than not, but don't get bent out of shape when a large Bass decides they like my offering as well. Eight weights are pretty standard fare around here if you can find a fly fisherman. One look at their fly box and you can also see why. Being fairly new to warm water, I can't say that I know what flies work best. But I do know that I'm very successful using the small flies I've typically used for trout. So I've had no need to revise my flies, and by extension my fly line weight, rod, or reel. Again, a 3 weight (or lighter) line is perfectly suited for what I'm doing, and the size of fish is of little consideration. There are some good size smallmouth in some mighty small water around here, not to mention the carp. But they can all be landed as quickly with a 3 weight or lighter line/rod, as with something heavier. If they run for a log jam they may just have a better chance of getting to it with the lighter line rods, as they compromise on fish turning ability for added delicacy/presentation. (Which is much more important to trout fishing than panfish.) I should point out that I'm not saying a 4, 5, or 6 weight couldn't be used to cast the flies I'm fishing with. They certainly could be, and would simply constitute a "compromise" in the other direction, giving up some delicacy for fish turning abilities. But in either case it doesn't mean that the lighter or heavier line weights are "inappropriate", or as I've heard so many say over the years "inhumane". (Which by the way is really a silly point in my mind, as there is nothing humane about hooking a fish and dragging it through the water against its' will, regardless of the line weight used to do so.)

Compromises also hold true if you have to deal with adverse weather conditions. Wind (for example) MAY dictate a heavier line. It's simple physics. A heavier weight (once moving) will be harder to "redirect" or stop. As such a heavier line weight will have an advantage when casting in windy conditions. But that doesn't mean that it won't be affected, nor that the lighter line weight is inappropriate. After 10+ years, I'm not really sold on this argument anyway, as long as the flies and fishing distances are appropriate for the line weight being used. Which is no different than when using the heavier line weight. Both anglers will adjust to meet the challenge. It's just how (and the magnitude) they will need to adjust that differs.

In summary... You will likely never convince me that a 3 weight or lighter rod/line isn't just as capable in the amount of pressure it can apply as a heavier line weight rod. I believe that always comes down to the angler knowing how to correctly apply pressure (regardless of the line weight, the skills are the same) and doing so rather than just "playing out" the fish. Take a look at the large saltwater fish being hand lined in (with no rod) around the world to get an idea of how much you really need any rod when freshwater fishing. The weak link in the line is what determines how hard/quickly you can pull. But a rod has the ability to apply pressure from a greater range of directions than no rod. (Not more pressure, just pressure from a wider range of directions.) Which is helpful in controlling the direction a fish goes (not in applying more pressure). Since a heavier line weight rod will "bend less" than a comparable length lighter line weight rod with the same "load" applied to it, it retains more of its' length and can scribe a greater arc to apply that pressure from. Which in some circumstances may be an advantage in directing the fish to hand. In other circumstances the pliable attributes of the lighter line weight rods provide tippet protection the heavier line weight rods can't, allowing the angler the luxury of applying potentially greater pressure in real world situations, since the rod will absorb a sudden pull (force) made by the fish. Which in some circumstances may also be an advantage in bringing the fish to hand. In both cases, the angler's abilities are going to be the determining factor in how well any potential advantage is utilized. And in the end, it's all about compromises and all line weights have them. So pick your poison, and understand the limitations of the equipment you choose and your abilities to use it. But your choice (and ability) is not likely to be everyone else's, and that doesn't make their choice any less viable or appropriate.

And that is my very 3 weight and under biased opinion.