9 weight for steelhead

Hi everyone

First time posting here. I was wondering if a
9 weight rod and reel combo would be too much for steelhead
that average in the teens?
I am also looking at 8 weights, but a buddy suggested i get a 9 weight.

Thanks for your help.
I want to know where you are fishing that the steelhead average in the teens!!! I want to go there!!

Anyway to answer your question...and assuming we're talking single-handers here.... a 9-wt is on the heavy-ish side but that being said it sounds like you are going after some pretty big fish. I would say I would use a 9-wt if I were throwing big heavy flies and heavy shooting heads. To put things in perspective, I use a 9 or 10-wt when chasing Kings that average 20-25 lbs.

My choice for an all-around winter steelhead rod would be a 10' 8-wt, which is plenty of stick for a 15-lb steelhead, and perhaps a bit more of a comprimise for use in situations with smaller steelhead.

Ask 5 guys you'll probably get 5 different answers though so utimately go with your own judgement.


My name is Mark Oberg
Winter steelhead and salmon I use a 10' 8 wt. Summer steelhead I use a 10' 6 weight. And I land these big fish fine with these rods. I prefer sage because of the warranty, just encase.:thumb:


Mouse doctor
My opinion is to match the equipment to the water. If you are casting in bigger water in the wind with a shooting head, go heavier and longer. Smaller water, well go smaller. Personally I wouldn't get a single hander bigger than a 6 wt. If you want to fish big water, I'd reccomend a two-hander.
I have a sage 9' 8 weight and I love it. The only thing I would change if I re-bought would be to look at 9'6" 8 weights. I would not go heavier than an 8 weight for steelhead. You can land even the big guys with a rod that size and smaller fish will start feeling like nothing if you go heavier. Just my opinion.

Zen Piscator

Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.
I just ordered a 10ft 9wt for salmon and steelies in big water. However I also have a 9ft 8wt and a 9ft 7wt. The 7wt is my standard steelhead rod.

I would recomend an 8wt.

I have a 9'6" 8wt which I use for winter fish/big water. And a 9' 6wt I use for almost everything else. And I'm working through all the combinations of an 8' or 8'6" 5 or 6 wt, for the small op rivers and creeks, winter or summer ( hi kristin!), for my next setup.



Well-Known Member

A 9 wt is fine for steelhead, and was nearly a standard when our fly rod choices were bamboo and fiberglass. With so many good graphite rods available, I think most fly shops would say 8 wt has been the most popular steelhead rod for the last 20 years or so. The 9 wt does the job well, but most of us find that an 8 wt is more comfortable to cast from can't see in the morning 'til can't see at night, even during the short winter days. The only way you're going to go wrong with a 9 wt is if you're not accustomed to it and become tired from casting it when there are still a lot of good fishing hours left in the day.


Salmo g.
I really appreciate all the replies. The rod i am looking at is 4 1/2oz. The 8 weight in this same rod is 1/2 oz lighter at 4 oz.Do you think the 1/2 oz more will make a big difference for me to get the 9 weight?


James Mello

Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"
Meanpressure said:
I really appreciate all the replies. The rod i am looking at is 4 1/2oz. The 8 weight in this same rod is 1/2 oz lighter at 4 oz.Do you think the 1/2 oz more will make a big difference for me to get the 9 weight?

It can, but in general I'd be more worried about whether you can even cast an 8wt the whole day. Lots of folks aren't great casters, and when they go out to fish for steel, they aren't used to throwing 60'+ cast after cast with deeply sunk tips.... Oddly enough the 9wt may be easier to cast by the end of the day because it *may* be more "powerful" to lift tips out of the water.

Probably not that big of a difference. You can't really go wrong with either an 8 or a 9 you will be able to fish for steelhead with both of them and enjoy yourself.

The only other thing to consider is what I call the rule of odds and evens for fly rods. It makes a lot of sense to go with either even or odd weight designations to fill out a rod "quiver" for the fishing you do. 3,5,7,9 or 4,6,8,10, for example. For example, if you already have a 5-wt, then maybe a 9 would be best, because then some day a 7 could fill in the gap for a lighter steelhead rod. If you don't already have a rod, then you might think about what kind of fishing you might be doing in the future for trout and what would work best for you. Kind of a big-picture thing but something to consisder for the long term.

Again good luck to you, I hope you end up with the rod that suits you best.
Thanks for the info, i appreciate it.

It will be my first rod, so that is why it is taking me so long to choose.
Besides using it for Steelhead and maybe salmon i will be using it a lot for snook redfish and smaller tarpon in the Gulf of Mexico.

Thanks for all the great information. Anything else anyone can add would be great.
I chose to go with a 9wt for winter fish purely because i don't have a lot of rods. the 9 will work fine for steelhead, maybe a little on the heavy side but it works. at the same time i can use it for chums, king salmon, etc and it will do it all. for summer fish i use a 10' 6wt, but i don't catch any steelhead ever so what do i know anyway. thats my psychological reasoning.
in my version of a perfect world, i would have an 8wt for steelhead, a 9 for chums and kings, one of every other weight that i'm sure i could come up with a reason for having each of them, 2 of each maybe.

Given the extra info about salmon and saltwater I would get the 9. It will be a better all-around rod for the conditions you described and will give you fish-fighting power you will need with Salmon and bigger SW fish. You are going to have a blast with that rod.

Best regards,