Why would I buy an 8 weight for steelhead?

Not open for further replies.


Active Member
Perhaps it comes down to this....many have fished before us. We read of the gear/lines/flies they used on certain fish. I'm sure they learned from those before them.....an 8 weight has become a go to weight rod for the history of PNW targets including some trout and/or certain salt water species. An 8 weight allows diversity and can be easily used for many trout poulations as well as most salmon populations. I will grant rod building technology is changing...and at great leaps.... (some 6's act as 8's and so on) I can understand the occasional day when you have only your five weight and opportunity presents itself...but to specifically target certain species undergunned seems to be :confused: especially if catching and releasing. 6 to 9 weight is good for most steelhead in washington ...... 5 is just a little sly in many opportunities (IMHO...of course)


New Member
If you are going to target steelhead, then a 8wt. is what you want to use.
If you use anything under a 8wt. then you best have had plenty of practice
landing the greatest fish there ever once was? Good luck.
It's funny, everybody says the same thing. Steelhead = 8 weight. Yea, I know that's what we've been taught. What I'm saying is that if Scheck is right then WHY? If I can pull just as hard with a 5 weight, or harder in his tests, then why would I bother with the 8. And I'm only talking about the pulling strength, not the breaking strength.

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic
Here is the deal. You are in Buffalo. You will be fishing the Oak , Cattaragus, Niagara etc. The rivers that you fish are diverse in size and speed. Additionally, the water is really cold and you will nymph more than here (which is why I moved here).

When I lived in the 'cuse I routinely used a five weight for steelhead on the smaller streams. I caught steelhead and large Browns on the oak with it. I never fished the Cat. or the other Erie trib.'s but I probably would have have used a 5 weight to swing flies there. Since the fish aren't native and are stupidly plentiful use a five weight if you want. It'll land a fish faster than the standard noodle rod "flyfishing" set up.
The real question is why aren't you asking what 6/7 switch or small spey to purchase?

1-0 bad guys in the 2nd,


Active Member
Sept 06, i was on the Snake at the mouth of a river targeting brats averaging 5-6 lbs. i have a 9wt one hander and a TFO 9wt spey. they are heavy and i don't like them, so on that day i tried my 5/6 wt one hander nymphing an egg, and hooked and landed king maybe 12/13 lbs. i had to lean on that boy hard to keep him out of the current, and was surprised to be actually managing him well by yarding hard as i dare on the side, i was standing in the middle of the trib and could not use the bank to chase him, just had to stand my ground, and landed him in a normal amount of time. i'll never use those heavier rods again for steel. i think with that lighter rod, you get that bend and yarding ability alot closer to your wrist, maybe more leverage, without all that weight high up and farther away from you on the heavier rods.
anybody interested in a TFO 9wt with Airflow, 90 minutes use, lol.


Active Member
He does the same test for the 2 rods. With the 5 weight pointing upward he gets 11 ounces. With it low and at the side he gets 2 pounds 12 ounces. With the 8 weight pointing up he gets 1 pound 3 ounces. With the 8 weight low and to the side he gets 2 pounds 10 ounces of pull. He says he could get 3 with both hands probably. He says the bent rod is a shorter lever or something. But in his tests he is saying he can pull harder with the 5 weight. So if he's pulling harder he can get the fish there faster. So it's not hurting the fish. Sorry but I think I believe the guy. I've been doing his knot tests and the bimmini tippets with the ligature knot leaders are way stronger then what I was using before.

it's a complex issue.

Rod power is a function of stiffness. The stiffer the rod is overall, the more power it can apply to the cast, and the more pressure it can apply to the fish with an equal amount of force from the angler. This can be amply demonstrated by doing a simple deflection test of the two rods side-by-side with equal amounts of weight--which is exactly how most rod manufacturers measure the power of their rods and assign the AFTMA line rating.

Unfortunately, comparing rod power using their AFTMA line designations tends to mislead because calling a rod an "eight weight" or a "five weight" tells us next to nothing about it's actual power, which is where the author of your book is running into trouble. All the AFTMA line designation on a rod tells us is that the rod manufacturer thinks that the rod should cast the line its rated for. If you want to understand this more, go to www.common-cents.info and read up. There's another site out there that indexes rods by manufacturer using the Common Cents system of measuring rod power, which will give you an idea of how varied rod power can be for a given AFTMA rating.

Personally, I think it's irresponsible that the author made a blanket statement that a five weight is a better choice than an eight weight, especially considering how rare it is that a five weight truly overpowers an eight weight. It shows a lack of understanding regarding the dynamics of rod design, and while that's not so bad in and of itself, it's going to lead anglers to undergun themselves against a precious resource. If he was going to make observations on the "pulling strength" of rods, he would have been better serving his readers to lead them to understand the importance of having the necessary power, not the necessary line rating.

James Mello

Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"
The tests he uses are to have somebody hold a digital fish scale on one end. On the other end he has 25 feet of fly line and his rods. He pulls on the rod and the scale gives him a number. When he pulls in the normal position with the rod pointing upward he gets hardly any pull. When he uses the butt of the rod and keeps the rod low and pulls to the left or right he gets more force. He is using the rod and not the tip. In his pull tests, and he even says it in the book, the 8 weight doesn't match the force he can pull with. It has something to do with leverage or something. He calls it shortening the lever. I can't believe nobody has read this book.
I should read it, but I gotta call BS... Based on your description, it's more about him as an angler and how hard he can pull rather than the rod. A 9 foot rod in a 5wt and 8wt will be night and day in the kinda pull someone can put on a fish. Both the 5wt and the 8wt can be pulled into the same taco shape, which means that the lever is the same size. Just because *he* can't pull it that way doesn't mean that the pressure can't be applied.

Now if he's comparing 2 different length rods, then that makes a huge difference precisely due to leverage.

-- Cheers
-- James
You can use a 5 weight on all of those mutant hatchery mutts in the Great Lakes you want. Bust out the egg patterns and split shot and have at them. Walt Johnson was using a midge rod for steelies decades ago. He told me one day at his house that he killed fish unnessarily doing that also. Summer water temps, and air temps, lack of oxygen plus a 5 weight makes things risky. Most summer runs aren't very big in the Puget Sound area and can be landed in under 5 minutes easily. That being said, that's with a good angler who knows how to put the wood into a sea-run fish. In fact not too many years ago during a long period of low water a group of 5 weight commandos had the Deer Creek fish pinned in some water above the Elbow and were pounding the shit out of them with bobbers(indicators:rolleyes:) and light assed rods. Those dumb asses killed about half a dozen in three or four days they thought they had "released". They floated down by Headricks and the Bly houses, so we called the game department and had a cease fire called. Kind of like Walt's story. He told me he thought they were okay, and then one day he walked down below the Elbow and found two fish belly up he had revived and released or so he thought. Before spey, I used a 7 in the summer even in rivers like the Beckler and Whitechuck up high. When you get the odd fish that goes 8 or 9 pounds, (or the 12+ fish I hooked quite often in the SF Stilly - - up to 18) the 7 makes things fun, but really ends things quick. Not for my pleasure but to ensure that any wild fish was played fast and hard and released. But I thought these fish were treasures and worth the extra half an once and the little bit of lack of rod bend and amusement I got by lightening up. I guess I just love these fish too much, but for one-handers I'll go with 7s in the summer and 8s in the winter. Maybe I like the traditions. Each to his own, just be honest about your abilities and the fish you are hooking. We don't have enough left to risk killing a wild steelie so someone gets three more minutes of primetime. Tight lines Coach
It's funny, everybody says the same thing. Steelhead = 8 weight.
I don't think anybody says that.

There are a lot of people in this thread who don't say that.

I think most guys on this site don't always use an 8wt. for steelhead. We can all agree it is a matter of what size fish we are targeting.

It is a good all around rod for your first steelhead/salmon rod; we can all agree about that as well.

Strangely, some of us are still arguing if a 5wt is better for fighting big fish than an 8wt.

This surely is not true.

We must have run out of stuff to argue about?

How about this: a 1wt line is better for spey casting on my 9140-3 9/10 wt than anything else.....or is it?.......Discuss.


Active Member
First of all, I have never seen an experienced steelhead fisherman make the blanket statement that an 8 wt single-hander is optimal for steelhead. Second, I've seen lots of experienced steelhead fishermen recommend 6 wt single handers for summer and 9 wt single handers for winter fish. Third, I've seen lots of experienced steelhead fishermen recommend a 7 or 8 wt single hander as the best compromise if a person can only buy one rod. Fourth, I've seen many who are experienced steelhead fishermen with the smaller steelhead such as the Grande Rhonde or Klamath fish recommend 4 or 5 wt single handers.

In other words, there is not one rod wt that is best to use in all steelhead fishing. Instead, one should use a rod matched to the distance you are going to be casting, the size of the fish, and the size of the flies (or wind resistance) you are going to be using. And this applies to single-hand and 2-hand rods.

As to rod wt for steelhead, my good friend Bob Arnold caught many Deer Creek and Stilly hatchery summer runs on a 7' 4 wt bamboo "midge" rod. This is not a very powerful rod and in fact, it is very much a noodle. Does this mean Bob or other experienced steelheaders would recommend a 4 wt for summer runs on the Stilly, nope. It just means that in the hands of a good angler who is experienced in fighting and landing larger, harder fighting fish like steelhead can go out and do so with such light equipment. By-the-way, Bob didn't fight the fish with the rod after he hooked them, he pretty much pointed the rod tip at the steelhead and fought them off the reel with nearly no rod bend.

Heck, I remember Lee Wulff going out hooking and landing a yellow fin tuna on a cheap 8' 5 wt fiberglass rod. I don't think most of us would do this. He did it to prove that experienced anglers can hook and land powerful fish on pretty wimpy rods, not that everyone should go out and do it.

I would also take into consideration Art Scheck's normal fishing. He is a trout fisherman usually fishing smaller streams who rarely if ever fishes for steelhead.

Richard E

Active Member
It's funny, everybody says the same thing. Steelhead = 8 weight. Yea, I know that's what we've been taught. What I'm saying is that if Scheck is right then WHY? If I can pull just as hard with a 5 weight, or harder in his tests, then why would I bother with the 8. And I'm only talking about the pulling strength, not the breaking strength.
Dude, then use your 5 weight. It appears you have already convinced yourself.


Registered Potamophile
***Question*** Why am I using an 8 weight for Steelhead when I could be using my 5?
Cause you need at least an eight weight to throw an Intruder! You should choose your stick based on the size of the BUG, not the fish.

Tied by: John Hicks.
Ok, I know everybody doesn't say 8 weight. Bert gives the answer that I was taught at the fly shop - match the rod to the fly. And I could see that if it's windy and you're rigged heavy it might be hard to use a 5 weight. But as far as bringing in the fish, if a normal medium action 5 weight pulls as hard as the normal medium action 8 weight, with everything being equal, then using the 5 weight wouldn't be hurting the fish in any way. In Schecks test the 5 weight would be better at bringing in the fish then the 8 weight he used. The fish would be brought in faster. It would have less trauma no matter the size of the fish or how wild it is. By the way I still can't believe that nobody has read this book. They should have it at the library. At mine it's only 25 cents to order a book from one of the main branches. And I've seen some gigantic fish pulled out of these streams wild or not.
Not open for further replies.