The majority of freshwater fly fishing is done in lakes and rivers with single-hand rods. Trout, bass, panfish, carp, pike and other species can all be caught with 0 to 10 weight rods, and the heavier rods often have a fighting butt for extra power. Steelhead and salmon can also be caught with single-hand rods, but two-handed rods are popular on large rivers. Spey rods allow anglers to cast long distances and cover large stretches of water with a single cast. The rods are up to 15 feet long and powerful, and the cast is done with the line in front of the angler. Switch rods are a hybrid between a single-hand rod and a spey rod. The switch rod has a main grip and a small grip on the bottom of the rod. The rod can be used with one hand for short distances and two hands for casting long distances. Switch rods are ideal for larger trout rivers, steelhead and salmon.
The majority of saltwater anglers use a single-hand rod. Saltwater rods are built with corrosion resistant components and use a fast action for making long casts in windy conditions. Saltwater anglers use rods ranging from 6 to 12 weights, and the heavier rods have a fighting butt for extra power when landing fish. Saltwater anglers targeting striped bass and bonefish will use 7 to 10 weight rods, while the 10 to 12 weight rods are commonly used for tarpon, sailfish and marlin. Saltwater fishermen target numerous species, and the weight of the rod is dependent on the size and power of the species being targeted.
Rods are constructed with a variety of materials that have different functions. Graphite is the most common material used and can be tapered for medium through ultra-fast action rods. Bamboo is the traditional material used in fly rod construction, and high-quality bamboo rods can be priced in the thousands. Bamboo is best suited for small- and medium-size trout streams. Fiberglass is another material used in some fly rods and is preferred by a small group of anglers. "Glass" rods are durable, inexpensive, lightweight and very strong. The rods are difficult to find, but Scott Rod Company continues to manufacture a high-quality fiberglass rod.