An Expert Guide to Douglas Fly Rods

Published on 03/08/2023 · 9 min readFly Fishing Expert Joseph Smith explains all the considerations and features to look out for when shopping for a Douglas fly fishing rod!
Joseph Smith, Fly Fishing Expert
By Fly Fishing Expert Joseph Smith

Douglaston Salmon Run (namesake of Douglas Rods). Photo by Joseph Smith

Why Douglas Rods?

Are you new to fly fishing and need a fly rod? Maybe you’re an expert angler, and it is time to upgrade your gear. A relatively new company deserves your consideration. The idea for Douglas fly rods started on the banks of the Salmon River in upstate New York. The concept was simple: build premium rods centered around performance and quality while keeping the rods affordable. Within a few years, Douglas rods began to get attention in the fly fishing world by winning the Yellowstone Angler 5 weight shootout; the accolades followed. Backed by a lifetime warranty, these high-performance rods will put a smile on any angler’s face. In this article, I will tease out the differences in Douglas rods to help you pick the best one for your fishing.

As an avid fly fisherman, I luckily have a pond in my backyard exactly two minutes from my fly-tying bench. If there is open water, I will fish just about every day. I grew up fishing the fabled streams of Pennsylvania and have been fly fishing my entire life in various parts of the country and abroad, chasing both fresh and saltwater fish. Fishing is my life, so the gear I use is a passion of mine. As Douglas fly rods are relatively new, I do not own as many Douglas rods as other brands, but these rods are a favorite of mine.

On a personal note, I derive great pleasure in teaching and passing fly fishing on to others. There is nothing more rewarding than fishing with family and friends and seeing their success. So, I would love to pass my knowledge on and help start your passion for fly fishing.

What to Consider When Buying a Fly Rod

Your fly rod is the single most important piece of equipment you can purchase; this is your primary fly-fishing tool. Douglas rods offer rods that fly fishers of every skill level will enjoy and use for years.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay for a Rod?

Douglas built its rods to be affordable. Compared to similar rods built by others, these rods remain affordable without sacrificing features such as comfortable quality cork grips and quality guides. In addition, each rod comes with a lifetime warranty. They are designed near Pulaski, New York, and manufactured in South Korea. Each rod has a distinctive look and comes with a Cordura or an aluminum tube for safe storage when not in use. An introductory Era rod costs around $150, while the most advanced Sky G technology costs approximately $900.

What Will Be Your Fishing Conditions?

This is an important consideration. You should match the rod to the correct fly rod line weight, which is dictated by the size of the fly you are casting. The size of the fish and fishing technique used will also dictate the type of rod to purchase. Trout and panfish anglers use different rods than anglers chasing pike or tarpon. Ultralight anglers catching trout in small North Carolina streams will have different needs than fly anglers chasing cutthroat trout in Wyoming or bonefish in the Florida Keys.

For most fishing situations, a 9-foot fly rod is standard. However, ultralight anglers fishing in small streams may desire a shorter rod to help them fit into tighter quarters. A 9-foot 6-inch length is a common size for Great Lakes steelhead anglers. Likewise, European nymph anglers often seek longer rods for better line control. Making sure your gear matches your needs is key to success.

What About the Action?

When anglers discuss rod actions, they are really talking about the rod’s flex pattern, stiffness, and ability to stop moving or recover at the end of a cast. Fishing rod action can be either fast, moderate, or slow. A fast-action rod is preferred for experienced anglers, especially those fishing streamers or casting large baitfish patterns in the wind. In contrast, a moderate action will help with dainty dry fly presentations to wary trout. Douglas makes rods that run from fast to slower action designed to mimic bamboo or fiberglass.

Different Douglas Fly Rods

Photo by Jeff Cearfoss

In addition to breaking rods down from entry-level to more advanced, Douglas fly rods can be delineated as either fast or moderate action. Your casting style will determine the rod you should look at.

Moderate-Fast Action Rods

This is the perfect action for fly rods. Novice anglers find this action easy to cast, yet the action will still meet the needs of veteran anglers across various fishing conditions.

Era

  • The newest fly rod Douglas offers
  • True an exploratory, beginners rod
  • Moderate-fast action blank
  • Available in 9ft 5 weight (freshwater) or 8 weight (saltwater)
  • Designed for easy casting power and control

LRS

  • Made to meet to needs of beginning to advanced anglers
  • LRS fly series is designed as a primary everyday rod or a solid backup rod
  • Moderate-fast action blank
  • Available in 3-10 weight and 7ft 6in, 8ft 6in, 9ft, and 10ft lengths, the LRS rod series is one of the deepest lineups on the entire market.
  • Carbon fiber insert reel seat for decreased weight
  • Outstanding performance without the premium price tag

Sky

  • Fast action blank with nano carbon XMatrix materials allows for a stronger, more sensitive blank for quicker recovery and easier casting.
  • Available in 2-12 weight and 9ft to 11ft 4in lengths
  • Freshwater, saltwater, and European nymph-style rods
  • Winner of George Anderson’s Yellowstone Angler 6 weight Shootout

Sky G

Photo by Josh Hoffman

  • Advanced fly rod
  • Moderate-fast action multi-modulus blanks with the addition of revolutionary G-Tec platelets over a glare-resistant platinum color with G-Armour coating
  • Available in 4-11 weight and 8ft 6in and 9ft in length
  • Winner of Yellowstone Anglers 5 weight Shootout “Best Overall Rod” with 30 plus 5 weight rods tested.

Moderate Action Rods

The action of these rods is slightly slower and is desired for delicate fly presentations. Anglers with a slower casting stroke will appreciate these rods. DXF

  • An everyday rod designed for a variety of fishing situations
  • Moderate action high-modulus blanks with XMatrix carbon materials for increased sensitivity
  • Available in 2-12 weight and 8ft 6in to 11ft 6in lengths
  • Specialty European nymph rods in 10ft and 11ft, 2-5 weight
  • Saltwater rods in 7-12 weight
  • Awarded “Best Mid Priced 6 weight, 5 weight, and Best Trout Switch Rod” by George Anderson’s Yellowstone Angler Shootouts

Upstream

Photo by Danny Salinas

  • Designed as an ultralight rod for small, tight quarters
  • Moderate action blank designed to mimic bamboo or fiberglass rods
  • Ideal for dead drift presentations
  • Available in 2-4 weight and 6ft 6in to 8ft 8in lengths
  • Minimal sliding ring reel seat reduces rod weight but may be a drawback for fly fishers desiring a more secure attachment

Upstream Plus

Photo by Jeff Cearfoss

  • Patterned after the Upstream but built with more power and slightly faster action
  • Medium action blank with nano resin technology for increased power and decreased weight
  • Available in a 4-6 weight and 9in in length
  • Uplocking reel seat to better secure the reel to the rod

Choosing the Right Rod

To help illustrate how this technical information applies to you, here are a few examples of different anglers and their specific needs.

Heather: A Novice Saltwater Angler

Photo by Joseph Smith

Heather just moved to the Florida Keys and is looking for an entry-level fly rod to use as she dabbles in the sport. She does not want to spend too much but still insists on quality. She wants to enjoy her time fishing rather than worry about gear or struggle with her casting. Features Heather should look for:

  • Easy for beginning fly fishers: Heather would benefit from a moderate to fast action rod. This action will be more forgiving of a learning casting stroke but still have the power to cast in the winds that often accompany saltwater fly fishing.
  • Low price point: This is purely an introductory rod, so the price point must be low enough. Heather can upgrade to a more advanced saltwater setup if she really likes this sport.
  • 8 weight: Heather will primarily be casting larger baitfish patterns and needs a rod to turn these flies over. An 8-weight is the all-around saltwater size.

Rod examples include: Era and LRS

Tony: A Traditional Trout Chaser

Photo by Rylyn Small

Tony is an avid fly angler who has been fishing for many years. Recently, he purchased an Orvis Battenkill click-and-pawl reel fly reel and is looking for a rod to use while stalking wild trout on small streams. He would prefer a rod close in appearance and action to a traditional bamboo rod. Tony would like to pass this on to his grandchildren, who have begun to fly fish with him. Features Tony should look for:

  • Aesthetics: Tony wants his rod to look and feel like a heritage bamboo rod while enjoying a high-end performance with extreme sensitivity.
  • Accurate casting: Since trout will spook easily, exceptional accuracy is essential as he will often only have one shot at these finicky trout. A rod that can deliver delicate yet accurate casts is a must.
  • 4 weight: As Tony will be casting primarily small dry flies and some small nymphs, a 4 weight will be the perfect size to present them to trout delicately.

Rod examples include: Upstream and Upstream Plus

Megan: A Seasoned Trout Fisher

Megan is an angler who loves to travel to fish for trout, whether it be in Pennsylvania’s limestone creeks or on a float trip to Montana. She recently updated her reel to a Lamson Litespeed and is looking for a rod to pair with it. Performance is a must, and the price is not a concern. Features Megan should look for:

  • High-end quality and durability: Megan is looking for the best rod available—a rod that can deliver short and far accurate casts is essential. Outstanding durability is desired.
  • Versatility: Since Megan travels to trout fish in many different situations, a rod that can be fished in various applications is a must.
  • All-round trout rod: A 9ft 5 weight will adequately cover just about all trout fishing situations.

Rod examples include: DXF, Sky, and Sky G

Final Thoughts

Douglas makes high-quality fly fishing rods that are backed by lifetime warranties. With multiple offerings, beginning and advanced anglers can find a rod that suits their fishing style. If you have questions or need help selecting a fly rod, or any other gear, as you head out to your favorite fishing hole, please reach out to me or another Curated Fly Fishing Expert for free, customized advice. We would love to help. Tight Lines!

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Shop Fly Fishing on Curated

Douglas ERA Fly Rod
$149.00
Douglas SKY Fly Rod
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Douglas LRS Fly Rod
$224.00

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