Over the years, fly anglers have steadily moved to lighter line weights. Granted this didn’t happen overnight. It has been a slow progression. Still there is no denying it, amigo. Lighter line weights have been gaining favor for decades.
Here’s an example. Across the room from where I sit there is a 2.5″ diameter rod tube. It houses two rods I bought eons ago to cover any and all trout situation. There is a 6-weight for small to medium size streams. And an 8-weight for larger rivers and lakes. They are 3-piece, 2 tip, Winston fiberglass rods and have served me exceeding well.
When I purchased this travel set, 6-weight rods were touted the best all-around trout tool. By 1990’s, however, a 6-weight was out of favor, considered too big. So the 5-weight became the king. Now get this: a few years back I overheard a knowledgeable angler extolling why he recommends a 4-weight rod as the right general purpose trout rod. Is the 3-weight next? Wouldn’t surprise me.
Frankly the same thing happened in the salt. If you asked me 30 years ago for the correct all-rounder in the Northeast brine. I would have immediately claimed it to be a 10-weight. Today, no question I would vote for a 9-weight.
Why has this trend taken place? I think there are several reasons, but the single largest is advancements in fly rods. Today’s 4 or 5-weight graphite rod is a wonderful tool, capable of handling a wide variety of trout situations with ease. Yes this is the golden age of the graphite fly rod.