Rods & Lines – the hassle with the AFTMA standard

The most flexible rod for all sorts of fishing is a 9ft to 9,6ft for a 5wt line. It works well in windy conditions, but a good 5wt line is also suitable for a careful dry fly presentation. 

The most versatile line is a DT floating line, a little bit out of fashion, but when fishing at Skålestrømmen, you will quickly learn that presentation is 95% of the job. 2% is fly choice; the rest is luck ;-). 

So try to get a good, proper to the AFTMA standards five weight line. The AFTMA standard describes the weight of the line precisely as the wording five weight line suggests.

Weight forward lines nowadays are often not sticking to the AFTMA standard. Selling a heavier line often comes buttered and snake-oiled with marketing terminology of some marketing wizard at the xxxxxx company just trying to fool you into believing that overloading rod helps its performance. I won’t name any, but- sadly – it is all of the big names. 

This is a lot of BS, of course. It might feel easier to cast for a novice, but distance is not everything, especially when paying the price of losing control and poor mending.

You can read about the AFTMA Standard here –

Fly presentation is the operative word in fly fishing, specifically when trying to imitate natural food items like floating insects or free-drifting nymphs. A 9m heavy belly on a falsely labeled 5wt line doe does not help you very much catching fish. 

Yes, It might be easily chucked a bit further than you were able to, but try to manipulate the drift of your lure with a drastic change of mass/diameter disconnected front part of your line. You can chuck it out and then watch and hope. 

That is why I advise getting hold of a DT line. They tend to be labeled correctly, and you never lose that ever-so-important contact with your fly and the ability to control its drift. 

Rods – well, you’d be amazed how much more accessible even a lower-priced rod is to fish with the DT line, but the finite happiness and biiiig smile on your face is achieved by a well-designed and manufactured rod with a matching line.

My setup is a 5wt P5 made by Stickman rods of Hungary. For the 5wt, I have three lines – all made by Barrio FlyLines – a Mallard 5wt DT, a 5wt sink tip, and a 5wt intermediate sinking line. That setup gives me a lot of options, including fishing the salt.

For still days and tricky fish, I use a Stickman P3, 9,6ft for a 3wt line strung with a Barrio 3wt DT floating line. The lighter, also meaning “softer” rod, helps to keep those hard & smart fighting fish firmly on the hook. 

I also knot my leaders for more control, so I aim to extend the control mentioned above to the fly.