By Spencer Durrant
With the right skill and know-how, a 2wt fly rod can land fish just as big and feisty as your average 5wt. 2wt rods aren’t reserved solely for fishing small dry flies to even smaller trout.
How is that possible? Isn’t a 2wt fly rod light, soft, and gutless in the wind?
Yes, yes, and not always. A 2wt fly rod is actually a more versatile and effective fishing tool than you probably expected. Let’s take a look at the different ways you can use a 2wt.
Using a 2wt Fly Rod
Before we get started, it’s important to address the functionality of 2wt rods. While they are light and soft, they’re still fantastic fishing tools. Paired with the right line, they’ll throw a tight loop that’s accurate out to about 35 feet or so.
To preserve torsional stability (the ability of a fly rod to not wiggle side-to-side while casting) most manufacturers keep their 2wt rods at lengths of 7 feet or shorter. So, you shouldn’t expect to win any distance fly casting contests with a 2wt, but you should expect good accuracy and line control at reasonable distances.
As you can see in this series of photos below, a fly cast on a 2wt looks just as natural and normal as what we see on 4 or 5wt rods.
As those photos illustrate, achieving a good cast with a 2wt is possible. You’re really only limited by distance here, which shouldn’t be a huge concern when fishing rods this light anyways.
Now that we’ve addressed the functionality of 2wt fly rods, it’s time to look at the fishing situations in which they perform best.
With the rise of Euro nymphing over the last few years, we’re seeing manufacturers push the envelope when it comes to building Euro rods. A great Euro rod needs to be light and sensitive – two qualities inherent in 2wt fly rods.
That’s why just about every major Euro rod builder offers a 2wt. While the 3 and 4wt Euro rods might be a bit more popular on larger rivers, a 2wt is the perfect blend of sensitivity, feel, and backbone for the waters that are off the beaten path.
If you’re looking to go ultralight in your Euro nymphing approach, or just want something that’s more suited to picking trout out of high-country pocket water, a 2wt is worth considering.
We’ll cover the value a 2wt has in fishing dry flies in a moment, but it’s important to also note that a 2wt has some characteristics that make it great for use in tough fishing situations.
I really enjoy fishing small dry flies to large trout. It’s a fun game of trying to match a tiny fly to what big fish are eating, all while getting the cast and the drift as perfect as possible. In some situations, a 2wt fly rod is the perfect tool for achieving that goal.
The only caveat here is that playing large fish on such light tackle can be draining for the trout. You can play a trout to death, and it’s easy to do if your rod doesn’t have the backbone to force a strong fish into the net.
In the hands of an experienced angler, and with a buddy to net the fish, a 2wt can be a great tool in tougher fishing situations.
The use case where a 2wt fly rod shines the brightest is, of course, when fishing dry flies. Surprisingly, you can fish fairly large bugs on a 2wt – up to size 8 or 10 cicada and hopper patterns. That’s not the most enjoyable experience, but you can get it done.
A 2wt shines with smaller dry flies in the 16-20 range. Because a 2wt is so soft and light, it can lay these bugs down with hardly a splash on the water. When you need to stealthily approach wary trout in low, clear water, a 2wt is one of the best tools for the job.
And, being such a light rod, playing fish of any size on a 2wt is a ton of fun. The light rod makes the fish feel bigger than they are, but provides enough backbone to tame trout up to 15 or so inches.
Overall, 2wt fly rods are more versatile and useful than you probably expected. From Euro nymphing to handling tough dry fly situations with ease, you can probably find an excuse to add a 2wt to your quiver.
Do you use 2wts? Have any fun stories you’d like to tell? Share with us in the comments.