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OK take a 7136 rod any 7136 rod. Multiply by the number of manufacturers. Now multiply by the number of different lines, floating and sinking. Now multiply by the number of possible tips. And lastly by the number of different style flies weighted and unweighted. Buy them all and try and find the perfect set up for your casting style. How can the average person possibly do this unless their name is Bill Gates? Just an observation from someone who reads "what rod and reel should I buy before I learn to cast and fish 2 handed".
 

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Fortunately the answer is that, of course, it really doesn’t matter. Nowadays you can choose almost at random from the list of recommended possibilities and get results are the virtually identical. It you are at the stage where you are asking the question this way, and aren’t being facetious, then I know a lot of people would say you will get the most benefit and enjoyment per buck starting with very inexpensive gear and investing in a few initial lessons or casting clinics with the savings. Inexpensive reel and rod, any matching scandi head, any matching skagit head, coated running line, 12’ of t11 and a tapered leader, some backing. With those you will literally be able to do anything you would ever want to with a spey rod, and all the rest will be just for fun and curiosity. No need to spend more than $500-600 max for everything. Less if you buy 2nd hand on here.
 

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OK take a 7136 rod any 7136 rod. Multiply by the number of manufacturers. Now multiply by the number of different lines, floating and sinking. Now multiply by the number of possible tips. And lastly by the number of different style flies weighted and unweighted. Buy them all and try and find the perfect set up for your casting style. How can the average person possibly do this unless their name is Bill Gates? Just an observation from someone who reads "what rod and reel should I buy before I learn to cast and fish 2 handed".
Don't bother. Just use what you have or can get cheaply (your history suggests you've been a member of spey pages since 2002). Seems you'd have had a rod, reel, and line to cast for quite a while, perfection is something almost no one will ever achieve. Fishing with what works for you might be the best choice, you can change this or that and you'll figure out what works best for you. There is no perfect anything, except maybe .9999 gold or silver (which ain't perfect either)...everything else is more of a crap shoot. Buy a rod, reel and line and learn to cast it, there is nothing else, someone elses opinion ain't worth more than the CO2 exhaust they used to state it.
 

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Years ago, at a clave, I asked Bob Meiser what new rods he was excited to cast, and he said, All of them, they're all good now. Cheapest to spendiest, there aren't and bad rods anymore.

So with that in mind, I'd suggest getting a 7136 from the classifieds. Figure a matching line, then learn to cast. Use the money you save on some lessons. Once you're hucking some nice clean loops, go to Speynation and cast every 7126, 7130, 7136 one 7140 you can get your hands on. You won't be able to tell the difference until your learn to cast, but once you can, that's the time to spend your money.
 

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This applies to SH, and years (decades) ago and decided I would not be a 'brand' guy. So, I made sure I am good with many rods actions and cast with many different heads. I admit, I have preferences across the spectrum from 2wt to 11wt, but i am fine with picking an old slow Scott G 4wt or 8wt TFO BVK, and adjusting accordingly.

I am not as proficient with DH, but I would argue - as above - it is practice and lessons that should be the focus. If you experiment, stick with one rod and try different lines around that rod. Heavier or lighter. Long belly, 3D Scandi, Skagit, etc cetera and use the one rod to define what you like and skills to adapt.

And yes, like SH rods, I have preferences, but this did not happen accidentally, but after I determine how I want to fish, practice and a little experimentation with lines.

I would also articulate in my case, whose body geometry is long body with short limbs, that I find an underhand power stroke easier to execute, so I tend to Scandi, tips with a fast recovery tip, with a little extra weight in the line to feel the load. Yet, I still have my slow Scott G 1409 4S and adjust accordingly.
 

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SLSS touched on the single best answer to the question; claves. If you can get to one (like the Sandy Clave coming up May 15th and 16th) you could answer years worth of questions and forego thousands of dollars worth of otherwise squandered investment in a day or two. Try all the rods you've heard about, test all the lines on you current rod, get casting help from the best casters in the world, make great new friends....FOR FREE....including lunch!!!!! I can't understand why everybody on this forum doesn't attend every clave they can get to??? Totally mystifying.

Beyond the claves, I know that Bruce & Walker, Meiser, Burkheimer, and I'm sure many other manufacturers/shops, have rod demo programs. Similarly, Poppy, at the Redshed, has a line demo program. Again, except for return shipping, its all pretty much for free. Additionally, any rod manufacturer can set up a beginner with a rod line combo that's right in the wheelhouse (e.g. see the Beulah website). That way a beginner can start with a rod/line combo that works, rather than trying to learn with a match that doesn't work in the first place. Something I see all too often, including with matches recommended by some shops. You'll get much better and more consistent results by going to claves or to the manufacturers for a starting point. There's a surprising number of internet superheros that are nothing more than that. Best bet is to go to the guys that actually do it.

So to answer the question, "How can the average person possibly do this unless their name is Bill Gates?", it's actually very simple. See the above...and just go do it. You'll build your knowledge base along the way and start to get a feel for the rods/lines that best suit your likes and needs. Plus, it's just simple fun. And for the experienced guys that think they "cracked the code" 20 years ago, a day at a clave might open them to a whole new world
 

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OK take a 7136 rod any 7136 rod. Multiply by the number of manufacturers. Now multiply by the number of different lines, floating and sinking. Now multiply by the number of possible tips. And lastly by the number of different style flies weighted and unweighted. Buy them all and try and find the perfect set up for your casting style. How can the average person possibly do this unless their name is Bill Gates? Just an observation from someone who reads "what rod and reel should I buy before I learn to cast and fish 2 handed".
Usually there is a conversation that develops around rods regarding the terminal tackle that was used with them. If I am buying a rod I usually ask what the preferred heads are for that individual that is letting go of the rod. Ive also had guys reach out to me regarding rods they know I own about preferred heads, lines etc. Hiring somebody as a casting instructor is key as they usually have their rig dialed in so you will be picking up where they have left off and that is a great place to start. Trying to make sense of the RIO line chart and sifting through the latest online offerings from everybody as a place to begin on your own is a non starter. The internet is great but sometimes involving another human in the learning process helps you learn faster and develop a better understanding of what you are trying to do, and, its just more fun.
 

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Funny thing is, most are all really good! Really hard to find a bad spey rod and bad spey line anymore. I mean, if skagit is what you like, Rio or Airflo or scientific angler all cast great. If Scandi is your jam then Rio or Airflo or whatever all cast great.

To answer your question though, it’s 17 to the 18th power
 

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Interesting!! My long time friend Ed Jaworowski pointed out to me not so long ago there are over 4000 different fly line types out there. Everything from a 1 weight to a 14 weight and beyond...bass taper, bonefish taper, steelhead taper, salmon taper...blah, blah, blah. So if you have a 6 weight trout taper does that mean you need a new line for bass? It is all marketing b******t!!!!! This applies to lines for one handers and two handers...everything!!

As a result, trying to find what you need and what is the correct line for almost any rod on the planet is a monumental task...especially when his studies show the actual weight of virtually any of these lines does not conform to the old number system...such as that proverbial 6 weight being 160 grains for the first 30 feet. ALL of the current 6 weight lines on the market when weighed are an 8 weight +or-...according to the old system...and the same runs true across the entire spectrum of today's lines from every manufacturer. Today's graphite rods can handle an amazing cross section of line weights despite what is printed on the butt section. However...if you are fishing a 7'6" - 4 weight bamboo rod for trout...that definitely is not the case.

So...what to do? Trial and error is your best option. Try lines some of your fishing friends may have, loaners perhaps from a local fly shop. The potential sale is reason enough for them to do that. Ed advocates for a total revamping of the entire fly line system to using actual grain weight instead of what has become the rather vague number system. Seems to make sense to me anyway.
 

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OK take a 7136 rod any 7136 rod. Multiply by the number of manufacturers. Now multiply by the number of different lines, floating and sinking. Now multiply by the number of possible tips. And lastly by the number of different style flies weighted and unweighted. Buy them all and try and find the perfect set up for your casting style. How can the average person possibly do this unless their name is Bill Gates? Just an observation from someone who reads "what rod and reel should I buy before I learn to cast and fish 2 handed".
You have elucidated an extremely elementary, yet elusive commentary, on a subject that is both prescient to anglers that have limited means, and those who strive to extract continuous monetary gains from this industry.
 
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