Over the weekend I bought a Fenwick Aetos 6wt 9'-0". I plan on using it for Streamer & Nymph fishing for Trout in New England rivers.
Not sure if I bought the right size. Is there a big difference between a 5 & 6 wt? I liked the length of the 6wt @ 9'-0"
This is a forum with everyone having different needs, abilities, desires etc. that makes us all hold different opinions, so you are apt to get a variety of answers.
In my experience and opinion a 9'-6wt is a great choice. With a DT line and the proper leader it will fish as tiny as you can tie flies and it still has enough line weight to carry a fairly large streamer far enough to catch fish.
Most rods can handle three or four line weights, so I could fish that rod with a 5 or 7wt or very likely an 8WF- the difference in each being 20 grains of weight in the first 30 feet on line.
I've read good reviews of the Aetos and think you will do well with it. Practice. Take instruction or join a fly fishing club if you can, there should be several in New England.
I would say that how the rod will handle a lower or higher line weight depends on the distance you will be casting and the fly you will be using. For example, if you were on a float boat and casting to the back with a streamer, the guide would be keeping the boat a lot closer to your target than 30 feet. You may be casting only 20 feet with a 5 foot leader = only 15 feet of fly line out of the guides. So with an underweighted 5 wt line and short casts, the rod would not be loading normally. But load it with an 8 wt, and it would load
The point is that WHEN we say that a rod will handle 3 line wts, most fly casters are referring using the rated 6 wt line and uplining for shorter casts so they using a 7 and 8 wt line with a 6 wt rod with 20 - 30 foot casts (15 - 20 feet of line with 5 - 10 feet of leader). They generally are NOT referring to downloading a 6 wt rod with a 5 wt line.
To load a 6 wt rod with 5 wt line, you will need to be streamer fishing or nymphing with 40 - 50 foot casts (35 - 40 foot casts and a 5-10 ft leader) to load the rod. The reason you will NOT be streamer fishing or nymphing at that distance is that it is difficult to make effect mends at those distances; and without effective mends, your success will be poor.
Streamer and nymphing both require mending line. For nymphing, the mends are to maintain a drag free float. For streamers we mend to:
1. Get the streamer to sink
2. Get the streamer to rise
3. Get the streamer to change direction.
4. Get the streamer to swim like a wounded baitfish.
5. Get the streamer to drift drag free
The Aethos is a moderately fast rod action and so it does not have the reserve power to be up-lined as much as a fast action or super fast action fly rod. It is best fished with the rated line wt and one wt higher. At 2 wts higher (an 8 wt line on a 6 wt moderate action rod), the Athos would be less responsive unless the casts were short.
So rod action matters. So does how you test the rod with different fly lines. Borrow some reels with up and lower weighted lines AND put the leader and the WET fly you are going to using to see how the rod will actually handles a true to life situation. It is easy to fool yourself if you cast with just a line and leader when you are actually going to be fishing the rod with a WET streamer.
Note the flex pattern of the Aethos compared to other rods of the same line rating.
One final practical matter on streamer fishing. Listen to the Orvis podcast on "The Seven Deadly Sins of Streamer Fishing" and pay attention to the sections on when to use a floating line vs a floating line with a polyleader to sink the fly. When using a polyleader, you will need to decide what weight and length to use for the line and fly you are using.