Whether fishing the mayfly on an Irish lough when a regular five-weight rod struggles to cast larger, wind -resistant dry-flies or stepping down from a seven-weight to better present dry and nymph patterns to cruising reservoir trout, a 9 ft 6 in six-weight is a useful tool that will pick up and deliver flies quickly and delicately.

A six-weight line will land with less disturbance than a seven-weight, which is desirable when targeting fish at close range and in calm conditions. If you already have a seven-weight rod then one of the softer-actioned six-weights will offer finesse, but if you want a six-weight as your main stillwater fishing rod there are faster models in this test that have the versatility to fish nymphs and buzzers on slow-sinking or midge-tip lines as well as dry-flies on floaters.

Al Owen and editor Andrew Flitcroft cast the best 9 ft 6 in six-weight rods for dry-fly and nymph fishing.

Shakespeare Agility 2

AO: This rod is a great option for short-lining dry-flies, the amount of feel in the handle is very good. I found it hard to separate it from the Wychwood T2 in terms of performance, and both cost less than £100.

AF: I thought this was a cracking rod for the price. It roll casts well and the mid-action would definitely suit dry-fly work. You can really feel it load in the handle and it presents the line delicately. It wouldn’t suit a team of buzzers on an intermediate, midge-tip or floater, but it is great for dry-fly in favourable conditions, as well as being beginner-friendly.

light rods for stillwaters

Wychwood T2

AO: Like the Shakespeare this would be an ideal rod for short-line fishing with dry-flies. It has a fairly soft action in that it bends well but is not lacking in power. I would be happy to fish with this rod all day, short-lining CDCs from a boat.

AF: Another good rod for fishing with dry-flies and making delicate presentations at close range. I found it hard to separate it from the Shakespeare no matter how many times we cast them side by side. If I were told it was the same blank I wouldnt be suprised. If you had to choose between this and the Agility it would have to be on cosmetic preference.

light rods for stillwaters

Scierra SRX V2

AO: I thought the SRX was similar to the Sage in terms of performance and presentation. It is accurate and you can change direction easily – which is great when you want to pick up your fly and present it to a cruising fish. This is a truly versatile rod to fish dry-flies at short range and nymphs or Buzzers at long range at a fraction of the cost of the Sage. This rod was the surprise of the day for me, outrageously good for the price.

AF: This rod seemed to sit between the Airflo and the Vision rods in terms of action. Although the handle is a little bulky you can really feel the rod load throughout the casting stroke. It is accurate and you can cast a long way, the Rio Gold line fairly flew out. It will pick up a long line, too, maintaining good loop stability in the air. A great rod for the price and comparable in action with far more expensive models.

light rods for stillwaters

Airflo Super Stik

AO: This is a very nice rod. It loads easily and will control a lot of line. I thought it was well balanced and will reach distance with no problem, all the while maintaining very good presentation. It roll casts well, too.

AF: I though the Super Stik had a little less feel and finesse than I was looking for, but it is rated a 6/7-weight. It definitely has more power lower down the blank and would be good for fishing at longer ranges and Im certain it will even handle a sinking line with no trouble. An all-rounder maybe, but not one Id choose if Im looking for a delicate set-up.

light rods for stillwaters

Wychwood RS

AO: Another rod that has a great balance of power and feel. Unlike some rods in the test it felt like a true 6 wt, although there is plenty of power in the butt and if you wind it up, it will throw a long line well.

AF: I thought the RS had a similar tip action to the Scierra. It is very accurate and you can feel the rod load in the handle. The blank is quite steely, but it doesnt wow me.

light rods for stillwaters

Redington Vice

AO: This is a fast, tip-action rod that has a nice balance to it with a 6 wt line. It roll casts well and would handle a sinking line with no problem. I would use this rod but it probably wouldn’t suit casters with a more relaxed stroke.

AF: This rod has plenty of power in reserve and feels like more of an all-rounder than an out-and-out dry-fly rod. It would be at its best fishing nymphs and had no problems casting across the wind.

light rods for stillwaters

Vision Onki

AO: I wasn’t as keen on this rod as Andrew. It would certainly suit a caster with a more relaxed casting stroke who prefers a softer rod. There is no question that the rod loads well and has plenty of feel during the cast.

AF: This is an excellent rod. It loads well at short range and you get superb feel through the handle. It bends deep into the blank but recovers quickly. You can be delicate with it, which is perfect for fishing dry-flies and nymphs, but you can also wind it up and cast a long way. I would like to own this rod – it’s my clear favourite.

Greys GR70

AO: The GR70 casts a line perfectly well but there was something about it that didn’t quite feel right. It is a very tip-action rod that doesn’t bend a great deal during the cast. It felt very much like a 7 wt and cast a 7 wt line with no problem at all.

AF: I felt this rod lacks a bit of feel and was quite hard to load with a 6 wt line. Once you have plenty of line out, it casts well enough, but I would recommend going up a line size to get the best out of it, which rather defeats the object of going for a lighter set-up.

light rods for stillwaters

Sage x

AO: I think this rod is in a world of its own. It is very responsive and I feel I could present a fly absolutely anywhere I want to with incredible accuracy. With it I would be happy casting small dry-flies on light leaders all day. It is superb at short and long range, a great all-round performer that is an absolute delight to use – which you would expect for the price. One of my favourites.

AF: This is not a beginners rod. It has a tip action that isn’t as forgiving as the Hardy or Winston and you can’t feel it load as well. It is really good at distance and very accurate, but I disagree with Al because I didn’t think it was as good at short range. For me it was an all-rounder that would compare too closely with most 7 wts and doesnt have the feel Im looking for with a lighter surface-fishing outfit.

light rods for stillwaters

Daiwa Airity X45

AO: This is a very nice piece of kit that has the excellent build quality typical of a Daiwa rod. It has a fast action with plenty of power in the blank though perhaps not as much feel as some other rods in the test.

AF: The Airity feels like a bigger rod, and would probably handle a line heavier without too much trouble. It has a tip action, plenty of power and will cast a long way. It probably wouldn’t be the best choice as a specialist dry-fly rod but would be better suited to nymphs and Buzzers. It certainly handled the windy conditions well.

light rods for stillwaters