Rods come in a whole variety of lengths, actions and fittings. Choice is a matter of personal opinion. My personal choice for stillwater is a fast progressive actioned rod, of nine to nine and a half feet in length. As regards to fittings give me fugi rings every time. Poor quality snakes wear out lines quicker than concrete dams.
I always matt finish my rods. The flash from glossy rods scares fish. I have no intention of scaring fish away, simply catching them.
Since a progressive actioned rod can be cast using different weights, it is a more versitile tool. The tendency is for stillwater anglers to think that tip action is best. There is in fact a great deal of confusion between speed and flex. The two are independent. Speed is how quickly the rod unbends. Flex is how far down bend travels. I do not like tip action rods. I like fast rods.
Rods of higher quality carbon recover quicker and are termed to be fast actioned. Fast actioned rods cast tighter loops and generally perform better when casting. Slow actioned rods play fish better and are more forgiving on the strike but fail to cast nice lines. My favour is to use a fast action since, as I see it, playing fish is secondary to the presentation of the fly. Or in other words, it is no use being able to play a fish which hasn't seen your fly, and hence has no chance of hooking up.
Line / rod weight for stillwaters normally come recommended as being a seven or an eight. Take the seven. Eight is too heavy for small flies and fine leaders. It also lands with a splash. Fishing fine and small will catch you more fish than the extra couple of yards an eight may give you.
At least this hold true for most situations. There is one exception however, it is when the fish are holding just outside the length of most peoples cast. In these circumstances it can be a good thing to have an eight weight. Better still is good casting technique. The true value of heavy lines lies in their ability to cast large wind-resistant flies and heavy lures. Try casting a mouse into a wind on a four-weight and you will see what I mean.
I fish a six-weight. It is harder to manage, requiring better casting technique. But definitely catches me more fish than the seven would. A five I find too extreme for general use. The loss of distance, and the inability to cast wind resistant flies such as muddlers is just too much of a disadvantage. It is one of those compromise things, and finding the balance is a matter of opinion. When travelling I have to restrict myself to one rod. I choose a six-weight 9ft rod. I use it to fish the spectrum beginning with small streams and ending with the open sea. It breaks down at both ends. Forcing a nine foot rod beneath branches is real nuisance. Casting huge lures great distances is close to impossible.
For travelling you need a four piece rod. And a spare, for when either you, or the airline company break the first. I actually prefer the action four-piece rods give. They are stiffer.
Many anglers, like myself, own more rods than have long term girlfriends. I think there is a connection here. Well anyway, I have become monogomous with my rods. There is certainly a case, however, for having a longer rod for boat fishing. A ten foot rod allows a more controlled dibble.
I often see anglers around stillwaters carrying several rods. This suits me not in the least; slows me down too much. I like to fish and move together. Also I can be pretty sure that if I did carry that extra rod around with me, some fellow angler would come along and trip over it. Incidentally when you do place a rod down always lean it on something.
The difference in price between rods is staggering. You can purchase rods for as little as £25 and yet you can pay over 40 times that much. Some rods are not worth their money. Always try a rod before purchase, alternatively buy on the understanding that you can go away and test the thing and return it if it's not up to scratch. The best rods have little bounce. That is to say that when the power check is made the rod doesn't wiggle up and down sending waves down the line.