I am trying to decide what wt to get for myself and my daughter(12) to learn the basics? I dont want to break the bank, but want a quality rod and reel for us to learn teh basics. We will mostly be fishing the Anchorage area... Thanks
Dunno much about the Anchorage area, but I've taught a lot of kids to fly fish- most recently my granddaughter when she turned 12 last year. For kids a 6-weight appears to provide about the right balance of weight and spine. Dandy for trout and grayling through pink salmon, all the perfect fish for learning the ropes. Anything lighter is a little too light for pinks. An 8-weight might be more "universal" if your ambition for a kid runs to reds and silvers, but I don't think a kid is really ready to tackle the bigger fish on a fly rod. Give them a couple of years on the 6WT including pink salmon, then migrate them up to an 8WT if you want.
5 wt and 8 wt would be quite versatile down the road. 5 wt as a trout rod and 8 wt for salmon. I would get the 5 wt first then add an 8 wt later. Four piece rods for ease of travel. Lots of good deals in the bargain cave on Cabelas. Temple Fork Outfitter makes a great rod without breaking the bank. Saw their pro rod in 5 wt at Cabelas last week for $59 or so, about half price. A combo with rod reel and line from Cabelas is about as easy as it gets for a beginner set up.
Depending on how old or strong the child is, I would go with a 3wt and 8' or less for a first rod...
I've taught many kids. 5weight 8 foot is perfect. Get it rigged up with backing, fly line and maybe a leader. I pull the leader off and use 4 feet of fire line or spyder wire for a leader to be cost effective. I 5wt is fun for all fish up to 24". The 8ft helps with casting and protecting the rod tip. Please teach basic casting and practice a few min before going out time. Staying out of the trees and hitting your target is 80% of fly fishing.
Both of my kids started learning around five years, we are targeting grayling. Kids rapidly lose interest if you don't catch fish. Start with an easy to catch fish and make it fun. A 5wt for a five year old is too big, a 3wt is perfect for their small arms and works great for grayling...
I learned to fly fish after moving to Alaska, just grabbed gear, found a friend also interested... great ever since.
I bought my 9 y/o daughter a 7ft, 4 wt rod to learn with when she expressed an interest. She's had quite a knack for flyfishing ever since, but the 7 ft, 4 wt rod was unnecessary. We later took a fly tying class together at Mtn View Sports. It's all been fun for us.
I like Dan's suggestion, to set your sights on what works best around Southcentral, Anchorage in particular. Casting with a 9ft, 5wt rod is considerably more satifsying and more effective, especially if you start throwing the lead-weighted leech patterns so popular when fish are deep. The 9ft rod will extend her reach considerably for pocket-water type conditions and nymphing.
Most of those I know fish a 5 or 6 wt first, mostly 5 wts. The second rod is usually 8 wt, less often 9 wt.
If you buy all 9 ft rods and all are 4-piece rods as suggested by Dan, you'll have no trouble selling them. Just protect them from dings and chips.
Are you moving to this area? If so, drop by and get to know the local fly shops. Whether it's gear or supplies, they won't steer you wrong and all will have some entry-level rods of good quality.
Pipercub's suggestion to target grayling is perfect too - kids do better if they catch fish. Small dry flies or small streamers are much easier to cast too. Handle them carefully, the bigger ones are old fish. What they learn about being outside, doing things with family, seeing wild things in their natural environment is all very special. Good on you for spending time with your kid/s man.