What is Ultralight Fishing?

best ultralight fishing rod

Ultralight fishing is using the lightest possible gear to target a particular species of fish.

Obviously what constitutes “ultralight” varies a bit according to the species.

But we are pretty much talking about freshwater species such as trout, bass, walleye, crappie and other panfish with gear that is aimed at finesse and casting accuracy.

Usually ultra light fishermen are targeting fish of up to 40cm in length.

How did Ultralight Fishing Start Off?

what is ultralight fishing

Ultralight fishing has it’s roots in trout fishing. Trout are often found in small, clear streams and are smart fish that are difficult to fool. Hence the use of ultralight lines and ultralight lures.

The ultralight fishing movement has now spread to fishermen that chase other species such as the ones listed above. Ultralight bass fishing is gaining in popularity with more and more fishermen going after largemouth bass and smallmouth on light tackle.

Notwithstanding these differences, if you had to pick a definition for what makes ultralight fishing you’d probbaly say using 6lb line or less and rods, reels and lures to suit. Usually ultralight lures will be 1/8 of an inch or less (often significantly less like 1/16 or 1/32).

What species do ultralight anglers chase?

Trout, bass, crappie, walleye, bluegill and other panfish.

What is an Ultralight Fishing Rod?

For ultralight gear, graphite rods are the way to go. These are light rods that are responsive and accurate but have enough power to fight a fish and keep it out of structure. You need to be careful with them too as even the best ultralight rods will have a thin tip that is easily broken! You need a good casting rod that will still have the power to fight a 50cm fish. You never know when a big fish will show up and you need an ultralight rod with backbone for these occasions.

What is an Ultralight Fishing Reel?

We are talking spinning reels. Ultra light fishing doesn’t really use baitcasting reels as they tend not to be as good at throwing the very light lures this style of fishing relies on. Get the best ultralight spinning reel you can afford as it is a vital piece of tackle. It needs to have a good drag, high quality components and be well matched to the rod.

What is a good Ultralight Combo?

So an ultra light combo is a graphite ultra light rod paired with an ultra light spinning reel (1000 or 2500 size in Shimano spinning reel sizing) and line of less than 6lbs. This will be an ideal ultralight setup for light tackle stream fishing and for fishing lake edges and throwing light lures and baits with accuracy.

What are ultralight lures?

Basically any small lure that matches your ultral ight tackle. This means jigs in the 1/16th, 1/20th and 1/32 oz sizes and crankbaits, topwater lures and crankbaits and soft plastics in small sizes. Small spinners are also very popular ultralight lures and can be deadly on trout when thrown on light gear. These can be often made using one of the many fishing lure kits available.


  • Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He is a regular on fly fishing podcasts and appeared in the international fly fishing film Predator.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on print
Share on facebook