Really wanting a lighter fly rod for gills & rockbass...who makes an affordable combo & would I be better off with a 2 or 3 wt.....this sport is quickly consuming me...never thought it would be this addictive...
If you are gonna be throwing poppers (& I can't imagine bream fishing without using them), then definitely a 3wt over a 2wt. You'll go crazy trying to cast weighted or wind resistant flies with a 2wt.
I use an old Winston IM6 4wt that I love for bream. Limber enough to enjoy the fight the little guys put up, but strong enough to cast smaller wind resistant flies and handle the occasional bass that comes along.
I'll second what Paddler offered. A buddy of mine gave me a Cabela's fiberglas 5'9" 2 wt for Christmas. It is now my "go to" bream rod. While the casting distance is less because of the shorter rod radius, it is a BLAST to catch fish on. It will definitely also improve your casting timing in short order.
Actually I think the 5'9" is a 3 wt and the 6'3" is a 2 wt. In any event it casts as far as I want to cast -- I wouldn't want to cast further if had a longer rod--and cast poppers, spiders etc with ease. As I said it is my go to rod, and I have other more expensive longer rods such as my TFO 7'9". I find casting short fly rods easy, but some don't; however, with practice in the yard it will come to be easy. I cast more on timing I think.
There are advantages of a longer rod. Try fishing from a belly boat with a short rod versus a longer rod. Fishing while sitting in a jon boat is also easier with a longer rod. Now if you are wading and pitching side arm under branches, the advantage of a longer rod is not as great. On a trout stream, a longer rod controls drag better than a short rod. For years I fished a 6' for 6 wgt. glass rod I made from an E. Hille kit. It was a good rod for fishing tight streams, but a 7.5' to 8' may have been better on tailouts.
All my fishing is either standing up or from a jon boat or kayak. It is a little easier to cast the 5'9" standing up but I manage pretty well in the kayak and jon. By raising my arm up I get an extension of a foot or so. I just really like this rod and use it in the boats sitting; although I admit the longer fiberglass rods probably would make for easier casting. I have a homemade fiberglass rod (purchased not made by me) that is just over 7" and the sister of the 5'9" that is 2wt 6'3". Why so many rod's? I really don't know. I don't need them; I just like owning fishing equipment and I do give some of it away.
I don't have a 2 weight, but do have a 00, a 1 weight and two 3 weights. All Sage. Really like the ultralight stuff. As others have said, I think a 3 weight is about perfect for bream, small bass and general warm water. Light enough to enjoy the battle, achieve decent casting distance and throw just about any bream popper.
While I enjoy the 00 and the 1 weight, they are difficult to cast in the wind. Also limited to really small flies. Despite the limitations, way fun. A shiner will put up a fight on the 00.
I love my Cabela's Glass Rod like the one pictured above. It is a 6'2" 2wt, but is so noodly that it doesn't cast poppers well. I would go with a 4wt fiberglass, or a 3 wt graphite. On the graphite, I would overline the line to 4wt line. Overlining a size up really can help castability. My go to small stream and brem rod is a 6' TFO Left Creh finnesse 2wt with #3 line. Small enough to make a tadpole feel like a whale, but back bone enough that I landed a 2lb channel cat on it fishing a San Juan worm pattern. Caught plenty of bass on it up to 2 lbs as well.
After fishing exclusive with the 3wt for the last 2 weeks & trying to practice basic fundamentals(I'm a beginner)...I got an 8wt out this morning for the first time...WOW...this thing is AWESOME!!!!!...just need to find some fish big enough to justify carrying it...lol
Id go with a 8' 6" 3wt. I like it because you can use 3wt, but its versatile to go to 4wt or down to 2wt. When i was building rods my instructor/mentor told me that odd weight rods you can go one up or one down and it will work, the man had been fishing and building rods for about 50 years in Colorado, Id say he knew his stuff. Listen to the old timers, theres experience there, some pro writing for a magazine getting paid to push products isnt going to know slight nuances and tricks that most of us older guys and gals know, i say gals because my wife has some of the best casting techniques that far exceed mine