CA, though the longer rods are easier to learn to cast with, you'll find that the shorter rod will work better on the smaller streams/creeks too.
The next time you guys are coming North on I-35 you'll cross the Big, and Little Otter Creek just South of the Black Bear Casino. My Grandfather used to fish the Otter a little East of there after the two merge. You also may be familiar with the Otter from your Jay Cooke hunts. Grandpa used to fish the Otter between Carlton, and I-35.
It's only a couple of miles as the crow fly's, but it covers much more footage as the creek meanders. Grandpa had it broken down to three sections. It's a bit of a run for you, but if your interested let me know and I'll do some leg work for you to see if I can remember Grandpa's runs. I've not been on them since the mid to late 70's.
At this point in life I wish I had learned the art of fly fishing from Grandpa. It's just not the way life worked out
Grandpa tied his own fly's, and tapered leaders. In the mid 70's he taught me how to tie the leaders. I tied many of them for him.
He used to run three types of fly's. A dry, which floated, a wet fly that hovered about six inches below the surface, and I can't remember the name of the third, but it was designed to imitate a larvae, and bounced along the bottom of the creek. Each one was meant to imitate the various stages of the bugs development. And each type of fly used a different type of tapered leader.
He was also a master at understanding the weather/seasonal conditions, and knowing which type of fly to use under varying conditions.
I didn't realize it in my youth, but thinking back about it I realize that my Grandfather truly was an artist when it came to catching trout with a fly rod.