Best Fly Fishing Rods

The fly rod is an angler’s tool-of-the-trade. It should be the first piece of equipment you choose. We’ll help you decide on the right rod based on where you plan to fish, what you’re fishing for, your experience level, budget, and/or brand preferences.

Choosing the Right Fly Rod

One fly rod will simply not do it all. You've got to use the right tool for the job. Matching the proper equipment to the species you are targeting will be a common theme as you add to your collection of fly fishing gear.

In our example you've decided to fish for all types of trout and pan fish, so you've chosen a 5-weight floating line, in a weight forward taper. Like fly lines, fly rods will have a weight designation. If you've decided on a 5-weight line, you'll need a 5-weight rod. This means that the rod and line are suitably matched and that the physical weight of the fly line can be handled by that particular fly rod.

Once you've matched the line weight to the rod weight, you'll need to decide on a length. Rods under 9 feet are better suited for areas where you don't have a lot of room to cast, say on a small brushy stream. Rod lengths over 9 feet are better suited for areas where you have plenty of room to cast or need a longer reach. We recommend 9' rods for beginners, as they are the most versatile.

How to buy a fly rod:

Buying your first fly rod can be a daunting task. With so many models and configurations available these days, it can be an almost never-ending sea of options. Thankfully, there are some very basic questions that you can ask yourself to help narrow down the selection:

  • What species am I going to fish for?
  • Where am I going to fish?

Use our “Narrow Down By” tool to help you hone in on the proper choice for the area and species you plan to target.

Quick Fly Rods Picks

We've handpicked some of the favorite rods from the market

Choose Fly rods Based on Water and Fish Types

Product

Feature

Best For

Reddington Classic

The Redington Classic Trout rods are great for feel and high performance

Trout

Panfish

5 wt - 6 wt

Northwest

British Columbia

Redington Minnow

Redington Crosswaterdeal rods are ideal for all fresh and saltwater applications

Freshwater

Saltwater

Trout

Bass

Steelhead

Redington PATH

The Redington CPX Series fly rods are quick and responsive. This stick is hugely versatile, lightweight, and powerful.

Salmon

Steelhead

Spey

Northwest

British Columbia

Fenwick AETOS

Fenwick AETOS is High performance fast action Fly Rod

Freshwater,Saltwater, switch and Spey

Orvis Encounter

Orvis Encounter 8-weight 9' Fly Rod Outfit is made for the enthusiast angler, yet priced with economical in mind

Any type of fish

G Loomis NRX

G Loomis NRX Lite Presentation Fly Fishing Rods are ideal for pleasant casting & great for small to medium dry flies

Spooky fish

Clear water

Best Fly Rods Review

1.Redington Classic Trout Fly Fishing Rods

Experienced anglers and beginners alike adore the Redington CT Classic Trout series of fly rods. Whether you’re probing crystal clear plunge pool streams for feisty Brook Trout, or stalking tail water Browns, there is a model for you. A good adjective for these rods is, “lovely”. It is simply a pleasure to cast and easily handles roll casting for distance. This rod is also ideally suited for less experienced fly casters and is available in many rod lengths and line weights to suit any trout fishing situation. The Classic Trout Rod is constructed of high-density graphite for superb sensitivity and feel. It features a medium action, which means it allows for a smooth casting stoke that is not to forceful or to slow. Its components are made of machined aluminum and a traditional reel seat. Small dots are positioned on each ferule so that aligning your guides is fast and easy. This is a great all-around trout rod for anyone looking to start fly fishing. The Redington Trout Fly rod is also a fantastic choice for a tertiary rod in a 2wt or 3wt for playing small ball.

Determine the Rod on Species of Fish

Matching the proper equipment to the species you are targeting will be a common theme as you add to your collection of fly fishing gear. The fly rod you choose to fish with for Rainbow Trout is going to be very different from the one you would use for Tuna. A trout rod will simply not have enough backbone to handle a Tarpon. Conversely, a Tarpon rod would be total overkill on a poor little trout. In short, never bring a gun to a knife fight, or a knife to a gun fight!

Cosider The Location

Deciding on a place to fish will also greatly help you identify your equipment needs. For example, let’s say that you are planning on taking a family vacation to the Bahamas and want to spend a couple of days fishing. The equipment you need to fish the Bahamas is very different from what you would need to fish in Montana. The location, available fisheries, and common techniques for catching fish in a particular area will greatly influence your decisions in choosing gear.

Think About the Duration

Is fly fishing something you know that you will be doing for a long time? If so, then spend more money on the initial investment. Maximize your experience from the beginning so that you’re not growing out of your equipment right away. Is fly fishing something you simply want to give a try to see if you’ll like it? Spend less money out of the gates, but be sure to spend enough to get quality gear that will not hinder your experience. Consider getting started with an outfit that will get you everything you need, in one slick package. Everything will be perfectly matched, and you’ll be on the water in no time.

Fly Rod Anatomy

What's a Fly Rod?

Fly rods are the traditional tool of fly anglers. They’re designed in many configurations to suit virtually every fly fishing situation imaginable. From tiny Cutthroat Trout to Marlin, chances are there is a rod for you. Whether you fish the tumbling freestone streams of the Rocky Mountains or the lush still waters of the Amazon, manufactures are continuing to look for ways to perfectly match rods with the unique needs of any angler around the world.

What is it used for?

Fly Rods do more than simply deliver the fly to the fish. A fly rod is just an extension of your arm. Like your arm, it has many uses. When it comes to fly fishing, everything your arm can do, a fly rod can do better. It will help you fight the fish, “throw” the fly line to the target, and manipulate your fly line once it’s on the water. Some are designed to be very flexible so that an angler can precisely deliver a tiny dry fly to a surfacing trout no more than 20 feet away. Others are very stiff and powerful enough to cast a large streamer to a distance of 100 feet or more. Still others may break down into 5 sections so a hiker can easily stash their rod in a backpack and hike into an alpine lake. Some fishing applications may call for extra reach, or special hardware. Where the normal length of a single hand rod may be 9 feet long, you’ll see some rods of up to 11 feet or more. The bottom line is that whatever your need or budget, someone makes the perfect fly rod for you.

Rod Blank

This is the main tubular component of the rod. Historically, fly rods have been made from Bamboo and Fiberglass, and while rods made of these materials have some dedicated followers, Graphite is by far the most widely favored material for modern rods. It is lightweight, relatively strong, and very sensitive.

Rod Guides

These are the loops of metal that embrace the fly line against the blank. Generally there are three types of guides on a fly rod.

Stripping Guides

These are the larger guides near the grip. They’re important because they are the first in line and absorb most of the work. Stripping guides are the largest in diameter and circular with an inner ring of ceramic, tungsten, or nickel.Snake Guides

Snake guides spiral laterally against the rod and are designed to impart the least resistance possible as a fly line travels though them.

Tip Guide

The tip guide is the last guide at the tip of the fly rod. It’s shaped in a full circle unlike the snake guide.

Reel Seat

The reel seat is designed to securely hold your fly reel to the rod. It orients the reel to hang off of the bottom of the rod, on the same side as the guides. Reel seats can be made out of wood, aluminum, graphite, or plastic. There are two basic types. Up-locking is the most common design and secures one end of the reel foot in a notch underneath the grip while the other side is held in place with threaded metal rings. The other is appropriately called a down-locking reel seat, which attaches one end of the reel foot into a notch built into the butt of the rod. The other end of the reel foot is generally secured with a slide band that is screwed into place.

Fighting Butt

This is a small short handle that is attached to the very end of the reel seat. Usually made out of cork or foam, its primary function is to provide a pad to brace against your body with when playing a fish.

Grip

Also called the handle, this is the portion of the rod you grasp with your casting hand. There are several types of grips that can be shaped in many ways depending on the angler’s preference. Full wells, half wells, and cigar shaped grips are common configurations. Grips are generally made from cork, although you will see foam grips on some very inexpensive rods. Some manufactures are even starting to use a rubber and cork combination.

Winding Check

This is a metal ring that rides against the top end of the grip and is fitted over the blank. It primarily finishes the transition between the cork and blank but also helps keep water from getting underneath the cork.

Hook Keeper

The hook keeper is a small metal hoop that is attached to the rod blank near the top of the grip. This allows you to catch the hook of your fly on the hoop for storage while you are traveling with your rod strung up.

Ferrule

The ferrule is the male and female end of a rod blank section. These are the two sections of the blank where they attach together. There are several different types of ferrule designs but the most common is called a ‘sleeve-over’ design whereby one end simply fits inside the other.

The Bottom line

​Fly rods come apart into several sections for easy transport, storage, or backpacking. You can imagine how difficult it would be to haul around a 9-foot long rod tube. By far the most popular configurations are four piece rods. They'll fit neatly into the trunk of your car, in an overhead bin on an airplane, or can be strapped to a backpack with ease. Two-piece rods are also available, as are some that are five piece and more. Typically rods with more than four sections are primarily used for backpacking, or storing in tight spaces.

Randy Todd
 

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