If you are a new angler or interested in starting out, there are few things that will confuse you as much as fly rod – you may not even know what they are, or even heard of them. After all, you might think all fishing rods are created equally, even though the truth tells a different story.
High technology advancements have struck the fly rod market as well, so you may not be sure what you are getting. This has also led to some confusing terms and names, and new anglers will not see these as making much sense.
To break out of this mix-up, this buying guide will hopefully help you make a wise choice. We have rounded up the best ten fly rods in the market today as well, so that the chances of having ‘buyers’ remorse’ are lower.
Best Fly Fishing Rods of 2018
Tailwater outfitters Toccoa fly rod – Best in Accuracy
The manufacturer intends to use the rod to meet the needs of the ordinary angler, as well as the experienced angler.
This is a 3 weight rod that comes in a 4-piece construction, although it is capable of handling 4wt lines as well. With a length of 8’4, the rod contains IM8 graphite to enhance performance, durability and accuracy in casts.
The structure also allows for easier portability, so you no longer need to worry about the logistics of carrying it around for random fishing trips.
The machined aluminum reel seats have double locking rings that help in fastening the reel attachments more securely. In addition, the rod has ceramic strip guides, as well as chrome snake guides – these help you to set up the equipment and fly lines easier.
The cork handle is half well, which helps you to make accurate casts and reduces fatigue from holding the rod for long periods. The packaging includes a four compartment rod tube as well. If you are worried about the design, worry no more – the rod has a stylish dark gray color – this helps you to avoid chances of scaring away fish due to distracting colors, and it still looks great.
Eagle Claw Featherlight fly rod – Budget Product Under $50
This brand is among the earliest brands on the scene of fishing rods and is integral to the development of fly rods in general. This has led to their repute as a staple for the anglers of today for more than 85 years.
The packaging contains one hook for each pack, as well as a two-piece fiberglass rod. The guides are made from stainless steel to prevent rusting, while the seat screws are machined aluminum (not plastic) so you are guaranteed that this is a rod that will last a long time.
In addition, each joint has a rubber bushing that secures the rod sections in place, so you do not need to worry about falling apart as you cast for fish.
The handle itself is made of cork material – therefore reducing the discomfort in case you have to hold the rod for a long time. You are guaranteed of the best quality with this manufacturer, as every product is subject to strict quality standards.
Pro tip: before you begin fishing, ensure that the second piece is securely in place, otherwise, it may come off when you start casting.
Piscifun Sword graphite fly fishing rod – Best for Beginners
The Piscifun fly fishing rod gives you different varieties of fly rods, all catering to different requirements of different anglers.
The professional sizes are of four varieties: 9wt-9’ fast action that is suitable for saltwater environments, 4wt-8’6” slow action for fishing in small streams, a 7wt-9’ medium action for saltwater, bass, salmon, light steelhead and carp, and 5wt or 6wt-9’ medium action for larger rivers and beginners.
The rod contains graphite of IM7 quality – this ensures high performance, accuracy and durability. The reels are securely attached to the rod thanks to machined aluminum reel seats that use double lock rings. The fly lines are even and smooth enough for easy handling, due to the ceramic stripping guide inserts, as well as the chrome guides.
In addition, the rod is very accurate in casting and pulling power. You do not need to worry too much about the portability either, as the rod has a four-piece design, which makes it easy to carry around for every fly angler.
In fact, you can even use a PVC rod tube that will give the rid good protection service against the elements or rough handling, as well as easing the portability.
The rod design contains white dots that assist you to align the guides accurately – so no need to struggle any longer with that. Furthermore, the cork handle (half wells) enhances your casting accuracy and dodges fatigue. In fact, the Full Wells allows you to use your power to make longer casts.
This is regardless of whether the line is heavy (has a weight of 7 or above), and it still manages to stay balanced and give you some ease when catching fish.
Orvis Encounter fly rod outfit – Best Choice Under $200
The manufacturer markets this rod as the best bet for any hardcore angler, rather than one that caters to entry-level anglers.
However, it still retains a goal of being an affordable fly rod, as it combines elegant designs with a great and effective performance.
Having a package of a weight-forward floating line, a large arbor Encounter plastic reel, a solid backing, and leader.
With a length of 9 feet and a line weight of 5, it may not offer as much variety in its selection – but that does not disqualify it from its high quality.
DRAGONtail Tenkara shadowfire fly fishing rod – Good Choice Under $150
A product of Japanese knowledge in fishing (Tenkara), it emphasizes the use of traditional techniques and minimalism – attracting many admirers from all over the world. The equipment follows the same principle and does not have extensive complexity, allowing for greater focus on presentation and casting.
For instance, among the standout features is the absence of a reel, which has the result of putting you more in touch with the fish and the stream. This means that you have to drag manually when a fish runs, and also pull the line hand over hand.
The kit itself is compact and light, so you no longer need to worry about carrying your fishing kit over a weekend when going for an activity such as hiking. In fact, this follows the minimalistic philosophy of Tenkara, and you can have an excellent time wherever you go. In addition, the rod is an excellent choice for water where most fish are under 17 inches.
The handle is very comfortable, and its design allows you to hold it for long periods without experiencing fatigue while providing some greater level of cast control.
The package surprisingly includes three soft hackle tenkara flies, which are suitable for an assortment of fish and water types. In addition, there is also a stylish rod sock, tippet, Moonlit Tenkara leader, a storage tube, and an EVA foam line holder.
Maxcatch medium-fast action fly rod – Perfect for Saltwater
This has a premium design that sets it apart from many of its competitors, and it is all at an affordable price. The rods are good for the anglers that want a high-quality equipment for fishing but on a budget.
The equipment comes with a warranty lasting one year, so that you purchase it with some peace of mind.
It sets itself as an all-purpose rod, as it casts effectively, has smooth action and remains lightweight to reduce fatigue. It also comes in various sizes, from 3wt to 12wt, depending on your requirements.
In addition, its repairing warranty is on a lifetime basis – covering any point you may be unhappy with the product performance.
The rod manufacturers have utilized Maxlinq II Blank technology, which involves construction using pure IM8 30T carbon fiber. This is the reason for the durability of the product, as the carbon fiber is in five layers, including a reinforced muscle carbon layer.
However, it does not sacrifice the lightweight nature, as the carbon is 15% lighter while being 25% stronger.
The fast action design rod blank deals with both presentation and distance covered in casting. The slim taper allows the rod to be powerful yet smooth, as well as the high-efficiency loading.
Another interesting aspect is the smooth guides – ceramic insert stripping guides as well as ultra-lightweight stainless steel guides (hard chrome) increase the smoothness of casts. You do not need to worry about comfort either – the pure AA+ contour cork handle ensures that gripping remains comfortable.
This is further supplemented by the K-Carbon Woven graphite spacer that permits reliable fixes of the reel foot and tolerance to saltwater.
Maxcatch Extreme graphite fly fishing rod – Good for Intermediate Anglers
This offers you the best prices for its features, even when compared to similar fly fishing rods. Similar to the Maxcatch medium-fast action rod, the one-year warranty that the manufacturer offers gives you piece of mind when purchasing the product.
The manufacturer utilizes exclusive Maxlinq Blank technology, which gives additional strength to the rod. Since the layering technique uses pure IM7 24T and 30T carbon fiber in five layers, including reinforced muscle carbon layer, this adds durability and strength by up to 20%.
The action is fast and smooth, as the fast action design rod blank succeeds in both presentation and distance rankings.
This is aided further due to the slim taper, whose design allows for power and smoothness, as well as loading of high efficiency, to give you the ability to cast for longer distances.
The guides are impressive as well, as they are MaxSelect and Ultra lightweight stainless steel (hard chrome), as well as having oversize tip loops to enhance the smooth casts. The handle itself is made up of A+ cork, ensuring a comfortable grip even after long periods, and the reel foot is adjustable thanks to the High Density machined aluminum reel seat that has two locking rings.
M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch ultra-lite fly rod – Ideal for Fishing In Small Rivers or Streams
The manufacturer began making fishing rods from as recently as 2005, but that has not stopped them from becoming one of the best manufacturers of fishing rods. It aims to give you quality at an affordable price, and this does not bear many differences from other rods in its collection.
The rod is made up of IM8 graphite that is in several layers, which provides for accuracy, increased durability and efficiency in performance. However, the rod does not feel heavy in your hand, since it has a three-piece construction that allows it to stay lightweight.
This allows you to travel with it easily, while the equipment is easy to set up thanks to the rod having alignment dots.
The stripping guides are made from the ceramic material that ensures durability and resistance to saltwater environments. In addition, the snake guides in the rod are hard chrome, aiding in the smooth action and effectiveness during operation.
An interesting feature would be the CNC machined aluminum reel seats, which have an extra layer of nature wood inserts. The cork grip helps in reducing fatigue from handling the equipment, and it is in AA grade, therefore helping in casting ability.
Pro tip: you may want to use a heavier line size for it to be more effective in casting, as the lines it uses are not effective enough.
Wild Water fly rod (starter package) – Best in Durability
All features that you see in great fly rods are in this one – in fact, it is among the best on this list for this reason.
The 9’ rod is able to break down to four sections, each having a length of 28.75 inches, therefore allowing for easier storage in the protective casing and rod sock (has dividing of four compartments). The rod itself is made of IM6 graphite, which works best with 5 or 6 weight lines, while maintaining a slow, mid-flex action and weighing 5.7 ounces.
All the package rods that you purchase in the series will each come with their own single foot, high-quality stainless steel, Silicon Carbide stripper guides, and snake guides – all for the stainless steel framing. You can also store the fly rod easier, thanks to the stainless steel hook keeper.
The rod is easy to handle too, due to the western style cork grip. This is further accented by the cork trim rings on the side.
The reel is firmly secured to the rod because of the fixed reel and machined aluminum reel seats, as well as two locking rings. All this may sound ugly, but the truth is far from this – the finish is anodized and in titanium color.
The set comes with a waterproof fly box to protect the equipment, all manufactured in the USA, so it adheres to high-quality standards.
Echo Base fly fishing rod – Compact product
This may be the newest fly rod on this list, but that has not stopped the positive reviews from users.
Featuring the new Echo Base fly rod technology, it combines professional standards of fishing with high-quality construction – giving you a fly rod that is ready for use by any angler.
The design is that of a four-piece rod, making it easier for you to move around with it, and the equipment is easy to set up thanks to the alignment dots on the rod itself.
The finish is even more impressive, as it is in a deep blue color, and looks natural against the backdrop of the water body you are fishing in.
The manufacturer offers you a lifetime warranty, so you can purchase the fly rod with some peace of mind. In addition, the chrome guides are resistant to corrosion by saltwater, and enhance the durability of the equipment, making it one to last you many years.
Best Fly Fishing Rods for the Money in 2018 – Buyer’s Guide
Types of fishing rods
Before starting to look for the best fly fishing rod, it is important to have an idea of the different fishing rods in existence – giving you more knowledge on what to choose.
- Casting rods
These are also referred to as spin cast rods, and their design allows them to hold a casting reel that you will mount just above the handle.
They are the easiest type you can use, and are well-suited for beginners. This is due to their push-button line release that serves as a casting trigger, as well as an enclosed nosecone, where the reel releases the fishing line. They are also great for those on a budget, as they are the least expensive choice to go for.
They are most suited for river fishing and many types of lake fishing. In addition, their structure is stronger than spinning rods, so they can handle heavier lines and heavier cover like rocks and weeds.
- Ultra-light rods
You can know these because of their lighter lines, shorter lengths and lighter construction. You will use them to fish smaller species such as bass and trout, as well as types of panfish (those that can fit in a frying pan). Because you are using smaller bait and lighter fishing lines, they are less likely to scare away small fish.
- Spinning rods
These are slightly different from casting rods, as the reel tends to hang under the rod instead of the top. Their use is also more technical, as you need to hold them properly using your second and third fingers and position them at the leg of the reel that connects to the rod. They are widely used for fishing trout, bass, walleye and pike.
They have an advantage though – you can hold them using your dominant hand, so you have more control over them. You can also fish for longer periods because the weight of the reel is under the rod, so they are more comfortable. They can also cast lighter lures since the line peels off without blockage from reel spools or nosecone. They are useful for fishing in streams and inland lakes.
These are specially designed to handle fly fishing. This entails casting of light lures (sometimes called artificial fly) that are joined to a weighted line. The lure has disguises that include hair, fur, bright feathers, or other materials.
These will attract the fish and the heavy line will sink when the fish bites. The size of the rod you choose will determine the size of fish you can catch – the heavier the fish, the longer your rod needs to be.
- Trolling rods
Trolling means you cast the line from moving boats and allowing the boat motion to pull the bait through the water. This is useful for the ocean and large lakes fishing. The rods tend to be stiff but have fast action.
- Telescopic rods
Their construction is intended to open into a longer rod or to collapse down to shorter lengths (similar to telescopes). They are therefore beneficial if you are a frequent traveler and want to continue your fishing experiences, as they allow you to store them in your car, backpack, bike, or crowded public transits.
They are also particularly useful in surf fishing since it needs longer rods that have lengths of up to 14 inches. You just need to take care of them by keeping the joints clean.
- Surf rods
These have greater use on the beach or other shorelines. They may look like oversize spinning rods, but with an extra feature of two long-grip handles for two-hand casts. They also tend to be longer to allow casts beyond the breaking surf where many fish tend to be, and also to add strength that holds the bottom even in rougher water.
Functions of a fly rod
It has three purposes, at the end of the day, which are:
- A cast for fish – similar to spinning rods, the fly rod should allow for you to cast the fly line with accuracy and power. Good fly rods take advantage of this, especially as your casting skills get better. This will allow for the fly line and fly to have good presentation and avoid the chances of scaring any target fish away.
- Controlling the line – when the fly floats on the water, the fly is then supposed to give some line control. This will be enhanced further by the skill level of the angler, so the better you get at it, the more control you have.
- Landing and striking fish – the fly rod is supposed to fight and land your target fish, as well as setting the hook on a fish. This means that it is important it stays flexible enough to bend but has enough strength to avoid breakage or snapping, even under pressure from the weight of the fish.
What features should you look for in a fly rod?
You should consider five points when searching for one. These are:
- The ideal rod lengths (if you are fishing for trout) should be between 8.5 to 9 feet. If you are a beginner, you do not need to go longer, otherwise, you may not handle it correctly. However, if you regularly fish smaller fish that is the only time you should go shorter.
- If you are new to the game, you need a medium-action fly rod. This is because of their versatility, and they allow for you to make mistakes without breaking the rod itself, so they are more forgiving for learners.
- The fish you regularly search for will determine the line weight you should go for. However, if you like fishing for trout, the ideal weight should be a 4wt, 5wt, or 6wt. The most versatile among these is the 5wt.
- Ensure that the line weight you are planning to use matches the weight of the fly rod itself. In addition, the fly rod weight should also match with the fly reel weight that you are going to use. In other words, fly reel weight = fly rod weight = fly line weight.
- Keep in mind that you do not need to break the bank when searching for a fly rod, especially if you are a beginner. However, you need to remember that cheap rods are risky to handle – they can break easily and will frustrate you. Instead, search for mid-range fly rods in terms of pricing, as they are durable and still remain effective even after many years of use.
Steps to determining the best fly rod
- Determine what you are fishing
This is the most important question you need to answer, as it will determine the fly rod you go for, as well as other aspects such as line weight and rod length. For instance, the rod you use for fish such as trout is not the same one you use for smaller fish. In a similar fashion, you cannot use a saltwater fly rod in a freshwater environment.
- Understand fly rod action
If you are new to fishing, the word ‘rod action’ can be confusing, and understandably so. However, it is simpler than you think – it is just a fancy term that actually means the flexibility of the rod itself.
There are three types of fly rods that you should go for if you are a beginner. The difference in the three types is due to their amount of flex. The measurements are not difficult to get, as they are indicated on the back cast. Keep in mind that the more the rod can bend on the back cast, the more flexible it is.
These types are:
Fast action/tip flex
These are just what the name says they are. The rod is as straight as an arrow, but the end of the fly rod tip is slightly curved at the end of the back cast. This structure has certain benefits that come with it, including:
- Longer casting ability
- Less physical demands, since it works less to cast longer distances
- You can use it to fish even on windy days
However, the disadvantages include:
- It is harder for beginners to use, since you need to learn to get a ‘feel’ of fly lines and learn to cast accurately.
- It is not good in short casts, such as fishing in small streams.
Medium action/mid flex
These are the most versatile rods you can get, out of every option. They are capable of performing very well in a variety of conditions and circumstances and are much easier to learn with than fast action rods. They are usually bent from about the halfway point of the rod all the way to the tip, so they fall in between slow and fast action rods. These rods perform best in freshwater situations, especially for trout fishing.
Slow action/full flex
They are the most flexible option, as they bend from about the ¼ point to the tip. At full cast, the rod can bend into a 90-degree angle.
They are best used in small streams and small rivers or ponds, as well as being the best option for small fish. They are the easiest to cast and have good presentation, as well as being extremely forgiving for a beginner. However, they lack the versatility that medium fly rods possess.
The Tailwater outfitters fly rod is our pick. For the price it goes for, the quality is superb, and many users are happy about its effectiveness in catching fish. If you can bear the fact that it is slightly heavier than other fly rods, the value for your money is great, and its durability is excellent.