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Best Fly Fishing Rods

Updated December 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 6 Models Considered
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 149 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best fly fishing rods

    Last Updated December 2018

    Perhaps you’re a beginner who wants to give fly fishing a try. Or maybe you have some fly fishing experience and want a new fly rod to take your fishing to the next level. In either case, you need the right fly fishing rod for your abilities – one that will perform well and feel right when you cast.

    At BestReviews, we are here to help you with your shopping decisions. You can depend on our unbiased reviews because we do not accept manufacturer samples. We base our recommendations and opinions on the way products perform in the field.

    If you’re ready to buy a new fly rod, we encourage you to investigate our choices. While much of your decision will come down to personal preference, there are some important features to consider before you buy a fly fishing rod. See our shopping guide below for more information.

    If you are new to fly fishing, consider buying a starter package that comes with the rod, reel, and line you will need. Most fly fishing rods do not come with these things; they must be purchased separately

    Fly fishing rod types

    Most fly rods are made from graphite, fiberglass, or bamboo. All rods have a cork handle, a reel seat, and a fighting butt. The type of rod you use depends on your skill and the type of fish you want to catch.

    Graphite Rods

    These fly fishing rods are quite versatile. They come in various flex rates from, slow to medium-fast.

    Glass Rods

    Fly fishing rods made of fiberglass are referred to as glass rods. These rods are slightly less popular than they used to be. They tend to be a little softer and slower than graphite rods, and you must move a little slower when you cast them.

    Bamboo Rods

    Bamboo is a traditional fly fishing rod material that dates back to the 19th century. Bamboo fly fishing rods are very soft and often very pricey. Some purists will only fish bamboo with a traditional silk fly-line that must be draped and dried.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some fly rods can be broken into four pieces for easy storage. The best of these rods still have the flexibility required for successful fly fishing.

    Flex rate

    Flex rate refers to the amount of flex, or “action,” a rod has. Fly fishing rods range from slow to fast.

    • Slow: Slow fly fishing rods are soft with a lot of bend. These rods cast very gently and are not effective in windy conditions.

    • Medium: Medium fly fishing rods, which bend almost halfway, are best for beginners.

    • Medium-Fast: The top third of the rod does most of the bending. You can find the widest selection of rods in this category.

    • Fast: These are the stiffest fly fishing rods, and they require an accurate cast and lots of skill to use effectively.

    Weight

    Fly fishing rods come in different weights. The right weight for you depends on what kind of fish you are trying to catch as well as where you are fishing.

    • A 4-weight rod is often used for catching trout.

    • A 5-weight rod is often used for bluegill, small bass, and trout. This weight is a good starting point for beginners.

    • A 6-weight rod is used for river fishing; it moves a lot of line and can catch bigger bass and trout.

    • A 7-Weight Rod is used for certified casting.

    • Rods that are 8-weight, 10-weight, and 12-weight are used for saltwater fishing.

    A “soft” or “slow” rod is good for accuracy and best for smaller rivers or streams.

    Length

    The first rod many beginners start with is a 5-weight rod of 8 ½ or 9 feet. It is medium-length and versatile for someone who wants to dabble in the sport. In many situations, this rod provides good maneuverability.

    For those who want to fish in smaller creeks, there are much shorter rods in the 6- to 8-foot range. A shorter rod allows you to fish around rocks and branches that might hang out over the water in these narrower spaces.

    Longer rods can easily run 10 to 15 feet in length. Many bamboo rods are of this length. If you plan to fish in a larger body of water, a rod of this length is recommended.

    Fly fishing rod prices

    • Under $150: In this price range, you can find a medium-fast rod, likely made of graphite or fiberglass, that gives a decent performance. If you are a beginner, a rod that costs about $100 would probably serve you well.

    • $150 to $500: You will find good-quality rods in this range that suit the needs of even the most experienced fly fishermen. Four-piece rods are found in this range.

    • $500 to $1,500: Fly fishing rods in this price range are well made. Most come with a lifetime warranty.

    • Over $1,500: You could easily spend several thousand dollars on a traditional bamboo fly fishing rod. However, for bargain hunters, there are some manufacturers who price bamboo rods from $300 to $400.

    EXPERT TIP

    Getting your hands on a fly fishing rod before you buy will help you determine if the cast is going to be right for your style.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Tips

    • Make sure you get your hands on a few rods and do some practice casting before you decide which material, length, and weight are right for you.

    • Practice casting in your backyard. It’s a great place to practice hitting that spot or trying out a friend’s fly fishing rod before you buy your own.

    • Fly fishing is an art rather than a science. As you learn the sport, you will discover what works best for your style and the kinds of waterways and fish you will be facing.

    • Generally speaking, the bigger the rod, the longer the fighting butt.

    Some fly fishermen say fishing with bamboo is heaven. If you are in it for the experience, it may be worth the money, but remember that skill also plays a large part in your fishing success.

    FAQ

    Q. How is fly fishing different from spin fishing?

    A. In “spin” fishing, you are imitating something swimming through the water in hopes that fish will want to eat that live thing. In “fly” fishing, you’re imitating little flies and other bugs that land on the water in hopes that fish will want to eat them. Fly fishers can also imitate small fish as they dart toward bait on the top of the water.

    Fly fishing and spin fishing require different types of equipment and different methods of casting. Fly fishing is more challenging, but for many people, it is also more satisfying.

    Q. What kind of fish can you catch on a fly rod?

    A. The most popular fish to catch fly fishing is arguably trout. However, the method can be used to catch several different species of freshwater fish including salmon, carp, bass, panfish, and pike. You can also fly fish in seawater for redfish, striped bass, and bonefish, among others.

    The type of fish you catch fly fishing is really about the weight of your rod and line as well as the technique you use. Theoretically, you could catch just about any kind of fish if you prepare ahead and imitate its prey correctly.

    Q. What fly rod weight should I select?

    A. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the amount of line you need, the size of the waterway, any obstructions that might block the path of your cast, and the weather. Lighter rods are harder to control in the wind. Saltwater fishing requires at least an 8-weight rod. Beginners usually do well with a 5-weight or 6-weight rod.

    Remember, you are casting a weighted line and a nearly weightless fly. This is the opposite of spin fishing, where the weight of the lure is what carries a very light line across the water.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Samantha
      Samantha
      Writer

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