Looking for the best fly fishing rods can be a real task. With so many rods available on the market, sporting a myriad of gadgets, finding one which meets your budget range, while also meeting your requirements can be hard.
The first step is to sit down and consider what you want to use your fly fishing rod for. Are you working in smaller creeks or taking your rod out to sea? Are you catching salmon or sardines?
These things will give you an idea of the length of rod you need, the weight of line you require, the handle and composition of your rod, and the necessary action features.
Take a look at this handy guide as it breaks down the specifications of what you should consider when buying a fly rod, while also showcasing some of the best models for you to see what’s available today.
Best Fly Fishing Rods Comparison Chart
Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod
Piscifun Sword Graphite Fly Fishing Rod
M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Extreme Graphite Fly Fishing Rod
PLUSINNO Lightweight Ultra Portable Fly Fishing Rod and Reel
Wakeman Charter Series Fly Fishing Combo
What is a Fly Fishing Rod?
A fly fishing rod has three main jobs. It is used for casting, line control, and striking and landing fish. When it comes to the casting side of things, a fly fishing rod casts in a powerful manner, with extreme accuracy.
The better fly fishing rods are more capable of presenting the fly and fly line in the best way, to prevent spooking of the fish in the water.
In terms of line control, a fly fishing rod gives you control of the line out of the water. Though a learned skill, often dependent on the fisher, a fly rod will enable you to have better control in this way.
Lastly, fly fishing rods are used for striking and landing fish. You can set the hook on your fish, as well as struggle and land fish. In this sense, your fly fishing rod should be very flexible.
While being bendy, it needs to be strong enough to take the flex without breaking under pressure of extreme weather conditions.
This rod will give you better control, allow you to cast further on a more consistent basis, and enable you to catch larger fish. Bear in mind, however, that these rods aren’t as suitable for short casts and take a little longer to learn the knack.
Are All Fly Fishing Rods the Same?
Fly fishing rods are designed with an ‘action’. This refers to how flexible the rod is as it allows it to behave in different ways when casting for various types of fish. The three types are known as fast, medium, and slow-action fly fishing rods; your choice should be dependent on the type of fishing you are doing.
Also known as tip-flex rods, fast-action rods allow for long casts as they have an innate stiffness in their poke-straight rods. Though the tip is slightly bent, straight rods allow for easier casting on windy days and are far less physically strenuous as they hold the pull so you don’t have to.
That said, you aren’t using this rod for short castings. It is a little harder for beginners to use due to its dominating power, the lack of accuracy (honed in by years of skill), and may make this a challenge for those unused to the rigidness.
AKA, mid-flex fly rods, these more flexible devices are more versatile as they can be used in a variety of conditions. Far simpler for beginners, a medium-action fly rod bends from the end to about halfway, boosting its flexibility in comparison to its fast-action counterpart.
If you’re starting out and are planning to fish freshwater (usually for trout), this is what you’re looking for.
The most flexible of all, slow-action rods bend all the way to about ¼-inch from the end of the rod. It can flex back to around 90 degrees.
For small streams and slow action, this rod is great for beginners who are looking to short cast. It is easy to use and present your fly without spooking the fish, but you won’t be able to catch much larger fish with it.
What Makes a Good Fly Fishing Rod?
When you’re in the market for a fly fishing rod, you want to make sure that you select something that meets your personal needs.
While not all fly fishing rods are made equally, ensuring you know what you’re looking for will mean you select a rod that not only presents excellent components and great durability but also fits in with the type of fishing that you are doing.
Here are a few components to look for in a good fly fishing rod:
There are actually three types of handles that can go on a fly fishing rod, and their ergonomic designs can make a big difference to your fishing experience.
Usually, on freshwater or split cane rods, the Cigar Handle has a band reel seat that slides, using friction to keep your reel securely in place.
Half Wells Handles tend to be on rods that are lighter and shorter with no more than six weight line. You’re likely to find a screw locking reel seat on these models and a wooden space insert.
Full Wells Handles are the most common. They’re great for longer rods as they are able to take great pressure during casting.
The best handle is a personal choice but try a few to get to grips with your preference.
Length and Weight
The length and weight of your rod is dependent on the type of fishing you’ll be doing, as well as your own stature. Longer rods tend to be for bigger bodies of freshwater, while saltwater rods tend to all be the same.
If you’re fishing in saltwater, you’re looking for a fly fishing rod of around nine feet. From flats bonefish up to sailfish, you’ll find that a nine-foot rod will serve you well, but you’ll have to change up the weight of the line. Big fish like sailfish need thick 12/14 line, whereas smaller fish, like flats bonefish only need 7/9.
In freshwater, it’s a different matter. You will be fine with a seven-foot fly fishing rod and 2.5 weight line in small rivers and streams, but large reservoirs will need at least a ten-foot rod and 7.8 weight line. Moreover, fishing big fish like salmon will require you to use a longer rod too.
Fly Rod Construction
Construction will determine the quality of the rod. While most rods are made from flexible and durable materials such as graphite, fiberglass, and bamboo, you’ll find that not all rods are put together in a durable manner.
Those that are not made well tend to wobble when they are cast, causing vibrations through the rod and scaring the fish. The tighter the construction, the more efficient it is in casting, reducing that wobble.
The source of the material, especially true with graphite, will determine its quality. The higher the ‘modulus’, the better the quality (when referring to graphite rods). This refers to how easily the energy will transfer along the graphite with the least resistance.
Quick Take - The Best Fly Fishing Rods
These are our recommendations for the best fly fishing rods:
Review of the Best Fly Fishing Rods
For those looking to buy a fly fishing rod, there are so many on the market that the saturation can be exhausting. Luckily, we’ve condensed the choices to show you the best fly fishing rods that we can find.
Have a look at our pros and cons to guide you into making the right selection for your fly fishing needs.
This fast action fly fishing rod is made from IM8 graphite. Comprised of four pieces, this model is great for traveling, as well as features a quick set-up. This rod also features ceramic stripping guides, as well as chrome snake guides.
The handle is half well-cork and the reel seat is made from machined aluminum with double lock rings.
A great, all-around line, this model has a comfortable handle, as well as a durable graphite frame. While the finishing could do with some improvement, this is easy to fit together and pack back down. While this is heavier than some users expected, the aluminum reel is very sturdy.
This four-piece set is a versatile rod for slow, medium, and fast action fly fishing. With IM7 Graphite, this rod is durable and accurate. The reel seat is machined aluminum, guides and guide inserts are ceramic and chrome for smoother line gliding.
The four-piece model is designed for travel friendliness and comes in a PVC tube for protection. The rod is engineered for simple alignment using the white dots on the fly rod. The handle is half well-cork to prevent hand tiredness.
While the alignment dots are a little disappointing, they’re only a gimmick. They don’t detract from the high quality of this rod, the smoother sailing and stable balance, and flexible durability.
Great for lugging around, you have a wealth of fishing choices with this rod, all held in one case. It’s a little heavier and stiffer than one would first think but overall is a sturdy, durable choice.
This model is made using reinforced muscle carbon-layering technology to be 20% stronger than comparable fishing rods. It has a fast action design and is engineered to taper for more power while retaining its smoothness.
The high standard, smooth guides are designed for accurate presentation over distance, while the pure cork handle is contoured for comfort. This model can be used in saltwater fly fishing.
Despite being very fairly priced, this rod is surprisingly rewarding to use. It is a little heavier and stiffer than one might regularly choose, but at such a bargain price it features all the basic necessities of a good rod.
A great beginner’s fly fishing rod or a solid backup, this durable rod can be used in saltwater and features reliable, durable materials to prevent against corrosion. You may want to invest in a separate, higher quality carrying case to protect this rod.
This set includes a rod, a reel, fishing lures, and a carry case, making it a great all-in-one gift set. It is lightweight and slender, yet made with durable 30-ton Toray carbon fiber blanks for smooth loading.
This has a high-grade wooden handle and offers a sensitive tip designed for precise short casts. The fishing reel seat is adjustable, yet solidly firm, while the spool is made from durable aluminum.
A more basic set, this kit is designed for beginners at fly fishing. It cannot stand great loads, however, when kept safely within its remit, it performs accurately and reliably.
The spool is a little wobbly so make sure you tighten it before use, but you’ll find that the durable aluminum keeps it in place afterward. Be careful to look for any sharp edges before you start and keep within lower weight loads.
With a foam secure grip, this graphite rod has stainless steel guides and a built-in hook keeper. Featuring a 45-foot fly line and a 9-foot nylon tapered leader, this rod comes with two dry flies and a smart carry case for easier portability.
The smartly presented kit is definitely aimed at the beginner’s market. It is a great first time fishing pole with a few added accessories to get you started. Easy to set up and pack down, the carry case makes it easily portable and storable. The lack of fly backing makes this unsuitable for more sophisticated fly fishing.
How to Cast a Fly Fishing Rod
Fly fishing has gotten a name for being a little tricky for beginners. When you watch someone cast, you’ll see them send their line quite far out with a bending and whipping motion. Though it appears simple, here are some tricks to get you going.
- Get the Rod to Bend - When the rod is bent, it is loaded. In science, this is referred to as potential energy. When we bend the fly fishing rod, it is loaded with potential energy to fire the line out as far as it can go.
- A Clean Stop - We want the rod to stop in the direction that the line is going to be cast out. That means that once we release the energy of the loaded bend, we want the rod to spring back and stop in the direction we want to cast.
- Momentum - To do this effectively, you want the momentum for the rod to bend itself. We’re not pulling on the line to bend the rod. In fact, by whipping the rod behind you in a straight, smooth, quick motion, it bends itself once behind, then flicking forward to bend in front, before whipping to a clear stop in front to send the line out.
- Go From the Side - While many people think you have to flick the rod over your shoulder and backward before flicking forward, this actually creates an arcing motion. This motion doesn’t send the line outward, but downward, giving you a shorter cast. Instead, flick the rod behind you by moving across your side, and then cast forward, by moving the rod from back to front at the side of your body.
- Get a Good Backcast - The backcast is integral to a good cast as it gives the momentum for the line, stops it from tangling, and gives you a second to breathe. So send the rod backward in a swift motion - high, but to the side of you- and take a breath there, before thrusting forward.
- Look Where You Point - Bring the tip right to your eye line and look where you want it to go. Get your focus first, then meet your gaze with the tip of the rod for a strong, accurate cast.
How to Clean and Maintain a Fly Fishing Rod
Keeping your fly fishing rod clean is super important to ensure that you are preserving its lifespan. You should clean your fly rod every time you clean your line, as this will preserve both the line and the rod, keeping them performing smoothly.
- Use Warm Water and Washing up Liquid - You can clean your rod in the same way that you clean your line. Fill a bucket with warm water and use a little washing up liquid. Use a soft cloth to clean the rod. You can use a pipe cleaner to get in the nooks and crannies.
- Rinse With Warm Water - Rinse the rod with clean warm water to remove to soap. If you don’t rinse, you’ll be left with a greasy residue.
- Use Fly Line Dressing - After your rod is dry, you can actually use a little of your fly line dressing to polish up your rod. Apply a little to your fly rod with a napkin. Allow it to dry before buffing it off. This will leave your rod shiny and smooth and your line will shoot considerably better.
For those looking to purchase a fly fishing rod, you need to consider your uses. If you want something for small streams and rivers, a slow-action rod is a great choice, whereas those looking to bring in bigger fish in open water may need to consider something a bit faster.
Equally, the length of your rod will be determined by the type of fish you are catching and the body of water you’re operating within. Always remember that the quality of the material of the rod will speak volumes about its durability and lifespan, so always look for clues about this when choosing a rod.