Best Fly Rods

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Eagle Claw Featherlight
Test Winner: Eagle Claw Featherlight
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Deep-Sea. Lake. Noodling. Fresh Water. Inshore. Fly. There are so many different types of fishing and each sport requires different types of poles, rods, baits, and materials. Fly fishing can be done in fresh or saltwater, and the most common fish that fly-fisherman catch are trout, grayling, and salmon. Fly rods are usually lighter than a typical pole and can be cast long distances with their light lures. Another great benefit of fly fishing is creating your own flies. Not only is this a fun activity and even more rewarding in the end, but it allows you to truly customize your fly for the specific fish you are going after. When it comes to fly fishing, the fly rod is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment that an angler needs.

Standout Picks

Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa
The Toccoa Fly Rod from Tailwater Outfitters is a great all-around choice for the seasoned fly fishermen. It is a lightweight, strong, and highly responsive rod that allows for a wide range of movement and flexibility while on the water. If you’re looking for a great general purpose fly rod, this one is hard to beat.
Amazon Link
Echo Base
This fly rod from Echo is a great choice for the beginner fly fisherman. It’s relatively lightweight, solidly built, very easy to use, and helps get the beginner’s skill level to that of an expert in very little time.
Fenwick HMG
Whether you’re new to fly fishing, or simply want to use a fly rod that is a bit more user-friendly than most, a great choice overall is the Fenwick HMG Fly Rod. Designed to have a medium-fast action, and solid construction, this is a great choice for an affordable fly rod.
Maxcatch Explorer Graphite
If you’re searching for a great backup fly rod that is both solidly built and forgiving, the Explorer Graphite Fly Fishing Rod from Maxcatch may be worth looking into.
Amazon Link
$39.95
St Croix Legend Elite
Are you interested in going after the big one on your next fly fishing trip? Then you might want to consider getting the St. Croix Legend Elite Freshwater Fly Fishing Rod for your arsenal. Designed to give you the power needed to catch even the most stubborn large fish, this rod is well known in fly fishing circles as a great choice to catch the big ones.
Fenwick Aetos
The Fenwick Aetos Fly Rod is a great choice for a trout rod or for fishing rapids waters. It is highly responsive, offers beautiful casting, and is lightweight enough to carry just about anywhere.
Eagle Claw Featherlight
If you’re looking for a good fiberglass fly rod at a great price, you really can’t go wrong with the Eagle Claw Featherlight Fly Rod. Designed with the beginner angler in mind, this fly rod performs well enough to be among the big boys when it comes to fly fishing.
Amazon Link
$36.86
G Loomis NRX Lite
If you want a fly rod that truly helps you to become a better fly fisherman, this is certainly one to add to the list. The fly rod is designed for tight casting and superior presentation and offers a specialization for those times when you don’t want to let the big one get away.
Sage X
There is a reason that Sage has acquired a bit of a cult following for each of their rods. They are impressive. The X is no exception. It features a great blend of flexibility and control, allowing you to create gorgeous loops every time. It is available in many different weights and sizes.
Amazon Link
$950.00
Redington Classic
If you enjoy trout fishing, it’s hard to deny the usefulness of something like this rod. It’s designed specifically for the trout fisherman, and therefore keeps things practical in nature, excelling at the shorter to medium distances and faster-moving waters.
Amazon Link
$149.99
Gear Coop
$149.99
See Deal

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Size

Another important thing to consider when buying a fly rod is the overall length of the rod itself. A rod’s length can often determine what type of fly fishing it is best used for. For example, a shorter rod is often better suited for rivers and smallmouth bass, while a longer rod is often a good choice for lakes, larger rivers and shoreline fly fishing.

While there really isn’t a “standard” length for a fly rod, the most popular size for most anglers falls somewhere in the nine to the ten-foot range. This length is often well suited for a wide array of fishing, including rivers, streams and some lakes.

Durability

Depending on how often you go fly fishing, your fly rod is going to take a fair amount of abuse. If you think about it, every time you cast, reel in a catch or change out the line, you’re putting some stress on the rod. So it’s important to have one that features solid construction that is both durable and easy to use. In most cases, modern fly rods are made from durable and lightweight materials such as graphite, bamboo, or ceramic materials. The handle is often made of either natural or synthetic cork material that allows for a more comfortable grip that wicks moisture away from your hands.

Use

The action of a fly rod refers to how much the rod will flex while casting, and how quickly it can recover from the flexing. It also refers to where the rod bends. A slow action rod, bends towards the blank, a medium action rod bends more towards the middle of the rod, and a fast action rod, not surprisingly bends towards the tip.

However, the action is more than just the way the rod bends; it’s also how well it responds to your command as an angler. Does it flex with a simple tug of the wrist? Does it return to the ridged shape when you relax? And more importantly, does it allow you to control the line and prevent too much drag on the water?

Thankfully, the fly rods presented here offer a wide range of action, from slow to fast action, with the majority of quality ones falling somewhere in the medium action range. While the type of action used is often a preference of the angler, most fishermen choose to use a medium to fast action fly rod for general use.

Ease of Use

It is often said that an angler’s success on the water can often be determined by how well he controls the line of his fly rod. After all, a trout can easily catch the fly, but it’s up to the line to reel the fish in. Line control is a skill that isn’t often focused on, but if you ask any fly fisherman worth his stripes, you’ll quickly realize that it’s a skill that many try to master from day one.

And while it is a skill that is learned through practice and trial and error, the best fly rods do play an important role in practicing it. Factors such as the length of the rod, its overall action, and the overall construction can all play a role in how well the angler is able to control the line as it is cast, brought back and danced over the water.

Generally speaking, rods that have a greater length will not only allow the angler to cast at longer distances but also help provide for better line control overall. Essentially more line can be held off the water and can reduce the unwanted drag. It’s a balancing act, really between skill, technique, and equipment, so choosing a fly rod that helps to keep things in equilibrium is certainly a plus.

Top 10 Picks

1. Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa
Amazon Link

The Toccoa Fly Rod from Tailwater Outfitters is a great all-around choice for the seasoned fly fishermen. It is a lightweight, strong, and highly responsive rod that allows for a wide range of movement and flexibility while on the water. If you’re looking for a great general purpose fly rod, this one is hard to beat.

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Size
The overall lengths of these fly rods depend on the weight purchased and vary between eight and nine and a half feet. For the most part, however, the length is a good choice for a general fly fishing rod, offering a wide range of fishing adventures.

Durability
One of the areas where this rod really shines is in the overall quality of the construction. The rod itself is made from a lightweight graphite material that not only resists breakage but is also very easy to handle. The stripping guides are ceramic, and the snake guides are chrome, which allows for smooth gliding when casting overall.

Use
Depending on the length of rod that you choose, this fly rod has great overall line control, especially on the longer lengths. This rod has remarkably fast action, which makes it a great choice for smaller streams, rivers, and even small lakes.

Ease of Use
With the half well cork handle that is designed for comfort and to prevent fatigue, the casting accuracy of this fly rod is one of the best we’ve seen. Not only does the reel sit comfortably and securely in the reel seat to allow for greater control, but both the stripping guides and snake guides are designed for smooth casting and retrieval.

Summary
If you’re looking for a fantastic general fly rod that is a great choice for both a beginner and an expert angler, this one from the Tailwater Outfitters is hard to beat. It’s easy to use, lightweight, and solidly constructed.

Amazon Link

2. Echo Base

Where to buy
Echo Base
Amazon Link

This fly rod from Echo is a great choice for the beginner fly fisherman. It’s relatively lightweight, solidly built, very easy to use, and helps get the beginner’s skill level to that of an expert in very little time.

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Size
This rod measures nine feet in length, making it a great choice for general fly fishing in most river or lake environments.

Durability
For a very affordable price, this fly rod offers a solid, if simple construction overall that can easily handle the mistakes of a beginner.

Use
When considering the line being cast at less than 45 feet, the overall control offered is pretty decent, but not the best we’ve ever seen. However, for a beginner just learning the ropes, this is a great choice to learn how the line moves against the water. The action on this rod lies somewhere between medium and fast action, which makes it fairly easy to cast and retrieve the line over shorter distances. While it may not be the best when casting over forty feet, it has great responsiveness over shorter distances. It’s a great choice for smaller streams and lakes.

Ease of Use
While quite a few reviewers found that the swing weight was a little too heavy for comfort, the overall accuracy of the casting for this fly rod is very respectable to about twenty feet. Beyond that, the accuracy does decrease somewhat, making it about average between twenty and forty-five feet. Beyond that, casting becomes somewhat difficult but still manageable.

Summary
The Echo Base fly rod is a great and affordable choice for a beginner angler who is just starting to explore the joys of fly fishing. It is easy to operate and fairly responsive, with great control and action up to about forty feet. Beyond that, it becomes less responsive and more problematic but is still a great choice.

3. Fenwick HMG

Where to buy
Fenwick HMG
Amazon Link

Whether you’re new to fly fishing, or simply want to use a fly rod that is a bit more user-friendly than most, a great choice overall is the Fenwick HMG Fly Rod. Designed to have a medium-fast action, and solid construction, this is a great choice for an affordable fly rod.

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Size
This rod comes in a variety of lengths, including 7'6-feet, 8'6-feet, and 9-feet. These different sizes allow the angler to pick and choose which length is best for the fishing environment that he or she enjoys.

Durability
While the overall construction of this lightweight graphite rod is good, we would have liked to see a bit more attention to quality and detail in the finer points of construction. For example, the cork grip is not of the highest quality that we’ve seen, and the tip-top is rather small, which makes feeding the line when you first start out somewhat problematic.

Use
At longer casting distances, the power and control of this rod start to shine through. While it is more than adequate when it comes to line control at under 20 feet, after you top 40 feet the line control becomes much better than average, often exceeding our expectations by quite a bit.

Ease of Use
While the Fenwick HMG might not have the most accurate casting we’ve seen at longer distances, the ease of casting makes using this rod a joy for many people. The rod provides the ability to cast nice tight loops for the most part, and the guides are solidly built to allow for smooth operation overall.

Summary
The Fenwick HMG is a simple, yet solidly built fly rod that can easily handle most fishing environments. While we would have liked to see more attention paid to the construction details, this fly rod really shows its power and control in the longer casting ranges of forty to eighty feet.

4. Maxcatch Explorer Graphite

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$39.95
Maxcatch Explorer Graphite
Amazon Link

If you’re searching for a great backup fly rod that is both solidly built and forgiving, the Explorer Graphite Fly Fishing Rod from Maxcatch may be worth looking into.

Read more

Size
This rod is available in lengths ranging between eight and four inches and nine feet, which is great for most fly fishing escapades, including those located near or in streams, rivers, or lakes. It is probably not the best length for ocean fly fishing, though.

Durability
This rod is well made and can withstand quite a bit of abuse. The graphite rod easily flexes, but still returns to its relatively ridged shape quickly. The reel seat is made from lightweight aluminum and features twin locking rings to help keep the reel in place.

Use
Overall the line control offered by this rod is adequate for most situations, and it can be very forgiving for most new anglers. The overall action of this rod tends to be between fast and medium, with relatively quick response time when flexed. Most found the fly rod to be stronger and stiffer than they expected, but the surprise was a pleasant one for the most part.

Ease of Use
The casting feel and accuracy of this fly rod leaves a bit to be desired and has been known to cast shorter than intended and to have a certain lack of sensitivity overall. While it certainly will get the job done, the casting may be more problematic for most anglers, even if they are experienced fishermen. Many reviewers cited this rod as their go-to back up for trout fishing.

Summary
While this fly rod isn’t the best we’ve seen by far, it is a great choice for a backup rod for a veteran angler or as a starter choice for a beginner. Casting can be problematic at times, but the solid construction and forgiving nature of the rod easily make up for what it lacks.

Amazon Link
$39.95

5. St Croix Legend Elite

Where to buy
St Croix Legend Elite
Amazon Link

Are you interested in going after the big one on your next fly fishing trip? Then you might want to consider getting the St. Croix Legend Elite Freshwater Fly Fishing Rod for your arsenal. Designed to give you the power needed to catch even the most stubborn large fish, this rod is well known in fly fishing circles as a great choice to catch the big ones.

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Size
This rod is available in a nine-foot length, making it better suited for larger more aggressive fish.

Durability
This rod is solidly built, offering a very comfortable cork handle and lightweight graphite rod make it comfortable for all-day use.

Use
While the casting of the line with this fly rod felt great, the control of it left a bit more to be desired. We find the ability to lay down a delicate line presentation to be very elusive, and the overall sensitivity seemed to be sacrificed in the name of raw casting power. If you’re looking to fish in windy conditions, or in faster moving waters, the fast action of this fly rod might be what you need. It’s a great choice where power and the ability to fight the bigger fish are mandatory.

Ease of Use
When it comes to casting accuracy and ease, this fly rod is one of the best that we’ve seen overall. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s over distances over seventy feet or shorter than twenty. This rod easily casts with smoothness, power, and accuracy that is hard to match.

Summary
The St. Croix Legend Elite Fly Rod is a great choice for fly fishing in larger waters or going after bigger fish, where power and the ability to fight the fish is a good idea. While it is a bit more specialized than we would have liked, it’s still a solid choice.

6. Fenwick Aetos

Fenwick Aetos
Amazon Link

The Fenwick Aetos Fly Rod is a great choice for a trout rod or for fishing rapids waters. It is highly responsive, offers beautiful casting, and is lightweight enough to carry just about anywhere.

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Size
This rod is available in a wide range of lengths, ranging from a minimum of six feet all the way up to eleven feet overall. Depending on which length you choose, fishing the rivers, lakes, and streams of your area for trout or larger bass shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Durability
Like many of the rods on this list, this one can easily be collapsed into four sections for easy travel. It features graphite construction and larger diameter stripper guides and snake guides which makes loading the line extremely easy and fast. The reel seat is made from anodized aluminum metal and features a double uplock mechanism. There were some complaints about the overall toughness and durability, but under normal use, there is little chance of this rod failing.

Use
While casting out is fairly easy to do with some accuracy, this rod doesn’t really allow for the type of finesse needed in-line control to catch more elusive fish. If you simply need to cast out some basic loops, this is a great choice. If you need something a bit more complicated, then you might want to look elsewhere. The Fenwick Aetos Fly Rod is well known for its superior fast action and highly responsive nature. If you’re interested in fishing a smaller, more rapidly moving water source, this is a great overall choice.

Ease of Use
This rod is very easy to cast and surprisingly accurate, actually outperforming some of the more expensive brands available on the market today. While we certainly wouldn’t consider it a power caster, this rod will easily serve an angler over a good distance and in a wide range of situations.

Summary
Portable, durable, and accurate casting. This is a great versatile rod for beginners who aren’t looked for anything too complicated. It is offered at a comfortable price point and is ideal for many different types of fish.

7. Eagle Claw Featherlight

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$36.86
Eagle Claw Featherlight
Amazon Link

If you’re looking for a good fiberglass fly rod at a great price, you really can’t go wrong with the Eagle Claw Featherlight Fly Rod. Designed with the beginner angler in mind, this fly rod performs well enough to be among the big boys when it comes to fly fishing.

Read more

Size
This rod comes in a variety of lengths, from six feet all the way up to nine feet, so finding one that best suits your needs shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Durability
Unlike most rods on this list, this one is constructed of somewhat heavier fiberglass material. The overall durability is outstanding, and you won’t have to worry about the occasional scratch causing the rod to weaken as can sometimes happen with graphite rods.

Use
This rod will easily allow you to throw a loop into the water and responds remarkably well to tightening of the line and stroke. While the accuracy overall could naturally be improved, the control of the line is very respectable indeed. This fly rod has a slow to medium action and is a great choice for those who like to use repetitive casting or smaller flies while they fish. It may not be the most popular style on the market, but for those who specialize in a lazy day on the river, this rod is hard to beat.

Ease of Use
Most people found this rod to have a very smooth casting action, and fairly good accuracy overall. While it may not have the precision of some of the others on this list, for general use it serves its purpose well.

Summary
If you need a workhorse of a fly rod that can take tons of abuse and still cast a pretty decent line, the Featherlight from Eagle Claw is a great choice. While it may not easily compete with some of the higher entries on this list, for the price it can certainly hold its own.

Amazon Link
$36.86

8. G Loomis NRX Lite

Where to buy
G Loomis NRX Lite
Amazon Link

If you want a fly rod that truly helps you to become a better fly fisherman, this is certainly one to add to the list. The fly rod is designed for tight casting and superior presentation and offers a specialization for those times when you don’t want to let the big one get away.

Read more

Size
The manufacturer features a number of different lengths for this rod, ranging from 7.5 feet up to 9 feet in length making this a great choice for a good range of fly fishing needs.

Durability
These rods feature lightweight graphite construction and a comfortable cork handle that is great for a long day of casting. There were some complaints, however, about the overall durability of the rod, especially during transportation. This is probably one rod that should be kept in a protective case when not in use.

Use
With the responsive nature of the rod and the ample feedback provided during the cast, line control is fairly easy in this fly rod. This rod features a medium to fast action overall, making it quite versatile when it comes to fishing different localities and going after a few different types of fish. Many people also enjoyed the responsiveness of the rod and the ability to cast quick, tight loops at a moment’s notice.

Ease of Use
When it comes to casting consistency, this fly rod is a tough one to beat. The rod provides great overall feedback from the tip, making casting accurately a breeze overall. At about 40 to 70 feet, this fly rod really does well, allowing for tighter loops, and great overall tracking.

Summary
While the overall construction quality could be a bit better, when it comes to a great line presentation and casting, it’s really hard to beat the G Loomis NRX Lite Presentation Fly Rod.

9. Sage X

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$950.00
Sage X
Amazon Link

There is a reason that Sage has acquired a bit of a cult following for each of their rods. They are impressive. The X is no exception. It features a great blend of flexibility and control, allowing you to create gorgeous loops every time. It is available in many different weights and sizes.

Read more

Size
The Sage X is available in a wide variety of weights and lengths. There really s something for everyone here. You can find weights from three to ten. If you are picky about the length of your pole, you’ll be pleased with the selection available. This pole is available in lengths from 7’6 to 15’.

Durability
Sage says that they finally feel like they have perfected their graphite and resin ratios with the X. The high-density material is strong, while still providing a decent amount of flex. The cork handle is strong and provides a great hand feel.

Use
This is an impressive fast-action rod. It is outfitted with Sage’s KonneticHD technology. This makes the rod fast-acting and creates tighter and more functional, long and parallel loops. This technology is versatile and dependable and compatible with many different casting styles. The taper of the pole allows you to bring in the power closer to you, giving you more control.

Ease of Use
This pole is super responsive and forgiving. The vibrations of the blank are minimized to create an efficient cast. This is a great pole for any level of angler. It offers superior loop control, allowing you to focus on what’s going on in front of you. The cork handle feels good in the hand and provides great grip.

Summary
If you are looking for versatility and reliability, this is a great rod. With just the right amount of flexibility and tightness, it creates functional loops easily. It is available in a variety of weights and lengths- there is something for every angler.

Amazon Link
$950.00

10. Redington Classic

Where to buy
Redington Classic
Amazon Link

If you enjoy trout fishing, it’s hard to deny the usefulness of something like this rod. It’s designed specifically for the trout fisherman, and therefore keeps things practical in nature, excelling at the shorter to medium distances and faster-moving waters.

Read more

Size
This fly rod is available in a wide range of lengths, from 7.5 feet all the way up to 9 feet at varying weight categories.

Durability
This rod is actually somewhat lighter than most of the higher-priced brands, but don’t let that fool you; it’s still well put together, and the components are of good quality. While it might not be as durable as a fiberglass rod, it is still able to take a few licks.

Use
Overall, the line control on this rod is pretty adequate, allowing the caster to form nice, tight loops and to keep the majority of the line above the surface of the water without too much trouble. While it’s nothing to write home about, for most people the line control of this pole is more than enough. The action of this fly rod falls somewhere between the medium action to fast action range, and the responsiveness is fairly good overall.

Ease of Use
When it comes to shorter or medium distances, say less than 40 feet, the casting of the line off of this rod is a dream. It provides a smoother, gentler action and casting than more expensive models. However, trying to cast over 40 feet can be a bit of a problem, since the rod tip is easy to shock, and may result in a tailing loop.

Summary
If you need a new fly rod that is specifically designed for shorter casts that are often needed for trout fishing, this one from Redington is hard to beat. While line control and casting do become an issue in the longer casts, overall this is a solid choice for trout fishing.

Amazon Link
$149.99
Gear Coop
$149.99
See Deal

Sources

  1. Chad Shmukler, New 2018-19 fly fishing gear: Standout rods, Article
  2. Carter Reschke, The Best Fly Fishing Rods Under $150, Buying Guide
  3. Sammy Garrard, Best Fly Fishing Rods 2019 – Reviews and Comparison, Outdoors Blog