When you are beginning any sport, you quickly learn that to be consistent, having your own gear is extremely important. Fly fishing is no different — getting a feel for your fly rod is an essential part of the learning process, and you can’t learn efficiently when your gear is always changing.
More importantly, nothing is more motivating than having your own equipment — who doesn’t want s shiny new fly rod? We know this, and we have dedicated this review to helping you find the best fly rod for both your ability and your budget.
Finding yourself the best beginner fly rod takes more than price hunting for the cheapest outfit you can find. Picking the wrong setup, size & action will put you behind from the start and stunt the learning process.
In our experience, the best fly rod for beginners is either the Orvis Clearwater or the Redington Crosswater. Both are a well-rounded fly rod that delivers plenty of power, plus, they’re both backed by the lifetime warranties.
I’ve used each fly rod personally, and they both stack up with the much more expensive rods from Sage and Hardys. For this review, our research team went through thousands of user reviews for a total of 42 hours (combined) to come up with this concise list.
The Best Fly Rods for Beginners in 2020 (Quick Guide)
The following list of the best beginner fly rods for 2020 is a quick list of the fly fishing gear that we most commonly recommend to fly fishermen getting started. In summary, here are our favorite beginner fly rods for 2020:
|Fly Rod||Line Weights||Price|
|Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod||2wt-6wt||$198|
|Wild Water Fly Rod Set||5/6wt||$99|
|Redington Crosswater Rod||4wt-8wt||$99|
|TFO NXT Fly Rod||4/5wt||$199|
|Sage Foundation Fly Rod||4wt-8wt||$325|
The Best Fly Rods You Can Buy for a Beginner
Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod
When it comes to choosing fly rods for beginners, you can’t do much better for a fly fishing outfit than Orvis. Orvis is known for producing lightweight and affordable fly fishing rods, and the Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod is no exception. A nine-foot, five-weight fly fishing rod, the Orvis Clearwater is excellent for first-time anglers looking to catch large trout. It is made of aluminum, which gives an impressive lightweight feel while providing strength and durability. According to most fly rod reviews, the four-piece design makes it a fly rod that is convenient to carry around and cast.
I particularly liked the Orvis Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod for its rod action — it wasn’t too fast or too slow, making most first-time anglers cast like a pro. This is because of Orvis Helios tapers build and profile, which helps anglers cast with power and precision whether you are throwing large or small flies even on a windy afternoon.
The Orvis Clearwater can come alone or bundled with the standard cast aluminum Clearwater LA II or LA IV and a large arbour standard to Clearwater Outfits. The outfits also come with a robust Rulon-to-stainless steel inline drag to assist anglers in catching fast fish, so consider the whole setup if you can.
Orvis Clearwater is also ideal for anglers fishing in a river, lake, or flat and who do not want to spend a fortune.
- Easy casting
- Lightweight and durable
- The manufacturer offers a 25-year warranty
- Can come in a four-piece set that includes a reel, leader, backing, and line
- Slower action than other rods
Wild Water Starter Package
The next contender, the Wild Water Starter Package, is best for fishing larger game, hence the line capacity of between 5 and 6. The reel and the rod are designed for freshwater and saltwater lakes, so you don’t need to change when switching from one environment to another.
In addition, the Wild Water Starter Package comes with a rod sock that prevents the line from tangles and abrasions when you tire lures on the reel. The sock also protects the fragile tips and guides of the rod.
Like some of the best fly rods, I found this fly rod’s slow action feature incredibly impressive as it gives anglers a vast range of choices when handling a broad spectrum of fish targets — just the versatility that any fly fisherman needs when their game keeps on changing.
You will also be impressed by the 5x tapered leader and the high sensitivity of this graphite composite rod, which allows the angler to detect fish strikes much easier. The aluminum oxide guides provide a smooth casting experience that gives you the medium flex for beginner angling techniques.
This fly rod is also pretty lightweight, portable, and easy to use. The graphite composite feature combines strength and its lightweight nature to allow anglers to cast with precision. This rod has also been designed to accommodate mono-lines.
- One of the best fly fishing rods for beginners
- It is easy to cast
- Pretty affordable for a beginner starter kit
- Not a very durable rod
The Reddington Crosswater medium action rod is easy to cast, making it excellent fly fishing gear for beginners. Its ability to provide a greater casting distance than most standard fishing rods and its ample hook-setting power make it one of the best fly rods for applications that use treble hooks like crankbaits, topwater lures, or recreational baits such as spinner baits.
Its four-piece design offers excellent flexibility for anglers on the go. The Redington Crosswater fly rod is available alone as a single rod or in complete outfits to get you fishing your best right away.
The Reddington Crosswater’s graphite construction with chrome snake and stripping guides fitted with a wood insert reel seat give this fishing rod great tensile strength. The fishing rod is made of less material to make it lighter and more sensitive to fish strikes than other types of fishing rods.
Its laser-etched reel seats and durable anodized aluminum seat are great value for the money. Most cheap rods have a plastic cushion inside the metal hoods, leaving the reel prone to stain and rust. The Redington Crosswater, on the other hand, is made of aluminum and wood, which reduces the risk of stain and rust development. This is especially useful for anglers looking for the best fly rods for the money with medium fast action.
- Great tip action
- Lightweight yet durable
- A great deal of effectiveness using its laser-etched wooden reel seat
- The outer frame is fragile
- The reel comes off easily
Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Lefty Kreh
The all-in-one Temple Fork Lefty Kreh is an excellent rod for non-experts. It features a high-performance setup that helps shorten any beginner’s learning curve while letting them develop exceptional fly fishing skills. The kit comes in a Custom Cordura case to include the backing and the leader, a light floating line, and a rod.
The Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Lefty Kreh is made from Graphite, a high-quality material that is lightweight and durable. The rod is fitted with aluminum oxide stripping guides, an anodized aluminum reel seat, chromium-impregnated stainless steel snake guides, and a highly durable composite cork handle.
This fast-action rod allows anglers to catch different types of fish, including trout. The feature also means that the rod can bend half-way onwards to provide great controlling capabilities; it resumes its original form pretty fast, so it doesn’t feel stiff. You can disassemble the rod into four pieces for easy storage and packing and assemble the parts quickly, whether you have prior knowledge or not. The reel is made of cast aluminum, which is durable and provides a lightweight feel when casting. Its spool is smooth and guarantees a hassle-free cast when targeting game, making it one of the top fly rod brands. This is great fly fishing gear.
- Its compact nature makes it easy to carry
- Interchangeable spool design
- Great Action for the Price
- It is a little fragile compared to other fishing rods
Sage Foundation Fly Rod
Sage is one of the top fly rod brands, known to deliver high-performance flyfishing rod varieties, and the 690-4 fly rod is no exception. It can go sub-surface using heavy nymphs and large dry flies that have droppers. There’s a lot of feel to this rod, allowing anglers to fish best when using mayflies to catch trout in large and small water bodies.
The Sage Foundation Fly Rod operates like other modern fast-action rods; it offers effortless control and efficient casting power. It is outfitted with hard chrome snake guides, ceramic stripper guides, and a black-anodized aluminum locking reel seat. Its snub-nose cork handle gives security and comfort, while its high weight feature is excellent for saltwater fishing.
The Sage Foundation Fly Rod package includes a rugged black nylon tube that has a divided liner.
- One of the best fly rods for the money
- Smooth energy transfer
- The most durable of the bunch
How Are Fly Rods Made?
Fly fishing rods are made of carbon fiber, outfitted with resin with the carbon cloth wrapped around a mandrel, and reinforced again with resin to form a long slim cone called a blank.
The blank is then crashed to eliminate any unevenness that develops when using the cloth and is fitted with a reel seat and a cork handle. Guides are also whipped and layered with a transparent resin to protect the rod against the weather elements.
Fly rod manufacturers have introduced a multitude of line ratings, different lengths, prices, and rod actions, which makes buying single-handed rods an incredibly daunting process. Here is a look at fly rod history of various products and factors to consider when buying these devices.
What to Consider When Buying a Fly Fishing Rod
Here are some of the main things you need to consider when you are buying any fly fishing rod, whether it is your first or just another one of many.
Fly Rod Weight
Fly rod weight is an incredibly important factor to consider when you buy your first fly fishing rod. Fly rods are classified in different weights ranging from 0 to 16-weight. 0-weight rods are incredibly light rods designed for small streams and fish. 16-weights are reserved only for bluewater fishing targeting species such as tuna and marlin.
- 0-3 Weight Rods – Small stream fishing only
- 4-6 Weight Rods – Most Trout and Panfish
- 7-10 Weight Rods – Steelhead and Salmon
- 11+ Weight Rods – Saltwater fishing, Lakes, Big Fish!
The ideal rod weights for the beginner are 4 to 6-weights. These rods are light in hand and will enable you to catch a wide variety of freshwater species.
Choose a 4-weight if you are planning on mostly fishing smaller rivers and a 6-weight for large rivers. A 5-weight is a perfect allrounder.
Fly Rod Length
Like weight, the length of your fly rod affects how and where you can use it. It will even affect how well you can cast depending on your skill level.
Fly rods are available in lengths that range between 6′ and 15.’ Rods under 7 and more than 10 feet are considered extreme, and beginners should avoid them. 8-9 foot rods are general-purpose especially if the weight ranges from 4 to 8w. The standard length system is represented in 6” increments, ranging from 7-10. Here are specifics on how to choose the ideal fly rod length:
Less than 7 foot fly rods
Less than 7 foot fly rods are the shortest rods and are great for shorts casts in restricted spaces. Most of them come in 2 pieces. Beginners may find it difficult to cast when using them.
7-8 foot rods
Most 7 to 8 foot rods are popular choices and are easier to throw than the 7-foot rods. The rods come in 2 pieces and are ideal for casting in small water bodies.
8-9 foot rods
Most fishermen agree that 8 to 9 foot rods are some of the best beginner fly rods types as they are easy to throw and keep the line above the vegetation on the backcast. They are available in 2, 3, and 4 piece selections.
9-10 foot rods
When it comes to bigger game, 9 to10 foot fly rods enhance line mending and are stronger for large water bodies and catching bigger fish.
10-12 foot rods
More durable and heavier, 10 to 12 food fly rods are designed for saltwater fishing and casting long distances in open water.
12-15 foot rods
Only for the most experienced fly fisherman, 12 to 15 foot fly rods are the longest and used for unique, open water environments. This unique length requires skilled casting proficiency and endurance.
Fly Rod Action
A fly rods action determines the way a rod flexes in response to casting. This action is a result of the blank design, materials used, and guide spacing. On the one extreme, you have slow-action rods. These rods flex deep into the butt section of the blank during the casting stroke. There are three types:
Fast action rod
Fast action rods are stiff, and most of the casting flex occurs in the tip section of the rod. A fast-action rod can generate high line speeds. Therefore, they are perfect for long-distance casts, casting into the wind, and delivering large and heavy flies.
Moderate action rod
A moderate action fly rod is not as powerful as the swift action rod and loads slower. The rod does not generate high line speeds, so it can’t cast long distances. Medium action rods are suitable for beginners as the line speeds are quite forgiving.
Slow action rod
Slower action fly rods are intended for the angler that has a slow casting style. In general, these rods are better inclined towards dry fly fishing and delicate presentations. Due to the rod’s deep flex, the angler experiences good feedback from the rod and line.
A fast-action rod conveys less feel to the caster and therefore is reserved for the more experienced angler. I recommend choosing a medium-fast action rod if you’re just starting. This action hits the sweet spot between feel and high performance. Often, you’ll find that the more affordable ranges feature this action, making them perfect for beginners.
Fly Rod Material
When it comes to the materials and composition of fly rods, numerous technologies have introduced a variety of substances and composites that are used to make rods with differing characteristics:
The best fly fishing rods are made of graphite. This material is light, durable, sturdy, and extremely sensitive. Manufacturers continue to improve graphite fishing rods, pushing the limit for fly rod length to develop rods that are 10, 11, and even 14 feet long. Rods made of graphite are ideal for fly fishing in physically demanding environments like during strong winds and when throwing heavy nymphs and hopper-dropper rigs.
Fiberglass offers a readily available alternative to traditional bamboo rods as it is light, durable, and flexible. Fiberglass rods are suitable for fishing with small dry flies, small streamers, and light dry-dropper rigs on small to medium-sized streams. They are, however, slightly heavier than graphite rods by 0.1 ounces.
The oldest fishing rods were made of bamboo. They are designed for delicate presentations and slow casting action. Just like fiberglass rods, bamboo fly rods deliver a unique experience when battling fish.
The technology used to make nano-silica resin rods pushes the benefits of graphite rods to new levels. Hundreds of Nano-silica particles are added to the resin to fill the gaps between cross-sections of the fibers, making resin a structural component of the rod instead of a fill-in element.
With so many choices on the market, it can be tough to choose the best rod for you and your skill level. Selecting the best beginner fishing rod is about knowing the right fly rod weight based on the type of game you want to catch and the kind of fly you are using. Following these recommendations, you should be able to make an informed decision and get out on the water. Read all you want, but no matter what kind of fly rod you end up with, actually going fly fishing is the only way to learn and improve your game.