When fly fishing on small streams you’re going to want a fly rod to match. Trying to fish on a tiny stream with a fly rod that’s too big is a bit cumbersome, and it makes small stream fishing a lot harder than it needs to be.
The best fly rods for small streams are short, light, and delicate while providing great casting accuracy and immaculate fly presentation. Join me as we take a look at some of the top small stream fly rods on the market.
|Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod||Check Today's Price|
|Okuma Crisium Fly Rod||Check Today's Price|
|Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod||Check Today's Price|
|Echo Shadow II Fly Rod||Check Today's Price|
|Temple Fork Outfitters Lefty Kreh Signature Series II Fly Rod||Check Today's Price|
Our Top Fly Rods For Small Streams
Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod
Star Rating : 4
- Durable and strong blank
- Slow for delicate presentation on shorter casts
- Perfect weight and length for nymph and dry fly fishing on small streams
- Can be used on bigger waters as well as small water
- Great value and comes with a 25-year guarantee
- Wt: 4 wt
- Size: 8ft 6 in.
- Action: Slow
- Pieces: 4
Orvis Clearwater fly rods were designed to meet the expectations of pro anglers while retaining excellent value, and it does just that.
The rod is made from a blend of medium to high modulus graphite making it both light, durable, and excellent for casting. Being a 4 weight with a length of 8ft 6inches it’s the perfect all-around rod for fishing on small streams.
The length is long enough for nymphing and ideal for presenting a dry fly too. The slow action of the rod means it bends closer to the butt section giving you more feel in your casts so you can create tight loops and present your fly exactly where it needs to be, even on a short 20-foot cast.
Okuma Crisium Fly Rod
Best On A Budget
Star Rating : 3
- High modulus blank for performance and durability
- Excellent weight and size for fly fishing with dries
- Small and lightweight for casting in tight spots
- Great accuracy on shorter casts
- Exceptional value for the quality
- Wt: 4 wt
- Size: 7 ft
- Action: Medium
- Pieces: 2
The Okuma Crisium Fly Rod is one of the best around when it comes to spending as little as possible. One would usually equate Okuma with quality spinning gear but their Crisium fly rod isn’t one to ignore just because you’re not used to seeing them in the fly fishing world.
The rod is built from a high modulus graphite blank for both strength and performance. It’s labeled as a medium-action rod but it actually feels quite slow when you cast it, which is what you want on small streams as you get more feel and control.
It’s deadly accurate to cast over short distances of up to 30 feet, and with a short length of 7ft, you’ll be able to put your fly in those tight small stream pockets where trout and bass like to hang out.
The fly rod is a little small for nymphing with but, it’s one of the most reliable trout rigs for streams out there.
Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod
Star Rating – 4.5
- Quality graphite blank construction
- Comes with a beautiful rosewood reel seat
- Great for small streams and has power for a larger river
- Has alignment dots for an easy setup
- Low weight and forgiving to cast with
- Makes delicate and accurate casts easy
- Comes with a lifetime warranty
- Wt: 4 wt
- Size: 8ft 6 inch
- Action: Moderate
- Pieces: 4
So this American-made Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod has been designed especially for trout fishing. It’s the perfect go-to small stream rod where shorter casts and delicate accuracy are key but it also has enough power behind it to shoot 50ft of line when you need to, making it a fly rod for most river fishing and still water occasions.
The rod is made with a quality blank with a moderate to fast action which gives you full control over your line speed for the small accurate casts you need for small stream fly fishing.
You’ll be able to put your fly right in the feeding zone at 20 feet and push it further when you’re trying to feed a suspicious trophy fish from distance.
At 8ft 6 inches, this fly rod is a great all-around size as it has the length needed to dance a nymph down the river while being small enough to immaculately present dries.
Overall, it’s one of the best fly rods around when considering its affordable price, top performance, and the lifetime warranty it comes with.
Echo Shadow II Fly Rod
Best Technical Nymphing Rod
Star Rating : 4
- A high-quality performance build for small stream fly casting
- Perfect size and sensitivity for technical nymphing
- Light and accurate for casting
- Fast loading for quick and delicate presentation
- Great warranty and repair service
- Wt: 3 or 2 weight
- Size: 10 ft
- Action: Fast
- Piece: 4
The Echo Shadow II is made for nymphing in small streams being a longer 10ft 3 weight and is my favorite setup when I’m looking to catch trout and grayling in the early season before many flies have started hatching.
At 10 feet with a fast action, this rod is long and stiff enough for you to cast multiple nymphs with superior accuracy, and ideal for controlling their drift perfectly into the feeding zone of an unsuspecting trout.
Being such a light rod, it’s also perfect for fishing small micro-nymphs (size 20-22) and it’s great fun hooking a fish of any size with. Be sure to check and take care with the rod tip though, as it’s super soft and can break easily when landing a fish.
The Echo Shadow II series is also available as a 2 weight which is a bit less powerful but it does top up the delicacy and accuracy of your presentation.
If you want more selection of fly rods from Echo, see our Echo fly rods review here for a complete line up review.
Temple Fork Outfitters Lefty Kreh Signature Series II Fly Rod
Best For Dry Fly
Star Rating: 5
- American-made IM6 blank with a forest green finish
- A quality aluminum alloy reel seat
- A’ grade comfortable Portuguese cork grip
- Hi-alloy stripping guides and hard chrome wire snake guides
- Perfect size for fishing dries with great accuracy and presentation
- Wt: 3 wt
- Size: 7ft 6 in.
- Action: Moderate
- Piece: 2
The TFO Lefty Kreh Signature Series II is a favorite of mine due to the attention to detail in its design. TFO fly rods doesn’t scrimp, ensuring every part of the rod is made with top-quality materials from the IM6 blank to the aluminum reel seat. You can rest assured that this rod is going to last, even if you treat it mean.
From a performance perspective, the rod is forgiving for anyone to roll a good cast out with while still meeting the needs of pro-fly fishermen. In its smaller 7ft 6 in. three weight model, it’s the ideal setup for fishing dries on a smaller river as you’ll be able to use it in tight spots and put a solid roll cast out to any section of the river you please.
It has a medium action which gives the rod a nice feel and lets you drop your flies delicately and with great accuracy too. The rod is a little small for nymph fishing, and it should be saved for those awesome hatches you get on smaller streams in the summer months.
What is a small stream fly rod?
Small stream fly rods are like the waters they are made for, quite small. They range in size between 2 and 4 weights and 7 to 8.5 feet. Their size is whats makes them perfect for small streams.
They are great for casting in tough spots and sensitive to the often smaller fish you’ll find in smaller waters.
Why do you need a small stream fly rod?
You don’t particularly ‘need’ a rod made for little streams and you could even use a larger 7 wt to get the job done, but this kind of heavier gear could make the fishing a little harder and certainly a lot duller.
Rods for small streams are designed for casting shorter distances, unlike larger ones that are made for throwing your line as far across a lake as possible. Using heavier rods, you’ll have much less control, delicacy, and accuracy when fishing small streams, which are key elements to catching fish.
Also, with heavier fly fishing rods, the fight is going to be far less enjoyable. You’ll barely feel the pull of a 1lb trout on the end of your line, and every fly shop in the world will tell you the same.
What to consider when buying a great fly fishing rod for small streams
What flies will you be using?
The first question you need to ask yourself, no matter what water or state you’re fishing in, is whether you want a fly rod to fish nymphs, dries, or both? Your answer to this will dictate what size gear you’re going to need and the right course to take to shop for it.
If you plan on only nymphing with your rod, you’re going to want it to be close 10 feet so that you can turn over heavy nymphs on shorter casts, and mend them easily as they drift downstream to an unsuspecting trout.
When fishing dries, a 7-foot rod is ideal as the shorter length makes for delicate presentation. If you want an allrounder for every occasion then go for fly rods that are close to 8ft 6 in.
What rod material is best for small water fly rods?
Fly rods can be made of three materials; carbon fiber, fiberglass (aka glass), and the most popular, graphite.
Graphite and carbon fiber rods are stiffer than fiberglass or glass rods and the stiffness helps you push your line out further. But they are also a bit more delicate than fiberglass rods, and if they bend too far, they will most likely snap.
Glass rods are super bendy, you can almost bend them in half. This makes them hard to break but soft making it hard to push your line as far as you need without quite a lot of momentum.
When looking for small stream rods, stay away from glass and go for graphite or carbon fiber as their stiffness will make turning your fly over at shorter distances a lot easier.
Which weight rod should you shop for?
Deciding which weight rod to go for comes down to your personal preference a bit.
As a standard rule you could and should be using a two, three, or four weight rod on smaller streams as they are lightweight for making the shorter and accurate shots you’ll need, but which of them should you choose?
If you’re looking for an allrounder rod that can also handle larger waters, then go for a 4 wt. If you love fishing with the lightest gear possible you’ll be happiest with a 2wt but you might experience it is too delicate for larger specimens and parts for the stream that are a bit wider.
The happy medium is a 3wt. It’s stronger for larger fish but has a good amount of power for pushing 40 ft or more when you need it, but is delicate for small stream fishing.
So, which of the fly rods is the one you should run to the outdoor or fly shop and buy?
In my eyes, the Lefty Kreh Signature Series II is the one to go for. It’s made with higher quality materials than the others, comes in a large range of weights and lengths, and it’s a beautiful rod for everyone to use, a beginner or a pro.
If you’re a die-hard nympher and want the best performance available, the Echo Shadow II is the clear winner. It’s technically the best rod overall when it comes to early and late season nymphing thanks to its size and ability to turn flies over with a quick roll.
Thanks for reading my article, I hope you enjoyed it and found the right rod for you. Subscribe to our newsletter for more info on fishing gear and destinations, and remember to always check here first before you shop for any new fishing gear.