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What are the Best Fly Rods in 2020?

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Fly fishing is one of the best sports for your brain on the planet [1]. With a huge range of fly rods on the market, choosing the best fly rod for your needs isn’t easy. But there’s sure to be the perfect fly rod to meet your needs out there! In this helpful guide, we’ve summed up some of the best rods available now, so you can see which models tick the right boxes for your needs!

From action to weight, type of rod, and price, there’s something for everyone on this list! Here are the best fly fishing rods for anyone from beginner to pro!

Best Fly Rods Reviews for 2020

If you’re not sure where to start in choosing your first (or next!) fly rod, here are some of the best contenders on the market today:

Sage Pulse

sage pulse fly rod
  • Fast action
  • Regular freshwater/saltwater rod
  • Available in 3-8 weights

The Sage Pulse is a mid-range fast action rod that makes an ideal workhorse rod to take on any fishing trip. It combines exquisite craftsmanship and excellent performance. The tip is very sensitive, while the butt section provides all the power you need. You can throw any kind of fly with the Sage Pulse, and it can handle windy conditions too. Check out our full Sage Pulse review for more info!

Pros

  • Great built quality
  • Comfortable cork handle
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Versatile rod
  • Suitable for dry fly fishing and casting streamers

Cons

  • On the heavier side
  • The neon green color isn't for everyone
  • Less accuracy in the short range

Sage Foundation

sage foundation fly rod review
  • Fast action
  • Regular freshwater/saltwater rod
  • Available in 4-9 weights

The Sage Foundation is a versatile rod that’s suitable for everyone, from beginners to veteran fly anglers. This forgiving rod offers excellent value for money and can be used in all conditions, on all types of water. Sage is one of the most well-known rod brands, creating high-quality rods than anglers than depend upon. This graphite rod is sturdy and durable and comes with a lifetime warranty. If you want to find out more, read our full Sage Foundation review.

Pros

  • Made in America - flawless construction and finish
  • Versatile fly rod for all your fishing trips
  • Comfortable cork handle
  • Simple, minimalist design

Cons

  • Not ideal for long distances
  • No alignment dots
  • On the heavy side

Redington Path

redington path review
  • Medium-fast action
  • Regular rod
  • Available in 3-9 weights

If you’re looking for an all-rounder fly rod, the Redington Path might be just what you’re after. This fly rod is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fishing, with a corrosion-resistant anodized aluminum reel seat.

The medium-fast action offers the best of both worlds when it comes to fly fishing rods, combining power and feel. One of the most affordable rods on the market, you can rely on the Redington Path for years of fly fishing fun. If you want to find out more, here’s our full Redington Path review.

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • You can cast across all distances
  • Great accuracy
  • You can achieve a delicate presentation with your dry flies

Cons

  • The tip can snap if you don't take enough care
  • Not suited to heavy weighted flies
  • Can't reach distances of 80+feet

Orvis Encounter

orvis encounter review
  • Moderate action
  • Regular rod/starter rod
  • Available in 5-7 weights

The Orvis Encounter is an excellent entry-level rod, ideal for beginners learning how to fly fish. It won’t break the bank, but it provides everything you need to get started. You can buy this fly rod in a combo including fly reel, line, and backing, so you don’t have to shop for each item separately.

The Orvis Encounter is a well-constructed rod from one of the greatest rod brands around. It’s easy to put together, and the medium action rod is perfect for newbie fly anglers. With a flexible tip and stiffer mid-section, you get spot-on line control and precision in your casts. Our full Orvis Encounter review has more details about this excellent fly rod.

Pros

  • Low, affordable price
  • All-in-one combo option
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Impressive performance and accuracy
  • Can handle windy conditions

Cons

  • You don't get the standard 25-year Orvis warranty with this model
  • No protective case included
  • Plastic construction is less durable

Sage Motive

sage motive fly rod review
  • Fast action
  • Saltwater specific rod
  • Available in 6-12 weights

The Sage Motive is a specially designed rod for saltwater fly fishing. With Graphite IIIe technology and a unique taper, it impresses with its smooth casting and powerful fast action. At the same time, it’s responsive with enough strength to haul in those big saltwater fish. The Motive has an uplocking anodized aluminum reel seat, extra-large stripping guides, and a full wells cork handle with fighting butt – all the essential factors for a rod in the saltwater category! Check out our in-depth Sage Motive review for more details!

Pros

  • Affordable price for a saltwater model
  • Cool, bright design
  • Packs the power you need for long-distance casting and big fish
  • Impressive craftsmanship

Cons

  • Less sensitivity due to the stiff tip
  • Lacks the latest KonneticHD technology from Sage
  • A heavier model
  • No alignment dots

Scott Flex

scott flex fly rod review
  • Fast action
  • Regular freshwater rod
  • Available in 3-8 weights

The Scott Flex has a fast line speed and creates tight loops for that perfect cast and presentation. Described as fast with feel, this is a unique, handmade fly rod that performs! Every Scott rod is handmade, and the Flex has high-quality components and finish. 

It feels slower than some fast action rods, with more feel than very stiff rods give. The Flex performs well at mid-long range, although it’s slightly less accurate up close. Find out more about the Scott Flex in our detailed review.

Pros

  • Amazing accuracy at 45 feet
  • Superb build quality
  • Simple to cast
  • Great for trout fishing with dry flies or streamers

Cons

  • Not the best fly rod for extra-long casts
  • Slower line speed
  • Less accurate up close

Redington Vice

redington vice review
  • Fast action
  • Regular freshwater/saltwater rod
  • Available in 3-9 weights

If you’re looking for a rod that performs in freshwater and saltwater, check out Redington’s Vice fly fishing rods. This fast-action rod has a multi-modulus blank, allowing for faster blank recovery, more control, and increased accuracy. Anyone from beginners to experienced fly fishers can use this rod, although it’s really aimed at intermediate anglers. The Vice is the perfect rod for fly fishing on small rivers and creeks.

See more the full review here.

Pros

  • Very versatile across a range of distances and with a wide variety of flies
  • Affordably priced
  • Solid, durable build

Cons

  • The cork is of lower quality, with lots of filler
  • Vibrations don't travel all the way up the rod

Orvis Superfine Glass

orvis superfine glass review
  • Slow action
  • Fiberglass rod
  • Available in 2-8 weights

Fiberglass rods offer a different experience when fly fishing. Other than bamboo fly rods, they’re about as classic and traditional as you can get. Instead of focusing on speed and power, you can slow down and concentrate on the moment with a glass fly rod. It’s just you, the rod, the fly, and the fish in the water.

The Orvis Superfine Glass fly rod is a fantastic rod that allows you to cast with exquisite accuracy and delicacy. It’s featherweight and perfect for fishing on small streams. If you’re looking at glass fly rods, the Superfine Glass is one of the best around.

See the Superfine Glass full review here.

Pros

  • A classic feel
  • Super lightweight
  • More durable than carbon fiber fly rods
  • Very responsive and flexible

Cons

  • Not suitable for big rivers
  • Heavier than graphite
  • You can't catch big fish with these glass fly rods

Orvis Helios

orvis helios review
  • Fast and medium action models
  • Regular rod
  • 3F available in 3-8 weights, 3D available in 4-12 weights

With the reinvention of the Helios, Orvis has taken fly fishing to the next level! This is the best fly rod for sale if you’re looking for precision and accuracy. Any angler can become an expert caster with this rod in their hands. The Helios is available in two different models: the Helios 3D for distance and the Helios 3F for feel. If you need power for long casts, go for the 3D. But if you’re looking for a sensitive rod that can achieve delicate presentations, the 3F is the right fly rod for you.

See the Orvis Helios 3 review here.

Pros

  • Further improvements on the Helios 2 model
  • Incredible accuracy - not to be beaten
  • 2 different models to choose between
  • Sleek, attractive design

Cons

  • Some people don't like the new white wraps
  • You have to choose between distance and feel

Sage Accel

sage accel review
  • Medium to fast action
  • Regular freshwater/saltwater rod
  • Available in 3-5 weight and 6-8 weight
  • Discontinued model

The Accel is a premium, lightweight fly rod with a medium to fast action. This rod is perfect for all anglers – more intense than a medium-action rod, with plenty of feel. Sage made this rod in freshwater, saltwater, and spey models, with something to suit everyone. These fly rods shoots out beautiful tight loops at short range, but packs enough power to chuck your flies 60+ feet when needed.

See the full Sage Accel review here.

Pros

  • Excellent accuracy at short range
  • Tight loops
  • Very sensitive - you won't miss any strikes with this rod
  • Great trout fishing fly rods

Cons

  • Not great value for money compared to similar rods
  • Not the most accurate at 45 feet
  • Lacks Sage's top KonneticHD technology

Redington Crosswater

redington crosswater review
  • Medium fast action
  • Regular rod
  • Available in 4-9 weights

Every beginner fly fisher needs a fantastic rod to learn on – but one that won’t break the bank. Redington has created exactly this with the Crosswater fly rods. If you’re just getting started (or you have a friend or relative who is), this is the perfect starter fly rod. Coming in at under $100, it’s priced for a low budget and versatile enough for all types of waters.

While these fly rods don’t come with Redington’s lifetime warranty, you do get a shorter 1-year warranty. The Crosswater 5-weight rod is ideal for fishing on all sorts of rivers, lakes, and streams.

See our full Redington Crosswater review here.

Pros

  • Amazing price
  • An excellent fly rod for beginners
  • Available in a combo that includes fly reel, line, backing, and cordura rod tube
  • Best value for money for a graphite fly rod

Cons

  • No lifetime warranty
  • Eventually, you'll want to upgrade
  • No shoulder strap on the rod case for each transport

Sage X

sage x fly rod review
  • Fast action
  • Freshwater/saltwater rod
  • Available in 5-9 and 10-11 weights

The Sage X is constructed using Sage’s latest technology, KonneticHD. This smart technology raises this fly rod to the next level, with jaw-dropping blank recovery speed and a sharp tip stop. You’ll be wowed by the smooth casts and tight loops this fly rod creates. The Sage X is specially designed to work effectively on freshwater and be suitable for harsh saltwater conditions. This high-end rod comes with a premium price, but it’s well worth it. If you buy the Sage X, you’ll be all set with an incredible all-around fly rod. 

See the full Sage X article here.

Pros

  • A great connection to the rod tip
  • Fantastic accuracy
  • All-purpose rod that performs, wherever you are!
  • Great fun to cast the Sage X

Cons

  • The tip is too stiff for some fly fishers
  • Less sensitivity at close range
  • Steeper learning curve to get started with the Sage X fly rod

Sage ESN

sage esn fly rod review
  • Medium action
  • European nymphing rod
  • Available in 2-4 weights

Euro nymphing is rapidly growing in popularity, with more and more nymphing rods on the market these days. The Sage ESN is one of the best European nymphing rods available right now! Sage has used its best KonneticHD technology to hone this rod. The result is amazing sensitivity, a lighter weight, and better shock absorption to haul in those fish. You’ll be able to feel every bite with this rod, and it’s versatile enough to use with any nymphing technique, including high sticking and long line nymphing.

Detailed Sage ESN article here.

Pros

  • Super-responsive - you'll feel even the smallest movement
  • Perfect for beginner and experienced nymphers
  • Incredible performance and an intense experience

Cons

  • An expensive fly rod - not a budget option
  • The mid-section of this rod lacks power

Orvis Clearwater

orvis clearwater review
  • Ranges from medium to medium-fast to fast weight depending on the model
  • Regular rod – freshwater, saltwater, and two-handed models available
  • Available in 3 weights up to 12 weights

The Orvis Clearwater fly rod if often recommended as one of the best fly rods for beginners. When you take a closer look, you quickly see why! It’s got a moderate action, making it versatile. You can use this rod with any kind of flies and in a lot of different environments. Orvis redesigned the Clearwater fly rods series recently, making it lighter in weight and better than ever before. Despite the low price, the Clearwater comes with Helios tapers, a nickel reel seat, and chrome snake and stripping guides.

The Clearwater is a great all-around rod that can be your main workhorse rod or a spare to keep for a friend. It’s affordable at just under $200, and also comes in saltwater and spey models, too. There’s even a travel version if you’re frequently on the move.

See the full Orvis Clearwater article here.

Pros

  • Quality fly rods that are durable and hardwearing
  • Each fly rod weight has been cleverly tailored for the perfect action
  • Protective rod case included
  • Available as the rod or as a rod/reel combo
  • A choice of freshwater, saltwater, travel or two-handed fly rods
  • Excellent Orvis customer service if needed

Cons

  • Some anglers find that the Clearwater fly rods are too stiff

Redington Butter Stick

redington butter stick review
  • Slow action
  • Fiberglass rod
  • Available in 1-8 weights

The Butter Stick is a fly rod that takes you back to the early days of fly fishing with glass and bamboo fly rods. Redington has created this fly rod with a retro design, slow action, and classic feel, and it doesn’t disappoint. If you’re looking for a fly fishing rod that’s a bit different from the norm, the Redington Butter Stick fits the bill.

This fly rod performs excellently up close, with impressive accuracy. Constructed from T-glass with a Heritage taper, it’s high quality, durable, and sleek. This 3-piece fly rod has alignment dots for easy set up at the water and is a fantastic trout fly rod for small streams. It works wonders with dry flies and lightweight nymphs.

See the Redington Butter Stick full review here.

Pros

  • Superb small water fly rod
  • Slow action is great for teaching beginners
  • Great value for money
  • Lifetime warranty included

Cons

  • Not a workhorse rod like a graphite fly rod can be
  • Can't stand up to windy conditions
  • A bit of a learning curve

Fenwick Aetos

fenwick aetos review
  • Fast action
  • Comes in freshwater, saltwater, spey and switch models
  • Available in 3-11 weights

A lot of fly anglers recommend the Fenwick Aetos fly rods to beginners. This reasonably priced graphite fly rod is lightweight, high performance, and very accurate. You’ll get tight loops and loads of sensitivity with the Aetos fly rod, which comes in freshwater, saltwater, spey, and switch fly rods. With AAA cork grips, extra-large stripping and snake guides, and a double uplocking anodized reel seat, it’s ready for every fly trip!

Our Fenwick Aetos full review can be found here.

 

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Durable, high-quality construction
  • Impressive action and feel
  • Affordable price
  • Consistent performance across all distances

Cons

  • Loses some accuracy and power at long range

Orvis Recon

orvis recon review
  • Medium-Fast Action
  • Regular rod
  • Available in 3-10 weights

Orvis is, perhaps, best known for its high-end rods. But they also have a range of great mid-range rods like the Recon, which are more affordable and suitable for any fly angler. No matter how experienced you are, the Recon is a handy tool to take to the river or lake. It’s got a fast action and a light swing weight, and it’s built to the highest standards. You’re not just limited to freshwater, either, as the Recon is suitable for saltwater fishing, too.

See the full Orvis Recon review here.

Pros

  • Excellent mid-priced rod
  • Suitable for saltwater and freshwater
  • One of the lightest rods in its class
  • High-quality construction and finish

Cons

  • Some say that the tip is too stiff

Redington Classic Trout

redington classic trout review
  • Moderate action
  • Regular rod/trout rod
  • Available in 2-6 weights

Almost every angler likes to go after trout, and the Redington Classic Trout is just about the best fly rod for the job! Specially crafted for trout fishing on small creeks and rivers, it provides that spot-on accuracy and delicate, natural presentations necessary for tempting wily trout to bite. And not only is it versatile and lightweight, but it offers astounding value for money at less than $200. The Redington Classic Trout deserves a spot among every angler’s fly gear!

Our article on the Redington Classic Trout rod is here.

Pros

  • Despite the price, it's not just for beginners
  • You can use it on smaller or bigger rivers
  • Very lightweight
  • Incredible precision
  • Perfect for dry flies, streamers, or nymphs

Cons

  • Not powerful enough for long-distance casts
  • Not suited to windy conditions

Sage Salt HD (best saltwater)

  • Fast action
  • Saltwater specific rod
  • Available in 6-12 weights and a 16 weight

If you want to chase big ol’ permit, barracuda, and tarpon, a regular fly rod just won’t cut it. That’s what the Sage Salt HD is for. You need a rod that can go the distance and has the strength to reel in those whoppers, but can also stand up to the corrosive saltwater conditions. 

The Sage Salt HD has the latest KonneticHD technology, ensuring that you can chuck your flies out with power, speed, and accuracy. With a softer tip and improved energy transfer, you get more feel and incredible precision. Plus, it’s up to anything you come across on your saltwater fly fishing trip.

Pros

  • Versatile saltwater rod
  • Crazy precision
  • A great combination of feel and power

Cons

  • A heavier rod
  • Not the best rod for blind casting due to the weight
  • One of the most expensive rods out there at nearly $1000

G Loomis Asquith

  • Fast action
  • Regular rod
  • Available in 4-12 weights

Years of research, expertise, and fly fishing knowledge went into designing and crafting this premium fly from G. Loomis. Champion angler and caster, Steve Rajeff, and rod designer Gary Loomis both played an essential role in the design process, and the result is this exquisite rod.

The G. Loomis Asquith is a powerful graphite rod with fast action and a very low swing weight, and it never fails to perform. It has all new tapers and a redesigned blank for faster recovery and greater responsiveness and sensitivity. You may never have felt a rod so light, and when it comes to accuracy, it knocks the ball out of the park. There’s no denying the hefty price tag on the G. Loomis Asquith, but those who use it almost always rave about it.

Pros

  • Amazing performance
  • Very low swing weight
  • Excellent sensitivity

Cons

  • Very expensive rod

Echo SR Fly Rod

Echo SR Fly Rod
  • Fast action
  • Switch rod
  • Available in 3-8 weights

If you take your fly fishing seriously, sometimes only a two-handed rod will do. The Echo SR is often recommended as the best switch fly rod around, and with good reason. The sizes have been carefully designed to meet the switch angler’s needs, while the fast action gives you enough power and speed for your casts.

Take your pick from the lighter weights suitable for trout and bass, or go for one of the big guns for whopper steelhead, salmon, pike, and musky. With hard chrome guides and an anodized aluminum reel seat, it’s suitable for saltwater or freshwater.

Pros

  • Great if you don't have a lot of space but want to cast with two hands
  • Suitable for saltwater and freshwater
  • Fantastic rod for trout, bass, pike, and more
  • Includes alignment dots to speed up assembly

Cons

  • Not a budget rod
  • Shorter than many switch rods

Best Fly Rod FAQ

What is the best fly rod on the market?

That’s hard to say! It could be one of the premium fly rods like the G. Loomis Asquith or the Sage X, or a more accessible rod with a consistent performance like the Redington Path or the Orvis Clearwater. It really depends on what you’re looking for!

What is the best weight fly rod for trout?

Generally, a 4 or 5 weight rod is the best weight for trout. If you’re fishing small streams for smaller wild fish, you can go for a 3 weight, and a 6 weight is a good rod weight for trout and bass.

What is the best fly rod and reel combo?

The best affordable rod and reel combos are the Orvis Encounter, the Redington Crosswater, or the Redington Vice. If you can spend a bit more money, the choices are endless! Just make sure that your reel balances out your rod perfectly for the best performance.

Wrap Up

So there you have the ultimate guide to the best fly fishing rods around right now! Whether you’re looking for an affordable beginner rod, a classic fiberglass model, or a specialized saltwater rod, you’ll find it in our list. It can be overwhelming to narrow it down to the right model for you, but this guide should make it easier! And if you have any questions, drop them below in the comments or shoot them over to our email address, and I’ll do my best to help you out!

Don’t miss our full rod reviews if you want to know more about any specific model. We’ve also got loads of fly gear reviews plus guides to top fly fishing locations and much more at Fly Fisher Pro!

References

[1] https://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain/fly-fishing-and-brain

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