When it comes to a good all-round fishing rod, you aren’t going to getter better than a 5 wt.
The best 5 weight fly rods offer a great compromise between casting distance, power, and the ability to fish pretty much anywhere.
There’s a lot of choices out there, and I want to make it easy for you.
That’s why I’ve assembled a list of the best fly rods I’ve seen and come up with some handy hints to help you choose.
Let’s dive right in.
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It should come as no surprise to you that Redington appears high up on my list.
Their gear works and is reasonably priced. It really is that simple!
Considering this is half the price of some of the more ‘high-end’ brands, you actually get quite a lot for the money.
Open the included Cordoba rod tube, and you’ll be presented with a 4-piece rid finished in a mahogany black finish… For that, read dark brown. The quality half wells cork handle and dark wood reel seat are pleasing to the eye.
Never mind the looks, how does it perform?
The answer? Very well indeed. The medium-fast action is perfect for a 5 wt rod. You’ll be able to throw a line a fair distance but still retain a decent measure of control to get an accurate cast when you need to.
It’s really lightweight too! Redington has even focused on reducing the mass of the line guides to cut down on unnecessary bulk.
Good casting and performance.
Really nice looking.
For similar money (as you will soon see), you can get premium branded fly rods.
Listen, I’m not going to bash Redington. The truth is I’m a bit of a fanboy. This rod looks good, feels pretty great, and is bang on dead center when it comes to pricing and performance. One of the best 5wt fly rods for the money!
What I’m not going to do is suggest something ridiculously cheap… That’s just not going to work.
What drew me to this rod was the really classical finish. Based on looks alone, this one really shines. The matte brown blank looks really classical and is further complemented by caramel guide wraps and a wood burl seat.
But does it perform?
Well enough. It isn’t going to be exemplary for this price, but the blank feels reasonably fast and pretty responsive. It feels pretty balanced and casts well.
It has some features that could make it great.
I like the CNC cut aluminum reel seat. It gives the rod a really sturdy feel. Paired up with an AAA cork handle, it feels of good quality.
I also like the alignment dots. These are a neat feature that ensures consistency in your setup.
A low priced rod with some high-end features.
The blank casts well and is pretty sensitive.
It is a really classic looking rod.
The biggie for me was the steel guides. Steel and water don’t really mix, so I’m not sure how durable this would be in the long term.
You pay your money. You take your chance… This isn’t the highest-end product on my list. But for a beginner, or someone looking for a rod for a buddy, this could be pretty great. If you are a serious angler, I’d consider spending a few bucks more and moving into the mid-range rods.
If you liked the above but wanted something just a little more ‘well known, then you can stop right here.
This isn’t really a budget rod… At least not in terms of performance. If you’ve read my article on the best 4 wt rods, you’ll have seen that the Redington Classic Trout features there also.
I’d use one word to describe it…
A nice soft action will allow you to perform buttery smooth casts. This is a great rod if you care about presenting your fly most naturally. The blank is just fast enough to cast smaller flies, but it really shines in the 5 wt when fishing at a distance.
The rod looks pretty sweet too. The dark brown finish and wood burl reel seat give you all of the classic looks of the K&E model above, for similar money, but with better quality parts and features.
A trusted brand.
Excellent casting action and fly presentation.
There isn’t too much to dislike.
Easily a contender for one of the best 5 wt fly rods for the money. Pair this up with a great reel and some nice line, and you might find you’ve got one of the best fly rod and reel combos on the market… At a really good price!
This rod is one of my top performers in this category. If you are looking for something that feels expensive, then you are in the right place.
This 5 wt rod has a fast action and would be great for beginners and experienced anglers alike. Built on a stealth graphite III blank, you’ll get heaps of distance, accuracy, and plenty of control.
The little extras take this rod to the next level.
You’ll find a plethora of cool little bits like ceramic-lined stripping guides, a snub-nosed, high-quality cork handle, and a heavy-duty (but not heavyweight) black anodized locking reel seat.
Oh, and before I forget to mention… It’s made in the USA.
Included rod tube.
Gret control, accuracy, and distance in the cast.
One downside… Sage! Why, oh, why did you not include a hook keeper?
Overall this rod is rock solid. It would have gained perfect marks across the board from me… Had sage remembered to fit a hook keeper. If you can overlook this minor flaw, you’ll find one of the best 5 wt fly rods out there.
As rods go, this is one of the best 5wt fly rods out there.
If you are looking for a super lightweight rod with great casting accuracy and distance, you can stop right here. I really like this rod, so much so that I’ve used the GR series for years.
The Toreon Nano blank technology gives a fast action but reduces the bulk and weight of the rod overall. Throw in a premium AAA cork handle and two-tone aluminum reel seat, and you’ve got a super solid setup.
The rod also comes in a cloth bag with an included protective rod tube.
A really nice feature in 5 wt rods is the ability to fish anywhere. If sight stalking is your thing, you’ll love the finish. The dark grey matte will prevent flashes of sunlight, which can scare away the fish.
This is a lightweight rod with plenty of power. I think you’ll love it.
Really affordable, not much more than some budget rods.
A great all-rounder.
A minor gripe, but the rear butt can be a little sharp on your wrists.
This is a rock-solid performer. It is easy to cast, and the blank feels really balanced, neither too fast nor slow. Made with quality components, you’ll be able to catch small brook trout, all the way up to double figures.
Let’s not mess around. I said I was going to show you the best 5wt fly rods, and I meant it.
But we need to get one thing straight.
If you truly want the best, then, as with most things in life, this will cost you…
The Orvis Helios is pretty much the best fly rod out there. Period. You’ll see all of those great individual points in the rods above… Here, they are in one handheld package.
The matte storm blank is about as light as they come. That doesn’t mean to say that it isn’t really powerful. The action is medium-fast, giving you the ideal for both long-range and accurate casts.
Visually it is stunning. I haven’t seen a thinner blank to date. And when it comes to weight, it is like holding a drinking straw…
Literally, it weighs next to nothing.
Remember I talked about the extras. Well, get this…
You aren’t going to find a wood burl reel seat here. Orvis has focussed on the finer points. In this case, you’ll find the reel seat is carbon. Reducing the weight while also managing to look super futuristic.
No plastic rod tube here. But what you will get is an all-aluminum rod holder, Orvis branded, no less! As a final cherry on the pie, Orvis even offers an engraving service to make the rod uniquely yours!
The highest quality fly fishing rod on my list.
Amazing casting accuracy.
I’m not sure the increase in performance matches the increase in cost.
You’ll cry if you break it.
Personally, I don’t mind paying for quality, especially when it is this good. A rod is the sum of its parts, and in the case of the Orvis Helios, its parts are all industry-leading.
This one probably isn’t for a beginner, but if you are looking to upgrade to something really top-notch, then this is about as good as it gets.
Buying Guide to 5 Weight Fly Rods
So what’s it to be, rough and ready on a budget or a refined and professional setup? Choosing a new rod is actually pretty hard to do, so to help, I’ve come up with this handy buying guide.
Here are a few things to think about…
Let’s cut to the chase. We’d all like to run out and blow $1000 on the best fly rod that money can buy.
But here’s the thing…
I’d like to wake up and be better looking and 50 pounds lighter.
Neither is realistic.
The main thing that will dictate your choice of fly rod is probably the price. So here’s my advice.
Go for the best rod you can afford and don’t cheap out. I promise if you do, you will regret it.
Your rod is an essential tool that you will often be using (amongst other things). So, allocate a budget by all means, but try and hit the upper end.
There isn’t a direct linear cost with performance… I’ve fished with $150 fly rods that are every bit as good as the ‘professional’ setups, but they are few and far between. If you are looking for a less expensive fly rod, try and pick one made by a well-known brand.
The action of the blank is very much a personal preference and will depend on your casting style.
A great middle-ground is medium to fast. This will allow you to cast a fair distance but won’t degrade the rod’s responsiveness and accuracy.
If you aren’t familiar with what ‘action’ is, here’s a quick video explaining it in greater detail.
Where to Use a 5 Weight Fly Rod
The beauty of a 5-weight fly rod is that it is a great all-around choice. It is fast and light enough to be used on small streams and brooks. It also has the necessary casting power to be used on bigger waters too.
I said ‘bigger’; I didn’t say ‘biggest‘ for seriously large waters, or when saltwater fly fishing, you are going to want to think a little bigger in terms of rod weight.
Suppose you are going to be fishing tiny streams or are looking for ultra delicate presentation. In that case, you might want to throttle down slightly and go for a 3 weight rod instead.
Here’s another area that 5 weight fly rods come into their own. They are excellent for fighting a range of different-sized fish.
They will work pretty well for 1 pound trout, but they also perform well when fighting double-figure monsters.
Go anything over 20 pounds, and you might struggle. Still, then again, the kind of waters these fish reside in normally require heavier rods anyway.
Your optimum rod length should rest somewhere between 8 and 10 feet. Any less than this, and you are going to struggle with distance and accuracy. Any more, and you’ll find your rod probably a little too cumbersome.
As a general rule of thumb, I tell people this.
The larger the water, the bigger the rod. So think about where you will fish most often and plan from there with regards to rod size.
Here’s something that you will find.
Generally, the cheaper the rod, the heavier it will be.
Fly fishing involves almost constant arm movement.
You might think that an ounce here or there won’t make the difference. Believe me, when I say it absolutely does! Go for the lightest rod you can find and afford. Your arm will thank you for it!
The best 5 weight fly rods will allow you to fish pretty much anywhere and for several different species.
The key to choosing the best is finding a happy balance between power, accuracy, and, of course, cost.
Provided you tick those three boxes with your choice, you should be able to enjoy years of fly fishing.