While bigger doesn’t always mean better, when you are looking for big fish, this is certainly the case.
If you are looking for heavy-duty, you will want to look at the best 8 weight fly rods.
You are in luck! I’ve had a good shop around, and today I want to show you some of the best on the market.
I’ll even tell you how I reached my decision in a detailed buyers guide.
Let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
- TOP 6 Best 8 Weight Fly Rods 2023
- Choosing an 8 Weight Fly Fishing Rod
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TOP 6 Best 8 Weight Fly Rods 2023
Temple Fork Outfitters Lefty Kreh II Fly Rod
Don’t let the name fool you. ‘Lefty’ refers to the professional designer of this rod. It can be used ambidextrously!
Because many would consider this a budget rod, I reckon it is one of the best 8wt fly rods for the money out there today!
Here’s what I love.
The medium action is absolutely spot on for casting a heavier line with the necessary backbone to deal with bigger fish.
I particularly like the forest green finish. It looks pretty classy and tends to blend in with the background, ideal if you want to avoid spooking a wary trophy trout!
Let’s talk quality…
Cheap doesn’t mean ‘poor’. There’s plenty here to like, including a Portuguese A-grade cork handle, a durable aluminum real seat, and chrome snake guides, which should remain corrosion-free.
- It’s really affordable.
- Nice casting action and weight.
- Pretty corrosion-proof.
- It is a two-piece… Which can be awkward to store and transport.
Considering it’s designed by a professional angler, this rod is excellent value. Two-piece rods aren’t for everyone but provided you are willing to compromise, you should find that this is a worthy purchase.
Moonshine Rod Co. The Vesper Fly Rod
For regular readers, you’ll know how highly I rate the Moonshine Rod Co. I think, given enough time, they might even start to rival some of the more well-known fly fishing brands.
With quality rods like this, it’s no surprise!
In most premium rods, you get two things. Lightweight and great performance. This is exactly what you’ll get with this rod.
And there’s plenty more to like too. It’s the little things.
An anti-glare coating for starters, along with a cool-looking slate grey blank. The handle is really high quality.
And here’s something really neat…
The rods rings are lined with Delrin, famous for their non-stick properties and durability!
I also love that it breaks down into 4 pieces, making it really easy to carry and transport.
Unusually the rod comes with fast action, normally reserved for lighter and shorter rods. It is pretty sensitive, which is just what you want when you’ve cast a long distance and need to recover line quickly.
- Superb high-quality finish.
- Beautiful action.
- Comes with a protective Cordoba rod tube.
- It is good value, but I feel that you could get a truly premium fly fishing rod for the money.
Moonshine is a good quality brand that is starting to compete with the bigger fish. For a nice blend of performance and value, this rod could be an ideal choice.
Orvis Helios 3F Fly Rod
If you are looking for a fly fishing rod that will never let you down, then you won’t find better than an Orvis. They’ve led the game for decades.
If you’ve seen my guide to the best 6wt fly fishing rods, you’ll have already seen how highly I regard the Orvis Helios. It’s a thing of beauty.
I love the way this rod looks. The blank is slim and pretty eye-catching with a matte storm carbon insert.
Everything just screams quality.
The REC recoil snake guides ensure you get the maximum distance in each and every cast, the stripping guide is titanium, which is about as classy as it gets.
And there’s more…
Although this is a heavier 8wt rod, it feels and acts like something much lighter. This could be the pick of the bunch.
Oh, and don’t forget.
It comes with an aluminum rod tube too!
- A quality rod from a leading brand.
- Excellent casting distance.
- Supremely lightweight.
- This isn’t for those on a budget.
Provided you are prepared to pay a little extra, this rod could be the best 8wt fly rod in 2023! If you put cost aside, there is absolutely nothing to dislike about it.
MaximumCatch Aspire Fly Rod
If my selection from Orvis has left you a little hot under the collar, then this might cool you down.
While you won’t find titanium guides and fancy logos, you will get rugged performance and a rod that far exceeds its price point.
This rod has a fast action, provided with a 40-tonne carbon blank. Maximumcatch claims that this makes it 20% lighter than its previous iterations.
Just as with the fancier end of the rod spectrum, you’ll still find ceramic inserts and highly durable stripping guides.
The cork handle isn’t the very best…
But it comes close. AAA+ for the money is an absolute bargain!
The reel seat is made of anodized aluminum. If you have the occasional trip to the sea, it will be ideal, as it is anti-corrosive!
- A real budget model.
- Fast action, perfect for casting larger flies.
- Salt water-resistant.
- At 4oz, I feel it might be a little heavy for a full day’s fishing. But this is only compared to other more expensive models.
Listen, you get what you pay for. I think this offers a great package. If you are just getting started or are looking for a rod for infrequent use, this is a great choice
Sage Fly Fishing Pulse Fly Rod
When you go for Sage, you get a few things as standard.
First, they are of excellent value. Second, you get performance that is easily up there with the big players.
This handcrafted, USA-made rod is one of my favorites. There are lots of little details that I think are super.
Let me show you.
Starting at the butt end, you’ll find a beautiful black anodized aluminum reel seat… With a rosewood insert, no-less! The half wells cork handle is smooth and of excellent quality too.
Moving up into the blank, you’ll find it pretty eye-catching. The fast action graphite blank is a green/yellow color.
It’s a bit different, and I like it.
To top the entire package off, you’ll find fuji ceramic stripping guides. If you are a rod connoisseur, you’ll know that this is about as good as it gets!
- Amazing performance and casting distance.
- Full of nice finishing touches, such as fuji guides and the beautiful blank.
- It’s pretty good on price too. I challenge you to find one better for the same money.
- The color of the blank might not be for everyone.
- A wells grip might not be suitable for anglers with smaller hands.
It’s a close call between the Orvis Helios and this rod. I’m more of an Orvis fanboy, but that said, this is definitely a worthy rival.
Orvis Clearwater Two-Handed Fly Rod
Right, let’s stop messing about. If you want to throw a fly a long way, you could consider a two-handed rod.
You need to check this out.
It’s not quite a Spey rod… But it comes very close. For those of you who’ve ever fished for salmon, you’ll know how easy it is to get the line out a long way if you use both hands.
If you are fishing big water and want to hammer out huge streamers, this is the most obvious choice.
Believe me, it’s effortless.
If you are after big steelheads, then I’d give this serious consideration.
It is packed full of goodies. The nickel reel seat will last pretty much forever. As with all the greats, this rod comes with chrome snake guides lined with ceramic. The two-handed version also includes a composite foregrip, giving extra purchase and durability.
- A real big hitter.
- Great for a variety of venues, both fresh and saltwater.
- Purpose-built profile.
- It is a little heavy. It wouldn’t be suitable for anything other than big water. But hey, that’s why you are looking, right?
Big fish require big solutions, and they don’t come much more powerful. This is a real fisherman’s rod. Make no mistake.
Choosing an 8 Weight Fly Fishing Rod
Plenty of choices, but still not sure?
Here’s were my considerations when choosing.
What is a 8wt Fly Rod Good For?
Let’s not beat around the bush.
8wt fly rods are primarily designed to cast big flies to big fish over big distances. Because they are purpose-built for casting bigger, heavier flies, they are the ideal choice if you are fishing in water with strong currents or water that is particularly deep.
And I’m not just talking freshwater either.
The sea fits both of these criteria, so they are ideal if you are off looking for Bonefish or Tarpon!
How Big of a Fish can an 8wt Fly Rod Handle?
Unless you are going after crazy big fish, there isn’t a fish you can’t handle using an 8wt fly rod. Here are some of the species you could think about catching:
- Trophy Bass
- Large trout
- And many more…
What Should I Look For in the Best 8 Weight Fly Rods?
Alright, if you are looking at a few rods, this is what you want to consider:
For me, the optimum length is around 9 feet.
This represents the optimum between power and controllability. Go any longer, and you’ll find the rod cumbersome. Go shorter, and you lose some of that action that normally makes an 8wt fly rod so much easier to cast.
This is an entirely personal preference. Gone are the days when multi-piece rods were inferior to two pieces (or even one-piece fly fishing rods… shudder).
If you are looking to be a little more mobile, I’d suggest going for a four-piece rod. This breaks down into easy-to-carry sections, making transportation a breeze.
If you check my trunk, you’ll find several rod tubes, with a rod in each for any situation.
When choosing a rod, make sure to get one with a high-quality cork handle.
How do you know what handle is good on a fishing rod?
Look for the A’s… The more “A’s” the cork is rated, the better it is!
Here’s a piece of advice.
Don’t ignore handle quality. You’d be amazed how much wear and tear is placed on the handle. It is likely to be the first failure point over any other part of the rod.
Action again comes down to personal preference. Unlike smaller, lighter rods, you’ll find a huge range with 8wt rods.
My personal preference is to look for something pushing up towards the ‘fast’ end of the scale. This is crucial for accelerating big flies and heavy lines a long way.
If you are looking for really big fish, you might want to consider going for a medium-action rod. This will give you the necessary ‘grunt’ to pull in the hardest of fighters.
If you are spending money on a new fly fishing rod, then it’s natural that you want it to last for a long time.
When I’m assessing potential durability, I focus on a few key areas.
First, I look at any metal component and try and decide if it will stand up to the corrosive effects of water. Anything with ‘steel’ in the name makes me a little wary.
As a good general rule, anything made from non-ferrous metal, like zinc, aluminum, or chromed material, is a safe bet. This is particularly true when I look at the stripping guides. Any rust can cause a burr that will result in a damaged line and eventually lost fish.
The reel seat is another ‘hot spot’. I’ve tried to change reels on cheaper rods and ended up having to cut the rod because the reel seat had seized due to rust.
If you are spending all of that money, you might want to treat yourself to something really nice.
Who wants ‘bare-bones’?
Numerous little things can elevate a good 8wt fly rod to something great. Inserts on the reel seat are always a nice touch. I nearly always end up going for something classy like rosewood.
Hook keepers are another nice addition. They allow you to stay mobile while also protecting your rod rings (we’ve all been tempted to hook our fly there instead).
Lined guides are another great feature.
And the good news?
You’ll often find that they are available even on the cheaper 8wt rods!
Oh, and before I forget…
Make sure you get a rod that comes with a protective tube. It’s all good and well saying “I’ll just be careful”.
But trust me when I say…
It only takes being careless with the car door once, and you’ll be seriously out of pocket!
Still, got questions?
Don’t worry, it’s natural. Here are the things I get asked all the time:
What Company Makes the Best Fly Rods?
That’s a tricky one. It all depends on how much you are looking to spend.
For the money, I think that Orvis is probably the best value. There are more expensive brands out there, but I think the extra cost doesn’t bring that much more benefit for what you get.
Orvis has been in the game for years, and they really know what they are doing. Most of my rods are Orvis, and they rarely let me down!
What is the Best Weight Fly Rod for Steelhead?
Steelheads are hard fighters, and they can grow pretty big. For that reason, an 8 weight fly rod is ideal. You could maybe go a little lighter, even perhaps down to a good 7wt fly rod, but I’d be inclined to go no lower, or you risk breaking your rod.
Are High-End Fly Rods Worth the Money?
If you’d asked me this a few years ago, I’d have said no…
Then I fished with one.
Man! What a difference. High-end fly rods do tend to cast better. They are also lighter weight. The final bonus for me is that they tend to last a lot longer than budget rods too.
Budget rods are significantly cheaper. But if you have to buy a new one every couple of years, instead of having one good quality rod for a decade, are you really saving yourself anything?
If you’ve got the cash to spare, consider a good fly fishing rod an investment.
Do Longer Rods Cast Further?
Rod length does matter…
Action is just as important. You’ll find that a good quality blank on a short rod will easily outcast something average in a longer rod.
There’s a surprising amount of technology hidden with carbon fiber, and the quality makes a huge difference to casting distance.
You might get a decent casting distance with a longer rod… But you’ll often find that your accuracy suffers
What’s the Best All-Around Fly Rod Weight?
If you are just getting started, a 5wt fly rod or 6wt rod is the ideal weight. You’ll be able to fish in 90% of situations and handle a huge range of fish sizes. 8wt rods are getting into the specialist territory and aren’t for the faint-hearted!
The best 8 weight fly rods will allow you to cast further and catch bigger fish. However, be selective in what you go for.
When it comes to fly fishing, cheap is good, but light is better and worth every penny. If you are looking to get kitted out for fly fishing on a budget, I’ve got a great article right here.
Or, if you want to look at a full fly-fishing setup, be sure to swing by this article about combo fly fishing deals. What would you say is the ideal weight of the rod? Let me know in the comments.