When looking at fly fishing gear, a fly rod will probably come pretty high up the list.
If you’re going to master casting, and catching then something that performs will make the start of your journey so much easier. But which to choose?
Well, I’ve assembled this handy guide with some great suggestions for the best beginner fly rods to get you on your way.
I’ll also run through some features that you really want to look for when deciding.
Table of Contents
- Best Beginner Fly Rods & What to Looking For
- TOP 10 Best Fly Fishing Rods for Beginners 2024
- Maxcatch Premier Fly Rod
- Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod
- Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter Series Fly Rod
- Redington Vice Fly Fishing Rod
- K&E Outfitters Silhouette Series Fly Fishing Rod
- Orvis Clearwater 5-Weight Fly Rod
- Recon 5-Weight 4-Piece Fly Rod
- St. Croix Mojo Trout Fly Rod
- Temple Fork Outfitters Signature II Series Fly Rod
- Echo Carbon XL Fly Rod
- How to Choose Your First Fly Rod?
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Best Beginner Fly Rods & What to Looking For
When choosing a fly rod for a beginner, durability, ease of handling and assembly, and straightforwardness to cast are all important factors to consider.
A beginner doesn’t need an overly expensive or sophisticated rod, but should look for something that is going to be reasonably easy to use and will last a while. A good starter fly rod can be found for around $100.
With that in mind, I have a few favorite rods that I think are best suited for fishermen that are just starting out.
The Maxcatch Premier is the standard beginner fly fish rod. There is a good reason why it has held on for a long time as one of the go-to beginner rods. It is highly functional, easy to use, and very durable. It is all of those things at the most affordable price on the market.
There are some drawbacks to the Maxcatch Premier that you will notice as you improve. It is fairly heavy and is limited in its casting capabilities. For any beginner though, these are things that you will worry about as you improve and are ready to naturally upgrade your equipment.
The Redington Classic Trout is another great choice for beginners from one of the biggest and best brand names in fishing. As with any Redington equipment, this rod is high quality, fairly lightweight, and extremely versatile. For an affordable price it offers all the capability that a beginner could want.
Similar to most beginner rods, you will work your way out of this rod as you become better and need a rod with a bit more casting capability.
The Echo Carbon XL is the most expensive of the rods we highly recommend for beginners. It is easy to handle, carry, and is one of the best if you want to quickly improve your casting technique and accuracy.
If you are willing to spend some extra money on your beginner rod the Echo Carbon XL is probably the best choice.
There are plenty of other options out there too, so make sure to read the features and reviews and really understand what the best fit for you is.
TOP 10 Best Fly Fishing Rods for Beginners 2024
I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am that you are considering getting into fly fishing! It truly is a wonderful sport, and once you get the basics down, it’s a skill that will keep on giving.
To make sure that you fall in love with the sport, I want you to have the best possible experience, and part of that experience comes by choosing the right gear. If you aren’t sure what you need, why not start at my essential fly fishing gear list guide.
Anyway, you’ve no doubt got a few questions.
But listen to this…
While some things might sound pretty technical, they are easy once you know what they mean. I’m going to give you a rundown of the basics so that you can choose a really great fly fishing rod.
How to Choose Your First Fly Rod?
Choosing your first fly rod isn’t easy, I’ll be the first to admit. You don’t know what’s ‘good’ and have nothing to compare it against. But what you can do is buy a fly rod with proven features that will make it easier to use.
Want some ideas… Here, I’ve got you.
What to look for in the best fly fishing rods for beginners:
Let’s start with rod length.
Does it matter?
Absolutely! Let’s just put the venue to the side for one second. You will want something easy to handle but isn’t too short that casting becomes difficult. Anything over 11 feet is probably going to be a bit unwieldy for a beginner. Likewise, anything shorter than about 8’5″ is probably too light.
The sweet spot for a good all-around rod that will cover you in most situations is somewhere in the region of 10′.
You might have noticed that I mentioned the venue too? This has a bearing on what length of fly fishing rod you choose.
Here’s a simple rule that works in most cases.
The bigger the water, the longer the rod. The smaller the water, the smaller the rod.
In simple terms, if you are fishing small streams and tiny brooks, you will need a fly rod that is really accurate and isn’t so large that it’s forever getting caught in trees and bushes.
Conversely, if you are fishing big lakes or rivers, you will need to cover a lot of water. Big rods are easier to cast further, so opt for something above 10′ if you think that you will be fishing a big lake.
I used to have a beautiful 1-piece fly rod given to me by my grandfather. It cast like a dream, and I caught my all-time personal best trout with it when I was 16. Ah, I loved my 1 piece rod…
Do you know what happened to it?
It became a two-piece rod when I was careless with my jeep door. The moral of the story? Buy something easy to transport in a sturdy tube.
All of my suggestions above pack down into a small tube no bigger than a few feet. They are easy to transport, and unlike grandpa’s rod, they won’t get broken easily.
There was a stigma attached to multi-pieced rods in the past, and they were considered ‘not as good’. However, rest assured, nowadays, 4-piece rods far outnumber any other styles of fly fishing rods.
Action is one of the most important features of your fly fishing rod.
The action dictates the rod’s behavior in everything that it is designed to do. The way you cast will be determined by the rod’s action. The way your fly lands is determined (mostly) by the action of the rod, and the way you play a fish is determined by your rod action.
You’ll hear several terms relating to rod action. Words such as ‘soft’ and ‘quick’ are often used.
Here are the words you really want to hear when shopping for a new rod as a beginner…
‘Medium’ and ‘fast’.
A fast rod action means that the rod is really responsive. It will have a really significant amount of bend and flex. This is good as it transfers energy quickly. When casting, it will give you a little extra speed to your rod tip, which in turn will ‘shoot’ your fly line.
When pulling your line off the water, it makes sure that there is less ‘drag’.
And most importantly, when you hook a fish, it will act as a really great ‘shock absorber’ to any runs and pulls. This is particularly useful for a beginner as they might not have the sense of touch to know when to ease off on an aggressive trout.
If you want to know more about rod action, I’ve done a little research and have found a great video that explains it really well.
Ok, rod weight has a couple of meanings in fly fishing… If you want to know about weight rating, see the next heading down.
Where was I…
Ah, weight! For the time being, we are talking weight in the standard ‘pounds and ounces’ way. What I’m getting at is that you want to choose a rod that is as light as possible.
Here’s the thing about fly fishing.
There is no rod rests or sitting idle with your rod lying on the bank. If you are fly fishing, that rod is in your hand. All-day. Let me ask you a question.
Do you want to hold something heavy all day or something light? I already know your answer, which proves my point. Pick a lightweight rod.
You’ll tend to find that the cheaper a rod is, the heavier it is. For a couple of hours, this might be ok, but by the end of the day, your arm will be ready to drop off if you pick a heavy rod.
If you choose a heavy reel too, then you are going to have bad times. Fortunately, I have a guide just here on the best budget fly reels. You won’t believe how lightweight they can get.
So this is what I meant when I said ‘weight’ has a couple of meanings. You’ll hear rods referred to as ‘weight #3′ or weight #6’. Be aware, this has nothing to do with how much the line physically weighs.
This is, in fact, a measure of what weight of line the rod is designed to cast.
To put it in the most basic terms, the higher the number, the heavier the line. Lines for lightweight work like fishing tiny dry flies and nymphs might be #2 or #3…
Lines for heavy-duty work like saltwater fishing might be, say, #8 or #9. It stands to reason that the heavier line is bigger, which might require a bigger reel.
If you have seen my article on the best saltwater fishing reels, you’ll see that they are designed with huge, deep spools for this very reason.
But what do you need to choose?
Well, I’d say go for a #5 rated rod. This is a great middle ground. It will allow you to cast a long distance, fish big and small flies, and handle 25lb trout easily.
If you want to know more about it, check this 3-minute video out, I’ll still be here when you get back.
If you don’t want the hassle of pairing up a rod, reel and line, I’ve got you covered. Check out my article here on the best fly rod and reel combos.
You’ll find that most fly rods have a cork handle. Unlike with other rods, we fly fishing folk like to stick to the traditional.
All corks aren’t created equal. You’ll find most are given an ‘A’ rating. It’s actually super simple to understand. The more A’s a handle gets, the better quality the cork is. Triple-A is considered the gold standard, and while you might not think so, you can really feel the difference.
Finally, let’s take a quick look at the reel seat. You may see fancy wood inlays, they are nice, but they are purely cosmetic. It’s how the reel seat works that you need to be most interested in.
Now let me give you a really great piece of advice.
Never… Never buy a fly fishing rod that doesn’t have a screw lock reel seat. Those that stay by friction will lead to one thing, and one thing only… your reel falling off into the water mid cast.
When you are fly fishing, your rod handle is constantly moving. You want a screw lock system so that reel stays tight and secure.
The thing with screws is, they tend to be made of metal. Metal rusts when wet, so when looking at rods, make sure you choose one with a reel seat made of anodized material to keep it corrosion and rust-free.
There are some common questions that constantly come up with beginners when they are first looking for a fly rod. A few of them are answered below.
What is the best size fly rod for a beginner?
Fly fishing rods come in all different lengths, and choosing the right one can be tricky, especially for beginners. Length is important for a number of reasons, including how much line you can get on the water and how easy it is to control your casts.
We recommend beginners start with an 8’9”-9′ rod, which is long enough to try a variety of different approaches. A longer rod will also give you more leverage when fighting fish, making it ideal for beginner anglers.
So if you’re just getting started in the world of fly fishing, be sure to choose a rod that’s the right length for you.
Are cheap fly rods worth it?
It is often assumed that the more expensive a rod is, the better it will perform. However, this is not always the case.
Many high-end rods are built with top-of-the-line materials and state-of-the-art technology, but this does not always translate to better performance. Sometimes cheaper rods can perform just as well even if they aren’t as shiny.
In fact, many professional fishermen use lower-priced rods because they have found that they work just as well, if not better than their more expensive counterparts.
So, next time you’re in the market for a new fishing rod, don’t be afraid to consider some of the lower-priced options – you might be surprised at how well they perform.
How much should a beginner spend on a rod?
When it comes to fly fishing rod quality is important, but it is not the be-all and end-all. There are anglers who have been using the same $50 rod for years, and they are just as effective as those using the latest and greatest $500 model.
That said, if you are looking to buy a new fly rod, you will get a lot of bang for your buck if you spend around $200. These rods are generally well-made and offer great performance.
What do expensive rods tend to do better?
In general, expensive fly fishing rods are made with higher-quality materials and construction, which leads to a number of benefits. For one, they tend to be more durable and resistant to breakage.
Expensive fly fishing rods also usually have better action, meaning they are easier to cast and produce better results. In addition, they often come with nicer features, such as ergonomic handles and premium components.
Are there drawbacks to getting an expensive rod?
There are also some drawbacks to expensive fly fishing rods. For one thing, they can be difficult to use and out of reach for many beginner and intermediate anglers.
In addition, they sometimes come with a higher price tag simply because of their brand name or reputation – not because they are actually any better.
Should I get a 4 or 5 weight fly rod?
A 5wt fly rod is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of purposes. While it is slightly heavier than a 4wt rod, the extra weight gives the 5wt more power, making it ideal for throwing larger flies or streamers.
The 5wt is also a great choice for fishing nymphs, as the additional weight helps to better sink the fly and get it down to the fish.
In addition, the 5wt can be used for larger streams and rivers, making it a versatile option for anglers who fish in different locations.
The best beginner fly rods will allow you to cast and catch more easily. And as my list has proved, they don’t have to be super expensive.
Some are good enough that they’ll last you for years. Stick to my guidance above as a general guide and see what works for you. Buying rods is always great fun.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever cast? Let me know in the comments below. I love hearing from you guys.