The Redington VICE takes the prize as the best all-rounder. Made with medium fast action, it accommodates all levels of casting, punches distances and is accurate to boot. The finish, guides, and reel seat are all of great quality too. For the price, it is hard to beat.
The best fly rod here, if you are on a serious budget, is the Redington Classic Trout rod. While there are cheaper options, chances are they will break and not perform. This rod, however, will do it all and comes with a lifetime warranty.
The best of all the budget fly rods features is the TFO Pro 2. This fly rod is perfect for both beginners and pros as it is forgiving enough while having enough performance to go with it. It is also the perfect rod to progress with and you will use it for life.
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How to Choose the Best Budget Fly Rod – A Quick Guide
While we are focusing on budget fly rods, it doesn’t mean you have to get a bad fly rod just because it is cheap. Below you will find a checklist to help ensure the fly rod you choose is right for you.
There is a more detailed buying guide below the review if you want to read about each category in depth.
Blank: Graphite or carbon blanks last and perform well, do not pick one that is anything else.
Weight: Casting all day isn’t easy on the arms or shoulders, pick a lightweight rod to make this easier.
Durability: No one wants a fly rod that lasts a few months. Look for strong blanks, quality guides, cork handles, and aluminum reel seats.
Length: Your standard fly rod is 9 feet and this is the ideal all-around length. You can go shorter for dry fly fishing, and longer for Euro Nymphing.
Price: The cheapest rods are never worth it as the break. Up your budget a little bit to the middle ground of the reviews below.
If you follow this checklist, chances are you will end up with a great budget fly rod!
Top 10 Best Budget Fly Rods for 2023
If you are looking for the best inexpensive fly rods, chances are that you are on a budget… ‘Budget’ is a relative term, so to make sure you are covered, I’ve included a list of rods in a range of price points.
When I saw this, I was actually presently surprised. It’s got a few little features that you’ll find in much more expensive rods.
First, let’s talk size. At 9 feet and with a weight rating of #4, this will have you covered in quite a few situations. You could even consider upgrading to a #5 weight if you think that you might need something that is slightly more heavy-duty.
This fly rod is medium action, making it a little stiff. This is much more controllable for the beginner.
Here are some nice additions…
The stripping guide is ceramic lined. This means that the line won’t stick and should aid in getting a decent distance in your cast. The chrome snake guides are another nice feature and should last a while without corroding.
I really love the look of the burl wood insert too, it is super classy!
The low price!
A classy looking rod.
Easy to cast medium action. Great for beginners.
The cork handle is only AA, a slight loss of quality compared to premium rods.
I didn’t like the glossy finish. This could spook fish on sunny days.
If you were looking for a cheap fly fishing setup, they don’t come much more inexpensive than this…(well, they do, but they are literally garbage).
If you were to pair this with a budget fly reel. You could easily get yourself the best fly rod for $100! Not bad, considering.
The Temple Fork Outfitters Pro 2 is quite an incredible fly rod and the fact that it is under $200 is nothing short of a miracle.
This fly rod has been designed to be forgiving to cast with, making it ideal for beginners. The medium/fast blank provides enough feel while absorbing errors in casting strokes, so you can almost always get your fly where you want it.
It is a great rod for pros too, as it delivers excellent accuracy across a range of casting distances from 30 feet to 60 feet. This is a fly rod you can grow your skills with!
The Temple Fork Outfitters Pro 2 is also built to last with a strong blank, great guides, and an excellent reel seat.
To top it all off, you can pick from a 2 weight up to 7 weight across a range of lengths to suit you, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. The one downside is that a rod tube is not included.
Comes with a lifetime warranty.
Incredible performance for the price.
Forgiving to cast with.
Great for beginners and pros.
Casts accurately at all distances.
Durable and well finished.
Available in multiple weights/lengths.
Rod tube not included.
The Temple Fork Outfitters Pro 2 is an awesome fly rod and you will struggle to find a better rod at this price. It is well built, great to cast with, awesome for beginners and pros, plus it has a lifetime warranty.
The Redington Classic Trout fly rod is another awesome fly rod for the price that will have you catching fish.
Built from a graphite blank with a medium action, it is perfect for learning how to cast with as it provides a lot of feel. The rod is also designed to drop files delicately and accurately at distances of 45 feet, the trout distance.
The blank is light and comes with titanium and snake guides which help reduce the weight even more. You won’t get achy arms casting this fly rod all day.
Add in the stunning reel seat with an anodized aluminum lock, and you have a great trout rod.
My one issue with this rod is that it will feel sluggish to an experienced angler. Otherwise, it is great value and even comes with a lifetime warranty.
Lightweight makes long days easy.
Forgiving to cast with.
Great for delicate casts.
Quality reel seat and guides.
Perfect for trout fishing.
Comes in a range of weights/lengths.
Feels sluggish for pros.
The Redington Classic Trout is a great rod to start your fly fishing career with. It is light, well made, has a lot of feel, and will help you improve your casting skills while catching fish.
It ticks all the boxes, but you might want something a little faster once your casting is up to speed.
I have mixed feelings about this rod. There are things I really like, and one or two things that I wish were better.
But what I do know is this.
It’s cheap, and it works!
The carbon fiber blank is strong and has an action of medium-fast. That will allow you to cast pretty easily and has the added benefit of quickly picking up line off the water. It is slightly unusual in that it is green in color. Personally, I prefer my rods grey, but I’m not going to bash it too much, as that’s just my own preference.
Along this 4-piece budget fly rod, you’ll find a series of alignment dots, a nice touch, along with a ceramic stripping guide and stainless steel, snake style, eyes.
And there’s something else.
You don’t often find extras on budget rods, but you’ll find a substantial ‘fighting butt’. This rounded section is much more comfortable if you are fighting a big fish.
Another low-priced fly fishing rod!
I like the fighting butt and the alignment dots.
Medium fast action, great for casting.
I personally don’t like the green finish.
Steel eyes are great, but you’ll want to dry them after a session.
For the money, this isn’t a bad rod. Ultimately, you get what you pay for, but it is one of the best of the bunch in this price bracket. It isn’t too fancy but will get you out and fishing for a low price.
How is the cost so low? Well, this rod is Fiberglass instead of carbon. It’s slightly heavier, and some might consider it dated technology. Still, it allows you to get a rod for less than $100 that is strong, effective, and a great performer.
Now, a word of warning…
This rod is a little slower than what you’d normally expect. But this provides you with a great measure of control and will allow you to have the necessary muscle to pull in fish of all sizes.
It would be particularly great for fishing small streams or at close range.
I love the little extras!
The high-quality cork handle looks pretty smooth and is a nice shape too. Just above it, you’ll find a whipped hook keeper, which is perfect if you are the kind of angler that likes to move around a lot and stow your fly nice and safe in transit.
The longest this rod goes up to is 7’6″, so you will be limited to smaller waters.
Again, low price!
Nice and light with a slow action.
High-quality cork handle.
Listen, I’ll be honest here… I really don’t like ‘spigot’ style reel seats. I wish this was a screw seat, but I suspect that’s why the price is lower.
The slow action won’t be for everyone.
Cabela’s is a quality brand that shouldn’t let you down. If they had made this rod with a screw-in reel seat, it would have been perfect. This isn’t a big game rod and would be much better suited to fishing in small streams and pools.
The Temple Fork Outfitters NXT Black Label Fly Rod is made for beginners who want a lot of feedback about their casting so they can improve.
The tough graphite blank features a medium action that gives the angler a lot of feel in their hands. This shows you where your casts are going wrong and allows you to correct it quickly.
The fly rod only comes in a 5 weight and 8 weight, but these are the weights you should be starting out with. 5 weights for trout are ideal and if you want to target bass or steelhead, 8 weights are the way to go.
All the extras on this rod are of excellent quality too from the guides to the reel seat and the rod tube. Add in the good looks, how affordable it is, and the lifetime warranty, and you have a serious deal.
However, if you are an experienced angler, this rod will feel a bit slow and you probably already have a 5 and 8 weight. It would be great if TFO made it in a few more options.
Durable graphite blank.
Medium action gives a lot of feel.
Great to progress your casting with.
Super affordable for the quality.
Quality guides & reel seat.
Only comes in a 5 or 8 weight.
The Temple Fork Outfitters NXT Black Label Fly Rod is a wonderful fly rod to start your fly fishing career with. It is affordable quality with a dash of performance. This fly rod is durable, lasts, and will help you get your casting where it needs to be.
A copy of much more premium rods. But does it work?
Well, yes, it does, actually.
It is a lightweight rod that ranges from #2 weight all the way up to #6 weight, so regardless of your chosen venue and species, there’ll be something to suit.
I really like the high-quality handle, and, yes, it has a screw reel seat.
The rod is 4-piece and features two ceramic stripping guides. This is great for aiding in casting distance. You’ll also find alignment dots, so it is easy to make sure that your rod is set up just right.
My recommendation would be to go for the #5 weight 9′ version. That will cover you for 90% of the fishing you want to do.
Want to know the standout feature?
This rod is light, I mean, seriously light. When held up against some really high-quality fishing brands, it actually holds its own rather well.
Lightweight and affordable.
Excellent casting performance.
Available in a range of sizes and weights.
Honestly? Not an awful lot… The only downside is that you can get a premium brand for the money (as you are about to see).
I’m not normally an advocate of cheaper ‘copies’ of well-known rods, but I’m going to make an exception in this case. This rod casts like a dream and is plenty strong enough. It has been designed to emulate rods that are 4x the price. For the money, what’s not to love?
Tried and trusted. Redington is one of my go-to choices whenever the words ‘budget’ and ‘fly fishing’ are found in the same sentence.
This fly fishing rod is a real entry-level model. It’s a little rough and ready but has been purpose-designed to make fly fishing accessible for all.
Let’s start with the blank…
It’s a medium-fast action that should give a good compromise between fish fighting ability and line pickup. I found the rod’s diameter a little thick, and I wasn’t impressed with the green color.
Just because I want an inexpensive fly rod doesn’t mean I need it to look ‘cheap’.
Once I got over the looks and focussed on what really matters, I was pleased. Casting accurately is pretty easy, but it did feel a little stiff compared to similarly priced rods.
The quality handle and the aluminum reel seat are both superb considering the price.
I really like the black anodized snake guides. They are coated to prevent corrosion. The laser-etched reel seat is also a really nice touch.
An affordable fly rod from a quality manufacturer.
Super tough and durable.
Nice casting action.
I don’t like the green color.
It is a little thick and heavy.
A moderate performance from Redington. It’s worth a look as a backup rod. It is hard-wearing and pretty durable, but there are lighter rods out there for sure. For the occasional hobbyist or for a few trips a year, it would perform well.
Go for the 5-weight rod in 9′ size, and you will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Quite simply, this is amazing value, and I’m not sure how Orvis has managed to pull this off!
Not only do you get a high-quality Orvis encounter rod… But you’ll also get a large arbor reel as part of the deal! In fact, I like it so much it’s going onto my list of the best fly rod and reel combos!
Focusing on the rod, it performs so well – a nice smooth casting action with excellent performance. The action is just right for easy casting, not too fast, not too slow, and the blank is substantial enough to handle just about anything.
The finish is exemplary. In a dark grey, it looks and feels the part. This, combined with a high-quality cork handle and hook keeper, means it looks professional.
Throw a reel and line into the mix, and you have got yourself a real deal!
How they make a graphite rod for this price, I’ll never know…
This rod by Temple Fork Outfitters is actually knocking on the door of something premium. What makes it ‘cheap’ isn’t the price! It’s the fact that rods with similar performance levels cost 5 times more!
As with most of my suggestions, this rod is medium-fast, giving you the ultimate versatility in the areas you fish. And, like I said above, go for a 5WT 9′ option for complete flexibility in where and how you fish.
The gold logo emblazoned on the blank gives this rod a real premium look. When it comes to casting, you’ll note that it also has a really premium feel.
The aluminum reel seat will keep the weight down. Your reel is firmly locked in position and is completely bulletproof when it comes to corrosion.
The rod disassembles down to 4 pieces making for easy transport.
Fantastic casting action.
Premium reel seat and handle.
Even the most inexpensive fly rods come with a rod tube included… This doesn’t. Why?
I liked this rod. It looks classy and should be a great caster. I was a little annoyed that they didn’t include a rod tube, especially when you got them included for rods under $100. Overall a good rod that will see you through several seasons.
Buying a Cheap Fly Rod – What You Need to Know
Here’s the thing.
I love buying new rods. But I don’t like spending money for the sake of it.
That’s why I want what I buy to be right… Here are some of the things I look for when buying a cheap fly fishing rod.
A Strong Blank
The blank is the literal backbone of the rod, and it is what determines how the rod will perform.
If the blank is substandard. You might as well forget it.
Do you know what is worse than losing a fish?
Snapping your rod and losing a fish. The way around this is to make sure that any rod you buy has a decent blank. I tend to go for medium fast blanks as they offer a nice mix of strength and casting ease.
Rod action can be tricky to get your head around. Here’s a handy 3-minute video that explains it really well.
Here is an area where premium rods will often outperform budget offerings. They tend to be a lot lighter.
When fly fishing, you are casting all day, so a few extra ounces can start to make the difference as the day goes on.
All that said…
If you check my list above, you’ll actually find a few really lightweight rods. They may not be quite as light as something costing $500, but they are knocking on the door.
Make sure you get a rod that weighs as little as possible. Your arm will thank you.
There is absolutely no point spending $100 on a rod, only to have to buy another after a short time. You might as well have gone for a $200 rod, to begin with.
Here’s what I am getting at.
Make sure you buy a rod that lasts. Naturally, cheaper rods might not last quite so long, but you can hedge your bets.
Look for corrosion-resistant features. The use of aluminum, stainless steel, or coated materials is always worth a look. You’ll get a longer life out of your gear.
I find the optimum length for a cheaper fly rod is around 9′. If you are looking to spend relatively little money, there’s a chance that you will be looking for a ‘one-size-fits-all’ kind of deal.
By choosing a rod that is neither too long nor too short for any situation, you will be saving yourself more money as you won’t need to invest in anything more specialized a little later down the line.
The final area that will be the ultimate deciding factor is obviously the price.
Is it possible to get a good fly rod for under $200?
There is a fallacy among anglers that the more expensive something is, the better it is. While this is true, that is only up to a point. You don’t need to go far past $200 to start seeing diminishing returns.
Want an example.
I’ve caught hundreds of fish on one of my fly rods… Have a guess how much it cost?
It was my first ever fly rod. It was heavy, thick, and almost like a telegraph pole. But I made it work.
Did I catch more fish on my $499 Orvis? Nope.
Was the Orvis nicer to use? Generally, yes.
The price doesn’t determine how many fish you will catch. Like I said at the start, they don’t care how much your rod costs.
Don’t worry about whether an expensive rod is ‘better. If it will catch you fish instead of sitting at home saving up, it is well worth it.
Growing up fishing on streams and lakes in Kenya and the UK, Jamie has traveled the world in search of fishing nirvana. From his time managing bonefish lodges in the Bahamas and running fishing safaris in East Africa, all the way to guiding on the flats of Seychelles and offshore, there are not many species or environments he hasn't experienced firsthand.