Do you think the fish care how much you paid for your rod? As long as that fly arrives in the right place at the right time, you’ll still catch.
How good are budget fly rods? The real answer? Very.
Today I’m going to show you some of the best budget fly rods around… You’ll be amazed at what you can pick up for less than $200.
I’ll also talk you through a few features that you’ll definitely want to make sure you have.
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If you are looking for the best inexpensive 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.
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.
Best Fly Rods Under $200
Got a little more to spend? That’s great.
You’ll find a marked increase in quality, performance, and some of the best fly rods out there.
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.