The 2021 Saltwater Fly Rod Guide (6 TOP Best Rods Reviewed!)


Alright, let’s get serious. Fly fishing in saltwater has to be tried to be believed. Man, those fish battle hard.

Your standard river rod just isn’t going to cut the mustard. You’re going to need to bring out the big guns!

The best saltwater fly rods are a little heavy-duty and are designed to deal with harsher elements.

I want to show you some amazing suggestions that will be up to the task.

Read on to find out what saltwater rods are all about.

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Stuck for Time? Saltwater Fly Rods at a Glance

Here are the main features you need to look for in a decent saltwater fly rod:

  • You are going to be catching bigger fish in harsher conditions. It really needs to stand up to punishment.
  • Heavier rating. Bigger fish need bigger lines. Look for a minimum weight of at least #8.
  • A Strong Blank. You are going to be casting further and hooking bigger, not to mention underwater features like reefs. A strong blank means a more solid performance all round.
  • As an absolute minimum, don’t go any smaller than a 9′ rod; otherwise, you will struggle.

In light of the above, take a look at some of these to see what I mean…

Top 6 Best Saltwater Fly Rods 2021

Moonshine Rod Co. The Outcast Series

The Moonshine Rod co. They aren’t the most well-known name, but they do offer really good performance.

Keep an eye on these guys, as pretty soon they’ll start to compete with the big brands.

Remember how I talked about ‘heavy duty’? These rods are built to last. You’ll find things such as high modulus graphite blanks, rock-solid ring bindings, and titanium stripping rings.

The rod guides are made of chrome. This is ultra important when fishing in saltwater as it tends to corrode pretty much anything that it comes into contact with.

Are they heavy?

You’ll find that these rods come in a range of weights, the lightest of which is #8. For a great all-rounder, opt for a #9 or #10, light enough to be easy to use but strong enough to help you bag a fair few species.

One attractive feature of moonshine rods is that they come with a spare tip. Saltwater fly fishing can be harsh on your gear, which means your day won’t end early with a misstep!

Pros

  • Excellent casting performance.
  • Really lightweight.
  • Great quality.

Cons

  • I wish they’d made the rods slightly longer. It is useful for punching into the wind. Particularly at the coast.

Takeaway

Why pay a fortune for a big brand when you can get something just as good at a fraction of the cost? Moonshine tick all the boxes.

If this is your first time trying saltwater fishing, this would be ideal – one of the best saltwater fly rods for the money.

Aventik Z Fly Fishing Rods

I’ll be honest. If you are new to saltwater fly fishing, then something is going to happen, guaranteed…

Your gear is going to get trashed!

Saltwater is not a rod’s best friend, so why not go a little cheaper, and then you can get on with your day without worrying about every nick and scratch?

These nanographene salt rods are great for the money. They include a hard-wearing cork handle, chrome-plated stripping guides, and an aluminum reel seat, all designed to be saltwater resistant.

And there is more…

This rod has an interesting feature that you don’t see all that often. It includes a fighting butt. This extended section of the handle allows you to rest your arm on the back end of the rod, which is especially useful when you are having a fight with bigger species.

Heavy duty?

Absolutely.

Pros

  • I like the fighting butt.
  • The blue finish is pretty eye-catching.
  • It is great value, a lot of rod for the money.

Cons

  • At this price, you should know that it isn’t going to outshine more established brands.

Takeaway

For a cheap, no-nonsense rod, this actually performs pretty well. I take one with me as a spare backup in case my main rod fails me. You won’t find heaps of features, but at this price, who cares?

Hardy Demon Saltwater Fly Fishing Rod

Did somebody mention the price?

I said I was going to show you the best saltwater fly rods, and I meant it!

If you haven’t heard of Hardy before, it’s because they are serious big boy’s toys. That said, for a hardy, this is actually pretty cheap!

If you are looking for high-quality and the best fly rod for saltwater fishing, then you can stop right here. This thing oozes finesse.

Like?

The optimum is a 9′ 8wt. This rod is super lightweight and, as casting goes, is one of the best on my list without a shadow of a doubt. Pair this up with a really decent line and a nice saltwater fly reel, and you’ve got a dream setup.

The Sintrix 330 blank is fast and really powerful. You’ll be able to cast a good distance and easily battle anything foolish enough to take your fly. It’s responsive, quick, and pretty agile, so hooking those takes should be straightforward.

Pros

  • Exemplary performance from one of the world’s oldest rod manufacturers.
  • Great looks.
  • Lightweight.
  • Excellent casting action.

Cons

  • The price may put some off. In my opinion, it is worth it. And it is cheaper than some…

Takeaway

Want to buy one saltwater fly rod and then never have to buy another? This is it right here.

I don’t really have a bad word to say about it. It’s a real contender for the best saltwater fly rods in 2021.

Echo Ion XL Fly Rod

If you found the Hardy rod a little too ‘steep’ but don’t want a budget saltwater fly rod.

Let me show you this…

It’s a four-piece which will make carrying it down to the water (and keeping your car clean afterward) really easy.

The rod features a medium-fast blank, making it pretty ideal when punching out big streamers into the wind and tide.

And get this.

Echo knows that saltwater fly fishing is a little more heavy-duty, with thicker lines and heavier weight. For that reason, they have included oversized stripping guides to make sure that you aren’t robbed of distance on your cast.

Remember how I talked about durability?

This rod is manufactured with an anodized aluminum reel seat to guard against corrosion. It also comes with a fighting butt to battle those big ones!

Pros

  • A great value saltwater fly rod.
  • Nice action, medium-fast is just right.
  • The through action makes battling bigger species easier, with plenty of muscle under the trunk.

Cons

  • Casting accuracy isn’t the best with this rod, not as precise as the Hardy models.

Takeaway

I think this is a great deal. It isn’t budget, and it doesn’t feel like it. I think if you spent a little extra in the reel and line department, you’d be able to create one of the best saltwater rod and reel combos for a relatively low cost.

Orvis Helios 3D Fly Rod

Orvis Helios 3D Fly Rod

Are you looking for the gold standard in saltwater rods?

Here.

Let’s turn to our old friends at Orvis. This isn’t cheap. In fact, it is the most expensive on my list but just look at it.

Really look at it.

The matte midnight blank looks absolutely stunning, finished with a carbon insert and an anodized aluminum seat. As rods go, it’s a supermodel.

When paired with titanium stripping guides, the REC recoil snake guides will guard against corrosion (you’d hope so at that price!).

This is a rod made in the USA, so you can be assured of its quality.

Orvis doesn’t do things by halves. The rod even comes with its own included aluminum rod tube to prevent you from damaging your investment.

When it comes to performance, it really shines. It’s as lightweight as any freshwater fly fishing rod. Casting is pretty effortless, even with more heavily weighted saltwater lines.

As a finishing touch, Orvis offers the option to personalize your rod. This is a good thing as if your buddies get a go of it, they’ll be dying to steal it!

Pros

  • The best-looking saltwater fly rod out there.
  • Amazingly lightweight.
  • Great action.
  • Corrosive resistance is second to none.

Cons

  • …I’m lost for words. There’s nothing to dislike (apart from the price).

Takeaway

I’m a big believer in paying for quality. The USA-made saltwater rods are actually pretty rare. The reason for the cost is because this is about as good as it gets.

If you have the funds, I say go for it. It will not let you down! One of the best saltwater fly rods of 2021, without question.

Redington Predator Fly Rod

Redington Predator Fly Rod

Alright, let’s not get carried away. You won’t need to blow $1000 to get out there on the water.

Check this out.

Redington is a firm favorite of mine. With rods like this, you can hopefully see why. This is the perfect rod for whacking out a big old bucktail into a rocky reef. The action is really fast, which is required when throwing out huge amounts of line.

And get this.

The stripping guide inserts are ceramic lined. This is great against guarding against seawater and creates a frictionless surface, increasing your casting distance.

It’s really user-friendly.

The rod comes with a Cordoba tube for ease of transportation. Once you have unsheathed it, you’ll find that each of the 4 sections has a tiny alignment dot to ensure you are all square and ready to fish.

The rod also comes with an extended fighting butt, so if you hook into something large, you’ll be able to apply maximum pressure.

Pros

  • Affordable quality and great performance.
  • Lots of little extras (I love an alignment dot or two).
  • Corrosion-resistant fixtures and fittings.

Cons

  • It might not be quite as light as some premium models of saltwater fly rods.

Takeaway

I’ve got a real soft spot for Redington. They always make equipment that performs well for the money, and this fly rod is certainly no exception. It sits bang in the middle of what I’d expect to pay for a good saltwater fly rod.

Buying Guide to Saltwater Fly Rods

Choosing a saltwater fly rod isn’t always the easiest, and even seasoned pros struggle.

Here are the things that I look for when I’m trying to narrow down my options.

fly fisherman fishing in ocean from beach

Price

Have you noticed something about saltwater fly rods?

Here’s a clue…

There’s a large difference between them and the best budget fly rods.

Got it yet? Of course, I’m talking about price. Saltwater fly rods tend to be a little (or a lot) more expensive than their freshwater counterparts.

Here’s why.

Saltwater gear, whether that’s wading boots or rods, tends to put up with a lot of abuse. As a result, it has to be made to stronger tolerances. This comes with a cost, and that cost is added to the rod.

The fish you catch will tend to be bigger and put more strain on the rod too. This would take a great toll on anything that was cheaply made.

You might have to adjust what you consider ‘expensive’ when it comes to saltwater rods. A ‘budget’ model may cost the same as a full freshwater combo.

Action

Action is so important in a saltwater rod. It has to have the muscle to pull in big fish, cast longer distances, and cast a heavier line (into the wind, too!).

If you compare this picture to what you’d look for in a rod suited for stream fishing beginners, it should be easy to see the difference.

So, what to choose?

I tend to find that a medium to fast action rod strikes a nice balance between castability and pulling power.

If you haven’t cast a saltwater rod before, perhaps it’s time to learn?

There’s plenty in this video for you to enjoy!

Saltwater Rod Weight

As I said above, the minimum you want to opt for is around an #8 weight rod. This will afford you the option of casting a thicker and heavier line that is vital if you want to get any appreciable distance to your casts.

You’ll be using much bigger flies when fishing on saltwater, and lightweight lines aren’t going to work well.

While we are talking about weight, it is worth knowing that salt fly rods can be slightly heavy and hard to cast constantly.

There are two ways you can reduce arm fatigue…

Go to the gym (er, nope)…

Or…

Invest in the lightest rod you can afford.

Be advised that lighter rods are often not the cheapest. You could always offset the weight with a really good reel. Alternatively, have a look at the best saltwater fly rod and reel combo deals to find a well-matched pair.

fly fishing rod and reel and caught sea trout

Rod Length

With rods designed for small still waters, you’ll find you can get away with a 7′ rod. This simply isn’t going to happen with a saltwater fly fishing rod.

You won’t get the distance, power, or action with anything too small.

So here’s what I suggest.

Do yourself a favor and start your search with rods that are greater than 9′. They will tend to be the stronger rods anyway, with a more suitable line rating, so half the battle won.

Extra Features

You know me, guys.

I love all the little ‘bits’.

Depending on the rod you choose, you might find that it has a few little extras. I think it’s great to pick up a budget rod with a few additions normally found on more premium rods.

What am I talking about?

Things like rod carry tubes. These are vital when you are traversing rocks or rocky trails down to the seafront.

I also look out for little additions like fighting butts. These make life so much easier when you do succeed and smash into a monster.

Corrosion Resistance

This is one of the most important factors you need to consider when investing in a new saltwater fly rod.

Freshwater evaporates. Saltwater will rot away anything it touches if it is left in situ for long enough.

You’ll find that it attacks rings, reel seats, and fittings when it comes to fishing rods. It doesn’t take long either. Pick the wrong rod, and you’ll be buying another one before you know it.

Avoid anything with the word steel. Saltwater and steel are not friends. Instead, look for rods with components made of titanium, anodized aluminum, or other specifically designed compounds to be corrosion resistant.

Don’t believe me about rates of corrosion? This video is a bit geeky but well worth a watch!

Summary

The best saltwater fly rods have a few key differences from their freshwater counterparts.

They tend to be more heavy-duty, cast heavier lines, and have added features to make them more corrosion resistant. They might also cost a little more…

The flip side is that they also catch bigger fish (and how much is that worth). Stick to the guide above, and you won’t go far wrong.

What are you out to catch? Let me know in the comments!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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