Trying your hand at any new skill can be an incredibly daunting experience, let alone if it’s one that requires a bunch of new gear, like fly fishing. Fly fishing is a great skill to learn and can really add to your experience as an angler, but it’s hard to know where to start.
Walking through your local sporting goods store, you’ll find no shortage of fly rods. But the majority of these rods may not be geared toward a beginner. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite rods that are perfect for a newbie.
Comparison of the Best Beginner Fly Rods
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How to Choose a Beginner Fly Rod
Choosing a beginner fly fishing rod can be difficult with the number of features and options available. Here are a few features to watch for when purchasing a rod for your new hobby.
If you’re new to angling in general, you’re probably unfamiliar with the term “action.” The action corresponds with how much a rod bends under pressure; a fast action rod is stiffer than a slow action rod, which is more flexible.
For your first fly rod, look for one with medium/moderate action. They are the most versatile and have a lower line speed, which provides more time that beginners may need.
The length of the rod really depends on the type of fish you’re seeking out. In general, for larger fish, more length is desirable. If you hope to catch mostly panfish, a shorter rod can do the job well. For a beginner fly rod, there’s really no need to have a rod that’s longer than nine feet. Anywhere between eight to nine feet is the sweet spot as it will provide a good casting distance while maintaining ease of control.
It’s important to consider the weight of a fly rod. It must match up with the line and reel weight you plan on using. Again, this is an aspect of the rod which will vary depending on what kind of fish you’re hoping to catch. Rod weights generally range between 1wt and 12wt. Small fish are usually caught on 2-4wt, while 7-12wt is more suitable large fish. For a beginner, a rod between 4-6wt will best serve you as they are versatile and can handle slightly larger or smaller fish.
Aspects to Consider When Buying a Beginner Fly Rod
Just like with any rod, it’s important to consider what kind of fish you’re after before purchasing a rod. If you’re on the hunt for trophy bass, you may want to seek out a rod that is made with heavy-duty materials that can consistently pull in heavy fish. Read our buyers guide on the best fly rods for bass. If you’re more into fishing for smaller panfish, a graphite rod could better serve you.
If you’re purchasing your very first fly rod, there should be no need to break the bank completely. Although a great fly rod won’t be cheap, there are some incredible beginners rods on the market at a very fair price. Before you spend upwards of 300 bucks on your first rod, consider all the options.
Consider your favorite fishing spot when you’re looking for a new rod. If you travel a lot, or hiking or backpacking is required to get to your favorite river or lake, you’ll probably want a rod that can break down into multiple sections for easy transport. Tenkara rods might also be worth looking into if portability is a major factor.
As aforementioned, there are definitely actions that are easier for a beginner to use. But if you aren’t a true beginner and are a bit more advanced, you may enjoy a rod that has a faster action or a slower action, depending on your preferences and what kind of fish you’ll be hunting.
Review of the Best Beginner Fly Rods
There’s no shortage of great beginner fly rods on the market; the difficult part is singling them out. We’ve narrowed down our favorites to the top five that we’re confident will work well for any angler who’s new to the sport of fly fishing.
Best Beginner Fly Rod:
Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Lefty Kreh Professional Series II
Temple Fork Outfitters’ Pro II series offers over ten rods with varying length, weight, and action, all made specifically for fly fishing. The line has weights ranging from a more sensitive and delicate 2wt, all the way to a powerful 10wt. All of the rods have medium-fast action, which is perfect for a beginner as it is forgiving and easy to use.
The Pro II Series is created with quality materials, including premium grade cork handles with burled accents and anodized aluminum reel seats, which feature braided carbon fiber inserts. The rods are beautiful and sleek looking, with matte black blanks and gold accents.
For a beginner, your best bet would be to choose between the 5wt rods in this line; they offer four different lengths. Stick to either the 8’6” or the 9-foot for maximum ease and control.
The Pro II Series from Temple Fork Outfitters is, without a doubt, a top-of-the-line choice for any beginner fly fisher. The beautiful, easy to use design isn’t clunky or awkward and feels good in the hand. The range of lengths and weights make it a great option for those who have a specific purpose for their rod and allows for more experienced fly fishers options as well.
The only real complaint with this rod is that some say the rod was a little stiffer than they expected. This shouldn’t cause you too much trouble on the water, but it is something to keep in mind.
Redington Classic Trout
Another classic fly fishing brand, the Redington Classic Trout line, is similar to the Pro II Series from Temple Outfitters as it offers a variety of medium action rods in different lengths and weights. They range from a 7’6” 2wt all to a 9’ 6wt. This line is made specifically for trout fishing, however, the variety of lengths and weights make it suitable for a variety of types of angling.
These freshwater rods also come in two different styles: a four-piece and a six-piece model. They break down into a compact size easily, which means they’re great to travel with. The rod features a lightweight, dark brown blank with a rosewood reel seat insert.
The line’s other product features include titanium oxide stripping guides, a divided brown ballistic nylon rod tube, and accented alignment dots along the blank for an easier setup.
If you’re a true beginner and don’t know where to start out, the Redington Classic Trout line is another great option for you. It’s rare to find a bad review of these rods, probably in part because they do their job so well. One complaint that does appear is with the action; some say it’s a little stiffer than expected. They offer a fairly versatile range in terms of length and weight, but if you’re a beginner, try out their 4 or 5wt in the nine-foot size.
Best for the Money:
Fenwicks AETOS Fly Rods
Fenwick released the AETOS line in hopes of providing a seriously good quality fly fishing rod for an affordable price. AETOS has eight different options for rods. They’re all fast action and range from 9’ with 5wt all the way to 15’ with 10/11wt. The four-piece blank is fairly lightweight and is dark blue with carbon flake accents for style.
The rod also features sizable diameter “gunsmoke stripper guides” as well as “double foot gunsmoke snake guides” and an anodized aluminum reel seat. It also has a AAA grade cork handle for ease and comfort when casting and handling for long periods of time.
For a beginner, this line offers one rod that easily stands out over the others. Go for the 9’ 5wt rod; it’ll be the easiest to use for someone who isn’t well-acquainted with fly fishing rods.
Although Fenwick’s AETOS line might not be the top choice for fly fishers who are just starting out, they do have a couple options for newbies, and they’re a great choice for advanced beginners. Because these rods are fast action, it might take a little practice to get the hang of it, but overall, the AETOS rods are very high quality and an easy recommendation.
Best Beginner Fly Rod Combo:
Wild Water 5/6 9’ Rod Fly Fishing Complete Starter Package
Unlike the products mentioned above, this package from Wild Water is an all-inclusive starter kit for those who may have never been fishing before and are lacking gear.
First and foremost, it includes a four-piece, nine-foot. ⅚ weight fly rod. It comes complete with an arbor reel, preinstalled line, backing, and leader, as well as much more. The rod is slow action, created with graphite for sensitivity. The reel is made with anodized aluminum and preloaded with heavy-duty blaze orange backing.
This starter package also comes with a small fly box that includes some pre-tied flies, three Black Ants, Parachute Adams, and Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymph, each in a size 14. It is waterproof and can float if it ends up in the water by accident. The box can hold up to 372 of your own flies. The kit also includes a rod sock and case, made to keep your rod safe when transporting it from place to place.
Although this kit has some quality issues with the reel and included fly line, this is an incredible option for those who need a great rod and some of the additional bits to go along with it for their first fly fishing experience. There’s no doubt that this is an awesome value for all of the equipment and there are plenty of perks to this package that make it a great choice for any beginner.
Best Orvis Beginner Fly Rod:
Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit 905-4 - 5wt 9ft 0in 4pc
Orvis is another well-loved brand among anglers. They have several different models of their Clearwater Fly Rod line, but the one we’ve selected is a great choice for beginners. It’s a four-piece, 5wt, nine-foot long rod, that is powerful, yet super lightweight.
The rod also includes a large arbor and a reel created with aluminum. The reel features a drag system which is designed to stop even the fastest of fish. All of the Orvis Clearwater Fly rods come with a high-quality case.
Although this is a great option for a beginner, the design is fairly versatile and can work well for a variety of skill levels. Orvis claims that this line casts with “power and precision,” making it easy to throw both small and large flies with ease.
This rod is yet another great option for someone just starting out in fly fishing. It’s made with high-quality materials, which means it’s durable and made to last. Another plus is that this isn’t a rod that functions just as a fly rod; it works well for a variety of angling types and fishing for different kinds of fish.
The only downsides of this rod are minor details, including the rod case; just make sure you take the rod apart fully before trying to put it in the case.
How to Clean a Fly Rod
Cleaning your fly rod will really depend on whether you’re fishing in fresh or saltwater. Freshwater is much easier because it isn’t as corrosive in nature as saltwater, but no matter where you use your rod, it’s important to give it a thorough clean every once in a while.
- The first step is to take apart the rod so it is in sections. Sponge the entire rod with a soapy water solution. It’s best to use warm water rather than hot to avoid any potential heat damage
- Inspect the rod for any grooves, cracks, or damage. Identify where these are and make a mental note to bring it up the next time you get your rod repaired
- Use a small cloth or Q-tip to wipe the ferrules free of grime and dirt
- Use a lubricant to oil the ferrules to keep them in good shape
- Always leave your rod to dry fully on a rack rather than against a wall, as leaving it against a hard surface can encourage unwanted bends
The video below offers a full view of how to thoroughly clean your fly rod.
Being new at anything is tough. It can be frustrating to not know where to start, especially in an activity that requires the purchase of new gear. This list is a great place to begin in your search for your first fly rod. Keep in mind your own preferences when it comes to angling, your budget, and style, and you’ll be on the right path. Happy fishing!