5 Most Expensive Fly Rods: Are They Worth Purchasing? – 2021 Guide

Jeff
| Last Updated April 14, 2021

If you take any pleasure from the relaxation and peace that fly fishing offers, then you understand why so many people invest thousands of dollars in their equipment.

A fisherman’s tools are his life, and the most important tool is his rod.

Today we will assess five of the most expensive fly rods and their benefits to your fly fishing experience.

Most Expensive Fly Rods

These lances give you the best the market has to offer. Rods are uniquely carpentered and handmade from graphite and super-tough fiberglass. You should find a rod for your needs.

Guarantees and warranties are commonplace and attest to their quality of artistry and high standard of materials.

Fly Rod

Best For

Oyster Fine Bamboo Salt Series

Shallow saltwater

R.L Winston Air 2

Fast-action fresh water

Thomas & Thomas Paradigm Series

For the discerning freshwater angler

Sage Fly Fish Salt HD

Open-water salt fishing with increased power

Orvis Helios 3D

Powerful saltwater rod with increased accuracy

Review of the Most Expensive Fly Rods

Let's take a look at this year's top picks.

ADVANTAGES

  • Manufactured from Bamboo, a sustainable material, making the Salt series an ideal green option
  • Entire rod is handmade and  customizable and the perfect gift item for a partner
  • By far, the most significant advantage with Oyster rods is their guarantee. They provide an owner-guaranteed product and experience for newcomers and seasoned anglers

DISADVANTAGES

  • Most significant disadvantage about Oyster rods is that they only craft about 40 rods a year, so be prepared for a wait if you want a masterpiece
  • Casting with a Bamboo rod can take some getting used to. The material is natural. Smooth acceleration is required throughout your cast, or you can expect fractures

When you’re comparing Bamboo fishing rods, they don’t come much more ornate than the Bill Oyster handmade lances. The Salt series provides adequate saline protection and surprising levels of accuracy and power for salt-based fish hunting

We found that these legacy rods are a brilliant option for enthusiasts of shallow water angling. If you’re anything like we are, you’ll appreciate the value in an heirloom rod. The price tag of $2,950.00 for the Oyster  Salt series is a beautiful addition to your current collection. If you’re looking to treat yourself, Oyster offers one of the best rods available.

Best For

You’ll find that the rods are light, hardy, and bespoke. Ideal for baby tarpon and bonefish, these rods look great while you’re fishing. 

Salty backwaters that require skill and precision are the perfect hunting grounds for this tool. The craftsmanship is excellent for bragging rights, too.

ADVANTAGES

  • Ergonomic design of the half Wells makes casting and in-hand rod support a priority, giving you a wonderful feeling
  • Responsiveness of the Air 2 is exceptional, thanks to the Boron and Supersilica compound
  • Air 2 is offered in weights from three to six, providing a wonderful all-around rod for the avid fly fishermen

DISADVANTAGES

  • By default, because of the extensive range or rods, it can be tricky to find one that’s perfect for your cast
  • Considering the vast conditions that the Winston was built for, more power may be necessary for saltwater battles
  • Caution must be exercised when switching from freshwater to saltwater environments

When you’re looking for a premium freshwater lance that is lightweight, look no further than the high modulus Boron and Supersilica rods from the R.L. Winston Air range. The ultra-lightweight materials make for phenomenal power transference and unparalleled responsiveness. 

Winston rods are manufactured to such a high-quality standard that they even come with a lifetime warranty should your rod need repair or replacement. We found that their rods’ ability to generate power and accuracy makes this a superb option for the avid freshwater fly fisher. Rods start at $1,095.00, with the blank option at $548.00.

Best For

Preparation is key to making any recreational sport memorable. Usually, you might grab different rods for fresh and saltwater. Not with the Air 2! The Winston Air 2 is perfect when you are dashing off for that weekend escape and can only take what’s essential.

ADVANTAGES

  • Responsiveness of the rod creates tight  loops at incredible speed, making casting truly effortless
  • Load times for the rods are hassle-free, making this ideal for the multitasking angler
  • Durable and lightweight materials make this rod portable and well suited for smaller fish and water systems

DISADVANTAGES

  • Larger fish may give you some trouble when trying to reel them in
  • If you’re a beginner, you may feel frustrated when using the Paradigm
  • Minor adjustments are necessary with this rod to give you optimal performance

Thomas & Thomas (T&T) Paradigm series is hailed as the rod that you will eventually own. It’s purpose-built for the dry-fly purist at heart. The Paradigm has a traditional presentation for the freshwater connoisseur. It’s forged from graphite; for responsiveness, your experience will be authentic and honest.  

These masterful pieces give you precise casts and pinpoint fly presentation, which accentuates the finesse of fly-fishing. The medium action, a 9-foot lance is presented in beautiful blue semi-gloss and birds-eye maple spacers. You’ll find the T&T to be thoroughly traditional in all the right ways. The range begins at $875.00 for the three-weight. 

Best For

Using this rod, we recount scenes of a lone fly fisher wading in a placid stream, gently coaxing trout from the shallows. Built for the perfectionist at heart, these rods provide ample feedback and accuracy. T&T has created a rod that is easily carried, and load-times are minimal. 

This results in quick casts and getting your fly amongst the fish the second you see them. However, you need to remember that this lance is meant to amplify your skills. That means there are no excuses for your flies ending up in reeds. These rods are perfect for the advanced but discerning dry-fly angler. 

Editor's Pick:
Sage Fly Fish Salt HD

ADVANTAGES

  • Larger guide set allows sufficient space for saltwater lines and knots to glide through easily
  • Exceptional energy transfer through the rod makes for accurate casting
  • Wide range of weights to choose from

DISADVANTAGES

  • Choosing from the wide range provides anxiety should you have different weight requirements
  • Salinity means constant maintenance and attention
  • Rod’s design hasn’t been upgraded

A specialty rod for saltwater pursuits, the Sage Salt HD series gives you fast action and power in exacting open-waters. The graphite rod uses Konnetic HD technology to meld a rod that has a medium tip-action, powerful mid-action, and supreme strength in the lower portion.

When you’re battling the elements of saltwater, keep in mind that your potential catch will fight much harder. Open-water combats tend to be long-winded and traumatic on equipment. We grabbed the Sage Salt HD because it offers more power to handle gamefish effectively. These powerful saltwater rods start at $950.00.

Best For

Sage offers you a lifetime warranty on their new reels, rods, and blanks, making this choice one you won’t regret. The Salt HD is purpose-built for open-water and provides good power. 

We found that the line speed is phenomenal and improves our range. At the end of everything, the Salt series passed every test we could put it through. It works perfectly for saltwater flats and most of its inhabitants.

Honorable Mention:
Orvis Helios 3D

ADVANTAGES

  • Rigidity of the rod makes it superb for casting distances over 50 feet
  • Orvis prides themselves on their quality and provides a 25-year guarantee on the Helios 3D
  • There are a vast amount of weights to help you pick the perfect rod

DISADVANTAGES

  • Due to the increased distance, there were a few sacrifices in terms of response from the rod
  • Helios 3D requires a little time to change lines and can be cumbersome for beginners
  • Fast-action rods like the Helios 3D require adequate technique, making it an unlikely rod for amateurs

The Orvis Helios 3D is a powerful rod that produces uncanny lifting ability and casting distance. The 3D is brawny by any standard, and you can feel it in freshwater environments. This Herculian four-piece graphite rod has a fast action with the 5-weight. 

While you may assume that this rod is too stiff, we found it to be softer than anticipated. There was an adequate amount of tip response. Rods are available for $949.00 and can be customized.

Best For

The Helios 3D is a rod that provides immense power to the discerning angler. When you’re casting 50-feet or more, you want accuracy and the ability to penetrate the wind. The 3D will pull your fly through the gust and drop it within striking distance of the target. Essentially, when you purchase the Helios, you’re investing in a tool that’ll accompany your discerning angling tastes.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing an Expensive Fly Rod

The obvious question when purchasing an expensive rod is, “How do I know which one is right for me?” Your skill level will determine most of the important information for you, which we’ll touch on briefly.

If you’re learning the basics, rod lengths must be considered as they go a long way in helping to get your cast-action to the point that presents the fly naturally. Fast-action fly rods are rigid for most of the rod and flexes towards the tip. 

Medium-action fly rods are more adaptable and give you more flexibility from the midsection. Slow-action rods give you the most flexibility and are the best option to learn.

As with most recreational sports, budget is always a factor. A piece of good news is that the market for fly fishing has options at every price point. Research is important at this stage. 

When starting out, a flexible rod will offer a good way to learn and develop your casting. These rods are medium to short in length and don’t need too much space for casting while still providing good accuracy. Often used in smaller lakes and waterways, these rods give you fair casting distance, flex, and fly presentation.

Fly fishing has seen many advances in materials and construction methods. Depending on your preference, you can choose either Bamboo, cane, graphite, or fiberglass for your rod. Combinations of these materials give increased performance and are readily available with most.

Bamboo and cane are age-old materials and were the original mediums to make a rod. It offered great flex and power for small waters, which is ideal for new and aspiring anglers. Graphite is lightweight and makes a good all-purpose rod with high response and good strength. Fiberglass rods are not new but provide ample amounts of flex. 

Choosing a rod for your pursuit requires a clear idea of what type of fishing you’ll be doing. Freshwater conditions require a different loadout, while saltwater conditions need protection from the elements at work. 

Saltwater conditions offer fish that are typically stronger and larger than their freshwater counterparts. Because of this, you’ll need a heavier rod, offering a corresponding line weight as well as protection from the salinity of the water. 

These rods offer a medium to fast action and rigidity. Freshwater fly fishing presents an entirely different experience. Freshwater requires a lighter rod for the delicate presentation of the fly. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Expensive Fly Rods

It would be unwise to assume that an expensive fly rod will automatically increase the success rate of your fishing. However, what you are purchasing is a premium fishing experience that combines the latest manufacturing techniques with decades of fishing expertise. 

When you add one of these rods to your cart, you are purchasing a rod that’ll provide you with a showpiece when you unsheath it to friends. They exhibit the latest materials or may be entirely handcrafted by one single family. Regardless, these rods are made with distinction and for the discerning angler.

The price tags and workmanship on these rods are exquisite, and your lance may be covered by either manufacturer warranties or a 25-year guarantee. These options ensure that your rod will be in crisp condition.

The newcomer rodman may find these lances flashier than value for money. The subtle differences in feedback and action that make these rods outstanding may not be fully appreciated by the beginner. 

Another point of contention is the ease with which these rods are loaded. As a veteran, you would have mastered your loading skills. These rods will offer faster load times, but newcomers to the sport may not acknowledge these savings.

Conclusion

Expensive rods are an evocative topic for the recreational fishing enthusiast because, at its core, fishing is a man with a rod trying to outwit his aquatic counterpart. The traditional pursuit is free of trinkets. Different weighted rods, with multitudes of line options, and lengths cater to all your needs. 

However, what you aren’t told is, these heritage pieces muster all the subtleties and nuances of traditional fly fishing and literally deliver them in your hands. Owning one is truly a pleasure. 

People Also Ask

Are Expensive Fly Fishing Rods Really That Much Better?

These rods are forged from some of the most advanced materials you’ll find on earth. Production techniques range from handcrafted Bamboo to machine-formed carbon and glass fibers. These lances meld the best of all scenarios to give you a rod that lasts a lifetime and provides exceptional performance for the advanced angler.

Photo Credit: MoneyInc.com

Do I Need an Expensive Fly Rod?

Fundamentally, no one needs an expensive rod. The reason for this is because you could fashion your own from Bamboo. This process may be time-consuming and end in tragedy for any number of reasons. These rods include time-trusted methods for production and are backed by generations of fisherwomen and fishermen.

How Do I Protect an Expensive Fly Rod?

As with most equipment used in wet conditions, it’s important to keep dirt and debris at bay. They will eventually impair the functionality of your reel, line, and rod in general. Reels should be disassembled and allowed to dry after every use. 

The arbor, frame, and cylinder need to air dry to avoid oxidation. Rods need occasional rinsing but should be stored away from harsh conditions. Your line should be cleaned consistently to remove impediments after every use.

Jeff

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.