Guide: Fly Fishing Rods
We have a fly rod reviews page because the fly rod market provides a huge range of rod styles, materials and price ranges. Many anglers will find a company that they like and stick with them but some prefer to collect a variety of different rods.
Choosing a fly rod for the first time may seem overwhelming but you can break down your needs, test a few models and make a purchase without much headache. It becomes more difficult as you gain experience and begin to realize the value of a good rod.
Then you must discern between different actions, materials and determine which rod will fit your casting style and fishing purpose. Fly rods are very advanced and there are numerous different materials available.
Graphite is the most common but we also like glass and bamboo. In addition to the material, there are a variety of different tapers and actions. The beginner should use a medium or medium fast action and advanced anglers will choose a specific action to accommodate their casting style. We have tested and reviewed a number of different rods to help find the best fit for you.
Fly Fishing Rod Manufacturers
Adamsbuilt offers several nice fly rods with solid pricing. The Nevada based company also has a wide range of other products including reels, waders, boot and accessories. They have some great designs and performance standards.
CBR Fly Rod – This is their top model but it still has a very affordable price tag. We have put a 6 weight version through some hard use with good results. Read the full review for more.
Cabela’s offers a wide range of rods that are both popular and well built. We started with one of their models way back in time and still use it on occasion. You can love or hate the big box business model but they do have some good options.
Traditional Fiberglass Rod– This is their fiberglass anniversary rod for under 100 bucks. Click to read our review.
Echo Fly Rods
Echo fly rods and Airflo lines are a product of Rajeff sports. We think rods that are designed by World Casting Champion are a good place to focus our attention. Tim Rajeff is an accomplished caster and his rods reflect his casting style. They are powerful and capable of throwing some serious line.
Sage Fly Rods
Sage makes some of the greatest rods around. We love their rods and as a company, they have a loyal following. Sage rods tend to be extra smooth and they are a joy to cast. We really like a couple of their models as dry fly rods but they have some excellent choices that will cover most species. Click the header to read our Sage fly rod reviews.
Temple Fork Rods
We have tested some of their rods and enjoy the quality. We really like a couple of the models and completely fell in love with a couple of the models. Temple Fork has struck a nerve in the industry and we see a lot of their rods on the water. Most of the customers are happy with the products and the customer service. Check out our reviews to see which models we liked and which ones we loved.
Winston Fly Rods
Winston rods meet the same high standard as Sage and Scott. They have some incredible products and loyal following. The Montana company is a small building located in Twin Bridges. You wouldn’t know it from the outside but they have some magic in there. The rods meet a high standard for aesthetic and performance values.
Transport your rods safely without ever breaking them down. This company provides several useful rod transportation products for the interior and exterior of your vehicle.
Sumo Rod Carrier Review – This carrier uses suction cups and magnets to secure multiple rods on the exterior of your vehicle. Read about how it works here.
Types of Fly Rods
Fiberglass Fly Rods
If you have never fished glass you are missing out on something special. Fiberglass rods were the standard before the development of graphite materials and although the rods are not produced at the rate they once were, they still have a place in fly fishing as well as a small cult like following. Click the header to learn why we love fishing glass.
Pack Fly Rods
Packs rods are a specialty item that occupy an important segment in the market. The rods break down into incredibly small packages for special use. You would think the segments might effect the casting but most of these maintain a high level of performance.
Pike Fly Fishing Rods
Read our guide to pike rods including a list of the top choices by brand. Pike are a special breed that require a special breed of rod.
How to choose a fly fishing rod
The three main things to consider when looking for a fly fishing rod are
- size (“weight”)
- stiffness (“action”).
Fly rods typically have a longer length than your typical saltwater or freshwater rod. The length of the rod can vary anywhere from 6-10ft with 6-8ft rods being excellent for small creeks that need more finesse casting. 8-10ft rods work well in larger more open bodies of water that require longer casts.
The size or weight of your fly fishing rod will affect the weight of the fishing line you can effectively use. Simply put, a 5-weight line will work best with a 5-weight rod. When it comes to the sizing chart there is exponential growth. As the rods get heavier the difference between each rod increases. So there is a much bigger jump from 10 to 11 than there would be from 2 to 3.
So what size is best for you? Here is a general outline for what each range of sizes is best for:
Smaller streams, closer range fishing (less than 30 feet), and smaller fish (trout and some bass depending on where you are).
These are your more “all-around” sizes. They can be used in streams as well as in larger bodies of water. A lot of fly fisherman start with a 5 or 6 weight rod.
Bone fishing, going after fish in the 10-pound range, that can reach speeds upwards of 30 miles per hour. Fishing for salmon or larger trout in Alaska.
Saltwater fishing for tarpon or barracuda.
Sailfish and marlin
Three types of stiffness (“Action”)
Due to the fluidity of fly fishing the “action” of the line has a huge impact on your fly fishing experience. Sometimes this is more of a personal preference for how you like the rod to feel in as your casting. Other times, you want to pick an action based or what and where you’re fishing.
- Tip-flex – While casting only the first 1/3rd of the rod flexes
- Mid-flex – The rod flexes to the halfway point while casting.
- Full-flex – The rod flexes all the way to the grip during casting.
General guidelines to follow:
- If a rod is better at casting over long distances, it’s going to be more stiff.
- Rods meant for close range casting will be softer.
- A softer (slower) rod allows you to feel the loading of the rod more quickly (meaning with less line out).
- The stiffer the rod the easier it is to hold more line in the air
Carbon Graphite Fiber vs. Bamboo?
The last thing to consider is the material you prefer. In general bamboo rods are lighter, slower, usually custom made, and more expensive. They are also generally a little harder to assemble.
For a first time fly fisherman we’d recommend carbon graphite, but as you improve and are looking for a second rod definitely consider investing in bamboo.