There’s something satisfying about how smooth casting with a fly rod is. However, not all rods can be used for fly fishing.
Fly fishing rods are designed to accommodate the flies’ lightness, and they depend significantly on the line weight. That’s why you’d need a special fly rod in order to avoid the unnecessary headache of trying to get a spinning rod to work.
Fly rods are usually lighter and longer than regular rods. So, when it comes to finding the perfect fly fishing rods, there are factors that you need to consider, like length and line weight, which aren’t as crucial when it comes to picking a regular spinning rod.
To save you the headache of having to scroll through hundreds of options, I’ve created this list of the best fly fishing rods on the market.
So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about the best fly fishing rods in 2020.
List of the Best Fly Fishing Rods:
- Moonshine Co. Drifter Series – Best Overall
- Fenwick AETOS – Runner-Up
- Wild Water Starter Package – Best Fly Fishing Kit
- Eagle Claw Featherlight – Budget Pick
- Temple Fork Outfitters BVK – Best Saltwater Fly Rod
- Redington Classic Trout – Best Freshwater Fly Rod
Our Top Picks:
Moonshine Co. Drifter Series
|Medium||3 to 8|
|Fast||3 to 11|
Wild Water Starter Package
|Slow||3 to 10|
Eagle Claw Featherlight
|Slow||3 to 6|
Temple Fork Outfitters BVK
|Fast||3 to 8|
Redington Classic Trout
|Medium||2 to 6|
The 6 Best Fly Fishing Rods in 2021
1. Moonshine Co. Drifter Series – Best Overall
My top pick as the best fly fishing rod is the Moonshine Co. Drifter Series. The rod offers everything that you need in a fly rod and even more.
The Drifter is made from graphite that provides it with lightness, sensitivity, and balance. In addition, the rod comes with anodized copper hardware. Copper is known to be a lightweight material that can resist corrosion.
Moreover, the rod comes with a 3A cork grip that eliminates wrist fatigue during long fishing trips.
Fly rods, in general, tend to have longer lengths; that’s why the Drifter lengths vary from 7’6” to 11’. Besides, the rod comes in a 4-piece configuration that is perfect for portability.
In addition to its wide range, the rod comes in a medium action that is perfect for a fly rod. Medium action are easy to control while still offering a long casting distance.
Speaking of casting, this rod is one of the best rods to cast with. Whether you’re a fly fishing expert or a beginner, you will appreciate how smooth and easy it is to cast with the Drifter.
Furthermore, the rod comes in line-weights ranging from 3wt to 8wt, which is a huge range. That range guarantees that you’ll find the perfect rod for your fly fishing habits and the kind of fish you’re aiming to catch.
Another addition to this rod that I truly love is that it comes with an extra tip. Meaning, you’ll receive a back-up tip to make up for any possible accidents.
- Comes with an extra tip
- Good value for the money
- Comfortable to hold
- A bit heavy
The Moonshine Co. Drifter is one of a kind. Its graphite construction ensures the rod’s sensitivity and balance while the 3A cork handle provides the angler with comfort. On the other hand, the 4-piece rod comes with an extra tip to make up for any accidents.
2. Fenwick AETOS – Runner-Up
My runner-up is the Fenwick AETOS, and I have to mention that it was a close run.
Similar to the previous rod, the AETOS is made from graphite for lightness and sensitivity. Also, the rod comes with snake guides that provide the angler with accuracy when casting.
It also comes with a 3A cork grip that is comfortable to hold for longer periods. In addition, the rod comes with an anodized aluminum reel seat that adds to the rod’s comfort and lightness.
Furthermore, the rod comes in one of the widest variety of lengths that starts at 6’ all the way to 15’. Finding a 15’ fly fishing rod is not an easy task, let alone finding one with such quality.
The rod comes in a fast action that can be a little tricky to master, especially if you’re a beginner. So, I mostly recommend this rod for intermediate to expert fishers rather than beginners.
In addition, the rod comes in a 4-piece configuration for portability, especially for the longer models, you’d need as much portability as possible.
Lastly, the rod comes in 3wt to 11wt line weights, which is the most inclusive line weight range on this list.
- Good value for the money
- Easy to cast with
- Wide selection of models
- Alignment dots are not always accurate
- The cork grip could fall apart
The Fenwick AETOS is one of the best fly fishing rods on the market. It’s constructed from high-quality materials as it is made from graphite with an anodized aluminum reel seat and snake guides. However, its fast action models are a little challenging to master.
3. Wild Water Starter Package – Best Fly Fishing Kit
The Wild Water Starter Package is your best bet if you’re new to the fly fishing world. The package comes with a rod, reel, rod case, and fly box.
The kit is best suited for smaller fish like trout and panfish and for fishing in small streams and ponds.
The rod itself is made from IM8 graphite, which is a lightweight material that provides the rod with enough sensitivity to feel the small bites of any fish. It also comes with stainless steel guides with silicon carbide rings for minimal friction against the line.
Furthermore, the rod comes with a cork grip that is comfortable to hold and a lightweight machined aluminum reel seat.
The rod comes in lengths, starting as low as 5’6” all the way up to 12’ in slow action. It also comes in 4, 7, or 9-piece configurations, depending on the model. However, they’re mostly 4-piece unless stated otherwise.
Lastly, the rod comes in 3/4 to 9/10 line-weight options that can accommodate most fly lines.
The only downside to this kit is that the line is not of the best quality out there, so you’d probably have to purchase a separate line.
- Great for beginners
- Comfortable to hold
- The line is not the best quality
- Not for experts
- The reel could come loose
The Wild Water Package is perfect for beginners who are looking to expand their fishing collection. Almost all the items included in the package are of high-quality, especially the rod. It’s lightweight, sensitive, and comfortable. Besides, it comes in a wide selection of models.
4. Eagle Claw Featherlight – Budget Pick
Eagle Claw is a brand that is known for offering high-quality rods at an affordable price, and the Featherlight is exactly that.
The Featherlight is made from fiberglass, which was a popular material in the fly fishing industry. Over the years, fiberglass got replaced with graphite. Nonetheless, fiberglass is still widely used to manufacture fly rods because of its durability and flexibility.
The rod comes with stainless steel guides for accuracy when casting. It also comes with a cork handle that is comfortable to hold during long fishing trips.
Moreover, the fly rod comes in lengths from 6’6” to 8’ with slow action. It also comes in a 2-piece configuration, which is not too portable for longer lengths, to be fair.
Furthermore, the rod comes in 3/4 and 5/6 line-weight options, which is not inclusive enough for most fly fishing set-ups.
In spite of the rod’s limited model selection, it is still a great rod. It easily competes with high-end rods when it comes to sensitivity, lightness, and looks. Its unique yellow color is eye-catching without looking cheap.
- Low price
- Long lifespan
- Unique color
- Limited selection of models
- Doesn’t feel as good as high-end rods
- Not too portable
The Eagle Claw Featherlight is the best budget-friendly fly fishing rod on the market. It offers high-quality materials like its fiberglass construction and cork handle at a very affordable price. Moreover, it is sensitive, durable, and lightweight.
5. Temple Fork Outfitters BVK – Best Saltwater Fly Rod
Saltwater fishing is a challenge on its own, and when combined with a fly rod, you’d get a whole new fishing experience. However, saltwater conditions are harsh, and not all rods can withstand saltwater.
And that’s where the Temple Fork Outfitters BVK comes in. It is the optimum saltwater fly fishing rod as its translucent blank is durable, lightweight, and it helps significantly with the casting.
Moreover, it comes with unique Tactical Series guides made from anodized hard-chrome with stainless steel inserts that improve the casting accuracy and distance. The guides are also durable enough to withstand saltwater and freshwater.
Furthermore, the rod comes with Flor grade grips that provide the angler with comfort when fishing for long periods. In addition, the reel seat is made from carbon fiber, which adds to the rod’s lightness.
The rod comes in a variety of lengths starting at 8’ to 10’ with fast action. All the models come in a 4-piece configuration, which makes this rod portable enough for travel and hiking.
Lastly, the rod comes with 3 to 8 in line-weight options, which is considered a wide range that fits most fishing preferences.
- Accurate casting
- Good value for the money
- Comfortable to hold
- Prone to breakage
Saltwater fly fishing has requirements that not too many rods can meet. However, the TFO BVK offers everything you need in a saltwater fly fishing rod. Its translucent blank and unique guides guarantee smooth and easy casting. In addition, it is comfortable to hold without causing any fatigue.
6. Redington Classic Trout – Best Freshwater Fly Rod
It’s only fair to also include my choice for the best freshwater fly rod, which is the Redington Classic Trout.
The graphite blank provides the rod with lightness and sensitivity, especially for freshwater fishing. In addition, the rod comes with titanium oxide guides that are durable without taking away from the rod’s lightness.
Moreover, the rod comes with a cork handle that is comfortable to hold and an anodized aluminum reel seat with rosewood inserts. The reel seat matches the rod’s unique dark clay brown color.
Furthermore, the rod comes in length options starting at 7’6” to 9’ in moderate action. Besides, it is available in 4 and 6-piece configurations. Having the choice of going for a 6-piece rod is a huge advantage, especially if you like traveling or hiking.
Also, the rod comes with a ballistic nylon rod tube that ensures the protection of your rod when you’re on the go.
Lastly, the rod comes with 2 to 6 line weight options. This is the only rod on this list that comes with a line weight as low as 2, which is perfect for freshwater fishing, especially if you’re targeting small fish.
- Good value for the money
- Comes with a nylon rod tube
- Not suitable for bigger fish
- Reel seat could use some improvement
The Redington Classic Trout is the perfect freshwater fly rod in every way possible. Its graphite construction, along with its titanium oxide guides and aluminum reel seat provide the rod with lightness, durability, accurate casting, and comfort. In addition, it comes with a rod tube for easy portability.
How to Pick a Fly Fishing Rod
Fly fishing rods are quite unique. They’re usually much longer than a regular rod, and they come in a broader range of materials, piece configurations, and line weights.
This is why picking the perfect fly rod is not easy. There are a few factors that you need to take into consideration before committing to a rod.
The rod’s action is an indication of how quickly the rod responds to a pull. Fast action means that the rod is stiffer or doesn’t respond instantly, while slow actions indicate that the rod is more flexible.
Fast action provides the angler with a longer casting distance and a higher accuracy. On the other hand, slow action provides the angler with more control over the rod.
Most beginners start at a medium action rod because it offers the best of both worlds. It is easy to control, while still offering a long and accurate casting.
There are three main types of materials that are used to manufacture a fly rod: bamboo, fiberglass, and graphite.
As you may have noticed, I didn’t mention any bamboo rods on my list, and there’s a reason behind that. Bamboo rods have to be made by hand, which means they’re extremely expensive.
Fiberglass, on the other hand, is still widely used at reasonable price points, like Eagle Claw Featherlight. The reason fiberglass is still widely used is that it offers durability that no other material can match. Also, most fiberglass rods come in slow action, which is used in fly fishing.
Lastly, graphite is the most popular material in the fishing rods industry as a whole, not just the fly fishing rods one. It is lightweight, durable, and sensitive. Also, there are multiple derivatives of graphite that offer different performance. You may describe it as the most versatile material out of the three.
As you may have noticed, fly fishing rods are a lot longer than regular rods. You can find fly rods as long as 15’, like the Fenwick AETOS, or as short as 5’6”, like the Wild Water Package.
Generally, shorter rods are used in small streams and ponds because you don’t really need that much casting distance. On the other hand, fly rods are known and loved for how much casting distance they offer.
If a tight fishing area does not limit you, I strongly recommend going for a 9’ or longer rod. They are easy to cast with, and they’re so fun to use.
4. Line Weight
The line weight is a critical factor that you need to consider before purchasing a fly rod. If you’re using a line that’s too heavy for your rod, it might not fit into the guides, and if it does, you’re exposing your rod to more pressure than it is designed to handle and might cause it to break.
Most line weights start at 1 up to 13, you can find higher line weights than that, but that’s off point. The higher you go, the heavier fish your rod can handle.
1 to 4 line weights are used to catch fish like trout and panfish.
Moreover, 5 to 7 line weights are the most popular, especially for fly fishing. That range is the most versatile than can handle most fish you’ll run into.
Lastly, going for a line weight that is 8 or higher is mostly used for heavy saltwater fish that require a heavy fly.
Because fly fishing rods are much longer than regular rods, they also come in a higher piece-configuration than regular ones.
Imagine having a 9’ rod that is one-piece? That would be a nightmare to travel or even walk with. That’s why most fly rods come in a 4-piece configuration for portability.
You could also find rods that come in a 9-piece configuration, like the Wild Water Package’s 12’ model.
Besides, you could find some rods that come in a 2-piece configuration like the Eagle Claw Featherlight. However, I don’t recommend going for that unless you have a way to move your rod around safely, like a car and a protective case, to avoid any accidents.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the Best Fly Rod for a Beginner?
For beginners, I strongly recommend going for the Wild Water Package.
The rod itself is easy to cast at an affordable price and is made from high-quality materials. Also, it is comfortable to hold with its cork grip. Besides, it’s lightweight and causes minimal pressure on the wrist.
Which Line Weight Should I Go for?
That depends on the weight of your fly and the kind of fish you’re aiming to catch.
For small fish like panfish and trout, I recommend staying around the 2/3 line weights, and the heavier fish you’re aiming for, the higher line weight you’d need.
Also, make sure your rod is compatible with your line to avoid any inconvenience.
Can I Fly Fish with a Regular Rod?
Technically, you can but you shouldn’t.
Fly fishing rods are designed to be compatible with flies; therefore, they operate differently. For fly fishing rods, the lure is almost weightless, and that’s what allows fly rods to be cast easily, unlike regular spinning rods that are stiffer than fly rods to withstand the lure’s weight.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of fly fishing rods on the market that it’s become impossible to find the best ones out there.
Throughout the course of this article, I’ve been over the 6 best fly fishing rods in 2020. If you feel like you’ve missed anything, it’s time for a quick recap.
My top choice is the Moonshine Co. Drifter, which offers the best performance possible without costing an arm and a leg. Its graphite blank ensures sensitivity, lightness, and durability. In addition, it is comfortable to hold thanks to its 3A cork handle.
My runner-up is the Fenwick AETOS. The AETOS offers the best model selection on the list because it is available in a range of lengths starting at 6’ up to 15’. It’s not an easy task to find a fly rod as long as 15’, let alone one with high-quality materials and a strong backbone.
Lastly, I recommended going for the Wild Water Package if you’re a newbie to fly fishing. The package comes as a full kit with everything you might need for fly fishing at a very affordable price point.