6 Best Beginner Fly Rods: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

Whether you’re a novice to fly fishing or fishing in general, you’re going to need the right rod if you want to learn how to cast fly lures. Entry-level fly anglers can read through this list for everything they need to know about beginner fly rods.

Preview

Product

Rod Length

Line Weight

Action

Check Price

Fenwick AETOS Fly Fishing Rod, 9 ft., 5 wt

Fenwick AETOS

11’1”

5/6w

Fast

Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter Series Fly...

Moonshine Rod Drifter Series

9’0”

6w

Medium

Orvis Encounter 5-Weight 8'6' Fly Rod Outfit...

Orvis Encounter 5-Weight

8’6”

5w

Fast

Redington Fly Fishing Rod 586-4 Classic Trout...

Redington Classic

7’6”

2w

Medium

M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Extreme Graphite Fly...

Maxcatch Extreme

9’0”

5w

Fast

Redington Fly Fishing Combo Kit 590-4...

Redington Crosswater Outfit

7’6”

4w

Medium-Fast


Importance of Choosing the Right Rod for Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is, in many ways, the opposite of fishing with a spinning reel or a baitcaster. While casting with those reels relies on the lure's weight to pull near-weightless line, fly fishing depends upon the weight of the line to send a near-weightless lure. There are several casting styles like flipping and roll casting that require specific types of rods to be done effectively. You'll need to have a rod suitable to your target, fishing style, and environment.


Beginner Fly Rod Buying Guide - What Do I Need?

Target Fish & Fishing Environment

If you’re planning on fly fishing in saltwater, you’ll need a rod that has hardware that is treated to handle the salt without corroding. Similarly, if you have access to a wide lake or river with plenty of open space and little vegetation, a long rod will be more suitable. However, if you only fish in smaller streams, you'll want a smaller rod. Smaller rods don’t cast as far as longer rods can, but their line gets tangled up less frequently.

Rod Action

Most anglers love a fast action rod, which only bends near the tip and offers powerful hooksets for tougher fish. However, for beginners, medium-action rods that bend further in the blank will be much more forgiving. Fast action fly rods are also pretty useless for roll casting and flipping. If you're in a tiny stream, a slow-action fly rod will probably be best because it can haul your target out of a narrower space.

Rod & Line Weight

Since the line is what powers a cast in fly fishing, the weight of the line is significant. Fly rods are rated based on what line weight has the most optimal performance on them. Beginners will likely do best with between 2 and 6-weight line. Use these guidelines as a rule of thumb:

  • 0-2 weight line for small fish
  • 3-4 with small flys for panfish and trout
  • 5-7 for larger targets
  • 8-10 for saltwater fish
  • 11-13 for the largest record-breakers and personal bests

Rod Length

So, what is the best fly rod length for beginners? Depends on the environment, but the longest fly rods are going to be too much, and the shortest ones will limit your fishing unless you're fishing nymphs. Just like spinning rods, fly rods that are longer cast further. However, beginners probably won’t be casting long-distance very often.

We'd recommend starting with a 9-foot fly rod if you have no fishing experience at all, but if you've tried fishing with a spinning rod before, you can probably try 10- or even 11-foot rods without issue.

Frame Quality

Fly rods need to have more flexibility than other kinds of fishing rods, both for casting and for landing targets. Fiberglass is sensitive to bites on the line but not very flexible, while bamboo and wood blanks lack durability. The best type of material for fly fishing rods these days is graphite, which is lightweight enough to be portable and comfortable for long days of fishing but tough enough to handle energetic targets without snapping.

Other Features

Aspiring fly anglers should also try to find a fly fishing rod that breaks down into multiple pieces if they want additional portability. All the rods in this guide are four-pieces, but there are also two- and six-piece fly rods on the market.

Make sure the grip is something you can hold onto for a few hours without getting hand fatigue. The reel seat should hold the reel snugly without loosening over time. Some rods come with a case included. Strong line guides are also important for fighting fish and line control.

Price & Warranty

Fly fishing rods for beginners generally have a much lower price tag than professional-grade fly rods. That’s largely due to their construction material and lack of additional features that beginners wouldn't know what to do with anyway. Some of the fly rods in this guide are great for anglers on a budget, and others cost a bit more. There are lifetime, no-questions warranties on a few of them, and some aren't protected by a warranty at all. If you want to protect your investment, look into the warranty before you buy it.


6 Best Fly Fishing Rods for Beginners Reviewed

1. Fenwick AETOS

Best Beginner Fly Rod

Rod Length

11’1”

Line Weight

5/6w

Action

Fast

Power

Fly

Pieces

Four Sections

Fenwick has built one of the most accurate and effective fly fishing rods with their AETOS series. This longer rod - just over 11 feet long - is just what beginners need to start fishing in wide-open water. Don’t take it to small rivers and watch the vegetation on the backcast, and you'll be tossing flys and laying line on the water in no time. It has a fast action, so you should be able to get fantastic hooksets, and its 5 to 6 weight line rating means you can target trout, panfish, and other species of a similar size.

If you can’t get out to big rivers with plenty of space, you might be more satisfied with the 8-foot 4w AETOS, just mind that it will take a bit more skill to cast the shorter rod. However, this longer-length rod also makes line management easy after the cast. The AETOS line has really comfortable grips and snake-style line guides, plus a built-in hook keeper. The whole thing only weighs 5 or 6 pounds, so it's easy to carry around.

If there are any flaws in this fly fishing rod, it's that the connecting dots are slightly off, but it's easy enough to connect the sections based on the line guides anyway. The reel seat has a double lock, and most reels seem to click in to place right away without any issue.

Pros
  • Fast action
  • Great for long casts & open water
  • Optimal line weight for trout
  • Built-in hook keeper
  • Strong reel seat
Cons
  • Connecting dots misplaced
  • Challenging backcast

2. Moonshine Rod Drifter Series

Runner-Up

Rod Length

9’0”

Line Weight

6w

Action

Medium

Power

Fly

Pieces

Four Sections

Every fly rod from Moonshine is built with very high-quality components, and the Drifter series is no exception. They're assembled by hand, and the cork in the handle is sourced from the USA's Pacific Northwest. The wooden double-lock reel seat is a beautiful addition that you don't see very often in fly rods, and it holds the reel snugly and firmly as well. All the hardware is copper and retains that color, which adds to the fly rod's standout design.

The attention to detail at Moonshine is apparent when you get one of these Drifter rods in your hands. Best of all, they back up their rods with one of the best warranties on the market. It lasts the entire life of the product, and they’ll repair the rod no matter what caused the damage. You will have to pay a small amount for shipping, but it’ll be way cheaper than a new fly rod.

The nine-foot Drifter is probably the best fly rod length for beginner enthusiasts who have enough space. It will keep the line out of vegetation on the backcast, but it still has the range to send your lure far out. Line control won't be an issue, making this one of the most ideal fly fishing rods for beginners. Plus, the medium action will give more flex toward the center of the rod, which means you can learn to roll cast. Many fly anglers find loading medium-action fly rods and fighting fish with them to be much more comfortable. They also include a backup rod tip in case of an accident. One might say the line guides are a bit on the small side if one were to be very nitpicky about it, but it doesn’t have a huge effect on fishing.

Pros
  • Unbeatable lifetime warranty
  • Looks great
  • Perfect length
  • Works for roll casting
Cons
  • Small line guides

3. Orvis Encounter 5-Weight

Best Beginner Fly Rod Outfit

Rod Length

8’6”

Line Weight

5w

Action

Fast

Power

Fly

Pieces

Four-piece

No best beginner fly rod list would be complete without an Orvis somewhere on the list. The Encounter makes a great beginner fly rod because it comes with everything you need to get on the water, including a fly reel, weight-forward floating line, backing, and leader. All you need to add is a fly lure. Casting is a cinch with the Encounter, and it's lightweight enough to use throughout a long day of fishing without fatigue. Unfortunately, it doesn't carry the 25-year warranty that other Orvis fly fishing rods do, but it does have limited warranty protection against factory defects, at least.

If you’re practicing consistently, you’re likely to outgrow this fly fishing rod after a year or two. That being said, for the easy casting and the fast action in the tip, you’ll probably want to keep this rod around as a secondary rod even if you do upgrade. You might not think the four inches taken out of the rod length would have much effect, but it really does make fly fishing in smaller rivers and streams much nicer than with a 9-foot rod. It loads and releases line very easily, making it one of the easiest-to-use fly fishing rods for beginners. Try using it for rainbow trout or even small bass, and you're sure to have a great time.

Pros
  • Very easy to use
  • Works well in smaller streams
  • Lightweight
  • Reel included
Cons
  • Short limited warranty

4. Redington Classic

Best Beginner Fly Trout Fishing Rod

Rod Length

7’6”

Line Weight

2w

Action

Medium

Power

Fly

Pieces

Four-piece

If you aspire to learn more technical fly fishing techniques to catch trout in small, winding rivers and streams, the Redington Classic is the right beginner fly rod for you. Its reduced line weight rating does narrow the potential targets since it will only handle smaller fish, but it is specialized to handle those small fish very well. It also has some of the most forgiving action on the market, which will be a huge relief to beginning fly anglers who don’t want to deal with hand fatigue and might have trouble getting a good hook set right from the get.

The dark brown blank gives this fly rod an aesthetic appeal that many rods lack, and it has sturdy titanium line guides to help with line control. Everything is protected with a nice lifetime unconditional warranty in case it gets damaged. It also comes with a nylon rod tube for storage and transportation.

Casting is pretty accurate with this rod, but it doesn't perform as well in heavy wind, and it won't cast as far as some longer fly rods will. That being said, it's such a breeze to cast. There's a certain edification to casting light flys off this rod and pulling small targets out of the water. It’s not meant to be a kingslayer, but it's still a lot of fun to use, and it's perfect for trout fishing.

Pros
  • Lifetime unconditional warranty
  • Easy casting
  • Forgiving action
  • Nylon case included
Cons
  • Small targets only
  • Underperforms in high wind

5. Maxcatch Extreme

Best Beginner Fly Rod for the Money

Rod Length

9’0”

Line Weight

5w

Action

Fast

Power

Fly

Pieces

Four-piece

This is one of the strongest blanks we’ve handled in any fly rod at this price range. It’s built with IM7-rated graphite that’s got some great flex to it. For a fast action rod, it's still pretty forgiving which beginning anglers will appreciate as they hit the speedbumps common to starting out in fly fishing. The nine-foot model casts out pretty far, but it might be better to have the longer 10-foot fly rod along for bigger rivers. 

The way the line loads and casts off this rod feels effortless. The line guides are just the right size to keep the line under control but still cast out as far as the rod will send it. The reel seat holds on tight to the reel, and this fly rod can even cast into the wind readily if you know the right technique. It can handle the right weight of line for reeling in trout or similar panfish, too.

The cork handle is comfortable, and Maxcatch backs this rod up with a one-year no-questions warranty/return policy and promises to fix the rod for the duration of its lifetime. If you want to try hiking to more remote fishing spots, this is a very portable fly rod that will easily fit into a rucksack. It’s a little bit heavy, but you can’t really feel it until you’re fishing with it.

Pros
  • Strong graphite blank
  • Fits in a backpack
  • Fantastic line handling
  • Casts well in high wind
Cons
  • Weighs a bit more

6. Redington Crosswater Outfit

Best Beginner Fly Rod for an Easy Setup

Rod Length

7’6”

Line Weight

4w

Action

Medium-Fast

Power

Fly

Pieces

Four-piece

If you want to get straight to fishing once you're at your chosen spot, this Redington with easy setup is the best choice. It's also got the fly reel and a case included, so you don't have to shop around for many accessories if you don't want to. If you're looking to give a beginner fly rod as a gift, this is one of the best options.

Dots at the connecting ends of the four pieces of this rod make it simple to assemble and start casting. Beginners who might otherwise be discouraged by a long setup time will like this model. It can also be used in any kind of water, so if you're keen to try fly fishing in saltwater, you won't have to worry about corrosion on the Crosswater. The rod tube included with this outfit is one of the nicest we’ve seen with a stock set, making it easy to carry this rod to any fishing spot.

It's also a very lightweight rod. While it's easy to transport, the lightness doesn't interfere much with the way it fishes. You might want to go with the 9-weight fly rod if you're planning on chasing any massive fish. 

Pros
  • Quick setup
  • Lightweight
  • Carry case included
  • Saltwater-friendly
Cons
  • Small/medium targets only

Tips for Fly Fishing Rod Setup

The most important consideration for any fly fishing setup is the line weight. Use the guidelines at the beginning of this article if you're going after certain sized targets. Also, remember that casting into the wind might necessitate heavier line as well.

Pay attention to your reel seat as well. If the fly reel comes off, that’s game over for you, potentially for the whole day if it falls into deep water. Lure choice is important too. Nymphing takes ultra-lightweight gear while chasing trout is best done with mid-weight tools.


Fly Fishing Tips for Beginners

Casting is the biggest hill beginning fly anglers have to climb. It’s more of a whipping motion that transfers energy to the line to cast it. The line should unroll smoothly and in a straight line. That means you need a clean loop. The loop of your line should unroll parallel and about 2.5 inches wide, almost in the shape of a fish hook.

Your fly fishing rod should bend at the beginning of the cast and be straight when the energy transfers to the line. Most of the time, you’ll be using an overhead cast. There are other methods but concentrate on nailing the overhead down when you first start out. Look here for more beginner fishing tips.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Is fly fishing hard to learn?

Learning how to cast often frustrates beginning fly anglers, but it's easy to get the hang of with some practice. Everybody started in their backyard, and that's going to save lots of annoying trips, and it won't risk damage to your gear. Get the form of your cast and your accuracy right before you head out to the water.

Is there any other gear I should buy for fly fishing?

In addition to the right fly fishing reel and the flys themselves, you should also consider buying a case if it isn't included with purchase. There are heavy-duty cases and simple ones that fit into a backpack. If you want to try fishing multiple lines at once, you might want to get a rod holder as well.

How much should entry-level fly rods cost?

As you can see from this beginner fly rod guide, fly fishing rods for beginners usually cost somewhere between 100 and 300 dollars, but there are some budget options under $100. If you are looking at purchasing toward the higher end of that spectrum, make sure there’s a warranty to protect that investment.

What are the best recommended brands of beginner fly rods?

Fenwick, Redington, and Orvis make the best fly fishing rods for beginners, generally speaking. However, if you want a standout fly rod made with high-quality materials, the Moonshine Rod Company has fantastic fly rods for fly anglers of any experience level. They're also protected by probably the best warranty on the market.

How do I clean and store my fly fishing rod?

Always rinse your fly rod with fresh, clean water and dry it completely before storing it. If it comes apart into multiple pieces, make sure so sediment is inside the sections. There are also additional waterproofing treatments you can apply to the rod to keep it in good shape for longer.


Conclusion

The best beginner fly rod needs to have great castability, the right line weight rating for the target, and set the hook well. The Fenwick AETOS does all that and has a built-in hook keeper as well, which is what makes it the best fly fishing rod for a beginner.