Welcome to my product review of the best fly rod and reel combos for under 300 dollars in 2020.
We at Fly Fish and Camp have spent hours testing combos on the rivers and lakes, before coming to the conclusion for the best combos that you can get.
These are the best fly fishing rod and reel combos under 300
Cabela’s Prestige Outfit
Editor’s Choice: Best True Beginner Fly Rod and Reel Combo
The Cabela’s Prestige combo is the best true beginner fly fishing combo on the market. It has everything that you need to start fly fishing right away. This combo takes the guess work out of looking for flies, line, leaders and all the accessories that you need to start fly fishing. It’s so simple, it’s mind boggling. If you want the easiest route with a quality rod and reel, this is it. Check out the latest price here.
- Fastest route to the river
- Very easy to control as a beginner
- Accurate out to medium range distances
- Reel is strong and durable
- Quick to reel fish in
- Rod tube + reel cover included
- Rod splits into 4 pieces for safe and easy transportation
- Reasonable price
- Rod tube and reel cover are separate
- Loses accuracy at long ranges
Of all the fly rod and reel combos that we tested for under $300, the Cabela’s Prestige Outfit was the best combo for getting on the river the fastest. Simply put, it takes the guess work out of everything that you need to get, to start fly fishing. There were a couple other combos that include a lot of accessories, but the quality of the rod and reel just weren’t the same as the Prestige.
Speaking of quality, the Prestige is very well built, and will last you a long time. In our experience using it, it has withstood the many tests that we’ve put it through on the river. A buddy of mine is still using his Prestige combo from a couple years ago, even though he has already mastered the art of fly fishing. Bottom line, the quality is very good on this one.
Performance wise – the Prestige is one of the best rods to learn fly fishing with, because it’s so easy to cast. It’s a moderate fast action rod that is very smooth and super easy to control. Within a couple days of fly fishing, you will have the ability to make clean and accurate casts at short distances. The downfall of this is that it loses power and accuracy at long distances, but for most trout fly anglers, 30-40 feet range is perfect.
When we were catching fish with the Prestige, the reel pulls fish in quickly. It features a large arbor design that makes it easier to reel line in. You can also tighten the drag on this combo in an instant. To top it off, it’s made of aluminum which is the most durable material that a reel will feature.
In our eyes, the Cabela’s Prestige fly rod and reel outfit is the best combo to get if you want to get on the river ASAP with a high performing setup.
Related: Best Fly Rods Under $400
Redington Vice Combo
Editor’s Choice for Best Long Range Combo Under $300
The Redington Vice combo is the best combo that you can get in this price range for accuracy at long distances. Reaching out past 40 feet with this setup accurately, is easy. The rod has a lot more power than other fly rod combos for less than $300, easily. Check the latest price here.
- Rod has supreme power
- Very accurate at long distance
- Better in windy conditions than other moderate fast action rod
- Cast aluminum reel
- Lifetime warranty
- Most expensive combo on the list
- Doesn’t include everything needed to fish right away
- Tougher to control than moderate fast action rods
The Redington Vice Combo is awesome if you need an outfit that’ll have great accuracy at 40 plus feet. The rod is a fast action rod and builds up a lot of power during the cast, sending even the largest of flies long distances. The accuracy at long ranges is nearly pin point as well, especially when you get the hang of fly fishing. There isn’t a better fly combo for long distance accuracy in this price range.
“The performance gave complete confidence that I could fling a country mile”– Johnny Carrol Sain (Hatchmag) on the Redington Vice
This combo isn’t the fastest route to the river if you’ve never fly fished before, but it’s the highest performing combo on this list.
In testing all of the combos we did, the Redington Vice was one of the best in terms of durability. With both the rod and reel. We brought it out to the river plenty of times without any concern of it breaking or snapping the tip off. It was a sturdy build, just as it should be.
When you do catch a fish on this combo, the Redington i.D. reel will pull your fish in very quickly (with you at the helm, obviously). It’s another large arbor reel, and it also has a very smooth rulon disc drag. You can change the drag of the reel in an instant, when adjusting to pulling in a large fish.
The one disadvantage of this combo is that it’s a bit more difficult to use as a beginner. This is because the rod is very powerful (for those long distance casts) but it’s not easy to learn with a combo like this. Get the combo above or below for an easier learning experience.
But otherwise, the Redington Vice combo is the best you can get for under $300, if you’re looking for a long distance casting rod.
Related: Best Fly Fishing Packs of 2020
Temple Fork Outfitter NXT Black Label Combo
The Temple Fork Outfitters NXT Black Label Combo is the best fly fishing combo to learn how to fly fish with. It’s super easy to control and casting it is easy. It’s an overall smooth rig that doesn’t take much skill to learn how to use. Check the latest price here.
- Easy to control/ handle
- Almost ready to fish
- Lifetime warranty
- Machined/ cast aluminum reel
- Overall high quality
- Not great at long distances
- Doesn’t come completely ready to fish
The TFO NXT Black Label Kit is one of the easiest fly rod and reel combos to learn the art of fly fishing with, and the best quality in a combo under 300. It doesn’t have everything that you need to start fly fishing right away, but it makes up for that it’s awesome performance and quick learning curve.
The rod is a medium fast action rod that similar to the Cabela’s Prestige Combo is very easy to control and cast. Performance wise the NXT Black label is slightly better that the Prestige though. It’s just a little bit smoother and easier to use. If you are looking for the best, inexpensive combo ease-of-use-wise, this is it.
Another aspect of this combo that we really liked was the overall feel of this setup. It’s super balanced in the hand and just feels great. That’s half of the battle right there, finding the feel good setup.
The final reason that this combo is the third best combo under 300 is the quality of the outfit. The rod is durable and strong, while the reel is made of aluminum. In our time using it, it held up perfectly fine with no durability concerns. You won’t have any either.
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The Quality of the Combo Matters
There are plenty of fly rod combos that you can look into purchasing today. Whether that be on amazon, Cabela’s, or other fly fishing websites, there are definitely a lot of options. But, in those options, there are also a lot of bad combos. There are combos that cost $70 bucks on amazon and will probably last you a total of 3 trips out to the river… but hey! at least you saved a couple bucks.
A fly rod combo that costs less than 300 dollars is already cheap enough, especially for the two biggest pieces of equipment that you’ll use while fly fishing. There are fly fisherman that are spending upwards of a thousand dollars on a single rod, because it’s super important to have rods and reels that perform at a high levels.
And granted, there are a lot of people that simply cannot afford a really expensive fly fishing rod combo… and at that point, yes, buy the cheapest outfit that you can afford. I don’t like to recommend doing that, but at the end of the day, getting on the river and actually fly fishing is more important.
What To Look For In an Inexpensive Fly Rod and Reel Combo
There are a lot of different features to look for in a cheap fly fishing combo. The length and weight of the rod, material of the the reel, extra accessories added into the combo (line, flies, cases, etc), and overall quality of the combo.
Which length and size rod should I get?
For a beginner fly angler that is going to be fly fishing for trout, I would recommend getting a combo that is 9 feet long and has a line weight of 5 or 6 pounds. This is probably the most popular rod weight for fly fishing trout as it’s extremely versatile and the line weight isn’t super heavy, providing for an extremely fun battle with the fish!
If you are fly fishing for smaller fish, maybe panfish or whatever, go with a smaller fly rod weights such as 1, 2, or 3 weight and around 8 ish feet or so. Panfish are fairly small and if you have too big of a fly rod, you won’t have very much of a battle. That being said, I wouldn’t worry too much about getting a 5 weight rod for panfish, especially if the only option to purchase is a 5 weight rod. It will work just fine and you’ll have a blast!
For large fish such as Musky, look to get fly rods upwards of ten feet with line weights of 7 plus. If you get something too small, your rod or line will most likely just snap right away.
The standard fly rod combo that costs less than $300 will most likely be in the 9ft, 5 or 6 weight range. It’s by far the most popular fly fishing combo, and will fit most fly anglers needs.
If you are a beginner, I would recommend staying away from fly fishing for massive fish right off the bat. It’s just a whole lot more difficult to learn right away, and controlling the flies can be very frustrating with such a large rod. Save yourself some frustration and start by casting a lighter rod into a river or stream, for trout.
(Trout fishing is my personal favorite).
What’s the best rod action to get?
If you are a beginner, shoot for a medium fast action rod or a moderate action rod. They’re not super difficult to handle, and still have great accuracy and power at medium ranges.
If you have been fly fishing for some time now, consider getting a fast action rod. They’re a little bit more accurate, powerful and can reach out to further distances easier. The downfall of a fast action rod is that they’re also harder to control and handle.
Related Article: All Redington Combos Reviewed
Reel Quality In a 300 Dollar Combo
The reel that will come in your $300 combo is probably not going to be the greatest reel that was ever created… but that’s perfectly fine! You just need to get something that can at least withstand the test of time.
There are a couple different materials that make up a reel, they are typically CNC machined aluminum, cast aluminum and polymer (synthetic). Those are the three big material types, there’s probably some more out there, but just not as popular.
CNC machined aluminum is the best. It’s the strongest and the most durable of the three, especially if it’s completely sealed. If you can afford a combo that has a CNC machined reel in your combo, it’s worth it. It will last a bit longer than the other types of reels, and typically they perform better in general.
That isn’t to say that every CNC machined reel is great, that’s not true. Just in general the machined reels are the best.
The next best option is to get a cast aluminum reel. These are typically a bit heavier than the CNC machined reels (not always), and they typically aren’t as high performing as machined aluminum reels. They are also not as expensive, but they are fairly durable. These reels will be found a bit more on cheaper fly fishing combos.
The final material for a fly fishing reel is polymer or synthetic. This is the least best option to go with, as it’s just not as durable as the other two reels. It doesn’t perform as good either, but it still should work if you get the right one. I don’t love recommending reels that are made of polymer, but they can definitely do the trick when you are just starting out.
All of the fly reels on this list are made of either CNC machined aluminum or cast aluminum.
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Do You Want The Combo Ready To Fish Right Away?
This is another big aspect when looking into a new fly fishing combo… does it have everything that you need to start fly fishing right away? If you are a beginner, it makes sense.
Standardly, the combos that have everything that you need to start fishing right away will be of lower performance and quality than a fly fishing combo that doesn’t come ready to fish (only rod, reel, case).
There’s a convenience factor coming into play here though, getting everything you need in one package is surely going to be easier and quicker than getting a combo that only includes the rod and reel.
This is a decision that comes down to you…
At some point you are going to have to get more leaders, tippet, line, flies, and fly boxes… regardless if you get the ready-to-fish-combo right away. But there is a large advantage to getting all the fly fishing accessories in the same package at the start. It allows for you to get a hang of the ropes and learn the game, before you get a little crazy with it.
And also, there are combos that are of high quality that include everything you need at the start (Cabela’s Prestige)
Now, those are a couple of the big things to look for when you are buying a new fly fishing combo for less than a couple hundred bucks. Don’t worry to much about the details, I recommend just getting something and getting on the water! Fly fishing is extremely fun, but it’s hard to do it when you don’t even have a rod or reel, because you are focused on the decisions of what’s the best for this and what’s the best for that. Just literally do it!
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Those Are The Best Fly Rod and Reel Combos Under $300
I hope that this article helped you out! Go get out on the river, enjoy yourself! Life is short, so have fun! Try not let these crazy times get so crazy and remember to be grateful.
Best of luck to you my friend and tight lines!
Related Article: Best Fly Fishing Reels Under $300