The fly fishing rod is the single most important piece of equipment a fly fisherman uses when chasing fish on the fly. The best fly fishing rods allow anglers to place a fly in the perfect location on the far bank, that’ll drift in front of an unsuspecting fish giving them a perfect chance to land the big one. A good fly rod is often times the difference between a great day on the river, and an ok day on the river.
If there’s one piece of equipment you absolutely should not go low budget on, it’s the fly fishing rod. And yes, there is a huge difference between the best rods and the cheapest, low budget options. In fact, it’s more noticeable in rods than it is any other piece of fly fishing gear.
There’s a lot that goes into getting a new fly fishing rod and you don’t want to make the wrong decision, especially if you are planning on spending upwards of $400 on one. You obviously don’t need to spend that much in order to get a high performance high quality rod, but you definitely don’t want to be wasting time or money on rods that aren’t going to serve you any purpose if they break or fall apart.
Best Fly Fishing Rods
Overall I do believe that if you can afford one of the top three fly rods on this list, you’ll never have to buy another. It’s going to come at a cost, but if you look at your new fly rod purchase as an investment, which it is, you will not regret the performance you’ll find in these rods.
You are definitely going to pay the price for it, but, again, you won’t need to worry about getting a new rod for many years to come. Quality and warranty considered.
The author currently owns G. Loomis, TFO, and Sage X fly rods.
G. Loomis Asquith
This is hands down the best fly rod that you can get for 2021. Get this rod and you aren't going to need another rod, ever.
The best fly rod that you can possibly get is the G. Loomis Asquith. If you were looking for a cheap fly rod, well this isn’t it. This is the elite of the elite, thousand dollar plus mark, Lamborghini of fly fishing rods. Here you go.
You might ask, “what makes this rod better than the rest?”
Well… a lot of things.
For one, the quality is the best in the world. It would take effort on your part to actually break it.
It’s just not going to happen. But at the same time, you can get solid durability in a lot of fly rods…
Fair enough, then let’s talk about performance. This is where the G. Loomis Asquith separates itself from the pack.
It is an incredibly smooth casting rod…
Like very smooth.
Which should be expected in a fly rod of this caliber.
It just makes sense.
But that’s not all:
This rod is super accurate. And I’m not just talking about at 20-20 feet, I’m talking out at 70. If you are a veteran in the fly fishing game you’ll have no troubles with accuracy.
I guess that’s what you get when you pay top dollar for your equipment.
And lastly, G. Loomis offers a lifetime warranty on their products.
- Extremely lightweight
- Fast action
- Very soft touch, energy transfer is ridiculously smooth
- Lifetime warranty
- Fast action rods are tough to control as a beginner
In fly fishing rods, there are levels and tiers… the G. Loomis Asquith is at the top.
If we could recommend any fly fishing rod to someone this year it would be the Sage X. It's an extremely accurate and crisp fly rod with a lifetime warranty attached.
The Sage X fly rod is another one of my first choices for best fly fishing rods. There’s a couple reasons for this, one it’s an extremely high quality fly rod. It’s made in America with quality materials that are meant to last.
Two, casting with the Sage X is a dream. It is very smooth and accurate. In comparison to the G. Loomis Asquith, the Asquith is a bit more smoother – but the Sage X is still incredible.
If you’ve only been casting low end fly rods up until this point, you’ll wonder why you haven’t made the switch to an elite rod a long time ago.
And not to mention the fact that the loops are very tight and precise. Which is the reason for it’s elite accuracy that not many fly rods can compete with…
Lastly, Sage has a great warranty policy on their equipment. You could break this rod and years later have the ability to get it replaced.
- Tight loops + accurate
- Soft touch (2nd best on this list – behind the Asquith)
- Lifetime warranty
- Less accurate than the Scott Radian and G. Loomis Asquith
The next best fly fishing rod for 2020 is the Scott Radian. This is one of the most popular fly rods for Trout fishing, and let me tell you why.
It’s really good in windy conditions.
BUT, it’s not very easy to control. As a matter of fact, it’s very difficult to control.
When you get the hang of fly fishing with it, you gain all those benefits…
But until then – well it might be a pain in the butt to try use.
However, if you are a veteran or somewhat experienced fly angler you should have no problem with this rod…
- More power and better accuracy than the Sage X
- Lifetime warranty
- Great quality
- Not easy to use
Orvis Helios 3
The Orvis Helios 3 is a quality fly rod for the ocean. It’s one of Orvis’s newer fly rods, and it’s also their flagship ocean rig.
This is the rod that you get when you need something that can really push your flies into and through the wind.
It’s biggest advantages are power and accuracy at long range. It has the ability to cast large streamers out into the ocean, no problem.
So essentially exactly what you need for the big bodies of water…
Again, the price tag isn’t cheap – but if you are interested in ocean fly fishing, this is the way to go.
- Most powerful fly rod on this list
- Designed for the ocean (no corrosion)
- Very good in windy conditions
- 25 year warranty
- Not recommended for freshwater
Sage Trout LL (Best Trout Fishing Fly Rod)
I ranked this the number one overall Trout fishing fly rod for several reasons. The first one is that it’s perfect for casting dry flies because of it’s lightweight and sensitive blank.
While you can catch very large Trout, most are fairly small to medium sized. Which is what makes this rod perfect for catching Trout.
When a fish grabs your fly, because the blank is so sensitive you will feel it instantly. The tip will also bend faster than a heavier rod.
It is a medium action fly rod as well. Which makes it nice for both experienced veterans on the river and your average beginner.
Casting with this rod is a breeze. It doesn’t take much to actually make an accurate cast. While fly fishing isn’t easy, it can be made easier with a quality fly rod.
The downfall of the medium action blank is that it doesn’t have the power to reach out far distances accurately. It’s also not great in the wind.
Overall though, I would recommend this fly rod if you are going to be fly fishing for Trout. The pros greatly outweigh the cons.
- Small, lightweight rod creates a lot of excitement
- Very accurate at short distances
- Tremendously smooth
- Sage lifetime warranty
- Only meant for dry flies
- Not great in the wind
Moonshine Co. The Drifter Series Fly Rod (Best Budget Fly Rod)
One of the most popular fly rods on amazon right now, the Drifter Series rod greatly outperforms its price. (Medium action blank).
The Moonshine Co. The Drifter Series fly rod is one of my top options for beginner fly anglers.
Because it’s a quality rod at a low price point.
If you’ve looked into fly fishing equipment at all, you know that most gear can cost a pretty penny. Which is why this rod makes sense for a lot of anglers, especially if you are new to the game of fly fishing.
It also has a medium action blank. Which is essentially what everyone should be using in the beginning.
You don’t want to make your fly fishing experience any more difficult than it has to be. With this rod you’ll learn how to cast effectively and efficiently.
The loops it creates are medium sized. So it doesn’t have supreme accuracy, but then again you aren’t paying for that.
You are getting an easy casting rod with mid range power.
Which is totally fine!
- Easy to use
- Accurate (short-mid ranges)
- Lifetime warranty
- Doesn’t have the best long range power
- Don’t expect it to be Sage quality
Related: Best Fly Fishing Combos Under $300
Redington Path II (Best Beginner Fly Rod)
The Redington Path ll is one of the best budget fly rod options on the market. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.
Redington is very well known for their beginner fly rods and reels. They are actually under the same company as Sage. Sage creates the elite end fly equipment, Redington is crafted for beginners.
The Redington Path II is the best fly rod that you can get if you are a beginner. Actually, I would recommend either this or the Moonshine Drifter Series rod.
Those are two of the more popular fly rods for beginners.
Now, I don’t love recommending inexpensive fishing products (you’ll find out why), but if you need something on a budget, here you go.
It’s fairly smooth, especially for the price that you will pay. Very easy to control though… Very easy.
It can also be used for both fresh and saltwater fly fishing. Which, I’d recommend staying away from the salt as a beginner, but you’d have no problems with the rod in doing so.
Lastly, it also got a lifetime warranty. Not a lot of fly rods in this price range have a warranty on them, much less one that lasts a lifetime.
- Easy to use
- Decently accurate
- Fresh and saltwater fly rod
- Lifetime warranty
- Doesn’t have supreme power
- Not G. Loomis or Sage quality
And if you are a beginner looking for other really good fly fishing rods, we have another article about the best fly fishing rods for beginners if you want to check that out here.
Orvis Recon 2 (Best For The Money)
The Orvis Recon 2 fly fishing rod is a great fast action fly rod. While it is a bit more expensive than a lot of fly rods, it's worth it.
The Orvis Recon is the best fly fishing rod that you can get for the money. It’s in the middle in terms of price, but it’s at the top in terms of performance.
It’s extremely high performing, no exaggeration. If you get the 9ft 5wt fly rod, it can be used for both streamer and dry fly fishing. Bass, Trout, Panfish (it may be a bit large for Panfish) are just a couple species you could catch with this.
The material that makes up the majority of the Orvis Recon is extremely responsive. It’s also a medium action rod, so whether you are a beginner or a vet, you can use this rod with great ease.
Power, and long distance accuracy is what you are going to get here.
- Very versatile
- High performance (accurate, power)
- 25 year warranty
TFO BVK (Best Bass Fly Fishing Rod)
This a nice quality fly rod for Bass fishing. It has a fast action blank and is reasonably priced.
A lot of fly fishermen and women use the TFO BVK as their go-to Bass fishing fly rod. It’s actually not designed specifically for Bass fishing, but it’s very good at it. You can use this fly rod for Trout and have great success with it as well.
If you are using it for Bass fishing, I would recommend getting the 9 ft, 7 wt model. It’s very powerful. Which is exactly what you need because you will most likely be using streamers and heavier flies.
Accuracy-wise, the TFO BVK is great for the price you pay. It’s not as great as say, the Sage X fly rod, but still really good.
Like many fly anglers that have used the TFO BVK, I think that it’s underrated in performance. While the $1000 fly rods are usually the highest performing, you don’t always need to spend that much money to get a great rod.
- Great for Bass fishing
- Accurate at long distances
- Fast action
- Wouldn’t recommend for beginners
The Echo Trout is the way to go if you're on a budget but are still looking for an awesome Trout fishing rod.
I put the Echo Trout fly rod on this list because it’s another good option if you are looking for a middle of the road Trout rod. It’s not the best of the best, but it’s very solid.
What’s interesting about this rod is that each model you can choose from has a different action.
Essentially what that means is if you get a 9 foot, 5 lb weight rod Echo Trout, it will be different from to the 9 foot, 4 lb weight Echo Trout.
The purpose of this is to create a fly rod that will truly be perfect for Trout fly fishing.
In my opinion, the best of the Echo Trout fly rods you can get is the 9 ft 5wt. It’s super smooth and controlled, yet has decent power and accuracy.
You get the best of all fly fishing worlds. As a beginner, you would have the ability to use this and control it well. It’s not as easy to use as the Redington Path II, but it isn’t as difficult as the Sage X.
This rod is also in the middle in terms of pricing. Not too cheap, not too expensive.
- Specifically designed for Trout fishing
- Accurate (obviously not as accurate as the Scott’s or G. Loomis rods)
- Decently powerful
- Easy to use
- Designed for Trout
- It’s an “in the middle rod” – it doesn’t excel at one thing, but is good at almost everything
How To Choose a Fly Fishing Rod
The process to picking out and buying a new fly fishing rod can be stressful. There’s a lot that goes into it such as size, weight, length, price, looks, etc. We have another article on the website that includes everything you need to know about choosing a fly fishing rod here, if you want to check that out.
What Are The Best Fly Fishing Rod Brands?
If you aren’t a fan of the fly rods on this list, there are a couple brands that I would recommend getting fly rods from. We’re not sponsored by anyone here either.
Orvis, Sage, Hardy, Redington, Scott, G. Loomis and TFO are some of the most popular fly rod companies. There are more such as Hardy and Scott, but it you are getting a rod with one of those names you are definitely getting something that is worthwhile.
The performance is unmatched.
Many of these fly rod brands have great warranties on their equipment as well.
Overall, you know that you’re getting a great fly rod if it has one of those brand names on it.
Best Fly Fishing Rods: Conclusion
The best fly fishing rod really comes down to what you are looking for. Is it ease of use? Power? Durability? Accuracy? Consistency?
While many fly rods do have some of those categories, it is going to be difficult to get a fly rod that has all of those. Unless you are somewhat of an experienced fly angler and decide to go with the Sage X. Then you check all of those boxes.
Fly fishing is very fun, I hope this article helped you out!