Best Fly Rod for Beginners [2020]

This picture shows the viewers what the best fly rod for beginners looks like.

What is the Best Fly Rod for Beginner Fly Fishermen and Women?

So, you want to learn how to fly fish? Congratulations! Fly fishing is an incredible activity that is sure to consume your imagination and time. Fly fishing can be a costly hobby, although it doesn’t have to be.

The essential gear to get started on this exciting journey is simple; all you need is a fly rod, reel, line, leader, tippet, flies, and some fishy water.  That’s it! As your knowledge and experience grow, you will find yourself accumulating more gear to meet your emerging skills.

It can be a daunting task to decide what is the best fly rod for beginners, which is why I made a list. A lot of it comes down to the weight, size and action of the rod.  Before we get into the list, you’ll want to understand what all those terms mean.

Here are the best fly rods for beginners in 2020

Fly Fishing Rod Terms to Understand.

Rod Weight: 

3 Weight – 6 Weight

  • Cast and present small flies delicately
  • Better tippet protection
  • Makes fighting smaller fish more fun
  • Excellent for trout, panfish, and smaller to medium sized fish

7 Weight – 10 Weight and up

  • Cast larger flies
  • Cast farther
  • Less affected by wind
  • More rod backbone for larger fish
  • Great for bass, carp, pike, musky, and saltwater species

Rod Action: 

Slow Action

  • Good for control and accuracy
  • Excellent tippet protection
  • Casts big, open loops
  • Typically for small fish
  • Very flexible rods
  • Good starting point for beginners

Moderate / Medium-Fast Action

  • Forgiving casting stroke
  • A middle ground between slow and fast action
  • Good tippet protection
  • Ability to make open or tight loops depending on casting stroke 
  • Slightly stiff rod but still has flexibility
  • Nice starting point for beginners

Fast Action 

  • Requires precise timing while casting, but makes tighter loops
  • Cast larger, more air resistant flies easier
  • Cast in windy conditions with much less effort
  • Cast farther distances
  • Stiffest rod
  • A little bit tougher to control as a beginner

First things first, go with the action you believe you would enjoy the most.  You don’t have to choose a rod you wouldn’t like because someone else likes it. You’ll have to decide for yourself. However, with that being said, this is what I believe is the best rod weight, size and action for beginners is!

The Best Beginner Fly Rod Option: 

It’s hard to beat a medium-fast action 9 foot 5-weight for your first rod. A 5-weight is an incredibly versatile rod. It can cast small flies delicately and still throw relatively larger flies in moderately windy conditions. The casting stroke is very forgiving and a 5-weight makes fighting smaller to medium-sized fish more fun. Besides, that’s what this is all about. Right?

Otherwise if you are thinking that might be too quick, a slow action 9 foot 5-weight fly rod will be killer for beginners trying to catch panfish and small trout.  You’ll have a lot of control of your line providing more short range accuracy while you fish. These rods are very flexible throughout so they aren’t very ideal for windy conditions however.

Now a quick Google search can leave someone feeling overwhelmed with the variety of rod options available. To help point you in the right direction we’ve come up with a list of the best fly rods for beginners.

The Best Fly Rods for Beginners

What might be the best option for a complete combo of beginner fly fishing gear is going to be the Wild Water Fly Fishing Combo Starter Package.  Many might think for a hundred bucks the quality just isn’t going to be there, but that’s not the case with this setup. With nearly 650 reviews on amazon and 4.6 stars this combo is a fan favorite with many beginner fly fishermen or women. It’s a slow action rod which will be good for those just starting the journey of fly fishing. If you want to fish now and don’t care about adding your own reel or case here you go!

Redington at the same time, makes several cost-effective rods designed with the beginner in mind. Their basic, entry-level rod is the Crosswater. The Crosswater is a medium-fast action rod and is offered in a package that includes almost everything you need to get started: a rod, rod storage/travel tube, reel, fly line, and leader. This package sells for around $150 but only comes with a 1-year warranty. This is a solid starter package as well, but again, if you want to put your own personal touches to your first fly rod setup, keep reading.

The Best Medium Fast Fly Rod For Beginners

My favorite Redington rod is the Classic Trout. The Classic Trout is a massive improvement over the Crosswater, and in my opinion, one of the best rods on the market for the money. It also has a lifetime warranty. The Classic Trout has a moderate action and flexes deeply to allow for effortless casting. It’s so sensitive that once the hook is set, you can feel every move and head shake your quarry makes. This flexibility enables you to fight the fish more aggressively since the rod absorbs a lot of energy, which in turn, protects the tippet and aids in landing the fish faster.

Another very popular rod amongst fly fisherman and woman (140 reviews, 4.7/5 stars) is the Moonshine Rod Company Drifter Series Fly Rod.  For just under 200 bucks you can snatch up a very accurate medium action fly rod.  It comes with a no fault lifetime warranty and a rod tube to boot.  You will not be disappointed if you choose this rod as your first fly fishing rod.

For your first fly fishing setup, you’ll want a nice reel.  If you have no idea what to look for, or just want something of high quality, check out this article that I wrote up about the best fly reels for 2020! 

The Best Fast Action Rods For Beginners 

Finally, if you want to try your hand at a fast action rod, you don’t have look further than the Fenwick Aetos. The Aetos is an excellent rod and a pleasure to cast. It consistently places at the top of the Yellowstone Anglers rod shootouts, and for a good reason. While it does have a faster action, the rod still maintains the feel and forgiveness one would expect from a beginner rod. Fenwick offers a lifetime warranty on the Aetos.

Now if you are looking for the ultimate cheap fast action fly rod, the Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod is going to be the way to go.  It costs less than 80 bucks but comes with great quality for the price being paid.  This rod has over 200 reviews and a ranking of 4.6 stars out of 5, not bad at all for the price tag. It breaks down into four pieces and comes with tube to place the rod in. It isn’t anything fancy but will surely be a killer down river.

When Money is No Object 

If you are looking for a top of the line rod but you want to pick the extra accessories that come with it, we suggest the Hardy Zephrus Ultralite Fly Rod.  This rod is medium fast action which will be desirable for beginners.  The price tag here might be slightly out of most beginners price range, but you’re going to get a lifetime of quality out of this rod.

It’s going to be a personal preference in the end

In conclusion, I believe the best all-around rod for beginners is a 9 foot 5-weight slow or medium-fast action rod. You probably aren’t going to find an easier starter option than Wild Water Fly Fishing Combo Starter Package and because it’s slow action, it’ll be the easiest to use in the beginning.

Now the Redington Crosswater will get the job done as well but if you are getting a medium fast action fly rod, I would highly recommend either the Redington Classic Trout or the Moonshine Co Drifter Series.

The Fenwick Aetos fast action rod is excellent but being fast action rod, it is not as forgiving as the others. If you want elite quality medium fast action rod, go with the Hardy Zephrus.  In the end however, pair any of these rods with a reel, quality fly line, and you’re in business!

If you just are just starting out but want a rod with better quality, read this article about the Best Fly Rods Under $400.

Regardless of what you choose, this most likely isn’t going to be your last rod!

Finally, despite all these rods on this list, don’t overthink your decision. Most likely, your first-rod purchase will not be your last. Once you get comfortable with your casting style and have an opportunity to try a variety of rods, you will find the perfect rod. So, get out there. Appreciate nature. Bask in the here-and-now. Revel in the memories you make – both good and bad.

Wish you tight lines and the best of times!