Welcome to my review of the best fly rods for beginners.
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
- Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod
- Moonshine Rod Company Drifter Series Fly Rod
- Redington Path Fly Rod
- Fenwick Aetos Fly Rod
- Hardy Zephrus Ultralite Fly Rod
Fly Fishing Rod Terms to Understand.
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
- 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
- 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
The Best Beginner Fly Rod Option: Medium Fast Action
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?
There are a ton of rod options to choose from, but if you’re fishing for trout – I’d recommend getting a medium fast action, 9 foot 5 wt rod. It just provides the best fishing experience and you’ll find yourself having the most fun when you are fishing with it.
If you are fly fishing for large fish, consider getting a fast action rod that has a 7 and up line weight. The fast action will help you push your flies further out, especially in windy conditions. If you are still unsure of how to choose a fly rod, check out an article we wrote here.
The Best Fly Rods for Beginners
All of the rods that are on this list have been tested by members of our team. There are a lot of fly rods on the market for beginners, but these are truly some of the best. If you are looking for the best overall fly fishing rods, we do have an article on that here if you are interested.
Redington Classic Trout
The Classic Trout is the perfect rod to start fly fishing with. Great price, moderate action blank and lifetime warranty.
One of the best fly rods for beginner fly anglers is the Classic Trout rod. This rod is super easy to use and is very easy to control. It’s one of the best rods to learn the art of fly fishing with, because it’s so simple. It also has a lifetime warranty.
The rod is also of quality. Redington specializes in creating low price rods that are overall high in quality. In using this rod over the past few years, it hasn’t broken or snapped a tip. You will have no concerns of this rod wearing down and breaking on you in the first month of fly fishing.
This is also an exciting fly rod to fish Trout with. As you can probably guess by the name, it’s designed exactly for Trout fishing. To top it off the Classic Trout is awesome at short to mid range distances. If you are interested, you can check the latest price here.
- Super easy to learn fly fishing with
- Reasonable price
- Easy to cast and control
- Accurate in short to mid ranges
- Rod tube included
- Doesn’t have the power to cast flies long ranges accurately
Moonshine Co. Drifter Rod
One of the most popular fly rods on amazon right now, the Drifter Series rod greatly outperforms its price. (Medium action blank).
Another very popular rod amongst fly fisherman and woman (140 reviews, 4.7/5 stars) is the Moonshine 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.
This rod is extremely forgiving and will help you get the hang of fly fishing almost instantly. A lot of fly fishermen have purchased this rod as a backup, and quickly realized that it is worthy of being used all of the time. I would highly recommend this rod for anyone that is just starting out with fly fishing as it is super smooth and accurate.
- Buttery smooth
- Easy casting and control
- Lifetime warranty
- Might be considered an expensive beginner rod
Redington Path ll 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.
The Redington Path ll is another great option for beginner fly anglers. It’s similar to the Classic Trout, but a newer model. The Classic Trout is more popular in terms of status, the Redington Path is slightly newer and a bit more updated.
The Redington Path is very accurate at mid range distances. This rod is another one that will be very easy to learn how to cast with. It’s super smooth and consistent, with no real flaws. It’s also a great beginner price.
Overall, the Redington Path is a sweet option for beginners. It’s accurate, easy to use and forgiving.
- Easy to control
- Moderate action
- Potential durability concerns
Considering getting a fast action rod as a beginner?
I want to start this by saying be cautious with a fast action rod as a beginner. They can be a bit to handle because they are so stiff in the mid and lower sections. They do offer a lot more power and have better accuracy at longer ranges though.
Personally I would recommend sticking to the Redington Classic or a The Drifter Series rod. They will be far easier to handle, but still offer great quality for the price that you will pay.
Remember, as a beginner fly angler, you don’t need to spend premium prices for a new fly rod. Yes the fly rod is by far the most important piece of gear that you can use, but when you are just starting out, you don’t need to over do it.
But, 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 shoutouts, 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.
- Inexpensive fast action rod
- Popular rod
- Awesome accuracy at long distances
- Tight loops
- Difficult to control in the beginning
Related: Best Fly Rods Under $400
Best Fly Rod and Reel Combos For Beginners
The next little segment has the best rod combos for beginners. These are typically easier to setup and get on the river faster, but you lose the ability to customize your setup in the process.
I do usually recommend getting a beginner level combo in the start though.
Cabela’s Prestige Combo
Our number one rated fly fishing combo for beginners. It's a high quality setup and also has everything you need to start fly fishing right away.
As you probably have guessed by the name, this is not just a rod. BUT, I had to mention it in this article because it is one of the easiest and quickest ways for you to get on the river, fast. It comes with literally everything that you could need from a rod, reel, case, flies, fly box, leader, tippet and backing.
The reel that is featured in this combo has a large arbor design for quick retrieval of fish and has a powerful drag. The rod is moderate action fly rod so it’ll be easy to control for beginners! I highly recommend this one, it’s a great combo. You can read a full review of it here as well.
- Everything you need as a beginner fly angler is included
- Quality rod and reel
- Moderate action rod, easy to control
- Included equipment will need to be upgraded at some point
Redington Crosswater Combo
The popular Redington Crosswater combo is one of the cheapest doors into the game of fly fishing. Included in the package is a rod, reel, case and line. It also has a one year limited warranty.
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 another solid starting fly fishing rod and reel combo, but it isn’t very customizable. It will do the trick down river though.
- Rod and reel + case
- Moderate action rod
- 1 year warranty
- Doesn’t include everything needed to start fly fishing
Things to Remember
These are a couple important things to remember when purchasing your first fly fishing rod.
Beginner fly rods are typically inexpensive. There’s a reason for that. You just want to see how you like fly fishing and learn the ropes, without investing a lot of cash.
That’s perfectly fine, and I would personally recommend that. But, fly rods that cost only a couple hundred dollars usually aren’t made of the highest quality. And for obvious reasons, it’s hard to build an extremely high quality rod for a cheap price.
As a result, your beginner fly rod might not have the durability to last a long time. It might, but it also might not. My brother has a Cabela’s Prestige rod that he bought many years ago that still performs the same as it once did, with no breaks or anything. But, he also took great care of it.
The point I’m trying to make is that your first fly rod might not have the durability of a Sage X fly rod. But that’s ok. Take care of it and it will most likely last you a long time.
Controlling your rod
Controlling your first fly fishing rod will be a challenge, but that’s the fun of the game! We all try fly fishing because it’s a new experience and challenge, it’s something different!
It adds a little bit more pizzaz to a would-be-normal-fishing trip.
Don’t get angry or upset if it isn’t as easy as you think it might look. It’ll take a little bit of practice, but when you get it figured out – it’ll be a blast for you.
The first time I went fly fishing, I distinctively remember while I was casting my fly came directly back in my face and I suffered the full force of my fly and line. It hurt like crazy, and I didn’t have any glasses on.
The fly hit directly under my eye…
I didn’t have any severe damage, it just felt like a nice slap to the face, with a sharp fish hook.
I had no idea what I was doing honestly. I saw videos of professionals doing cool casts and whatnot on Youtube, and thought I could do the same.
Boy did I look silly.
So yeah…. I bought a cheap pair of sunglasses.
I would recommend some!
You will lose some flies
I quickly learned that flies come and go very quickly at the start, especially if you are fly fishing around trees.
I recommend finding an open area and practicing your cast first, without trees in the area.
Trees while fly fishing are just an annoying obstacle that will only prolong your learning curve of fly fishing.
But, after you’ve sort of got a hang of fly fishing, you will still probably lose some flies. They get caught on rocks, logs, and in some cases, fly off during during a cast.
We have a lot of articles on flies here if you want to learn which are the best to buy!
Making the case to buy an expensive fly rod as a beginner
As I said earlier, you don’t need to put a million dollars down on a fly fishing rod when you are just starting out. But, there are some people that can afford a super expensive fly rod, and maybe will be wanting to do so. That’s perfectly fine! Get yourself a Sage X! That’ll probably be the first and last fly rod you’ll use in the decade of 2020.
It’s that good.
Really what you will be getting a high quality beginner fly rod would be better durability, higher performance, and easier casting.
In conclusion, I believe the best all-around rod for beginners is a 9 foot 5-weight slow or medium-fast action rod. That is what I’d recommend you get for your first rod.
Thank you for reading and good luck on the water!