How To Choose A Fly Fishing Rod

So you’re looking to purchase a new fly fishing rod??

You’ve come to the right place.  In this article I’m going to go over everything you need to know about how to choose a fly fishing rod.  

Let’s dive into it!

How To Choose A Fly Fishing Rod

These are many of the different things that you want to consider when you are picking out a new fly fishing rod.

  • Rod Action
  • Rod Length
  • Line Weight
  • Physical Weight
  • Where you are fishing
  • What you are fishing
  • Looks
  • Quality
  • Warranty

Let’s start it off with the most important aspect of a new fly rod, and that’s the rod’s action.

Rod Action

One of the most important things to look for in a fly fishing rod is the action.  There are a couple different types of actions in fly rods.

  • Slow (Beginner)
  • Medium or Medium Fast (Beginner-Vet)
  • Fast (Vet)

The action of the fly rod is really how stiff the rod it.  A fast action rod will be very stiff through the mid and lower section of the rod, while bendy at the top.  The medium will flex to about mid point down and a slow action fly rod will flex nearly all the way to the butt.

The most popular actions for beginners are the slow, medium or medium fast action rods.  Typically intermediate or veteran fly anglers use medium to fact action rods.

Slow Action

A slow action fly rod has the most flex of all the fly rod actions.  Typically the rod is flexible throughout the entire shaft, to the butt of the rod.  This is the best fly rod action for beginners because it is the easiest to control.

It’s not as powerful as the other actions of fly rods though so it is better for smaller fish and shorter distances.

Medium or Medium Fast Action

The medium or medium fast action fly rod is the most popular fly rod action of them all.  Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or veteran fly angler, fly fishing with this action is very entertaining.

The medium action is very versatile and can be used for a lot of different types of fly fishing.  It’s popular for Trout, Bass and Panfish.

Medium fast action rods don’t have the supreme power that fast action fly rods have, but they do have good accuracy.  And whether you are a beginner or vet, they’re very easy to control.

One reason that fly fishermen and women dislike the medium or medium fast action fly rod is because it isn’t the best in windy conditions.  They’re also not as powerful as fast action rods, but a whole lot easier to use.

Fast Action

And lastly, the fast action fly rods.  Fact action rods are meant for the veteran or sometimes intermediate fly anglers.  If you are a beginner fly angler, I would recommend staying away from these rods.

They are very powerful and accurate, but difficult to control for an entry level angler.

Fast action rods are great for fishing large fish, in windy conditions, and long distances.  The loops that a fast action rod will produce are typically very tight and precise.

Which is really good for accurate casts, but not very good for beginners looking to control them.

Fast action rods are best for medium to large sized fish.  Many fly fishermen will use them for Trout fishing as well.  Wether you consider that small or medium, that is up to you.

Fast action fly rods are also usually the most expensive.

Related: Best Fly Fishing Combos (Under $300)

Rod Length

The length of your fly rod is another important thing to consider when purchasing a new rod.

If you are fishing for very large fish, consider getting a rod above 9 feet.  If you are fishing in tight areas or very small fish (panfish), an 8 foot 6 inch or smaller is a good choice.  If you are fishing for Trout in an open river, consider getting a 9 foot fly rod.

If you’re fishing

Line Weight of the Fly Rod

What line weight will you be using for your fly rod?  That’s a very important question to ask yourself before you purchase.

Every fly rod will say something like 9 ft 5 wt.  This means that the length of the rod is 9 feet tall, and the fishing line that you should use for it is 5 lb weight.

If you are fly fishing for Trout, the most popular rods are the 9ft 5wt, or the 9ft 6wt.  They’re very versatile and just overall are the best choices.  Unless you plan on fly fishing in very tight quarter (mountain streams w / a lot of trees).  If that’s the case, get a shorter fly rod.

If you are fly fishing for panfish or smaller fish, get a rod with less lb weight like a 2-4 lb wt.  If you are fishing for Bass or Salmon, get larger line such as 7wt and up.

Physical Weight of the Rod

How heavy is the actual rod?  This is something else to consider when choosing a new fly rod.  I, along with a lot of other fly anglers like lighter fly rods.  In my opinion, if the rod weighs less than 4 oz, it is lightweight.

To some, 4 oz for a fly rod is heavy.  To me, when the number is so low, it doesn’t really matter if it’s an ounce or two in either direction.  We’re talking such small numbers.


This isn’t necessarily a physical feature of the fly rod that you are choosing, but it’s still very important.  The warranty.

Many of the best fly fishing rod brands will have warranties on their gear.  Orvis, Sage, Hardy et all have the option for you to get your fly rod replaced or refunded.

Obviously, you’ll want to look into the warranty of the specific fly rod that you are getting.  Some companies have lifetime warranties, other have limited warranties or none.  You don’t want to get a fly rod that breaks in the first week without a backup plan.

Anything can happen on the river.


The quality of the fly rod


The looks of the fly rod are important to me, when I’m getting a new fly rod.  Maybe it’s not such a big deal for you, but I don’t want to spend hours of my time looking at and using a tool that isn’t beautiful.

However, if a fly rod looks really good, but doesn’t perform like a champion, then it doesn’t matter.  You do want to get the higher performing rod.  BUT, if you can a rod that is both high performance and looks amazing, it’s a win-win situation.

Best Fly Rods

Two fly rods that I’m super keen on are the Moonshine Co. The Drifter Series fly rod or the Sage X.  The Sage X is most definitely the better of the two, but the Drifter Series rod is good if you’re on a budget.  I also wrote an article here about the best fly fishing rods of 2020 if you’re interested!

This is a picture of the Sage X, a must have fly rod for 2020.
Sage X

Conclusion: How To Choose A Fly Rod

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a fly fishing rod.

I hope this article helped you out.  Thanks for reading!

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