Fly rods are by far the most important piece of gear that we as fly anglers carry out to the river. Literally the game depends on one. Keeping that in mind, when you are looking for an upgraded fly rod that costs less than 400 dollars, don’t just buy the first one on the shelfs at Cabela’s.
You want to make sure that it’s a fly rod that withstand the test of time, while also providing you with a great fly fishing experience.
Here are the best fly fishing rods for under $400 in 2020
- Sage Foundation Fly Rod (Best Fast Action)
- Hardy Shadow Fly Rod (Best Medium Action)
- Temple Fork Outfitter Axiom II-X Fly Rod
- Echo Trout Fly Rod (Best Trout Rod)
- St. Croix Imperial USA Fly Rod
- Redington Vice Fly Rod
- Moonshine Co. Drifter Series Fly Rod (Best For The Money)
- Fenwick Fenlite Fly Rod
- Redington Path Fly Rod
Best Fly Fishing Rods for Under $400 in 2020
There are four aspects of the fly fishing rod that were looked at in this article. They are performance, quality, weight and warranty.
I believe those to be some of the biggest aspects when buying a fly fishing rod.
Also, quick little side note. Fly fishing is dependent on the user. If you cannot throw a fly very well on a $100 dollar rod, a $400 dollar rod isn’t going to wash away your problems.
Unless your $100 dollar rod is broken right now.
Which is kind of an issue.
And in that case, let’s dive into the 9 best fly fishing rods under $400.
Sage Foundation Fly Rod
The best fly rod under $400 dollars is the Sage Foundation rod. This fly rod comes in line weights from 4lbs to 9lbs, giving you a wide variety of sizes to choose from. These rods are also handcrafted in the United States, on Bainbridge Island.
The Sage Foundation is a fast action fly rod. It’s loaded with power in the mid to low sections allowing for long and accurate casts.
You will get very tight and consistent loops with this fly rod. Although I would recommend getting this rod only if you have been fly fishing for a little while. It will be difficult to control as a beginner, although as an intermediate fly fisher – you will find yourself casting an extremely smooth fly rod.
“I never felt myself yearning for more power”– Ivan Orsic (Trout’s Fly Fishing) on the Sage Foundation
Performance wise, this rod won’t let you down.
Sage lives up to a high standard of fly fishing gear and this rod is no different. It features graphite IIIe in the blank for premium strength and durability.
Graphite IIIe has been a staple in Sage’s fly fishing rods and it has proven to withstand the test of time.
The Sage Foundation rod also does come equipped with a rod case.
The Sage Foundation is a bit heavier in fly fishing standards, weighing in at 3.25 oz. Not super heavy, not super light. The extra weight will give it a bit more power and better accuracy at long ranges. It also will allow for you to catch bigger fish.
Sage has a lifetime warranty on all of their products.
Conclusion: Sage Foundation
The Sage Foundation is a great fly rod, especially in the $100 – $400 price range. It’s a heavier rod, but very strong and powerful. Reaching out to further distances accurately should be no problem at all.
Hardy Shadow Fly Rod
The second best fly rod for under $400 is the Hardy Shadow. Hardy is a fly fishing company out of England that makes some of the best fly fishing equipment in the world. The Hardy Shadow ranges in line weights from 4-7 lbs. That is, under 400 dollars. Hardy does have a few more models of the Shadow rod that exceed $400…
The Hardy Shadow is a medium-fast action fly rod. This is more suited for new fly anglers as it will be easier to control.
You might lose some power in this rod compared to a fast action rod, but not much.
“I loved the punch and power that I was getting with the Shadow”– Yellowstone Angler on the Hardy Shadow
This rod has medium sized loops that are very consistent. It’s a nice mid range fly rod that will give you very accurate throws time and time again.
This fly rod is made of Hardy’s Sintrix 220 in this rod for durability and strength. It’s also one of the reasons for this rod’s accuracy.
Sintrix 220 is carbon fibers bonded together with adhesive resin to ensure that the blank of the rod is strong. The particles of the graphite are also spherical, which allows the fibers to resist and pressure or movement without breaking.
It’s a very strong and durable fly rod.
For the 9ft 5wt Hardy Shadow, the weight is 2.9 oz. Which, is in the middle in terms of weight. At least, I don’t think that it will feel like you are carrying a sack of bricks out to the water…
If you register this rod within 60 days on Hardy’s website, your rod is covered for life.
Conclusion: Hardy Shadow
This rod is the second best fly rod under $400, in my opinion. It’s a medium fast action rod, powerful and lightweight. It’s made of durable Sintrix 220 graphite and it also comes with a lifetime warranty.
Related: Best Fly Fishing Packs of 2020
TFO Axiom II-X Fly Rod
Third fly rod on the list, is the Temple Fork Outfitters Axiom II-X. This rod comes in line weight sizes ranging from 5-12 lbs, all costing less than $400.
This rod is a fast action rod that has explosive energy in every single cast. TFO’s main goal with this rod was to create something that could reach out to further distances without any concerns of accuracy.
But, despite claims of superb accuracy by Temple Fork Outfitters, a review by Trident Fly Fishing sort of muffles that.
“The Axiom II-X wasn’t terrible at a long distances”– Trident Fly Fishing on TFO Axiom II-X 9’8wt
It appeared to be better at shorter distances although.
“We found the accuracy at short distances (inside the 40-foot range) was beautiful with the Axiom II-X”– Trident Fly Fishing on TFO Axiom II-X 9’8wt
This review does feature a very large fly rod, so something a bit smaller might have different results. Bottom line here though, expect better accuracy at short ranges compared to long ones.
Quality wise, the Axiom II-X is very durable. It features a high modulus graphite build with double – helix kevlar embedded into the blank for extra strength.
The weight of the Axiom II-X is the same weight as the Hardy Shadow above, weighing in at 2.9oz. It raises significantly from there with the 9’6wt rod weighing 3.2 oz although.
For the power this rod provides, that’s actually decently lightweight.
Temple Fork Outfitters does have a lifetime warranty on their rods. So you are covered if this one gets damaged.
Conclusion: TFO Axiom II-X
This rod can be used as a trout fishing rod, but more ideally it will be used for bigger fish. It has a lot of power in its mid section and the blank even features embedded kevlar. It isn’t extremely lightweight, but its one of the best for less than $400!
Echo Trout Fly Rod
Echo is another fly fishing company that creates high quality fly rods. The Echo Trout was designed for trout fishing (as you could probably guess) but doesn’t actually have a specific action that it is tied too. It’s available in line weights from 4-6 lbs, either in 8’6″ or 9′.
Each Echo Trout rods have their own specific action. So you aren’t getting the same “action” in your fly rod if you buy the 4wt option compared to the 6wt option, but each rod is crafted to create the best trout fishing experience. These rods are all designed to have the best accuracy from 30-50 feet out, regardless of weather conditions.
“I think that the Echo Trout is going to be a great rod for those looking to buy one trout rod that can handle dry flies to nymph rigs.”– All Points Fly Fishing on the Echo Trout
The Echo Trout is built to withstand the test of time. In the tip of the rod, Echo implemented a strong but flexible graphite to ensure durability.
The rest of the blank is a standard Echo blank. Echo is known to make high quality fly rods, this one is no different.
The weight of the Echo Trout is in the same range as most of the other rods on this list, 3.1oz with the 9′ 5wt.
Echo has a natural life warranty on all of their products. Good to go here!
Conclusion: Echo Trout
The Echo Trout is one of the best fly fishing rods that you can buy for only a couple hundred dollars, especially if you fly fish for trout. It has an optimal range of 30-50 feet and has an ultra sensitive tip for fishing light tippet. It has a natural life warranty by Echo, and isn’t very expensive. Overall, nice trout rig.
Related: Best Fly Rod Combos Under $300
St. Croix Imperial USA Fly Rod
The St. Croix Imperial USA Fly Rod is the 5th best fly fishing rod that you can purchase for less than 400 dollars. It’s a slimmer rod that is built for the fly angler that likes smaller rods. It comes in line weights ranging from 2 – 10 lbs giving you a lot of choices to choose from.
The St. Croix Imperial USA fly rod is one of the smoother fast action fly rods on the market. It’s extremely smooth and accurate as well. Hitting your targets time and time again won’t be an issue with this rod.
“Buttery smooth to cast.”
– The Venturing Angler on the St. Croix Imperial USA
The Imperial USA is another very durable fly rod. It features a mix of high modulus SCIV graphite and premium quality SCII graphite. It’s handcrafted in United States and is a work horse on the river.
The 9′ 5wt option weighs 3.4 oz. So a bit heavier than other fly rods on this list…
St. Croix backs this fly rod up with a 15 year super service warranty. I don’t think that you’ll be using the same rod now, as you will in 15 years! And if you do, much props to you!
Conclusion: St. Croix Imperial USA Fly Rod
The Imperial USA is one of the better fly rods that you can purchase in the 100 – 400 dollar range today. It’s a high quality fast action rod that is backed by a 15 year warranty and incredible service. It’s accurate, strong and durable.
Redington Vice Fly Rod
The next best fly rod that you can purchase for less than $400 is the Redington Vice. Redington is a brand renowned for creating quality beginner and intermediate fly rods. This rod has a wide variety of choices to choose from as you can purchase this rod in line weights from 3 lbs to 9 lbs.
Performance wise, the Redington Vice is better at long ranges, compared to short ranges. It’s a fast action rod that is designed more so for power, which makes it an awesome streamer rig rod.
“At 45 feet, the Vice is an accuracy weapon.”– Trident Fly Fishing on the Redington Vice
With that being said however, Trident Fly Fishing also claimed that the rod wasn’t very accurate at 30 feet. Something to consider if you are fly fishing at shorter distances.
But, if you are looking for a long range, streamer rig, the Redington Vice could be the golden ticket.
Quality wise, the Vice is quite durable. It’s made of a mixture of different modulus carbon fiber blanks and is a strong rod overall. Redington is known for making quality, inexpensive fly rods and this one is exactly that.
Redington offers a lifetime warranty of the Vice, so no worries there!
Conclusion: Redington Vice
Bottom line, this is a nice fast action fly rod, that won’t break the bank. It has a lot of power in the mid section that is designed to give you better accuracy at long ranges, although the short game is a little weak. It has a lifetime warranty, and comes with a rod case to boot.
Moonshine Co. Drifter Series Fly Rod
The Moonshine Co. Drifter Series rod is a very nice fly rod. It comes in line weights ranging from 3 lbs to 8lbs so there’s a decent range to choose from. It comes with a no fault lifetime warranty and has a rod case included in the package.
Moonshine makes fly fishing rods at some of the highest levels of performance, for some of the lowest prices on the market. The Drifter Series rod is a medium-fast action fly rod that has a beginner fly angler in mind. This rod creates medium sized loops and is very accurate at short to mid ranges.
In terms of quality, the Drifter Series is very durable. It’s made of strong carbon graphite and anodized copper that will last you a long time. There have been no real concerns of tips breaking off or anything falling apart and it’s one of the more popular fly rods on amazon.
Conclusion: Moonshine Co. Drifter Series Rod
Overall the Drifter Series fly rod is a great rod for beginners and intermediate fly fishermen alike. It is very affordable, has a lifetime warranty and is a great performing mid range rod. You really can’t go wrong with this one.
Fenwick Fenlite Fly Rod
The next best fly rod for less than $400 is the Fenwick Fenlite. It’s a fast action fly rod that comes in line weights ranging from 5 lbs to 7 lbs.
This fly rod is geared for the fly fisherman that wants a lot of power behind their casts. It’s a fast action rod that can definitely reach out to long range distances easily and accurately. If you plan on fly fishing with streamers a lot, this rod is also great for that.
Fenwick is a trusted fly fishing brand that makes high quality products. The Fenwick Fenlite is a strong and durable fly rod that isn’t going to break on you any time soon.
The 9 foot 5 lb weight Fenlite weighs 3.2 oz. A bit heavier than other fly rods on the market, but that’s where its power comes from.
Overall: Fenwick Fenlite
The Fenwick Fenlite is a great fly rod for anglers looking for a long and accurate casts. It’s a bit heavier than other fly rods under $400, but as a result of that, it’s very powerful. Bottom line, this rod is one that will perform tremendously, especially if you do a lot of streamer fishing.
Redington Path Fly Rod
Another Redington rod makes the list of great fly rods for inexpensive prices. The Path is a medium fast action rod that comes in line weights from 3 to 7 pounds.
The Path is an awesome fly rod for beginner fly fisherman and woman. It has very wide and smooth casts that are very easy to handle. It’s a medium-fast action rod that is pretty much just a classic fly rod. There’s nothing super flashy about this one, it just gets the job done. Overall, if you are a beginner just learning fly fishing, getting a hang of it isn’t going to be a problem with this rod.
The Redington Path is extremely durable, especially for the amount of money that it costs. It’s made of quality graphite and is made by a company that excels in making long lasting fly equipment. Let’s just put it this way, it is going to excel the amount of cash that you will pay for it greatly.
The Redington Path weighs a casual 3.1 oz. Not too heavy, but not super light either.
Overall: Redington Path
At the end of the day, the Redington Path is a quality fly fishing rod that isn’t going to break the bank. It’s a medium-fast action rod that creates wide and smooth casts, perfect for a beginner.
Rods that are only a couple hundred bucks can be great
But they can also suck. If it were me, I’d look into getting something that has the capabilities of lasting longer than a singe season, but that’s just me.
I hope this article helped you out, best of luck and tight lines!