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Best Beginner Fly Rod for 2018 (Ultimate Buying Guide)

When you’re new to fly fishing, purchasing your first fly rod can be overwhelming. With the way fly rod technology progresses every year, figuring out the best fly rod can be more challenging even for veteran anglers. As a beginner, it is essential that your first rod is durable and made of quality material. A poor performing fly rod is one of the biggest reasons beginners give up on such a fantastic sport.

There has never been a better time to be on the market for new fly rod then now. Rod manufacturers have continued to integrate technologies with new materials to significantly improve rods across all categories. Luckily, we’re going to help you figure out how to select the right fly fishing rod, and it’s not rocket science. We’ll cover everything you need to know, and by the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to make a choice.

Before getting the fly rod, there are several different things to consider. Some factors will require more thought and be more challenging to figure out and need information with more depth and details.  Others will be easier to conclude. Below is the list of factors to consider and useful information as to what makes them essential.

Rod Weight

Fly rod weight has a scale measurement of 1wt through 12wt.  The weight of a rod should match that of the fly line. The heavier the weight of the fly rod, the bigger the body of water and the fish you will be looking to catch, and you also have to consider the prevalent weather conditions.

The rod of 2wt to 4wt can be expected to catch smaller fish like panfish and trout in a small stream with relatively short distances. The rod of 5 to 6wt is the most popular as it can be used for both small and medium fish and can be used in almost any water. And rods of 7 to 12wt are perfect for bigger fish like large bass or salmon, and they are the lords of bigger sea or ocean. As a beginner, it is better to stick with the favorite 5 to 6wt since you’ll most likely not be fishing in the sea, and you can easily upgrade as you gain experience.

Rod Length

The length of a rod determines how it will perform in a given casting situation, and it is usually between 5ft to 10ft high. On a small stream, where you have limited room to cast your rod, a 6ft to 8ft rod is the ideal choice. Fishing on a more prominent river is a different story; you’ll require more control and have to cast longer distances, in this scenario; you’ll have to get a longer rod.

An 8.5ft to 9ft rod is the perfect place to start as a beginner; the rod length is versatile, and it should be your first choice. However, if you are confident you’ll be fishing in a small stream, you can then go for a rod with a shorter length. Some rods are designed to be fixed together to reach the standard range because they come in different pieces so they could be more accessible to move and store. If you travel frequently, it could be difficult to transport a long rod, and it could break. Though piece rods are usually more expensive, we would recommend buying this if you can afford the little extra.

Rod Action

Rod action is a direct reflection of how broad the rod bends while casting. It is essential to keep your skill level in check when deciding on the best rod’s action for you. There are three types of rod actions each with its benefits and drawbacks, and they depend on where and what you’ll be fishing. We’ll be explaining each of the actions below in details:

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    Slow action: This is the most flexible out of all the actions, it is designed for anglers who need to make accurate, gentle, and short casts usually required on small streams or rivers. The rod’s flexibility allows anglers to have better control of their line which increases accuracy. However, they are harder to control on the backcast. They are also very forgiving if you’re not yet perfect in casting.
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    Medium Action: Medium action rods bend near the middle of the rod and quickly load but it has the lower blank stiffness and strength to launch longer casts and tackle dominant fish, while at the same time, it has enough flexibility to make quick range and accurate roll casts. They are versatile and can also create excellent presentations with dry flies, streamers or nymphs. Out of all these, the medium action rod is the best choice for beginner anglers since it is the easiest to control and learn.
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    Fast Action: Fast action also referred to as tip flex fly is the stiffest with a little flexing. It is sturdy and perfect for more extended casts though it requires the caster to have the technique and right timing; this is why it is ideal for advanced anglers. The stiffness of the rod makes it easier to cast on windy days, it is more powerful, and it is less demanding due to the inbuilt power in the fast action fly rod.

Fly Rod Materials

Rods are constructed from differing materials, but the most efficient and favorite elements are bamboo, fiberglass, and graphite. However, they have their respective strengths and weaknesses, and we’ll explain them below.

Bamboo

This is a classic fly rod material that will always hold a special place in the fly rod fishing community. They are naturally slow action rods which usage requires more maintenance, and they are not advisable for beginners. Though it has a little faster recovery rate than fiberglass, it is still slower than carbon-fiber materials. It has this unique desire by many expert anglers, but it is more expensive than other materials because it can’t be entirely machined.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass fly rods are very cheap and durable though they seem to be going out of production making way for graphite. It has the same broad flexing slow action like bamboo, and it has the same ability to cast dry flies. It is lighter than bamboo but weighs more than the graphite. The rod's best benefit is the price, and as a beginner, you can go for this fly rod if you are on a tight budget.

Graphite

Graphite fly rods are the newest and the most popular rods that are available on the market. They are lighter than the rest of the fly rods and produce a more accurate cast; these are the facts that make anglers abandon fiberglass for graphite years back. A graphite rod is outstanding when you use it to cast heavy lines long distances, and it has better elasticity than the rest of the materials.

The term “Modulus” is used in connection with graphite rods; this refers to the stiffness to weight ratio of graphite fibers which runs the length of the rod. Some anglers believe that the higher the modulus, the more excelling the rod. This is not all that true however; the performance of a rod is affected by the amount of fiber used, resin toughness, fiber strength, and the modulus of the graphite. There are other things to consider other than the modulus. Graphite fly rods are more forgiving to beginners allowing for a more accurate and extended cast.

We hope you won’t have to use your fly rod warranty. But in the event that an accident happens, it’s good to know that some come with a solid warranty, although it seems to be based on the cost of the fly rod.

A warranty gives you piece of mind especially when you get the high-end models. Every brand has their policy, but they are more forgiving in general, most of these warranties cover any broken fly rod for a different reason. In case of replacement, you’ll have to pay for a processing and shipping fee. Ensure you register your fly rod with the manufacturer after purchasing the gear.

Our Favorite Fly Rods for Beginners

Piscifun Graphite Fly Fishing Rod 4 Piece 9ft - IM7 Carbon Fiber Blank - Accurate Placement - Ingenious Design - Chromed Guide and Durable Rod Tube 5wt
M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Extreme Fly Rod Graphite 4-Piece Fly Fishing Rod (Size: 3wt, 4wt, 5wt, 6wt, 8wt) (Green, 9ft 6weight)
Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod: Fast Action 9' 4 piece IM8 Graphite With Rod Tube (5 weight)
Redington Fly Fishing Fly Fishing Rod 890-2 Cross Water Rod with Bag 8 Wt. 9' (Piece 2)
Echo Carbon XL Fly Rod, 9'0", 5Wt, 4pc
SAGE - Sage ONE 9' - 4 Weight - 4 Piece Fly Rod
Material
Graphite
Graphite
Graphite
Graphite
Graphite
Graphite
Rod Action
Slow-Medium-Fast
Medium-Fast
Fast
Medium-fast
Medium-Fast
Fast
Rod Weight
4wt, 5wt, 6wt, 7wt, 9wt
3wt, 4wt, 5wt, 6wt, 7wt, 8wt, 10w
3wt, 5wt, 8wt
8wt
2wt, 3wt, 4wt, 5wt, 6wt
4wt
Rod Length
8'6", 9'0"
8'4", 8'6", 9'0", 9'6', 10
9'0"
9'0"
7'3", 76", 8'4", 9'0"
9'0"
Price
$
$
$
$
$$
$$$
Warranty
N0
1-Year
No
1-Year
Lifetime
Lifetime
Piscifun Graphite Fly Fishing Rod 4 Piece 9ft - IM7 Carbon Fiber Blank - Accurate Placement - Ingenious Design - Chromed Guide and Durable Rod Tube 5wt
Brand
Material
Graphite
Rod Action
Slow-Medium-Fast
Rod Weight
4wt, 5wt, 6wt, 7wt, 9wt
Rod Length
8'6", 9'0"
Price
$
Warranty
N0
M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Extreme Fly Rod Graphite 4-Piece Fly Fishing Rod (Size: 3wt, 4wt, 5wt, 6wt, 8wt) (Green, 9ft 6weight)
Brand
Material
Graphite
Rod Action
Medium-Fast
Rod Weight
3wt, 4wt, 5wt, 6wt, 7wt, 8wt, 10w
Rod Length
8'4", 8'6", 9'0", 9'6', 10
Price
$
Warranty
1-Year
Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod: Fast Action 9' 4 piece IM8 Graphite With Rod Tube (5 weight)
Brand
Material
Graphite
Rod Action
Fast
Rod Weight
3wt, 5wt, 8wt
Rod Length
9'0"
Price
$
Warranty
No
Redington Fly Fishing Fly Fishing Rod 890-2 Cross Water Rod with Bag 8 Wt. 9' (Piece 2)
Brand
Material
Graphite
Rod Action
Medium-fast
Rod Weight
8wt
Rod Length
9'0"
Price
$
Warranty
1-Year
Echo Carbon XL Fly Rod, 9'0", 5Wt, 4pc
Brand
Material
Graphite
Rod Action
Medium-Fast
Rod Weight
2wt, 3wt, 4wt, 5wt, 6wt
Rod Length
7'3", 76", 8'4", 9'0"
Price
$$
Warranty
Lifetime
SAGE - Sage ONE 9' - 4 Weight - 4 Piece Fly Rod
Brand
Material
Graphite
Rod Action
Fast
Rod Weight
4wt
Rod Length
9'0"
Price
$$$
Warranty
Lifetime

The Piscifun Sword Graphite Fly Fishing Rod is a good beginner fly rod because it performs exceptionally well for a moderately low price. While this fly rod comes in a few different weights and sizes for either freshwater or saltwater fishing, we’d select the 9ft 7wt rod for variability and maximum performance. The rod is made of IMF graphite for durability, and the 3A grade cork handle allows the rod to be more sensitive and warmer to your hand in cold weather.

It is a 4-piece design rod that makes it easier to carry around, and the featured PVC rod tube protects your rod from external forces. It also comes with a machined aluminum reel seat, which provides power and durability.

What We Like

  • Portable
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    Affordable
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    Perfect beginner fly fishing rod
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    Precise accuracy

What We Don't Like

  • It doesn’t come with warranty

The Maxcatch Extreme fly rod made of pure IM6 24T carbon fiber blank is available in seven different sizes. The Helical taper slim blank technology makes it lightweight with outstanding line control that produces a fast, accurate, and powerful casting.

The 4-piece model rod provides flexibility for traveling, and the advanced ceramic ring stripping allows you to have better line control thereby reducing friction, making this a great beginners fly rod

The fly rod is designed in a way that you won’t have a problem with gripping for better casting. The reel seat is made of airspace graded 6061T aluminum that makes it durable and light and the steel snake comes from a hard chrome stainless steel for optimum performance. Maxcatch is famous for their fishing gears, and this is not an exception.

What We Like

  • It is affordable
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    It is light
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    good starter fly rod

What We Don't Like

  • Fly rod lacks sensitivity

The Tailwater Outfitter is a versatile fly rod that is made of graphite which ensures precise casting along with performance maximization and durability. It features a machined aluminum reel seat that has double lock rings which provide a sturdy and secure reel attachment. The rod is a travel-friendly 4-piece with alignment dots that enable quick and easy assembly.

The fly lines flow freely and smoothly in the ceramic stripping, and the chromed snake guides help decrease friction and abrasion and efficiently prevent frequent line breakage. The fly rod provides a reliable backbone for battling tough fish, and it is designed for superb handling in windy conditions. It also comes with a four compartment rod tube that you can use to organize and store rod segments.

What We Like

  • High-quality construction 
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    Smooth casting and action
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    Excellent length for broad range
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    Lightweight

What We Don't Like

  • Can be challenging to assemble

Built for beginners who want to get serious about fly fishing. The 2/4-piece Redington fly fishing rod is an affordable product that integrates high-quality features. It comes with medium-fast action that align with several techniques and fishing skill levels. It also boasts of an anodized machined aluminum reel seat that is perfect for any water.

The Redington fly fishing rod comes with a cotton sock to store your the rod. It has alignment dots that make the job of assembling pretty much straightforward. It comes with a one-year limited warranty.

What We Like

  • Easy to assemble
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    Flexibility
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    Lightweight
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    Good entry level fly rod

What We Don't Like

  • Some of the parts are not of high quality

From the brand that provides top quality fishing gear comes the Echo Carbon XL Fly Rod, this fantastic fly fishing rod delivers unparalleled strength, durability, reliability, and has undergone extensive field testing to establish the best performance. It is a medium fast taper rod that has lightweight ceramic stripping guides which offer little to no resistance when releasing the line.

Echo Carbon XL has different sizes, and its 9ft length allows you to make a broader casting, and it does most of the work on the water. It is very smooth and feels like the perfect balance between stiff, fast, and flexibility of a slower rod. The rod handles big streamers very well, and it has a backbone that is enough to set the hook when fishing heavy.

What We Like

  • Easy to cast
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    Good return rate
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    Lightweight
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    Great line control
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    Unlimited warranty

What We Don't Like

  • Guides have too much epoxy which could affect performance of the rod. 

The Sage One is, without doubt, a good-looking, casting, and fast-action fly rod. This fast action rod is not the type that is reserved for veteran only; it is ideal for all level of anglers. The rod tube is custom crafted featuring a custom cloth sleeve, and the reel seat comes out of bronze anodized aluminum.

The sage one rod has a custom shaped cork handle with half wells grip. The Fuji ceramic guides feature to provide high-quality performance durability, it doesn’t only reduce drag, but last for a very long time. It has a black central thread wrap, bronze trim thread wrap, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.

What We Like

  • It is versatile
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    Durable
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    Quality construction
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    Nice casting

What We Don't Like

  • It is expensive, but it does come with a Lifetime warranty

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best fly rod for your fishing needs and style can be a little challenging, ultimately, there are lots of factors to consider.  If you’re just starting out, we recommend you choose a smooth casting rod that will be able to handle a variety of fishing conditions. As you keep learning, you’ll probably create your understanding of what makes a fly rod the best. Hopefully, this guide will provide you with a starting point and allow you to explore the fishing world. Happy fishing!

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