According to Outdoor Industry’s 2019 Special Report on Fishing, America saw 1.2 million newcomers into fly fishing in 2018. With so many anglers starting or at least exploring our beautiful sport, here’s a beginner’s guide on selecting the best beginner fly rods.

Over the years I’ve guided and fished with many newcomers to fly fishing. Introducing someone to fly fishing, to me, feels like I’m a doctor delivering a baby and seeing it take its first breath. It’s more than a special moment. It’s a proud moment.

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One of the first things you need to learn when starting is how to cast a fly rod. Therefore, as a beginner, choosing the best beginner fly fishing rod suited to your needs is crucial for success.

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What Makes The Best Beginner Fly Rods?

In my opinion, the most important factors of a great beginner fly rod are cost, action, and durability. Below, I’ll discuss these important considerations and also briefly touch on other things to keep in mind when selecting the best beginner fly rod suited to your needs.

Action

When discussing fly rods the term “action” will undoubtedly come up.

The true meaning of this term is described perfectly by G. Loomis’ Chief Rod Designer, Steve Rajeff, in this video. In short, slow action rods flex deep into the rod during the casting stroke, sometimes even into the grip.

Fast action rods will only flex in the tip section (or portion thereof) during the cast.

Best Beginner Fly Fishing Rod For Kids

The top beginner fly fishing rods will fall into the slow action category.

It will assist your cast when there are slight timing issues. You will also experience better feedback from the rod as it loads.

Price

Affordability is a relative term. What is cheap fly rod for me might be expensive for you. As with all hobbies or sports on sweet mother earth, things can get quite pricy when you start climbing the proverbial experience ladder.

I want to encourage you as a newcomer to refrain from chasing expensive rods for as long as you can. Instead, buy a great value fly rod for a novice angler that you can, and you’ll be fishing it for years to come.

Durability

As the old saying goes: “Durable, weight, low price. Choose two.”

You’ll find that most beginner fly rods won’t be the lightest feather on the bird’s back.

Choose a rod that has a reputation for being durable as some of the fly rods for newbies don’t come with lifetime warranties, like their more expensive counterparts.

Line Weights

The weight rating is a recognized standard that the manufacturer uses to indicate to the fisherman what weight of fly line they should use with the fly reel and subsequently, the fly rod.

There are, of course, exceptions to these rules, but as a beginner, I recommend sticking to them.

Different Fly Reel Sizes Different Weight Class Reels

As most of us start out targeting freshwater species, I recommend starting with either a 4-weight, 5-weight or 6-weight outfit.

Heavier than a 6 could become too tiresome for some, while lighter than a 4 wouldn’t provide the feedback required to learn cast timing.

Below I’ve gone through some general applications for these weights which will assist you when you’re choosing a good beginner fly fishing rod.

4 Weight

The best 4 weight fly rod will be perfect for someone who is physically on the smaller side.

Therefore, it’s a perfect rod for a kid just starting. Also, most smaller women find it easy to handle as it places less strain on your wrist.

I’ll also consider this rod if most of the water that I’ll be fishing is small rivers and streams. This is primarily because it is capable of delicate presentations and offers good light tippet protection.

If you’re considering a 4-weight rod, then also have a look at our list of the Best 4-Weight Fly Reels to complete your kit.

5 Weight

Probably the most popular starter fly rod is the 5 weight. And for good reason.

This rod can be used on small to large rivers, lakes, and dams.

It can make delicate presentations with small dry flies to fussy brown trout and chuck heavy streamers and poppers accurately for structure holding bass.

If you’re considering a 5-weight rod, then also have a look at our list of the Best 5-Weight Fly Reels to complete your kit.

6 Weight

This is the perfect rod to start with if you’re going to fish medium to larger rivers.

It’s a great lake and dam rod and will cope well when used on light saltwater species.

If I had to choose a rod to start with it would be a 6. It also makes use of a slightly heavier line that could assist you when casting into the wind.

Match your 6-weight rod up with a reel of the same weight. Check out our list of The Best 6-Weight Fly Reels.

5 Best Beginner Fly Rods

Below we have 5 of the best beginner fly rods on the market today. Can I please urge you to head down to your local fly shop and test them out, see which one feels the best for you.

Each one of these rods will serve you well, and will, hopefully, send you off on the lifetime journey which is fly fishing.

1. St. Croix Mojo Trout

  • Available weights: 2 – 7
  • Action: Medium-Fast
  • Claimed weight (for 9 foot 5 weight 4 piece): 3.6 ounces
  • Pieces: 2 and 4
  • Pros: A long tradition of rod building, a wide selection of rods to choose from
  • Cons: Might be too expensive for some beginners, only offers a 5-year warranty

St. Croix has been in the rod manufacturing business for over 70 years – who better to trust to build a perfect beginner fly rod?.

This offering from them, the Mojo Trout, won the Best of Category Fly Rod at the 2018 ICAST show. In total, there are 11 models in the range. From a 6 foot 2 piece 2 weight to a 9 foot 4 piece 7 weight. It comes with a 5-year warranty.

Not surprisingly (given the name), this is one of the best fly rods for trout on the market today.

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2. Echo Base

  • Available weights: 3 – 8
  • Action: Medium-Fast
  • Claimed weight (for 9 foot 5 weight 4 piece): 3.7 ounces
  • Pieces: 4
  • Pros: Full lifetime warranty to the original owner, value for money
  • Cons: Slightly on the heavy side

Echo fly rods are designed by Tim Rajeff. He’s not only a previous single-hand distance casting world champion, but he also understands the principles of fly rod design and that distance isn’t everything.

The Echo Base is a great value beginner fly rod offered by them. As with all Echo rods, it comes with a full lifetime warranty to the original owner.

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3. Redington Classic Trout

  • Available weights: 2 – 6
  • Action: Medium-Fast
  • Claimed weight (for 9 foot 5 weight 4 piece): 2.9 ounces
  • Pieces: 4 and 6
  • Pros: Full lifetime warranty to the original owner
  • Cons: Can’t fault this rod in any way

As its name suggests, the Redington Classic Trout rod is designed to be a perfect trout rod. An exciting feature of this lineup of rods is that you have the option of two 6-piece models, one being a 5 weight.

A 6 piece 5 weight (that still weighs in at 3.1 ounces) Redington Classic Trout is the perfect rod to take on hiking trips or to keep stowed away in your boot for those “you never know” fishing moments.

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4. Temple Fork Outfitters NXT Black Label

  • Available weights: 5 and 8
  • Action: Medium-Fast
  • Claimed weight (for 9 foot 5 weight 4 piece): 4 ounces
  • Pieces: 4
  • Pros: Lifetime warranty to the original owner
  • Cons: Weight

Making fly fishing accessible is part of TFO’s mission. That’s what they’ve done with this range, focusing only on two models, they’ve hit the mark with a perfect beginner fly rod for both freshwater and saltwater anglers, the NXT Black Label.

 

They have chosen reconstructed cork for the grips and aluminum reel seats for added durability.

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5. Orvis Clearwater

  • Available weights: 2 – 6
  • Action: Medium-Fast
  • Claimed weight (for 9 foot 5 weight 4 piece): 3.2 ounces
  • Pieces: 4
  • Pros: Orvis 25 year warranty, offers 10-foot rod models
  • Cons: Might be too expensive for some beginners

The Clearwater fly rod from Orvis is one of the best fly rods for beginners currently on the market.

The 5 weight rendition is the perfect rod to throw from big streamers to small dry flies at feeding trout. The range also offers exciting 10ft models which are perfect to control tricky drifts in rivers.

Considering the Clearwater? It’s a great rod and we have a few in our kits. Be sure to check out our Full Hands-On Review of The Orvis Clearwater.

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Best Beginner Fly Rod Combo

One of the best ways for a brand new fly fisherman to get into the sport is to purchase a fly rod combo.

These usually come with at least a rod, reel, and some line. In some cases, like with the very inexpensive Maxcatch Premier Starter Kit, they come with pretty much everything a new angler could ask for.

But if you have a bit of budget, it may be worth it to step it up a notch to a nice Sage starter kit.

Read More: Best Fly Rod Combos Overall

Sage Foundation Fly Rod Combo

Sage released their Foundation fly rod in 2018. It’s a high-performance rod, as expected from Sage, dedicated to the beginner and intermediate fly fisherman. The Sage Foundation Fly Rod Combo is now available as well. That means you can buy the fly rod, fly reel, line, and backing in one package.

  • Available weights: 4 – 8
  • Action: Fast
  • Claimed rod weight (for 9 foot 5 weight 4 piece): 3 1/16 ounces
  • Pieces: 4
  • Pros: Made in the USA, Lifetime warranty, quality fly line
  • Cons: Might be too expensive for some beginners

The Foundation Outfit includes the Foundation fly rod, Sage 2200 fly reel, and Rio Gold fly line. It also includes fly line backing, a tapered Rio leader and a strong rod and reel case.

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Review

Conclusion

In conclusion, I need to mention that fly fishing, and especially casting, is about balance. No one thing (rod, reel, line, leader, tippet, casting technique, etc.) is more important than the other.

Rather, it’s a good blend of these things that makes a good caster. I can, however, recommend to the beginner to focus on buying a good beginner fly rod, a quality fly line, and practice casting as much as you can.

And lastly, I would like to welcome you to our sport. I really hope that you find it as enjoyable as I do and that it enriches your life with many great memories.

As always, if you have any further questions get in touch with us – we’d love to hear your thoughts and/or comments.

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