10 Best Beginner Fly Rods (2023 Buyer’s Guide)

Our expert guide to the Best Beginner Fly Rods for novice anglers or those who don't want to spend a lot of money getting into the sport.

Our top picks for the best beginner fly rods in 2023 after years of testing & research of dozens of beginner fly fishing 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.

Best Beginner Fly Rods Quick Answer

  1. Redington Classic Trout (Best Overall)
  2. Maxcatch Premier (Best Budget Beginner Fly Rod)
  3. Echo Carbon XL (Best Midrange Beginner Fly Rod)
  4. Moonshine Vesper (Best Top-End Beginner Fly Rod)
  5. TFO NXT (Best Saltwater Beginner Fly Rod)
  6. Orvis Clearwater (Best Beginner Fly Rod for Trout)
  7. Snowbee Classic (Best Beginner Rod For Kids)
  8. Headwaters Victory (Best Bamboo Beginner Fly Rod)
  9. Moonshine Revival (Best Fiberglass Beginner Fly Rod)
  10. Redington Strike (Best Beginner ESN Fly Rod

BONUS: Sage Foundation (Best Beginner Fly Rod Combo)

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.

Here’s a beginner’s guide on selecting the best beginner fly rods, as well as 10 of the best fly fishing rods for beginners.

See Also: The Best Fly Rods OVERALL in 2023

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Compare Beginner Fly Rods

Below you can use the chart to compare the prices and styles of different fly fishing rods for beginners:

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

What Makes A Good Beginner Fly Rod?

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 medium 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 a 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.

If you’re brand new to the sport and are a complete fly fishing beginner, I’d recommend simply going with the most versatile rod for beginners, a 9-foot 5-weight.

Note: There are a lot more fly rod weights than these (0-weight – 13-weight), but I believe these are the best fly rod weights for beginners:

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 their 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.

10 Best Beginner Fly Rods

Below we have 10 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.

Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod1. Redington Classic Trout
(Best Beginner Fly Rod Overall)

  • 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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Maxcatch Premier Best Budget Fly Rod2. Maxcatch Premier Fly Rod
(Best Cheap Beginner Fly Rod)

  • Available weights: 3-12
  • Action: Medium-Fast
  • Claimed weight (for 9 foot 5 weight 4 piece): 3.8 ounces
  • Pieces: 4
  • Pros: Nice balance, high quality blank, long-lasting, excellent value
  • Cons: A bit heavy, no real warranty

I’ve fished the Maxcatch Premier Fly Rod for years now and actually I’ve bought a few of them over the years as I am often on the road and need a quick backup rod when on a fishing trip so I order one of these things on Amazon.

You can buy the combo here, which is great for beginners, or if you only need the rod, it’s also easy to order on Amazon.

I’m amazed when people complain about Maxcatch rods. Yes, they’re made in China, so are 90% of the rods on the market today (or at least some of their components) including many of the most upmarket brands.

No these rods don’t feel like a $1000 Sage, but they cost a fraction of that. They are built in the same factories as some of the more expensive rod brands and they hold up to time. As I said, I’ve fished mine for years.

The main con with Maxcatch rods, in general, is that the warranty sucks. If something breaks, good luck getting any replies from Maxcatch. But for $50-$90 and this quality, it’s hard to spend much more than that on future rod upgrades.

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Echo Carbon XL Fly Rod3. Echo Carbon XL
(Best Midrange Beginner Fly Rod)

  • Available weights: 2 – 6
  • Action: Medium-Fast
  • Claimed weight (for 9 foot 5 weight 4 piece): 3.5 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 and the Echo Carbon XL is no different. 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 Carbon is a great value beginner fly rod offered by them. It’s not their cheapest rod, but it’s a couple of steps ahead of their base model, the aptly named, Echo Base.

As with all Echo rods, it comes with a full lifetime warranty to the original owner.

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4. Moonshine Vesper
(Best Top-End Beginner Fly Rod)

  • Available weights: 3-12
  • Action: Medium-Fast
  • Claimed weight (for 9 foot 5 weight 4 piece): 2.8 ounces
  • Pieces: 4
  • Pros: Amazing Moonshine Warranty, Extra Tip
  • Cons: Might be too expensive for some beginners

We love our Moonshine Vesper rods. Coming in at $500, they’re a bit pricey for most beginners, but if you have the extra cash to fork out, it’s worth it.

The reason we added the Vesper to the best beginner fly rods 2023 list is because it comes with an extra tip. Beginner fly anglers tend to be a bit careless with their rods and they don’t know how to pack them, travel with them or walk with them through thick bush.

This often leads to broken rod tips. But guess what? Moonshine ships all of their rods with an extra tip, ensuring your clumsiness won’t ruin your fishing trip.

On top of that, these rods have an excellent blank, with a good recovery rate, they’re light, just the right action and have a comfortable, high-quality cork grip.

Basically everyone on our team either owns a Vesper or has fished them extensively over the past few years and we love them.

Check out our full Moonshine Vesper Review post here.

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TFO NXT Black Label5. Temple Fork Outfitters NXT Black Label
(Best Saltwater Fly Rod For Beginners)

  • 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.

tfo nxt black label fly rod for beginners

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

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Orvis Clearwater Setup6. Orvis Clearwater
(Best Beginner Fly Rod For Trout)

  • 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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Snowbee Classic Fly Rod for Beginners7. Snowbee Classic Fly Rod
(Best Beginner Rod For Kids)

  • Available weights: 2/3 – ⅞
  • Action: Medium-Fast
  • Claimed weight (for 9 foot 5 weight 4 piece): 3.6 ounces
  • Pieces: 4
  • Pros: Snowbee has a great warranty, great value for money
  • Cons: A bit heavy compared to more expensive rods

The Snowbee Classic fly rod is a great option from one of our favorite smaller rod manufacturers. I think the classic is a great rod for both children and adults because it’s got a bit of weight to it, it’s durable, and is pretty easy to cast.

Snowbee rods are super popular in Europe, but have just recently been gaining steam in the US. We’ve fished all of their rod models and have personally owned and fished their Classic Series extensively.

Does it feel like a $1000 rod? No. But for beginners it’s great. It’s relatively easy to cast, if a little stiff and heavy, and it’s a great value. Getting a Snowbee Rod for under $160 is a great deal any day of the week.

Check out our full Snowbee Classic Fly Rod Review article for more info.

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Headwaters Victory Bamboo Fly Rod8. Headwaters Bamboo Fly Rod
(Best Beginner Bamboo Fly Rod)

  • Available weights: 3,5,7
  • Action: Slow (Very Slow)
  • Claimed weight (for 8’6″ 5 weight 4 piece): 5.1 ounces
  • Pieces: 4
  • Pros: Great bamboo rod you might actually be able to afford
  • Cons: Super slow blank a bit difficult for beginners

The Headwaters Bamboo Victory Fly Rod was my first bamboo fly rod and I think it’s a great option for beginners because most bamboo fly rods on the market cost between $1000 – $3000. To get a quality cane rod like this for under $700 is absolutely amazing.

The rod is well-built and is super slow action, making it extremely fun to catch fish and almost impossible to snap off even 6X tippets.

The only con with this bamboo rod, and pretty much any other bamboo rod, is that for beginners, it’ll be very difficult to learn how to cast, particularly if you’re used to medium action carbon rods.

Still, if you’re new to fly fishing but you want to go with that retro, bamboo feel. This rod is a great option and it won’t break the bank. I love mine and I think I’ll have it for many years to come.

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Moonshine Revival Beginner Fiberglass Rod9. Moonshine Revival
(Best Beginner Fiberglass Fly Rod)

  • Available weights: 3,5,
  • Action: Slow
  • Claimed weight (for 8′ 5 weight 4 piece): 4.8 ounces
  • Pieces: 4
  • Pros: Great value (one of the cheaper fiberglass rods), super-sensitive tip, superb warranty, extra tip
  • Cons: A bit heavy

First there was bamboo, then there was fiberglass and finally we’ve arrived at carbon fiber. But just because bamboo and fiberglass are materials of yesteryear, doesn’t mean they can’t make a comeback… and they are.

Again, not a lot of beginners out there are going to want to splurge on a fiberglass rod (which often cost more than $1000), but the Moonshine Revival is a great option for those that do.

If you are like me and love to learn how to cast different types of rods, then the Moonshine Revival Series is a great way to get into the world of fiberglass fly rods for beginners.

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Redington Strike ESN Rod10. Redington Strike
(Best Euro Nymphing Rod For Beginners)

  • Available weights: 3
  • Action: Slow
  • Claimed weight (for 10’6″ 3 weight 4 piece): 4.8 ounces
  • Pieces: 4
  • Pros: Great value (one of the cheaper fiberglass rods), super-sensitive tip, superb warranty, extra tip
  • Cons: A bit heavy

The Redington Strike is a great ESN fly rod for beginners because it’s affordable and easy to cast.

Euro nymphing, Czech Nymphing, French Nymphing, or European Style Nymphing (ESN) are all the same techniques of fly fishing where you use a longer rod and cast leader rather than a weighted fly line.

This technique is actually a great way for beginners to get into fly fishing because it’s much easier to cast these rods and you don’t have to cast as far to be productive and catch a lot of fish.

Unfortunately, Euro Nymphing rods are usually quite expensive. Well, not the Redington Strike. This rod is affordable, easy to cast and perfect for both beginner and intermediate anglers.

Don’t miss our full Redington Strike Review article and the hands-on review video above.

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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

  • 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

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.

I love the Sage Foundation Fly Rod Combo. It feels great in the hand and it comes with the Sage Spectrum C reel which is one of my favorite reels.

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

Beginner Fly Rod FAQs

When starting out fly fishing I had a ton of questions and still, after more than 20 years of fly fishing under my belt, I still like to learn from other anglers and from the legends like Lefty Creh and Flip Palet.

Here are a few questions you might have about deciding which beginner fly fishing rod is best for you:

What’s a good fly fod for a beginner?

The best fly rod for a beginner is the Redington Classic Trout.

What weight fly rod should a beginner get?

For all intents and purposes, the 5-weight fly rod and reel combo is the best for beginners.

What weight of fly rod is easiest to cast?

A 9-foot 5-weight fly rod is generally regarded as the easiest fly rod to cast. It has enough weight that you can feel the swing in the front and back stroke, while giving enough feedback to the grip, making it ideal for novice anglers.

How long should a beginner fly rod be?

That’s an easy one, the most common fly rod size and arguably the easiest cast is a 9ft fly rod. This is the standard size for most applications of fly fishing and is the best length fly rod for beginners.

What reel should I get with my beginner fly rod?

When starting out, you don’t want to break the budget. We have an entire guide on The Best Budget Fly Reels that has a list of some great options.

Just make sure that your rod and reel match. If you get a 5-weight rod for example, make sure you get a 5-weight reel and 5-weight line.

What is the best fly rod action for a beginner?

Typically a medium-action fly rod will be the easiest to cast. It gives you more forgiveness in your timing between your backstroke and your forward stroke, making the medium-action fly rod best for beginners.

Is a fast-action fly rod good for a beginner?

No. The best action fly rod for a beginner is medium action. If you decide on a medium-fast action fly rod, it should be ok for beginners, but fast-action rods are more difficult to cast because they require precision power input and timing.

What fly line should I get as a beginner?

I would always start with a weight forward, floating line (WF). Try to pick up some line that won’t cost a lot of money. Check out our Best Fly Lines Guide. It has some great fly lines for beginners as well.

Also, ensure your fly line, rod and reel match. They should all be the same weight (ie: 5-weight fly rod with 5-weight fly reel with 5-weight fly line).

Sometimes you can overline a rod (ie: a 6-weight fly line with a 5-weight fly rod), but this is more for advanced anglers.

Where should I buy my first fly rod?

That’s entirely up to you. With a fly rod, even if you go to a store you don’t usually get the opportunity to cast/feel the rod. I typically buy my beginner fly rods online at stores like Amazon or Trident.

What’s the difference between a cheap and expensive fly rod?

The most expensive part of the fly rod is the blank and so the biggest difference between a cheap and expensive fly rod will be just that, the blank.

High modulous graphite blanks are super expensive, as are split cane and fiberglass, which means the cheaper the rod, the cheaper the blank.

Another thing you might notice on cheaper rods is the cork quality. An expensive rod will use AAA Portuguese Cork in most cases and has a very smooth texture with very little “filler” or after-shape repair glue.

Who makes the cheapest beginner fly rods?

A few brands out there that produce very cheap fly fishing rods and equipment are:

  • Maxcatch
  • Aventik
  • Wild Water
  • Redington
  • Piscifun

Are cheap beginner fly rods always made in China?

For the most part, yes. Most blanks or the entire rods will be produced and assembled in either China or (often slightly better quality) Korea. Don’t fret though. Many of the best top-end brands build their rods or at least some of their components in China.

Beginner Fly Fishing Rods 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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Best Beginner Fly Rods 2020 | #beginnerflyrods #flyfishing #noviceflyfishing #flyrod #buyersguide #flyfishingbeginnerBest Beginner Fly Rods. 2020

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Disclaimer: IntoFlyFishing.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see our Privacy Page for more information.

Pierre is a fly fishing guide and professional photographer who has guided and hosted trips for top fly fishing outfitters. Since being introduced to fly fishing over 21 years ago, he has travelled, fished and guided across the globe. He has extensive knowledge on specific gear and tackle selection for various salt- and freshwater species. Some of his writing work includes blogposts for Alphonse Fishing Company and African Waters.

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