The best small stream fly rod is going to allow you to make quick, accurate casts with little to no backcast. You’re most likely fishing in tight quarters so you’ll need to make a lot of roll casts or bow and arrow casts.

Some of the best fly rods on the market today are great small stream rods that can be used to target smaller trout.

Quick-Look: Best Fly Rods For Small Streams

#1 Best Small Stream Rod Overall: The Drifter 


On top of this, you’ll need something that has a lighter weight to it. You’ll be casting smaller flies and will require a lighter line. So, using your 6 weight while throwing a size 22 midge would not cut it.

So, if you’re looking to get into small stream fly fishing and need a rod then check out the information below. We’re going to cover products as well as some features of those products.

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Best Small Stream Fishing Techniques

Below, we’re going to go over a few different small stream techniques that will help you catch more fish. Check out the list below and use some of these tactics the next time you’re chasing brookies or cutthroat!

Keep it Small

I don’t want to discourage you from casting large flies because those can sometimes work. However, you’re going to want to downsize your fly selection on these smaller waters.

Fly Fishing On a Small Stream

Large prey is not usual for smaller streams so you need to keep it small in order to properly match the hatch. Get used to throwing small nymphs, as well as Adams.


The summertime can be slow for hatches. So if you still want to throw dries and have some success then look to different beetles, grasshoppers, or anything else that is a notice to your area.

Also, black and red ants are great if you want to go subsurface. You can also drop an ant off of your beetle or hopper imitation.


This one is not so much a technique but is more of a way you should approach small stream fishing. Walking or crawling up to a spot could be what makes the difference between a fish caught and a spooked pool.

Also, dressing in muted colors works well too. I’m not saying you need to go out and buy a whole camo wardrobe for hot weather, but darker shirts and pants will help keep you concealed.


Depending on what species you’re going after, you may want to have a specific small stream rod for the job. There are some great rods out there that are specialist small trout rods, while others have a lighter touch for those small panfish.

What is The Best Weight For Small Stream Fly Rods?

Below, we’re going to cover the best weight fly rod for small stream fishing. Check them out and see which weight works best for you.


If you’re blue lining for Brook Trout and you know you’re going to be in some seriously skinny water then a 2 weight is going to be ideal.

orvis clearwater casting river in BC
Fly Fishing Nymphs on a Small Stream in BC

You’ll be able to get a shorter size and you’ll have the ability to load the rod on short quick casts and land tiny flies exactly where you want.


This might be the most popular small stream rod. It’s large enough to throw some smaller streamers as well as some terrestrials that might overpower a 2 weight.

However, it is also small enough to land those tiny dries and nymphs in shallow runs. This is a great all around size for small stream fishing. Might be the best fly fishing rod for small streams.

Check Out Our Guide To The Best 3-Weight Fly Rods


4 weights are good for small streams that might have a little more depth to them. The extra weight will help you pull out bigger fish that might hide in cut out banks or in deeper parts of the river.

The larger weight will allow you to throw some larger flies too. This could help you entice some of those big fish that lurk in small streams.

Check Out Our Guide To The Best 4-Weight Fly Rods

Other Features of The Best Small Stream Rods

Below, we’re going to go over some different features for small stream rods. Check out the information below and see which one is going to work best for you!


Normally you’ll be using a shorter rod when fishing small streams. This is because of the tight quarters that you’ll be fishing in.

However, sometimes these small streams run through fields and pastures. So a shorter rod is not needed. A 9′ could work just as well as a 7′ 6″ in this scenario.


Most fly rods are going to be made of either graphite or a nano-silica resin. Both of these have their own pros and cons, and knowing them is going to be important to your choice.

Rod and Reel in Cold River Fly Fishing Alberta

Graphite is light, sensitive, and is also durable. While the nano-silica is going to be the new and improved graphite. Making the nano the best material you can buy for a rod.


A four-piece rod is what I would recommend for most fly rods. However, if you have a smaller model that is 6′-7′ 6″ then you could get away without having to break it down.

That being said, it’s also nice to have a rod that breaks down into pieces. It makes it easier to travel with and will help prevent the car door from eating it.


Fly rods can have three different types of action. Slow, medium, and fast. The action of the rod will determine where it begins to bend.

Fast actions bend at the top and are great for big fish. Medium actions bend in the middle and are a great all-around rod. Where slow actions bend at the handle and are ideal for small water.


Some fly anglers swear that having a perfectly balanced rod is the most important thing you can have. While others seem to think it makes little to no difference.

Small Stream Fly Fishing

What we can all agree on though is that the reel needs to be balanced on your rod. You can test this by setting your index finger an inch below the grip of the rod and letting it balance just on the tip of your finger.

The Best Fly Rods For Small Streams

Now that we’re gone over the features and tactics of a small stream fly rod lets go over a few products. Check out the gear below and see which one is going to work best for you.

Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter

  • Action – Slow Medium
  • Pros – A good all-around action and very accurate
  • Cons – Heavy for its size

The Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter is my personal favorite fly rod for fishing small streams for its price on this list. You’re getting an accurate rod that has an action that will allow you to easily make tight casts in narrow streams.

With this rod, you can easily drift a nymph through a run and pluck out a cutthroat. Or throw an Adams into a plunge pool for a rookie.


Temple Fork Outfitters Lefty Kreh

  • Action – Slow Medium
  • Pros – Accurate cast and is fast and responsive
  • Cons – Durability can be suspect

The Temple Fork Outfitters Lefty Kreh is a surprisingly good rod for the price. Similar to the Moonshine rod above, the Lefty Kreh comes in at a solid price point that would make any fly angler happy.

It loads quickly so you can cast easily when fishing in tight spaces. Making it ideal for mountain brook trout fishing. It’s diverse enough to use just about anywhere though.


Orvis Clearwater

  • Action – Medium
  • Pros – Made for shorter casts and great for mending on small water
  • Cons – Heavy, no hook holder

The Orvis Clearwater might be the most known name in terms of rods and reels in fly fishing. It’s a product that most anglers have and for good reason.

The Clearwater is great for just about any type of fishing. It was made specifically to cast short distances while also having the improved ability to mend when fishing skinny water.

We have tested this rod for years and absolutely love it. Check out our full Orvis Clearwater Review if you’re considering picking up this rod.


Aventik Z Series

  • Action – Fast
  • Pros – Great price point for beginners, solid fast action
  • Cons – Flimsy and not very durable.

The Aventik Lightweight Z-Series Fly Rod is a great rod for someone who is looking to get into fly fishing. The price point is low so you don’t have to commit to purchasing an expensive first rod.

It would also make a great backup rod for someone. Despite the price, you will be getting a surprisingly durable wrap as well as a cork on the rod. That’s where the durability stops though.


Sage X

  • Action – Fast
  • Pros – Incredible casting for all different styles. Allows for better presentations
  • Cons – Price

Other than being wildly expensive there is not much to dislike about the Sage X rod. Sage says to “command the water” and with this rod that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.

It allows for tighter loops in your line so you can cast more efficiently as well as more effectively. Easily roll cast or bow and arrow cast a hopper back into an eddy to snag a waiting trout.

We recently got our hands on the 3wt 9′ variation of this rod and have to say that it is an extremely high-quality piece of kit. Check out our full Sage X Review.


Best Fly Rod Combo For Small Streams

Oftentimes the best way to purchase a fly rod is part of a kit, particularly for those who are just starting out in the sport. The Wildwater Outfit is decent quality and comes with everything you need.

Wildwater Fly Rod Combo

  • Action – Slow
  • Pros – Great price. Comes with everything you need
  • Cons – Casting is average at best and the drag leaves something to be desired.

If you want to get started in fly fishing but don’t know where to begin then the Wildwater Fly Rod Combo is the rod and reel combo for you, coming equipped with everything you need.

Fly line, flies, reel, and rod all come in this kit. Take it straight from the store and hit the water with it immediately.



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If you’re looking to get into throwing a fly rod on small streams then you should check out the info above. It has everything you need to get started.

There you have it, folks. Now that you know a little bit more about small stream fly fishing you should head on down to your local fly shop and pick up a rod!

Some images in this post are courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Guide To The Best Fly Rods for Small StreamsThe Best Fly Rods for Small Streams