When picking out the best fly rods for trout fishing, you should think about what types of flies you plan on throwing. Are you chasing rainbows and brown trout or are you going after small brook trout?
A rod with the correct size will give you much more precision when casting larger or smaller flies. Also, a heavier rod will help you haul in bigger fish too.
So, if you’re looking to get into trout fishing and need a rod but you’re not sure where to start, then check out the information below. I’m going to cover features as well as products.
Check out our best fly rods overall if you’re looking for rods in all weights and for all species. Also, make sure to read our guide to the best trout flies as well as our guide on fly fishing for trout if you plan on doing a lot of trout fishing.
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How to Target Trout with a Fly Rod
Below, I’ll go over a few different strategies you can use when targeting trout with a fly rod. Feel free to use these the next time you hit up a trout stream.
This is a great way to target the surface of the water while also banging the bottom. You want a larger fly on top so it can support your nymphing fly. Typically a big dry or hopper works well.
Your dropper will be tied off using tippet from the shank of your dry fly. Whatever works best in your area can be used as the dropper.
Swinging is a very easy technique to learn and is also incredibly effective, making it great for novice anglers as well as some of the experts out there.
You’ll cast your wet fly at a 45-degree angle downstream from you. Allow the fly to drift through the current and keep a tight line to ensure you can detect any strikes.
During the summer, there are few to no hatches occurring. So, your best bet is to tie on some sort of terrestrial and have at it.
Depending on the river, you could tie on a beetle, spider, floating ant, or hopper. If fish aren’t rising, then you could go subsurface. A Squirmy Wormy or San Juan is always a great bet. Same with sinking ants.
Pro tip: Tying your own flies gives you the flexibility to tie the sizes you need for whatever your fly rod setup is. Plus, you can hone the colors and attractors to make them irresistible for the trout in your area.
Best Weight for a Trout Fly Rod
Below, I’ll go over three different weights that are the most useful for trout fishing with a fly rod. Each has its own pros and cons, so ensure you read carefully and pick the right one.
The 3 weight is ideal for throwing small flies that need to have a delicate presentation. Smaller dries and nymphs work well on this weight.
Typically you’ll be fishing in smaller streams with this weight. However, you can find some longer rods that are 3 weights and are made specifically for nymphing big rivers.
The 4 weight fly rod has seen a resurgence in the past few years. Many anglers are now purchasing longer 4 weight rods and using them to effectively nymph currents.
A lighter rod allows them to cast smaller nymphs more effectively, and a longer rod allows for better mends as well as drifts. The extra length also allows for extra reach.
This is the classic trout rod size. The 5 weight is very versatile and makes a great rod size for anyone who wants to be able to use multiple tactics while trout fishing.
Sure, different sizes specialize in different techniques, but few of them can do everything well enough to warrant one rod. If you could only use one rod to trout fish, it should be a five weight.
Features of the Best Fly Rods for Trout
Below, I’ll go into more detail about what makes the best fly fishing rods for trout. Take a look and see which ones are the best fly rods for trout fishing for your style of fishing.
The length of your rod all depends on what techniques you plan on using, as well as where you plan on fishing. Longer rods are great for mends and reach, but won’t work well on skinny water.
Fishing in the mountains or anywhere that requires short casts requires a shorter rod. Shorter rods load quicker and allow you to make those quick casts.
Most fly rods are made of either graphite or a nano-silica resin. Both of these have their own pros and cons, and knowing them can benefit your decision.
Graphite is light, sensitive, durable, and cheaper than nano-silica. The resin is essentially the graphite in pencils. It’s better in just about every way except for the price tag.
A four-piece fly rod is ideal for trout fishing, especially if you plan on getting a rod that is 9′ or longer. This is because of how much easier it is to travel with.
However, if you want to get a one-piece rod that’s longer than 8′, then be prepared to keep it safe during transit.
Fly rods come in three different actions: slow, medium, and fast. You’ll find that the action of the rod is where it begins to bend.
Slow action rods bend at the base of the handle. This is great for small water. Medium action bends in the middle and is a solid all-around rod. Fast action rods bend at the tip and are great for big fish and flies.
This is a debated topic in the fly fishing world. Many anglers feel that the balance of your rod and reel is pivotal to ensuring your success, while others think the opposite.
However, we all agree that the reel should at least be somewhat 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 on the tip of your finger.
Best Trout Fly Rods
Below, I’ll go over several different trout rods. Check them out and see which ones will work best for you.
Best 3 Weight Trout Fly Rod
Catching a larger trout on a 3 weight is a blast, but if they get too big it’s a bit hard to protect the tippet. You could snap it off. There are plenty of great 3 weights for trout, but in my opinion Moonshine is ahead of the pack in this weight class.
- Action: Slow
The short length allows you to load the rod quickly so you can get your fly out there without too big of a back cast. The price point is solid as well.
Best 4 Weight Trout Fly Rod
This is the optimal weight for a trout rod. It gives you flexibility for not overpowering smaller trout, and it’s still able to land large trout or even mid-sized bass. The Sage Trout LL Series is top-notch and is my favorite fly rod combo for trout. (If you’re looking for a full setup, I’ve listed it below.)
- Action: Medium
Sage produces some incredible pieces of equipment. The Sage Trout LL rod has a delicate touch, and the medium action makes it great for just about any type of fishing you want to do.
It’s ideal for making close casts and for throwing smaller flies on light tippet. This is ideal for the angler who wants a little more backbone in their nymph rod.
Best 5 Weight Trout Fly Rod (Best Overall)
The most versatile fly rod weight of all, a 5 weight will allow you to land massive fish on a river or even smaller sized bonefish on saltwater. It’s the Goldilocks of rod weights.
- Action: Medium
The 5 weight 8’6″ Orvis Helios 3F might be the best 5 weight fly rod for trout fishing. Not only is this rod extremely accurate, but it also offers unparalleled finesse and feel. The Helios F was made to put a dry fly inside a coffee cup from 40 feet away.
This is the ideal rod for just about any angler who wants to drop the money for it. This is a great rod for big rivers. It’s not the best choice for smaller water.
Best 6 Weight Trout Fly Rod
Getting a bit big for the smaller trout, the 6 weight is a still great offering if you know you’re going to rivers where monsters lurk. Orvis makes some of the best 6 weights, and their Clearwater has won many of our top fly rods by weight contests.
- Action: Medium/fast
The Orvis Clearwater is a great 6 weight rod that can handle just about anything you throw at it. It has the backbone to throw large flies along with the ability to reel in big trout.
Danny, one of our anglers, has this setup in a few weights. He’s fished it for years and still loves it.
Feel free to throw big streamers with this rod, or you could even drift small midges through runs. The 6 weight is very diverse and can do just about anything. Plus, with the Clearwater, like all Orvis rods, you get their 25-year guarantee.
Check out our full hands-on review of the Orvis Clearwater fly rod.
Best 7 Weight Trout Fly Rod
This is getting a bit big for trout, but there are plenty of anglers who like to do some salmon fishing and trout fishing with the same rod or on the same trip. If that’s the case, then you really can’t go wrong with the Helios (if you have the cash).
- Action: Fast
On top of being one of the most accurate fly rods ever built, the Helios 3D allows you to throw big flies long distances in order to reach monster trout.
The popularity of throwing big mice patterns at night has picked up, and a 7 weight rod will allow you to haul in big browns while also allowing you to cast accurately and with distance.
This is the rod for the trophy anglers out there. Sure, you could bring in a big trout on a normal-sized wooly bugger with a 5 weight, but a 7 weight rod is more efficient.
Best Trout Fly Rod Combo
Sometimes the best way to buy a trout fly rod is to get it as part of a set with everything you need. If you’re looking to get into the sport for cheap, then you may want to check out the MaxCatch Premier Fly Rod Combo, which has everything a new angler could need for a great price.
But if you’re going to be in the sport for a while, sometimes it’s best to go big or go home and get top quality products and lifetime warranties right off the bat. That’s where the Sage Trout LL Series comes in.
This is easily one of the best fly rod combos on the market today for any weight and any species of fish.
- Action: Medium
The Sage Trout LL 4wt 9′ Combo kit isn’t the cheapest, and it’s not the most complete (it only comes with a rod, reel, rod case, and line), but it has one of the best Sage trout fly rods. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and is arguably the best reel of 2019-2020 for trout.
If you have the money to spend, then the Sage Trout LL Combo is the way to go. You could get it in the 3wt to 7wt sizes, but for trout, I love the 4wt 8’6″ model. It’s truly a world-class trout fly fishing setup.
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Table of Contents
- Fly Fishing Species
- How to Target Trout with a Fly Rod
- Fly Tying Tutorials
- Best Weight for a Trout Fly Rod
- Fly Rods By Weight
- Features of the Best Fly Rods for Trout
- Fly Rods
- Best Trout Fly Rods
A trout rod for fly fishing will allow you to throw all different types of flies: dries, nymphs, streamers, or anything else you enjoy.
So, if you’re ready to start trout fishing, then use the list above as a jumping-off point. Then, head out to your local fly shop to pick one up!
Some images in this post are courtesy of Shutterstock.
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