Best Fly Fishing Rods for the Money 2017 – Reviews and Buying Guide

With spring just around the corner and summer fast approaching, it’s the best time of the year to think about getting a new fly rod for yourself or a present for one of your loved ones. Or if you’re reading this during Christmas, it’s a great time to remind your spouse or friends about the perfect Xmas present 😉

If you’re a beginner and reading this, we gotta say that one of the most difficult obstacles for new fly fishers is finding a quality rod and picking which rod/reel combo works best. Getting a great rod will allow you to learn a lot easier. Casting and catching fish become a lot easier with the proper equipment. Problem is, we don’t want to spend too much money.

I totally understand…

There is a balancing act between finding a quality rod and also not spending too much money. As a beginner there is no reason to spend 400+ on some of the higher end rods. However, you also shouldn’t buy some plastic Walmart piece of garbage (no offense Walmart). So in this post, I’ll cover some of the budget options that I’ve bought myself or seen fellow anglers use.

All the rods I’ll cover below are well worth the money. They are a great mix of quality without breaking the bank.  They also make great gifts 🙂

First thing you should know are that fly rods are rated their “weight”. Basically this is the thickness/weight of your particular model’s fly line.  So for example a fly rod with 5-weight classification is also rated to work with a 5-weight fly line.  The weight decides the line you need.

The length of your rod also varies and they come in a lot of different lengths and sizes. However, if you’re looking for the quick answer to what length to get – the 8-9foot rod is the most optimal length for almost all anglers. This is definitely the most versatile size of rod and allow you to do most creek/river fishing for trout/pike.

If you’re fishing mostly in smaller rivers or creeks than you could opt for a smaller weight rod, like a 4-weight rod. If you’re looking for something a bit bigger for bass or larger fish, than go for a 7-weight or 8-weight.  Salmon fishing would require at least an 8-weight.

I know this can all be a bit confusing so check out our top fly fishing rods and reels review page for more comprehensive info.

What Reel Should I Choose?

So first off let’s cover the evolution of quality reels. Over the years smart engineering and a lot of innovation has led to the majority of reels adopting an arbor design that allows you to reel your line over a larger cylinder as opposed to the traditional smaller axel. So think of it like this – instead of reeling your rod with all your strength around something tiny like a pen, you’d be reeling it MUCH faster around a larger object like a breakfast burrito (hey, I love burritos).

This has become the standard now. Nearly all reels have larger diameters and since they use lightweight materials are just as light as their predecessors.

How Does a Drag Work

Simply put most quality rods also have very smooth drags. A drag is an essential component of the reel system that allows the line to leave the reel once a fish starts pulling hard. The importance of this is a quality drag system will allow the line to come out without getting bunched up or jerky. The line just comes out smoothly without any bumps. Too much of a jerky motion can cause your tippet (part of your leader) to instantly snap.

Snapping = bye bye fishy.

Anyways perhaps that is too much info, but just wanted to discuss some of the basics before we get into it. So I’ve broken down this section into two areas.

My Top Pick – Orvis Encounter picture of the orvis clearwater


  • 25 Year Warranty
  • Super Easy to Learn With
  • Can Easily Use for 10+ Years
  • High Quality Arbor Reel
  • Free Shipping

Seriously, you don’t need to read the rest of this post the Orvis Encounter is one of the premier brands in fly fishing now and has been for the last twenty years. Most of their fly rods are high end with some models going for 500-600+ so the encounter is definitely a great option for people searching for a cheaper version.  The best thing is the quality for the price point.

Personally I think Orvis made this rod to get new people used to their brand because after using some of the most expensive Orvis rods out there I can honestly say that the Encounter feels almost the same. Anyways, enough said. Great purchase for new anglers or even experienced guys looking for a cheaper option.

Second Runner Up – Redington Cross Water image of another one of the discount choice also known as the redington cross water


  • Comes with Complete Package Including Case
  • Floating Fly Line
  • Strong Disc Drag System
  • 1- Year Warranty

Another great option if you don’t want the Orvis. I bought my nephew one of these and he’s been using it for the last few years.  Quality design mixed with a really solid disc drag system and reel, the Redington is definitely a high quality rod priced as a more affordable price point.

The Other Guys

So below are some of the super discount fly rods. They are good if you don’t want to spend much but I will say that don’t expect these things to last very long. The line will mostly likely break due to a lower quality disc drag system.  Also these are a lot heavier than the Orvis or Redington.  Just a heads up!

1.Best Value Wild Water Fly Fishing Complete 5/6 Starter Package picture of the wild water fly fishing

  • Great Price
  • Great Flies Included!

When everything you need to go fishing shows up at your front door, the best thing to do– is go fishing! With the starter package from Wild Water, a beginner or professional can be ready to hit the water with their pre-assembled fly fishing kit.

This package, equipped with a 5-6 weight, four-piece, 9’ rod is balanced with a large arbor reel and fly line that casts with slow to medium action. Tie on one of the flies included and enjoy the casting abilities of this affordable rod. This would be a great rod for bass, trout and your smaller saltwater species. Included is a sturdy carrying case for the rod and reel.

2. Crystal River Fly Fishing Combo Kit (Cheapest) picture of crystal river fly fishing gear

  • Best Bargain
  • Lightweight

This rod is perfect for the beginner interested in buying their first fly rod. As a combo, you will receive everything you need to start your fly fishing adventures on any size water- big or small. In this kit, this 8’3”, powerful, 6-7 weight rod is balanced with a plastic reel, fly line, leader and dry flies to get you casting.

With a lightweight graphite blank, stainless steel guides and a comfortable grip, this rod is balanced, easy to load and comfortable to cast with little casting fatigue after a long day of fishing.

3. Wakeman Charter Series Fly Fishing Combo with Carry Bag – Black wakeman charter series fly fishing gear

  • Great value
  • Easy to use
  • Great for kids

Learning how to fly fish doesn’t have to be difficult, especially with the Charter Series Fly Fishing package by Wakeman. A fiberglass rod designed to help a beginner’s cast, not inhibit it, is a perfect partner in learning the art of fly fishing. Why spend more when you don’t need to? Included with the rod is a carrying case, 5-6 reel with 7-point drag system, fly line, leader and flies. At this price, it is a great gift for a young fly fishing angler or someone interested in learning more about fly fishing.


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