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Best Fly Fishing Combo 2017 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

man fishing in a creek with waders on

What makes buying a fly fishing combo so great is the price point. You don’t need to buy your rod and reel separately, instead you can purchase them together.  A good combo contains not only the rod. It includes the fly reel, rod tube/rod sock and the fly line.  These kinds of packages are referred to as “fly rod outfits” or more commonly – “fly fishing combos”.

Fly fishing combos have come a long way.

When I first started fly fishing, most of us thought of these kinds of rods as cheap alternatives for newer anglers as they weren’t made of great quality materials. However, times have changed and now the majority of combos (including the ones we will discuss today) are made of extremely high quality components.

These old rods have come a long way to the crappy fiberglass everything 39.99 combos of the past.  While there are still some cheap alternatives available for kids or people who just want to try the sport, the combos we will discuss today provide a great blend of cost with high quality materials.

Which one to Choose?

The fly fishing market has really expanded throughout North America and finding the best rod for our purposes becomes complicated by the fact that there are SO MANY brands out there. 

In this article I hope to put my fifteen plus years of fly fishing experience to the test and help you choose a combo rod that will allow you to save money and also use a quality rod.

Just one note, combos aren’t just for beginners.  I’ve been fishing for a long time and some of my friends are anglers with over twenty years of experience and we all use combo rods. The utility and convenience of a combo is really hard to beat.

My Rod and Reel Combo Reviews

Basically, I’ve tried all of these rods before. I’ve even owned a couple of them. So all of these recommended products are a no BS assessment. If I offend anyone, too bad. 🙂

If you have a product you’d like to add to this list, please feel free to contact me and send me your recommendation. Thanks.

1. Best Beginner Fly Rod Combo  – Orvis Encounter picture of the orvis clearwater

What I Like

  • Long Warranty – 25 Years
  • Great to Learn With
  • Durable Arbor Reel
  • Includes Free Shipping

This is my top choice. I’ve used the Orris Fly fishing combo for a few years and it’s a GREAT choice. First off, remember that Orvis is one of the top brands in the fishing world. Most of their products are at the 500 dollar and above price point.  They definitely aren’t cheap, however, the Encounter provides a cost effective option for anglers looking for an easier solution.

So basically what you’re getting is an extremely high quality combo rod for a low price. I’m not sure how Orvis is even making money off of these to be honest!

Best Beginner Fly Rod Combo - Orvis Encounter

Orvis is one of the top brands in the fishing world. Most of their products are at the 500 dollar and above price point. They definitely aren’t cheap, however, the Encounter provides a cost effective option for anglers looking for an easier solution.

 

2. Best Fly Rod Combo for the Money – Redington Cross Water image of another one of the discount choice also known as the redington cross water

What I Like About It:

  • Great Brand
  • High Quality Disc Drag
  • Great Design
  • Awesome Durable Bag
  • Warranty

If the Encounter is too much for you or you just don’t like it. Then my second recommendation would be the Redington. It’s a great choice for anyone who is looking to combine value with good quality. I really like the disc drag system on this one as well as the reel, the line comes out very smoothly with no snags.  The case also makes a really convenient gift for anyone who is looking to get into fly fishing or wants a travel rod.

This is my go-to rod for when I want to pack light or want a combo rod for camping/fishing.

Best Fly Rod Combo for the Money - Redington Cross Water

It’s a great choice for anyone who is looking to combine value with good quality. I really like the disc drag system on this one as well as the reel, the line comes out very smoothly with no snags.

 

3. Best High Quality Rod and Reel Combo – Orvis Clearwater picture of the orvis clearwater

What I Like:

  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Carrying Case/Bag
  • Good for Trout/Creek Fishing
  • I’ve Used Mine for 8 Years
  • 25 Year Guarantee

You might be thinking at this point does Bob work for Orvis. The answer is no, I don’t. However, I’m definitely a big fan of their combos. The Clearwater is a bit more pricey but if you’re looking for a rod you can use for a LONG time this is the one to get.

Like I said, I’ve used mine for eight years. I’ve been hiking with it, fly fishing for days on end and even lent it out to a couple of friends and there have been no issues.  You can feel the great balance and design whenever you cast the clearwater.

The line on this rod is also well crafted and the disc system makes sure that there are no snags or hiccups when casting.  High quality reel design as well. Amongst my friends I’d say about 25% of them have a Clearwater sitting around somewhere.

Best High Quality Rod and Reel Combo - Orvis Clearwater

The line on this rod is also well crafted and the disc system makes sure that there are no snags or hiccups when casting.

 

What is a Fly Fishing Combo?

Just in case some of you are wanting to know a little bit more about what goes into a combo rod and reel. Let me explain it a bit further.

So basically a fly fishing combo contains everything you need to start, that means:

  1. Rod
  2. Reel
  3. Line
  4. Line Packing
  5. Usually a Bag

With these 4 main items you have everything you need to start fishing.  If you aren’t using a combo, you’ll basically need to purchase a rod and reel separately. This can be a headache as sometimes they don’t function well together or the added cost is higher.

With a combo you’re getting everything you need to start right away. This is an attractive option for newer anglers but also for experience guys like myself who just want a more convenient way to bring their gear around.

Some new combos include a lot of extra items like wadders, nets and even vests. These are definitely good additional products to have as they can make the fly fishing experience a lot more fun, but you certainly don’t need them. For more complete reviews check out our best fly fishing rod and reel reviews

Benefits of Finding a High Quality Fly Fishing Combo

We discussed how in the past a lot of people avoided getting combos as they had become synonymous with low quality gear. These packages were often marketed towards kids and beginners who wanted a quick way into the sport. Manufacturers stuff these “combos” with the cheapest garbage they could find and sold them in big box stores throughout the country.

Luckily that has changed. I think combo rods have some great advantages over just buying your rod and reel separately, let’s discuss a few.

Cheaper

Buying your rod and reel separately is expensive.  I’d say the the average combo would save you roughly 20% of the cost.  In some of the more discounted packages that will be even more.

Convenience

Image every time you went fishing you needed to bring 10 things as opposed to just one handy bag. Well that is what getting a combo is like. With all the brands I mentioned the line even comes spooled on the reel. You can basically use it the same day.

Everything Functions Together

The issue with getting separate rods and reels is sometimes they won’t work well together. As much as sellers claim that their reels are compatible with all models, that sometimes isn’t the case. Getting a combo avoids that whole issue.

Great Balance

Balance is an important consideration when buying a combo.  What I mean by this is when you hold the fly rod parallel to the ground, there is no tendency to tip forwards or backwards due to the weight being distributed unevenly. The front and back ends are “balanced” and allow you to getting a much more effective cast.

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Best Fly Fishing Combo
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