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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 

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 

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.

I like fishing because it offers me the opportunity to get away from the noise and the craziness of the city. But, getting away from people is not the main reason I go out to the river. I do enjoy the subtle skill practice and the calm flow of the entire adventure.

What I mean by that is that I’ve always considered myself a beginner, and this is not far from the truth. We are all beginners and fly fishing proves everybody wrong, no matter the skill level or years of experience.

There are so many different sides to it and things you need to factor in. This is why I always recommend people who begin or God forbid ask me for an advice, to get a nice combo set for beginners and just go at it alone. It is not something somebody can actually teach you.

I mean, sure. Somebody can tell you the basic things and tricks, but you can’t learn it without getting your feet wet, it you know what I mean.

It is for this reason that I’ve tried to find the best combo set that I can recommend anyone, which has a reasonable price but also everything one might need for fly fishing.
Right off the bat, I think the best value for an affordable price is the Wild Water Fly Fishing Complete 5/6 Starter Pack. This package not only holds every little accessory you will need, but it also doesn’t demand a substantial investment. It is just below $ 100, or possible even cheaper.

If you want an even cheapest recommendation, I’ve looked into it and found some decent kits for under $ 50, and I’ve also included a bit more expensive combo kit for people who would want their first kit to last them a bit longer. By that I mean you entire life, and no – I am not joking. The Wild Water CNC machined combo package offers a lifetime warranty. But, you can check all that bellow.

I’ve been at this for some time now, and I think a starter package is actually worth buying because if the rod is sturdy and durable, you may actually continue fishing with it even after you feel you are over the basics. These 4 sets are all based on a durable, high quality rod, with nice accessories, but as we all know, accessories like flies will be the first thing you might consider changing or upgrading.

The best value and my first choice has 9 flies included, which lasted me almost 2 years (some of them even longer), but the case and the rod remained intact. This is the quality I think surpasses the price.

I’ve also thought about people who need their combos neatly packed for easy carry, and thus I’ve included two combos who have the best and most compact packaging I’ve ever seen.

The rest is up to you, so please check out my picks.

Four Fly Fishing Sets

1. Wild Water Fly Fishing Complete 5/6 Starter Package (Best value pick)

This one is my top pick because I tried so hard to find a better deal on the web, but I couldn’t. You won’t find a better offer for a 5/6 weight package, which has everything this one does.

Its main attraction is the 9 feet rod, which is a 4-piece assemble, with a large arbor aluminum reel (drag included). It also has a preinstalled line, backing and leader. It is a slow action, mid-flex IM6 graphite rod, ideal for perfecting your cast movement. This rod is popular amongst experienced fly casters because it enables an easier cast and it is also designed very similarly to some much more expensive models, according to the general feedback.

The rod is in a sock and a sturdy case. The separate fly box contains 3 Parachute Adams, 3 Black Ants, and 3 Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymphs. You will also get a spare leader, a retractable zinger, and a nipper/nail knot tool.
Everything included in the set fits in the case, making it very easy for you to carry it all with you. There is also some spare room for additional accessories, such as a zipper pouch on the side of the case.

The benefits:
  • Best overall value for the price
  • 9 foot, slow action, mid flex, high quality rod (4 peace)
  • Large aluminum reel with drag
  • A very sturdy fly box
  • 3 Black Ants
  • 3 Parachute Adams
  • 3 Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymphs
  • A large case which holds everything neatly packed
Wild Water Fly Fishing Complete 5/6 Starter Package

The rod is in a sock and a sturdy case. The separate fly box contains 3 Parachute Adams, 3 Black Ants, and 3 Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymphs. You will also get a spare leader, a retractable zinger, and a nipper/nail knot tool.

FAQ

  1. Where is it made in?

The rod, reel, hard rod case, rod bag and the fly box are all manufactured in China. Flies are tied in Kenya. Backing, leaders and tippet are from Singapore. The fly line is made in Canada.
The shipping box, poly bag and printed materials are all from USA, where everything is packed and assembled. Basically the parts are manufactured on the Far East, but the design and everything else is made by USA engineers and designers.

  1. Can left handed people use it?

Absolutely! The reel can be switched to fit any hand preference.

  1. Are the Drag components plastic or metal? What’s the entire shipping item’s weight and dimensions?

The Drag components are metal, and the dimensions of the entire full package are 6” x 6” x 36”, while it weighs 4 pounds.

2. Crystal River Executive Travel Pack – Fly Fishing

This is the cheapest set I could find which gives a good combo, but I had to include it because its package is so nicely designed it’s simply beautiful.
It is both a fly/spin combo kit, again coming in a nice pack for easy carry. The fly/spin capability gives you the best from both worlds.

Its spin quality bulbar reel has an aluminum spool and a two pound capacity. It will go up to 190 yards of line, with a ration of about 4.8. The handle is easily screwed-on on either side, giving you much convenience this way.

The fly reel is easily disassembled and re-assembled. Its mechanism is really simple and works fine. It can also spin both ways and it feels sturdy and durable, which is probably what people came most about.

The rod is a 7 foot medium action, with a cork handle. It also has some plastic parts, but feels pretty sturdy and durable. To enter the fly mode, you just slide off the rod in two, and attach the handle on the opposite side. It fits really well. The other 7 pieces are assembled easily and fit nicely.

Everything fits nicely in an entire case, which is much smaller than others I’ve seen offered in same combo sets.

The benefits:
  • 4 to 5 line weight on the fly rod medium action
  • 6 to 14 pounds on the spin side of it
  • Aluminum spin reel
  • A high quality and durability fly reel
  • A tightly packed zipper case where everything fits nicely
  • Lightweight
Crystal River Executive Travel Pack

FAQ

  1. What is the actual size of the storage case?

As mentioned, the storage case is very small and compact. Its dimensions are: 14 ½ inches long, 8 inches wide, and 3 inches deep.

  1. Does it come with the line?

No.

3. Wakeman Charter Series Fly Fishing Combo with Carry Bag – Black (Best Bargain)

This set is the second cheapest set I could find that still offers a decent combo, in my opinion. It’s especially good for beginners, if you are looking to learn fly fishing without investing too much starting money. But, the set may prove good enough to keep even after you improve your skills.

The rod is a 3 part assemble set with a EVA foam secure grip handle. It feels pretty sturdy and I like that it has less assemble parts than my other choices. I generally do not like the idea of having too many assemble points on my rod. Too many room for malfunction, would you agree?

The 5/6 poly fly reel has a built-in hook keeper for convenience, and it also has a graphite reel seat with stainless steel guides. You also get 45 feet of fly line, 9 feat of Nylon four times tapered leader, and 2 additional flies.

The full rod is 8 feet long, while the reel is 3.25”x3.25”x1.25” (WxLxH). The full product dimensions are 35 x 4.5 x 7.5 inches, and it weighs 1.9 pounds. This is possibly the lightest set I’ve seen so far.

The benefits:
  • 7 point drag system
  • 5/6 reel
  • A 45 feet long fly line
  • 2 bonus flies
  • A sturdy 3 peace rod
Wakeman Charter Series Fly Fishing Combo with Carry Bag

The 5/6 poly fly reel has a built-in hook keeper for convenience, and it also has a graphite reel seat with stainless steel guides. You also get 45 feet of fly line, 9 feat of Nylon four times tapered leader, and 2 additional flies.

FAQ

  1. What are the dimensions of the case?

The full dimensions are approximately 40’’ long and 20’’ wide, as far as I’ve managed to find out. There’s definitely enough room for all accessories.

  1. How long is the case?

It is comfortable enough to fit 35 inches long rods.

4. Wild Water 5/6 9’ Rod CNC Machined Reel Fly Fishing Complete Starter Package

This one is the most expensive out of my four picks, but its design alone seems to be worth it. If you are looking for a combo set that is every bit as functional as others, but additionally offers tons of accessories and looks really nice, it is this one.

The case looks quite ordinary but it surprisingly holds everything nicely and is pretty light. The Amazon reviews are very positive. The case protects the rod against all damage. Even though its price is a bit higher than my other picks, you get your money’s worth.

The reel is pretty sturdy. The drag is easy to use. It is a CNC Machined Fly Fishing Reel, with a large arbor design. It has 20 pound pre-loaded blaze orange backing. It also has a spool, frame, and disc drag for line tension adjustments, all machined from solid 6061 blocks. Weight forward 5-weight floating fly line.

The main event is naturally the rod, which comes with a lifetime warranty. It is a slow action, mid flex IM8, with a graphite design. The reel seat is aluminum made, with a stainless steel stripper guide and SiC rind. It also features a stainless steel single foot snake guides and the hook keeper. The western-style 7’’ grip is made with a high quality cork and compressed cork trip rings. Everything looks quite beautiful.

The benefits:
  • A nice sturdy case which fits everything in nicely
  • 5/6 weight 9 foot slow action mid flex rod
  • Large arbor reel
  • Preinstalled line
  • A waterproof floating fly box
  • 7’’ western style grip (cork)
Wild Water 5/6 9’ Rod CNC Machined Reel Fly Fishing Complete Starter Package

It is a CNC Machined Fly Fishing Reel, with a large arbor design. It has 20 pound pre-loaded blaze orange backing. It also has a spool, frame, and disc drag for line tension adjustments, all machined from solid 6061 blocks.

FAQ

  1. What’s the warranty?

You get a lifetime warranty even for the damage you cause, but there is a 35 $ warranty fee for each replacement or repair. You are required to send a registration code after you buy this combo set.

  1. Can left handed people use the reel?

You can easily change it to fit any hand preference.

Conclusion:

It is my belief that investing 50 – 100 dollars in fly fishing is well worth it. Actually, I do not feel I should even say that. If you are thinking about trying it, or you want to purchase a combo kit that can cover all your needs, consider one of these four. You should also do your own research, naturally.

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Best Fly Fishing Combo
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