5 Best Trout Fly Rods for Performance and Value

choosing the best fly rod for trout fishing

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The success of your trout fishing trip depends on skill and know-how as well as on the gear you decide to use. The fly rod is not a simple stick, as any good angler will know.

For those entering the sport for the first time, I want to explain a few things and show you a few examples of some very good fly rods to help you better understand the differences. But this article and the featured rod are for everyone, not just the novice, to help you on your way to enjoying the sport that we love so much.

Let’s start by talking a little about modern fly rod construction. Graphite, or carbon fiber, is the dominant material in today’s best rods for trout fishing and that is because of how effective it is. Graphite is strong like fiberglass, but more importantly, it is lighter and more sensitive in a way that allows you to detect strikes faster.

My preference? When fly fishing for trout it depends on the sizes of fish I normally catch. You would be surprised at how minimal a rod can be and still catch big trout. For me, the best fly rod for trout is one that is on the sensitive side so I can better feel what is going on at the end of the line.

Another thing that I like about graphite is its tenacity to resist moisture and other elements. This really allows the graphite fly rod to last and perform over the long haul. A good way to better understand graphite rods is to read our previous article on graphite and modulus ratings and how they affect the quality and action of the rod.

Graphite is great but it is not perfect, however. One of the qualities of graphite rods is that they are very strong in bend and pull, but they are more brittle and prone to outside forces such as being stepped on. This is not the rod type that you want to leave lying around with kids running around. They need some care.

Trout rods come in different lengths and weights and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are 5 of the best trout rods on the market today at any price. They are excellent options available to the beginner and seasoned veteran alike and also serve as a reference to guide you in your search for your next trout fly rod.

Deciding what to spend your hard-earned dollars on is not an easy decision, I know. But I think that after seeing what they offer and how reasonably they’re priced, you may just consider one of these outstanding trout rods for your next fly fishing adventure.

ORVIS Encounter 5-Weight 9’ Fly Rod Outfit

Orvis Encounter 5-Weight 9' Fly Rod Outfit (5wt, 9'0

See more details on Amazon

I felt it was important to include a kit for you to consider if you are a beginner. I really like ORVIS, always have. They stand by their products and you get what you pay for.

The ORVIS Encounter 5-Weight Outfit is great for those starting out because of the price and the quality of the rod itself. It also comes with a few starter items as well making it a great bargain and gift for the new angler.

The components in this outfit are the rod itself, the leader, case, and reel. All of which are of good quality for starting out.

This is a graphite rod that has an intermediate action so it is a great all-around rod and can get your feet wet in terms of a rod that you like. By starting with this rod you can better determine if you want to go up or down in action.

Action determines the feel of fishing, which may be an unofficial terminology but serves to help us understand it. Consider that different fish species, types of water, fly size as well as other factors require different rod action.

What I mean by this is that small brook trout in a creek, for example, may call for a moderate action rod. By contrast, if you are fishing large rivers or lakes, a fast action fly rod makes for a better choice.

The only issue I see with this rod is that it is obviously a lower-end rod for ORVIS and is meant as more of a starter rod for folks (it could also make for a great backup fly rod). However, do not mistake that as me saying it is not a good product because it is an excellent rod. It is just more geared toward those getting their feet wet with fly fishing.

*See our full review of the Orvis Encounter

Feature Highlights:

  • Graphite materials
  • Medium-fast action
  • Reel
  • Leader
  • Case

Pros:

  • Affordable fly rod outfit
  • Great beginner/travel/backup rod
  • Everything you need to fish
  • Durable case

Cons:

  • Lower end rod for ORVIS
Buy on Amazon

Fenwick AETOS Fly Fishing Rod

Fenwick AETOS Fly Fishing Rod

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Fenwick has been around a very long time. When my grandfather ran his tackle and bait business, I remember getting boxes and boxes of the lower-end rods from them.

Those cheap Fenwick rods took one hell of a beating from my brothers and me so you can take it from me, they are good rods. I really like the AETOS Rods because they come in two different models.

The new model is very modern and would be great for playing against your hip thanks to where the handle is. Essentially the old model placed the reel all the way back on the rod whereas the new model brings it forward.

Why am I rambling about reel placement? It’s a matter of how you fish. When I fish I have to have some handle behind the reel, it’s just a preference but it makes fighting larger fish easier in my opinion.

In terms of specifications, this rod comes in many sizes and weights ranging from 6 to 15 feet in length and 3-weight all the way up to 11-weight. With that many options, these Fenwick rods have you covered no matter what type of fly fishing you are doing.

These are typically excellent fast-action rods that are a good fit for more experienced anglers as having good technique is important to fishing this type of rod. This rod will benefit those fishing larger species or looking for greater casting distance.

As a rule of thumb, I recommend stopping at a sporting goods store or fly shop. Even though I have fly fished for my entire life, I still learn something when I stop by any fly shop, or I just make some new friends. However, if you are confident in what you want, you may find better deals online.  

Feature Highlights:

  • Nanocarbon fiber blank
  • Fast action
  • Two Models
  • Durable Cork Handle
  • Shaft Hook Loop

Pros:

  • Lightweight and strong
  • Comfortable AAA cork grips
  • Large variety of sizes and weights
  • Attractive black satin finish

Cons:

  • Some sizes are often unavailable
Buy on Amazon

Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod

Redington Fly Fishing Rod 276-4 Classic Trout Rod W/Tube 4pc 2WT 7-Foot6

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I like this rod for a few reasons but the primary reason is that it comes in many lengths and weights. The Redington Classic Trout Rod is a great medium/moderate-fast action trout option for many reasons.

This rod is made to be used for freshwater applications and is specifically designed with trout in mind. This rod has many positive reviews on stream use and action owing to its quality of components and workmanship.

The reel seat is custom-made and corrosion-resistant. I really like it when a manufacturer goes out of their way to make the reel seat a quality feature. I hate fighting with a reel seat that is made of low-quality metal and constantly jams (cross-threads) or comes loose.

Another feature that I love about this rod is the alignment dots that let you make sure that you are setting it up correctly. Misaligned eyes on a rod are not a huge deal usually for bait rods but it is very important on a fly rod.

Redington also offers a great lifetime warranty on this rod and will replace it for any manufacturer defects or damage resulting from a manufacturer error. I like companies that stand behind their work like this. It shows that they have confidence in their product and that, to me, is a big selling feature.

Overall, this is a great rod that I would recommend to anyone. The warranty is great and the rod options are many. The price varies but keeps that warranty in mind when considering the price.

Feature Highlights:

  • Toray graphite blank
  • Moderate to medium-fast action
  • 4-Piece and 6-pc models
  • Machined Reel Seat
  • Ballistic Nylon Rod Tube

Pros:

  • Designed specifically for trout anglers
  • Multiple sizes and weights
  • Alignment dots
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • A little on the plain side aesthetically
Buy on Amazon

Redington VICE Fly Fishing Rod

Redington Fly Fishing Rod 590-4 Vice Rod W/Tube 5WT 9-Foot 4pc

See more details on Amazon

The VICE Fly Rod is a good fast-action rod for the angler looking for a quality product that delivers on performance. This is the universal water version of their Classic Trout Rod and is great for simplicity when catching trout.

Because the different sizes are slightly more abundant than its smaller counterpart, it can be bought from 3-weight to 9-weight and up to 9 feet in length. I like size options with anything not because I can buy big, but because I can be more specific in what I buy, which saves me money.

This rod has a heel behind the reel seat which is great for fishing from the hip. While not in action and letting the fly set, I like to post up the rod on my hip just a bit to take the weight off of my arm, this rod is great for that.

As with most rods, this one features a hook set for moving around and making traversing easier, this is great for river and stream fishing and changing locations. Rivers and streams typically have thick vegetation along the banks and setting your hook makes it much easier.

Another reason that I love that small place to rest your hook is that it takes that job away from the eyes of the rod. The eyelets of your rod are not designed to hold a metal hook and, in a fly rod, it needs to remain smooth for the line to effortlessly glide through it.

I also love the simplicity of the cork handle itself, very straightforward and it meets the reel on a good balance point. This pivot point is where your fishing action will teeter and is a very important thing to pay attention to when buying a rod.

Feature Highlights:

  • Multi-modulus carbon rod blank
  • Fast action
  • 4-Piece design
  • Machined Aluminum Reel Seat
  • Hook Anchor
  • Durable rod tube

Pros:

  • Saltwater-grade components for durability
  • Great handle and reel balance
  • Strong reel seat
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Very short heel
Buy on Amazon

Moonshine Rod Company Drifter Series Fly Rod

Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter Series Fly Fishing Rod (Matte, 8WT 9' 4PC)

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The 10-foot Drifter Series Fly Rod is a great all-around rod that offers a few extra benefits that the competition just does not. It ranges in a variety of sizes with the largest being 10 feet in length and an 8-weight the highest weight rating.

This rod comes with a very sturdy case that protects the rod from impact and moisture and can withstand quite the beating. The rod itself is made of graphite material that is durable while remaining flexible and light.

Graphite is appreciated more and more the larger the rod gets due to its lightweight properties. Other materials can be a bit heavy, especially at 8-foot rods and up. This rod also breaks down into four sections making it easier to stow and pack.

In terms of storing rods of any kind the easier the better. If a rod is easily stored, it is less likely to be broken or damaged. And that is where we get to my favorite feature about Moonshine Rod Company, it comes with an extra rod tip section.

We have all done it, broke a rod tip by stepping on it or lancing it into a tree branch. This rod maker sends you the means to solve that problem if it ever arises  – a clear mark of a rod made by folks who have made that mistake themselves.

The only issue I can find in this rod is that the reel seat is all the way at the back of the rod with no bumper of any kind. But as I stated above, this is preference and does not in any way diminish the quality of this rod. Overall, this rod is of great value and on par with other rods costing much more.

Feature Highlights:

  • Graphite blank
  • Medium action
  • 4-Piece breakdown
  • Extra rod tip
  • Burled-ended cork grip

Pros:

  • Designed for anglers of all levels
  • included replacement tip
  • Sturdy case Included
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • No bumper on heel
Buy on Amazon

Understanding Fly Rods for Fishing Trout

When you go fly fishing, you are going to take quite a bit of gear with you and it will all be very important, but none as important as your rod. Your fly rod is your ace in your hand and it will be the definitive item on whether you fish well or not.

Understand what you need, whatever that may mean. I was raised this way and it’s all I know but others were not. Asking is a good way to get yourself sorted out correctly so stop at the shops and visit. Read articles similar to the one I have written for you here and learn.

Fly rods seem complicated with their lengths, weights, materials, reel seats, eyelets, cost, warranties, etc. But really, they are easy. Or at least they can be. Simply go ask and learn. Outfitters are a great source of help. We have a source for that right here on our site and I encourage you to take a look.

Outfitters fish professionally, and to successfully get their clients on the fish, they have to know how to match that person with the correct gear. I recommend chatting with an outfitter for a good start.

I hope what I have recommended here was helpful to you, my friends, and that it simplifies your goals of fishing and enjoying the sport that we love so much. Take your time, shop right and ask questions and you are going to have a good time on the water, I promise. As always, have fun on the water, my friends.

Some Important Questions When Choosing a Fly Rod for Trout Fishing

What Is the Best Size Fly Rod for Trout?

Trout fly rods come in a variety of lengths. What will be best for you will depend on varying factors but the environment or body of water (small streams, larger river, or lake?) is a key determining factor.

A 9-foot fly rod is considered the sweet spot and great all-around rod by many trout anglers for good reason. They are easy to transport and maneuver and offer excellent casting, accuracy and line control while remaining light enough for extended fishing. 

Shorter lengths, 8 ft. to 8 1/2 ft., may be better choices for those who will be fishing small streams or creeks.  A longer rod, say 10 ft., can come in handy in certain situations such as when fishing areas where longer casts may be required or where the added length is needed such as when dead drifting dry flies and nymphs.

What Is the Best Weight for a Trout Fly Rod?

Much like the 9 ft. fly rod, the 5-weight is considered by most to be the best all-around and most versatile fly rod weight for trout fishing. A fly rod that can fish a 5-weight line will allow you to fish in many different environments with fly sizes ranging from small to large as well as with streamers, and they also perform well when the wind kicks up.

But, again, the best weight ultimately depends on where you are going to be fishing, for what and under what conditions. For trout fishing, the range from 3 to 6-weight covers most situations from small creeks to large rivers.

For most trout anglers, the 9 ft 5-weight fly rod is hard to beat but there are many other configurations that will work for trout depending on your preference and situation.

What About Rod Action?

Rod action is important when it comes to trout as it is in most other types of fishing. You’ll find trout rods varying, generally, with actions from moderate to fast.  A moderate or medium action fly rod is a good all-around rod that is going to bend about 50% of its length when loaded.

They are not going to cast as far as a fast action rod but are good for smaller bodies of water/smaller fish and for fishing small flies. Medium-action fly rods are great for beginners.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have the fast action rod. This type of fly rod is stiffer than the medium-action and will generally only bend at the top third of the rod, closer to the tip. It is a great rod for fishing heavy flies and streamers. It also excels at casting distance (good for windy conditions), quick casts and more power for fighting bigger fish.

Fast-action rods, however, require more experience and better technique from the angler as their stiffer modulus blanks can be more unforgiving of mistakes.

In between the medium and fast action is the medium-fast action fly rod. This action offers most of the benefits of the other two and is what many prefer for trout fishing, including myself. Providing flex somewhere between the medium and the fast action rod, it offers a good blend of flexibility and stiffness. It will give you good casting and accuracy and enough power for bigger fish.

The medium-fast fly rod is versatile enough to be fished by almost everyone, from beginners to seasoned anglers fishing everything from dry flies to nymphs.  

How Many Fly Rod Pieces?

Fly rods come in configurations ranging from 2 pieces to 6. Most of today’s fly rods for trout are 4-piece offerings, however. Just like with other types of fishing rods, logic and physics will tell you that the fewer pieces the stronger the rod and the less of a chance of failure.

However, the number of pieces is less important than the quality and brand behind the rod. All of the rods presented here come from outstanding fly rod companies with long and impressive track records. The number of pieces should be at the bottom of any serious consideration. Buy the best trout fishing rod you can from the top brands and you should be fine.

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