Best Beginner Fly Rods: What to Look For

By Andy Whitcomb

Apr 12, 2018

Choosing a fly rod for a beginner doesn’t have to be intimidating.

The introduction to fly fishing can be intimidating. There are different terms, additional knots, and the reel isn’t even really used for casting. However, good beginner fly rods, along with additional fly fishing gear for beginners can be found in handy pre-packaged kits.

The best fly fishing combo for beginners comes with the works: a beginner fly rod, a reel preferably already loaded with backing, fly-line, and tippet (thus reducing the number of knots to learn at this juncture), plus a few flies and maybe a set of forceps for fly removal. One downside with a prepackaged combo is that you may not get to “test” the fly rod in the packaging. This can be tough to do in the close quarters of most store aisles anyway, but at least you can rest assured that the weights of the line and rod are well matched. With all the necessary components purchased together, there is a better chance of getting out and flogging some water.

If you do get the chance to test a fly rod, the best beginner fly rods should “feel good.” It should be “whippy,” able to load and unload like a spring, yet not continue to tremble, if that makes sense. The best beginner fly rods are selected with experience and by personal preference. If an outdoor store allows you to test fly fishing gear, feel the differences in your hands between say, a 5-6 wt rod and an 8-9 wt rod.  After you apologize for knocking off that other customer’s hat, test the differences as you change lengths and brands. Ultimately, the fly fishing rod should be difficult to put down.

And finally, the best beginner fly rods simply are those that will be used. And it doesn’t have to be just for rainbow trout. Choose a moderate length and weight beginner fly rod so that multiple species can be targeted such as bluegill, bass, and pike.  As experience is gained, you’ll learn which direction to go with your next rod. Also, keep in mind the number of fly rod sections. That 11 ft. rod may feel great but if it is a 1-piece and doesn’t fit in your hatchback, the 4-piece fly rod would be the better choice.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.