If you haven’t tried fly fishing since you promised yourself you would after seeing “A River Runs Through It,” you may have thrown away the best twenty years of your life. But there’s still hope, and trout fishing is still in your future. And the good news is that when you go to purchase your first fly rod/reel combo you’re going to get a lot more for your money than at any point in history. If you spend around $200 with Orvis for example, you’ll get a product that would have been considered top-of-the-line a few decades ago, and you’ll have money left over to put toward waders, nets, vests, flies and line.
Orvis’ entry-level, Clearwater II series comes with one great feature shared by every rod Orvis makes; the 25-year unconditional guarantee. Drop it, step on it, slam it in the car door, and Orvis will repair or replace it. You pay only a $30 handling fee.
The Clearwater rods are available in 18 combinations of length, weight and flex starting with the 7’6’’ mid-flex 3 weight, and going up to a 9” tip-flex 9 weight. Most are available in both four-piece and two-piece versions and all come with a Cordura rod tube. Rods alone range in price from $179 to $219, or you can can outfit them with your choice of three different pre-spooled BBS reels for an out-the-door cost of $275-$335.
Perhaps you already have a rod and need to upgrade that cheap, plastic reel you’re currently using. The Orvis Original Battenkill reels range from $89 to $109, while the five Battenkill Bar Stock models start at $119 and go up to $159. Depending on the size, these reels will hold line ranging from 1-9 weight. Be sure to check the Orvis website before you buy because there are frequently rod/real combo deals that are so good you’ll need a stripping basket to catch all the saved cash.
G-Loomis is another fly fishing brand that has a lot to offer the entry-level angler. Although their prices start a little higher Orvis’, and the selection is a bit smaller, you can rest assured you’ll actually be getting something for those few extra dollars.
The Xperience line of rods includes 10 models ranging in from a 7’6” 4 weight, to a 9” 12 weight and all break into four pieces except the shortest two, which come in three pieces. Prices start at $295 and go up to $365.
The G-Loomis rods specifically marketed for trout fishing begin with the EastFork line (also 10 models) which ranges in price from $395 – $440. All EastFork models are stiff, with fast action designed for extra line speed. They come in lengths from 7”-10” with line weights from 3-6.
Perhaps no other company has cornered the market on economy fly rods better than Redington. Known for good looks and quality, the most expensive rod they make is around $400. There’s a lot to choose from below $250, starting with the Crosswater series for only $70-$90 and available in 5,6,8 or 9 weights. The next series up is called Pursuit, and the price range is $100-$120. For trout fishing specific rods Redington offers the Classic Trout series that go from $150 – $170. For larger fish you might need a larger fly fishing rod but you need not spend a large amount of cash. The Predator series, offered in 8, 9, and 10 weights can be yours for $200.
Finally there’s the RS4 family of rods, including 18 models ranging from 3-9 weights, and priced between $170 and $220. These all come in four-piece models, and half of those are offered in cheaper, two-piece versions. This is a truly great line of options for anyone new to the sport, or for experienced fly fishermen who just don’t want to spend $500, $400 or even $300 on a rod.