Here are some ideas I think should be considered when buying a first fly rod. I am just an amateur fly fisher, and my point of view isn’t about manufacturing or marketing practices, but how to match your budget to your first rod. If this is your first fly rod, I assume you are not that great at casting yet. I like casting with all my rods. I recommend not worrying so much about casting at the early stages. It’s more important to start fly fishing as soon as possible. I own around 25 fly rods. I made most of them and the others are 2 Sages, 1 St. Croix, 1 Cabelas, 3 bamboos, 1 Fenwick, and some other brands. The biggest tip i can give you is to buy a fishing rod specializing in the type of fish you want to catch. For example, if you are planning to catch bass, i recommend you take a look at our best bass fishing rods article and get one for yourself.
The 4 Methods For Getting A Fly Fishing Rod
- Method 1: get advice and what rod is “best” and don’t mind paying in the $150 to $1000 range for it. I worry that many beginners think this is the only way.
- Method 2: get a cheap new one.
- Method 3: get a cheap used one.
- Method 4: make one.
There are many articles for Method 1 beginners and everyone else is left out. For Method 1’s, walking into a fly shop and asking the salesperson is fine. Also, attending fly fishing shows and picking up rods on display and taking them outside for practice casting works great. I would recommend stopping by the Sage booth. I have a couple of Sages and the latest Z-Axis is the best feeling rod to me although I own only lesser rods. Personally, my budget is such that if I bought a $900 rod, I’d never let it leave the house so it would be unusable. I won’t bother to go on about lifetime guarantees. I am retired now so I have a lot more time than I used to. If you are busy with work, this may be the best way to get a rod.
Now we come to 3 more methods of obtaining that first fly rod. They all are much cheaper, but is the quality of the experience going to be as good? If you have ever seen a fly fishing book, see when it was written. In this book you can hear of the wonderful experience of fly fishing. Then you see the rod the author is using which often is 20 or 30 years ago technology. If you took a $50 rod from today and went back in time to 30 years ago, that rod would win praise from everyone. A $1000 rod back then couldn’t touch your $50. Why wouldn’t that $50 rod give you that same quality performance today. It does. Don’t sneer at bargain rods. Below $40 I haven’t tried too many rods and they may break easily, I wouldn’t know. Above $40, there are a lot of great rods. I prefer my $50 4 piece rod for size 4 line (it’s a Cabelas Traditional) to my $300 Sage, because it performs the same and casts the same and if I slam it against some granite or ram it against a pine tree and hit it with a split shot or fly, it isn’t a huge deal if it is damaged. The only place I notice that the Sage is superior is when I am shaking it in the air. It is noticeably lighter also. When a reel and line are on the rod, it gets harder to notice the weight difference.
Method 2: Buy a Cabela’s Traditional fly rod for about $50. There are many similarly priced rods that are just as good. If you get tired of the lowly Traditional, buy a Sage later or other high end rod and the Traditional will make a great loaner or backup rod for when you slam your Sage in the car trunk (another type of tradition). It’s hard to own just a single fly rod anyway if you really fish a lot.
Method 3: My main fishing buddy has a Cabelas Traditional of a newer vintage than mine and we both got ours before we ever met and both of us love these rods as we love our other rods too. However, he most enjoys taking his Salvation Army rod along on trips and catching more and bigger fish than other guys using their Z-Axis and other $1000 rods. He paid $5 for it with a line and reel. He still uses that same line, rod and reel. These $5 rods are the same 30-year-old technological masterpieces the fly fishing experts used when they were catching their fish for their books.
Method 4: Making your own rod is a lot of fun. For the first time, you might consider a complete kit. They hover around $70. I ordered parts from a new place I like named Acidrod.com.
It is a lot less intimidating to buy your first fly rod if you think of it as a tool like a spatula or fly swatter instead of as a permanent life partner like a second spouse. My main advice is to hurry and get one you are comfortable with monetarily and don’t miss any more fly fishing days waiting to figure out which fly rod is best to own.