Cream of the Crop: The Best Fly Rods

A River Runs Through It is a movie that any angler needs to see or at a minimum, the fishing scenes. Therein is the delicate and beautiful art that is fly fishing.

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We have previously talked about fly fishing . In case you have forgotten, most all conventional tackle, including the most sensitive baitcasters can be mastered within a day, but the fly rod and casting takes considerable time to master.

Unlike conventional fishing, fly fishing casts the line to present the lure. The lures are made of little more than a few strands of hair, features, flashy tinsel and a hook; there must be something to present the lure to the fish.

Fly fishing is a highly specialized form of fishing, and the original fish of choice was the trout. Trout are known for being incredibly selective in their food choices,
so anglers created lures, flies, that matched a particular type of fly the trout were feeding on at a particular moment.

We have also previously looked at a few fly fishing combos. Now, it is time to take a look at some of the best fly rods available on the market.

Like some of the previous articles, we will be looking at brands, not types, of fly rods; unlike previous articles, fly rods do not fall into lengths but based on the weight of the fly line.

Fly rods are measured by the particular fly line weight. This means a fly rod must match to a line for the most effective combination. The higher the line weight, the larger
fish the rod is capable of landing. Rods with weights of three to five, for example, are for delicate trout fishing, while rods of nine to 15 are appropriate for inshore and some offshore saltwater fishing, including sharks.

The best fly rods are also expensive, but the expense can be justified under certain circumstances. The high costs show in the feel of the rod. From the handle to the
guides and everything in between, there is a feel of a fine flyrod that cannot be explained.

The best fly rods fall come from three companies. This article will look at each company and a selection of their products.


If Sage were a car, it would be a custom Bentley or Rolls-Royce.

Sage is that good. There is nothing that can be said bad about a Sage rod with the possible exception buying one can be the equivalent of a mortgage payment. Fortunately,
there are two good Sage rods that will not break the bank.

The Approach line of rods are travel rods, meaning the rod can be broken down into
four pieces instead of the standard two. Most rods lose some sensitivity when broken into component pieces, but this is not the case with a Sage. A Sage 4-piece rod will cast and feel equally well as a 2-piece.

The Approach is an “entry level” Sage rod, but has more features than even the best economically priced rod.

The next Sage model is the Response and has the same features as the Approach but is a fast response rod, while the Approach is medium response. This means the last one-third
of the rod is much more flexible, allowing casters to increase their distance in casting without sacrificing integrity of the rod.


Orvis and Sage differ in such a minute way that only a true veteran fly caster could make the determination between the two.

The Access line of rods has weights from four to eight, meaning rods that can cover a variety of fishing situations. Each rod comes with a lined carrying case.


Gary Loomis was an engineer by vocation and an angler by avocation. He started making rods on the side. Once he started, he never looked back.

Loomis rods fall between the Orvis and Sage in price, but the quality ranks almost equally between the three.

The GLX Classics line represents a full section of what the Loomis line stands for. With rod weights ranging from four to eight, it comes with the Loomis warranty, and it is one of the finest in the business.

There are cheaper fly rods to be sure, but these three brands represent more than simply a rod. These are heirloom treasures to be saved, passed down and appreciated on the
water. These are not rods to sit idly by in the corner of a closet. These rods are made to fish and fish hard.

There is a serious drawback to purchasing one of these rods, and that is knowing that no other rod you have will compare to it. These rods are that good, and the anglers who use them will vouch for that fact.