Budget-Friendly To Premium: The Best Fly Fishing Starter Kit Reviewed

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Most anglers looking to start fly fishing already have a spinning rod to go fishing until now. However, the world of fly fishing gear is quite a different game from any other, and the easiest way to ensure you get what you need is by buying a quality fly fishing starter kit. 

These kits come in many forms, from average quality and very affordable all the way to top quality and expensive. 

The great thing about these packages is that you get everything you need to start fishing, including a fly rod with a matching fly reel, backing, and fly line, and then all you have to do is add a leader and fly. It couldn’t be simpler! 

You can find more great beginner information in my article on fly fishing basics, which explains all the key elements to get started and be successful.

My Best Fly Fishing Starter Kits Introduction

Having fly fished for over thirty years and being a fly guide for over twelve, I have selected my picks on the market across every budget. These fly rod and reel combo kits are matched to give the ideal starting position in fly fishing.

Join me as I review them in detail so you can find the perfect way to get fly fishing. 

Redington Path Rod & Reel Combo – My Best Overall Pick!

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The Redington Path Rod & Reel Combo is one of the most affordable fly fishing starter kits on the market, and it delivers great quality simultaneously. 

The package includes a Redington Path rod and reel and an excellent backing of a Rio line, everything you need to get fishing right off the bat. 

This starter kit is specifically for true fly fishing beginners as the rod is designed with a moderate-fast action that provides a lot more feel, allowing beginners to feel the casting stroke and get it right over time. 

Built from carbon fiber, the rod is durable and lasts, plus it performs. When you get into the rhythm, you can push a solid amount of line and drop your fly where it needs to be. It also breaks into four pieces and comes with a rod tube, so traveling with it is easy. 

The Crosswater reel is built from aluminum, which handles rust and clumsy anglers! It also features a reliable drag to control whatever species you target, from bass to trout and musky. 

You can find this starter kit in weights from 4 to 9, so you are covered where you want to go for trout, bass, or bonefish. The rod also comes with a lifetime warranty. 

Being so affordable, it is not the best-performing option out there, and you might have to replace the reel after a season or two, but it is a great place to start your beginner fly fishing setup. 

Pros

  • Super affordable 
  • Ideal as a first combo for a beginner 
  • Moderate action is forgiving to cast with 
  • Lightweight for long days blind casting 
  • Durable build that lasts 
  • Good for freshwater or saltwater 
  • Versatile for lots of species 
  • Breaks down small for travel 
  • It comes with a rod tube 
  • The rod includes a lifetime warranty 

Cons

  • Rod and reel are not as good as more expensive options 
  • The reel is not so durable in saltwater 

Specs 

Fly Rod Weight: 4-9 

Fly Rod Length: 8ft 6 in, 9ft 

Fly Rod Material: Carbon

Fly Rod Pieces: 4

Rod Tube: Yes

Fly Reel Weight: 4-9

Fly Reel Material: Aluminum 

Drag Type: Disc

Arbor: Mid-arbor

Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit Combo – My Best Mid-Range Pick!

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Our next fly fishing starter kit is the Orvis Clearwater fly rod outfit combo. As you might know, Orvis has been making fly gear for over 100 years, and their products are both durable and reliable. 

The Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit Combo comes with a Clearwater fly rod, Clearwater reel, backing, and an Orvis fly line.

Orvis designed this starter range of gear to be affordable for fly anglers on a budget while offering the performance required to catch most fish on the planet! 

You can find the clearwater in a range of weights to suit everything from trout fishing to chasing beasts such as triggerfish or permit on the saltwater flats. 

Having owned a Clearwater rod, I must say that the performance-to-price ratio is excellent. While it doesn’t perform like a $1000 rod, you can cast long distances with excellent accuracy and get your fly where it needs to be. 

The setup is great for new fly fishers who want to improve and get to the level where a high-performance expensive rod makes sense to own. 

The Clearwater reel is made from aluminum to keep it light, durable, and rust-free. It also features a sealed disc drag that stops dirt or saltwater water from getting into the reel and damaging the drag system.

The drag is super smooth and has plenty of power to stop hard-fighting fish. As with all my recommendations, this one comes with a rod tube and breaks into four pieces for travel. It also includes the Orvis 25-year guarantee, so if anything breaks, Orvis has you covered.  

Pros

  • Available as a freshwater or saltwater kit 
  • Top-quality guides, cork, and reel seat
  • Fighting butt for comfort
  • It comes with a rod tube 
  • Packs down small for travel 
  • Durable build 
  • It casts nicely and is forgiving 
  • Sealed drag on the fly reel 
  • Fly line and backing included 
  • Includes a 25-year guarantee 

Cons

  • Rod is sluggish compared to more expensive options 

Specs 

Fly Rod Weight: 3,5,8 wt 

Fly Rod Length: 9 ft 

Fly Rod Material: Graphite 

Fly Rod Pieces: 4

Rod Tube: Yes 

Fly Reel Weight: 3,5,8 wt 

Fly Reel Material: Aluminum 

Drag Type: Sealed disc 

Arbor: Mid-Arbor 

You can read my full review of the Orvis Clearwater rod, which provides an in-depth analysis of one of the most versatile fly rods available today.

Orvis Encounter® Fly Rod Outfit

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The Orvis Encounter® Fly Rod Outfit is a fly fishing starter kit for young anglers to start their fly fishing career. 

It’s incredibly affordable and performs well for beginners, but don’t expect the fly reel to last forever – there is no 25-year Orvis guarantee with this outfit, which says it all. This is an affordable, low-risk option for a young angler who wants to try fly fishing and eventually doesn’t like it. 

The Encounter outfit comes with an Encounter rod, fly reel, backing, and fly line. The rod is built from quality graphite, is super light, and is very easy to fish with. You can get a solid casting distance and accuracy once you know what you’re doing. 

The reel included with this kit features a large arbor and a disc drag so you can fish for various species. Unfortunately, the reel is made from composite plastic, setting off alarm bells inside me. It will work fine in freshwater, but it will have a short life in saltwater. Once it is gone, you can upgrade to a better reel. 

Like all the other starter kits, you can travel easily with this as the rod breaks down into four pieces and slots neatly in the rod tube. You can throw it in the backseat of your car or put it in your carry-on and hop on a plane to Gallatin River, Montana, to catch some trout. 

Pros

  • Incredible price for the quality 
  • Great as a first rod/reel for kids 
  • Lightweight and easy to fish with 
  • Includes fly line and backing 
  • Solid casting distance and accuracy 
  • Easy to set the drag on the reel 
  • Packs down small for travel 

Cons

  • The reel will not survive very long in saltwater 
  • No 25-year guarantee included 

Specs 

Fly Rod Weight: 5-8 

Fly Rod Length: 8ft 6” to 9ft 6” 

Fly Rod Material: Graphite

Fly Rod Pieces: 4

Rod Tube: Yes

Fly Reel Weight: 5-8

Fly Reel Material: Composite plastic reel 

Drag Type: Disc 

Arbor: Large 

You can read my full review article on the Orvis Encounter rod and reel combo, which covers an in-depth analysis of all its features and capabilities.

Orvis Recon® Fly Rod Outfit

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The Orvis Recon® Fly Rod Outfit takes things up a notch when it comes to fly fishing starter kits, as everything from the fly rod to the fly reel is of excellent quality. But, with quality comes expense as, within the fishing world, the price reflects the quality.

The expense of this package might price a lot of starting fly anglers out, and it might not make sense if you don’t even know if you like fly fishing yet. But, if you have tried fly fishing, love it, and want to do it for the rest of your life, this setup will be with you for the entire journey. 

This starter setup includes an Orvis Recon Fly Rod, Orvis Hydros Reel, a high-quality fly line, and backing. The reel comes ready spooled, so all you need to do is attach the reel to the rod, run the line through the guides, and add a leader and a fly. 

The rod is built for performance, and you can choose weights from 2 to 10 and lengths available from 7 feet 6 inches to 10 feet. This allows you to choose from long and light euro nymphing options to a heavy 10-weight saltwater fly rod to catch tarpon and roosterfish. 

The rod is a joy to cast, providing a great deal of feel, great line speed, and being forgiving simultaneously. You’ll be able to cast distances over 70 feet accurately and get enough speed to punch into the wind on the flats, too. 

The Hydros reel included is top quality too. Built from top-draw aluminum with a sealed drag, you can use this reel in saltwater daily without concerns, and it will keep coming back for more! The drag is super smooth, has no startup inertia, and packs a punch for those larger saltwater critters. 

Overall, this is an excellent option for anyone who knows they will be fly fishing for the rest of their lives. Yes, it is expensive, but it’s an investment; you’ll have it for the rest of your life, and it comes with a 25-year guarantee from Orvis. 

Pros

  • It comes with a top-quality rod and reel 
  • Both rod and reel can handle saltwater 
  • There is a great range of options for every type of fly fishing 
  • Light with a lot of power 
  • Provides good casting distances and accuracy
  • Forgiving to cast with 
  • The reel has an easy-to-use drag system 
  • No start-up inertia on the reel 
  • A setup you can grow with 
  • Easy to travel with
  • It comes with a 25-year guarantee 

Cons

  • Quite expensive 

Specs 

Fly Rod Weight: 2-10 

Fly Rod Length: 7 ft 6” to 10 ft

Fly Rod Material: Graphite 

Fly Rod Pieces: 4

Rod Tube: Yes 

Fly Reel Weight: 2-10 

Fly Reel Material: Aluminum

Drag Type: Sealed disc

Arbor: Large 

You can read my detailed article on the Orvis Recon rod for an in-depth review of its features and capabilities.

Redington Vice Rod & Reel Combo

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The Redington Vice Rod & Reel Combo

The second Redington fly fishing starter kit we will look at is the Redington Vice Rod & Reel Combo. If you haven’t heard of Redington, they are a part of the Far Bank Enterprises Group, which includes Rio lines and Sage fly rods and reels. 

Redington is the more affordable side of Far Bank, delivering quality rods and reels but not quite as good as their Sage offerings, which are way more expensive. 

This package includes a Redington vice rod, an ID reel, quality backing, and a decent-quality Rio fly line. It’s a reliable starting option, and the setup will be perfectly balanced. 

This rod comes in a range of weights from 4 to 9, meaning you can pick the right setup for everything from trout to bass and even bonefish on the Seychelles flats. 

The rod is made from multi-modulus carbon fiber, a quality material that delivers durability and performance. It’s a fast-action rod that is quite forgiving to cast but still provides good recovery and excellent line speed to cast long, accurately, and even into the wind. The Redington Vice Rod is a great option for a beginner to grow into without upgrading after a year or so. 

The D reel is a solid option. It has a Rulon disc drag system to control strong fish and is built from cast aluminum. It can handle salt water, but it’s not the best quality and might need replacing after a year of flats fishing. But it will handle freshwater with ease. 

The rod tube is included as part of the combo package and also incorporates your reel. The rod breaks down into four pieces, making it super easy to travel with. 

Pros

  • Great freshwater and saltwater options 
  • Super-versatile for lots of species 
  • Excellent casting accuracy and control 
  • Lightweight for long casting days 
  • Durable build that lasts 
  • Packs down small for travel 
  • Reliable drag on the fly reel 
  • The fly reel can handle saltwater, (just) 
  • Includes a rod tube for storage 
  • Fast action punches line into the wind well 
  • Included fly line and backing 
  • It comes with a lifetime warranty 

Cons

  • The reel could be better 

Specs 

Fly Rod Weight: 4-9 

Fly Rod Length: 9 ft 

Fly Rod Material: Carbon Fiber

Fly Rod Pieces: 4 

Rod Tube: Yes

Fly Reel Weight: 4-9 

Fly Reel Material: Cast aluminum 

Drag Type: Rulon disc drag

Arbor: Large 

Orvis Helios™ 3D Fly Rod Outfit – My Best Quality Pick!

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If you are looking for the best fly fishing starter kit and money is no object, then you can not go wrong with the Orvis Helios™ 3D fly rod package. So, if you are convinced that you will fly fishing forever, this is definitely the pick for you!

The Orvis Helios™ 3D Fly Rod Outfit comes with the best of Orvis, including the Helios 3D fly rod, one of the best on the market, and Orvis’ best reel, the Mirage. Plus, it has an excellent fly line and quality backing. 

You can find the Helios 3D in weights from 4 to 12, meaning you can pick the one you need to fly fish for anything from trout to GTs, sailfish, and tuna. 

The rod is quite incredible. It is super light, which makes casting easy, and it’s designed with a ton of feel. You can feel the rod load from butt to tip, and it recovers quickly, so you can get huge casting distances with a ton of accuracy. It’s built strong, too, with a lot of pulling power, so you can really put pressure on fish when they are close to being landed. 

One of the great things about this fly rod is that it is designed to absorb and remove your casting errors! This is great for both casting consistency and beginners trying to improve their skills. 

The Orvis Mirage reel with this kit is made from the highest quality aluminum, meaning you can drop it, and it won’t dent, and saltwater won’t even make a mark on it. It has a large arbor, so you can wind the line in quickly, and the drag system is super smooth and incredibly reliable. 

Together, the rod and reel create the perfect starter option that will last a lifetime and provide you with some of the best performance fly gear possible. This package will last forever, and you will never have to buy another! 

The one thing about this Orvis package is that it is about as expensive as they come! So you had better know you love fly fishing before you buy it. It does come with a 25-year Orvis guarantee, so it is more of an investment than anything else, and you get to fish with it, too! 

Regarding travel, the setup comes with an aluminum rod tube, and the rod breaks down into four pieces so you can easily take it fly fishing across the world. 

Pros

  • Top-quality fly rod and reel 
  • Designed for the best performance possible 
  • It packs down small and travels well 
  • Best quality guides, cork, and reel seat 
  • Casts like a dream with amazing distance and accuracy 
  • Absorbs casting errors for better consistency 
  • An incredible reel that can handle all species 
  • Super smooth drag with a lot of power 
  • It comes in a huge range of weights 
  • Includes backing & fly line
  • It has a 25-year guarantee 

Cons

  • Super expensive 

Specs 

Fly Rod Weight: 4-12

Fly Rod Length: 9ft 

Fly Rod Material: Graphite

Fly Rod Pieces: 4 

Rod Tube: Yes 

Fly Reel Weight: 4-9 

Fly Reel Material: Aluminum 

Drag Type: Sealed carbon & stainless steel disc drag system 

Arbor: Large 

You can read my detailed article on the Orvis Helios rod, which covers all the features and capabilities of this awesome rod.

Things To Consider When Buying A Fly Fishing Starter Kit

Performance, Price, & Skill Level 

When buying the right fly fishing starter kit, you need to find the perfect balance between performance, price, and skill level on an individual basis. 

We all have a maximum budget, so be sure to shop inside it if you can, but the price is very much connected to how well the gear performs, and the performance is connected to skill level.

Since these are starter kits, I expect you are new to fly fishing, but an 8-year-old trying fly fishing compared to a 25-year-old spin angler converting to fly fishing is a very different challenge. 

Make sure to shop according to your budget, but also assess the anglers’ skills, willingness to learn to fly fish, and how quickly they will get good at it. 

Lastly, ensure you choose a kit to grow into if you know you love it, so you don’t need to buy another one a year down the line. But do the opposite if buying for an angler who is unsure of a commitment to fly fishing and wants to test it out first. 

Overall Conclusion

To summarize, I would recommend the following top three for different reasons: 

If you are 100% new to fly fishing and want to try it out or are on a tighter budget, the Redington Path rod & reel combo is the starter kit I recommend. It delivers the best performance-to-price ratio of them all, along with durability and quality. You can grow into this starter kit and use it for many years. 

For anyone who knows they love fly fishing and want something that delivers great performance but isn’t overly expensive, the Orvis Clearwater starter kit is perfect. It’s the ideal middle ground with a rod that gives you all the casting abilities you need for serious fishing and a quality reel to back it up. 

If you want an option where money is less of a concern, then the Orvis Helios 3D outfit is for you. The Helios 3D fly rod is one of the nicest fly rods I have had the pleasure to cast and fish with. Combine this with the best reel Orvis makes, and there isn’t a fish you can’t catch so long as you use the right weight setup. 

Winding Up 

Thanks for reading my article. I hope you enjoyed it and can now choose the right fishing starter kit. Whichever choice you make, I know you won’t be disappointed with the options I have chosen.

You can read more on my options for trout fishing fly rods and saltwater fly rods, which focus more on dedicated picks for specific styles and fish species.

Jamie Melvin