Choosing the best fly rod for trout fishing is one that can test an angler’s patience. The dozens of options, variety of prices, and different sizes can cause confusion and lead to an improper purchase. Your rod is going to be an extension of your hand on the water so you need it to feel right.
If you’re only targeting trout, there are a few different options for you. Trout vary in the conditions where they live and the size they’re able to reach so it’s important to understand this when selecting your rod type.
In this article, I will cover:
Things to consider before you purchase a fly rod for trout
Different Types of Fly Rods for trout
Our 5 Best fly rods for trout
Moonshine Vesper (Our Best Overall Pick!)
Sage Foundation (Our Most Versatile Pick!)
Orvis Clearwater (Our Most Budget Friendly Pick!)
Snowbee Classic (Our Best Beginners Choice!)
Things to Consider Before you Purchase a Fly Rod for Trout
When you’re looking to buy a fly fishing rod for trout, don’t just choose the first 4 or 5-weight that you see. There are a few different things you need to know before you make any sort of decision.
You’re going to choose a different rod depending on the type of water you’re fishing. If you’re spending most of your time in small mountain streams, you’re going to want a different size rod than if you’re fishing on a lake.
Small stream rods should be a 3 or 4-weight and around 7’ long.
Medium size rivers and smaller lake rods should be a 4 or 5-weight and 8 to 9’ long.
Large rivers or larger lakes would require a 5 or 6-weight and should be 9’ long.
If you’re looking for a more versatile length and weight option, an 8’6” 5-weight would do the trick. It’s not too long that you’d be completely out of place on a smaller river, but you’ll still have the power to tackle some of those larger fish.
Give the water you’re fishing careful consideration. Fly rods are not cheap and you don’t want to find yourself over or undermatched.
What Size of Trout Are You Trying To Catch?
Another thing to know is the size of the fish you have the opportunity of landing with your rod. Snapping your rod on a sizable fish is heartbreaking. Not only do you regret the fish you lost, but you also have to think about replacing the rod. The cost and time alone to replace these forces you to lose precious time on the water.
Most small mountain streams are going to have anywhere from 6 to 14-inch fish. After that, you never know! Speak with local guides or fly shops to know what fish you might hook into. They’ll give you some good insight into what you need.
Fish less than 16 inches in length, can easily be handled on a 3-wt or 4-wt.
Fish smaller than 22 inches can be handled by a 5-wt.
If you’re lucky enough to be consistently going to hook into fish over 20-inches then I strongly suggest investing in a 6-wt rod!
Know Your Casting Conditions
Casting a fly rod requires quite a bit of movement. Most rivers and streams are going to have foliage of some sort along the bank that might make casting a longer rod challenging. Yes, waders can help you get further into the water, but on small streams, that could spoil the area you’re trying to target.
Rods are always going to be longer than you think. However, depending on the water you’re fishing, you might not be able to help a longer and more powerful rod. You need the power and length to make longer casts and fight the fish you find. As fly anglers, adapting to the surroundings is one of our many skills.
Also, remember that anything your fly can get stuck on it likely will find itself stuck on. There are some extremely frustrating days on the water when this continues to happen.
Know Your Ability
The final thing to consider is your own ability. Quite a few high-end rods are going to be fast action and require quite a bit of skill. Fast action rods are stiff and the timing can be challenging to understand.
If you’re new to the sport, it’s smart to choose a moderate or moderate fast action rod. Not only are these rods versatile, but they’re easy to cast. You won’t be overwhelmed by the feel of it. You’ll get the rhythm down soon enough.
The Best Flyrods For Trout Fishing
Moonshine Vesper – Our Best Overall Pick!
Moonshine Rod Co. is no longer the newbies on the scene in fly fishing. While most anglers are going to flock towards the big named brands like Orvis and Sage, Moonshine is a brand that creates a rod that’s easily comparable to those high-end brands! Plus, it’s going to be a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than another company’s top-end rod.
The Vesper series is ideal for trout. Moonshine makes this rod in 3 to 6-weight models. Again, pay attention to the water you’re fishing and that will help you make your decision.
It’s a moderate-fast action rod so the versatility of this rod is spectacular. You can make the long casts, but also detect those small little strikes on your nymph. The rod is made of carbon fiber and has titanium stripping guides and AAAA Grade cork handle. This rod feels wonderful and performs even better.
Perhaps the best feature of this rod is that Moonshine sends you an extra rod tip with your purchase. The rod is broken down into 4 pieces and you get an extra tip in case you break yours. For $450, you’re getting a high-performance rod. That’s almost unheard of in the world of fly fishing! Enjoy the value with the top-of-the-line performance.
Sage makes a high-quality fly rod. The Foundation series is appropriately named. It’s a fast-action rod, but it’s extremely versatile. Those rivers out west or local waters near your house can easily be home to the foundation model from Sage.
The rod is made of Graphite, has ceramic guides, and comes in anywhere from a 4 to 9-weight rod. The 4 to 6-weight models are ideal for trout. They’re all 9’ long so keep this in mind! You’ll be able to high stick with nymphs on smaller bodies of water and bomb longer casts out of the drift boat with the foundation.
This rod is only going to cost you around $425 so you aren’t breaking the bank with this model. Like most companies, Sage offers lifetime warranties on their rods. Fish it hard and don’t worry about what could go wrong!
Orvis Clearwater – Our Most Budget Friendly Pick!
Orvis is more well-known for its extremely high-end rods. The Helios and Recon are fan favorites, but the Clearwater is one that should never be overlooked. It’s affordable and performs extremely well. Most anglers absolutely love their Clearwater.
For many, the Orvis Clearwater is their first fly rod. After a while, anglers realize that they don’t necessarily need a new rod. The Clearwater has the friendliness of an entry-level rod, but the advanced technology of a higher-end package.
It’s a medium-fast action rod with all of the features you’d need to handle any size trout. Depending on where and how you’re fishing, you can purchase a 2-weight to a 6-weight rod. The nice thing about the Clearwater is that Orvis has quite a few length options for you to choose from. You can really personalize your purchase to the exact type of rod you need.
Also, you can purchase an entire rod and reel package from Orvis. The package will come with the rod, reel, and fly line! It gives you peace of mind that everything will be weighted properly. For the rod only, it’s a great affordable price.
The Echo Trout doesn’t need much explanation. Echo is another company like Moonshine that realized how expensive fly fishing rods were getting and wanted to create a more budget-friendly and relatable rod for anglers.
The Trout model has everything from an 8’4” 4-weight to a 9’6” 6-weight. Whatever model you choose, you won’t be sorry. They’re light and extremely easy to use. It’s a moderate-fast action so they’re easy to cast no matter your skill level. You can throw streamers, nymphs, and dry flies and be just fine.
The Echo Trout is only going to cost you around $300. Pay close attention to Echo’s warranty before you purchase one. They are less flexible with their warranty than other companies. If the rod is damaged by you, then Echo will not replace it! It’s not a no-questions-asked warranty, but if the rod does malfunction or snap, you will get a replacement.
Snowbee Classic – Our Best Beginners Choice!
Snowbee is more well-known in Europe. You’ll find that they make extremely high-quality waders, but the rods and reels Snowbee makes are high quality. The Classic model is Snowbee’s most affordable option.
It’s a moderate-action rod and is ideal for an entry-level fly rod. You’ll only have to spend $130 or so to get the rod and out on the water. Snowbee has an interesting system in which their rods are 3/4 weight, 4/5 weight, and 6/7 weight combos. This allows you to mix and match your rods to make them fit your reels and the line that you have.
Purchasing a new fly rod for trout is an exciting time. It means more time on the water and a better opportunity for landing fish!
Take your conditions and skill into strong consideration before you make your purchase! Our best overall pick, the Moonshine Vesper, is a spectacular choice that is a pleasure to use for any trout fly fishing trip!
More than everything, however, enjoy targeting trout! They’re beautiful fish and live in amazing places.
Danny Mooers is a high school English teacher in Arizona with a love for fishing. Growing up in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to experience all types of fishing and grow his skills. After living out in the Western United States for several summers in college, his fishing obsession grew. Having the opportunity to share in his passion for fishing through writing is a dream come true. It's a lifelong hobby and he strives to make it understandable for people of all skill levels.