The Best Fly Rod & Reel Combos
Choosing new fly fishing gear can be a confusing task, especially for those who are new to the sport, as rods and reels are available in a wide variety of sizes, weights, materials, and brands to choose from. Fly fishing equipment also varies greatly according to price. A rod or reel from a department store may have a price tag of a little over fifty bucks, whereas one from a custom maker or specialty shop may cost several thousand dollars. How does one choose the right fly rod and reel for the right price…especially for serious, long-term, dependable use? The short answer is by choosing a proven product, from a proven, dependable manufacturer.
While working as a fishing guide on Kodiak Island, Alaska, as well as having fly fished all across North America, I’ve used and have seen in action dozens upon dozens of fly rods and reels. Over the years I’ve assembled my personal arsenal of fly fishing gear based on what I’ve witnessed and experienced while out on the mighty rivers of Alaska and other legendary fly fishing destinations. I’ve seen and used fly rods that cast beautifully and have withstood incredible beatings from both the rigors of fishing as well as Mother Nature, and I’ve also seen and used rods that have snapped like a twig the first time they were put to the test.
While relatively cheap, department store fly fishing equipment will most likely fail when routinely faced with a serious challenge, thus making it a poor choice for serious use, I also don’t recommend bringing along a beautiful, custom made rod on a hardcore fishing adventure either. There’s a good chance your gear will get covered in sand and mud, stepped on or knocked around in a boat during a fight with a big fish, dragged across a rocky river bank, or even chewed on by a grizzly bear. You want to choose a rod that can take a beating and keep on performing, fish after fish! Likewise, a fly reel should be a battle-ready wench to crank in a big swimming slab of muscle, rather than something that’s more akin to a delicate piece of fine clockwork. Hook into your first Kenai River red salmon or Kodiak king salmon and you’ll know what I mean! Such fish can generate ENORMOUS power and can rip a rod right out of our hand or blow it up like a stick of dynamite! Indeed, tough places and incredibly tough fish demand tough, dependable gear.
Here’s what I look for in the fly rods and reels that I personally use and recommend for places like Alaska, or similar, no-nonsense fishing destinations…
- Made by manufacturers that have stood the test of time and consistently produce high-performance, durable rods
- Rods of renowned castability, sensitivity, and dependability
- Rods backed by an exceptional repair, warranty, or replacement program
As a side note regarding size, I generally recommend 6, 8, and 10-weight rods. A 6 weight is perfect for big, feisty rainbow trout and similar sized fish, as well as smaller salmon species such as pinks. An 8-weight rod can handle all five species of Pacific salmon, steelhead, etc., and a 10-weight rod will provide more backbone for bigger salmon such as kings and larger offshore fish. I you only plan on purchasing one rod though, I highly recommend an 8 weight, which can do it all! While a 6, 8, or 10 weight are the most popular choices, we do also offer 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12-weight rods for those who may prefer something in between.
- Smooth action and easy to adjust drag system
- Easy to disassemble for modifications or maintenance…especially while out on the river
- Durable and dependable exterior
- Exceptional repair, warranty, or replacement program
Our favorite fly rod and reel manufacturers that have consistently met the above criteria are those from G.Loomis, Sage, Orvis, and Temple Fork. Below are our top picks for fly rod and reel combos from these companies. Click on the photos below to find out more and order yours today through our Amazon affiliate service.