Have you just taken up fishing and are looking for a budget-friendly fly rod? Or maybe you’re a seasoned angler looking for a backup rod? The market has become saturated with thousands of choices which can make your search all the more difficult. In the past few years alone budget fly rods have become all the rage in the fishing community.
Major companies like Echo and Redington are leading the charge in the resurgence of lower-priced yet higher-quality fly rods. That being said, there are so many elements of a rod to consider before making a purchase, such as the weight and length as these play a determining factor in the species of fish you’re likely to catch.
We have scoured the internet and come up with what we think are the 7 best fly rods under $200. In this article, we outline the key features of each of our selections along with their respective pros and cons.
We’ve also included a useful Buyer’s Guide which details key things to consider when looking for the best affordable fly rod. If you’re in the market for a new fly rod or are just starting out, read on and see what you make of our choices!
Table of Contents
- 1 7 Best Fly Rods Under $200
- 2 Buyer’s Guide
- 3 Conclusion
7 Best Fly Rods Under $200
1. Orvis Encounter Fly Rod
The Orvis Encounter Fly Rod, we would argue, is a bold answer to the question “What’s the first rod I should buy?”
Included in the outfit is the Encounter Fly Rod, Orvis Encounter Fly Reel, Orvis quality WF floating fly line, Dacron backing, Orvis tapered leather, and Orvis Cordura rod tube. The Orvis Encounter Fly Rod is designed to be ready to go out of the box, meaning all you need to do is tie on a fly.
This rod makes for an ideal all-arounder. The 9’ 5 weight rod means it can handle bigger trout waters. The guys behind the Encounter Fly Rod prefer the term “affordable awesomeness” instead of “entry-level” and we can see why!
We think the Orvis Encounter is worth serious consideration, particularly if you’re new to fly fishing. It takes little effort to get the rod up and casting.
- Ready to go straight out of the packaging
- Great all-rounder
- The Encounter Series is exempt from Orvis’s 25-year guarantee – but does have a limited warranty
- Lack of diversity in terms of the reel seat
- Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfits include the Orvis Encounter Fly Rod, Orvis Encounter Fly Reel, Orvis...
2. Wild Water Fly Rod
The Wild Water Fly Rod is a very strong contender on this list, for many good reasons!
Firstly, considering the high-quality finish on the rod, it is extremely well priced at the lower end of a $200 budget as it is packed with high-quality features and accessories! Even for the experienced fly fisherman, the Wild Water Fly Rod impresses.
Usually when outfits come as complete as they do with this rod sacrifices are made in terms of overall quality. This is not the case with The Wild Water Fly Rod. Out of the box, it took a grand total of 15 minutes to set up and be down at the river catching fish.
Made from IM8 graphite with a matte finish, the 4 piece Wild Water Fly Rod is made with versatility and durability in mind. There are 3 colors available (Tan/Black/Green). Like nearly all of the rods in this list, it’s a medium-fast action rod meaning that it’ll bend at roughly the top half of the rod.
The reel seat is made from machined black aluminum and has double lock rings with a laser etched butt cap. In terms of grip, the Wild Water Fly Rod has a Western-style cork handle made with compressed cork accent rings.
The Wild WaterFly Fishing Rod is best suited for small bass, trout, panfish. In terms of fishing environments, it’s well suited for small to medium streams, ponds, and backpacking.
- Very well priced
- Comes with everything you need to get started
- Can be inaccurate when cast
- FLY ROD: 5/6 weight, 9', 4 Piece, medium-fast action, IM8 matte black graphite. Has machined black...
- ROD CASE: 32” hard tube rod case with, reel pouch and side storage pouch with zipper. The case...
- FLY REEL: 85mm diameter spool, die cast aluminum, adjustable disc drag. Comes preinstalled with...
3. Redington Classic Trout
The guys behind the Redington Classic Trout – Far Bank – are one of the most respected names in fly fishing. They not only manufacture fly rods but fly reels, fly lines, leaders, tippets, and outdoor apparel. Making them a household name in the world of fly fishing!
What the Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod lacks in being an all-rounder, it more than makes up for in performance. As the name suggests, it is designed especially for trout anglers. Owing to its moderate action it is just as much at home in spring creeks as it is at the big rivers and boat fishing. The blank is very lightweight and the forgiving action is aimed at reducing fatigue on those long days at the water.
In terms of design, the Redington Classic Trout stays with the ‘classic look.’ Featuring a dark clay brown blank and a matching Rosewood reel seat insert. It also has custom machined reel seat components and alignment dots for easy rod setup.
- Numerous Models Available
- Can be used in a range of environments
- Lifetime Original Owner Warranty
- Can be slow for nymphing
- Fresh water, moderate action rod
- Dark clay brown blank with matching Rosewood reel seat insert
- Custom Machined reel seat components, Titanium oxide stripping guides
4. Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter Series Fly Rod
At the top end of our $200 budget, we have an entry from the Moonshine Rod Company. The Moonshine Rod Co is relatively new on the rod maker scene, yet they already hold their own against legends in the trade. The Drifter Series was designed to be a beautiful-looking rod with excellent action and sensitivity, even when compared to more expensive brands.
The Drifter Series is crafted to be just as comfortable in the hands of a novice as in the hands of a pro, with the angler at the heart of the Moonshine Rod Company.
The construction quality on this rod is extremely impressive. It’s made with performance in mind with medium-action graphite, and triple-A grade cork grips. The cork grips feature burled ends and the burl reel seats are double locking. They’re also dyed to show off the rods impressive wood graining. This 4 piece model comes with two-rod tip sections, meaning you’ll always have a replacement handy.
We liked the fact that The Drifter comes with a portable canvas tube. The tube itself is made from hard canvas and as such is very durable, plus it is beautifully embroidered with the Moonshine Rod Co logo.
- Beautifully constructed
- Come with a portable canvas tube – which keeps dirt and grime off your fly rod
- Built to last
- Can feel like it’s balanced a bit heavy
- Action can feel off
- HIGH-QUALITY CONSTRUCTION – Made with performance, medium action graphite and high-grade AAA cork...
- DYNAMIC 4-PIECE ROD – Cork grips keep this rod lightweight, while copper anodized hardware keeps...
- PORTABLE CANVAS TUBE – This rod comes with a durable, hard canvas fly rod tube. Embroidered with...
5. Fenwick Aetos
The Fenwick Aetos, like all decent fly fishing rods, comes in a range of weights (3, 4, 5, and 8) and lengths (from 6’66” to 9 feet). For this list, we are looking at the 8 foot/5 weight. Much like the Moonshine Rod Co. the Fenwick Aetos grips are made of triple-A grade cork but have composite cork tippings.
It makes use of Nano Composite Technology in the blank construction. It has a stealthy black satin blank finish for a sleek look. The reel seat is made of two-tone anodized aluminum and has a woven carbon spacer.
We felt like this entry was a bit of a wildcard, as the Fenwick brand is most widely known for its spinning and baitcasting rods in the fishing community. However, the Aetos is highly regarded for its long-range casting.
- Comes in a range of weights and lengths
- Very well known brand
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Lacks subtlety compared to slower rods at the 25-foot range
- Nano Composite Technology used in blank construction
- Fast Action
- Two tone anodised aluminium reel seat with woven carbon spacer
6. Echo Carbon XL
Considered by many to be a true round performer the Echo Carbon XL is worth a serious look. It feels like a rod that should cost four times as much! The Echo brand is one of the most popular fly fishing rods in the industry.
Designed by Tim Rajeff to be lightweight and with actions that benefit a multitude of casting styles and fishing situations. Meaning the Echo Carbon XL is suitable for nymphing and dry fly applications. This rod is suitable for numerous species of fish from Bass to browns, brookies to bluegill. The Echo Carbon XL features medium-fast action, ceramic stripping guides, and two grip styles.
The medium-fast action on the Echo Carbon XL gives you longer and more accurate casts. Its two grip style means that it works well in anyone’s hands, all you need is time and patience!
- Comes with the Echo Lifetime Warranty
- Suitable for a wide range of fishing situations
- None – this is an exceptional fly rod!
7. Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Graphite Fly Fishing Rod
The Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Lefty Kreh Professional Series II comes in sixteen different models, for this article we will be looking at the 7 weight 9” model. However, it’s good to know if you’re an angler who prefers to keep a diverse arsenal for every fishing occasion.
Like the Wild Water Fly Rod, this rod is made with IM6 Graphite to ensure durability whilst also feeling lightweight. The TFO Lefty Kreh Professional Series II also features a braided graphite/aluminum uplocking reel seat. Much like what we have come to expect from this list, it also features a high-grade cork handle with burled accents.
Even if you’re a seasoned professional angler, this rod is considered to be one of the best fly rods available. It’s just as responsive as the more expensive brands and capable of throwing larger flies and hooking even larger fish. The TFO Lefty Kreh Pro Series II is fantastic for throwing streamers to larger trout and even bass.
- Very Fast Action allows you to cast far and even into the wind.
- Light and Responsive
- Configured for left hand retrieve left-hand
- Not as precise as other rods of its kind
- With 16 models available
- IM6 Graphite
- Braided Graphite/Aluminum Uplocking Reel Seat
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, if you’re in the market for a fly fishing rod you have a near-endless choice. This can seem a little overwhelming, especially if you are new to the hobby.
Luckily, we have composed a Buyer’s Guide below, which details all the important things to consider when looking for the perfect fly fishing rod.
Best Fly Rods Under $200 Features
Pieces: These days, finding a rod that comes in as many pieces as you like is a breeze. The majority of rods come as four pieces, making them easier to travel with and stow away.
Action: All of the rods on the list above are medium-action making them great for multiple fishing scenarios and tactics. Generally, rods are either slow, medium, or fast action. Medium-fast rods are most suited to beginners but are just as widely used amongst seasoned anglers.
Weight: Chances are if you’re looking to do a specific type of fishing (Euro nymphing for example) then a company makes the rod you need. The fact is that many companies make all kinds of rods in different price brackets.
Balance: If fly fishing is something you’re planning on pursuing, the balance of your rod gets more important as your setup becomes more expensive. Don’t get us wrong, it’s still important for cheaper setups, but it’s not crucial. A more balanced setup aids effective casting but if you find something close to what you need, stick with it.
What Species of Fish Are You Targeting?
This may seem like an obvious question but it’s a vital one to consider, as it will influence what type of rod to buy. Typically, you’d need a versatile rod when you’re just starting, something which is just as much at home at the lakeside as it is in a boat.
If you have a particular species in mind it might be difficult to find a specialized rod (a euro-nymphing or Spey rod for example) for under $200.
We have put together some dedicated buying guides for specific fly fishing gear:
- Best Fly Rods for Bass
- Best Fly Reel for Trout
- Best Fly Reel for Salmon
- Best Fly Fishing Nets
- Best Fly Fishing Vests
What Brand of Rod Should I Buy?
When in doubt about which brand to go for, it is always a good idea to go for well-known Fly Rod Brands.
There are many generic, cheap, and off-brand fly rods available but if you’re not intending to simply waste your hard-earned money, avoid these at all costs.
Should I Get a Rod with A Warranty?
In short, yes. All of the rods on our list come with a warranty (some of them even have a lifetime warranty). This will save you money further down the road if your rod breaks.
What about the Fly Line?
Whilst this article focuses on Fly Rods, your fly line is what presents the fly and catches the fish. This makes it arguably as important as any rod you’re going to use.
It’s a good idea to consider the recommended fly line pairing with your rod as this really can make all the difference.
You must consider your specific needs when looking for that perfect rod. You might be hard-pressed to find one which can accommodate every need, the trick is to find one that can cover as many as possible.
Whilst we have carefully curated this list, it is important to do some of your research when you’re just starting. All of the rods on this list are excellent choices in their own right but ultimately any of the above will get you out on the water without having to break the bank. Chances are that if you’re equipped with a little bit of knowledge, you’ll find the rod you need.
So go on, set your work or social media status to “Gone Fishing” and get out there! Tight lines.
Last update on 2021-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API