Finding the best fly rod for you
Ask a group of fly fishermen which is the best fly rod and you will find various different opinions. Many are based on the level of experience of the fly fishermen, where they normally shop, what magazines they read, income levels and so on.
For example, those who have used St. Croix Fly Rods may prefer the Legend Elite or the Avid series. One of my linked in friends does a lot of salt water fly fishing and a lot of bass fishing. He uses St. Croix Legend Elite rods exclusively. I have a Legend Elite I built that is an outstanding rod. St. Croix is the largest maker of fishing rods in the world. This includes fly rods, spin rods, bait casting and ice fishing rods.
Those that have fished a lot with a Sage Rod will most probably recommend Sage or perhaps a Redington as their choice for Best Fly Rod.
Another fine brand is G. Loomis. With Steve Raejaeff as their head designer, you will get a quality built and designed fly rod.
On the less expensive end of the spectrum are Allen Fly Fly Rods by Allen Fly Fishing. For the money you will get a quality rod from them.
Stone Creek HG Series is another fine fly rod at the lower end of the cost range. These are the ones I carry in the fly shop in 8 ft 3wt through 9 ft 6wt.
Personally I own St Croix, G. Loomis, Sage, Orvis, Fish Creek and Stone Creek Gear.
A lot of the preferences are based on trust and the fishing experience of a shop owner or information on a website. If a customer feels comfortable, they will be more likely to spend their money there. Higher end shops attract higher end clientele, middle class shoppers will be most comfortable in a middle class shop. The bargain shoppers go to the big box store, a local sporting goods chain or a discount sporting goods store. They often purchase an inferior outfit and end up with an inferior experience.
A good rule is to purchase what you can afford and what fits best for the type of fishing you do most. If you fish smaller streams most of the time. An 8ft 3 or 4 weight might be just right. For most medium streams that are 30 to 60 feet, a 9ft 5 or 6 wt rod should work well. For larger streams, you might want a 9 ft 8wt or heavier weight. Steel heading, a 10, 11, or 12 foot two handed spey or switch rod might be your choice.
Spend some time researching, reading and talk to fly fishing friends who have some time in the sport for their experience with different fly rods. Time in research is time well spent.
Marshall Estes, Publisher