The 5 Best Travel Fly Rod in 2024 – Buyers Guide

  • Written By: Ben Kepka
  • Last Updated: December 20, 2023

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If you like to travel around and visit new fly fishing spots, you’ll need to kit yourself out with a travel fly rod. The best fly fishing rods break down into 6, 7, or even 8 different sections, making them very  portable . They also tend to be  lightweight without losing out on performance.

Backpackers are big fans of travel rods, but they can also be handy when you don’t want to check luggage on a flight. Here’s our  complete guide to choosing the best travel fly rod for you!

The Best Travel Fly Rods: The Reviews

We aim to review the best products so that you can quickly and easily pick out the best compact fly rod for you!

Echo Trip 8 Piece Travel Fly Rod

Orvis Sure Step Folding Wading Staff

Echo fly rods has designed the ultimate travel fly rod, breaking down into 8 pieces that  measure just 18 inches . If you need to hit the road and travel light, fly cross country, or go backpacking with your rod, this fly rod is fit for the job.

Available in 5, 6, or 8 weight rods,  you can take your pick and choose the weight that best fits your needs. The aesthetics on this rod are attractive, with black wraps, silver trim, stripping guides, and chrome snake guides.

This 8-piece rod is  quick and easy to fit together  thanks to the alignment dots on the ferrules. The whole rod feels sturdy to use, with the perfect balance of action and power despite it being ultra-compact.  The Echo Trip excels in the mid-long distance range, with plenty of sensitivity and impressive accuracy.

If you’re looking for a travel rod that packs down to a tiny size but could pass for a traditional fly rod, check out the Echo Trip!

  • Cool glossy design
  • Super compact - 18"
  • Fits in your backpack
  • Great performance
  • Lifetime warranty included
  • Doesn’t perform well with big fly patterns
  • Just one uplocking ring

Overall Score

* How we test and review products .

Redington Classic Trout

The Redington Classic Trout has an admirable reputation as a  superb trout rod with impressive accuracy and sensitivity.  But what many anglers don’t know is that it also makes a brilliant travel fly rod.

While most of the versions are 4-piece rods, the Redington CT is also available in a 3 weight and a 5 weight rod. Both versions measure 9 foot and break down into 6 separate pieces. The rod  measures just 17.5 inches , making it the perfect size for travel. You can pack it into your backpack, your carry on, or your suitcase with ease.

Although the Classic Trout isn’t built to withstand strong winds, it casts beautifully and will catch you plenty of fish. There’s no shoddy workmanship or cut corners here.

If you’re looking for an amazing travel fly rod that could double up as your main rod, go for this one. You won’t be disappointed.

  • Very accurate casting
  • Ideal for trout fishing
  • Packs down compactly into 6 pieces
  • Not great for long casts
  • Difficult to cast in windy conditions

Maxcatch Traveler Fly Fishing Rod

Orvis Sure Step Folding Wading Staff

The Maxcatch Traveler could easily be the  best travel fly rod for under $100 . This impressive carbon fiber rod has a solid aluminum fly reel and boasts a high-quality, AAA-grade cork grip. The best news is that you can break it down into 7 small pieces and take it anywhere with you, and the affordable price makes it an accessible travel rod for any angler.

The Traveler performs well on all sorts of rivers and can shoot line out there with power and accuracy.  If you’re used to an expensive, high-end rod, you’ll notice the difference, but it certainly gets the job done. The attention to detail in the aesthetics and the construction is clear to see, with alignment dots making it simple to put together.

Without a doubt, the Maxcatch Traveler is the  best budget travel option  around today. If you need a reliable travel rod without breaking the bank, this is the one to go for.

  • Packs plenty of power
  • Excellent build quality
  • Suitable for catching big fish
  • Affordable price
  • Closer to medium-fast action than fast action

Hardy Demon Saltwater Fly Fishing Rod

The Hardy Demon has a  sturdy build,  with an anodized aluminum double uplocking reel seat, fighting butt, full wells cork handle. It has an  attractive aesthetic  with darker blue wraps and light blue blank.

The rod weighs just 3.81 oz and measures 21 inches, so it’s slightly longer than other travel rods. But it’s still reasonably compact, and the  accuracy in the short-mid range is incredible . Saltwater rods need to pack plenty of power to get your fly out and haul in large fish like tarpon and bonefish, hence the larger size.

You also get a  lifetime warranty,  and Hardy’s customer service is excellent and responsive.

  • Great for saltwater fly fishing
  • Suitable for BIG fish!
  • Lightweight
  • Super-fast recovery
  • Expensive for a travel rod
  • Bigger than some other models
  • Less accurate casting in the long-distance range
  • Small cork handle

Orvis Clearwater Frequent Flyer Fly Rod

Orvis Sure Step Folding Wading Staff

The Orvis name stands for top quality, superior fishing gear in the fly fishing world. When you see Orvis on a fly rod, you know it’s worth checking out! The Orvis Clearwater Frequent Flyer is an  awesome fly rod that breaks down into 7 pieces , making it very easy to transport.

This ultra-light rod guarantees  effortless control and accuracy . If you like to fit some fishing in while you’re backpacking, this is the perfect solution! It won’t weigh you down, and you’ll catch lots of fish with this responsive rod. You can strap it onto your backpack and you won’t even know it’s there!

When it comes to performance, this rod raises the bar. It’s both  versatile and a delight to cast,  so you can fish almost anywhere with this model.

Although Orvis is no longer manufacturing the Clearwater Frequent Flyer, there are still a few around. Snap up this excellent travel fly rod before it disappears off the market entirely. We can only hope that Orvis brings this superb rod back into production soon!

  • Great Control
  • Helios technology
  • Reasonable price
  • Excellent, quality construction
  • No longer in production
  • Hard to find

How to Choose the Best Travel Fly Rod

There are a few things you need to look out for to make sure you get the right travel fly rod for your needs. Here are the most important factors on how to pick a fly rod.

You’ll find fishing rods that break down into 6, 7, or even 8 pieces. The more parts a rod has, the more compact it will be.  Travel rods tend to vary anywhere between 16 inches and 22 inches.

If you need to fit your rod into your backpack or carry on, make sure you’ve checked the dimensions and verify whether the rod is the right size for you.

Weight is another important factor for travel rods, especially when you’re hiking all day with it strapped on your back. You’ll be amazed at how lightweight travel fly rods can be thanks to the best of modern technology. If you love backpacking up a mountain to get to those remote streams,  go for the lightest rod available.  You’ll be glad you did!

Take a close look at the materials and build quality of the rod from the reel seats to the finishing of the wraps. If anything looks rushed, low quality, or not as sturdy as you’d like, it’s a good sign that you should move on and check out another product.

Graphite fly rods tend to be the most durable, higher quality products . Many travel rods are made from carbon fiber these days, but we always prefer a graphite rod. It’s worth spending a little bit extra if your budget allows, as the rod will be able to stand up to more fishing trips and last you longer!

If you’re going for a rod and reel combo, take a close look at the fishing reel.  Many people underestimate the importance of the fly reel. If your fishing reel isn’t powerful, you won’t be able to land those fish you’ve been hunting for.


You might be looking for an ultralight, compact rod, but you still want it to perform well on the water. When you’re hunting for fish, whether it’s salmon, trout, or bass, you need a rod that is  accurate, powerful, and sensitive.

Travel fly rods have a bad reputation compared to normal rods, but they have definitely improved in recent years. Many rod manufacturers have worked hard to redesign their portable rods, making them stronger and more precise. As always, try to read a review or two of the rod you’re thinking of buying to see what other anglers think.

Find out what the action is on the rods you’re comparing.  Fly rods range from slow action right up to stiff, fast action rods, and there’s a big difference in how they will behave in your hands. A medium action rod is a good place to start if you’re not sure what to go for.

Make sure you shop around before buying – you can find some great deals on Amazon as well as in your local fly fishing shops. 

Travel Fly Rod FAQ

In this section, we’ll answer the most common questions about fly rods for you!

What is the best brand of fly rod?

There’s a wide range of fly rods to choose from, so it can get pretty overwhelming. When it comes to picking out the best brand, it helps to identify what you want to use the rod for first. Fishing manufacturers normally have a range of models for different situations.

Do you want a durable all-rounder that you can use anywhere? Take a look at the Sage X. After something that will work wonders for trout fishing? The Redington Classic Trout is just what you’re looking for. If accuracy is essential for you, the Orvis Helios 3 should suit you well.

Well-known brands like Redington, Orvis, and Sage all tend to be safe bets , no matter which model you go for. These fly fishing companies will surely satisfy your fly fishing needs.

What is the shortest fly rod?

The shortest fly rod that adults can comfortably and effectively use measures around 7 foot 6. If you go much shorter than this, you won’t have the same ease of casting, versatility, and line control as with a longer model. The most common length tends to be a 9 ft rod.

Are telescopic rods good?

Telescopic rods can be a good solution if you’re tight on space , as they are portable and easy to transport. However, we prefer multi-piece rods here.

The reason for this is that they tend to be more durable, made of better quality materials, and have an improved action compared to telescopic rods.

If you’re an enthusiastic angler who goes on frequent fishing trips, you’ll be better served by a multi-piece rod instead. Telescopic rods are a suitable choice for hobby anglers who only fish on occasion.

The Wrap Up

So there you have the complete review and guide to the top travel fly rods around. Whether you like to hop on a plane to check out new fly fishing locations all over the world, or you’re more of the hiking type, there’s the right travel rod for every angler .

I would suggest the Redington Classic Trout for a new travel fly rod. But you won’t go wrong with any of our recommendations. We’ve selected the best rods for travel, and all our recommendations are compact, lightweight, durable, and perform well on the water. Now, all that’s left for you to do is select a rod and plan some fun fishing trips.

If you’ve found this guide and review helpful, why not give it a share on Facebook or Twitter so we can reach even more readers? Drop us a comment or an email to let us know which travel fly rod outfit you’ll be going for! Don’t miss our other reviews of fishing reels, accessories, and more on the blog!

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The 13 Best Fly Rods of 2024 – Rod Buyer’s Guide

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Trout and steelhead

8 Best Travel Fly Rods: 2024 Buyers Guide

One of my clients and my guides hiking into a fishing spot with travel fly rods

To be honest, I don’t own or use travel fly rods myself, however, since I have guided hundreds of traveling clients that have come from as far away as Africa and Australia, some of them bring their travel fly rods so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to cast and fish with some good travel fly rods, and some not so good travel fly rods.

If you are on a budget, the best travel fly rod is the Redington Classic Trout, which sells for about $189, or the Orvis Clearwater Travel Fly Rod for $249, or if you’ve got the cash, the overall best travel fly rod is the Hardy Aydon Travel Fly Rod.

I’ll discuss other travel fly rods from $79.00 to over $500.

To be honest, some of the discount travel rods and the telescopic travel rods I’ve tried really suck! They just don’t load well, which means they cast poorly, and when fishing with them they either feel like a pool cue or are whippy like a wet noodle. As a fly casting and fly fishing instructor, I know that learning to cast on these very cheap rods will be harder.

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What Is A Travel Rod?

A guide and his client

Travel rods are like regular fly rods except that they are six or eight pieces, and when they are broken down, they are often less than 20 inches, making them perfect for a suitcase on a plane or for stuffing in a backpack and hiking into a secluded fishing spot.

A travel fishing rod or travel rod uses a lightweight design crafted of graphite or carbon fiber .

Travel rods do not typically come with a reel unless you are buying some of the cheap ones on Amazon. You can find travel rods designed for various applications and weights from three-weight to ten-weight for big salmon.

Although they are called travel fly rods, they can be used anywhere and all the time if you want.

These are my reviews of the top travel fly rods available today, and I’ll let you choose which one best fits your needs.

Common Travel Fly Rod Lengths, Weights, and Pieces

While travel fly rods can reach up to 14 feet in length, those designs remain pretty rate. The typical lengths for these rods range from 8.5 to 10 feet, with the most common lengths including:

What’s the perfect length for a travel fly rod, you ask? Choose fly rods of up to nine feet in length to gain the best accuracy, but if you need greater flexibility or for custom methods, choose a rod of greater than nine feet. Nine feet offers the sweet spot for a fly rod.

Because travel rods are made with more pieces than a two-piece or a four-piece they are slightly heavier. This is due to the ferrules and the extra resins. Many five or six weights are around 3 to 4 ounces on average. However, the actual weight of the rod will depend on how long the rod is and the rod weight rating.

Some of the really cheap Fiberglass fly rods weigh the most, between six and 15 ounces (between 170 and 425 grams), but graphite and composite rods weigh less. Fly rods don’t come imprinted with their ounces or grams weight but you can find that on the manufacturer’s website.

Typically, you use the same line weight as the rod weight rating, so if the manufacturer recommends a weight rating of five, you’ll read a 5wt on the side of the rod or its packaging.

Pro Tip: Rod weight matters a lot. Use a fly rod with a weight of one to four for small trout or panfish or really for any small stream fishing. When fishing in large streams or rivers, use a four to six-weight rod to catch trout and small bass.

If you can only pack one rod for a trout fishing trip, choose a five-weight for its versatility.

Bass, carp, pike, and steelhead fishing requires a six to eight-weight fly rod and line, while large salmon, steelhead, musky, or saltwater fishing requires eight to 10-weight rods.

Fly fishing for big game fish like Tarpon takes the heaviest weight rod and line of 10 to 14.

Pro Tip #2: With any fly rod the sections can come apart when casting. I’ve seen hundreds of rod tips go flying off when casting. With travel rods, there are even more sections that can potentially come off.

To lower the chance of this from happening, when lining up your ferrules, instead of lining them up and then pushing them tight, have them slightly misaligned and then twist them into alignment as you push them together tight. This twisting locks them in place better, and rarely do my rod pieces ever come apart during casting.

Best Travel Fly Rods: All Price Ranges

Now that we’ve covered the common weights, lengths, and pieces, and what sizes are best per species, let’s dive into the greatest depths of fly fishing gear to explore the best travel fly rods.

I’ll cover a variety of rod weights and lengths, so you can find one that suits your needs whether you want to fish the shallows of the Oklahoma River, or the deep waters of the Hudson River, or the Niagara River.

Douglas Upstream Ultra-Lite Fly Rod

fly fishing travel rod

I really loved fishing the Douglas Upstream Ultra-lite Fly rod in both the 4-piece and the 6-piece travel rod.

It is super smooth casting and is a light rod that is great for small stream trout and panfish.

This is, as the name implies, a lightweight rod, and it only comes in 2, 3, and 4 weight sizes.

Douglas offers its Upstream Ultra-Lite fly rod in eight lengths, ranging from six feet six inches to eight feet eight inches.

Choose between a simple two-piece fly fishing rod or a more complex six-piece design in this.

Only the six-foot-six-inch rod comes in the two-piece design. The seven feet three inches, eight feet, eight feet three inches, and eight feet eight inches rods come in four pieces. You can get the seven feet, seven feet six inches, and eight feet lengths in a six-piece design.

Every option uses the same bamboo-like handle design made from cork. This rod features spigot ferrules to enhance energy transferability and a sliding ring reel seat to reduce weight.

Every rod comes with a 1 5/8” brushed aluminum rod tube and sock to make packing it easier.

Hardy Aydon Travel Fly Rod

fly fishing travel rod

When you want the best medium fast rod action travel rod, try the Hardy Aydon travel fly rod, offering four length options from 3 weight to 10 weight:

This six-piece rod handles line weights of four through 10, depending on the length of the rod. The design combines a cork rod handle with a ceramic guide of lined titanium stripper and a chrome single foot.

The overall rod uses Sintrix multi-modulus carbon fiber, so it weighs less than a fiberglass rod. Some individuals may find this an easier rod to use because of the keyed fly reel seat slide band that doesn’t weigh much.

Depending on the rod length you choose, the design either uses aluminum or wood spacers.

One of my favorite things about the Aydon model rod comes from its packaging. Hardy provides a travel tube that helps keep all of the pieces of the fishing rod together in your backpack or suitcase.

Greys Wing Travel Fly Rod

fly fishing travel rod

Okay, I feature this rod, hence the link to another page on this website, so you know I love it.

It’s my favorite when I need a medium-fast rod action. Greys Wing six-piece travel fly rod comes in four lengths, but I recommend the nine-foot length because it offers the greatest versatility in various fishing situations.

Here are all of the length options:

  • 11 feet four inches

Depending on the length you choose, you can use a 3wt, 5wt, 8wt, or 9wt line with this six-piece rod.

You get two handle choices – RHW or TPSF. Like most travel rods, this design uses a cork rod handle. Greys Wing’s design features a lined stripper with a stainless steel snake on a Powerlux carbon rod in a grey and red color combination.

Depending on the length of the rod you pick, this design uses either single or double-foot snake guides and either wood or alloy spacers with an alloy fly reel seat. Its reel features dual locking nuts with a nylon cushion ring.

Similar to the Douglas Upstream, it uses a keyed and milled reel seat slide band. I love that Greys Wing makes it easier to safely pack this rod by supplying a hard tube and rod bag for it.

Echo Trip Eight Piece

Echo Trip Fly Rod

The other fishing rods reviewed offer a bevy of lengths, but Echo’s Trip travel rod comes apart in eight pieces for truly simple packing.

Each piece measures 15 inches, and its case measures 18 inches. That means you can easily fit it into any suitcase or backpack.

Echo chose to offer its travel fishing rod only in a nine-foot length.

It does offer three versions catering to three line weights: 5wt, 6wt, and 8wt.

By choosing to design this rod in only nine feet, Echo has focused on providing power and fast action for its travel rod.

Orvis Clearwater

fly fishing travel rod

You can get excited with the price of the six-piece Clearwater Travel Fly Rod, $249. It is a great rod for that price.

To get the whole outfit, you’ll pay the same price as you would for the other options in this article – about $500 to $550.

Now, on to its design. This snazzy-looking black chrome rod with white accents features a chrome snake and a stripping guide with a ceramic insert.

The sleek looks continue with its black nickel aluminum reel seats. It does just look cool, Orvis used composite tips on the fighting butts to add to the durability of the rod.

Like many other travel fly rods, it comes with a rod tube. This one’s in gray.

Redington Classic Trout

Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod

The Redington Classic Trout fly rod is specifically designed for trout. Why? It’s in the name.

I have had the opportunity to try this rod a few times, and if I were going to buy a travel fly rod under $200, this would be it.

The Redington Classic Trout Rod comes in four pieces and six pieces.

While all the four-piece rods come in lengths and weights, starting at 7 feet six inches and ranging up to nine feet in length.

The Redington Classic Trout travel rod only has one model, which is a 9 foot 5 weight that comes in 6 pieces to make traveling easier.

This rod’s moderate action works well for all anglers, and it’s good in small creeks, rivers, or from the comfort of your boat.

Because it only weighs 3.1 ounces and offers great flexibility, it provides a superb alternative for a long day of fishing.

Choose from two configurations – a four-piece or a backpack-optimized six-piece. Various fly fish rod lengths work with different line weights. Here’s a quick guide:

  • 7 feet six inches, 2wt or 3wt
  • 8 feet, 4wt
  • 8 feet six inches, 3wt,
  • 9 feet, 5wt, 6wt.

As usual, the nine feet in length option offers the greatest versatility in application.

Redington Trailblazer

fly fishing travel rod

Another Redington winner is the Redington Trailblazer.

While the Classic Trout specializes in trout fishing, the Trailblazer was made for backpacking and traveling and can work for essentially any fishing situation.

The compact design breaks apart into six pieces and comes in two length options.

Choose either a 7 feet six-inch design that works with a 3wt line for small stream fishing, little tout, and panfish, or a nine feet option that works with a 5wt line for bigger rivers, lake fishing, nymphing and streamer fishing, bigger trout and bass, and any waterway requiring a loner casts.

Redington includes a compact storage tube to help keep all parts safe and organized.

According to the manufacturer, the Trailblazer provides the lightest rod they’ve offered.

Also, if you care about such things, this rod comes in a jaunty red blank streaked with neon green.

Getting down to the mechanics of this rod, it uses single-foot snake guides and an anodized aluminum reel seat, resulting in a travel rod that weighs less but also proves more durable.

M MAXIMUMCATCH Travel Fishing Rod

This is the M MAXIMUMCATCH Travel Fishing Rod

Best Tavel Fly Rod Under $100

One of my clients had this rod with him, and since I’d seen it on Amazon and since it was very inexpensive, I decided to try it out.

Although the M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Traveler Fly Fishing Rod casts 40 feet of fly line pretty well, this is still my least favorite of all the rods on this page.

I felt that the rod felt a bit heavy and a bit stiff compared to most rods and my concern is the durability of the rod. It just didn’t feel as good when casting and fishing and when fighting fish.

However, If you are a total beginner or you have a young child who is hard on gear and you don’t want him using a $200 rod, then this is a good option, and that is why I’m recommending it.

It comes in a range of 5 to 8 weight and is only made as a 9-foot rod.

If you are looking for an entire setup, check out my recent article on the best fly fishing combos and kits , and if you need a reel to go with your rods, check out the Best Fly Reels page.

Best Fly Rods For Traveling Summary

If you are looking for the best fly rods for travel, these are them and they range from $79 to over $900.00. My advice when choosing a travel fly rod is to choose the best one that fits your budget.

Tight Lines,

fly fishing travel rod

Professional Fishing Guide and Author At Trout And Steelhead

Graham Bristow is the owner and lead author here at Trout and, and he has been writing about fishing since 2015.

Since September 2000, Graham has guided over 3000 clients over his 22 years as a guide and it now recognized as a top fishing guide.

Graham specializes in fly fishing, float fishing, and lure fishing for trout, steelhead, and salmon. About Graham

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fly fishing travel rod

Best Travel Fishing Rods for 2024

Jason sealock.

  • Oct 09, 2023

fly fishing travel rod

The product recommendations on our site are independently chosen by our editors. When you click through our links, we may earn a commission. 

Choosing a travel rod for anglers who like to pack light and carry a fishing rod in their luggage on every where they travel requires a little planning and view of the options and fish you think you might encounter on your travels. We reviewed a wide gamut of rods and came up with a lot of options to consider as well as some great recommendations for which fishing rods we would suggest for a lot of different types of fishing and travel.

Things like size of the rod when disassembled, number of pieces, rod case, roll or bag, type of rod, how you will transport it, whether a telescoping rod makes sense and more need to be considered before choosing the best travel rod for your fishing plans.  

Travel rods can come from 2 pieces up to 5 pieces not to mention the telescoping travel rod options out there. You might want to fit the rod in a suitcase, if so more pieces will break down into a smaller foot print. Or you might carry it with you which might give you more options for rods. You might want a hard case to protect the rod if you’re worried about TSA or some other party damaging your rods in transit. Or a rod wrap may suffice if it’s tucked inside of another hard case suitcase.


  • Best telescoping travel combo – Buy from Tacklewarehouse
  • Best travel rod for bass – Buy from FishUSA
  • Runner up: Daiwa ardito travel rod – Buy from Basspro
  • Best all-around / saltwater travel rod – Buy from Basspro
  • Best telescopic travel rod – Buy from Basspro
  • Runner up: Ugly stik cx2 4-piece travel combo – Buy from Basspro
  • Ark rods genesis rods – Buy from Tacklewarehouse
  • Zebco 33 spincast telescopic combo – Buy from Basspro
  • Shimano Convergence D Travel 4-Piece Spinning Rods – Buy from Tacklewarehouse
  • St. croix triumph travel rod – Buy from Tacklewarehouse

fly fishing travel rod

Know Your Travel Rods

Then there are the types of rod to consider including spinning travel rods, casting travel rods, telescoping travel rods as well as travel fly rods or specialty rods like travel swimbait rods or travel trout or panfish rods. Or any combination of the aforementioned.  

If you plan to fish with light lures and light line, then a spinning travel rod might be the best option. If you plan to look for big bluegills or crappies specifically on your travels, then a long telescoping rod might make more sense or a small spinning rod like a trout rod might give you a lot of options for trout and panfish.

If you’re going for larger quarry, you will want a beefier rod that has a reel that can hold heavier line. Usually a baitcasting travel rod makes sense for bass, or big fish like walleye, pike, musky, stripers, etc.  

Specialty rods like travel swimbait rods or extra long jigging rods might be just the ticket for probing unknown waters for specific types of fishing like jigging brush for crappie or casting oversized swimbaits for trophy bass and stripers.  

Of course if you’re in to fly fishing, then a travel fly rod is hard to beat. There are some super high end and middle of the road options that are great rods that make a 9-foot fly rod fit into an over night travel bag with the travel fly rod option.


For some, a telescoping rod is an easy spur of the moment travel rod option to probe some nearby waters to see if they have fish available. I have buddies that keep telescoping rods in their trucks at all times and will break it out on their travels or while taking a lunch or after work on a work trip. It’s a quick and simple option.

Most of time telescoping rods are a bit lower quality. Or at least that was the case back when the only option was a low end push button spin cast combo for small panfish. There are, however, some newer options bringing this back as a real viable option for bass and panfish.

fly fishing travel rod

A Travel Combo Might Make More Sense

You can buy travel rods that are a rod and reel combo. This is often the case with telescoping options. But there are some better quality options in the multi-piece travel rods with a decent spinning reel. Most of the time. I want the best rod I can get and a good reel in my bag so I’m not fighting my equipment in the limited amount of time I get to fish on my travels. Especially those spur-of-the-moment unplanned fishing trips while traveling.  

But when you get to a location and wished you had a rod and reel, a decent priced telescoping rod/reel combo can get you in the fish on an unexpected hot spot quickly and easily.

fly fishing travel rod

You Need a Travel Rod Case, Bag or Roll

Anymore your travel rod is going to come in a hard case, a roll or a bag. Regardless you need to take care to protect the pieces of the rod or the rod while it is compartmentalized so it’s not damaged in your travels.  

A hard case might be a cloth case with a hard shell inside of it that zips closed on the end and the multiple pieces slide into little sleeves inside of it. Or it might be a hard outer shell with a soft interior that keeps your guides and blank parts protected. These are nice when you plan to carry your travel rods separate from your luggage. Or keep them in a vehicle on your travels.

A travel rod roll is just a cloth sleeve with individual pockets for each piece of the blank and then you roll it up with flap that closes on one end and tie it off with the attached ties. These can be nice for putting a rod or two into your other travel bags or a small compartment in your vehicle.

A travel bag can be just a cloth bag or a padded foam bag that houses and protects the rod simultaneously. I’m a fan of these as they keep your pieces from falling out as sometimes happens with rolls. And they keep the blank pieces with a bit of added protection. The padded bags are ideal in my opinion.  

fly fishing travel rod

Best Travel Rod Brands

In the freshwater space, the best travel rod makers are often synonymous with the best rod makers. Makers like Daiwa, Shimano, St. Croix, Megabass, Ark Rods, Fenwick, and others have really solid travel rod options. Others that many don’t know offer travel rods have good options like Favorite, Bass Pro, and BnM Poles.  

Here are the travel rod brands we reviewed and liked:

  • Favorite Fishing
  • B’n’M Poles

Having said all that, let’s take a closer look at some of our personal favorites in various travel rod categories.

fly fishing travel rod

Best Telescoping Travel Combo

Daiwa travel combo.

We chose the Daiwa Travel Combo as the best combo because it comes with a good reel, telescoping rod that is better than most and it’s own sling carry bag that is big enough to put several travel rods and reels in. This combo compacts down to 26 inches making it a perfect option for any trip whether it be in a car or a plane.

The rod is a 7-foot, 2-inch Medium power fast action rod. It’s a solid rod and stayed extended as we fished with it. The reel is a 2-bearing Daiwa Crossfire LT 2500. Even though it’s only 2 bearings, it performed very smoothly and effortlessly with a very smooth drag. It’s a solid spinning combo and it’s offered in EVA or Cork grips.

The combo costs $149 but if you just want a good combo without messing around with pairing rods and reels, this is a quick easy choice.

Buy at TackleWarehouse

fly fishing travel rod

Best Travel Rod for Bass

Shimano zodias travel rod.

The fact that Shimano took one of their best rod lines and converted it into a high-end bass travel rod got me excited. And when I got the new rod in my hand, I was very impressed. I am a big fan of the original Zodias line and was so excited to see this level of quality in a 5-piece travel rod.  

This travel rod condenses down to 19 inches when packed, meaning you can literally take it anywhere. And when full assembled you have a very high quality rod full of all the features of the high end one-piece blanks. The 5-piece construction gives the rod more uniform bend than a 2-piece model would.  

It has so much power and a steady consistent load when casting. You will forget it’s a travel rod by your second cast. It’s a high end rod that just happens to be in 5 pieces. It has a CI4+ reel seat for lightweight strength and a full carbon monocoque grip which eliminates the use of EVA giving a light rod more sensitivity.

Hi-Power X construction which makes the blanks outermost layer wrapped with carbon tape form that X appearance on the blank that gives more precise actions to the rods with more strength.  

You can really lean into fish with this rod without worry. It’s one of the nicest travel rods we’ve tested.

Buy at

Buy from Omnia

fly fishing travel rod

Runner Up: Daiwa Ardito Travel Rod

This is another high-end rod that has been brought down to a travel rod form factor. This rod comes with a very nice hard case and it breaks down to 30 inches (32 in its case). It features a V-flex ferrule joint system. These ferrules don’t require you to jam the rod pieces all the way together and then struggle to separate them. You simply push them until they snug together and you are all set. You can break down and put the rod together in seconds and be fishing as fast as you can thread your line.  

The rod has a high-modulus blank, Fuji Aluminum Oxide guides, unsanded micro-pitch blank, split Eva grip and machined nut hood. It’s a high quality rod that pairs nicely with your favorite bait caster. It comes in 7-foot medium, 7-foot medium heavy and 7-foot, 6-inch medium heavy.

Buy at

fly fishing travel rod

Best All-Around / Saltwater Travel Rod

St. croix avid trek rod.

This is a finely crafted American rod with incredible blanks offering uniform performance, strength and ultra-perceptive sensitivity. The premium cork full grip, and quality blanks featuring St. Croix’s IPC mandrels, SCII high modulus carbon, slim profile ART ferrules, Sea Guide Hero hi-grade guides with zirconia rings and stainless gun smoke frames, sea guide hook keeper, and a 15-year-transferable warranty.  

This rod can literally do it all. Going to Louisiana to fish the marshes for bass and redfish, this is your rod. Strong, light, smooth, sensitive and easy to pack. The 3-piece rod is 6-foot, 6-inch MH rod with a lot of power but great castability. This rod is a joy to fish with and you can expect it to last a long time with that kind of warranty.

fly fishing travel rod

Best Telescopic Travel Rod

Bass pro aventur1 telescoping rod.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Aventur1 telescoping rod. It features 6 sections but 8 guides for uniform castability and a nice line path while fighting fish. The unique guide system has floating guides as well as guides permanently affixed to the rod sections. So you won’t fight with line on the blank on this travel rod.  

The 7-foot medium power rod fished really well and I was pretty taken aback at how nice this rod fished for $59. A rod that will likely always be in my travel plans. With an RT2 graphite blank, Fuji aluminum oxide guides, Fuji reel seat, with EVA split grips and X-Wrap rubber cork butt cap, this is a pretty functional telescoping rod for travel fishing.

fly fishing travel rod

Best Big Swimbait Travel Rod

F5 departure travel rods.

The folks at F5 Custom Rods make some of the nicest big swimbait rods available today. These are custom made rods from blanks to handles to accents. They are often very selective in how they build rods and you usually have to get lucky enough to catch a rod on a drop. However, the F5 Departure Travel Rods are often in stock and I picked up a H and XH rod a year or so back.

These are two of my favorite big swimbait rods that I use for crankdowns like the Bull Shad 4×4 and the Toxic Whippersnappers, for glides like the 86 Baits Doomrider, KGB Swimbaits Chad Shad or the Deps Slide Swimmer 250 and of course for my jointed swims like the Bull Shad 8 inch.

The rods are both 3-piece rods and are custom made with a full extra long camo EVA handle. The ones the often sell are split grips. The rod blanks are solid. Even with three pieces I had no issues heaving big baits like the Slide Swimmer which weighs 6 1/2 ounces.

They are going to run you about $289 a piece for these rods. But I am so happy to have them because I can take a pack of my favorite big baits and a very high-end swimbait rod literally everywhere I go to chase trophies all over the country and out of the country for that matter.

Buy at F5 Custom Rods

fly fishing travel rod

Best Travel Rod on a Budget

Favorite fishing army geo rod.

This is an impressive rod not only for the price but for how well this 4-piece rod fishes and fights fish. We caught some really quality bass on this rod this spring and it is a legit fun spinning rod to fish. I love that I threw it in my suitcase, loaded up and went to Arkansas and broke it out and caught a bunch of nice bass that were moving shallow to spawn.  

Even my brother-in-law enjoyed fishing with this travel rod. And at $39, it’s a hard rod to pass up. The 4 pieces in their hard travel tube are 26 inches. The pieces are barely 23 inches. The rod is a 7-foot, 2-inch medium-heavy spinning rod. I used it to skip Senkos around shallow cover a lot this spring. And it sets a nice hook and has a ton of backbone to land big bass. Our biggest on it was 6 pounds, 4 ounces this spring.

Buy at

Runner up: Ugly Stik GX2 4-piece Travel Combo

At $44 at Walmart, you can’t go wrong with this nearly indestructible travel rod. The Ugly Stik has been the staple of affordable travel rods. They can take abuse and continue to catch and land fish.  

Buy from

Buy at Scheels

fly fishing travel rod

Best Trout Travel Rod

St. croix trout series pack rod  .

For the adventurer who needs a light and packable trout rod to get to remote locations, this is the Cadillac of adventure rods. This rod says trout, but it’s a dynamite bluegill, crappie and even smallmouth rod for remote streams and creeks. It’s a beautifully built rod at only 2.9 ounces and 3 pieces, it compacts down to be no added weight in your backpack.  

I paired it with a small 1000 spinning reel and 4-pound line and really enjoyed fishing this rod a lot. It will become one of my staple creek travel rods now. It throws little baits effortlessly and had a nice backbone for such a light rod. A real joy to fish with.

Buy from

fly fishing travel rod

Best Panfish Telescoping Rod

Bnm poles little mighty telescoping rod  .

I have to admit, I’m a little blow away by this rod. I grew up crappie and bluegill fishing with my father in Florida and Arkansas with telescoping fiberglass rods from B’n’M Poles. So I have a lot of nostalgia when it comes to these types of rod. But the new Little Mighty Rod is something special.

While it’s not technically a travel rod, it’s a telescoping rod that reaches out to 20 feet and breaks down to barely 22 inches. It looks like a bright orange track baton but it extends to a masterful reach out and touch a crappie or bluegill telescoping rod quickly.

One word of caution, be sure you extend the rod small sections first. So grab the string tab on the tip and pull it out that way. Don’t slide the sections out by dumping the open end out or you will have issues with sections getting out of order and blocking each other. Same for breaking it down. Big sections first and be sure to leave the string out when you put the cap on.  

Other than that, I enjoyed testing this rod a lot. I honestly didn’t think much of it when I got it. But after using it I can think of all sorts of places I want to take and fish with this rod. Once you get the hang of maneuvering 20 feet of rod with a fish on the end it’s a pretty fun stick to fish with.

Buy at

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fly fishing travel rod

Other Travel Rod Considerations

Ark rods genesis rods.

This was my original travel rod and I’ve put a lot of miles on it. It’s caught fish in Nebraska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. This is a two piece travel rod that comes with a nice padded bag.

Read our full Ark Genesis 2-piece travel rod review

The rod joins together nicely and fishes so well. The very narrow blanks are durable and sensitive. I’ve caught fish just about every way you can on these rods. I have the 6-foot, 8-inch MH and the 7-foot, 6-inch MH rods and have flipped, frogged, spinnerbait fished, jigged, cranked, popped a topwater popper and burned a buzz bait with these rods. A great option that gives no sacrifice in performance in a 2-piece travel rod.

fly fishing travel rod

SixGill Argos Travel Rods

A very nicely made travel pack rod, the Argos Travel Rod is a 4-piece rod built on a 24T Toray Carbon blank. Comes with a 25 inch travel case. It fishes like your nicest bass rod but you can tuck it under a jacket and take it with you anywhere. The rod loads nicely on the cast and has enough back bone with it’s 7-foot MH frame to fight any size bass you might tangle with. A very nice travel rod option.  

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fly fishing travel rod

Zebco 33 Spincast Telescopic Combo

This is an affordable option at $25 but it’s not made to handle big fish in my opinion. It’s a great rod for catching panfish around a campsite, or of the dock on vacation. But it’s not made for fishing for larger fish. The rod bends easily at the tip under load and the line cuts across the rod to the next guide. So just be cautious with bigger fish on this setup. But for $25, you can catch the heck out of a bunch of panfish with this setup.

Buy at Amazon

fly fishing travel rod

Hardy Zephrus FWS Travel Fly Rod

I haven’t had a chance to review the latest offerings from Hardy yet, but one of my all time favorite travel rods is my Hardy Zephrus FWS Travel Fly Rod. It’s a 9-foot, 5-weight rod. It is the perfect pack rod for hiking into remote streams and chasing fish on the fly. This is the Ferrari of travel rods in my opinion. Everything is first class from the aluminum case, styled bag, ferrule covers, and beautiful craftsmanship on the Sintrix 440 blank.  

Buy from

fly fishing travel rod

Shimano Convergence Travel Rod

This 7-foot, 4-piece rod is another great do-it all travel rod. It’s a great rod for a lot of different species and lures in that 1/4 ounce to 3/4 ounce size. It breaks down to 25 inches so it will fit in almost all your bags and it comes in a nice hard case with a shoulder strap if you want to carry it on your back while you hike. It’s very well made and fished nicely with a variety of reels.

Spinning rod

Casting rod.

Buy at Tackle Warehouse

fly fishing travel rod

St. Croix Triumph Travel Rod

This work-horse travel rod serves a ton of different purposes. It’s 6-foot, 6-inch size makes it a great size for tight quarters. I loved fishing some small streams near the house with this rod. A fun little rod for wading creeks or winging around on bigger waters on your travels. It’s small form factor of 24 inches makes it a great pack rod to keep in your vehicle or throw in your bag on long trips. It’s a very nice blank divided into 4 pieces. It’s strong, sensitive and light. A great travel version of their very popular Triumph line.  

fly fishing travel rod

Wired2fish Travel Rod Comparison Chart

We review a ton of products and while they don’t always make the best of categories there are a lot of good rods to choose from that can get the job done. We try to give you as many options as possible while identifying some that we think stand out in the array of options. The goal with our guides is to help you be as informed and aggregate as much helpful information and personal experience into helping you with your fishing gear decisions.  

Here is a quick rundown of a lot of travel rod / telescoping rod options:

Jason Sealock

Currently working as Senior Advisor to Wired2fish. Former COO and Publisher, Jason Sealock came to Wired2fish shortly after inception in January of 2010. Prior to that he was the Editor-in-Chief of FLW Outdoors Magazines. He worked up from Associate Editor to Photo Editor and finally Editor in Chief of three magazines FLW Bass, FLW Walleye and FLW Saltwater. He set the content direction for Wired2fish while also working directly with programmers, consultants and industry partners. Sealock has been an avid angler for the better part of 40 years and has been writing and shooting fishing and outdoors content for more than 25 years. He is an expert with fishing electronics and technologies and an accomplished angler, photographer, writer and editor. He has taught a lot of people to find fish with their electronics and has been instrumental in teaching these technologies to the masses. He's also the industry authority on new fishing tackle and has personally reviewed more than 10,000 products in his tenure. He has a 30-year background in information technologies and was a certified engineer for a time in Microsoft, Novell, Cisco, and HP. He mostly fishes for bass and panfish around the house. He has, however, caught fish in 42 of the 50 states in the US as well as Costa Rica, Mexico, and Canada and hopes to soon add Finland, Japan, Africa and Australia to his list.

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Best Travel Fly Fishing Rods | Buyer’s Guide (2023)

echo trip 8 travel fly rod

Page Contents

Chucking Bugs On the Go

Obsession knows no bounds, and I am obsessed with catching fish on the fly. If you’re like me, the chance to wet a line in an unfamiliar body of water is not just a challenge, but an opportunity to come into contact with different species of fish than you may normally target. 

Douglas Upstream Ultra Lite Fly Rod

To do this effectively, a dependable and functional travel fly rod is a must. Here, I’ll review some travel fly rods so that you can buy with confidence and be ready for those unexpected opportunities to fish at a moment’s notice. 

In this article we’ll cover:

  • Best overall travel fly rods
  • Best travel fly rod for the money
  • Best telescoping fly rod
  • Travel bags & accessories
  • What to look for in a traveling fly rod?
  • And much more!

Let’s dive in!

Best Travel Fly Rods (Overall)

These are our picks for the top performing travel fly rods while on the water and during travel.

1. Orvis Clearwater 6 Piece, 5 wt

The Orvis Clearwater model has consistently proven itself to fly fishing enthusiasts from the east coast to the west coast as an affordable and durable travel fly rod. 

The Orvis name is usually indicative of quality, and the Clearwater six-piece is no exception to the hype. With a $249 price tag, you get a lot of bang for your buck and the Orvis 25-year guarantee.

Many anglers that reviewed the Orvis Clearwater made note of the fact that, although it is a six-piece travel rod, it quickly found its way into everyday use due to its ability to pack small and perform big.

Orvis Clearwater 5 wt 6 piece


9’ length six-piece, chrome snake guides, gray rod tube included, orvis 25-year guarantee.

View on Trident Fly Fishing →

The 5 wt is the standard for multi-species fishing, but it also comes in a lighter 4 wt for creeks and blue-lining, and up to an 8 wt for bass and pike. The rod tube that is included is as durable as the rod itself and is a valuable bonus for the price.

Whether you’re stowing the rod in your backpack to bring along while hiking or keeping it in your truck for pond-hopping on the way home from work, the Orvis Clearwater is a well-rounded, dependable fly rod for the money. 

It’s hard to get fly fishermen to agree on some things, but the Orvis Clearwater is an agreed-upon standard when it comes to travel fly rods and is highly recommended.

For more on this setup, see this dedicated Orvis Clearwater review

2. Echo Trip 8 Travel Fly Rod

The Trip takes travel fly rods to the next level. It is an eight-piece rod that packs into an 18” case. There’s no real reason not to take this compact rod with you on your travels. 

The case packs so light, Echo recommends taking it along as a backup wherever you’re fishing. As someone who has experienced the horror of a broken rod tip after a two-mile hike, this is a valid selling point.

Echo’s advancement in ferrule technology means that this eight-piece performs like many four-piece setups.

echo trip 8 travel fly rod

9’ Length Eight-Piece

18” segments, low friction snake guides, medium-fast action, improved ferrule technology, echo lifetime guarantee.

View on Amazon →

The Medium-Fast action allows the user to throw dries as well as streamers with ease, and I find this particularly useful in a travel rod meant for varying conditions. The dark green finish is elegant and goes well with the chromed snake guides aesthetically. 

Echo honors a very forgiving lifetime return policy, but I must say, the durability of their travel rods may mean you won’t have to use them. With a $279 asking price, it is only slightly more expensive than the Clearwater, and packs smaller. 

Here again, people that use the Trip extensively say that although they purchased the rod as a backup, its ease of use and versatility often means it ends up as a mainstay on fishing trips where more than one rod accompanies the angler. 

It is highly reviewed and definitely worthy of consideration when choosing a travel fly rod.

Increase efficiency with euro-style streamers

3. Douglas Upstream Ultralight Fly Rod

With this series of rods, Douglas has bridged the gap between graphite and classic bamboo . Upstream rods are incomprehensibly lightweight. 

I have never thrown a fly rod this light, and can only imagine the sensitivity and delicate presentation that they provide. 

I am a big fan of pursuing native brook trout in a small stream setting, and these conditions were exactly what the Upstream series was created for. Fishing high mountain streams call for precise placement of small flies , and the Upstream excels at this.

Douglas Upstream Fly Rod

2-4 wt Models

Incredibly light (1.13 oz–1.75 oz), 6’6” two-piece to 8’0” six-piece models, graphite construction emulating traditional cane, brushed aluminum rod tube and sock.

Douglas has used everything that is good about graphite and combined it with the moderate-slow action that a classic bamboo fly rod would have. 

These rods are not for big water! However, regarding their inclusion here as travel fly rods, I can think of no better rod to accompany me up the mountain or to a hidden spring creek. 

Some models of the Upstream break down into six pieces for transportation, and every model, from the 2 to 4 wt, are feather-light and pack small (in a traditional brushed aluminum rod tube).

The Upstream series may be more expensive than the rods previously reviewed here, but this price reflects the uniqueness of the product. 

In a world where bamboo is becoming highly sought after (and EXPENSIVE) these rods stand out as a modern angler’s solution to achieving that classic feel and action.

 Other Fly Rod Related Articles

Fly rods icon

Best 3wt Fly Rods

Best fly fishing rod & reel combos (top 5 reviewed), top 7 saltwater fly rods | buyer’s guide, the tfo bvk fly rod: a guide’s review, best fly fishing starter kits (top 4) | buyer’s guide, best travel fly rod for the money.

Looking for something inexpensive for your next vacation? Check out this option. This rod packs down small and delivers great fishing performance, at a much more affordable price.

4. Maximum Catch 8 Piece Travel Fly Rod

MaxCatch is a company that I’m sure plenty of anglers on a budget are familiar with. 

They make affordable products meant for heavy use and abuse, and their eight-piece travel rod is a perfect choice for an all purpose rod. 

The action on these rods is fast, so the 5 wt can stand up to throwing some chunkier streamers and indicator rigs. It packs easily into a backpack for on the go use and comes with a cordura tube to store it in while traveling. 

Maximumcatch maxcatch alltime travel fly rod

9’ Eight-Piece Construction

Fast action, included 17” cordura tube, ceramic stripping guide, cork handle, affordable price.

Some people that reviewed the MaxCatch said it was a bit stiff, but at this price point, that is hardly a game changer. If you’re looking for something reliable and affordable that still packs light, I would recommend the MaxCatch for your first travel rod, or as a backup companion to the rod you already use.

Best Telescoping Fly Rod

Telescoping rods are more common for spin fishers or Tenkara fishing . However, we found a great telescoping fly rod that even comes with a fly reel and line!

5. REYR Telescoping Fly Rod

REYR has done something special with this telescoping fly rod. When I got into fly fishing, I quickly realized how much trouble it was to try to fish a stream that was covered with overhang and brush. 

It was a nightmare to try to navigate a rod and line into deep holes for trout and then back out to hike to the next pocket of water. 

I was told by fishermen more experienced than I was then, to avoid telescopic rods, and that they were usually cheap and meant to catch the fisherman, not so much the fish. REYR has made the telescoping rod relevant again here. 

REYR Gear Telescoping travel rod

19” Collapsed, 9’ Extended 4 wt

Quick setup, no knots, aluminum cnc reel included, internal line feature, neoprene case.

This rod collapses to 19” for travel purposes, which is manageable, but its internally routed line feature is what really makes it stand out. The line runs up through the rod internally and comes out the tip. 

This not only means you can leave a fly attached and ready for use on the rod, but also that you can extend it to the length you need and start casting. There’s also less exposed line to become tangled in branches and brambles. 

The rod does sacrifice distance due to the friction of this internally routed line feature, but you don’t need to cast long distances on small water. 

I still find most telescoping rods to be stiff and fragile, but REYR has put a lot of time and effort into redefining what a telescoping rod can do. It’s definitely worth considering especially if you hike and backpack near mountain streams. 


Best Travel Fly Fishing Bags

It can be challenging to keep all your fishing gear neat and organized while traveling. These two gear bags are perfect for those traveling by air or taking a road trip. 

6. Allen Company Fly Fishing Rod and Gear Carrying Case

Allen Company has created a rugged and dependable travel bag for when you know you’ll be spending some time fishing. 

This bag holds an impressive 4 four-piece rods, meaning you can cover just about any desired method of fly fishing (light dries to bigger streamers and in between) with what you can bring along. 

The bag has a slim profile and packs small for what it can carry.

Allen Company Cottonwood fly rod and gear bag

Fits up to 4 Four-Piece 9.5’ Rods

Eight exterior adjustable dividers, 31.5” long, 9.5” high, padded shock-absorbing construction.

The exterior dividers and zippered pockets can hold a variety of reels and a selection of fly boxes . This bag does not skimp on organizational aides. 

The case is padded and can withstand long distance travel. A few satisfied customers said that the slim profile of the bag enabled them to easily keep it at hand on flights and trains. 

7. Fishpond Teton Rolling Carry-on Bag

Fishpond has created the perfect companion for the frequent flyer and fly fisherman. 

Their Teton Rolling Carry-on bag is a suitcase for your fly gear that can hold everything you’ll need for an extended stay where there’s water. 

This bag was designed for use on planes and fits the size requirements of most airlines. The Teton would work equally well packed into a loaded van.

It is secure and tough and can hold the supplies necessary to keep you fishing longer while traveling. 

Fishpond teton rolling carry on

Carry-on Size Rolling Luggage with Handle

Compression molded bottom, ventilated mesh on interior pockets, multiple exterior pockets.

With numerous organizational options and enough pockets to keep this bag as decked out as your vest, Fishpond’s commitment to quality and functionality makes this bag a must when transporting high-end rods, reels, and everything in between. 

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A travel fly rod is usually a many-ferruled rod that packs smaller and lighter than a two or four-piece rod, for ease of transportation. 

Catch Fish Icon

Whether it’s kept in your vehicle for use on your commute to or from work, or packed into a hiking bag to prospect a spring creek, the characteristics of a travel fly rod are usually the same; light construction with all-purpose line weight and length, the ability to pack down to a manageable size, and the durability necessary to withstand the dangers of transportation. 

What will it be used for?

Some things to look for in a travel fly rod are directly related to what it will be used for, and your own definition of “travel.” Many of us won’t be taking our rods with us on an airplane, but some might. 

Fly rods icon

You may only need your travel rod for fishing on the banks, or for use when you don’t have access to waders or watercraft. 

Durability is a must , and while I respect the anglers that can take a 2 or 3 wt rod into overgrown and complicated areas, I usually opt for a heavier line weight to endure the inevitable snags, brush, and obstacles that come with trailblazing and tough conditions. 

Using your travel rod as a backup should something happen to your pricey primary rod is another option. It only takes one bad event to leave you deep in the water with a broken tip or busted eyelet, and having another rod with you can save an otherwise ruined day. Know what the intended purpose of your travel rod is and buy accordingly. 

Reeling it in

Overview icon

There was a time when a travel rod consisting of more than four ferrules lacked play, and durability and took a hit to performance, but with all the modern advancements in graphite and ferrule technology, I would wager those days are for the most part over. As mentioned above, some of these travel rods perform so well and pack so light, they find their way into a fisherman’s normal rotation of rods. 

A travel rod is worth the investment, even if it just remains in the front seat. Not having to sacrifice much in terms of performance is a plus, and the ability to get an hour of fishing in at a moment’s notice is priceless. Consider one of the options reviewed above to stay ready and keep those fish fly educated!

Related Reading :

  • Some of the Wildest Fishing Destinations on Earth
  • Strategies When Traveling With Fishing Gear
  • Fly Fishing Alaska | Complete Guide, 2020 (interactive map)

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Dave Hurteau casts on the Delaware River for the Field & STream best fly rod test

The Best Fly Rods of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

We tortured-tested 16 of today's most innovative—and affordable—trout rods to find the best fly rods of the year

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

This summer, in the name of research (and fun), a crew of Field & Stream editors assembled for the most rigorous fly rod test we’ve ever done. In the months leading up to the test, it quickly became clear that we’d need to narrow things down because there are a lot of fly rods on the market. Do we test freshwater fly rods or saltwater fly rods? Fresh. Do we tackle fly rods for all freshwater gamefish or focus on one species? One. Do we go with panfish or bass or trout or pike or… Trout.

Of course we picked trout. What else would you expect from a magazine brand that, for decades, concluded every story with a small icon of a Canada goose and a trout?

With that decided, the five resident trout bums on the F&S staff traveled to the Catskills of New York for a long weekend of casting, fishing, and (hopefully) catching as we tested 16 of the year’s best fly rods for trout fishing.

Best Fly Rods

  • Best Overall: Sage R8 Core
  • Best Value: Orvis Clearwater
  • Best Small Stream Fly Rod: Epic Reference 476 Fastglass

The Rest of the Best Fly Rods

  • Epic Reference 590G Carbon Fiber
  • G. Loomis NRX+Fly
  • Hardy Ultralite X
  • Maine Fly Rod Co. Kennebec
  • Moonshine Vesper
  • Orvis Helios 3 Blackout
  • Redington Trace
  • Scott Centric
  • St. Croix Imperial
  • St. Croix Mojo Trout
  • Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon
  • Temple Fork Outfitters LK Legacy
  • Thomas & Thomas Paradigm

How We Tested the Best Fly Rods

For our test, we traveled to one of the most famous—and challenging—trout rivers in the country: the West Branch of the Delaware River . The Delaware has long been the unofficial home river of the Field & Stream team, going back to the days when angling legends like A.J. McClane and, later, John Merwin served as the Fishing Editor for F&S. There are certainly easier places than the Upper D to catch trout, but easy is not what this gear test was about. We wanted to see how today’s best fly rods performed under the toughest and most technical fishing conditions possible, which the Delaware offers in spades.

Our five-person test crew consisted of the following members of the F&S staff:

  • Colin Kearns, Editor-in-Chief
  • Dave Hurteau, Executive Editor
  • Matthew Every, Senior Editor
  • Sage Marshall, News Editor
  • Ryan Chelius, Assistant Editor

Collectively, we have nearly 100 years worth of fly fishing experience and have traveled across North America on various angling adventures. 

Our home base for the test was the Dream Catcher Lodge . We arrived with 16 fly rods in a wide variety of prices (sub-$200 to $1,000-plus), actions (glass noodles to graphite broomsticks), and lengths (7 ½ feet to 10 feet). One specification they did share in common was line weight: We limited the test to 4- and 5-weights only. Another common thread across the test was the fly line we used. Similar to shooting the same load through every gun in a shotgun test, we spooled every reel with the same fly line— Rio Gold WF5F . 

In the mornings and early afternoons of our test, we took over the enormous lawn at the lodge to set up our “range” for casting drills. Each tester was given a lane with targets measured at 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80 feet. We tested every rod for distance and accuracy, and also recorded test-panel notes on each rod’s power, feel, control, and overall castability.

Day 1 of casting on the lawn.

Then, in the late afternoons—just in time for the evening sulfur hatch—we put on our waders and hit the river. On the water, we again judged the rods how far and accurately they cast but paid particularly close attention to versatility. We cast dries, nymphs, hopper-droppers, and streamers. We double-hauled, roll-cast, and chuck-and-ducked. And, by the grace of the fish gods, we experienced one of those you-should’ve-been-there weekends and got to see how well these rods stood up to the weight and strength of wild Delaware River brown trout. 

We also judged the rods on aesthetics (because we think looks matter in a fly rod) and their warranty (because every fly rod, no matter the price, is an investment). 

On the final morning of the test—when a select few rods had quickly emerged as the front-runners for our Editors’ Pick and Best Value Awards—we conducted a blind-casting test . Two editors stood far off to the side, while the others used masking tape to cover the logos on the award-contending rods. The anonymous rods were then handed to the designated casters, who fired away, totally unaware of what they were casting. The results of this blind experiment were truly eye-opening, and as a result, two rods distinguished themselves as the unanimous winners for Editors’ Pick and Best Value.

And those winners are…

The Best Fly Rods: Reviews & Recommendations

Fly Fishing Gear photo

  • Length: 9 feet
  • Line Weight: 5
  • Action: Fast
  • Warranty: Original-owner lifetime
  • Lightweight with surprising power
  • Highly versatile
  • Classic looks

Test Panel Notes

  • “This thing is an animal. During our distance tests, I could consistently reach out to 80-plus feet with ease. It’s one of the most powerful, and smoothest, fly rods I’ve ever cast.” —C.K.  
  • “A beautiful rod. Its sheer power made me feel like I could cast my fly anywhere I wanted.” —S.M.

You’re looking at the Editors’ Pick Award winner for the overall best new trout rod of 2023. Though, it was a tight race. At the end of the lawn-casting session, several testers were leaning in a different direction. But then we put the Sage R8 Core on the water—and that decided things.

On the lawn, there’s a tendency to favor the purest caster or the biggest bomb-thrower. On the water, you take in everything. And that is what sets the R8 apart: It does everything really, really well. Most rods are an either/or proposition; you get distance or feel, lightweight or power. But the R8 is different. At just 2 11/16 ounces, it’s light and lively and has enough power to cut the wind. It finished right near the top of our test for distance and provided wonderful feel and line control on the water. It’s accurate at short and long ranges, a rare combo.

All of this makes the R8 extremely versatile: it’s as good a nymphing rod as it is a dry-fly rod, and while you wouldn’t call our 9-foot, 5-weight test model a streamer rod (nor expect it to be one in this age of monster meat flies ), it’s got more than enough backbone for Zonkers, Buggers, Muddlers, and other traditional trout streamers. Anything you’d ask a 5-weight to do on the water, our test rod did, in spades.

Speaking of traditional, the aesthetics on this rod are classic Sage, which I really appreciate. (Like my own good looks, it’s understated.) The R8 Core replaces the excellent X series, with the goal of putting more flex and feel deeper into the butt section to boost control and accuracy. The company pulled it off beautifully. As good as the X was, the R8 is a lighter, better overall trout rod. I have only two quibbles: the components while very good are not the absolute latest, and—surprise—the rod is pricey. A few other rods in this lineup will shoot line a little farther or cast a bit more effortlessly, but the R8 rules on the water. Which, as you may know, is where the trout live. —D.H.

orvis clearwater is a best value fly rod

  • Action: Medium-Fast
  • Warranty: 25-Year
  • Killer bargain
  • Remarkably forgiving
  • A tad heavy and unwieldy
  • Basic components
  • “What a bargain! I won’t name names, but this rod out-performed rods that cost two or three times as much.” —C.K. 
  • “I own a Clearwater and absolutely love it. It’s hard to beat, even when you put it up against the most expensive rods on the market.” —S.M.

The Orvis Clearwater is the best value in all-purpose trout rods by a mile. You won’t find anything better for twice as much money. You might even like it better than some fly rods that cost four times as much. How do I know? Because I did, at least briefly. As a little experiment, we decided to do a blind-casting test. We covered up the logos of a few of our favorite high-end rods and a few of our favorite low-end rods to compare them—and almost all of the testers put the Clearwater ahead of one or more of the high-end rods.

To be fair, this was a quick lawn-casting test, where we were focused more on distance and castability than on all-day fishability. But still, I found it as easy to shoot 90 feet of line from the Clearwater as with almost any other rod—and as effortless to throw tight consistent loops, too. Sure, the rod is comparatively heavy and might feel a little cumbersome to cast at the end of a long day. And on closer inspection, you’ll find that close-range accuracy isn’t great.

But from 25 feet out to 90, the Clearwater is an incredibly forgiving medium-fast rod with surprisingly good feel and decent line control. It requires a little more patience on the backstroke, but you get used to it quickly enough. The components are basic but fine, and there’s nothing wrong with the look of this rod, either. All in all, it is an astoundingly good rod for the money, and easily wins our Best Value award. —D.H.

Epic 4-weight Fastglass fly rod

  • Length: 7 ½ feet
  • Line Weight: 4
  • Action: Medium
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Light, but strong
  • Laser-like accuracy
  • Easy on the eyes
  • Not cheap for a specialty rod
  • “What a perfect special-purpose, small-stream rod. Casts like dream, and it looks so cool. I want one.” —D.H.
  • “I’m jealous that I don’t own this rod. It is perfect for small streams and creeks. Plus, it’s the nicest looking rod in the test” —R.C.

You’re looking at my new favorite fly-fishing rod. After years of using a 9-foot, fast-action rod on my home waters —a tight spring creek in New York—I finally invested in a stick better suited to the river. this spring After a lengthy search, I chose the Epic Reference 476 Fastglass . 

If you’re used to fast-action rods (like I was), this rod takes some getting used to—but from there, it’s a pleasure to cast. I never need to make casts farther than 30 feet on my river, but during our distance drills at the test, I fired a couple that measured 60 feet.

For small-stream trout, the 476 Fastglass is as versatile as you need it to be. It’s capable of making accurate and subtle presentations with small dries, double-nymph rigs beneath an indicator, and small streamers. And this rod really comes to life when you set the hook into a fish. Fighting trout with this stick is So. Much. Fun. I’ve landed dozens of smaller 8- to 10-inch rainbows and browns with it—as well as a couple that pushed 16 inches. The power this light rod displays in tussles with bigger fish is truly impressive. 

As for aesthetics, this rod was one of the overall stunners of the test. The translucent amber blank really pops, and the FLOR-grade cork feels as great as it looks. But eye candy doesn’t end there: When this rod first arrived at my house, I sent a photo of it to my friend, and he responded, “The rod tube even looks sick.”

The Reference 476 Fastglass we used at the test was my personal rod, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy some smug delight when all of the other testers gushed over it. When it came down to awarding the Best Small Stream Fly Rod, there was no doubt this was the winner. —C.K.

Fly Fishing Gear photo

The Rest of the Best Fly Rods of 2023

Just because the following fly rods didn’t take home any of our awards doesn’t mean they won’t get the job done on the trout stream. In fact, a couple of these rods nearly won Editors’ Choice, and several are absolute bargains. Whether you’re looking for an all-around 5-weight, a dedicated streamer stick, or a good fly rod for the money, you’ll find it here.

Epic Reference 590G fly rod

  • Fly line scorches through the guides
  • Light and accurate
  • Strong in a fight
  • Clunky-looking reel seat
  • “This rod offers a nice blend of power and sensitivity, but it looked a bit modern for my taste.” —S.M.
  • “A nice medium-fast rod with good accuracy and control. Best for smaller waters.” — D.H.

Consensus on the other Epic fly rod in our test was slightly less unanimous than with the 4-weight glass rod, which everyone loved. The testers admired the balance and control the Epic Reference 590G Carbon Fiber delivers—and while there weren’t any knocks against this rod, there were a couple of nitpicks when it came to versatility and aesthetics. Given the rod’s medium-fast action, some felt it was better suited for smaller waters than a big river, like the Delaware. And more than one tester commented that the rod’s looks didn’t do it for them. (The reel seat, specifically, stood out to some.)

Personally, this was one of my favorite rods of the test. During our distance sessions on the lawn, I fired my longest cast of the trip with the Reference 590G (93 feet). And when I was aiming at nearer targets for accuracy drills, I was impressed with the tight, precise loops the Reference threw. I’ve used this rod on big rivers (like the Delaware) and small creeks (like, well, I’m not saying where). It excelled on both, but I might’ve preferred it a bit more on the creeks where its ability to deliver ultra-accurate dry-fly presentations really shines. And as with the 4-weight Epic, fighting fish with this rod is a total blast.

As for looks, I can see why the aesthetics of the Reference 590G might not appeal to everyone. But the truth is, I like this rod so much that its design has really grown on me. Where some may see a modern, synthetic-looking rod, I see one that’s slick and stealthy. — C.K.

G. Loomis NRX+

G. Loomis NRX+ is a best fly rod of 2022

  • Length: 10 feet (test model)
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime
  • Powerful, accurate, and versatile
  • Great for casting into strong winds
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • “Just what you want in a 10-footer. It excels at nymphing, roll-casting, or fishing from a float tube, but it is versatile and powerful enough for everything else.” —D.H.
  • “This is a nymphing machine and you can bomb casts when need be.” —R.C.

Before our test officially began—after we took all of the rods out of their tubes, assembled them, and set them on a table—the G. Loomis NRX+ stood out. At 10 feet long, it was the longest rod in our test. It was also the only one with a fighting butt.

Then we started casting, and the NRX+ really stood out. This rod is a workhorse. It generates tremendous line speed and shoots a ton of line (one tester described the NRX+ as a “missile launcher”), while also delivering consistent loop stability and accuracy. 

During our first evening of fishing, I started with the NRX+ and I wound up having the best session on the Delaware River of my life. We hit a sulfur hatch just right, and I landed five wild brown trout in just a couple of hours with the NRX+. Given the size and weight of this stick (it’s the longest and heaviest in our test), I was pleasantly surprised with how little feel and finesse is compromised. G. Loomis markets the NRX+ as almost being overbuilt—they say the rod “empowers anglers with confidence-booting control in less-than-ideal conditions.” Well, I fished with it in conditions that were as close to ideal as they get, and the rod performed beautifully. 

It’s worth noting that the 5-weight NRX+ is available in a 9-foot model without a fighting butt. Due to supply-chain issues, though, G. Loomis only had the 10-foot model to loan us for our test. Had they been able to send us the other model instead, the competition for our Editors’ Pick Award would have been really stiff. — C.K. 

The Hardy Ultralite X fly rod

  • Length: 9 Feet
  • Warranty: Hardy’s Worldwide Extended Warranty (you pay $75 to cover repair/replacement, handling, administration, and return postage and packing charge—per claim)
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to cast
  • Lousy warranty
  • “If looks could kill, this rod would. It’s gorgeous. But once I started casting, it left no impression on me. Kinda just felt like a stick.” —C.K.
  • “The looks pulled me right in, but I had to work a bit harder than I would like to get my cast where I wanted it to go.” —R.C.

If you’re going to drop nearly $1,000 dollars on a fly rod, you want to get something that looks nice enough to make your buddies jealous—and the Hardy Ultralite X will. It was easily my favorite-looking rod of the entire test. The rod’s burnt copper coloring makes it stand out while maintaining a classic aesthetic.

The rod performs nicely, too. It’s light and throws tight loops at distance without a ton of effort, which will save your arm on long days on the water. Given its light construction, it’s no surprise that I enjoyed casting small dries with the rod compared to nymphing and streamer rigs. That said, the Ultralite X is plenty versatile for most setups you’d ever utilize on a trout stream, making it a decent choice as a do-it-all rod.

Compared to other fast-action rods at the same price point, the Ultralite’s power didn’t stand out. The rod has a decent backbone but wasn’t the “rocket” I had hoped it would be. The rod also lacks much feel or control, which soundly bumped the Ultralite X out of contention for the top prize in our test. — S.M.

Maine Rod Co. Kennebec fly rod

  • Action: Moderate-fast
  • Warranty: 5-Year
  • Strong backbone to throw big flies 
  • Handmade in the U.S.A.
  • Heavy and bulky for a 5-weight
  • “A pretty solid caster, but not my cup of tea aesthetically.” —D.H.
  • “I just couldn’t get comfortable with this rod. It feels bulky. And there is too much going on with the looks.” —C.K.

The Kennebec wasn’t exactly a standout rod of our test, but it was still a solid performer. It has the feel of a custom rod—hand-wrapped threads, cork-burned logo, and personalization options—without the expensive price tag.

I could cast the Kennebec on the lawn farther than most of the other rods in the test, consistently reaching out to 75 feet and beyond. Although bulky, this medium-fast-action rod loads well and throws good loops. I enjoyed casting it, but the weight quickly tired me out. 

I like the aesthetics of this rod, even though some of the other editors disagreed. I think the pine-green matte finish paired with the burnt orange wraps gives this rod an authentic New England feel—where the rod was built. I also appreciated the comfortable full-well handle and wooded reel seat with a gunmetal finish. 

The Delaware is a technical dry-fly river. While this rod can certainly deliver a dry fly and catch fish doing so, the bulkiness and weight of the rod aren’t ideal for this style of fishing. It wasn’t until I tied on a streamer that I found out what this rod could do. The strong backbone and power allow for better control and delivery of heavier flies. Since our test, I’ve taken the Kennebec onto various rivers in Colorado, always rigged with a streamer. I’ve been able to bomb long, accurate casts in hard-to-reach places and have landed plenty of fish. —R.C.

Moonshine Vesper fly rod

  • Action: Moderate-Fast
  • Light, accurate, and sensitive
  • Bargain for the quality 
  • Not much backbone
  • “A fantastic rod at a great price. The Vesper excelled at distance and accuracy for me, and it looks sharp, too.” —C.K.
  • “If it weren’t for the Orvis Clearwater, this would have won Best Value. It’s a lot of rod for the money.” —D.H.

The Moonshine Vesper was one of my favorite rods of the entire test. Simply put, this is a high-end fly rod at half the price of its premium competitors. It loads and shoots fly line easily, and the well-balanced construction makes it an extremely versatile fly rod.

I received our Moonshine Vesper test rod in early April and had the entire spring to fish with it. What stood out to me was how easily I could switch from nymphs to dry flies to streamers without missing a beat. Not many rods have that versatility, but the Vesper proved to be a do-it-all trout rod. 

On the casting lawn at our test, no one had a bad thing to say about the Vesper. I was impressed with its accuracy as I made a long cast on target and followed it up with a short, precise roll cast. We also used the Vesper in many of our blind casting comparisons, where testers favored it over several premium rods. 

On the water, roll casting with the Vesper was easy with a simple flick of the wrist. It gave subtle presentations that helped land fish on top. Everyone agreed the Vesper had an extremely comfortable and unique feel, made possible by its grip and perfectly balanced blank. 

This rod isn’t missing anything in the aesthetics category, either. It has a modern-classic look, with a perfect blend of traditional elements paired with a stylish slate and copper color scheme. And Moonshine is the only fly-rod company I know of that gives you an extra tip for free with your initial purchase (because we all break rods). But even if you break both tips, their no-fault lifetime warranty means you can always get a replacement. —R.C.

Orvis Helios 3 Blackout is one of the best fly rods of 2022

  • Length: 9 feet, 5 inches
  • Very accurate 
  • Loads well and casts far
  • Well balanced
  • “This is a great fly rod. But somehow they made the ugliest rod—the original Helios—even uglier. It’s a shame.” —C.K.
  • “It’s a nice rod that does everything pretty well—but nothing about it blows me away.” — D.H.

The Helios 3 Blackout missed in looks, but not in performance. This rod can put a fly anywhere you want it—whether that’s 85 feet under hanging limbs or 20 feet away to a close riser. The improved tracking technology allows this rod to consistently deliver accurate casts. 

For some of the testers, the Helios 3 Blackout was a bit of a head-scratcher. Everyone agreed that it’s a solid fly rod—but we all struggled to find features in this rod, besides accuracy, that made it stand out from the other premium rods in our test.

If you spend most of your time on the water nymphing, this might be the rod for you. I appreciated the 9-foot, 5-inch design which gives you an advantage when mending line, compared to a traditional 9-foot rod, for drag-free presentations. I found that the Helios 3 also did a great job at throwing streamers and dry flies. It had enough backbone to get articulated flies a good distance without sacrificing accuracy. I was confident in my dry-fly presentations. The rod allowed me to lay the fly on the water right where I needed it to be.

Of course, looks do matter in a fly rod, and there’s no getting around it: The Helios 3 Blackout is ugly. None of us were fans of the all-black design with the gray graphic above the handle, which one of the testers described as “hideous.” But if you can look past the aesthetics of the Helios 3 Blackout, you will find a versatile and accurate fly rod that will excel at any style of trout fishing you enjoy. —R.C.

The Redington Trace fly rod

  • Action: Medium-fast
  • Casts well for distance
  • Quality rod for the price
  • Slow to load line
  • “Great-looking rod. Love the color. A tad heavy, a tad mushy, but a pretty solid caster with decent distance for the money.” —D.H.
  • “Love the classic ‘trout stream’ look and design of this rod. For the price and warranty, this is a good rod for beginner and intermediate anglers.” —C.K.

The Trace is Redington’s take on a do-it-all fly rod. Does it live up to that standard? Mostly. The medium-fast action blank does a terrific job at picking up line and shooting long casts. The rod mends well, and the improved tracking helps deliver accurate casts. It can fish nymphs, dry flies, and streamers, no problem. Now, is it the best fly rod for any of those techniques in particular? Nope. But for the price, it’s a damn good rod.

The Trace has a classic mahogany finish paired with a wood reel seat that makes for a good-looking rod. I was able to cast out to 70 feet with ease (something that usually isn’t easy for me) and could even hit the 80-foot mark at times. The strong backbone makes it easy to turn over big flies and serves well when fighting fish in the current. The power takes away some sensitivity up front, but the Trace is still plenty capable of nymphing and throwing dry flies.

The rod took a bit longer to load on the casting lawn, but that’s to be expected with the medium-fast action rod. All of us were impressed with the Trace and agreed that it’s an ideal rod for a beginner angler or someone looking to make that next step in fly fishing. While heavy for a 5-weight, the extra power gives you an advantage in windy conditions.

This rod comes in slightly over the price I usually recommend for beginners. But given its versatility and lifetime warranty, there isn’t anyone I wouldn’t recommend this rod to—beginner or seasoned angler alike. —R.C.

The Scott Centric is one of the best fly rods of 2022

  • Surprising distance
  • Responsive tip for roll casting and mending
  • Not quite as accurate at short range
  • “Damn, this is one sweet fly rod. It’s powerful, but easy to control, and line just rockets out of the guides. I’ve caught fish with the Centric on big rivers and small creeks. It aced both tests.” —C.K.  
  • “This rod is a work of art.” —S.M.

If you told me that you like the Centric better than the Sage R8 Core, I’d disagree but wouldn’t argue. It was the Centric we were leaning toward after the first lawn-casting session, and it might have won the whole shebang had we ended things there. Of all the pure casters, this rod was the purest. 

I was on the far end of the casting line, and as the Centric was being passed down, I could actually hear it coming—with all the oohs and oh-my-gods . Unlike the ultra-fast Radian model it replaced, the Centric is a fast-action rod with tremendous feel and control. It throws consistent, flat loops almost by default, and the job of opening or closing those loops—to cast nymphs or to fire a long cast—requires not much more than a thought. The rod’s responsive tip makes for easy roll casting and mending, too, and the Centric was superbly accurate at medium and long ranges.

You don’t expect a rod with this much feel to go long, but the Centric surprised us. It’s not the rifle that the Radian was but casting the whole fly line with a few false casts was not a problem. Like the R8, the Centric is very good on the water. (We just felt the R8 was a fraction better.) Short-distance accuracy was good, but not great. Personally, I could take or leave the micarta reel-seat insert, but, all in all, it’s a great-looking rod with high-end components. Ultimately, the R8 nipped the Centric in our test, but if the No. 1 thing you want from a fly rod is the pleasure of throwing perfect loops, cast after cast, I’d say get this one. —D.H.

The St. Croix Imperial fly rod

  • Warranty: 15-Year
  • Great price
  • Very good beginner rod
  • Lacks feel and control
  • “It had some nice oomph to it and was one of the better all-around budget rods.” —S.M.
  • “The Imperial was one of my favorite budget rods of the entire test. Plus, I loved the handle and reel seat.” —R.C.

Of all the rods in the test, the Imperial was one that I was really excited to fish. Back when I first started fly fishing (20-plus years ago—but who’s counting), a St. Croix Imperial was the first rod I ever owned. Even though it’s been ages since I last cast an Imperial (years ago, I gifted mine as a hand-me-down to a friend who was just getting into fishing), it didn’t take me long to find a comfortable casting rhythm with our test model. 

There’s no getting around the fact that the Imperial is a fast-action rod—so fast , in fact, that it can feel quite stiff. Compared to a couple of the other value rods in our test, the Imperial didn’t offer much in terms of feel or control. But the rod has power, and it’s light enough that you can cast it all day without tiring out your arm. This is a versatile rod, too. On trout water, it’ll cast dries, nymphs beneath an indicator, or small streamers. It’s also perfectly suited for catching panfish and small bass on farm ponds or creeks. 

And at this price, you’ll have a hard time finding a nicer-looking rod. I’ve always loved the copper color of the Imperial’s blank, and the wooden insert on the reel seat is pure class. — C.K.

The St. Croix Mojo Trout fly rod

  • Length: 8 ½ feet
  • Smooth-casting rod with great feel
  • Great value
  • “A softer rod with lots of feel and decent distance, too” —D.H.
  • “This would be a fun rod for small water—if you can get over the cheesy logo.” — S.M.

Let’s get this out of the way: The purple “Mojo Trout” logo on this rod looks god-awful. One tester went so far as to say if this were his rod, he would “lightly sand the logo until it disappeared.” Beyond that, the the Mojo Trout is a pretty fine-looking rod. And, man, is it fun to cast.

I’ve fished with a lot of St. Croix rods over the years, but the Mojo Trout was brand-new to me. When I first picked it up on the casting lawn, I was surprised, and delighted, by how smooth it was. The rod has a great feel to it, and it throws tight and controlled loops. We were all impressed with its ability to cast long distances. Though, to be clear, this isn’t the kind of stick you’d want if you need to cast farther than 35 or 40 feet. This is a fly rod that excels on smaller, technical waters where you need to make accurate and delicate presentations. 

Even though “Trout” is literally in the name of this rod, it would be absolutely perfect for panfish. Yet another reason to sand off the logo. — C.K.

The TFO blue ribbon fly rod

  • Loads and casts smoothly
  • Not much power
  • “Nice looking rod at a fair price. Great for beginners.” —C.K.
  • “It’s stiff and casts well with a nice aesthetic for the price point.” —S.M.

My roommate just started fly fishing, and I recommended the TFO Blue Ribbon as her first rod. She has improved dramatically over the summer and is catching a ton of trout every time we go out. If that isn’t a confirmation that the Blue Ribbon is a great beginner rod, I don’t know what is.

This medium-fast action is ideal for new anglers learning to cast. The slower action helps the rod load effortlessly, giving the angler time to focus on where they’re casting. I found this rod to be easy to cast and comfortable in hand. I caught plenty of fish on the Blue Ribbon in my post-test trials on double-nymph rigs, dry flies, and streamers—proving the versatility of this rod. 

The carbon-fiber blank is paired with stainless-steel guides and a premium cork grip to make for great durability. I did find that I couldn’t cast very far with this stick. But what it lacked in distance, the Blue Ribbon made up for it in consistency, versatility, and durability. It was also the cheapest rod in our test. Paired with TFO’s lifetime warranty, it is one of the best values you can find. —R.C.

Temple Fork Outfitters LK Legacy fly rod

  • Warranty: No-fault lifetime
  • Durable carbon-fiber rod blank
  • Budget-friendly
  • Not good at casting for distance 
  • “Dead in the hand” is what you want in a compound bow, not a fly rod. — D.H.
  • Nothing special. — S.M.

While not outstanding in any single category, the TFO LK Legacy still performed well enough to earn my nod of approval for a solid trout rod. The fast action and smooth casting ability make this a good option for intermediate anglers. It didn’t compete with the higher-end rods, but for the price, it performed admirably.  

On the casting lawn, I struggled to get distance out of the LK Legacy, but it was accurate with short casts. The carbon-fiber blank paired with stainless-steel guides and a full-anodized reel seat make this an extremely durable fly rod. It is ideal for anglers looking to have one rod to fish a variety of techniques. Nymphing was where this rod shined for me. I was impressed with the rod’s ability to roll cast, mend, and manage line. It took little to no effort to roll cast my double-nymph rig over and over. Something that I can’t say for all the rods in the test. 

The rod isn’t the most balanced, and experienced anglers that are used to light fly rods might struggle at first with the LK Legacy. It felt bulky casting dry flies to trout in hard-to-reach places. I’m not sure if this was because of the weight of the rod or how it was balanced. But either way, I got tired. 

The aesthetics of this rod are not notable. It has a clean look and a standard modern design. It was one of the least expensive rods in our test and, for the price, it is hard to beat. TFO also offers a no-fault lifetime warranty on all of their rods, so even if something goes wrong, you’ll have a replacement in no time. —R.C.

Thomas & Thomas Paradigm is one of the best fly rods of 2022

  • Drop-dead gorgeous 
  • Handmade quality 
  • “This was just a delight to use. For as light and gentle as this rod is, it’s almost sneaky how powerful it can be.” —C.K.  
  • A joy to cast. Light and lively with tons of feel.” — D.H.

If you want a cold, efficient tool with no aesthetic qualities, look someplace else. Good looks are a big part of the Thomas & Thomas Paradigm’s appeal. But the rod doesn’t lack in performance. It just performs with style, like a vintage sports car. 

My first impression of the Paradigm was that I could cast it all day long. And I did. During our distance test, I kept taking the Paradigm away from other testers for “just one more cast.” After that, we took the rods on the water, and I hogged this one for nearly the whole afternoon. I couldn’t take my hands off the Paradigm.

Compared to so many of today’s fast-action rods, this one just felt different. Thomas & Thomas says that the rod has a “classic” action close to the original (and much celebrated) Paradigm of 20 years ago. I found it to be slow to moderate, and definitely not dull or sluggish. One of the testers noted that “time seemed to slow down” when casting the Paradigm, and I couldn’t agree more. 

Most important, though, is that the smooth action of this rod lends itself to delicate, accurate dry-fly presentations. On the West Branch of the Delaware River, you may only get one chance at a rising trout. I strike out more often than not there, but I felt confident with the Paradigm and was able to hook a couple of fish. In close quarters, the Paradigm was extremely controllable, yet it still had enough power to reach out to far away cut banks and pools with accuracy. —M.E.

Top-secret test notes.

What to Consider When Choosing a Fly Rod

Selecting a fly rod for trout fishing is not as simple as picking up the first 5-weight rod you see in a fly shop and giving it the “wiggle test.” You need to think about your experience level, how you fish, where you fish, and what you need your rod to do. A trout angler who fishes big rivers in the West will want a different style rod than a trout angler who mostly fishes small streams or spring creeks. Fishing style and technique also play a major role in determining what fly rod best suits the situation. Here are four main considerations before buying the best fly rod for you.

The two most common materials used to make fly rods are graphite (carbon fiber) and fiberglass. Fly rods with graphite blanks are the most popular because they’re easy to cast and lightweight. The majority of the rods we tested are made of graphite, and it’s the material we recommend for beginner anglers looking to purchase their first fly rod.

Fiberglass, or “glass rods,” as they’re often referred to, are more durable, flexible, and heavier than graphite blanks. The first thing anglers will notice when picking up a glass rod is the flexibility and sensitivity. Glass rods load much slower, which can often be an issue for anglers who are used to faster-action rods. The increased sensitivity, however, makes glass rods ideal for small fish in creeks and streams.

The length of your rod is going to be a determining factor in how you fish. The standard length for a traditional trout fly rod is 9 feet. A 9-foot rod offers versatility to fish nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. We recommend a 9-foot, 5-weight rod to beginners. From there, you can tailor the length of your rod to specific techniques and situations. A shorter fly rod is ideal for small streams where there tends to be a lot of overhanging brush and foliage. Longer rod blanks excel at nymphing because it gives anglers the advantage of a making drag-free presentation and mending more easily. The length of typical trout fly rods ranges from 8 feet 6 inches to 9 feet 5 inches. Anything shorter or longer is most likely for specific fishing styles and techniques.

The action of a fly rod determines how fast or slow it loads. In simpler terms, the slower the action, the longer it will take for the fly line to reach its full length on a backcast. Most modern fly rods—including the majority of the rods in our test—are designed with a medium-fast or fast action. A fast action helps cast through stiff wind but isn’t ideal for beginners. Experienced anglers are more likely to use fast-action rods due to their strong backbone and ability to load quickly. We recommend beginners start with a medium or medium-fast action. This creates more time for anglers to get a feel for false casting and forces them to slow down their casting enough so they can focus on making a good presentation.

Your style of fishing is the most important consideration when buying a fly rod. Do you want something that can do it all? Are you fishing in small streams or big water? Are you throwing heavy flies? The answers to these questions will help you determine the best fly rod for your style. The three main techniques to fly fishing for trout are nymphing, dry-fly fishing, and streamer fishing. Nymphing requires you to manage line and present flies with as little drag as possible. Longer rods increase line control and help lessen drag with techniques, such as “high sticking” or Euro nymphing . Dry flies require subtle presentations and mending to present the bug as naturally as possible to trout. Most 9-foot rods offer enough length to make long casts and manage line well for dry flies. Streamer fishing often requires throwing large and heavy flies. A fast-action rod with a strong backbone will excel at handling heavier fly patterns. You sacrifice some sensitivity with some fast-action rods, but that’s not the end of the world—because there’s nothing sensitive about a trout striking a streamer.

Q: What length fly rod should I get?

The most common length for a fly rod is 9 feet. That said, you should base the length of your rod on your style of trout fishing. If you plan to do a lot of high-sticking, then a 9-foot 5-inch or 10-foot rod will benefit you the most. If you fish small streams and mountain creeks, you’ll want a shorter rod to contend with overhanging brush. But if you’re looking for a general-purpose fly rod for trout, your best bet is to buy a 9-foot 5-weight.

Q: How much should I spend on a fly rod?

If our fly rod test taught us anything it’s that expensive doesn’t always mean better. The Orvis Clearwater retails for $250 and it beat out multiple premium rods valued at over $900. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a quality fly rod that is capable of catching trout. There of plenty of lower-priced rods that will get the job done, including the Orvis Clearwater , TFO Blue Ribbon , and the Redington Trace . That being said, premium rods are expensive for a reason. Our best overall pick, the Sage R8 Core , retails for $1,050. We all agreed it was one of the smoothest, most-balanced rods we’ve ever cast. It has great power, feel, accuracy, and line control. Is it worth over $1,000? We think so, especially for experienced anglers who will appreciate its versatility and design.

Q: What is the best fly rod for a beginner?

The best beginner fly rod doesn’t mean the cheapest fly rod. A well-built rod that you can grow with and fish for years is a great investment. So, don’t automatically turn to the price tag to make your decision. Instead, look for a medium-fast-action rod in the 9-foot range. This will help cut down the casting learning curve by slowing down your backcast and allowing the rod to do the work. A medium0fast action rod forces you to take your time and focus on your casting technique.

Best Fly Rods: Final Thoughts

After a long weekend of casting and fishing and debating…followed by more casting and more fishing, we came away from our fly-rod test certain of at least two things:

  • You don’t have to spend a fortune to own a truly great fly rod.
  • The innovation in today’s best fly rods is more impressive than ever.

If you’re a diehard fly angler who simply wants the best of the best, our vote goes to the Sage R8 Core . It’s a stunning fly rod that does everything well, which is why it won our Editors’ Pick Award—barely. The Scott Centric , G. Loomis NRX+ , and Thomas & Thomas Paradigm all finished near the top. These are all truly premium fly rods that make casting a breeze. When it comes to the best fly rod for the money, however, it’s no contest: The Orvis Clearwater outperformed fly rods that cost more than three times as much. Lastly, if you’re looking for a specialty trout rod—specifically one suited to smaller, technical streams—look no further than the Epic Reference 476 Fastglass. It’ll take a week or so for the rod to arrive at your door all the way from New Zealand, but once you hook into a trout with that whip-stick, it’ll be well worth the wait.

Why Trust Us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.

Ryan Chelius

Ryan Chelius started freelance writing during college and landed a summer job as an editorial intern with Field & Stream in 2019. After graduation, he returned to freelancing for various outdoor publications before landing his dream gig as an editor for Field & Stream in 2021.

Matthew Every

Matthew Every has been with Field & Stream since 2019, when he joined the team as the Associate Online Editor for both F&S and Outdoor Life. Before that, he worked as a hunting guide and wrote about his adventures in his free time. Every has lived all over the country, but calls New York’s Catskill Mountains home.

Colin Kearns

Colin Kearns is the Editor-in-Chief of Field & Stream. His media career began in 2004, when he landed the summer gig of a lifetime, as an editorial intern for Field & Stream. After college, he worked at Salt Water Sportsman magazine for three years, before joining F&S as a full-time staffer in 2008.

Sage Marshall

Sage Marshall joined Field & Stream as an editorial intern in 2018, when he worked at the publication’s former office in Manhattan. His desk-mate was a mounted warthog. After graduating from college, he worked as a freelance journalist for two years before returning to the F&S team full-time in 2021 as the brand’s News Editor.

The Best Travel Fly Rods for 2024: Reviews and Buying Guide

A four-piece fly rod seems plenty packable until you give it a try in real life.

On one memorable fish trip, I first flew to Madrid for a week, continuing on to my final destination after spending time in the capital. To keep costs down, I was traveling with cabin baggage only, and space was at a real premium. 

The flight from the US posed no obstacle, but inside the EU, an issue emerged with my 30-inch rod case.

The airlines were being exceptionally strict about the overall dimension of personal items, and my standard fly rod case was well over the mark. I had to haggle with security in Spain for quite a while. Eventually, we came to an expensive compromise, but the problem would have been avoided entirely if I had been carrying a true travel rod.

Rather than the usual four pieces, travel fly rods break down into six or more sections, fitting into short tubes that are easy to stow and carry. And whether you’re bringing your fly rod along on a trip “just in case” or are making the trip of a lifetime to fish somewhere far away, a travel rod makes a lot of sense.

Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorite travel rods, as well as a complete buying guide to cover all your bases.

Quick glance at the best travel fly rods:

Orvis Clearwater Travel Fly Rod

Echo trip - best 5, 6, or 8 wt travel fly rod, redington classic trout, redington trailblazer - best 3 wt travel fly rod, cabela's stowaway, douglas upstream - best small-water travel fly rod.

Table of Contents (clickable)

  • 1.1 Orvis Clearwater Travel Fly Rod
  • 1.2 Echo Trip - Best 5, 6, or 8 wt Travel Fly Rod
  • 1.3 Redington Classic Trout
  • 1.4 Redington Trailblazer - Best 3 wt Travel Fly Rod
  • 1.5 Cabela's Stowaway
  • 1.6 Douglas Upstream - Best Small-Water Travel Fly Rod
  • 2.1 The Basics
  • 2.2 Material
  • 3 Our Picks: Redington Trailblazer, Echo Trip, and Douglas Upstream
  • Best Fly Fishing Rod Combo
  • Best 5 Weight Fly Rod
  • Best Fly Rods For Beginners

Best Travel Fly Rods Reviewed

Material: graphite Action: medium-fast Length: 8’ 6” and 9’ Weight: 5 wt, 6 wt, and 8 wt Pieces: 6

Orvis’s Clearwater Travel Rod packs down small, fitting into a tube that measures just 22 ½ inches. That makes it easy to carry, simple to fly with, and a cinch to keep in your car or truck.

The Clearwater Travel is available in a 5 wt 8’ 6”, and 5wt, 6wt, and 8 wt rods of 9’. Each is broken down into 6 sections.

In many respects, the Orvis Clearwater Travel sets the standard for what a travel fly rod should be. The blank flexes and casts so well you’ll forget that it’s not a 4 piece, and from the chrome snake guides to the well-shaped cork handle, it’s made with typical Orvis quality.

These rods load and flex beautifully, providing plenty of feel to time your casts perfectly, and both distance and accuracy are exactly what they should be at this price point. And that’s really saying something: these Clearwater’s cast and fish almost like their 4-piece alternatives, and it’s hard to imagine a better travel rod for the price - if you avoid the 8 wt options.

Unfortunately, the 8 wt rods have a reputation for fragility, and quite a few guides and anglers have found that they’ll break even when fitted together properly and fished within their limits.

As far as I can tell, this isn’t a one-off defect or a case of unreported abuse, and that makes us leery about relying on a Clearwater 8 wt rod on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

That’s a serious issue, and we’re torn about recommending these rods for that reason.

  • Packs down really small
  • Great blanks that cast and fish like 4-piece alternatives
  • The 8wt rods have a reputation for breaking more or less immediately

Material: graphite Action: medium-fast Length: 9’ Weight: 5wt, 6 wt, and 8 wt Pieces: 8

The Echo Trip is an outstanding travel rod, illustrating that increasing the pieces doesn’t necessitate decreasing performance.

Echo offers the Trip in three versions: a 5 and 6 wt measuring 9 feet, and a saltwater-capable 8 wt also at 9 feet. All three sport anodized aluminum reel seats and stainless guides, and the fit and finish on these rods is exactly what you’re looking for.

On the water, the Trip feels slower than medium-fast, and it flexes to very near the handle when casting. That’s not a bad thing at all in my book, and beginners will find this among the easiest travel rods to fish. More experienced anglers are well-served, too, by what feels like a medium action, as timing your casts and getting subtle lays just feels easier with the Trip.

And despite that relatively soft action, you’ll find plenty of backbone farther down the blank, reaching a point where the rod delivers surprising strength.

The Trip is extremely versatile, too, casting dry flies, nymphs, and streamers far better than you’d expect, and I’d be very tempted to take the Trip along as a general-purpose fly rod even when I don’t need a true travel option.

  • Excellent blanks with a medium action perfect for experienced as well as novice fy anglers
  • Excellent casting with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers
  • Plenty of fight-winning backbone

Material: graphite Action: moderate Length: 9 Weight: 5 wt Pieces: 6

Redington’s Classic Trout is better known for its 4-piece variants, but if you know where to look, you’ll also find a 6-piece, 5 wt rod that’s ideal for travel.

The Classic Trout’s 5 wt incarnation measures 9 feet, offering a soft, moderate action that provides incredible feel. In hand, that action translates into an ideal casting rhythm, and as an all-around travel rod, the 6-piece Classic Trout is truly a thing of beauty.

Though slow enough to really feel the blank load, the Classic Trout is great for lofting nymphs, dry flies, and wooly buggers, and it offers a delicate presentation that won’t scare spooked trout.

I like the Redington Classic Trout a lot, but the nylon tube it’s supplied with is designed around 4-piece rods, and thus is much longer than necessary. If you’re going to be flying with this rod, or space is at a premium, that tube isn’t going to do you any favors.

That’s about the only issue you’ll have with this fantastic rod.

  • Excellent blanks with a soft, moderate action perfect for experienced as well as novice fly anglers
  • Excellent casting with nymphs, dry flies, and buggers
  • The supplied tube is a bit long for travel

Material: graphite Action: medium-fast Length: 8’ and 9’ Weight: 3 wt and 5 wt Pieces: 6

Redington’s Trailblazer is a step up in performance from their 6-piece Classic Trout. Designed from the ground-up as a travel rod, I think it flexes and feels a bit better than that Redington alternative, albeit at a higher price point.

The Trailblazer is available in a 3wt, 8-foot model, as well as a 5 wt, 9-foot version. For general use, the 5 wt is the better option, as it will cast heavy nymph rigs more ably and fight big brookies or brown trout with real authority. But for small flies and small fish, nothing beats the 3 wt.

With either rod in hand, the action is slow enough to get a good sense of proper timing, while still supplying plenty of power for longer casts. True, the Trailblazer isn’t going to deliver many 80 foot casts, but at realistic distances, it’s a real winner, providing plenty of versatility in your fly selection and delicate presentations.

With a fish on the line, you’ll discover plenty of power in the 5wt’s blank, and its ferrule integrity is just what you’d want it to be. That’s also true of the slender 3 wt, and among its many competitors, this rod really stands out as a great choice for offering delicate presentations to spooked and wary trout.

The Trailblazer packs down small, and whether you’re preparing for a grueling hike to your stream or a long flight to your destination, it’s an awesome choice.

  • Packs down small
  • Excellent blanks with a medium-fast action
  • Plenty of power
  • Excellent casting with heavy nymph rigs as well as dry flies

Material: graphite Action: medium-fast Length: 7’ 6”, 8’ 6”, and 9’ Weight: 3 wt, 4 wt, 5 wt, 6 wt, and 8 wt Pieces: 6

Cabela’s Stowaway probably isn’t the best rod you’ll ever fish, but it’s good enough that plenty of anglers who aren’t traveling bring it along as a backup. And when you consider that this is a 6-piece rather than a 4-piece rod, that’s a real vote of confidence.

Cabela’s makes the Stowaway available in many lengths and weights. You’ll find an 8’ 6” 3wt, 7’ 6” and 8’ 6” 4wts, 8’ 6” and 9’ 5 wts, a 9’ 6wt, and finally a 9’ 8wt. Each features a medium-fast action that feels a bit softer than that, and in hand, I’d say the blanks perform more like true mediums.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and the Stowaway lineup rewards proper technique with reasonably long and very accurate casts. Less powerful than a true medium-fast, you just can’t expect legendary casting distances.

And if you’re a new angler looking for a first travel rod, you can do a whole lot worse than the Stowaway since its relatively soft action is forgiving, allowing you to develop the technique that lofts dry flies 30 or 40 feet.

The backbone of these blanks really shows its strength in the final rod section, and these rods fight well when compared head-to-head with their alternatives.

Overall, I prefer the Echo Trip and Redington Trailblazer’s performance, but I wouldn’t turn up my nose at the Stowaway.

  • Excellent blanks with a true medium action
  • Rewards good casting technique
  • The Echo Trip and Redington Trailblazer are probably better rods overall

Material: graphite Action: slow Length: 7’, 7 6”, and 8’ Weight: 3 wt. Pieces: 6

Douglas’s Upstream is an easy pick for our shortlist, and though many of its variations are 4-piece affairs, three lengths of the 3 wt are available as 6-piece rods. Simply put, there may be no better fly rod for short-distance casting, and from pinpoint accuracy to the most delicate of presentations, if you’re looking for a travel rod for small water, your search is over.

The Upstream’s blank is made from graphite that’s painted to resemble bamboo. And while that may seem like a gimmick, it’s anything but. Douglas has managed to produce a graphite blank that feels, in hand, like the bamboo of old, flexing along its length and offering a true slow action.

As you can imagine, timing your casts with this rod is relatively easy, and if you’re an experienced fly angler, you'll be amazed at how it can lay a fly within 20 feet. Long casts are next to impossible with this rod, and even if you do manage a 40-foot loft, accuracy will suffer.

That’s just not what the Upstream was made for, and it shows.

As you’d imagine, the fittings and aesthetics of this rod harken to the early days of fly fishing, and from the fit and finish to the components, everything is top-flight and beautiful.

If you’re traveling or hiking to a small stream ripe with brook or brown trout, this is probably the best rod you could bring, hands down.

  • Amazing blanks with a true slow action that simulates bamboo
  • Awesome accuracy and presentation over short distances
  • This is most definitely a small-water rod

Buying Guide: What You Need to Know About Travel Fly Rods

The primary difference between a travel rod and a standard fly rod are the number of pieces into which it breaks down. While standard rods are typically 4-piece affairs, travel rods comprised 6 or 8 pieces.

That allows manufacturers to decrease their dimensions considerably, and travel rods pack down to lengths that make them pack and carry-on friendly.

Standard fly rods may simply be too long for carry-on limitations, and checking the only rod you’re flying with to Alagnak River, Alaska isn’t a great idea!

But that presents a problem, too.

Adding more sections necessitates more ferrules, and ferrules create at least three problems.

First, they’re potential points of failure.

Second, they add weight to the blank.

And third, they don’t bend like the sections themselves do.

Overall, this creates predictable consequences for travel rods when compared head-to-head with standard fly tackle. You can expect that travel rods are slightly heavier in hand, more prone to breakage, and not quite as flexible as a 4-piece rod.

Improvements in rod technology are closing that gap, but I’d still expect a slight drop in performance when switching to a travel rod.

While you can find plenty of fiberglass blanks in the fly fishing world, graphite dominates travel rods. Lighter by far than fiberglass, rod manufacturers use this material to offset the increased number of ferrules and keep overall weight as low as possible.

All other things being equal, longer fly rods allow for longer casts; and all other things being equal, shorter rods deliver better accuracy up close.

If you’re fishing small-water streams in Colorado or Alaska, where overhanging vegetation is desperate to snag your rod tip, a shorter rod is ideal. But where the water is free of such hazards, and the trout are wary, a long rod capable of exceptional distance is the better choice.

A blank’s action is a measure of where an applied force will create flex.

Fast action rods bend near the tip, growing stiffer in just a few inches. By contrast, a slow action rod will bend easily along nearly its entire length, creating a true parabolic arc.

Faster actions create more power on the cast, allowing for long distance and wind bucking lofts. But they struggle up close in both accuracy and subtlety.

By contrast, slower actions struggle to generate enough force for long casts, but offer greater accuracy up close and a more delicate presentation.

Fly rods are categorized by a system of “weights,” abbreviated as “wt.” 

Lower numbers mean lighter power - a description of how much force it takes to bend a rod (not where the rod bends).

Thus a 3 wt. rod bends more easily than an 8 wt. rod.

That matters a lot when you get a fish on your line, as a 3 wt. just can’t handle a big fish, nor can the line, leader, and tippet it’s designed to cast.

That leads to some rough-and-ready recommendations.

If you’re targeting trout, a 3, 4, or 5 wt will be perfect, and a rod of this weight will work just as well with panfish like crappie, bluegill, and perch. It can also be used to fight smallmouth and largemouth bass, but a bruiser will demand skill to land.

5 and 6 wt rods are great all-arounders that can work beautifully on small fish while still offering you the chance to fight a big fish successfully.

But for hefty largemouth bass, pike, rainbow, steelhead, redfish, and other large species, an 8 wt is the right pick.

Our Picks: Redington Trailblazer , Echo Trip , and Douglas Upstream

Travel rods need to be light and packable, but they also need to perform once you’ve reached your destination.

After carefully weighing the pros, cons, and performance of the rods on our shortlist, we feel that we can strongly recommend the following three travel rods.

If you’re looking for a 3 wt to fight wary trout, Redington’s Trailblazer is an awesome choice. Offered in a length of 8 feet, it’s short enough to fish where branches and foliage threaten your casts, while still providing a medium-fast action that will cast far enough to avoid spooking the fish.

For a 5, 6, or 8 wt travel rod, I think none is finer than the Echo Trip. At 9 feet, these rods are probably best used in open water, and they cast and fight extremely well for 6-piece rods. They also pack away in a very compact tube, making them very easy to lie with on a trip.

Finally, for small-water fishing, it’s hard to imagine a better travel rod than the 6-piece models of the Douglas Upstream. Offering a true, slow action, these rods allow you to cast a fly or nymph exactly where you want it, and the presentation of your flies will be as subtle as the real thing.

As always, we’re here to answer any questions you might have, so please leave a comment below.

fly fishing travel rod

Outdoor Empire | Outdoor Gear Reviews and Pro Tips

16 Best Fly Rods Reviewed & Tested (Hands-on Guide)

Patrick Morrow

February 16, 2024

fly angler caught trout

When you’re new to fly fishing, buying your first fly rod can be intimidating.

Even if you’re a veteran angler shopping for your twentieth rod, fly rod technology progresses so much each year that figuring out what’s what can be more challenging than hooking a spring creek brown trout.

To help you kick off your fly fishing career the right way, this guide covers everything you need to know about choosing the right fly fishing pole for you.

But first, let’s dive into some recommendations to give you an idea of what’s available.

The 16 Top Fly Rods of 2021: Outdoor Empire Reviews

These are our top recommendations for fly fishing poles in 2021:

  • Best for the money :  Get the Orvis Clearwater
  • Best beginner : St. Croix Rio Santo
  • Best for trout :  Get the Redington Classic Trout
  • Best cheap fiberglass rod :  Get the  Eagle Claw Featherlight
  • Best combo: Get the Orvis Clearwater Combo
  • Best starter kit: Get the Wild Water Fly Fishing Starter Package ( Read 400+ Amazon reviews )
  • Best saltwater: Scott Meridian 909-4
  • Best for travel: Get the Cabelas Stowaway 6

This comparison is based on the 4-weight rods of each manufacturer.

1. Best Fly Rod for the Money:  Orvis Clearwater Fly Rods

Orvis clearwater freshwater fly rod

Orvis is without a doubt the biggest name in the fly fishing industry. Their rods range from ultra-affordable to ultra-high-tech. Every year, they come out with new rods that push the envelope of design and performance.

The Orvis Clearwater series combines both affordability and high-performance. It’s perfect for new and experienced anglers alike who want to get the ideal rod for their dollar.

There are over 20 models in this series, each designed to excel at a particular style of fishing — freshwater, saltwater, switch, or spey.

Brand highlight

Anglers who primarily fish freshwater species like trout and bass should choose one of the Clearwater Freshwater rods — the 9-foot 5-weight model is a great all-around size.

Orvis Clearwater Freshwater rods are made of graphite and features a mid-flex action profile designed using Orvis’ award-winning Helios technology.

In terms of performance, they have a strong backbone to achieve long casts with powerful strokes, yet are forgiving enough to form picture-perfect loops with minimal effort.

They are great as first rods but are in no way an entry-level nor cheap. So if you’re looking for a serious fly rod that can serve you well as you grow in skill, the Orvis Clearwater is one of the best you can buy.

Continue to the full Orvis Clearwater review…

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2. Best Rod For Beginners:  St. Croix Rio Santo

St. Croix rio santo

Generally speaking, learning how to cast is the most challenging and frustrating obstacle for a new fly angler to overcome.

After all, if you can’t cast, you can’t fly fish. So to shorten the learning curve, it’s wise to choose a forgiving rod that makes casting tight loops attainable from the beginning. For this, you won’t find a better rod than the St. Croix Rio Santo.

It is a graphite rod available in typical freshwater line sizes — 4, 5, 6, and 8.

It has a moderate fast action with a powerful butt and a soft tip.

With the soft tip, you can feel the rod load even at very short casting distances which is critical when learning how to cast. But with the stiffer butt section, you still have enough power to perform long casts with heavy flies.

Another aspect that appeals to new anglers is its fair price. If you’re looking for a complete setup, the St. Croix Rio Santo is available as a combo which includes:

  • St. Croix die-cast aluminum fly reel
  • weight-forward fly line

Though it is designed to be beginner-friendly and isn’t as accurate or powerful as more technical rods, it’s one of the ideal fly rods on the market for the new angler who’s learning how to cast.

Then as your skills improve and you inevitably upgrade rods, the Rio Santo makes a great backup or hand-me-down rod to help another new angler get started.

3. Best Trout Fly Rod:  Redington Classic Trout

Redington classic trout fly rod

The truth is, just about any fly rod can be used to catch trout. But if trout is your primary target, why not buy a fishing pole that’s designed specifically for the specie? That’s exactly where the Redington Classic Trout fly rod comes into play.

It’s a trout rod through and through with an emphasis on casting delicate dry flies to rising fish. But if nothing’s hatching, don’t think you can’t tie on a nymph or a streamer because it can easily serve as your do-it-all trout rod.

Aesthetically, there’s nothing fancy or extraordinary about it. It has plain brown blanks and a straightforward reel seat which isn’t the most eye-catching but gets the job done. Luckily, fish don’t care what your rod looks like.

The most defining feature of the Classic Trout, and what makes it ideal for trout fishing, is its progressive action. It has a consistent taper from tip to butt, resulting in the rod bending progressively further down its length as more casting force is applied by the angler.

This translates into a rod that casts equally well at 10 feet as it does at 50 feet. Further, the softer rod tip offers enough shock absorption for lighter tippets to be used when casting your smallest dry flies.

Though the Redington Classic Trout is a specialized rod, it doesn’t come with a “specialized” price.

Continue to the full Reddington Classic review…

4. Best Cheap Fiberglass Fly Rod:  Eagle Claw Featherlight

Eagle claw featherlight fly rod

If you walk into any specialty fly shop to buy a new setup, you’re looking at spending at least $100 for the rod and another $50 for the reel. Add a fly line, leaders, and flies to the mix and you can easily spend over $200. It all adds up fast.

But what if you want to get into fly fishing for as dirt cheap as possible? Enter the Eagle Claw Featherlight — a bright yellow fiberglass rod with a distinctly old-school vibe.

Even though it’s absurdly cheap, it performs astonishingly well. Made of fiberglass, it has a notoriously slow action as the rod bends in one smooth arc from tip to butt.

Since it is slow to load, the caster must be patient during the casting stroke. While this slow action might feel mushy to fans of fast-action graphite rods, certain anglers find it very appealing and fun to fish with.

It is only available in three sizes — a 6’6″ 3/4 weight, a 7’0″ 5/6 weight, and an 8’0″ 5/6 weight. While two different line weights can be used for each model, the rods tend to perform best with the heavier line option.

Along with the vintage-inspired yellow blanks, it has surprisingly nice components:

  • real cork handle
  • cherry wood reel seat insert
  • gold-colored single foot line guides

If you’re looking for a cheap fly rod to get into the sport or you simply want a fun rod to play around with at the local pond, you won’t find a finer fly rod for the price than the Eagle Claw Featherlight.

5. Best Fly Rod and Reel Combo: Orvis Clearwater Combo

Orvis clearwater fly rod combo

And while many such combos are designed for beginners, there are a few combo packages on the market that will provide the quality intermediate and advanced anglers demand.

The Orvis Clearwater Combo is a great example, as it not only performs well on the water, but it’s backed by the manufacturer’s 25-year guarantee.

A lightweight combo that is perfect for catching trout in small streams, the Orvis Clearwater Combo comes with a 9-foot-long, 5 weight rod and a high-quality aluminum reel. The rod breaks down into four pieces, and it comes with a protective travel tube to make it easier to hike through the woods with it to reach those out-of-the-way creeks.

Finally, the reel also features a premium disc system, which ensures it’ll spin smoothly during casts.

Learn more about the Orvis Clearwater Combo.

6. Best Fly Fishing Starter Kit: Wild Water Fly Fishing Complete 5/6 Starter Package

Wild water fly fishing starter package

The Wild Water Fly Fishing 5/6 Starter Package is a great choice, as it not only comes with a rod and reel, but preinstalled line, backing and leader, a rod sock, a rod case, a fly box, flies, and a detailed instruction book too.

This 4-piece, 5/6-weight rod is backed by a lifetime warranty and features a slow action and a mid-flex, IM8 graphite design. The rod also includes an aluminum reel seat and a stainless-steel stripper guide.

The reel is made from die-cast aluminum and features a large arbor design. It also comes with a disc drag system that allows quick and precise adjustments. This rod is best suited for relatively small fish, including trout, panfish and bass living in shallow streams.

7. Best Saltwater Fly Rod: Scott Meridian 909-4

Scott meridian

In this category, the Scott Meridian 909-4 is clearly one of the best options.

The 909-4 certainly isn’t cheap, but it provides great performance for your fishing dollar and isn’t as expensive as some of the models that professionals use.

A powerful, 9-foot-long, 4-piece rod, the 909-4 will allow you to cast more accurately and prevent many of the false casts that commonly occur with lesser rods.

This isn’t the ideal rod for super-long casts, but it will perform very well for those who typically cast between 20 and 60 yards. It also has the backbone you’ll need to wrestle feisty redfish and other species to the boat or shore.

8. Best Travel/Backpacking Fly Rod: Cabela’s Stowaway 6

Cabelas stowaway

And while the travel rods of years past were rarely very good, modern travel rods – like the Cabela’s Stowaway 6 – are often great fun to use and will allow you to catch plenty of fish.

Even though these rods break down into six separate pieces (and they’ll fit in most carry-on luggage bags), they perform as well as many high-quality two-piece rods do. Made from 30-ton graphite, these rods load smoothly and allow you to cast with the kind of precision you’ll need while fishing in crowded creeks and streams.

These rods (which are available in 8 different weights and lengths) feature aluminum reel seats, chrome-plated, stainless-steel snake guides and AA-grad cork handles for maximum comfort. These rods are sold with tubes that’ll help prevent damage while your hiking around.

View at Bass Pro Shops

View at Cabela’s

9. Good 3 Weight Fly Rod: Orvis Clearwater

Orvis clearwater

And, like many other Orvis rods, these come with the manufacturer’s 25-year warranty, so you can shop with confidence.

10. Good 4 Weight Fly Rod: Sage X 4-Piece

Sage x 4-piece

While 5-weight fly rods may be better suited for catching trout and panfish in a variety of rivers and lakes, you’ll usually want to step down to a 4-weight rod when trying to use a delicate presentation in shallow-water creeks and streams.

The Sage X 4-weight fly rod is a great choice for these scenarios, and it is Sage’s top-of-the-line freshwater model. This 9-foot-long, four-piece model provides incredible casting accuracy and allows you to animate lightweight lures with precision.

11. Good 5 Weight Fly Rod: Hardy Zephrus Ultralite

Hardy zephrus ultralite fly rod

A 5-weight rod is usually considered the ideal “all around” choice for freshwater anglers, so it is usually wise to select a very flexible rod, which will work well in a variety of circumstances.

The Hardy Zephrus Ultralite allows you to employ a very delicate presentation, but the medium-fast action provided by the SINTRIX 440 blank construction will still allow you to set the hook with authority. This rod measures 9 feet and 9 inches long which will make long casts a breeze.

12. Good 8 Weight Fly Rod: Sage Pulse Fly Rod

Sage pulse fly rod

Fly rods in the 8-weight range are great for larger freshwater fish, including largemouth bass and pike, among others. Accordingly, you’ll want a heavy-duty rod that provides the power you’ll need to catch these types of fish.

The Sage Pulse 8-weight fly rod provides exactly this and will help you wrestle big fish out of the water. These graphite rods with Fuji ceramic stripper guides are available in 8-foot lengths for anglers fishing in tight quarters, and 13-foot-6-inch-long lengths when maximum casting distance is important.

13. Best Fly Rod for Salmon: Temple Fork BVK

Temple fork bvk

To reliably catch salmon, you’ll usually want an 8- or 9-weight rod with a very fast action to help you deliver powerful hooksets and better control these big fish. You’ll also want a pretty lengthy rod, which will make it easier to cast long distances in the windy conditions that typically occur in good salmon streams.

The Temple Fork BVK satisfies all of these criteria and more. It features rich translucent olive blanks, braided carbon fiber reel seats and ultra lightweight chromium stainless snake guides to keep this 4.3-ounce rod as light as possible.

14. Best Bamboo Fly Rod: Orvis Penn’s Creek Bamboo 4-Weight 7-Foot Full Flex Fly Rod

Orvis penn’s creek bamboo 4-weight 7-foot full flex fly rod

Many fly fishers love the nostalgia and performance a good bamboo fly rod provides, and the Orvis Penn’s Creek fly rod is one of the best around.

Ideal for fishing for trout in mountain streams, you’ll love the full-flex design, which provides plenty of casting range, and the high-quality cork handle will ensure you retain a good grip on the rod and that your hands won’t get tired while fishing all day.

Learn more about the Orvis Penn’s Creek Bamboo Full Flex Fly Rod.

15. Most Expensive Fly Rod: Oyster Legacy Series Bamboo Fly Rod

Oyster legacy series bamboo fly rod

You may feel nervous using it and most anglers would probably just hang it on the wall, but if you’re looking for the most expensive rod around, the Oyster Legacy Series Bamboo Fly Rod brandishes a five-figure price tag.

For this, you’ll get a 4-piece bamboo rod, with plenty of gold hardware and exquisite detailing. You can even select the artwork included on the rod. Just don’t drop in on a rock!

16. Best Custom Tuned Fly Rods : Epic Studio Fly Rod Series

Epic fastglass

This responsiveness is part of what makes fly fishing such a challenging yet fulfilling sport.

Epic Studio sells individually handmade and customized fly rods, tuned by hand for being as responsive as possible.

All fly rods that come from Epic are handmade in New Zealand over the course of several weeks after your order is placed.

Epic built rods

But the technology used is anything but old school. Epic pays a lot of attention to material research. For one thing, they use the best material for each purpose.

For example, their fiberglass is not standard, cross-woven fiberglass. It’s unidirectional S2 FastGlass. All of the fibers are parallel, which strengthens the rod and improves the casting feel while saving weight and thickness.

This is the same fiberglass used in military helicopter rotor blades!

Epic’s carbon fiber rods are similarly light and responsive. They’re all carbon, without any scrim (heavy reinforcement).

Then, despite each rod being custom made for you, you have a 30 day trial period so you can see if you love the rod. If you do, then Epic has a lifetime warranty. If not, then it won’t cost you anything to return the rod.

Here are some great rods we found in their collection:

The 4wt Packlight is a good choice for ultralight hikers.

The 10wt Bandit FastGlass is great for fishing for Pike and Musky, even from a kayak.

And the two-handed DH13 Spey is great for trout and salmon.

All of the above are custom-tuned when they’re built for smooth casting and responsiveness.

Plus, if you don’t want a custom-tuned fly fishing rod, you can purchase a rod blank or a rod building kit.

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing

Man holding fly rod and line

One of the the reasons that make fly rod selection so confusing is the fact that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all rod.

Practically, any fish specie can be caught on the fly and therefore, different rods are needed to handle the wide variety of quarry. That’s why most fly anglers who’ve been fishing for some years end up with at least three different rods:

  • one for small streams and ponds
  • one for larger rivers and lakes
  • one for saltwater fishing

All the terminology associated with fly rods may seem complicated. But when you break it down, there are only four aspects you need to understand to make an informed purchase — line weight, length, action, and material.

Line Weight 

Every fly rod is designed to cast a line of a particular line weight.

If the line used is too light, it won’t have enough weight to load (bend) the rod sufficiently to complete the cast. If the line is too heavy, it will load the rod too much, causing your casting performance to suffer and could even break the rod in extreme cases.

Luckily, as long as you use the proper line weight your rod was designed to cast, you shouldn’t have any problems with it being too light or too heavy. And don’t worry, a rod’s proper line weight is almost always labeled on the blank near the grip.

But we’re talking about choosing a fly line weight before you buy a rod. So which should you choose?

Your fly line weight selection comes down to two factors:

The good news is that fly size and fish size are almost always related. Simply put, heavier lines cast larger flies and catch bigger fish while lighter lines cast smaller flies and catch smaller fish.

With that in mind, here’s a quick breakdown of the different fly line weights and what they can be used for:

These ultra-light lines are made for the most nimble fly rods and are typically reserved for pursuing the smallest fish species with the tiniest flies — think small stream brook trout and panfish.

If you have a lot of size 28 or smaller Adams dry flies in your box, go ahead and grab a 1-weight rod. Otherwise, better go up a few sizes.

3 and 4-weight lines and rods are still on the light end of the scale and are the line weights of choice anytime light tippets are used to make subtle presentations with small flies to fish like trout and panfish.

The most common line sizes for all-around trout fishing. Five weight rods are by far the most popular fly rods in existence and can handle 90% of the trout fishing scenarios you’ll encounter.

Six and seven weights are also very versatile and are helpful when casting larger streamers and poppers or in windy conditions.

The go-to sizes for saltwater species like redfish, bonefish, and small to medium-sized tarpon. They are also employed on rivers when fishing for salmon and steelhead when super long casts with big, heavy flies are needed.

  • 11, 12, 13 & up

These extra heavy line sizes are reserved for true big-game fishing. 11 and 12 weights are used for bigger-sized tarpon as well as other inshore and nearshore species like barracuda, amberjack, and giant trevally.

Line weights 13 up to 16 are primarily used for offshore fishing when marlin, tuna, and sharks are the target.

While fly line weight is a relatively fixed parameter based on your target species and fly size, fly rod length is based more on personal preference.

Fly rod models of certain weights are offered in different lengths. For example, a 5-weight Orvis Clearwater as mentioned earlier is available in lengths of:

  • 7’6″
  • 8’6″

It’s widely agreed that 9-foot fly rods offer the best balance of casting performance and accuracy, which is why there are so many 9-foot fly rod models on the market. If you’re shopping for a first fly pole, go with a 9-footer and you’ll be safe.

However, there are times when shorter or longer fly rods are beneficial. If you primarily fish small mountain streams lined with thick vegetation and overhanging trees, a 7-inch rod may give you an advantage when casting in tight pockets.

Keep in mind that shorter rods move less line on each casting stroke which can make long casts more difficult.

Some anglers find longer rods in the 10 to 12-foot range that are helpful when they need to keep as much line as possible off the water. This is often the case when performing specialized techniques such as Euro or Czech nymphing.

Another use for longer rods is when using two-handed techniques like spey or switch casting which require different style fly rods altogether — let’s stick with single-handed rods for now.

If you have to place your fly rod order, just remember that 9-foot rods are the easiest and most accurate to cast.

Fisher with fly rod

Basically, a fly rod’s action refers to its flexibility and how it loads the weight of the fly line during a casting stroke.

It plays a significant role in how it casts, how it handles the weight of a fish, and most importantly, how it feels in the hand — something that’s difficult to put in words and must be experienced.

Some fly pole manufacturers describe a rod’s action in terms of a flex profile or flex index which describes how much and at which point the rod flexes.

A rod’s flex index is determined by its taper or the physical shape of the rod blanks from tip to butt.

  • Some rods have soft, flexible tips and stiff butt sections.
  • Some are uniformly stiff throughout the entire length.
  • Other rods, like the Redington Classic Trout, have more gradual tapers that start out soft at the tip then consistently become stiffer towards the butt.

You’ll also see rod action described in terms of “fast” and “slow.” This refers to the rate at which the rod rebounds after being bent which is a reflection of the rod’s stiffness — a stiffer rod has a faster action, while a more flexible rod has a slower action.

Fast action rods are often preferred when power, distance, and accuracy are needed. Slow action rods offer a better feel of both the line in the water and the fight of the fish.

Most fly rods that are geared towards beginners have moderate actions — not too fast nor too slow. They load quickly for smooth casting, offer a good feel of the fish, yet stiff enough for the occasional long cast. When in doubt, go with a moderate action fly rod.

The vast majority of today’s fly rods are made of graphite. These fishing sticks  are:

  • incredibly strong
  • lightweight
  • easy to cast
  • has a great feel

Fly rod designers and manufacturers love graphite because it can be rolled into practically any taper imaginable, leaving endless room for performance improvements.

Different grades of graphite are used in fly rod construction. Generally, the higher the grade, the lighter, stronger, and more expensive it is.

Before graphite became the material of choice, the best fly rods were made of fiberglass.

Fiberglass is very robust and durable while being very flexible, resulting in fly rods with a distinctly slow action. Today, anglers are rediscovering fiberglass as a relevant fly rod material, praising it for its unique feel when casting and fighting a fish.

Bamboo (AKA Cane)

Oyster bamboo fly rod epic series

Before fiberglass revolutionized fly rod performance, any fly rod worth its salt was made of bamboo.

Unlike graphite and fiberglass rods which can be produced on a large scale with machines, bamboo fly rods are made exclusively by the hands of craftsmen. For that reason, they are among the most expensive rods available.

They load with minimal effort, making quick, delicate casts a breeze. Although it’s easier to load it, they aren’t optimal for shooting line or casting great distances.

Cane rods excel at close-range dry fly fishing where subtle presentations are the key to success.

Look Into These Aspects Too!

Fly rod set

How Many Pieces?

As we mentioned, the most common fly rod length is 9 feet. You might be wondering how one transports a 9-foot rod. Strap it to the roof of the car?

Practically, all modern fly rods break down into two or more pieces. Connection points in the rod, called ferrules, allow quick assembly and disassembly, turning a 9-foot rod into four easily manageable pieces. Slide those pieces in a case and you’re ready to go.

These days, four-piece rods are the most common. You can still find two-piece rods but these are typically shorter in the 6′ to 7’6″ range.

Six, seven, and even eight-piece fly rods have become popular in recent years especially among anglers who travel a lot or take their rods on backpacking trips.

When these travel-friendly rods first came out, they didn’t offer the best casting performance compared to their four-piece alternatives. But as rod technology advanced, this has become less of an issue.

If you’re interested in a packable travel fly rod, check out the Orvis Clearwater Frequent Flyer , Redington Classic Trout 6-Piece , or the Echo Trip 8-Piece .

Should You Go for a Fly Rod Combo?

The rod is only part of the fly fishing gear equation. Once you get a rod, you still need:

For a new fly angler, choosing all those separate components can be a serious hurdle to getting into the sport. Manufacturers realized this and now, many offer fly rod and reel combos — package deals that have everything a new angler needs to get started.

In many ways, fly rod and reel combos are a great convenience and make the purchasing process easier. The problem with these is that many times, the reels and fly lines are of inferior quality compared to what you’d buy separately.

There’s a high likelihood that you may end up replacing these components in due time, so it might be better to buy the good stuff from the beginning.

Although it’ll take more time to research and shop around, you’ll end up with a nicer overall setup if you assemble your rod and reel yourself. However, if you’re simply testing the waters of fly fishing, a combo kit is an excellent way to get started.

Like we mentioned before, the St. Croix Rio Santo is offered as a rod and reel combo and is one of the nice package deals on the market. Orvis and Redington also offer combos worth considering.

Leading Fly Fishing Rod Brands

When you’re ready to upgrade your starter fly rod, these are the four top-tier rod manufacturers you want to check out.


Sage makes fly rods with a heavy emphasis on high performance and innovation. The company was founded in 1980 by Don Green and Bruce Kirschner in Bainbridge, Washington and has been producing “specialty products for specialty anglers” ever since.

In the 1980’s, Sage was one of leading manufacturers producing graphite fly rods.

These early graphite rods were built with the company’s Graphite II Technology which utilized a concept developed by Don Green called Reserve Power — the idea that a fly rod should never run out of casting power.

They became known for these fast action rods capable of achieving tremendous line speeds for super long casts. Through continuous development, they became the first manufacturer to produce fly rods built specifically for saltwater anglers.

Their latest innovations in fly rod technology are centered around several proprietary graphite materials including Konnetic HD, Generation 5, and Graphite IIIe, each offering unique benefits for their particular rod designs.

One of the most defining aspects of their products is that every rod is designed and built by hand in their factory at Bainbridge Island in Washington.

They make all their graphite rod blanks in-house unlike most companies that buy pre-rolled blanks from outside sources (often overseas). This important fact is the reason for the exceptional quality and top-shelf price of their fly rods.

Most Sage fly rods feature fast or ultra-fast actions. They are primarily designed to suit the needs of advanced anglers, which makes it the only downside of their rods.

Although they offer significant performance benefits, beginning fly anglers may find them difficult to cast.

G. Loomis

The G. Loomis rod company was started by an avid sportsman who was also a genius-level machinist — the one and only, Gary Loomis.

Inducted on the IGFA Hall of Fame in 2007, Gary Loomis had an enormous impact on the fishing world as a whole. His early designs and innovations set the pace for the future of rod design.

Although he is still hard at work, designing and making parts and materials that extend far beyond the fishing world, he is no longer a part of the G. Loomis rod company. It is already owned by Shimano though the rods are still branded as G. Loomis.

Despite this changing of hands, G. Loomis fly rods are still renowned for being high-performance products. One of the main reasons why their rods are still good is because of their lead rod designer — world champion competition fly caster, Steve Rajeff.

Their newest and most premium fly rod, the Asquith series, is designed by Rajeff as a collaboration of G. Loomis and their parent company Shimano.

Using Shimano’s proprietary Spiral X graphite, the Asquith fly rods are incredibly strong yet feel light in the hand even in the heavier line weights.

Although G. Loomis is owned by Japan-based Shimano, all G. Loomis fly rods are still built by hand from start to finish in Woodland, Washington. Its quality has remained consistently high over the years.

But some customers feel that their customer service has gone downhill since its original owner left.


Founded in 1856, the name “Orvis” has become synonymous with fly fishing. As one of the oldest and longest-running manufacturers and suppliers of fly fishing gear and apparel, no other company has as big of an impact on the fly fishing lifestyle.

Although the brand now encompasses a wide sphere of products and services — everything from casual clothing and dog beds, to custom shotguns and shooting schools — they continue to produce some of the best fly rods on the market.

While Orvis has a broad lineup of lower-priced fly rods such as their Encounter and Clearwater series, their high-end offerings are what turn the heads of the savviest anglers.

Currently, their top-shelf offering is the Helios II series which has won numerous awards and is their strongest fly rod ever created — 20 percent stronger than the original Helios.

Orvis makes their Helios II rods in a wide range of line weights and tapers, each designed for specific fly fishing uses including freshwater, saltwater, big game, and two-handed spey and switch.

Their fly rods are made by hand in their workshop at Manchester, Vermont by true craftsmen and women of the trade.

On top of that, Orvis is a big proponent of natural conservation, committing 5% of their pre-tax profits to a diverse set of conservation groups and projects.

R. L. Winston Rod Co.

L. Winston rod co.

The R. L. Winston Rod Co. started in 1929, producing bamboo fly rods using processes and designs that revolutionized the fishing world.

In those early days, Lew Stoner (the “L” in R. L. Winston) developed a patented technique for building hollow fluted bamboo rods, greatly reducing their weight while increasing their power.

These were the top choice among competition casters of the day — both fly and conventional — and were used to set and break several world records.

Although the R. L. Winston Rod Co. has changed ownership several times, their efforts in innovation have never ceased. In the 1970’s, they produced some of the leading fiberglass rods and quickly moved to graphite.

In the 2000’s, their rods rose to a new level of performance with the company’s heavy focus on proprietary blends of graphite and boron — a chemical element turned into fine tungsten wires that are lighter than aluminum but five times stronger than steel.

Now, Winston makes some of the most solid casting rods in the world where boron is a critical component.

Though R. L. Winston took a space-aged turn for the better, they still produce their all-time classic bamboo rods. If you stick with fly fishing long enough, you’ll end up craving for one of these handcrafted pieces of functional art.

Better start saving up now because a bamboo Winston will cost you.

Final Thoughts

Fly fishing is a gear-centric sport, but no gadget or tool is more important than a well-made fly rod. Choosing the right rod may seem difficult but keep in mind that there’s a good chance of ending up with more than one gear.

So if you’re just starting out, it is suggested to choose a smooth casting rod that can handle a wide variety of fishing scenarios then get busy casting a fly rod .

When you’re ready for an upgrade, find a good local fly shop that carries some of the premium brands we covered and test cast as many different models as you can.

This article is part of our fishing gear guide.

Faq 1

Why are fly rods so expensive?

There are fly rods available in a wide range of prices, some more expensive than others. Generally, the price of the rod increases as more features are incorporated.

Modern fly rods are made using modern technology and a variety of composites to reduce weight or increase performance. Some are handmade or produced in limited quantities. Many are covered by extended warranties. Each of these factors results in increases in price.

Of course, it often comes down to something much simpler — supply and demand. Anglers are willing to pay the increased price, so manufacturers continue to charge more.

Can a broken fly rod be fixed?

Most fly rods are backed by a warranty, so trying to fix it is usually not worth the effort. However, if you are in the field and break a rod, you will not have the ability to get a replacement right away.

In this case, you can try temporary fixes for broken guides or tips and be relatively successful. But if the rod breaks more than 3 or 4 inches from the tip, the chances of success are low. Even if you do manage to mend the break, the action and strength will be compromised.

Can I take a fly rod on an airplane?

TSA regulations permit rods and reels as both checked or carry-on luggage. However, depending on the size of the rod tube, it may not meet maximum size limitations for a carry-on.

It is best to check with your carrier before traveling to confirm whether it will fit in the overhead compartment.

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The Best Travel Fishing Rods of 2024

By Pete Robbins

Updated on May 24, 2023 5:36 PM EDT

13 minute read

Best for Bass

A versatile rod that features multiple tip sections and a comfortable E.V.A. handle.

Abu Garcia I.K.E. Signature Series Travel Casting Rod

Best budget.

A durable rod-and-reel combo available in three actions at a bargain price.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Travel Spinning Combo

Best premium.

A gorgeous rod with a wide range of actions for a full range of techniques.

Megabass Triza Travel Rod

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

Travel fishing rods are easy to pack for a trip, and the good ones fish like a one-piece rod. Over the past several decades, rods have gotten longer because more length typically equals better casts and more leverage on big fish. For example, the 5-foot 6-inch pistol grips that dominated bass fishing into the 1980s have been replaced almost entirely by rods that are 7 feet and up. Unfortunately, luggage costs and rules have also exploded at this same time, meaning that it’s not always feasible to take an oversized 7- or 8-foot rod tube on distant trips. That’s doubly true if you’ll be getting on a floatplane or your luggage size is otherwise restricted.

Travel rods aren’t solely for air travel, though. If you’re an urban angler getting on a subway, they may be your best choice. If you want something to keep in your car or backpack in case you pass by a tasty-looking fishery, they’re prime choices. In the past, the options were often limited. Either manufacturers took an existing blank and added rudimentary ferrules, or it was a bargain basement combo that required a staple remover to get out of the package and that couldn’t stand up to farm pond bluegills. Fortunately, many manufacturers have recognized the need for better travel tools, and they’ve heeded the call. 

I get to do a lot of traveling with fishing rods as a writer and host of exotic fishing trips. I’ve been to the Alaskan wilderness, through the Amazon jungle, and on every major bass lake in the U.S. and Mexico. Those destinations require a plane ride, and while I don’t always pack multi-piece rods, it’s given me the chance to test out many of the best. Here are my picks for the best travel fishing rods.

  • Best for Bass: Abu Garcia I.K.E. Signature Series Travel Casting Rod
  • Most Innovative: Daiwa Ardito-TR Travel Casting and Spinning Rod
  • Best for Inshore: Falcon Traveler Coastal Spinning Rod
  • Best Budget: Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Travel Spinning Combo
  • Best Finesse: Wild Side Light Spinning Rod
  • Best Premium Casting: Megabass Triza Travel Rod  
  • Most Versatile :  Toadfish Travel Spinning Rod
  • Best Bait Finesse :  KastKing Kestrel 3-Piece Rods
  • Best Premium Spinning : Shimano Zodias 5-Piece Travel Spinning Rods

How I Tested the Best Travel Fishing Rods

I’ve taken these travel rods all over the globe and all over the country, fishing for species both exotic and mundane. More importantly, though, I’ll admit that I’ve abused them. They’ve been shoved in suitcases, walked through dense forests, and used for lures outside of their supposed range. That’s the nature of the travel game. Coming home from Mexico, officials forced me to check a carrying case that I’d carried on for the trip South of the Border, and my rods returned in one piece—or rather in their original configurations of multiple pieces. When possible, though, I like keeping them at my side, and I’m usually able to do so. It also enables me to bring a rod and reel or the occasions when I travel for a non-fishing purpose but might be able to sneak away to make a few casts.

Best Travel Fishing Rods: Reviews & Recommendations

Key Features

  • Length: 7 feet
  • Packed Length: 28 inches
  • Three pieces
  • Comes with both medium (1/4-3/4 ounce lures) and medium-heavy (3/8-1 ounce) tip sections
  • Soft travel case included
  • Versatility means you only need to carry one rod
  • Comfortable E.V.A. handle
  • Great value
  • Included case isn’t crushproof; should not be checked on airlines

Abu Garcia, worked with Bassmaster Classic champion Mike “Ike” Iaconelli, to design the Ike Signature Series Travel Rod. Ike is known for his wins on the pro bass circuit, but he’s also known for his urban angling adventures. Traveling by bus, bike, plane, and train to those urban fishing spots were the inspiration for his travel rod. 

The best feature of the rod is the included interchangeable tip sections that provide different actions. They are a tremendous value, since the rod doesn’t sacrifice on components. They include 36-ton graphite blanks, stainless steel guides, and a premium Fuji reel seat. Ike carried this rod worldwide on his television fishing exploits for a wide range of species, but his heart remains with bass, and that’s where this rod excels, for everything from soft plastics to crankbaits to spinnerbaits . Anglers who expect to use finesse presentations can buy the spinning version.

  • Length: 7 feet 
  • Handle converts from spinning to baitcasting
  • Three-piece rod, includes six total pieces 
  • Lure Weights: ¼ to 1 ounce 
  • Extreme versatility
  • Handles wide range of lures
  • Sensitive yet strong graphite construction
  • Included case not crushproof; should not be checked on airlines

A photo from the author’s trip to Zambia for tiger fish.

Daiwa has built a rod—and specifically, a rod handle—that will accommodate both spinning and baitcasting reels when configured appropriately. That means you don’t have to choose one or the other when you’re limited to one travel rod. What’s most impressive is that they’ve somehow developed a blank that doesn’t feel awkward in either role. It includes X45 graphite construction that prevents blank twisting and truly performs like a one-piece. I took this rod to Zambia for tigerfish, where it performed admirably with a baitcasting reel, and then used it at home to skip Senkos under docks with a spinning rod. It’s not truly a finesse spinning rod, but could handle light baits with plenty of backbone to extract hard-pulling bass from gnarly cover.

  • Medium action
  • Lure weight: ¼ to ½ ounce 
  • Bargain priced
  • Durable full cork handle
  • High-quality components
  • Some anglers may not like the moderate action

If you’re chasing redfish or speckled trout on the Gulf Coast, or bonefish and snook in the Everglades or Keys, you need a rod that will simultaneously make pinpoint presentations that also has the heft to muscle outsized, super-strong fish away from cover. This rod is light but mighty and fits the bill. The Coastal Traveler series also has a baitcasting model in the lineup. They’ll both do double-duty in freshwater, although Falcon also provides Lowrider series travel rods for that purpose. All of them include cork handles (full in the case of the Coastal, split-grip on the Lowriders), Fuji K-Frame tangle-free guides, and a blank through reel seat. All come with a crushproof, three-section Cordura-coated case with the rod’s specifications printed on the outside.

  • Lengths: 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet 6 inches 
  • Comes with matching reel
  • Three or four pieces
  • Rod and reel packaged together for the price of one
  • Four-bearing spinning reel
  • Strong guides will stand up to braided line
  • Cloth rod and reel travel bag cannot be checked

The Ugly Stik brand has been synonymous with strength and value for decades, and Shakespeare continues to refine the products while keeping them at rock bottom prices. These three spinning combos—one light action, two medium action—all come with a four-bearing reel and rods that combine graphite and fiberglass construction. While the cloth carrying case may not be crushproof, this combo will stand up to just about anything you can dish out. That makes it a great option for kids or beginners, but you’ll be surprised at the wide range of species it can handle across the globe without any fear of failure.

  • Length: 6 feet 3 inches
  • Packed Length: 22 inches
  • Action: Light
  • Five pieces
  • Ultra compact 
  • Innovative ferrules maintain one-piece feel
  • High modulus graphite

Wild Side’s U.S. distributor Arundel Tackle claims that this rod is “made for the overhead bin, NOT baggage claim.” It comes with a rectangular carrying case that weighs a mere 2 ounces and will slide easily into your carry-on. More importantly, they’ve somehow taken a five-piece rod and eliminated any traditional multi-piece imprecision. That might be because they use refined spigot ferrules that do a solid job of maintaining a one-piece flow. This has become a go-to Ned Rig rod when I’m bass fishing at home, but it has so many other uses where it’ll excel. These include stream trout fishing, pan fishing, and light saltwater use. The high-quality cork and E.V.A. split handle are comfortable for all day fishing and match up with any lightweight spinning reel.

Best Premium: Megabass Triza Travel Rod  

  • Lengths (casting): 6-feet, 6-inches; 6-feet, 8-inches; 6-feet, 9-inches; 7-feet; 7-feet, 2-inches   
  • Available in five baitcasting and two spinning models
  • Lure Weights: 1/32 ounce to 3 ounces
  • Wide range of actions for a full range of techniques
  • Built one at a time for attention to detail
  • Gorgeous peacock wood reel seats and hand-drawn graphics

Megabass makes everything from the best swimbaits to some of the nicest production rods available. The Triza Travel Rod has typical Megabass quality in a rod that fits in a backpack. Megabass has a lot of experience making travel rods for their Japanese customers, who are often more constrained in terms of space and transportation, and therefore demand them. These premium travel rods are now widely available in America and cover just about every bass fishing technique under the sun—while at the same time being superior for some saltwater and multi-species use. They’re a gorgeous piece of art that would look great displayed, but they’re too solid to sit on the sidelines. Megabass claims they are constructed to their “Triangle” ideal—with a tip section that maximizes tension, a belly section that maximizes torque, and a butt section that maximizes torsional rigidity. These are workhorses that present like show horses.

Most Versatile:  Toadfish Travel Spinning Rod

  • 7 feet 2 inches
  • Medium/Medium heavy action
  • Interchangeable mid and tip sections
  • Incredible versatility
  • Kigan tangle free guides
  • Extremely durable
  • Included case is strong but quite heavy

This rod comes with one handle section, two mid-sections, and two tip sections, allowing for five different configurations, making it the most versatile travel rod on the market. That uniqueness is also a huge bonus if you slam a section in a car door or otherwise break one – you lose a bit of that trademark versatility, but you’re not completely out of luck. What’s also nice is that it comes with extremely durable components, including soft-touch rubber handle inlays and a handle that will stand up to the most you can dish out, including saltwater exposure. It’s fairly sensitive for a five-piece rod, and the spigot ferrules hold well. The case may be heavy, but you can check it through on the airlines without worrying about damage.

Best Bait Finesse:  KastKing Kestrel 3-Piece Rods

  • Light-fast action
  • IM8 ultra-high modulus graphite blank
  • Extremely reasonable price
  • One of the few rods in its category
  • Very sensitive IM8 high modulus graphite blank
  • No case included

The biggest problem with many travel rods is that they’re too vanilla – understandably made to cover a wide range of conditions and species. That’s fine if you just want one for random use, but it doesn’t help anglers with specific needs. KastKing has entered the market with a lot of BFS options and wisely chose to build a three-piece rod in that category. It can handle lures as light as 1/10 ounce, yet, with a balanced baitcasting reel, still has the winch-like power that spinning cannot provide. The rod comes with quality components, including American Tackle Ti forged guides with aluminum oxide Duralight rings, so whether you’re chasing panfish, Alaskan trout, stream smallmouths, or light saltwater species, it’s meant to stand up to a beating. In Asia and Japan, manufacturers have historically made a wider range of multi-piece rods than they do in North America, so it’s a good sign that KastKing is willing to take a calculated risk on this specialty stick.

Best Premium: Shimano Zodias 5-Piece Travel Spinning Rods

  • Medium-Light – Fast
  • 1/8 – 7/16 ounce lures
  • CI4+ Reel Seat maximizes ergonomic comfort
  • Fuji guides hold up to the rigors of travel and different kinds of line
  • At 5 pieces, incredibly transportable
  • Rod case not included

Shimano and brand partner G.Loomis have dipped in and out of the travel rod market for years, producing some top-notch products. Shimano’s bargain-priced Convergence Series is a great value and quality product, but the Zodias will fill the needs of more demanding anglers. It looks and feels like an expensive JDM product, and despite the multiple ferrules functions like a one-piece rod. I liked the Carbon Monocoque grip, and felt that it enhanced sensitivity, even with light lines. It’s also available in a baitcasting rod if that’s your stylistic preference, or if you want to use heavier lines on bigger fish.

While most standard rods are one or possibly two pieces, most travel rods are three or more pieces. Alternatively, they may be telescoping. Either way, they “collapse” or “compress” or “break down” to lengths that will fit in a suitcase or in a small separate carrying case. That makes them easy to take on a plane or stuff under the seat of your vehicle for impromptu fishing adventures.

Many anglers believe that one-piece rods are superior in all instances and will do whatever they can to take them on long-distance fishing trips. Of course that is possible, and there are hard-sided carrying cases that extend up to nearly 10-feet long to transport them. One problem, however, is that the airlines are increasingly restrictive on checking such bags. Even when they allow it, they may be costly. Furthermore, rough baggage handling may result in destruction of or damage to your valuable gear.

Typically commercial airlines will not allow you to carry full-sized rods on airplanes, but they’ll often allow you to carry properly-cased and appropriately-sized travel rods on board. In fact, the T.S.A. guidelines explicitly state that fishing rods are permitted in carry-on and checked bags but note that “passengers should check with the airline to confirm that the fishing rod fits within size limitations for carry-on items.” Some foreign airports and foreign carriers will not allow the same, so be sure to check ahead of time and carry a crushproof case that can be checked if necessary.

The author tested the best travel fishing rods on a trip to Lake El Salto.

Things to Consider When Buying a Travel Fishing Rod

What will you be fishing for.

The same travel rod that excels for panfish might be a liability chasing big saltwater fish in the surf. Today there are enough specialized options that you should be able to cover most extremes and many technical presentations. The trouble comes when you need to do double duty. That may require the purchase of a second rod, or perhaps even making compromises—using a single rod that is a jack of all trades but a master of none.

How compact must it be?

Fewer ferrules or connectors usually (but not always) means better performance. However, the ideal travel or “pack” rod will fit into a small case, which may or may not need to fit within your suitcase. Take careful measurements of your possible dimensions, adding a slight bit for the padding of the case and any internal rod sock that protects your tool.

How will I carry my travel rod?

The best possible scenario is to keep your rod or rods with you at all times, in a padded, crushproof case. That reduces the chances of loss and breakage. However, in the instance that you need to check it, make sure it fits in your other luggage or run the risk of paying a surcharge. Many of these rods come with tubes or cases. Some are better than others, so don’t hesitate to invest in an aftermarket product for peace of mind.

Why Trust Outdoor Life?

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Advertising does not influence our gear reviews and it never will. While we always focus our coverage on standout products—because we want our readers to be aware of the latest and greatest gear—we also cover the flaws and quirks of any given product.

Final Thoughts on the Best Travel Fishing Rods

As I’ve amassed an arsenal of travel rods over the past several years, I’ve seen a shift in my thinking. Previously, I reserved them exclusively for exotic travel to places like Zambia, Mexico, Brazil, and Alaska, and then relegated them to a garage shelf when I returned home. Increasingly, however, I’ve found myself using some of them in my day-to-day angling, in places where I could still take a 7- or 8-foot one-piece rod but now choose instead to take the multi-piece tool. 

Many of the more inexpensive multi-piece rods are still notably less fluid than their one-piece counterparts, but that’s not always the case. Furthermore, if you’re a one-piece snob, you may be surprised at how refined these options have become.

fly fishing travel rod

Best Travel Fly Rod 2020: The Ultimate Guide

- Buying Guide -

The best travel fly rods come in 6- or 8-piece sections. The most important reason to choose a travel fly rod is portability. If you want a fly rod to easily fit into a duffel bag, carryon luggage, backpack, or even a fly fishing sling pack, a travel fly rod is for you.

While most fly rods are already very lightweight, travel fly rods excel with backpackers because they are so easy to stow into a backpack. Once you invest in a true backpacking fly rod, hauling a 4-piece fly rod in the mountains seems mildly annoying.

Still, 4-piece fly rods that are 9′ long are already very portable — travel fly rods just take portability to a whole new level. Because the ferrels overlap, the standard section length of a 9′ 4-piece fly rod is around 28 inches. On the other hand, a 6-piece fly rod has sections that are only 18 inches long. That’s a huge gain in portability, and it just gets better with 7-piece or even 8-piece travel rods.

travel fly rods

Best Travel Fly Rods: How Well Do They Cast?

Because of improvements in ferrel technology, travel fly rods are getting closer to the smooth performance found in 4-piece rods. Travel rods are not as fantastic as the best 4-piece fly rods, but they’re surprisingly good. I’ve found that with a firmer casting motion, travel rods will perform remarkably well. For instance, I was able to cast large October caddis flies with a 9’ 5-weight Cabela’s Stowaway 6 with good distance and decent accuracy. Read my full Cabela’s Stowaway 6 review for more detail. At the other end of the travel rod spectrum, I was able to cast heavily weighted steelhead nymphs and egg patterns with a 9’ 8-weight ECHO TRIP.

Both rods performed even better when I used smaller flies.

Don’t expect any travel rod to be liquid smooth, but they’ll get the job done and let you focus on the fishing. As it turns out, I personally learned a lesson the hard way: Always Take the Rod .

Best Travel Fly Rods: The Manufacturers

best backpacking fly rod

There are three major contenders for the best travel fly rod that will fit most people’s budgets: Cabela’s , Echo , and Orvis — and we’ll get into these options in detail below.   However, this isn’t the full story.

L.L.Bean has a travel fly/spin fishing rod combo — noted below — but the company no longer makes a dedicated travel fly rod. On the upside, the L.L.Bean outfit comes with two complete rods and reels , so technically you could choose the L.L.Bean option for the fly rod . . . and gain an extra spinning rod whether you want it or not.

Hardy makes a drool-worthy high-end travel fly rod in 6 pieces, but the price-to-value ratio is a tough sell unless you’ve got the budget to buy the “best” high-end travel fly rod.

Redington makes a 3-weight and a 5-weight 6-piece version of its Classic Trout rod, but it’s sometimes hard to find because most stores stock the 4-piece versions.

Let’s take a closer look.

Best Travel Fly Rod: Cabela’s Stowaway 6

best travel fly rod cabelas

There is a lot to like about the Cabela’s Stowaway 6 fly rod, starting with the wide variety of configurations. Cabela’s makes an ultralight 8’6″ 3-weight as well as a 7’6″ 4-weight. There is also an 8’6″ 4-weight, which is a super versatile combination for smaller streams, as well as the most common 9′ 5w. In addition, you can pick up a 9′ 6w or 9′ 8w.

As for fit and finish, the Stowaway 6 is great. The cork and guides are good. While the varnish is a bit thicker than you see on truly high-end rods, it all comes together in a package that’s better than its price range would imply. The woven graphite reel seat looks fantastic in the sun. We’re big fans.

The action is medium fast, with a stiff butt section and relatively soft tip.

Meanwhile, Cabela’s offers two different Stowaway 6 Rod and Reel and Fly Line combinations if you’re looking for a travel fly rod and reel outfit. The Stowaway 6 Fly Rod with the Prestige Plus Fly Reel Combo is the most affordable, and the reel is pretty good overall. For an upgraded reel with a smoother drag and better build, Cabela’s offers the Stowaway 6 with the RLS+ Fly Reel, which also comes with upgraded fly line. Both are great, can’t-go-wrong options.  Highly recommended.

  • Cabela’s Stowaway 6 Fly Rods
  • Cabela’s Stowaway 6/Prestige Plus Combo
  • Cabela’s Stowaway 6/RLS+ Combo

Best Travel Fly Rod: ECHO TRIP

best travel fly fishing rod echo

The ECHO TRIP takes portability to a whole new level with its new ultraportable 8-piece backpacking, travel, and backseat fly rod. ECHO builds the TRIP in just three configurations, which covers 80% of the size and weight interest in this space. ECHO makes a 9’ 5w and a 9’ 6w, both of which are a rich green color. ECHO’s 9’ 8w has a fighting butt and is a dark blue, and ECHO also markets this rod for saltwater use.

The action is medium fast, and for a rod that has 8 pieces that are just 15 inches or so in length, the ECHO TRIP casts surprisingly well. As with all of these travel fly rods, you’re going to get your best results with a firm and intentional casting motion. Casting and overall action is similar to 6-piece rods — the TRIP just gets you a form factor that pushes the portability factor even farther. So cool.

ECHO doesn’t offer the TRIP in a combo package, but the ECHO ION Reel is a very good, very affordable reel.

  • ECHO TRIP 8 Piece Fly Rods
  • ECHO ION Fly Reel

Shop ECHO TRIP travel fly rods at and get FREE shipping over $89!

Orvis Clearwater Travel Rods

This photo shows the Orvis Clearwater Travel Rod.

With the recent redesign of its popular midrange Clearwater fly rod series, Orvis is offering four models of its new  Clearwater 6-Piece Fly Rods . These rods use some of the new rod-building technology and techniques Orvis learned when it developed its high-end Helios 3 rods, but Orvis packages it all up at an affordable price point. Better yet, Orvis stands behind its Clearwater fly rods with a 25-year guarantee. If your fly rod fails — or if you simply break your fly rod — Orvis will repair or replace it. The only downside is that you’ll have to pay a $60 handling fee (which is the new standard for high-end rod repair and replacement guarantees these days).

Meanwhile, what about the six-piece Clearwater rods? Orvis covers the basics by offering a 9′ rod in a 5w, 6w or 8w option. For 8’6″ fans, Orvis also offers a 5w. We’re big fans of the Orvis Clearwater series overall — read our review of the 4-piece Clearwater combo outfit for more detail. Overall, you can expect a thoroughly decent casting experience in a rod that delivers an excellent price-to-value ratio.

  • Orvis Clearwater 6-Piece Fly Rods

 Shop the Orvis Clearwater Travel Rods at Bass Pro Shops and get FREE Shipping!

Best Travel Fly Rod: Hardy Demon Smuggler

Hardy makes some of the very best fly rods in the world, and the Demon Smuggler is aimed at frequent travelers who also want a high-performing rod with fantastic fit and finish. At just under $650, the Hardy Demon Smuggler is the most expensive travel rod on this page by a long shot. It is, however, beautiful and has a truly kickass name.

It is a 6-piece fly rod and Hardy offers an 8’ 4w, 9’ 5w, 9’6w, 9’ 8w, 9’6” 7w, and a 14’6” 10w.

The action is medium fast. The Demon Smuggler comes with a sweet aluminum rod tube.

If you’re in for a Demon Smuggler, pair it with the can’t-go-wrong Hardy Ultralite MTX-S Fly Reel and you’ll end up with an awesome travel combo. Long story short: If you have the budget, nab a Demon Smuggler and don’t look back.

  • Hardy Demon Smuggler Rod
  • Hardy Ultralite MTX-S Fly Reel

Best Travel Fly Rod: Redington Classic Trout

Redington’s Classic Trout fly rod series is primarily a 4-piece lineup . . . BUT Redington offers two 6-piece versions of this rod — an 8′ 3w and a 9′ 5w. The Classic Trout is a moderate action fly rod, which can be helpful when fishing with tiny flies for skittish trout. On the other hand, we tend to prefer moderate-fast or fast-action fly rods, so choose the 6-piece Redington Classic Trout if you know you want a moderate action. That said, the Classic Trout rod looks great and has a good price-to-value ratio. It has handy alignment dots on each section, and the rod comes with a divided nylon rod tube. (The model  590-6 is the 6-piece 9′ 5w while the 380-6  is the 8′ 3w.)

  • Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod — make sure you select the 6-piece version and not a 4-piece version

Best Travel Spin/Fly Combo

Both L.L.Bean and Orvis make a nifty spinning and fly fishing combo. Both are a great value and aimed at those who just want to make sure they always have a rod handy. Better yet, both make for great backup rods as well as superb gifts.

L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit

This photo shows the L.L.Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit for fly fishing and spin fishing travel.

The L.L.Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit actually includes two separate rods — an 8’6” 5-weight 6-piece fly rod as well as a 6’ medium/light 4-piece spinning rod. Both include basic reels that come preloaded with line. Both rods come in a padded case with foam-molded cutouts for the rod sections and reels. As an added bonus, L.L.Bean includes a small fly box and a small lure box . . . which means you could keep this outfit in your vehicle all in the case and be ready to fish at a moment’s notice.

Orvis Encounter Spin/Fly Combo

This photo shows the Orvis Encounter Spin/Fly combo fishing rod and reel kit.

The Orvis Encounter Spin/Fly Combo comes with two interchangeable butt sections with two reels, one for spin fishing and one for fly fishing. The fly rod is a 7′ 5-weight while the spinning rod is also 7′ and aimed at lightweight gear: 2-6 lb test and 1/16 to 3/16 ounce lures. It comes in a padded case.

So, what’s the #1 best travel fly rod?

There isn’t one , exactly. If you want the highest overall quality and fit and finish, the Hardy Demon Smuggler wins hands down. If you want the best overall value? The Cabela’s Stowaway 6 in the Prestige Plus Combo package generally takes the lead.

If you’re looking for ultimate portability, the ECHO TRIP line comes in 8 pieces — gotta love ECHO for pushing the edge here and still building a highly fishable rod.

On the other hand, Orvis offers a 25-year guarantee with its Clearwater 6-Piece Fly Rods , which offers some peace of mind if you break a tip.

What if you want a backup rod and aren’t looking for fantastic quality or mind-blowing performance? The L.L.Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit  gives you two rods in one very affordable package.

So the best? That’s really up to what you want and need most. More importantly, the best rod is the one you have available when you’re on the water.

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Travel & Telescoping Fly Rods

We started this company to make smart & innovative fly fishing gear, and knowing that you travel to every fishing hole - why not make it travel better too?! We have 2 lines of rods to offer either Ultimate Performance (BCR Series) Or Ultimate Versatility (First Cast Series)  - - reach out to the founder and rod designer with any questions  [email protected] 

Don't know which rod to pick?  Watch this video HERE

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fly fishing travel rod

Fly Rods - Specifcally For Travel

Welcome to the Travel Fly Fishing Rod collection at REYR Gear! Here you will find a wide selection of fly fishing rods that are designed specifically for travel. These rods are lightweight and compact, making them perfect for anglers on the go. Whether you're heading out on a backpacking trip, a road trip, or a long-distance flight, these travel fly rods are the perfect companion for your journey.

The Collection

In this collection, you will find a variety of fly rod lengths, specs and materials to choose from. Some of our rods are made from high-quality graphite, which is known for its strength, sensitivity, and responsiveness. Others are made from a blend of graphite and fiberglass, which provides a more moderate action and a softer feel. One of the great features of our travel fly fishing rods is the fact that they are pre-assembled and ready-to-use. Their innovative design makes it easier for you to set the fly rod up almost instantly, going from pack to cast in 30 seconds! Another key feature is their lightweight form, which means you can easily fit a travel rod in your luggage, backpack or even a purse, making it a great option for the ones always on the move.

Is it for Beginners or Advanced Anglers?

Our collection also includes travel fly fishing rod kits and accessories, making it easy for you to get started with your fishing adventure. These kits are perfect for beginners who are just getting into fly fishing or for experienced anglers who are looking for a convenient, all-in-one option. No matter what type of fishing you're planning on doing, whether we have a travel fly rod that will suit your needs. Browse our collection today and find the perfect travel rod for your next fishing adventure!

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fly fishing travel rod

Travel Light, Fish Right: Best Travel Fishing Rods For On-The-Go Anglers

Disclosure: Some posts contain affiliate links, which earn us a commission if you make a purchase through them. Positive Fishing © participates in various affiliate networks including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.

Whether planning a week-long fishing trip or hoping to escape and do some fishing on a family vacation, travel fishing rods are essential for any angler. Due to their construction, they pack down to fit in a rucksack so you can easily carry them on a motorbike, bus, or even as a part of your checked baggage on an airplane.

Whether you are a fly, spin, carp, or saltwater angler, all have excellent travel rod choices.

In this article, I will cover the following: 

  • What To Look For When Choosing A Travel Fishing Rod
  • Travel fly rods
  • Travel spinning rods
  • Travel carp rods
  • Travel sea fishing rods
  • Frequently Asked Questions

What To Look For When Choosing A Travel Fishing Rod 

When purchasing a travel rod, you want to make sure you’re paying attention to a few separate essential details! 

Travel Fishing Gear

Travel Rod Length 

Most anglers searching for travel rods aren’t hopping on an airplane and traveling worldwide to pursue a unique species. Many jump in the car or take public transportation to their favorite location. As a result, you want to make sure the rod you travel with is collapsible. If possible, ensure your rod can collapse down to 36 inches! 

Depending on the rod type, you may be able only to find one that can break down to a length of 40” or 46”. So choose wisely, as you don’t want to sacrifice quality for a smaller length.  

You’ll find that many companies are making their own versions of travel rods that are not quality. They are often affordable, but anglers pay the price when they hit the water. The rods easily break, or they aren’t as advertised. 

Stay with well-known fishing brands that can be trusted and have a warranty. You wouldn’t waste your money on a poor-quality normal rod, so follow that same protocol with your travel rod! 

Best Travel Fly Rods

Thankfully, most fly rods are “travel-ready.” Many break down into four pieces, typically around 36” in length. However, if you need even smaller rods, some good options exist! 

Orvis Clearwater 6 Piece


If you’re familiar with Orvis, you know how high-quality their fly rods are. The Clearwater 6-piece travel model is the option for intermediate anglers. It isn’t overly complicated to fish. The moderate fast action is good for streams, rivers, and lakes. 

You will likely struggle to find a travel fly rod that’s better than this! You have a 4-weight 8’, 5-weight 8’6”, 5-weight 9’, 6-weight 9’, and 8-weight 9’. These weights and lengths are great for trout, bass, steelhead, and salmon fishing. This rod will fit anywhere on a plane or in your car. 

When broken down, the six pieces break down into only 22.5 inches. This is extremely small and can fit into any carry-on or as a personal item! You’ll still have Orvis’ 25-year warranty when you purchase this rod. This is a nice warranty since travel rods get heavy usage, and there is more that can go wrong when there are six total pieces you’re working with. 

Orvis also offers a travel fly combo outfit option, including line and reel. If you aren’t interested in pairing the rig with your own equipment, you can purchase your own reel, and everything will be well-balanced. 

While Orvis isn’t known for bargain basement pricing, you’ll get one of the best travel fly fishing rods on the market for a mid-to-high price range. 

Redington Trailblazer Fly Rod 

41Ce0Yc4XyL. SL160

The Redington Trailblazer is another travel fly fishing rod that will be up for any challenge that you put to the test. Redington makes both a 3-weight and 5-weight option for anglers. The 7’6” 3-weight is great if you head to backcountry mountain streams or small alpine lakes . The 9’6” 5-weight is good if you’re heading somewhere with bigger fish or more challenging conditions. 

When broken down, the rod tube is only 30”, so you should be able to fit it on a plane on your carry-on or under the backseat of your car. Wherever you use it, it’s going to store away nicely! Many anglers will choose to use this as their backcountry rod. While fly rods aren’t heavy, the Redington Trailblazer is especially light! It’ll fit nicely on your backpack, and you won’t notice it. 

The red and yellow colors look great! It’s a unique design in terms of fly rods. Don’t worry about the quality. Redington’s lifetime warranty protects it so that you can fish this hard. 

In the mid to high-priced price range, you’ll have a similar price to the Clearwater from Orvis. They’re similar rods in terms of quality! Redington is a reputable brand that has continuously flown under the radar. Don’t underestimate the quality of these rods. 

Best Travel Spinning Rods

In terms of travel rods, you will find the most options available come in the form of spinning rods. Companies that don’t even specialize in fishing equipment have found themselves in the travel spinning rod market. It’s those poor, cheap-quality travel rods you should avoid!

My two choices are far from the unknown; Shimano and Fenwick are right at the top of their game regarding fishing rods.

Shimano S.T.C. Mini-Tele Spinning Rod

31M1BuCQEaL. SL160

Shimano has been a reputable fishing company for years. Anglers of all levels have success with these rods! The mini-tele spinning rod is a unique design that is perfect for travel. This rod comes in two pieces. The first piece includes the cork handle and reel seat. The next section of this rod is the telescopic portion. The total extended length ranges from 70 inches to 106 inches! 

Whatever rod you choose, you can choose from eight different weights and lengths to fit whatever type of fishing you’re doing. All of these models have eight line guides regardless of the weight and length of the rod you choose. 

These rods are made with Shimano’s XT60 blank material, a full cork grip, and a Shimano DPS reel seat. You have all the normal guarantees of Shimano packed into the travel rod. 

These rods break down into a case and are easily stored in a backpack or the trunk of your car. When fully broken down, the longest models are only 15 inches long! Take them with you as you bike, hike, or take public transport to a local lake or river. Trout, panfish, and even fish such as small-sized bass and pike are all catchable with this rod. However, large bass and other fish over 5 lbs are not suited for this rod. 

This is my only telescopic choice in all of my rods for travel, and I am not a big fan of telescopic rods due to their usually inferior quality and strength. However, the Shimano STC is the exception – it’s well-constructed and is a top telescopic option for a travel rod.

Fenwick HMG Travel Rod 


The HMG Travel Rod from Fenwick is another affordable and high-quality option for anglers looking to fish while traveling. If you know fishing history, you’ll remember that Fenwick rods were the first to use graphite technology. 

The rod uses Powerlux 100 resin technology, a lightweight graphite blank with stainless steel guides, and a cork handle. The Powerlux technology increases the rod’s strength by over 10 percent compared to previous models. 

Fenwick provides anglers an extra tip in case you snap or break yours. This is a great feature for travel rods. Since they’re used in challenging and tight spaces, accidents can happen. The extra tip gives you peace of mind that you can fish the rod hard without worrying about what could go wrong. 

The rod breaks down into three sections that work well for traveling. When fully broken down, it’s only around 30 inches. When packed in the rod tube, you can fit it easily in your trunk or on the side of your backpack. The most common option for anglers is the 7’6” model. Depending on your needs, this comes in medium light and a medium action. 

Both the Shimano STC Mini-Tele and the Fenwick HMG travel rods are mid-price range options. This means you’re getting a great deal choosing either of them for fishing when traveling! 

Best Carp Fishing Travel Rods

Carp rods are a prized possession for many anglers. With carp being a species easily found worldwide, it’s hard not to travel with your carp rod! You never know when you will have a chance to get away and fish a local pond or river packed with them. 

Buying a carp travel fishing rod is also a great option for stalking carp in the margin areas. Their shorter length enables them to get to the harder-to-access areas, where trees are overhanging, and it’s near impossible to cast with longer rods.

Nash Scope Rod – Full Shrink

31PstN07CzL. SL160

Nash is a trusted and popular brand amongst carp anglers. The Full Shrink handle model is one that many anglers could use in various situations. It’s all one piece, but the rod telescopes into itself and packs into a nice and compact design. 

You can choose a 9-foot and 10-foot long rod option with test curves ranging from 3 lbs, 3.25 lbs, and 3.5 lbs. These options are sufficient for almost any carp; I use the 9-foot option combined with a 3.25lb test curve option. 

Many anglers can cast upwards of 150 yards with the 9ft scope. You can fish the margins or larger waters, and the rod will be at home in either place. When fully contracted, the 9-foot models fold down to 44 inches, and the 10-foot models fold down to 50 inches. No, they don’t fold down as small as other travel rods, but the longer sizes ensure high quality. You won’t find these rods breaking after two or three uses.

You can haul in 30-pound carp with no problem with the Nash Scope rod. Also, if you get the chance to target salmon, pike, steelhead, or bass, these will equally work well for those. They’re designed to tackle carp, but they can land most other freshwater species. 

This rod is suitable for any angler. If you’re an experienced angler, you’ll find that you can get more out of this rod than you would think. If you’re new to carp fishing, it is a great first travel option, lasting many years. 

The Nash Scope Rod is an affordable travel rod at a mid-point price range.  

X5 Max Travel Fishing Rod 

fly fishing travel rod

The X5 Max Travel rod is one of the market’s most unique fishing rod designs. Within this one rod, you have nine different length combinations that you can use. It can be used as a travel spin casting, bait casting, float fishing, carp fishing, and fly fishing rod. Twelve interchangeable sections work together to create the type of rod you need. 

Once you have determined the right combination of tips, even decent sized carp can be landed with the heavier casting weight setup. 

The four separate tips come with rod casting weights ranging from 10-20g, 15-30g, and 25-50g. It is a remarkable rod with all the different features and pieces included. Most anglers find one method that works for them and stick to it, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can change things to be whatever you need. 

All aspects of this rod can fit in a 17” travel case when broken down. It’ll fit nicely into your backpack and is well protected with the camo color case. For a mid-range priced portable rod, you’re getting an impressive rod that’s up for whatever challenge you need. Anglers often find themselves surprised by how capable this rod is. It’s a jack of all trades that is one of the best and most versatile travel rod options. 

Best Sea Fishing Travel Rods

Travel sea fishing rods can be a point of contention for some anglers. Obviously, sea fishing rods are going to have to be extremely durable . You’re catching generally much larger fish and in a less forgiving environment. Travel saltwater fishing rods must be able to match the power and durability of a standard saltwater rod. Otherwise, you can snap your travel rod at any point.

Fiblink Portable Saltwater Offshore Travel Rod 

411NWLYaAdL. SL160

The Fiblink Portable Saltwater Offshore Travel Rod breaks down into three pieces and comes in four sizes. You have a 6’ heavy, 7’ medium heavy, 7’ heavy, and 8’ heavy. The heavy models can handle a 30-50 pound test, and the medium-heavy models can handle a 15-30 pound test. 

7 Best Monofilament Fishing Line For 2024: That Will Always Perform


The Fiblink is built for saltwater use. As a result, you don’t have to worry about saltwater corrosion. A good clean with fresh water will keep this rod in great shape once you’re done. Anglers have hauled in 80-pound sharks with this rod! Give yourself a chance to target some heavy fish and see what you find.  

This rod only breaks into three pieces, so it doesn’t lose quality or power compared to a 4-piece rod. Each piece is either 2 feet or 2.5 feet, depending on the rod size you purchase. While this isn’t the top-of-the-line sea fishing rod, it can hold its own and will last if you take good care of it. Most anglers wouldn’t use it as their primary fishing rod, but it works great for short-day trips to the sea! 

At an affordable low to mid-range pricing, you’ll get a quality rod that can fight the vast majority of saltwater fish you plan to target. 

World Traveller Travel Fishing Rod & Reel

41mHLPn VVL. SL160

Unlike all the other rods on the list, the World Traveller travel fishing combo comes with both the rod and the reel. This makes it my only travel combo rod and reel on this recommended list. One of the most significant challenges anglers face with travel rods is finding a reel that balances well with the weight. The World Traveller has a decent rod and gives you a properly balanced reel to match. 

The two options available for this rod are medium and heavy. The medium rod is 7’ long and can handle bass, panfish, and smaller pike. The heavy rod is 6’2” and can handle larger fish. 

One of the nice features of this rod and reel is that two additional tips come with the rod. Both are made of fiberglass and are relatively powerful. Also, this rod breaks down into six separate sections, which makes storing it especially easy. When broken down, this rod is only 16 inches long. 

The reel has a decent 5:1:1 ratio. You also receive an extra spool when you make the purchase! The spinning reel is saltwater ready. A quick rinse at the end of the day will prevent corrosion when fishing in saltwater areas. 

The pairing reel that World Traveler provides in this travel combo has an interchangeable handle for left or right-hand retrieve.

World Traveller offers anglers a two-year warranty when purchasing this brand-new rod. This is a great chance to fish this rod hard and see what it can do. You’ll struggle to find a travel rod that’s as high quality and reputable as this. At around mid-ranged pricing, you’re getting a great deal, and it even comes with a 2-year warranty! 

Best Travel Rods Summary 

There are hundreds of travel fishing rods for anglers to purchase. These decisions can be overwhelming! These packable fishing rods are typically not your regular rods, but they still should be up to the challenge of whatever fish you find. 

Again, please don’t buy cheap, inferior travel fishing rods from lesser-known manufacturers.

Travel Fishing Rods – Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the difference between a travel rod and a regular rod.

Generally, travel rods are collapsible and can be stored in smaller storage tubes. This way you can travel easily with them. Regular rods are troublesome to carry around and, in many cases, heavier and prone to damage.

Can I Take A Fishing Rod On A Plane?

Yes, airlines will allow fishing rods to be carried on a plane. If it is oversized (in length) like a normal fishing rod, you must check it separately, which could cost an additional fee. However, with short travel rods, you can easily hand carry or pack them safely into your check-in luggage. 

Check out this Jetstar Airlines notification: Can I bring my fishing rods on the plane? Most airlines will allow fishing rods on the plane.

What Are The TSA Regulations On Fishing Rods?

TSA allows fishing poles and also other tackle for carry-on and checked bags. For the most up-to-date information, check out the official TSA link!

What Is The Best Travel Fishing Rod For Bass?

There is no specific travel rod that you must use for bass fishing. The Shimano STC telescopic has all the features, strength, and versatility needed for a travel bass fishing rod. It can be used for various fishing styles in rivers or lakes, including lure fishing and when using natural baits.

Final Thoughts

Some anglers get concerned about buying a travel fishing rod. The quality is always a question for many anglers. There are always horror stories about hooking into a massive fish, but it breaks off due to one of the sectioned pieces snapping. 

All my recommended travel rod choices above will perform without worrying about them breaking. You never know when the opportunity to fish will come up on a trip, so it’s best to be prepared.

I hope this article was helpful and gave you all the information you need; check out my other posts on fishing rods covering a full range for every type of fishing style.  

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Daniel Mooers

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How Do I Choose a Fly Rod?

Start by determining which weight of fly rod you need, based on your target species. If you’re interested in mid-sized or larger trout, look for a 4-, 5-, or 6-weight fly rod. For bass, look at a 6- or 7- weight fly rod. Steelhead and salmon will require a 7-, 8-, or 9-weight fly rod.

Then think about length. Rods in the 8’6” and 9’ range are the most versatile and most common. But small stream anglers tend to like easy-to-maneuver rods in the 6’ to 7’ range.

Finally, consider other aspects of your fishing to determine which rod will suit you best. Orvis designs and produces fly rods that fulfill the specific needs of expert anglers, as well as affordable, incredibly well-made fly rods that welcome newcomers to the sport.

What Does the Weight of a Fly Rod Mean?

The weight of a fly rod is the size of the fly line that rod is designed to cast. Heavier lines can be cast farther; can cut through wind on open saltwater flats and big rivers; and can help punch bigger and heavier flies through the air. Heavier lines put more force on a rod, and thus require a sturdier fly rod. Lighter-weight lines allow for delicate presentations of smaller flies, and so lightweight fly rods are built with precision presentation in mind. Choose your rod weight and fly line weight based on which type of water you’ll primarily be fishing. You can get by within 1 to 2 weights of the ideal rod/line weight for a piece of water. So if you’re fishing a big river for big trout and should be using a 6-weight rod and line, for example, you could get away with a 5- or 7-weight.

What Is the Best All-Around Fly Rod Weight?

The best all-around fly rod weight for freshwater is a 4-, 5-, or 6-weight in 8’ 6” or 9’ lengths, and for saltwater an 8- or a 9-weight in a 9’ length. A tremendous variety of fishing can be accomplished with these options.

Which Orvis Fly Rod Should I Use?

  • Helios: If you’re an experienced angler who demands precision and accuracy, explore our Helios line of fly rods. We engineered the Helios rods to reduce the variables and harness the energy behind each cast—translating to impressive accuracy. No window is too small for this precise rod, thanks to the increased hoop strength that reduces vibration for a truly accurate cast. Place flies right where you want them—every time—with the enhanced power and pinpoint accuracy of our Helios fly rods. Cast the Helios D if you’re looking for reliably easy distance; it blends unmatched power with incredible accuracy. For tricky water, spooky fish, and tiny dries, rely on the finesse-focused Helios F , which will consistently present a fly at 60 feet, with a delicate presentation and surprising sensitivity. The Helios fly rod offers power, accuracy, and feel, whether you’re fishing a stream or the flats.
  • Clearwater: In our bestselling Clearwater series , you’ll find the ideal weight and flex for any application. Our budget-friendly Clearwater Switch & Spey rods put the world of two-handed casting within reach.
  • Recon: Our Recon series of fly rods is designed with the adventure angler in mind. Four-piece construction allows for easy storage, and convenient straps secure the rod to a backpack when trekking deep into parts unknown. This rod is incredibly lightweight, yet stands ready to tackle the toughest fish on the greatest adventures.
  • Superfine : Our Superfine fly rods have the power and precision to accurately present flies with a delicate touch to avoid spooking fish. You’ll crave the crisp, clean cast and slow action offered by this fiberglass rod. Superfine glass boasts modern technology that mingles with a decidedly classic look in a fly rod you’ll want to show off.
  • Encounter: Our affordable Encounter fly rod outfits are armed with high-grade components perfect for new anglers, and for seasoned anglers looking for a bargain on a spare. The Encounter fly rod outfit comes equipped with a large arbor Encounter reel, weight-forward floating fly line, backing, and leader.

Our fly rod selector tool can help narrow your search to specific rods of the right series, weight, and length, based on your fishing environment, target species, fly box, and other variables that are important to you.

How Do I Choose a Fly Rod Weight?

Choose your fly rod weight based on your target species. The size of what you’re fishing for determines the weight fly line you’ll need, and your line weight matches your fly rod weight. For example, if you’re heading to a local stream for brook trout, a 5-weight rod with a 5-weight line will do. For chasing barracuda or permit in saltwater, you’ll need a 10-weight rod and line. Generally, 1- to 4-weight rods suit smaller trout. A 5-weight rod is a great all-around option, and a 6-weight is suitable for larger trout, bass, or smaller steelhead. Seven- to 9-weight rods are at the top of the freshwater spectrum, and rods weighted from 10 upwards are reserved for bigger saltwater species.

What Weight of Fly Rod Should I Use?

Use the fly rod weight that best supports the fly line that will handle your target species. In other words, you should choose your fly rod weight based on the type of fish you hope to catch. Here are some general guidelines for fish size and fight with the corresponding rod weight:

  • 1–4 WT rod:  smaller trout, panfish
  • 4–6 WT rod:  bass, average-to-larger trout
  • 6–8 WT rod:  carp, salmon, bass, monster trout, some smaller saltwater species like bonefish or redfish, steelhead
  • 9–10 WT rod:  big salmon, steelhead, striped bass, muskie
  • 10–14 WT rod:  tarpon, mahi-mahi, bluefin, giant trevally, sailfish

Do Heavier-Weight Fly Rods Cast Farther?

A heavier-weight fly rod does not guarantee a farther cast. As a rule of thumb and all things being equal, a longer rod will cast farther than a shorter rod, and a heavier weight line can go farther than a lighter weight line. A long 5-weight rod is capable of swinging as far as 90 feet, although most anglers will need to cast only to about 50 feet. In the end, what matters most for longer casts is proper technique.

What Is a 5-Weight Fly Rod Good For?

A useful all-around fly rod, the 5-weight is good for trout, grayling, and bass.

What Is a 7-Weight Fly Rod Good For?

A 7-weight fly rod is good for huge trout, carp, salmon, and bass.

What Length of Fly Rod Do I Need?

Rod lengths vary greatly, but there are only a few variables to consider when deciding which length you need. Shorter rods between 6 and 8 feet perform well on small creeks with obstacles you’ll have to cast around, such as logs or rocks. Longer rods between 8 and 10 feet suit larger bodies of water where you need to make lengthier casts to reach fish, or gain added reach to avoid drag. If you’re a beginning fly fisher, any rod with the right line weight between 8 and 9 feet long is probably a reliable choice.

The Best Fly-Fishing Rods in the Industry

Browse our large selection of premium fly rods, fly rod combos, and fly-fishing outfits to find the perfect setup for any species or budget. With more than 150 years of rod building experience, it’s no wonder anglers look to Orvis for the highest-quality fly rods in the industry. Our fly rods are the best on the market, the culmination of cutting-edge technology, precision, and expertise. Explore our collection and find exactly what you're looking for to equip your next fly-fishing adventure. Discover a fly rod for every excursion—saltwater, freshwater, Spey casting, small creeks, and warm-water adventures. When you’re ready to choose a new fly rod, start by determining which weight of fly rod you need, based on your target species. If you’re interested in mid-sized or larger trout, look for a 4-, 5-, or 6-weight fly rod. For bass, look at a 6- or 7- weight fly rod. Steelhead and salmon will require a 7-, 8-, or 9-weight fly rod. Then think about length. Rods in the 8’6” and 9’ range are the most versatile and most common. But small stream anglers tend to like easy-to-maneuver rods in the 6’ to 7’ range. Finally, consider other aspects of your fishing to determine which rod will suit you best. Or start with our handy fly rod selector to get an idea of the best option for you. Orvis designs and produces fly rods that fulfill the specific needs of expert anglers, as well as affordable, incredibly well-made fly rods that welcome newcomers to the sport. We take great pride in outfitting fly fishermen and women around the globe, as we have for well over a century. Our goal remains the same as it was in the beginning—providing a superior collection of quality fly rods at reasonable prices for the discerning angler.

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In addition to its multi-functionality, the fishing rod has some other impressive features that make it a very desirable addition to anyone's collection. Built using a Korean high-modulus toray carbon blank, the rod is strong and durable yet sensitive and responsive. 

It comes in a protective cordura travel case with individual rod section compartments, helping to keep it safe in transit. And of course, it's backed by our 2 year no questions asked guarantee! But enough from us, below you can read what the experts have to say!

fly fishing travel rod

Well, to read that properly you may have needed to zoom in. If you didn't have time, then just read the last paragraph! "This is a neat little kit which packs small and travels easily to cover a lot of fly fishing... at a very reasonable price". At just £99.99 it's an absolute bargain! 

We also sell some very useful fly fishing accessories , like our premium mainline. We have both sinking and floating options available, perfectly matching the 2-in-1 Travel Fly Rod. In addition, our 4lb and 8lb fluorocarbon lines can be used as a leader. All you need now are the flies!


We are very proud to be from the English Lake District, where we develop and test all our rods.

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Bass Fishing Experiences

Fishing Rods on a Plane: What Are the Rules?

You found a new rod on your trip and want to fly it back home. Or perhaps, you have a fishing adventure on your mind and are already planning the trip. Yet, you’re unsure whether flying with fishing rods is allowed and whether you can bring your fishing gear along.

Bear with us to learn the flight regulations regarding transporting of your fishing gear. We’ll also throw in some information on adequately packing your rods. Be patient and keep reading. Good things come to those who keep casting!

Table of Contents

Flying with a Fishing Rod: Is It Allowed?

Wondering whether you can bring a fishing pole on a plane? Yes, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states that flying with fishing rods is generally allowed by consumers.

US laws and regulations on fishing rods on airplanes permit flying with a fishing rod and gear. Still, the officer in charge at the checkpoint will make the final decision on the equipment you carry. Follow all regulations and respect the safety limitations. It is wise to check the airline website of the provider company to confirm the fishing gear fits in with the size and restrictions for carry-on items.

Many airlines have clear-cut size and length limitations for fishing rod carry-on and checked-in equipment. So you may want to read this article on travel rods for better options. Some airlines may even limit the number of rods to just two rods or imply some additional charges.

Fishing Rod Carry On: How to Bring Your Rod on the Plane?

Flying with Fishing Rod carry on

The TSA allows flying with fishing rods in both carry-on and checked bags. Generally, most airlines follow the same rule so you can safely bring on board your fishing rod carry-on.

If the overhead compartments can accommodate your fishing pole and gear, you can bring them on the plane. Simply follow the size recommendations. Don’t attach the line or hooks to the fishing rod; detach the fishing reels.

Choosing how to manage your gear while flying with fishing rods requires careful consideration. Should you check the rods in or bring the fishing pole on an airplane with you? Naturally, it is better to pack up your fishing gear with a carry on.

The only issue is that rod tubes occasionally don’t fit the specifications for carry-on luggage. If this is the case, you may emphasize how important this piece of gear is for your journey to the carrier. Otherwise, you will need to check your fishing rods.

It’s widely known that checked luggage often gets damaged. Having said that, it can be challenging to fit one-piece rods in a carry-on, and you may have no option. No worries. There is a way to fly your rods as checked-in luggage safely.

If you are an international angler or like to travel and fish recreationally, investing in a sturdy cylindrical carrier equipped with a TSA-approved lock is wise. We advise you not to compromise on a decent flying rod tube or case to protect your fishing gear and keep it safe when traveling.

For instance, Southwest Airlines have a specific requirement for transporting the fishing rods that they are in a sturdy, cylindrical fishing rod container. If the container is over 91 inches, it is subject to oversize charges.

In addition, American Airlines has a standard overweight fee that ranges from 51 lbs (23 kg) to 70 lbs (32 kg). The same fee applies for checked bags up to 50 lbs (or 23 kg) and 126 in (or 320 cm) (length, width, and height). Your equipment bag will be charged as a separate checked bag if it exceeds the measurements.

Delta Airlines permits transporting fishing rods as a carry-on. Ensure they fit into the standard carry-on size of 22 x 14in x 9in.

Further, United Airlines limits you to one item of fishing equipment per customer that must be checked. It can contain a pair of fishing boots, two rods, a landing net, a reel, and a tackle box.

Alaska Airlines waives the oversize fee for fishing equipment and has standard charges as for regular baggage. A piece of fishing equipment should not be linearly larger than 115 inches. It should contain no more than two rods, one tackle box, and two reels.

Flying with a fishing rod

How to Pack a Fishing Rod for Air Travel?

Packaging the fishing rods together in a short rod tube is the best option. This way, you will skip potential issues or damage on domestic or international flights.

Tape the rods together to secure them. Pack them in a fishing tube secured with bubble wrap or other suitable material. You can also pack the rods in their original packing to prevent excessive friction throughout the ride.

Regarding heavier gear like trolling rods or beach casting rods. It can be more challenging to convince airport security to allow you to bring a heavy fishing pole on any airplane. However, you may check your fishing gear as sports equipment, and many airline companies won’t charge you extra. Check the airline’s policy on sports equipment to be sure. Specifically, look up any information about fishing gear before booking your flight.

A fishing rod case or tube keeps your fishing gear safe and also makes traveling much more manageable. Look for a case made of strong but lightweight materials. Cases made of hard plastic are ideal for rod tubes because they are light, easily adaptable, and can take on any preferred shape. It is also flexible enough to withstand pressure from all directions while remaining stiff sufficient to safeguard the rods inside. After all, keeping the rods safe and damage-free is your primary goal here.

Another recommendation is to use a TSA-approved lock with a recognizable mark for your fishing rod case. Airline check-in staff have the training to recognize these locks. If your bags have to undergo an inspection, TSA screeners have special tools for opening these locks. This way, they won’t have to cut the lock by force and possibly damage it.

Can I bring a Fishing Pole on a Plane?

Flying the Rest of the Equipment

After establishing that flying with fishing rods is generally OK, let’s go through the rest of the fishing gear. The TSA informs that potentially hazardous sharp fishing equipment, like large fish hooks, should be wrapped, covered, and packed safely in checked bags. These items are prohibited on board, and it’s mostly for safety reasons.

Use carry-on bags to pack pricey and valuable reels or delicate tackles that don’t compromise security (small lures). Packing reels in your carry-on is not a problem, but you should ensure they are secured. A good reel case will do the job.

Another point to get further into is the lures. It is not legally against TSA standards to pack small, hazardous fishing flies in your carry-on luggage. However, they may be confiscated on the spot if airport staff find they are flight-inappropriate.

A general rule of fly fishing trick would be to put enough flies or lures in a compact fly box or a zip-lock bag that would be sufficient to cover one or two fishing days. Between 10 and 16 flies should be enough. Ensure you make an excellent lure combination with a primary and versatile selection. This will prepare you should the airline delay the checked luggage. Safely pack the remaining flies in your checked baggage.

The advice remains the same regarding the other equipment, like reels, hooks, lures, etc. If unsure about their safety, you should check state laws or consult the airline before traveling regarding your specific items.

Flying with Fishing Rods: Concluding Remarks

Flying with fishing rods should not worry you because it’s standard practice. However, pay close attention to what is written in the regulations and laws. All airlines have information on their websites regarding fishing rod carry-on and other sporting equipment practices.

Before booking a flight, collect all the necessary information. This way, you won’t be caught off guard once you arrive at the airport.

he question, “Can you bring a fishing pole on a plane?” bothers many fishing enthusiasts and shouldn’t limit you to taking fewer fishing trips. Choose a lovely location and plan that pleasant fishing journey you always dreamed of taking!

So start planning. You’re all set for your next fishing trip. Where to? California ? Florida ? Maybe  Pennsylvania or Alabama ? No matter the style, a fly fishing or bass fishing trip , you now know how to get your equipment there safely. All that’s left to do is choose the next destination, buy a plane ticket, and start casting on the next fishing trip of your dreams!

How much does it cost to bring fishing rod on plane?

Many airlines classify fishing gear as sporting equipment. The airline may charge passengers less or even nothing to check one fishing rod or more fishing gear. Some airlines, however, charge between $25 and $100 for each fishing rod. Sometimes, even checked-in fishing gear may be subject to additional fees. Checking the airline’s policies before booking a ticket is good advice.

Does TSA allow fishing rods?

Yes, the TSA allows flying with a fishing rod. This could be a bass fishing rods , saltwater fishing rods, or fly fishing rods because it’s all about the dimensions.

People Also Ask

Can I put a fishing reel in my carry-on?

The TSA allows reels to be packed in both checked and carry-on luggage. Secure them so they won’t get damaged.

Have you traveled with fishing gear and had a bad experience? What was it like? How you had equipment damaged while traveling? Leave any tips or ideas for others; we always appreciate your comments below!

Dulce Hettinger

Hi, enjoyed visiting your website. I am attempting to find things to improve in my travel gear. Thanks for your ideas!


I’m glad it was helpful!


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Hope to see you more often!

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I got what you intend, thankyou for putting up. I am glad to find this website through google.


A required item for all anglers looking to travel with equipment!

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Honest Talk on Fly Rods

May 27, 2024 By: Spencer Durrant

fly fishing travel rod

In my almost-decade of fly fishing writing, I’ve had the opportunity to review a few fly rods. Without fail, the question most folks ask me is “are the expensive rods really worth it?”

I’ve addressed this before in some gear reviews, but I wanted to give the topic some space here as well, because it’s been on my mind a lot lately. The shortest answer to that question is “it depends.” Are you the type of person who demands only the best performance from your tools? If you appreciate nice things, and you take care of them, chances are you’ll appreciate an expensive fly rod.

What the good rods do is eliminate as many of the variables in fly casting as possible, so that an angler is entirely dependent on their own skills. Take the latest round of marketing about the new Helios from Orvis. It’s touted as the most accurate rod ever to come out of Manchester, VT, and it probably is. I spent significant time with Shawn Combs, the lead rod designer at Orvis, learning how he and his team measured the accuracy of the new Helios. Using infrared cameras and sensors attached to fly rod tips, they were able to track how much a rod’s tip moved during a cast. The more a tip moves side-t0-side, the less straight your fly line moves, and the lower your accuracy will be.

That’s all dependent, however, on your ability to make an accurate cast in the first place. Unless the Helios casts for you (an innovation I fear may not be that far off…) you’re still subject to your own skills.

All the talk about advanced resins, stronger graphite, and slick guides ends up in the same place – increasing the inherent accuracy of a fly rod. But the caster has the final say on just how accurate that rod will be.

As an example, I recently fished with a guide on Utah’s Green River for a few days. I had the new Scott Session along for testing (it’s a phenomenal rod, and I plan on owning one as soon as possible) and during our lunch break, I encouraged my guide to give it a cast. He promptly threw 60 feet of line to a rising trout, set the hook, and netted it.

“Nice rod,” he said as he handed it back.

That guide is a much better angler than I am, and he coaxed a performance out of the Session that I hadn’t. Proving, in my opinion, the value of solid mechanics and an ability to adapt to different situations.

To make a long answer a bit longer, I’ll close with this: nice, top-tier fly rods are a joy to cast and fish. I’ve found they generally offer more feedback than cheaper rods, and they can often mask my somewhat poor casting. But I know that the angler I was 15 years ago wouldn’t appreciate just how great these rods are, because I lacked the skills and understanding to get as much out of them as possible.

My best advice to someone looking at an expensive fly rod is to be honest with yourself first. If you have a solid understanding of casting, then a top-tier stick will help you improve. If you still struggle with tailing loops, wait a bit before buying the next rod. An expensive rod will never fix bad casting.

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How to cast with a fly rod

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This story was originally published in July 2020.

My first experience with a fly rod was not encouraging.

I was young — maybe 7 years old — and I’d grabbed the green telescoping fiberglass fishing pole that I always used, and carried it to the brook near our camp.

When I showed it to my older, more worldly cousin, he scoffed. “You can’t use that,” he told me. “That’s a fly pole.”

Undeterred, I hooked a worm to the hook that I’d attached to the end of the braided fly line, and might even have caught a few four-inch trout.

If I’d known how that “fly pole” actually worked, I might have been tempted to try my hand at fly casting, which was a totally foreign concept. Luckily for my ears, eyes (and fishing companions), I didn’t. So nobody got hooked.

The question that might have occurred to me that day still resonates with beginning fly fishers: How do I make this fly rod work?

Yes (lesson one): It’s a fly ROD. Not a fly POLE.

And here’s how you make it work. Or, at least, here are a few things you ought to know.

If you grew up fishing with a spinning rod, tossing worms or lures, as most of us did, you’re used to having a weighted lure at the end of an essentially weightless fishing line. The weight of that worm or lure carries the line with it when you cast.

Fly fishing presents the opposite situation. Your fly is (more or less) weightless, and the line has some real heft to it. The fly is carried forward because the line demands it. And the line demands it because the fly rod is flexible, and bends back and forth when you cast with it.

The key, then, is to get the line to “load” the rod, flexing it away from the direction you want to cast, then letting it “unload” when you present the fly to the hefty fish that’s waiting to eat it.

A good drill to practice this movement: Instead of lifting the rod up and over your casting shoulder, which you’d normally do during a cast, just wag it back and forth in front of you, with about 15 or 20 feet of fly line out beyond the uppermost guide. Watch the fly line swish to the right. Then, pause your rod when it crosses the center of your body, and wait for the line to straighten out. When it does, wag the rod back to the left, watching the line swish out in that direction. If you think of your rod tip as the hands on a clock, and picture 12 o’clock being right in front of you, try to stop your rod at 2 o’clock on the right side, and at 10 o’clock on the left.

Pro tip: Do this drill without a fly attached to your leader. You’re not fishing right now. You’re practicing. And the most important thing that you’re working on is learning to avoid hooking yourself.

After you get used to the feeling of the rod loading and unloading, feel free to move onto a more traditional casting stance. If you’re right-handed, let the line lie out on the water (or your back lawn) in front of you, then swiftly pick it up by swinging the rod over your right shoulder. Stop the rod when it gets to about 2 o’clock on the clock face we described earlier. Then, as soon as the fly line straightens out behind you (it’s OK to peek), push your right hand forward to initiate a forward cast.

Continue that motion, forward and back, forward and back, for eight or 10 repetitions. These are called “false casts.” Doing a few of these before letting the line lay out on the water or grass in front of you may or may not be needed when you’re actually fishing, but false casting is a good way for beginners to begin “feeling” the rod as it loads and unloads.

Two more pro tips: Don’t let your wrist get involved. Your forearm should remain rigid, and allowing your wrist to flex will turn a 10-and-2 rod path into a 9-and-3 path, or worse.

And as legendary caster Lefty Kreh advised, you don’t have to move your elbow up and down to make a good, strong cast. Kreh advised casters to “keep the elbow on the shelf” when casting, and if you picture that image, with your casting elbow sliding back and forth on a shelf, that cue will eliminate a lot of extraneous motion and strain on that elbow.

Have fun, and give it some practice. Heck, during the next lesson we might even let you tie a fly on your leader and go fishing!

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John holyoke.

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While... More by John Holyoke


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fly fishing travel rod

This Gathering Is the Bonnaroo of Bamboo Fly Rods

A homegrown Smoky Mountains event caters to the cult of the cane makers, restorers, and collectors

By T. Edward Nickens

June/July 2024

A bamboo fly rod

Photo: Corey Woosley

Don’t call it a revival, or a celebration of history, or even a renaissance. That’s not what the BambooBash is about. The annual get-together does bring a passel of bamboo fly rod makers and restorers and vintage tackle collectors to the banks of the Little River near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are piles of classic Pflueger Medalist reels, and you might find, and be able to cast, a fly line nearly a hundred years old. But this gathering of folks who are simply bonkers over bamboo rods is as much about the now and the next as it is the past.


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Each spring, for more than twenty years, enthusiasts have converged like a hatch of mayflies on the property of Dock’s on the River Motel , just outside Townsend, Tennessee. First built by word of mouth and now planned by the online Classic Fly Rod Forum , the loosely constructed three-day event in late April serves as a showcase for bamboo rod technology, and a swap meet for expertise, opinion, and tall tales. Fishing opportunities await nearby, from the river running by the motel to the famed Great Smokies waters. (The town has a reputation as the quiet back door to the national park.) It’s difficult to leave the action at the BambooBash, though, given the world-class assemblage of rods, reels, and tackle.

On the hundred-foot-long Casting Lawn, obstacles mimic conditions in a stream. Plastic hoops serve for target practice. Participants can bring their own bamboo rods or sample the wide selection amassed for the group, and the Line Lab provides some fifty to sixty new and vintage silk fly lines spooled up to try. Fly lines for cane rods come in a huge assortment of tapers—some for small stream work, some for larger flies, others to cut through high winds or carry the teeniest of flies. The chance to cast so many varieties is a huge benefit, as a rod’s performance differs widely based on the line you use.

The mind (ahem) reels with calculations of the street value of all the cane goods present, but you don’t have to be a deep-pocketed collector to fit in. Anyone can attend—recent crowds have numbered about fifty anglers—and the event kicks off with a Thursday afternoon cookout in the park. A cash donation of ten bucks covers the meal—the only charge the entire three days.

What participants do bring to the Little River’s banks is a commitment to the future of bamboo fly rod culture. “This isn’t just a bunch of old guys grasping onto their beloved tackle with their last breath,” says Paul Hinchcliff, a retired federal wildlife biologist and National Park Service ranger and one of the organizers. “We’re not trying to resurrect something that’s faded. Cane fly rods are being made in abundance right now, with a lot of fresh, contemporary design innovation. There are new tapers, new ways of constructing the stick itself, and new ferrule designs, and this tackle has an aesthetic appeal that is second to none.”

The Bash isn’t the only conclave of the cane-loving clan, but many of the others tend to mostly attract serious rod builders. The Smokies shindig is different. “This is a rod enthusiast’s gathering,” Hinchcliff explains. While marquee makers frequent the event to show and sell their work—Munsey Wheby, Jim Ifert, and Bob Smith typically turn up—the general citizenry of BambooBash arrive with plenty of their own gear, and they want to share and talk about their passion. “Our folks are amazingly gracious and open with their knowledge,” Hinchcliff says. And if you like to cast—whether the target is a trout or a hoop—you will find your people.

“These are folks who cannot not cast,” Hinchcliff adds with a laugh. “We invest a huge amount of our emotional capital into this kind of tackle. There will be fly lines flying through the air for three straight days, as long as there is daylight to see them.”

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There are eight types of fishing rods: spinning , casting , fly fishing , ultralight , telescoping , trolling , surf and ice fishing rods . Each type serves a different purpose. To have the best experience, you need to use the right rod.

Spinning rods

A spinning rod is one of the most versatile types of fishing rods. It’s suitable for beginners and features a reel that’s positioned to provide stability and give you a comfortable grip with your dominant hand. The rod is available in a wide variety of lengths, actions and powers, making it highly adaptable. You can use it on a lake, in a river or on a boat. On the downside, it isn’t the best for heavy lines .

Best spinning rod

Penn Fierce III Spinning Combo

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This heavy-duty spinning combo is suitable for a variety of anglers. It is made of graphite and features stainless steel guides to increase durability. The finger grooves in the ethylene-vinyl acetate, or EVA, grips provide the extra traction needed to win those epic battles.

Casting rods

A casting rod lets you cast further with greater accuracy. It can handle heavier lines, so it’s fine for larger species and fishing in areas with thick vegetation. Depending on the reel — spincast or baitcast — this rod can be for beginners or advanced anglers. A spincast reel is the simplest to operate, so it’s suitable for a child, but the baitcast reel requires a bit of skill to get the most out of it.

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Best casting rod

St. Croix Premier Casting Rod

St. Croix is a legendary name in fishing gear . This rod has both great strength and sensitivity. It has a premium-grade cork handle and a flex coat slow-cure finish for exceptional durability.

Fly fishing rods

Fly fishing stands apart from all other fishing methods. It requires the greatest amount of skill and is reserved for a special breed of anglers. The average rod is 9 feet, but it’s possible to get one as long as 14 feet. The best strategy is to match the rod to the target species and conditions. Longer rods tend to cover more water, while shorter rods are better for fighters.

Best fly fishing rod

Fenwick Aetos Fly Rod

This fly fishing rod is beginner-friendly and offers versatile, forgiving performance at an affordable price. Its graphite material is stronger and lighter than carbon, while AAA-grade cork provides optimal control.

Ultralight rods

If you’re going on a backpacking trip or you just prefer to target smaller species, then an ultralight rod is for you. These rods are the top choice when packing space is at a premium. As you might imagine, ultralight rods are typically shorter, lighter and less durable than other types of fishing rods. When you use an ultralight rod, you’ll have to work harder to land even smaller fish, such as smallmouth and trout.

Best ultralight rod

Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod

This graphite composite rod is designed for anglers of all ages. It works well for light and ultralight actions. The full cork handles offer maximum comfort and gripping power. 

Telescoping fishing rods

Even more so than an ultralight rod, a telescoping rod is designed to be compact and portable. As the name suggests, it collapses into itself like a telescope. If hassle-free packing and transport are the priorities and performance is secondary, a telescoping rod is the way to go. While it’s a versatile tool that’s great for times when you must hike into a campsite, the casting ability isn’t usually that impressive.

Best telescoping fishing rod

Gonex Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel

This carbon fiber collapsible fishing rod is perfect for beginners. It is corrosion-resistant and comes with everything you need to get started on a new hobby: a telescoping rod, a reel, a carrier bag, some fishing line and a tackle filled with fishing lures and accessories.

Trolling rods

A trolling rod is another rod with a very specific purpose. This type of rod is mounted in a rod holder on a boat. As the boat moves slowly through the water, the bait or lure follows behind at a distance of anywhere between 20 and 150 feet. A trolling rod is stiffer and has a large reel to accommodate a lot of fishing line. Beginners to pros can enjoy this type of fishing, which is usually done in big lakes or the ocean. However, it’s possible to troll in ponds too.

Best trolling rod

Okuma Great Lakes Trolling Combo

Okuma might not be as big a name as Shimano or Penn, but the company has been around since the mid-’80s and produces quality rods at an affordable price. This rod and reel combo is specially made for Great Lake trolling action.

Surf fishing rods

When you anticipate a battle, a surf rod is what you need. These models have the rugged build necessary to endure a long fight with a large fish out on the ocean. Additionally, a surf rod is specifically designed to withstand the corrosion that typically occurs from exposure to salt water. While all skill levels can enjoy surf fishing, younger anglers may need help casting and using a surf rod.

Best surf fishing rod

Penn Battalion II Surf Spinning Rod

Available in 9-, 10-, 11- and 12-foot options, this top-quality surf rod is built to perform. The actions, balance and durability make it an exceptional rod, and the tacky rubber shrink tube handles ensure you have a secure grip, whether wet or dry.

Ice fishing rods

Ice fishing rods are unique because no casting is involved. You also may have extremely limited space within an ice shelter, so the rod is noticeably shorter than other options. While ideal for their intended purpose and suitable for anglers of all ages and skill levels, these rods are very limited in scope. An ice fishing rod is meant to drop vertically and operate at close distances, which makes it unsuitable for other methods of fishing.

Best ice fishing rod

13 Fishing Tickle Stick Ice Fishing Rod

13 Fishing is an innovative company that solves typical rod problems with creative flair. For instance, this model has a flat tip that lets the angler more easily detect ascending and descending strikes. It also adds a rigidity that helps ensure more consistent hook sets.

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Supreme streams: 10 best rivers for fly fishing in the US

USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards logo

Best River for Fly Fishing (2024) June 12, 2024

Fly fishing on rivers across the United States offers a diverse and enriching experience. Anglers can enjoy the tranquility of nature, the thrill of the catch, and the satisfaction of mastering the art of the sport. These 10 rivers, selected by an expert panel and voted by readers as the best for fly fishing in the country, each present a unique challenge and stunning backdrops.

Nantahala River

No. 10: Nantahala River - North Carolina

Visitors to Nantahala National Forest can spend their day exploring the splendor of the Nantahala River, a scenic water feature that runs just under 50 miles across western North Carolina. The river is idyllic for fly fishing year-round — even in the summer, as the river is fed by cold water streaming down from Nantahala Lake up in the mountains.

Deschutes River

No. 9: Deschutes River - Oregon

A prominent water feature that cuts through the center of Oregon, the Deschutes River has played a vital role in human society for thousands of years. Indigenous groups and 19th century settlers made full use of its rich bounty of fish. Today, the Lower Deschutes River is a popular spot for fly fishing.

Bighorn River

No. 8: Bighorn River - Montana and Wyoming

A particularly popular destination for Montana fly fishers, the Bighorn River offers a wealth of fascinating fish, flowing north from Wyoming into Montana. Brown and rainbow trout can be found in abundance on the river, which runs clear and cold in warmer months and free of ice in the winter.

Madison River

No. 7: Madison River - Montana and Wyoming

When it comes to Montana fly fishing, the Madison River has earned widespread acclaim, thanks to its rich array of local species and plenty of areas for walk-and-wade fishing. Rainbow and brown trout are the most commonly sighted, but you'll also find westslope cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish during a typical float trip.

Yellowstone River

No. 6: Yellowstone River - Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming

While Yellowstone National Park draws millions of tourists each year, fly fishing enthusiasts flock to the rushing waters of Yellowstone River to try their hand at landing a cutthroat, rainbow, or brown trout amidst a wide range of other species. With roughly 200 miles of prime trout waters, there's many opportunities to claim your spot for a peaceful day of fly fishing.

Snake River

No. 5: Snake River - Idaho and Wyoming

Spanning more than 1,000 miles across four states, Snake River serves as one of Idaho's most prominent water features. Many agree that South Fork of the Snake River is the best place for fly fishing. Here, you'll find cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout.

South Fork Holston River

No. 4: South Fork Holston River - Tennessee and Virginia

Cutting across Virginia and Tennessee, Holston River is an angler's dream. And when it comes to fly fishing, South Fork Holston River is tough to beat. Thanks to the river's many insects, fish can spend their days feasting to their hearts' content, imbuing the river with particularly large rainbow and brown trout for anglers to encounter.

Yakima River

No. 3: Yakima River - Washington

Located in Washington and the state's only blue ribbon trout stream, the Yakima River is known for its gorgeous river canyon scenery and stellar fly fishing. Anglers can take to the shorefront in search of cutthroat trout and rainbow trout, two particularly prominent species in the region.

San Juan River

No. 2: San Juan River - New Mexico

A crucial water source in a particularly arid region, the San Juan River provides some much-needed relief to the flora and fauna of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. The water's steady and consistent temperatures year-round make it conducive to fishing in all four seasons. Anglers will find rainbow, brown, and cutbow trout, as well carp, pike, and bass.

Au Sable River

No. 1: Au Sable River - Michigan

The Au Sable River spans 138 miles along the northern reaches of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, with no shortage of fascinating fauna thriving within its waters. For visiting fly fishers, brown trout are a particularly common catch, with the surrounding shores offering perfect conditions for the fish to thrive each year.

About 10Best Readers' Choice Awards

Nominees are submitted by a panel of experts. 10Best editors narrow the field to select the final set of nominees for the Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers can vote once per category, per day. For any questions or comments, please read the FAQ or email USA TODAY 10Best .

The Experts

Alen Baker

Alen Baker is the Founder of the Fly Fishing...   Read More

Alen Baker is the Founder of the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians in Bryson City, North Carolina, served on the NC Wildlife Federation Board for 10 years and as a volunteer leader in Trout Unlimited for over 30 years. He is the author of  Rocky River TU: The First Twenty-Five Years ,  Our Fly Fishing Heritage: The Making of the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians , and  My Flyfishing Playbook.  Baker is a member of the Southern Trout Magazine – Legends of the Fly Hall of Fame, Southern Fly Fishing Hall of Fame and Rocky River Trout Unlimited Hall of Fame.    He has fished for trout in over a dozen states and as far away as Tasmania and traveled to Nova Scotia for Atlantic salmon but overall prefers Southern Appalachian fly fishing for trout.   

Alen Baker

Angelica Talan

Angelica Talan

Angelica Talan is the founder & editor of two...   Read More

Angelica Talan is the founder & editor of two popular Washington, D.C. based blogs,  Angelica In The City  and  Clarendon Moms . She has written articles for Arlington Magazine, DUN magazine and has been featured on several Washington, D.C. based television news channels to share family travel tips. A passionate fly fishing enthusiast, Angelica is one of the current brand ambassadors for  and a brand ambassador for the Trout Routes an app dedicated to making fly fishing more accessible and a brand ambassador for Fishewear, a women’s line of fly fishing clothing and accessories based out of Alaska. Angelica has served over three years as the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Liason for United Women On The Fly and is excited to continue to connect with others in the great outdoors and to be a source of positive inspiration for those interested in learning to fly fish. You can connect with her on  Instagram ,  TikTok  and  X . 

Angelica Talan

Anietra Hamper

Anietra Hamper

Anietra Hamper is an award-winning travel writer...   Read More

Anietra Hamper is an award-winning travel writer and photographer from Columbus, Ohio, and owner of . Having spent nearly 20 years as a top-rated, EMMY nominated television news Anchor and investigative journalist, Anietra is an Ohio native who now uses her journalistic skills to uncover the best in travel experiences. She specializes in outdoor adventure and extreme fishing in the U.S. and around the world. Follow Anietra on  Facebook ,  Twitter  or  Instagram . 

Anietra Hamper

Dan Rice has been a fly angler for more than...   Read More

Dan Rice has been a fly angler for more than thirty years, and has held such occupations as a Hydrologic Technician for the USGS in Wyoming, and Manager of Fly Fishing Trip Sales for Montana Angler in Bozeman. He is the author of The Unpeopled Season: A Journal of Solitude and Wilderness , and editor of the book Familiar Waters: A Lifetime of Fly Fishing Montana . He is the founder of Riverfeet Press Books , and lead guide at Riverfeet Fly Fishing in Abingdon, VA. Learn more here:

Dan Rice

Matt Canter

Matt Canter

Matt Canter was born in High Point, NC (furniture...   Read More

Matt Canter was born in High Point, NC (furniture capital of the world).  Even at a very young age Matt was always attracted to the outdoors.  He grew interested in pond and lake fishing with live and artificial baits as his father and grandfather introduced him to it.  One particular afternoon, Matt and his Dad were going to join up with Matt’s uncle Eddie for a little brim fishing.  When Eddie showed up with nothing but a fly rod, and started catching brim left and right, Matt was impressed and traded in his conventional tackle for a fly rod.    From that point on, a fly rod travelled almost anywhere Matt did.  In fact, the fly rod was the main reason Matt chose to go to Western Carolina University (because of the areas rivers and streams).  Immediately after graduating, Matt started guiding for Brookings in Cashiers, NC which is one of the oldest fly shops in the area.  A couple years later he took on the role of head guide.  Shortly thereafter, Matt was offered the General Managers position, and slowly started to buy equity into the business over the last 20 plus years.  Present day, Matt is the majority owner in one of the southeasts’ largest fly shop and guide services and has hosted groups on destination fly fishing trips all over the world.  Please check them out at or on Facebook and Instagram as @brookingsanglers. 

Matt Canter

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original,...   Read More

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original, unbiased and experiential travel coverage of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

10Best Editors

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fly fishing travel rod

Two Fishing Rods in One: Tenkara Rod Company Teton Zoom Review

I follow a thin stream as it threads through a mountain meadow in New Mexico's Pecos Wilderness. The water was skinny enough to jump over in most places. But deep undercuts secret cutthroat trout, and larger pools open up with promise of schools.

These are small and smart fish, attuned to the slightest disturbance in their pristine environment. Catching one often comes down to a game of wits that I frequently lose.

This backpacking trip, I was carrying a Teton Zoom from Tenkara Rod Company, a kit that's become my go-to for fishing in the mountains in the past year. It's a Tenkara rod and doesn't have a reel, just a line tied to its tip.

Spotting a sky-reflecting pool ahead, I pull out the Teton Zoom , set it up in seconds to its 10.5-foot length, and float a fly to its surface. A ferocious 5-inch cutthroat snaps and I lift the rod to set the barbless hook, quickly making it over to release the small fish that darts back beneath an undercut. Knowing this pool is spooked for a while, I collapse the rod and continue on.

In short: I tested the Tenkara Rod Company Teton Zoom Tenkara rod ($245 full kit; $225 rod only) this summer while backpacking and exploring different fishing areas. Unlike many other Tenkara rods, this one expands to two different lengths, offering versatility in different settings and environments. You can fish narrow mountain streams just as easily as you might fish bigger alpine lakes or rivers.

It’s simple and easy to set up, so you can move from one fishing spot to another quickly, and it easily fits inside of a backpacking pack. It won’t replace my regular fly-fishing setup. But it is the only one I bring backpacking anymore.

Tenkara Rod Company Teton Zoom

  • Extended length 10.5'-12' 
  • Collapsed length 23"
  • Weight 3.5 oz.
  • Material Carbon fiber
  • Segments 9 including handle
  • Handle length 11.25"
  • Price $245 for kit that includes cases, line, tippet, and flies
  • Extremely lightweight and compact
  • Simple and fast setup
  • Adjustable length for a variety of conditions
  • Ever-so-slightly less responsiveness compared to fixed-length rods
  • Slightly longer stowed length than some corresponding fixed-length rods
  • I'll probably lose the wooden end plug

Tenkara Rod Co. Teton Zoom Review

What is tenkara.

Tenkara is basically fly fishing without a reel. Tenkara fishing was born in the high mountain streams of northern Japan. Its name is shortened from "tenkara-tsuri," which roughly translates to "fishing from the heavens," a reference to the dry fly landing on the water.

In the past several years, Tenkara fishing has increased in popularity in the U.S., with anglers appreciating its simplicity, aesthetic, and effectiveness on skinny water. Tenkara USA is credited with introducing Tenkara to the U.S. in 2009. Tenkara Rod Company, maker of the Teton Zoom that I've been using, opened in 2013. 

With a "standard" fly rod, the line and backing can be stripped from the reel to extend the length of casts and drifts to many times the length of the rod. With Tenkara, the line length is typically about the same as the rod's.

The adjustable Teton Zoom from Tenkara Rod Company brings some flexibility to this set system by being able to extend from 10.5 feet to 12 feet. A foot and a half may not sound like much. But this extra length can make a difference in casting, drifting, longer tippets, and leverage when landing fish.

Smaller fish are usually the goal with Tenkara rods, but the Teton Zoom can land 20-inchers, the company says. It's not a rod I would take to Alaska, but for the mountain streams of the Southwest, it's been spot on.

What's in the Box?

The carbon fiber, nine-section Teton Zoom comes in a carbon fiber tube and a black velvet sock. There is a 10.5-foot furled Tenkara line, 5x tippet spool, and three barbless dry flies in a tin included. There’s also a wooden line holder in the kit . That slides onto the rod handle and makes it look a bit like a katana.

The sections telescope into one another, so there's no aligning individual pieces. The rod can be collapsed and the line wrapped around the spool. That makes it easy to travel and quickly pack up or deploy at the next opportunistic spot.

Assembly out of the box is fast. Just tie an overhand knot in the red 2-inch cord called a lillian at the tip of the rod. Then secure the line with a slip knot behind the overhand knot. Tie on your tippet length of choice and a fly, and you're ready to go.

By using the slip knot, the line easily comes off of the lillian. It can then be quickly wrapped around the wooden line holder for transport or storage. It takes me about 30 seconds to set up the rod as opposed to minutes with my seven-piece fly rod.

A Tenkara Standout : Tenkara Rod Company Teton Zoom

The Teton Zoom's adjustable length is what sets it apart from other excellent Tenkara rods on the market. It expands from 10.5 feet to 12 feet, making it flexible for different environments. It fishes wonderfully on small streams with restricted casting range. But it can also be used on larger bodies where the extension allows longer casts, drifts, and leverage for bigger fish.

This rod is great for slingshot and side casting and for dipping flies into pools from behind boulder jumbles. Eight segments nest into one another and into the cork-handle section, and friction lock into one another. A wooden end-plug keeps the segments from spilling out when stored. I'm expecting to lose that plug at some point, and it’s probably this rod's biggest weakness.

At an inch shy of 2 feet when collapsed, the Teton Peak slides easily into packs or pockets. And at 3.5 ounces, there's no weight or space penalty. If segments need to be cleaned of grit, a butt cap in the handle can be unscrewed, and the segments can be removed individually to clean or replace.

The 10.5- and 12-foot lengths hit the sweet spot for many anglers. But if you need a shorter rod, Tenkara Rod Company's 10-foot Beartooth rod ($225 full kit; $205 rod only) collapses to 14 inches. And rival company Tenkara USA makes the Rhodo ($250) that has three settings at 8'10", 9'9", and 10'6" lengths. The Rhodo collapses to 21 inches.

Teton Zoom Advantages

Tenkara in general strips down my fishing kit to just what I need when fishing mountain streams: a rod, line, and fly. I don't need to make long casts, and I like the speed of the setup and breakdown so I can move faster.

I'm able to stay focused on the section I'm getting ready to fish as I assemble the Teton Zoom , as opposed to my fly rod that requires me to squint as I align the sections and thread the line through the guides - usually with some muttered choice words as I drop something.

When backpacking through forests or brush where an assembled fly rod can easily get snagged or snapped, being able to quickly retract the Teton Zoom and slip it into my water bottle pocket is a huge plus.

Final Thoughts

So, has the Teton Zoom completely replaced my fly rod? No. I'm leaving the Teton Zoom at home when I'm hitting the San Juan or Animas rivers. But it is the rod I use most often, and the only one I take backpacking now. 

Fly rods and Tenkara rods are apples and oranges. But the Teton Zoom brings some of the flexibility of a fly rod to Tenkara fishing with its extendability. The Teton Zoom is perfect for backpackers who want a featherweight, compact fishing system for small creeks and streams that can quickly be set up.

Beyond backpacking, Tenkara is a centuries-old discipline that adds a new dimension to the sport and art of fly fishing, even in bigger water.

So, with something so simple and effective as the Teton Zoom, is there anything not to like? If you're fishing larger rivers or large lakes, you're probably going to want to stick with a reeled fly rod for long drifts, long casts and multiple presentations in water that isn't as easily spooked as quiet mountain streams.

Because of the adjustable segment of the Teton Zoom that sits in the handle when not extended, some users feel that the rod is somewhat damped or muted to the sensitive strikes of small fish. But I haven't noticed an issue.

If you enjoy fishing narrow streams and quiet pools, but still may want a little extra reach at times, the Teton Zoom is a great tool to add to your kit. It gives you everything you need, and nothing more.

Review: Bubba Blade's Inshore Fishing Rods Deserve a Chef's Kiss

Bubba Blade expanded its line into inshore fishing rods. And they're everything you'd expect from the beloved fishing- and food-focused lifestyle brand. Read more…

The post Two Fishing Rods in One: Tenkara Rod Company Teton Zoom Review appeared first on GearJunkie .

This article may contain affiliate links that Microsoft and/or the publisher may receive a commission from if you buy a product or service through those links.

(Photo/Steve Larese)

Legendary Sanibel fly fisherman Norm Zeigler passes at 75

fly fishing travel rod

Norm Zeigler had no secret fishing spots.

Inventor of one of the most used flies in the history of fly fishing, Zeigler was known for passing on his free fishing knowledge in a sport that's often thought of an exclusive extension of angling reserved for the rich and retired.

The famous Sanibel Island angler and businessman died early Monday at his partially rebuilt home on Sanibel Island from complications related to Parkinson's.

Born on July 10, 1948 on Cape Cod, Zeigler, 75, worked as a travel and outdoors writer and editor for most of his life, and he was known locally as the forefather and big promoter of fly fishing for snook, especially from beaches like Sanibel Island.

"He was so king and big-hearted and that's why he was so successful," said his wife of 39 years, Libby Grimm. "He believed in no secret spots, even before he opened the fly shop."

He is survived by Libby, son Travis Zeigler of Sanibel, daughter, Katrina Sherman (Hunter), and three grandchildren, of Austin, Texas. He is also survived by his sister and three brothers, and many nieces and nephews.

Zeigler spent much of his professional life as an outdoors and travel writer and editor for Stars and Stripes, a military publication based in Germany.

There, he roamed across much of Europe, hunting and fishing some of the most beautiful landscapes the continent has to offer.

Zeigler came down with Lyme disease, and in 1994 his doctor advised that he move to an area like Florida for its temperate climate and clean air.

He did, but he also lost trout fishing, which had become an obsession over the decades.

Norm Zeigler's Fly Shop on Sanibel Island

"He was so sick he would cast from the beach, and then he realized he could catch snook from the beach," Libby said. "Then he wrote the book that revolutionized the fly fishing industry because you didn't need money to pay for a guide."

Norm Zeigler's Fly Shop opened in 2009 along Periwinkle Drive, and the fly fishing atmosphere there inspired a generation of guides in Lee County to follow Zeigler's lead.

He sold the shop in 2021 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's.

"He didn't make it three years and (Hurricane) Ian didn't help because we lost everything in the world," Libby said. "It was a 6-minute walk to the Gulf, and it was a great house until Ian."

Hurricane Ian made landfall on their 38th wedding anniversary, Libby said.

Daniel Andrews, co-founder of Captains for Clean Water, worked at Zeigler's fly shop for several years while he was in high school.

"I met Norm before I had my driver's license," Andrews said. "I must have been 13 or 14 years old."

He said Zeigler was an advocate for fly fishing and he fought to break down economic barriers that keep many people from enjoying the sport.

'Anybody can pick up a fly rod'

"The thing about Norm was he was incredibly empowering to people: Anybody can pick up a fly rod and you don't need the fanciest setup out there," Andrews said. "The most notable thing about his is he worked to remove boundaries and he wanted people to find the peace and connection to nature."

Andrews described Zeigler as a serious fisherman who wanted his friends and guests to experience the joys he had come to know on Sanibel.

"When you were on the water with him, he had a sense of seriousness and there wasn't a lot of words said," Andrews said. "He just wanted you to have the same experience he did. The real drive for that was the peace and serenity that he had while fly fishing the beaches."

Long-time friend and fellow fly fisherman Bob Brooks said Zeigler's shop was key to starting a unique fishery on Sanibel.

"There were a few people who were doing it but they were very quiet about it," Brooks said. "Norm was the one who started writing about it and developed the Schminnow and he was probably the first people who really went after it and told people about it. Then people started to come to Sanibel just to do that and they still do."

Zeigler was featured in a recent article on his life and passing.

Zeigler helped create Southwest Florida's beach fly fishery

Calusa Watekeeper and fishing guide Codty Pierce, 33, worked at Zeigler's shop as a teenager, and he credited Zeigler with making Southwest Florida waters famous.

"He's really the one who bridged the gap and told normal people they could sight fish for tropical gamefish on Sanibel Island," Pierce said. Sight fishing is a visual method where fish are spotted and then cast to. "Not only was it his business but he went out of his way to give casting lessons and encouraged people to go out and try it. He founded the Sanibel Fly Club and they really are a staple of the community." Pierce said Zeigler was a leader in the fishing community and just a genuinely good person.

"What started as hanging out on a dirty old couch turned into a group that got together for fly fishing because we were passionate about it, but that turned into more beautiful things like helping Boy Scouts and doing work inside Ding Darling and that was all the brainchild of Norm," Pierce said. "His book was a gamechanger for this area because it really put us on the map. The only thing that's rivaled his book is the tarpon fishing at Boca Grande."

But Zeigler's health failed him in the past few years.

"He certainly had his share of health issues with the chronic Lyme disease and the prostate cancer and this Parkinson's was more than enough, but fly fishing was his Zen, his yoga and his religion," Libby said.

Donations in Norm’s memory may go to Captains for Clean Water, or organizations supporting Parkinson’s research. In late fall, a memorial service will be held on Sanibel, Libby said.

Connect with this reporter: Chad Gillis on Facebook.


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  1. The Best Travel Fly Rods (2023 Buyer's Guide)

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  3. 8 Best Travel Fly Rods: 2024 Buyers Guide

    5 Hardy Aydon Travel Fly Rod. 6 Greys Wing Travel Fly Rod. 7 Echo Trip Eight Piece. 8 Orvis Clearwater. 9 Redington Classic Trout. 10 Redington Trailblazer. 11 M MAXIMUMCATCH Travel Fishing Rod. 12 Best Fly Rods For Traveling Summary.

  4. Best Travel Fishing Rods for 2024

    Best travel rod for bass - Buy from FishUSA. Runner up: Daiwa ardito travel rod - Buy from Basspro. Best all-around / saltwater travel rod - Buy from Basspro. Best telescopic travel rod - Buy from Basspro. Runner up: Ugly stik cx2 4-piece travel combo - Buy from Basspro. Ark rods genesis rods - Buy from Tacklewarehouse.

  5. Best Travel Fly Fishing Rods

    Best Travel Fly Rods (Overall) These are our picks for the top performing travel fly rods while on the water and during travel. 1. Orvis Clearwater 6 Piece, 5 wt. The Orvis Clearwater model has consistently proven itself to fly fishing enthusiasts from the east coast to the west coast as an affordable and durable travel fly rod.

  6. 10 Best Fly Rods of 2023 (Buyer's Guide)

    Here's my list of the best fly fishing rods that you can buy in 2023. 1. Best Fly Rod Overall: G. LOOMIS NRX+. Pros: Nice design, great accuracy, super smooth, good warranty. Cons: A bit stiff, a little overpowering for smaller flies. Best For: Advanced Anglers, Euro Nymphing & Freshwater.

  7. Best Travel Fishing Rods of 2024

    The Best Travel Fishing Rods. Best Combo: Ugly Stik GX2 Travel Spinning Combo. Best for Saltwater: G. Loomis Escape GLX Series. Best for Bass: Abu Garcia IKE Signature Series Travel Spinning Rod ...

  8. The Best Fly Rods of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

    Best Fly Rods. Best Overall: Sage R8 Core Best Value: Orvis Clearwater Best Small Stream Fly Rod: Epic Reference 476 Fastglass The Rest of the Best Fly Rods. Epic Reference 590G Carbon Fiber; G ...

  9. The Best Travel Fly Rods for 2024: Reviews and Buying Guide

    Best Fly Fishing Rod Combo; Best 5 Weight Fly Rod; Best Fly Rods For Beginners; Best Travel Fly Rods Reviewed Orvis Clearwater Travel Fly Rod. Bass Pro. Material: graphite Action: medium-fast Length: 8' 6" and 9' Weight: 5 wt, 6 wt, and 8 wt Pieces: 6. Orvis's Clearwater Travel Rod packs down small, fitting into a tube that measures ...

  10. 16 Best Fly Rods Reviewed & Tested (Hands-on Guide)

    Best cheap fiberglass rod : Get the Eagle Claw Featherlight. Best combo: Get the Orvis Clearwater Combo. Best starter kit: Get the Wild Water Fly Fishing Starter Package ( Read 400+ Amazon reviews ) Best saltwater: Scott Meridian 909-4. Best for travel: Get the Cabelas Stowaway 6. This comparison is based on the 4-weight rods of each ...

  11. The 9 Best Travel Fishing Rods of 2024

    Best for Bass: Abu Garcia I.K.E. Signature Series Travel Casting Rod. Most Innovative: Daiwa Ardito-TR Travel Casting and Spinning Rod. Best for Inshore: Falcon Traveler Coastal Spinning Rod. Best Budget: Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Travel Spinning Combo.

  12. Best Travel Fly Rod 2020: The Ultimate Guide

    Best Travel Fly Rod: Cabela's Stowaway 6. There is a lot to like about the Cabela's Stowaway 6 fly rod, starting with the wide variety of configurations. Cabela's makes an ultralight 8'6″ 3-weight as well as a 7'6″ 4-weight. There is also an 8'6″ 4-weight, which is a super versatile combination for smaller streams, as well as ...

  13. Travel Fly Rod

    Welcome to the Travel Fly Fishing Rod collection at REYR Gear! Here you will find a wide selection of fly fishing rods that are designed specifically for travel. These rods are lightweight and compact, making them perfect for anglers on the go. Whether you're heading out on a backpacking trip, a road trip, or a long-distance flight, these travel fly rods are the perfect companion for your journey.

  14. Travel Light, Fish Right: Best Travel Fishing Rods For On-The-Go Anglers

    Redington Trailblazer Fly Rod. The Redington Trailblazer is another travel fly fishing rod that will be up for any challenge that you put to the test. Redington makes both a 3-weight and 5-weight option for anglers. The 7'6" 3-weight is great if you head to backcountry mountain streams or small alpine lakes.

  15. Fly-Fishing Rods

    Steelhead and salmon will require a 7-, 8-, or 9-weight fly rod. Then think about length. Rods in the 8'6" and 9' range are the most versatile and most common. But small stream anglers tend to like easy-to-maneuver rods in the 6' to 7' range. Finally, consider other aspects of your fishing to determine which rod will suit you best ...

  16. The Experts Have Their Say on Our 2-in-1 Travel Fly Fishing Rod!

    A writer for the FlyFishing & FlyTying magazine recently tested our 2-in-1 Travel Fly Rod and has written an in-depth review of its feel, performance and value for money. It's one of the most popular fly-fishing publications in the country with one of the largest readerships. We always knew this travel fishing rod was something special. After countless hours developing it and ensuring it was ...

  17. Fly Fishing Travel

    A Simple, Easy Solution for Fly Fishing Travel Patagonia Travel Fly Rod Roll - $79. While it may be the least outright-protective carrying option on the list, this has become one of my favorites.

  18. Travel Fly Rods

    Goture Fly Fishing Rod, 9ft 4 Piece Fly Rod Freshwater Saltwater, Carbon Fiber Blank Fly Rod, Travel Fly Fishing Rod for Walleye Bass Salmon Trout Fishing. $36.99 $ 36. 99. FREE delivery Thu, May 23 . Maxcatch Traveler Fly Fishing Rod: 7-Piece IM10 Carbon Rod with Rod Tube in 5/6/7/8 Weight.

  19. Flying With Fishing Rods: Best Guide To Travel For Anglers

    Delta Airlines permits transporting fishing rods as a carry-on. Ensure they fit into the standard carry-on size of 22 x 14in x 9in. Further, United Airlines limits you to one item of fishing equipment per customer that must be checked. It can contain a pair of fishing boots, two rods, a landing net, a reel, and a tackle box.

  20. Honest Talk on Fly Rods

    An expensive fly rod won't cure a cheap cast; a top-of-the-line stick won't make you an expert at reading water and decoding hatches. What the good rods do is eliminate as many of the variables in fly casting as possible, so that an angler is entirely dependent on their own skills.

  21. Best Orvis Fly Fishing Gear For Slaying Fish From Coast To Coast

    Orvis Clearwater® Fly Rod Outfit (see below) — $419 - $429 via Orvis Hydros® Reels 7-9wt in Ice Blue via Orvis — $289. Here we have a 7 weight, 10′ Clearwater Fly Rod paired with a 7-9wt Ice blue Hydros Reels. Together, the combo comes in at $538 which, in my humble opinion, is beyond a steal for the best setup money can ...

  22. Basic Knots of Fly Fishing: The Nail Knot

    Fly Fishing Travel | Proven Solutions for Traveling With Fly Rods By Jess McGlothlin Jun 10, 2024 11:14 AM EDT A Fly Fishing Trip of a Lifetime - Epic Battles in the Amazon Jungle

  23. How to cast with a fly rod

    Stop the rod when it gets to about 2 o'clock on the clock face we described earlier. Then, as soon as the fly line straightens out behind you (it's OK to peek), push your right hand forward to ...

  24. Cabela's Official Website

    RedHead Seersucker Short-Sleeve Button-Down Shirt for Men. Reg. Starting at 24.99. Sale Starting at 14.98. Available in 12 Colors. Save 40%.

  25. This Gathering Is the Bonnaroo of Bamboo Fly Rods

    A homegrown Smoky Mountains event caters to the cult of the cane makers, restorers, and collectors. A handmade 5-weight rod from Oyster Fine Bamboo Fly Rods in Georgia. Don't call it a revival, or a celebration of history, or even a renaissance. That's not what the BambooBash is about. The annual get-together does bring a passel of bamboo ...

  26. Reel one in with the best fishing rod for every type of fishing

    Best surf fishing rod. Penn Battalion II Surf Spinning Rod. Available in 9-, 10-, 11- and 12-foot options, this top-quality surf rod is built to perform. The actions, balance and durability make ...

  27. 10 best rivers for fly fishing in the US, according to readers

    Bighorn River - Montana and Wyoming. A particularly popular destination for Montana fly fishers, the Bighorn River offers a wealth of fascinating fish, flowing north from Wyoming into Montana. Brown and rainbow trout can be found in abundance on the river, which runs clear and cold in warmer months and free of ice in the winter.

  28. Two Fishing Rods in One: Tenkara Rod Company Teton Zoom Review

    In short: I tested the Tenkara Rod Company Teton Zoom Tenkara rod ($245 full kit; $225 rod only) this summer while backpacking and exploring different fishing areas. Unlike many other Tenkara rods ...

  29. Elektrostal

    MSZ, also known as Elemash, Russia's largest producer of fuel rod assemblies for nuclear power plants, which are exported to ... Elektrostal is linked by Elektrichka suburban electric trains to Moscow's Kursky Rail Terminal with a travel time of 1 hour and 20 minutes. Long distance buses link Elektrostal to Noginsk, Moscow and other nearby ...

  30. Sanibel fishing legend passes after battle with Parkinson's

    Zeigler, 75, worked as a travel and outdoors writer and editor and promoted fly fishing for snook, especially from beaches like Sanibel. Island.