The Best Trout Fly Rods

Trout fly rods represent one of the largest single segment of the fly fishing gear market, and the most common fly fishing rod size sold today is the 9-foot, 5-weight. This configuration provides the best versatility when targeting trout in a wide range of conditions and water bodies. Rods designed for 4-weight or 6-weight lines are also popular and fit within the “trout rod” category.

The fact that trout are the most common target for anglers using these rods doesn’t mean that they are the only fish for which the rods are suitable. Trout fly rods are generally the most versatile of all fly rods. Indeed, the 9-foot, 5-weight rod is the far-and-away the best-selling rod configuration today largely because of its great versatility. A good 5-weight proves effective in fishing for everything from bass to walleye. Trout, bluegill, whitefish, char, grayling, and even carp can be taken effectively with a 5-weight.

In testing a good trout fly rod, we do consider its versatility. We test its ability to cast small dry flies accurately with a delicate presentation, as well as throwing heavy streamers a good distance. We also look at the rod’s power in casting in windy conditions, and strength in fighting strong deep-diving fish.

The weight and feel of the rod also play a role in the rods’ ratings. Trout fishermen frequent spend most of a day casting. Swinging a rod for 6 or 8 hours a day can be tiring, especially if the rod is unbalanced, or fits poorly in hand. So, we cast each rod we test. Our team casts in wind, and in tight casting conditions. We cast from shore, and we cast from boats. We cast, and cast some more — usually logging at least a hundred hours with each rod in hand.

It’s worth noting, too, that price is seldom a serious consideration in determining our “best in class” ratings. Top-notch quality and performance do at times come at a higher financial cost, but not always. Sometimes, small differences in weight due to the use of less expensive components can cause a difference in total score between a $200 rod and an $800 one. It’s up to the end user to decide if that higher price is worth the modest difference in weight and total performance.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Orvis Helios 3F, 905-4 rod
99
Best in Class
2018
Weight/balance 10
Fit in hand/grip 10
Casting accuracy 10
Casting distance 9
Fish-on performance 10
Versatility 10

Lightest rod in the test

Very accurate casting

Good fit and balanced casting

Good casting distance

Made in the USA

Expensive

Limited models & availability

Unattractive graphics on rod base

MSRP
$849.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Thomas & Thomas Avantt 905-4
96
Best in Class
2017
Fit in Hand / Grip 10
Casting Accuracy 9
Casting Distance 9
Fish-on Performance 9
Versatility 9

Perfect balance with low swing-weight

Versatile performance

Strong butt & mid-section for fighting fish

Sensitive tip for good line control & accuracy

Comfortable & secure grip

Made in the USA

Expensive

Not as accurate as some

Fast action performance can be difficult to master by novices

MSRP
$825.00
BEST DEAL
R.L. Winston Nimbus 9′ 5-wt
95
Weight/balance 9
Fit in hand/grip 10
Casting accuracy 9
Casting distance 9
Fish-on performance 9
Versatility 9

Versatile

Good fish-on performance

Excellent fit and finish

Made in the USA

Somewhat expensive

Not ideal for multiple weighted nymph rigs

Not the longest casting with multiple flies

MSRP
$650.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Sage Accel 486-4
93
Weight 8
Fit in Hand / Grip 9
Casting Distance 8
Casting Accuracy 9
Versatility 10
Value 9

Extremely accurate

Very versatile

Good feel

Great swing weight

Made in the USA

A bit expensive

Slightly less distance than others

A bit heavier than the Orvis Recon

MSRP
$595.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Redington Crux 590-4
92
Weight/balance 9
Fit in hand/grip 10
Casting accuracy 8
Casting distance 9
Fish-on performance 8
Versatility 8

Great price

Good casting accuracy

Good casting distance

Versatile

Slightly heavy

Heavy feel/swing-weight

Not made in USA

MSRP
$400.00
BEST DEAL
Orvis Helios 2
91
Best in Class
2012
Weight 10
Fit in Hand / Grip 9
Casting Distance 9
Casting Accuracy 9
Versatility 8
Value 6

The lightest rod in the test (and possibly the lightest on the market)

Very accurate casting

Beautiful styling and detail

Great fit and feel in the hand, suitable for all-day casting with little arm fatigue

Most expensive rod in the class

Not quite as powerful (i.e casting distance) as some

Limited availability of different line weight models during initial release

MSRP
$795.00
BEST DEAL
Sage One 590-4
90
Weight 9
Fit in Hand / Grip 7
Casting Distance 10
Casting Accuracy 9
Versatility 8
Value 7

Among the lightest rods available

Narrow rod sections reduce air resistance, reducing casting fatigue

Fast-action taper produces great line-speed for distance and performance in windy conditions

Design and materials dampen lateral vibrations during casting, improving accuracy

No ‘alignment dots’ on ferrules to ease set up

Rod tube is very narrow, making packing rod more difficult

Smaller handed testers felt the traditional half-wells grip felt a bit cumbersome

MSRP
$725.00
BEST DEAL
Orvis Recon 904-4
90
Weight 8
Fit in Hand / Grip 9
Casting Distance 10
Casting Accuracy 7
Versatility 8
Value 8

Good casting distance

Very versatile

Moderate price

Made in the USA

Slightly less sensitive ‘feel’ than others in the class

Some felt it a bit ‘butt heavy’

Not as accurate as some

MSRP
$425.00
BEST DEAL
Sage X 590-4
90
Fit in Hand / Grip 8
Casting Accuracy 7
Casting Distance 10
Fish-on Performance 8
Versatility 7

Longest casting rod in the test

Good power & fish control

Well balanced

Made in the USA

The most expensive rod in the test

Limited accuracy

Grip wasn’t ideal for some testers

Lacks versatility

MSRP
$895.00
BEST DEAL
Sage Igniter 590-4
90
Weight/balance 8
Fit in hand/grip 9
Casting accuracy 8
Casting distance 10
Fish-on performance 8
Versatility 7

Excellent performance in windy conditions

Great at casting distance

Light swing-weight

Made in the USA

Limited accuracy

Poor performance at short distance

Can be difficult to cast, especially for novices

Modest versatility

MSRP
$900.00
BEST DEAL
Sage Method 590-4
89
Weight/balance 9
Fit in hand/grip 9
Casting accuracy 7
Casting distance 10
Fish-on performance 7
Versatility 7

Longest casting rod in the test

Good power & fish control

Well balanced

Made in the USA

Limited accuracy

Lacks versatility

Can be difficult to cast, especially for novices

Expensive

MSRP
$650.00
BEST DEAL
Sage Foundation 590-4
89
Weight/balance 9
Fit in hand/grip 9
Casting accuracy 8
Casting distance 7
Fish-on performance 8
Versatility 8

Versatile

Moderately priced

Good fish-control

Made in the USA

Limited accuracy

Limited casting distance

Slightly heavy

MSRP
$325.00
BEST DEAL
Scott Radian 864/4
88
Weight 8
Fit in Hand / Grip 8
Casting Distance 9
Casting Accuracy 8
Versatility 8
Value 7

Excellent casting distance

Great performance in windy conditions

Good swing-weight/feel

Made in the USA

Most expensive in class

Limited versatility

Slight loss of accuracy in exchange for power

MSRP
$795.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Redington VICE
88
Fit in Hand / Grip 7
Casting Accuracy 7
Casting Distance 8
Fish-on Performance 8
Versatility 8

Great price

Good casting accuracy

Good casting distance

Good versatility

Slightly heavy

Heavy feel/swing-weight

Not made in the USA

Grip wasn’t comfortable in smaller hands

MSRP
$200.00
BEST DEAL
G. Loomis PRO4x
87
Weight 7
Fit in Hand / Grip 7
Casting Distance 8
Casting Accuracy 8
Versatility 8
Value 9

Good blend of power and presentation

One of the lowest priced rods in the class

Most versatile rod in the test

One of the most inexpensive rods in the test

Slightly heavier than some

Felt a little tip-heavy to some casters

MSRP
$360.00
BEST DEAL
Redington Vapen Black 409-4
87
Best in Class
2015
Weight 7
Fit in Hand / Grip 9
Casting Distance 6
Casting Accuracy 8
Versatility 9
Value 8

Modest price

Great ‘feel’ when fishing small nymphs and dry flies

Accurate casting

Less casting power/distance than most of the others in this class

Slightly heavier than others in the class

Not made in the USA

MSRP
$350.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Orvis H2 Covert 905-4
87
Fit in Hand / Grip 8
Casting Accuracy 7
Casting Distance 7
Fish-on Performance 8
Versatility 7

Lightest rod in the test

Very accurate casting

Good fit & balanced casting

Good casting distance

Made in the USA

Expensive

Not as powerful as some

Limited models & availability

MSRP
$850.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
R.L. Winston Pure 490-4
86
Weight/balance 10
Fit in hand/grip 9
Casting accuracy 8
Casting distance 6
Fish-on performance 7
Versatility 6

Excellent short-range power for a moderate-action

Good accuracy within its range

Delicate fly presentation

Made in the USA

Limited casting distance

Limited accuracy at distance

Modest versatility

MSRP
$850.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
St. Croix Sole
85
Fit in Hand / Grip 7
Casting Accuracy 8
Casting Distance 5
Fish-on Performance 8
Versatility 7

Inexpensive

Good casting accuracy

Good performance with fish on

Made in the USA

Difficult to transport due to its length

Modest casting distance

Lacks versatility

Heavy

High swing-weight

MSRP
$340.00
BEST DEAL
Redington Link 590-4
83
Weight 6
Fit in Hand / Grip 8
Casting Distance 6
Casting Accuracy 7
Versatility 7
Value 9

Best value of its class

Fast-action design with good tip flex for delicate feel

Minimal lateral vibration for good accuracy

Attractive styles with optional matching reel

Forgiving; well-suited to intermediate casters

Slightly less ‘power’ than others in this class

Heavier than others in class

Not made in the USA

Shortest casting range of rods in our 2012 test

MSRP
$350.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Scott S4 904-4
83
Weight 6
Fit in Hand / Grip 8
Casting Distance 8
Casting Accuracy 6
Versatility 7
Value 8

Great performance casting heavy flies or complex multi-fly rigs

Powerful enough to cast in 10-20 mph winds

Well suited to drift-boat fishing on big western rivers

Great accuracy at middle distances

Slightly heavier than most of the other rods in the class

Accuracy drops off at longer casting distances

Not as versatile as some others

MSRP
$745.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
LL Bean Silver Ghost
83
Weight/balance 7
Fit in hand/grip 8
Casting accuracy 7
Casting distance 7
Fish-on performance 7
Versatility 7

Great price

Decent versatility

Good rod for novices

Good for small rivers and streams

Not as accurate as others in the class

Poor distance performance

Not made in USA

Poor performance with heavy flies

MSRP
$310.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Rugged Creek Traditional 4-wt
77
Weight 6
Fit in Hand / Grip 6
Casting Distance 5
Casting Accuracy 6
Versatility 7
Value 7

Least expensive rod in the test

Good general purpose design

Comes standard with reel-mount rod tube

Heavy swing-weight

Lack of accuracy

Poor casting power

MSRP
$220.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Orvis Helios 3F,  905-4 rod

The Orvis Helios 3F delivered the best all-around performance in a trout rod I have every experienced. Other team members reported the same experience — the Helios 3F is designed for precision casting accuracy, with exceptional distance performance as well. The rod proved stiff enough to handle heavy streamers, but fine enough to afford exceptional touch with tiny dry flies. The only knock I could lodge against the H3F was the placement of its prominent white label on the rod base — I spent the first week of fishing trying to figure out how to peel off what appears to be a big paper sticker.

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R.L. Winston Pure 490-4

The R.L. Winston Pure 490-4 won the hearts of testers when used in classic dry fly situations. The Pure’s moderate action allows for smooth, delicate presentation of dry flies out to 35 or 40 feet with ease. The Boron III rod blank gives the Pure plenty of power in that same range, pushing flies through stiff winds as well as most fast action sticks. Beyond that 35- to 40-foot range, the Pure struggles with both accuracy and distance. The Pure offers both power and finesse within its range — a tough combination to achieve. The Pure proved to be an ideal trout rod for anglers favoring dry flies in short to mid-range casting distances.

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Sage Igniter 590-4

The Sage Igniter requires plenty of speed and a lot of line to fully load, but once loaded, the Igniter casts a like a cannon. It throws heavy flies great distances with good speed and accuracy. The Igniter proved especially adept at delivering big dry flies like hoppers and salmon flies across broad rivers, even in windy conditions. Indeed, the Igniter seemed designed specifically to beat gusty winds. At short distances, the Igniter is awkward and struggles place flies cleanly — the rod just won’t load properly with less than 25 feet of line in play. But beyond that range, the Igniter is hard to beat for power and performance.

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R.L. Winston Nimbus 9′ 5-wt

The R.L. Winston Nimbus takes advantage of the award-winning tapers and rod designs featured in Winston’s Boron series rods, but employs pure carbon fiber composites to reduce costs. The Nimbus delivers good accuracy and casting distance, falling behind only the class-leading Orvis H3F in both performance categories. The Winston Nimbus is a great option for the angler who wants the performance and prestige of the Montana-based brand, at a reasonable price.

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Sage Foundation 590-4

The Sage Foundation perfectly fits the definition of a versatile trout rod. The Foundation has decent accuracy, but lacks the pinpoint precision of the Orvis. It offers good casting distance, but can’t come close to matching the Sage Method. It can deliver tiny dry flies delicately and it can toss big nymphs efficiently. It short, it’s true jack of all trades, master of none. That said, it’s priced low enough to attract any angler’s attention.

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Redington Crux 590-4

The Redington Crux proved to be a versatile fly rod with good casting power and decent accuracy. At less than half the price of some of the other rods in the class, the Crux offers an exceptional blend of performance and value. The Crux efficiently handles a variety of fly patterns and styles, and can be used effectively on everything from stillwater to rushing rivers. The Crux doesn’t dominate any performance category, but stayed near the top it all of them, proving itself to be a high performance rod at a modest price.

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LL Bean Silver Ghost

The LL Bean Silver Ghost offers decent performance at reasonable price. The rod is listed as sporting fast-action design, but it’s more a medium-fast action, with a stiff casting performance. The Silver Ghost proved best suited to handling medium-sized flies — dries and nymphes — but it struggled with the smallest and largest patterns. It lacked the touch and accuracy to be effective with small dries, and came up short when tossing big streamers to distances.

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Thomas & Thomas Avantt 905-4

The Thomas & Thomas Avantt is the lightest fast action rod we’ve tested, yet it also proved to be one of the strongest in terms of fighting power and casting distance. The Avantt earned the test’s highest rankings across all but one of the test categories, and was dubbed the favorite by every test team member. The biggest knock on the Avantt proved to be its price: As with much of the outdoor market, lighter weights and better performance equates to higher prices and the Avantt is one of the most expensive rod in the test.

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Sage Accel 486-4

After just a month of fishing the Sage Accel 486-4, I had fallen in love. The medium-fast action of the Accel offered me a smooth, progressive action that was able to push a lot of line a good distance, but with great tip flex suitable for long mends and delicate presentations. It doesn’t have the pure power of the Scott Radian, or even the reach of the Orvis Recon, but it is an all-around master.

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Orvis Helios 2

The Helios 2 is the lightest fast action rod we’ve found, but it gives up nothing in performance, coming in first or second in our tests on distance, accuracy and versatility. Unfortunately, it also follows the general rule of lighter weights meaning heavier prices – it’s the most expensive rod we tested.

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Redington Vapen Black 409-4

The Redington Vapen Black utilizes the original Vapen’s synthetic grip without the gaudy colors. The fast-action taper provides good casting power with better than average accuracy. The Vapen offers a general performance similar to that of the Sage Accel, but with slightly less accuracy and overall fishing sensitivity.

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Thomas & Thomas Avantt 905-4

The Thomas & Thomas Avantt is the lightest fast action rod we’ve tested, yet it also proved to be one of the strongest in terms of fighting power and casting distance. The Avantt earned the test’s highest rankings across all but one of the test categories, and was dubbed the favorite by every test team member. The biggest knock on the Avantt proved to be its price: As with much of the outdoor market, lighter weights and better performance equates to higher prices and the Avantt is one of the most expensive rod in the test.

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Orvis Helios 2

The Helios 2 is the lightest fast action rod we’ve found, but it gives up nothing in performance, coming in first or second in our tests on distance, accuracy and versatility. Unfortunately, it also follows the general rule of lighter weights meaning heavier prices – it’s the most expensive rod we tested.

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See All Trout Fly Rods Reviews

Trout Fly Rod Review Results

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Your fly rod acts as a physical extension of your arm, making your interaction with it very personal. The way the rod fits in hand and feels during use is as important as the other performance characteristics of the rod.

When all our testing was completed, the unanimous pick as Best in Class this year was Orvis’ new Helios 3 series, and more specifically the H3F. This rod topped all but one review category, distance casting. Even then it came in at a tight second place.

Weight/balance

A full day of fishing can require dozens, if not hundreds, of casts and false casts over the span of several hours. A rod that is too heavy, or doesn’t balance well with its matched reel, can hasten arm fatigue. Worse, a heavy unbalanced rod can lead to less ‘feel’ when it comes time to set hooks on delicate takes. The Orvis Helios 3F (H3F) was the lightest rod in the class, with a low swing-weight meaning less force was needed to power each cast, thus feeling lighter through the casting swing-motion. The H3F felt as light and comfortable to cast at the day of a long day on Idaho’s Clearwater River as it did on the first cast that morning.

The Winston Nimbus was a close second in comfortable casting weight. The Nimbus swings smoothly, with little effort regardless of the reel we mounted on it. The Sage Method, meanwhile, was about the same physical weight but felt a touch heavier thanks to a larger swing weight — casting the ultra-fast action Method feels like throwing more weight. And the LL Bean Silver Ghost suffered from a bit of unbalanced feel — the butt and grip section feels overweight compared to the soft tip.

Fit in hand/grip

A quality rod should comfortably function for a variety of anglers, meaning the feel of the rod in hand — the grip and reel seat – should match the needs of anglers with small hands as well as those with big calloused mitts. We consider the shape of the grip – an aggressive taper can create hand fatigue when fighting back-to-back fish, or even when struggling to cast against strong winds all day. An overly ‘fat’ grip, meanwhile, can be cumbersome in small hands, leading to hand fatigue.

Generally, the rods in this class all worked well for our testers. The Redington Crux, Orvis H3F and Winston Nimbus were dubbed equally well suited to everyone. The Silver Ghost was the only rod that felt truly awkward one of our testers with extra-large hands. He felt the narrow taper of the Silver Ghost’s grip left the rod loose in hand.

Casting accuracy

Modern rod designers utilize advanced engineering to achieve remarkably precise tapers from butt to tip. The accuracy of even moderately rated rods today is well in advance of what was found 20 years ago.

Still, in this category, one rod truly dominated this year:  The Orvis Helios 3 series incorporates new materials and production methods in a design that nearly eliminates side-to-side oscillations in the rod during that casting stroke. That results in a huge increase in casting accuracy and casting distance.  Both the Helios 3 F-series and D-series boast unmatched accuracy, even at distance, but the F-series focuses on finesse in casting presentations while its sibling, the D series, focuses its design on distance casting. Both the H3F and H3D showed remarkably precise casting accuracy, with outstanding distance potential, but the H3F offers a bit more touch in dry fly presentation and control. The Helios 3 design utilizes new composites and a wealth of unique research in rod action to fine-tune the structure of the rod from tip to grip. The result is a rod that minimizes vibrations, allowing the rod to track forward and back with little or no side oscillations. That creates sharp-shooter accuracy even in tough casting conditions.

Though not on par with the H3F, the Winston Nimbus and Redington Crux offered accuracy that was well above average. The Sage Method — designed for powerful casting at distance — offered the least accuracy in the class.

Casting Distance

Getting flies out to where fish reside can increase the potential for success, and when the fish are far across a broad river, or well beyond shoreline on large lakes, casting distance is a vital component of a rod’s performance.

The ultra-fast action Sage Method powered both weight-forward floating lines, and sink-tip line farther than any other rod in this class. The Method is a boomer. Swinging a rod this fast requires some practice and skill, but it is possible to routinely throw 70 feet of line. With that performance, we could easily put streamers upstream and across the widest parts of the Deschutes River to work water where other anglers with less powerful rods couldn’t reach.

The Orvis H3F achieved nearly equal range, as did the Crux and Nimbus. The Silver Ghost, meanwhile, struggled to get beyond mid-range casts.

Fish-on performance

Once a fly has been accurately placed before a distant fish, and that fish has snatched the offering, the rod provides the means of controlling that caught-fish as you move it from its watery home to your net. So we evaluated the strength of each rod’s butt section to lift and control feisty trout. We consider the finesse of the tip in keeping the line taut without applying undue pressure on fine tippets. Mostly we ‘feel’ how the rod acts as we try to land fish as efficiently as possible so those fish can be safely released back into the rivers.

The Orvis H3F provided exceptional feel and control when playing a fish into the net. The rod showed enough backbone to hold and play hard-charging browns and leaping rainbows. We caught fish from a couple inches to couple pounds in size and the rod took care of each of them with ease.

The Sage Foundation also proved adept at allowing good control of the fish. The Foundation’s design provides enough flex to allow hooked fish the freedom to move without breaking off, while still affording the angler the power to bring a hard-fighting fish to hand efficiently.

Versatility

Since trout exist in varied forms of water — fast moving rivers, slow spring creeks, deep valley lakes, high alpine lakes, etc. — and they eat a variety of food sources, anglers need tools capable of addressing those various situations. So in reviewing trout rods, we evaluate its versatility. Can the rod be used to fish heavy nymphs all morning before pressing it into use as a dry fly stick during an afternoon caddis hatch? Can it lever lunker rainbows out of a weedy lake as well as finesse brook trout out of an alpine tarn?

The Orvis H3F again takes top honors, earning universal praise from testers as a versatile stick capable of performing exceeding well in all forms of pursuit of trout. The H3F proved equally adept when casting #20 midges, and #4 hoppers. We flung big weighted pat’s stone nymphs, and tungsten-head streamers with good accuracy and distance. In short, the H3F proved that it is truly the master of the Trout Rod category.

The Winston Nimbus, Redington Crux, and Sage Foundation also earned high praise as masters of the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ category. But the Sage Method and LL Bean Silver Ghosts performed best in specific applications.

The Method is designed for distance and power. When the winds are howling and the waters are wide and strong, this a great rod to grab. It worked well when casting streamers, weighted nymph rigs, and big foam dry flies. But it’s not a great rod for light dries or close-in work of any type.

The LL Bean Silver Ghost, on the other hand, is best used when throwing light flies to near-in targets. The Silver Ghost lacks the subtlety needed for soft presentations on flat water. But it’s an effective tool for anglers who only plan to fish 30-35 feet out. In small to medium-sized rivers, whether fishing dries, nymphs or double-fly rigs, the Silver Ghost is an affordable option that should serve you well.

Review Conclusion

Because of the relatively small size of the fly fishing market, new gear technology evolves slowly. The fly fishing market lacks the mass of buyers needed to drive new product growth like that of larger categories (hiking, climbing, kayaking, etc.) but when changes come about, they can be dramatic. That is the case this year, with Orvis’ introduction of the Helios 3 rod series. The innovations in design and materials pushed rod casting accuracy forward by orders of magnitude. Orvis employed years of exhaustive research to pinpoint where in a rod accuracy was compromised, and then engineered solutions to those problems. The end product, the Helios 3 series, features greatly reduced rod oscillations during the casting stroke, resulting in unmatched accuracy.

Methods

For this test, I was joined by trout guides, game wardens, outdoor photographers, and fish advocates from Trout Unlimited in evaluating the rods.  Each tester used the rods for several days in a variety of conditions. When possible, multiple testers ventured out together for side-by-side comparisons and discussions. At other times, we each carried two or more rods to the rivers and lakes we fished so we can fish the rods back-to-back in identical conditions for stronger comparisons.

Proving that everyone is different, we all had different likes and dislikes, but the strengths — and weaknesses — of each rod revealed themselves to each of us over the course of the tests.

What is a Trout Rod?

We have broken our core fly rod coverage into two categories: Fly Rods for Trout Fishing and Specialty Fly Rods. The general-purpose trout rod represents the largest component of the fly fishing market. The most common fly fishing rod size sold today is the 9-foot, 5-wt. This configuration provides the best versatility when targeting trout in a wide range of conditions and water bodies. Rods designed for 4-weight or 6-weight lines are also popular and fit within the “trout rod” category.

Specialty rods include a broad range of rod designs and configurations, including everything from lightweight rods for warm-water species, to heavy single-handed rods used to target big, salt-water fish, and even the long, two-handed spey and switch rods used primarily for salmon and steelhead.

In testing Trout Fly Rods, we focus our head-to-head comparisons on 5-weight rods.

When comparing rods, we consider the general over-all performance. Successful trout fishing tends to require changing up methods — from dry fly to nymphs, or nymphs to streamers — on a regular basis. So, the best rods should be versatile enough to handle a variety of conditions and methods of fishing. The best aren’t always the most expensive, nor are the least expensive automatically the worst rods to own. The price of fly rods varies greatly, largely because of the costs of production — rods made by hand in the United States costs more than those produced overseas — and materials used. Newer, more technically advanced composites and metal components cost more than older, established materials. As a result, good trout rods range in price from $100 to $1,000, though some custom rods can run to several thousand dollars.