Best Fly Rod Combo: Top 10 of 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

// BY Leonard Schoenberger
UPDATED: August 16, 2021

Fly rod combos are a great choice for any fly fisherman or woman. We’ll show you what to look out for in the best fly fishing combos.

For most beginners, picking a fly rod and reel is one of the hardest tasks. Which rod works well with which reel? Don’t worry – almost all manufacturers have realised that fly fishermen and women are looking for advice here. In this guide we want to give you an overview of the options you have. We will take a look at entry level rod and reel combos that often even include a line, a leader and tippet and flies as well. Our mid-range section will include higher quality rod combos from established manufacturers that don’t cost a fortune but will last for many years if you decide to stick to the sport.

In the last part of our combo review we’ll show you our hand end favorites. Yes, they aren’t cheap but they feature some of the best fly reels and rods money can buy. No matter which rod and reel combo you end up purchasing, they are all worth the money. Generally speaking most fly fishermen and women will probably target species such as trout in the beginning. Hence, the focus in this guide is on rods and reels in the #5 to #6 range.

Table of Contents:

How to Choose the Best Fly Rod Combo

2021 Quick Answer List – Best Combos on the Market

Best Entry Level Fly Fishing Rod & Reel Combos

Kastking Emergence: Best Beginner’s Combo

Wild Water Fishing Set: Lowest Budget

Cabelas Bighorn Combo: Best Value for Money

Best Mid-Range Combos

Orvis Encounter 5-Weight 8’6″ Outfit: Best Advanced Combo

Redington Fly Fishing Kit 590-4 Crosswater: Best Casting Performance

L.L. Bean Quest Fly Rod Combo: Best Looks

Echo Traverse Fly Rod Kit: Best Travel Combo

TFO NXT Black Label Kit: Best Saltwater Fly Rod Combo

Best High-End Combos for the Money

Orvis Clearwater: Best Premium Value for Money Set

Sage – FOUNDATION Outfit: Best Exclusive Set

Best Fly Fishing Outfits for Kids

Echo Gecko Kids Fishing Kit

Redington Combo Kit 580

Conclusion

Best Fly Fishing Combos: FAQs

How to Choose the Best Rod Combo

The great thing about fly fishing combos compared to buying a rod and reel separately is the fact that they are well matched to each other. This comes in handy when you are fairly new to fly fishing. Some people also have fishing friends they can ask for advice. If that is not the case and you want to make sure your equipment is well balanced, fly fishing combos are a good option.

As mentioned before, a rod combo in the range of a 5 or 6 weight fly rod and reel will work well for most people. If however, you already know you’ll be targeting bigger species such as salmon or pike you can look more towards the 8 or 9 weight range. Generally speaking, the stronger the species, the higher the rod and reel on a range from #1 – #12 (There are even rods beyond #12 for species such as Tuna).

Best Rod Combos for the Money

1. Best Entry Level – Kastking Emergence

2. Lowest Budget Combo – Wild Water Set

3. Best Value for Money: Cabelas Bighorn Fly Combo

4. Best Advanced Rod Combo: Orvis Encounter 5-Weight 8’6″ Outfit

5. Best Casting Performance – Redington Fly Fishing K

6. Best Looks: L.L. Bean Quest Combo

7. Best Travel Fly Rod Combo: Echo Traverse Kit

8. Best Saltwater Fly Rod Combo: TFO NXT Black Label Fly Rod Kit

9. Best Premium Value for Money Fly Fishing Set – Orvis Clearwater

10. Best Exclusive Fly Rod Set – Sage Fly Fishing – FOUNDATION Outfit

Before making a purchase you should think about how you are going to use your rod combo. Is it just meant for a weekend fishing trip with some buddies? Are you fairly new to the sport of fly fishing but want to get some advanced tackle to improve your skills? Or are you looking for high quality gear?

Best Entry Level Rod and Reel Combos

In the first part of this buyer’s guide we want to take a look at rod combos that are well suited for beginners. They won’t cost a fortune and give you the opportunity to get going instantly since they include everything you need to catch your first fish.

1. Best Beginners Fly Fishing Combo – Kastking Emergence

The Kastking Emergence Combo is a great choice if you are new to fly fishing. You still have to find out if it’s for you. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get going with this fishing starter kit.

The Kastking Emergence Combo comes in three versions. The 4wt – 8’6″ option is a good choice if you are mainly going to be fishing small streams and creeks. The 5wt – 9′ is a classic rod to target species like trout. It can handle stronger fish and is a great all-round rod. If you are looking to target stronger species such as pike or bass, the 8wt – 9′ is the best choice.

With a classic 4-piece rod, the Kastking Emergence Fishing Combo is also great for travelling. It comes with an aluminum reel, a line and backing, a tapered leader and a selection of 12 flies including dry flies, nymphs and streamers in a fly box. The great thing about this kit is the fact that the reel is already fully loaded with backing, line and leader. This means you’re ready to hit the water immediately.

In addition the Kastking Emergence Fishing Combo features all the little tools you need to handle a fish. It includes a forceps, a line nipper with retractor and strike indicators to make it easier for you to catch your first fish.

Our verdict: Great entry level fishing starter kit that comes in three sizes. The Kastking Emergence Fishing Combo includes everything you need for your first day on the water. Great value for money. Also a great gift idea for people looking to get into the sport.

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2. Lowest Budget Combo – Wild Water Fishing Set

The Wild Water Combo is the cheapest way to try a day of fly fishing when it comes to your equipment. No need to choose the correct version since the Wild Water Starter Kit only comes as a 4 pc 5/6 wt. This is the perfect rod for entry level fly fishermen and women since you can basically cover all situations when fishing for species like trout.

The hard tube case that comes along with the Wild Water Fishing Combo is very practical since you don’t even have to take off the reel. On top it features a pocket than can hold your fly box, leaders and tippet spool – very handy. A carry strap and hand ring round off the well thought through package.

The reel even features an adjustable disc drag – something that normally only comes with higher end reels. This means you can adjust the drag (brake power) according to the species you are targeting – nice feature for an entry level product such as the Wild Water Fishing Combo. Like the Kastking Emergence Fishing Combo, the Wild Water reel comes pre-spooled with backing, line and leader. You can easily change the reel’s retrieve from left to right hand.

To give you a perfect first day experience, the Wild Water Fishing Starter Kit comes with a fly box that includes 18 flies. Other than the Kastking Emergence Fishing Combo the fly box only includes dry flies. Spare leaders, forceps and a line nipper round off the Kastking Emergence Fishing Combo.

Our verdict: For a little over $100 you can start fly fishing using this fishing starter kit. If you’ll stick with the sport, this won’t be your last rod combo but it’s a great way to get started or give as a gift.

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3. Best Value for Money: Cabelas Bighorn Combo

The Cabelas Bighorn Combo is our favorite choice when it comes to value for money. At only $99 you get a quality reel and rod. This combo comes in several different weights ranging from #5 to #8 and two different lengths (8’6″ and 9′).

The moderate action of the Cabelas Bighorn Combo is a good fit for fly fishing beginners and even intermediates. An aluminum reel seat and chrome snake guides are great features for a combo that costs less than $100. The large arbour reel makes it easy to pick up line quickly when you’ve hooked a fish. The reel comes with a disk drag to slow the fish when it’s making a run. Also a very nice feature in this price range. The Cabelas Bighorn Combo even comes with a WF (weight forward) line and backing. All you have to do is attach a tippet and a fly and you’re ready to catch your first fish.

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Best Mid-Range Rod and Reel Sets

In the second part of this review, we want to take a look at mid-range rod and reel combinations. These are well suited for beginners and intermediates who want a quality rod and reel from respected manufacturers. The great thing about this segment is the fact that you will enjoy such a fly rod and reel combo for years to come.

4. Best Advanced Combo: Orvis Encounter 5-Weight 8’6″ Fly Rod Outfit

The Orvis Encounter 5-Weight 8’6″ Outfit is our top choice when it comes to value for money. Orvis is a brand with a long tradition in fly fishing. They also manufacture high end rods. It’s always a good idea to get products from such a brand since you can be sure they use their knowhow even in their more entry level products such as the Orvis Encounter 5-Weight 8’6″ Rod Outfit.

The basis of the Orvis Encounter 5-Weight 8’6″ Outfit is the 5wt – 8’6″ Encounter Rod that comes with a cordura rod tube. If you had to fish with only one rod, you should probably get a 5wt since you can cover most fishing situations with it (sure the bigger the fish you target, the stronger a rod you’ll need).

With the Orvis Encounter 5-Weight 8’6″ Outfit comes an Encounter reel, an Orvis WF (weight forward) floating line, Dacron backing and a tapered leader. All that’s left for you is to tie on a fly and you’re good to go. If you are looking for flies and a fly box check out our “Guide to the best Fly Boxes“.

Our verdict: The Orvis Encounter 5-Weight 8’6″ Rod Outfit is an excellent choice if you think you’ll stick with fly fishing. Orvis guarantees high quality products and this is definitely a set that you can use for years to come.

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5. Best Casting Performance – Redington Fly Fishing Kit 590-4 Crosswater

Redington is another fly rod manufacturer with a long tradition. Their range of rods is not as high-end as Orvis’ top rods but their quality is very solid. The Redington Fishing Combo Kit 590-4 Crosswater is no exception to this rule.

The Redington Fishing Combo Kit 590-4 Crosswater consists of a Crosswater rod and reel that comes pre-spooled with a Rio WF fly line. The rod case made from cordura enables you to keep the reel attached to the rod during transport.

The Redington Combo Kit 590-4 Crosswater is available in a range of options. You can choose a 4wt if you intend to fish only smaller streams. If your focus are bigger fish, maybe even in saltwater, you should opt for a 9wt. The Redington Fishing Combo Kit 590-4 Crosswater features an aluminum reel which means you can securely use the rod in saltwater.

Our verdict: Starting at $129 the Redington Fishing Combo Kit 590-4 Crosswater is an excellent choice for the intermediate fisherman or woman. Just like with Orvis you can be sure that the combo profits from Redington’s great knowhow.

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6. Best Looks: L.L. Bean Quest Fly Rod Outfit

With the L.L. Bean Quest Outfit you can cover species ranging from trout (#6) to steelhead (#7) to pike and salmon (#8). This set comes with almost anything to get started at the river. Besides a rod and reel, the set includes a fly line, backing and a very nice rod and reel case that even allows you to leave the reel attached while travelling.

The L.L. Bean Quest Outfit features a medium action rod that has enough backbone to cast even bigger streamers. A fighting butt from #7 upwards makes it easier for you to play and land bigger fish. The reel on the L.L. Bean Quest Rod Outfit also features a large arbor that makes picking up line quickly easy. A very nice set that also makes for a great fly fishing gift.

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7. Best Travel Fly Rod Combo: Echo Traverse Kit

Tim Rajeff is the man behind Echo Fly Rods and one of the most respected casters in fly fishing. His knowhow has gone into the Echo Traverse Kit. This rod combo is targeted at trout fishermen as it comes in weights ranging from #4 to #6.

All rod weights of the Echo Traverse Kit are medium fast action four piece rods. This makes them a good choice for intermediate fly fishermen and women. The drag on the ION reel that comes with the set is very sensitive and definitely feels like a higher end product. It comes pre-spooled with an Airflo line (a premium manufacturer of fly lines). Come with a rod and reel tube case and Echo’s lifetime warranty.

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8. Best Saltwater Combo: TFO NXT Black Label

The TFO NXT Black Label is another excellent choice if you are looking for a combo that will last you for many years. The set is available in two weight classes: #5 (ideal for trout) and #8 (ideal for species such as pike or small salmon). The NXT Black is built on TFO’S Pro II medium-fast blank. This makes this a great allrounder set since the rod has enough punch for long casts but can also delicately present a dry fly.

The TFO NXT Black Label comes with a rod that features stainless-steel snake guides and an anodized aluminum reel seat. This means that this fly rod combo is also suited for saltwater fishing. The entire look and feel of this fishing rod and reel combo is premium and hard to beat for a price of a little more than $200. Comes with TFO’s fantastic lifetime warranty

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Best High-End Combos

You can’t go wrong with any of the mid-range fly fishing rod and reel combos in our test. But if you want to buy a set that will last you a lifetime there are two high end options out there, both from some of the most respected manufacturers out there.

9. Best Premium Value for Money Set – Orvis Clearwater

The Orvis Clearwater Combo is our choice when it comes to advanced fly fishing sets. This rod and reel combination is gear that you will be able to use for many years.

In the Orvis Clearwater Combo the American manufacturer combines its mid-range top fly fishing rod and reel. Choosing is easy since this rod and reel combo only comes as a 5wt 4 piece rod of 9’0″. Anybody who is looking for a great trout set up can’t go wrong with this fishing set.

Besides rod and reel, the Orvis Clearwater Combo comes with an Orvis Clearwater WF line (plus backing) and an Orvis tapered leader. All you need to do is tie on your favorite fly. Comes with a cordura rod tube for safe transport.

Our verdict: This is a great rod combo for the advanced fly angler who wants his equipment to last for a few years. The Orvis Clearwater Combo provides excellent value for money.

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10. Best Exclusive Fly Rod Set – Sage – FOUNDATION Outfit

American manufacturer Sage produces some of the finest fly rods on the planet. The Foundation rod included in the Sage – FOUNDATION Outfit is handcrafted on Bainbridge Island, USA.

Here again it holds true what we’ve said about Orvis and Redington before. The quality of Sage’s high end rods trickles down into the Foundation series. Everything on this rod from the blank color, to the wraps and snake guides portrays premium quality.

The Sage – FOUNDATION Outfit also includes a Sage Black/Platinum 2200 reel. It comes with a Rio Gold Line (including backing) and a tapered leader. Rod and reel case are included in the set as well of course.

Our verdict: This is a premium fly rod set for any fly fisherman or woman who wants the best in quality. Comes with the well-known Sage guarantee. A great investment if you are serious about fly fishing.

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Best Fly Fishing Outfits for Kids

If you are new to fly fishing, chances are you want to try it with somebody else. Maybe you have kids that you want to take along to the water to give fly fishing a try. If that’s the case, here are our favourite outfits for the youngsters.

Echo Gecko Kids Fly Rod and Reel Combo

The Echo Gecko Kids Fishing Kit is a fantastic way for youngster to give fly fishing a try. Echo is a well respected brand in the world of fly fishing and has created a great fly rod combo for children.

The action of the Echo Gecko Kids Fishing Kit‘s rod is moderate so that even young children from around 6 years old can make their first casts. The grip even allows double handed casting which requires even less strength from a kid. This kit comes fully loaded with a rod, reel and line, so that your kids can start fishing right away. The only thing you’ll need are a tippet and a fly.

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Redington Fly Fishing Combo Kit 580

The Redington Combo Kit 580 is another great option if your kids want to see if fly fishing is for them. This set is targeted a little more towards teen anglers. At 8 feet, the length of the rod is a little shorter than most trout fly rods which often come in around 9 feet.

Alignment dots on the Redington Combo Kit 580 make it easy to assemble the rod even for novices. Redington is known to produce high quality fly fishing gear at affordable prices. The Redington Combo Kit 580 is no exception to this rule as the set comes with a Crosswater reel pre-spooled with a Rio mainstream fly line. 1-year warranty included.

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Conclusion

Picking a rod combo is not an easy task. Before making a purchase you should make clear to yourself what you want from the set. If you are new to fly fishing and are not sure you will stick with it an entry level fishing combo is a good idea.

In case you have a limited budget but still want a quality product you should be looking at our mid-range options.

If you are sure fly fishing is your thing you should aim at the premium combos. The great advantage of these compared to picking a rod, reel, line, etc. on their own is the fact that they are guaranteed to work well in a set.

Redington Fly Fishing...
Orvis Encounter 5-Weight...
KastKing Emergence Fly ...
Editor's Pick
Orvis Clearwater 905-4...
Sage Fly Fishing -...
Redington Fly Fishing...
Orvis Encounter 5-Weight...
KastKing Emergence Fly ...
Orvis Clearwater 905-4...
Sage Fly Fishing -...
$150.86
$169.00
Price not available
$376.00
Price not available
Redington Fly Fishing...
Redington Fly Fishing...
$150.86
Orvis Encounter 5-Weight...
Orvis Encounter 5-Weight...
$169.00
KastKing Emergence Fly ...
KastKing Emergence Fly ...
Price not available
Editor's Pick
Orvis Clearwater 905-4...
Orvis Clearwater 905-4...
$376.00
Sage Fly Fishing -...
Sage Fly Fishing -...
Price not available

Last update on 2021-10-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Fly Rod Combo: Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a good fly rod and reel cost?

A quality entry level fly rod and reel start at around $150. If you are new to fly fishing it is a good idea to start with a fly rod combo. These sets include a fly rod and a fly reel (often also a fly line) and have the advantage that they are well balanced to each other.

What size fly rod is best for beginners?

Most fly fishermen and women start out targeting species such as trout or bass. A #5 (5 weight) fly rod of a length of around 9′ (9 feet) is the perfect rod for beginners.

What weight fly rod should I use?

For most angling situations in freshwater, a 5 weight (#5) fly rod is the ideal allrounder. As a beginner it’s a good idea to buy a fly rod combo as the fly fishing reel comes with it. You won’t have to worry about matching your reel and rod in this case.

Read more of our Gear Guides here:

Ultimate Guide: Best Wading Jackets

Buyer’s Guide Best Wading Boots

Best Women’s Wading Boots

Top 6 Best Fishing Nets

Best Fly Boxes

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