Last updated on January 3rd, 2024.
With the amount of fly rods in the market, it can be increasingly overwhelming to select the best saltwater fly rod.
Not to mention, this is a pretty broad topic. That’s essentially why we’re going to discuss how you should select the best fly rods considering all the features and elements to make an informed decision.
However, when it specifically comes to saltwater fishing, one of the most important factors you must always consider is buying new fishing tools and gear that can withstand the elements. Saltwater is quite corrosive, which means if you don’t get a fly rod that features anti-corrosion materials, you’ll soon be in the market for a new rod. And no, you can’t use freshwater fishing gear for saltwater fishing. Hence, it’s vital to go for a fly rod that explicitly features anti-corrosion properties to ensure your gear always remains in excellent condition.
Apart from that there’s one other important factor that you shouldn’t overlook or neglect. Because you’ll be fishing in saltwater, except to target heavier fish species. This means you should opt for a fly rod with higher drag power because you’ll be catching fishes such as redfish, tarpon, bonefish, etc.
Disclaimer: All products in this guide are independently researched by our team. We only recommend products we believe in and never get paid for the reviews. Learn more about our review process here.
Best Saltwater Fly Rods Quick Answer List
Table of contents:
Rinsing and Cleaning your Saltwater Fly Rod
Experienced and avid fisherman and anglers know the importance of rinsing and spraying their fly rods with freshwater after fishing in saltwater. But people often forget to clean their rods too. This is why you should always make a mental note to clean your fly rod as soon as you come back from the trip.
Cleaning the rod is simple, you can hose it down with freshwater, generously apply some soap, and rinse it again. To be thorough you can always take your fly rod apart and wash every component individually making sure there is no salt accumulation or build-up left. After washing everything, use a microfiber cloth to wipe everything down.
Top Features to Look for When Buying a Saltwater Fly Rod
When choosing the best saltwater fly rods, it’s critical to first understand and decide the type of fishing you would like to do. While there are a different types of rods available, keep in mind that every fly rod is uniquely designed to suit different fishing styles and types. There aren’t any fly rods made to suit all types of fishing. This is why a fly rod for saltwater can’t be used for freshwater fishing and vice versa.
However, selecting a fly rod will also depend on various features that you would like to have in it. Some basic features you should consider when buying a saltwater fly rod include:
The Right Weight
It’s important to go for the right fly rod weight. Buying a light rod line will cause frustrating problems in drag control and precision, especially if you’re targeting heavy saltwater fish such as tarpon, redfish, etc. Saltwater fly rods come in different weight categories – labelled 1 to 15. It’s better to opt for a fly line in 8 weight category as they’re designed for catching larger fish.
The Right Length
You need to make a note of the amount of length you require. Fly rods come in different lengths, designed for different fishing landscapes. However, for saltwater fishing, it’s recommended to stick with an 8.5-ft rod length. For longer casting in windy conditions or bigger river streams, go for a 9-ft rod.
The Right Rod Action
The right flexibility and durability of the fly rod is also an important factor. That’s because there are fly rods designed to bend right at the top while some can bend throughout the rod. There are essentially three categories of fly rod action – fast, medium, and slow-action. Fast action is suitable for when you’re fishing in windy conditions or if you want to cast longer lines. Medium action rods provide overall flexibility for all types of fishing conditions. Lastly, slow action rods are best for learning how to cast. For saltwater fishing, it’s best to go for a medium action rod.
The Right Material
Fly rods are made with a myriad of materials such as fiberglass, bamboo, graphite, etc. If you want an all-purpose fly rod, go for ones made from graphite. They’re more durable, lightweight, and flexible. For freshwater fishing, it’s better to go for fiberglass rods as they’re softer and offer more flexibility. Bamboo rods are durable but are quite pricey.
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Best Entry Level Saltwater Fly Rods
Considering the above mentioned features, let’s dive into the best types of saltwater fly fish rods in terms of price and features.
– 11 weight classes to choose from
– Also available as a fly rod combo
– Medium-fast action rod
Why we picked it:
Orvis has completely re-modeled their Clearwater range, making them stronger with a modern look and feel. The fly rods come in an olive wrap and subtle dark grey theme – providing premium aesthetics. The Orvis Clearwater are designed to perform – especially at long distances. At 20 to 60 feet, the rod provides superior precision and handling. It gives out tighter loops and excellent tracking. Go for the 5 or 7-weight category if you’re looking to target freshwater fish. The Clearwater provides a high degree of versatility especially if you’re out to catch bass, catfish, trout, or perch.
Moreover, the Orvis Clearwater edition is quite accurate with good durability, great handling, and excellent balance. You’ll also quickly feel that it provides ideal control and balance, especially when you start casting your line, perfect example for targeting cutthroat trout in saltwater.
The Orvis Clearwater is made with industry-grade graphite, offering much more durability. Plus, graphite rods don’t require a lot of maintenance, so it’s a win-win. So, no matter what condition you use it in, you can expect it to perform and last. Moreover, Orvis has also significantly improved the cork handle, which means the fly rod is more comfortable to handle and use for extended periods of time. Cork quality has definitely improved compared to Orvis’ earlier models.
- Great value for money
- Plenty of weight classes to choose from
- 25 year warranty
- Beginner to intermediate rod
- Not for experienced anglers as it lacks a bit of punch
St. Croix imperial saltwater
– #7-12 available
– 15 year warranty
– Machined-aluminum reel seat
Why we picked it:
The St. Croix imperial saltwater is specifically designed for durability, precision, and balance, especially for rough saltwater fishing. It is perfect for when you want to just head out and catch some beautiful fish no matter what the tide looks like. The saltwater fly rod features fast action, which is going to help you easily win when catching heavy fish like tarpon and redfish. Moreove, the St. Croix provides impeccable fly casting (no matter what the size of the fly is).
But perhaps one of the best features of the St. Croix imperial saltwater is that it’s made with strong, highly durable graphite fiber. Plus, the fly rod is also integrated with the company’s patented and highly innovative IPC (integrated poly curve) technology. This makes the rod extremely lightweight and easy to handle, enhancing your reaction time without compromising rod strength or flexibility. The fly rod comes in a beautiful Deep Aquamarine texture and light blue finishing with a silver trim. What’s more, this saltwater rod comes with a machined-aluminum reel seat that provides ultra-protection against the oxidation. It really is a durable and well-designed saltwater fly rod.
- Stripping guides are PVD coated for better line shooting capabilities
- Made with high-strain graphite
- Fast action makes it easier for intermediate casters
- Value for money is not quite as good as on the Orvis
Best Mid-Range Saltwater Rods
– Comes as an #8, #9 and #10 all in 9ft
– Premium rod at an affordable price
– 3 year warranty
Why we picked it:
The Atlas Signature series (read our in-depth review here) is a newcomer on the saltwater rod market. Founded by Ben Freeman of Trident Fly Fishing, Atlas aims at offering premium performance at a mid-level price. We were quite impressed by this rod’s punch and precision when we took it out for some saltwater fishing for stripers and albies in Long Island, NY.
This rod easily has enough backbone to cast even bigger streamers into a breeze. It also has the looks to underline its premium ambition featuring a beautiful dark grey/blue blank and comes with only the finest components. A three year warranty rounds off the excellent package. Last but not least you get a three year warranty on the Atlas that comes as an #8, #9 and #10. All of that for only half the price that a rod with this performance would cost from the big brands.
- Great accuracy
- Minimal and modern looks
- Three year warranty
- At short distance, the Atlas couldn’t quite keep up with its performance at 50+ feet
SAGE Maverick Saltwater
– Line weights: #6-#14
– Fast action
– Aluminum rod tube
Why we picked it:
The SAGE Maverick comes with a durable frame and provides faster line shooting and enhanced lifting strength. If you’re targeting saltwater fish like Stripers or Redfish, the Maverick is the best option to go for. The saltwater fly rod also comes in smaller models, which are specifically designed for catching feisty fish such as Bonefish.
The SAGE Maverick comes with Konnectic blank technology, incorporating quality materials such as high-strain carbon or resin. The rod is built-in with enhanced modulus materials making it durable but lightweight. This can be a pretty sweet combination. Moreover, Konnectic tech is renowned for providing balanced rod wobbling, boosting line casting precision for straighter and accurate tracking.
The stripping guides are made with Fuji ceramic, allowing both rookie and experienced fishermen to effortlessly cast their lines. Plus, the ceramic built also allows for enhanced durability while also providing powerful anti-corrosive capabilities. Moreover, the SAGE Maverick has a durable handle designed with topnotch ultra-grade cork – providing you enhanced comfortability.
- Fuji ceramic stripping guides
- Lightweight and durable
- Anodized aluminum reel seat
- This is a purely fast action rod
Best High-End Saltwater Fly Rods
G. Loomis NRX+ Saltwater
– Black aluminum rod tube
– Fast action
– Limited lifetime warranty
Why we picked it:
If you want a fly rod that guarantees speed, precision, durability, and sheer power, then there’s nothing better than the G. Loomis NRX+. Rated as one of the best saltwater fly rods on the market, the NRX is made for flexibility and versatility. One of the best things about this rod is the fact they’re specifically designed with Dynamic Recovery Technology allowing anglers to quickly cast lines and reel in their catch effortlessly and with precision.
The DRT tech incorporates the company’s new fly rod innovation along with Mega Modulus, high-strain graphite matrix. Plus, the G. Loomis NRX+ is also built with industry-grade GL8 resin to give you a powerful blank with streamlined accuracy and fantastic smoothness. Moreover, the Loomis also comes with an innovative taper build to make the fly rod durable, versatile, and extremely anti-corrosive. The blank on the rod is pretty lightweight and provides unmatched recovery speeds.
The stripping guides on the G. Loomis NRX+ are made with Titanium SIC, which means that it effectively dissipates friction and boosts performance. With lightweight guides, you’ll have increased rigidity and durability – all in one package.
- Single foot recoil guides are made with titanium and nickel
- Lightweight and extremely durable
- Great accuracy across all ranges
- Need to be a good caster to get the best out of this rod
Winston Air Salt
– Graphite rod tube
– 6 line weights to choose from
– Lifetime guarantee
Why we picked it:
The Winston Air Salt (read our in-depth review here) is a fantastic high-end saltwater fly rod that combines the subtle elegance of Winston with a lot of power and casting stability. The rod delivers a high degree of precision no matter whether you’re casting heavier streamers on sinking lines to feeding stripers or are in need of a more delicate presentation for bonefish at a longer range.
In the Saltwater Air, Winston employs its well-established Boron technology that makes these rods 25% stronger than other graphite rods, a crucial feature if you put your rod to the ultimate test of strong saltwater species. Chrome nanolote stripping guides are ideally suited for harsh saltwater conditions. The real beauty of this rod is in the details, with the rod tube matching the color of the fly rod’s blank. The beige rod sock with the embroidered Winston logo further add to the luxurious feel of the Saltwater Air. A rod that casts and looks exceptionally well.
- A fast action rod that feels more like a medium fast
- Shines at mid-range
- Most beautiful blank color in the game
- The fighting butt it a bit clunky
Epic Boca Grande
– Fiberglass rod
– #12 line class
– Length: 8’6″
Why we picked it:
When it comes to sheer class, performance, durability, and precision, nothing can beat the Epic Boca Grande. It’s a powerhouse of a rod that provides comfortability with performance. The Boca Grande is a 12-weight rod (although heavier rods tend to perform sluggishly), the Boca on the other hand, offers enjoyable and accurate casting. Made from high-strain glass fiber, the rod can take some serious weight without compromising its structural integrity. The Boca can handle 24-lbs of pull, effortlessly.
The blank on the Epic Boca Grande is an unmatched piece of intelligent and innovative engineering. The construction focuses on reducing the weight of the rod while enhancing recovery speeds. The Boca Grande is made with S2 FastGlass for unidirectional strength and durability.
The Epic Boca Grande comes with titanium stripping guides that are integrated with SIC inserts (Japanese quality). The remaining blank is coated with Snake Brand nickel – offering superior corrosion resistance. Moreover, the Boca Grande features a comfortable and high-quality Full Wells cork grip. It’ll feel as if you’re holding feathers in your hand.
- Powerful, short stick for the biggest saltwater species
- For the individualist
- Fiberglass tube
- A special purpose rod – not for the average fly fisherman
– Very lightweight
– Classy dark green blank color
– Warranty: 30 years
Why we picked it:
If you’re a traditionalist, chances are high you’ve come across (House of) Hardy. The British manufacturer is one of the oldest players in the game, looking back at more than 125 years of making fly rods. This doesn’t stop them from being at the forefront of innovation, as their Hardy Ultralite fly rod (read our in-depth review here) goes to show.
We got our hands on it as an #8 which make this rod a great allrounder to pursue predators, no matter whether it’s in freshwater or the salt. Since the Ultralite is made from the finest components, it has to problem handling the harsher conditions of saltwater environments. What I like in particular about the Ultralite is the low weight (as the name suggests) but also the attention to detail (wait til you see the dark green blank in the sun and the carbon fiber accents). At almost $900, the Ultralite doesn’t come cheap but a 30 year warranty makes sure you can fish that rod for a long time…
- Beautiful mix of tradition and modern components
- Very lightweight rod
- Excellent attention to detail (look at that rod sock cloth fabric)
- The fighting butt could be a notch bigger for saltwater fishing
The Best Saltwater Fly Rod and Reel
Now that you’ve been introduced to some of the best saltwater fly rods on the market, we’ll also take a closer look into fly rod and reel combos for saltwater. These sets are a great choice for fly fishermen who want to make sure their setup is going to work. The great things about these fly rod combos for saltwater is the fact that they have been put together by the brand’s experts and hence you can rest assured that the saltwater fly reel and rod will work together perfectly. These fly rod and reel combos for saltwater also make for a fantastic gift.
– Comes as an #8 or #10, both measuring 9ft (in 4 pieces)
– Rod, reel, line and backing included
– Large arbor reel with carbon drag
Why we picked it:
The Penn Battle Fly Rod Outfit (read our in-depth review here) is a great fly rod combo for the saltwater that won’t break the bank. You can choose between an #8 which is great for pursuing predators such as striped bass or smaller redfish. If you’re after bigger fighters such as albacores, go for a #10. The Penn comes in a nice cordura rod and reel case which facilitates bringing the set on a trip.
During our testing we found rod and reel to work together nicely with the line that’s included in this outfit. The WF line has no problems casting even bigger streamers into the wind. The reel on this combo is a large arbor for quick line pickup (which is of particular importance in the salt since these species are often fast swimmers). All in all this is a great medium-level set for beginners and intermediates alike.
- Nicely balanced reel and rod that has enough backbone for bigger streamers
- Solid protection thanks to cordura rod and reel case
- Cool, minimalistic design
- Reel is a notch better than the rod in this combo
- A few more line classes to choose from would be nice future addition to the Penn battle series
Redington Tropical Saltwater Field Kit
– Cordura carrying case
– Medium fast action
– Lifetime warranty
Why we picked it:
The Redington Field Kit features medium-fast action allowing anglers to effortlessly and accurately cast lines. The fly rod kit incorporates a powerful drag mechanism, thanks to the Behemoth reel. The carbon drag system quickly stops heavy tarpons and redfish dead in their track. The Redington field kit saltwater combo is a predator that will help you rule the waters!
The butt section of the rod is made with durable materials for increased power and performance, allowing you to effortlessly control stubborn fish. With the Redington, wrangling becomes easier and less exhausting. Moreover, The reel seat is made from anodized aluminum for extended durability and all-weather performance.
The Behemoth reel features some interesting upgrades. For example, the reel comes with a deep V and considerably bigger arbor design, giving anglers double the capacity and highly responsive line retrievals. The Redington Field Kit easily has the most powerful drag mechanism in its class.
- Large arbor design fly reel
- Medium fast action is forgiving enough for people making their first casts in the salt
- Great for travelling
- Does not have a lot of backbone for stronger saltwater species
Conclusion on the Best Saltwater Fly Rods
So there you have it – a comprehensive buying guide to help you make an informed decision on the type of saltwater fly rod you should buy. But remember that your decision will always be based on preference. If you aren’t looking to spend a lot of money and are just getting into saltwater fishing, we recommend that you go for the Orvis Clearwater fly rod, it offers a great balance between durability and performance and offers great value for money.
Best Saltwater Fly Rod: FAQs
What features should I look for in a saltwater fly rod?
Look for a saltwater fly rod with corrosion-resistant materials, a strong backbone for battling powerful fish, and versatile line weight options suitable for different saltwater species.
What is the ideal line weight for saltwater fly fishing?
The ideal line weight depends on the species you’re targeting. Generally, a 9wt to 12wt rod is suitable for a range of saltwater applications, from smaller inshore species to larger offshore game fish.
Is there a specific rod length recommended for saltwater fly fishing?
Rod length is often a matter of personal preference and the fishing environment. However, most saltwater anglers find 9 to 10 feet rods to be versatile for various saltwater conditions, providing both casting distance and accuracy.
How important is saltwater reel compatibility with the fly rod?
It’s crucial. Saltwater reels need to be durable, corrosion-resistant, and appropriately sized for the rod. Ensure that the reel balances well with the rod and has a strong drag system to handle powerful saltwater species.
Can I use a freshwater fly rod for saltwater fishing?
While it’s possible, it’s not recommended. Saltwater conditions can be harsh on gear due to the corrosive nature of salt. A dedicated saltwater fly rod is designed with materials and features to withstand these conditions.
What action is preferable for saltwater fly fishing?
Fast to medium-fast action rods are often preferred for saltwater fly fishing. These rods provide the power needed for long casts and the ability to handle larger flies while still offering some sensitivity for accurate presentations.
Are there specific brands known for producing high-quality saltwater fly rods?
Several reputable brands specialize in saltwater fly rods, including Sage, Orvis, G. Loomis, Scott, and Redington. Researching reviews and seeking recommendations from experienced saltwater anglers can help narrow down the options based on individual preferences and fishing styles.
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