One great aspect of fly fishing is to explore new places. It’s much easier with a travel fly rod, since you can pack it into almost any bag.
Most modern fly rods come as four-piece rods. To protect them they are stored in a cordura or metal rod tube that usually measures somewhere around 30″. That means you can pack them into a big bag but won’t be able to take them on the plane in your hand luggage for example.
Here is where travel fly rods come into play. Instead of the usual 4 pieces they break down into 6 or even 8 pieces. This means they pack into a much smaller rod tube that you can carry along in the smallest of bags. Together with a reel and line this allows you to take your fly rod wherever you want.
The most common line class for travel fly rods is a #5. This is the ideal fly rod to fish for trout, char and even small bass. However, you can get a travel fly rod from a #2 class for small creeks all the way up to a #8 to target big species like pike. In this test we want to give you an overview of some of the best travel fly rods out there. In the second part of this guide we’ll tell you what to pay attention to before purchasing. We’ll look into aspects such as size and weight, material and performance of a travel fly rod. Let’s jump right in.
Best Travel Fly Rods on the Market in 2021
The Orvis Clearwater 6 Piece is a fantastic choice if you are looking for a high quality travel fly rod at a decent price. The great thing about this fly rod is the fact that it can easily become your go to fly rod for every day fishing. Its performance can keep up with 4-piece fly rods. The Orvis Clearwater 6 Piece packs into a rod tube of only 22.5″, which makes it easy to fit this travel fly rod into any bag.
The Orvis Clearwater 6 Piece is available in five different configurations, ranging from a #4 weight for small creeks and streams, all the way to an #8 that allows you to target big species like bass or pike. The black aluminum reel seat gives the Orvis Clearwater 6 Piece a high-end look and feel.
The Echo Trip 8 Piece is one of the most popular travel fly rods on the market for a reason. Echo is another manufacturer known to build high quality fly rods at moderate prices. Behind the company is world class fly caster, Tim Rajeff, one of the most respected figures in fly fishing.
The Echo Trip 8 Piece breaks down into eight segments of only 18″. You’ll have a hard time coming up with a reason not to bring along this fly rod. The rod is available in three weights: #5, #6 and #8. Alignment dots on the ferrules make sure you align this travel fly rod properly for precise casting.
As most travel fly rods, the only weakness of the Echo Trip 8 Piece is the long range casting. This is where an 8 piece rod simply can’t keep up with a 4 piece when it comes to the ultimate in casting performance. For all other purposes the Echo Trip 8 Piece is an excellent choice. Comes with a lifelong guarantee.
American rod maker Douglas Outdoors has established themselves as a newcomer with exceptional quality. Their Sky G Series has earned a lot of praise for its overall performance. If you are looking for a travel fly rod, their Upstream series is one of the best travel fly rods you will find out there.
The Douglas Upstream Fly Rod is an excellent choice for small creeks and streams since it comes in sizes from #2 to #4. The #2 8ft rod weighs in at an incredible 1.43 oz, making it an ideal option for remote backcountry fishing for small cutthroat trout for example.
The Douglas Upstream Fly Rod comes in 6 pieces packed into a very sturdy metal tube protecting it from damages during travel. The medium-slow action rod shines on short distances and comes with a lifetime warranty for the original owner.
Here’s a fantastic travel fly rod option if you are looking for something special: the Epic 4wt Packlight Fly Rod. This 5 piece fiberglass beauty will follow you anywhere. Weighing in at 2.54 oz and measuring only 19.5″ it is small and light enough to pack into any backpack and head out to the water.
The Epic 4wt Packlight Fly Rod is available in a light green and a salsa red. You can customize it further with two different reel seat options. If you’ve never fished a fiberglass rod before you might think they are a bit too soft to perform at a high level. Pick up the Epic 4wt Packlight Fly Rod and you’ll be surprised what it can deliver. If you’ve ever dreamed of building your own fly rod check out our story about the Epic Fly Rod Building Kit.
The Epic 4wt Packlight Fly Rod is a great choice if your are looking for a special kind of travel fly rod.
The Wild Water Fly Fishing 9 Foot, 7-Piece is the perfect choice if you are new to fly fishing. If you are going on a trip and think there might be a chance to try fly fishing, the Wild Water Fly Fishing 9 Foot, 7-Piece comes with everything you need to make your first casts.
The Wild Water Fly Fishing 9 Foot rod is broken down into 7 pieces that fit into a rod tube of only 21.5″. With it comes a reel pre-spooled with a WF5 line and backing and a 9′ 5x tapered monofilament. Tie on a fly that also comes with the Wild Water Fly Fishing 9 Foot, 7-Piece and you are ready to catch your first fish.
Don’t expect the same performance from this rod as from the Douglas Upstream Fly Rod or the Orvis Clearwater 6 Piece. But for less than $100 this set is a great option to take on your first fly fishing trip.
The Orvis Encounter Spin/Fly Combo is a unique travel rod option because it combines a travel fly rod and a spinning rod in one set. In some fishing situations, a spinning rod can have advantages over a fly rod. For example when fishing the depths of a lake.
The Orvis Encounter Spin/Fly Combo makes sure you won’t encounter a situation like that. The twist about this set is the fact that some of the rods’ parts can be used to create a spinning as well as a fly rod. On top of that the set includes the reels for both methods of fishing. The reels even come equipped with the respective fly and fishing line.
The travel case of the Orvis Encounter Spin/Fly Combo makes sure everything is stored safely. Comes with the limited Orvis warranty.
As the last product in our review we made sure to include a double handed travel fly rod if in case you are looking to target bigger species such as steelhead. The Epic DH13 Spey Fly Rod is a high end double handed fly rod that features titanium stripping guides, Japanese silk wraps and a CNC machined reel seat.
The Epic DH13 Spey Fly Rod comes in three different line weight options: a 5/6, a 6/7 and a 7/8. The 7/8 is a great choice if you are fishing for Atlantic salmon on smaller rivers for example. The 5/6 is an excellent option if you are targeting any kind of trout in bigger rivers.
The Epic DH13 Spey Fly Rod is a medium-fast action rod that has enough power to deliver bigger flies and handle big fish.
Choosing the Best Travel Fly Rod
As you can see from the wide range of travel fly rods we introduced you to in this buyer’s guide, there is a travel fly rod for every fishing situation. Here are a few aspects to consider before making a purchase.
The most important factor when choosing a travel fly rod is the length it breaks down into. Most often travel fly fishing rods come in between 16 and 22 inches. If you are looking for the utmost in packability, take a look at the Echo Trip 8 Piece.
Besides the length of your fly rod, the weight is another important aspect to consider. If you want to head out on a backpacking trip into the back country, less weight in your backpack might mean more fishing time because you’re less tired. If you are looking for the ultimate light weight travel rod, check out the Douglas Upstream Fly Rod.
As with any fly rod you purchase, it is important to ask yourself beforehand what species you will target. To make sure there is a good option for every fishing situation we included travel fly rods ranging from #2 all the way to an #8 in this test.
The most common material for a travel fly rod is graphite. It’s well known for its durability. Carbon fibre is another option frequently used in fly rods, yet it’s a bit more delicate. The same holds true for fibreglass rods such as the Epic 4wt Packlight Fly Rod. On the upside, this rods delivers incredible feel and precision which makes it a joy to cast.
As a rule of thumb travel fly fishing rods have a reputation to perform worse than “normal” fly rods. This has long been the case because a 6 or even 8 piece rod tends to deliver less power and accuracy than a 4 piece. However, in recent years, the performance of travel fly rods has increased a lot.
While ten years back fro example, most salmon rods were 4 piece or even 3 piece for increased performance, many salmon anglers use 6 piece fly rods such as the Epic DH13 Spey Fly Rod nowadays. Big brands such as Orvis or Echo have used their experience from decades of rod making to increase the performance of travel fly rods.
In the smaller line classes such as #2 – #4, you will have a hard time feeling a difference in a 4 piece or 6 piece rod.
As you can see from our review of the best travel fly rods, there is a range of options to choose from. The most important question you have to ask yourself before making a purchase is: what species will I be targeting with my travel fly rod?
Once you know that, you can define your budget and think about what fly rod suits you best. All of the rods in this test are lightweight, highly packable and will perform well in almost any fishing situation.
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