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Best Fly Tying Vise Reviews – Find a High-Quality Rod for Less

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Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Lefty Kreh Professional Series II Braided Graphite Fly Fishing Rods
Fenwick AETOS Fly Fishing Rod, 9 ft., 5 wt
Orvis Clearwater 5-weight 9' Fly Rod, Type: 9 Ft
Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter Series Fly Fishing Rod (Matte, 5WT 9' 4PC)
Our Score
4.8
4.5
4.1
3.8
MSRP
Price not available
$189.95
$198.00
$199.00
Weight
2.16 oz
2.60 oz
5 oz
3.4 oz
Length
8ft
9ft
9ft
9ft
Action
Medium Fast
Fast
Fast
Medium
Pieces
4
4
4
4
Temple Fork Outfitters TFO Lefty Kreh Professional Series II Braided Graphite Fly Fishing Rods
Our Score
4.8
MSRP
Price not available
Weight
2.16 oz
Length
8ft
Action
Medium Fast
Pieces
4
More Information
Fenwick AETOS Fly Fishing Rod, 9 ft., 5 wt
Our Score
4.5
MSRP
$189.95
Weight
2.60 oz
Length
9ft
Action
Fast
Pieces
4
More Information
Orvis Clearwater 5-weight 9' Fly Rod, Type: 9 Ft
Our Score
4.1
MSRP
$198.00
Weight
5 oz
Length
9ft
Action
Fast
Pieces
4
More Information
Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter Series Fly Fishing Rod (Matte, 5WT 9' 4PC)
Our Score
3.8
MSRP
$199.00
Weight
3.4 oz
Length
9ft
Action
Medium
Pieces
4
More Information

If you love fly fishing then you’ve likely realized you won’t be satisfied with a hand-me-down, grandfather’s bargain basement fly rod.  

You need a fly rod that can perform and bring big fish to the net.  But with all the fly rods on the market where can you look for a good performer that doesn’t drain the bank?

That is why we’ve reviewed the top fly rods for all skill levels: We want to help you find the right fly rod for under $200.

When anglers make decisions on what fly fishing gear to invest in, they usually start with a fly rod and reel, and probably a fly fishing vest.

For a solid vest, you can read our best fly fishing vest recommendations, but keep reading to see which fly rods were on the top of our short list.

A quick online search for fly rods with a fair price will have your head spinning. The choices to weed through are time consuming.

You don’t want to invest your hard earned cash in something that won’t stand-up to the test.

Temple Fork Outfitters Lefty Kreh Professional Series II

Temple Fork Outfitters has developed a reputation for producing rods at affordable prices that rival the feel and performance of very high-end rods.  Experienced fly anglers who have been casting top tier rods for decades often comment that TFO rods have taken up a rotation in their fly fishing adventures.

TFO Lefty Kreh Professional Series II has you covered whether you need an 8 weight rod with a fighting butt for steelhead and striped bass, or a super sensitive 3 weight for casting tiny dries to trout.  That wide range of great performance isn’t something you’ll find in many fly rods near this price point.

TFO’s Lefty Kreh Pro Series II is a tremendous value for anglers looking to take a significant step above a beginner level fly rod.  The performance of TFO rods simply cannot be matched by the typical entry-level rods found on the shelves today.

Making that step up in quality can be a very wise choice for new anglers who need a helpful tool that will help them feel the rod and learn the timing of an effective cast.  And for seasoned anglers who might need a backup or replacement rod, TFO fly rods have a tendency to become the primary rather than secondary choice.

TFO offers the Lefty Kreh Pro Series II 4 piece fly rod in 2 through 10 weight.  That spread really provides a huge range of performance as well as the repute and popularity of Temple Fork Outfitters rods

The rod provides a distinct feel and sensitivity while casting.  For an affordable rod, this trait provides a great benefit to anglers learning the timing and feel for the flex of the fly rod while loading and unloading.

Another benefit of the sensitive quality of the Pro Series II is that the rod is very forgiving.  Some very fast action rods can leave the angler with little sense for when to begin the forward cast.  The TFO Lefty Kreh Professional Series is a great asset in building the angler’s muscle memory necessary to cast consistently and smoothly.

TFO labels this as a medium fast action rod, but while casting it feels a bit faster than medium fast.  Regardless, the action is equally enjoyable with a lightweight dry fly set up and a heavy two-fly nymph rig.

The TFO Lefty Pro model is responsive with floating line, and loads up very nicely when making longer casts.  But we wondered, what happens when the rod is loaded with a heavy sinking line?  Surprisingly good things.

The TFO Lefty Kreh Pro actually throws a sinking line like heavy artillery.The rod’s sense of predictability and smooth release with sinking line makes it very fitting for that second rod we like to keep ready for big streamers.  

Accuracy at distance with the TFO is also notable when compared to some high-end rods, which it can truly out-perform.  The TFO reputation isn’t just idle hearsay.

The power of the TFO Lefty Kreh Pro is very apparent when bringing fish to the net.  The backbone of the fly rod is strong and robust.  TFO struck an excellent balance in avoiding a loss of sensitivity while producing a rod so robust in nature. Under strain the rod tip provides terrific sensitivity which is essential when the fight is on with a big fish.

Lets get in to some of the features of the TFO Lefty Pro Series II.  It uses an IM6 Graphite blank in matte black.  Im6 graphite has been a long-proven and reliable material for rod makers. 

The matte black finish is simple and effective, but doesn’t exactly embody the refinement and polished class of high-end fly rods.  Thankfully a good fly rod doesn’t need to sprinkle fairy glitter to prove itself distinguished.

The rod guides are standard oversized stripping guides.  The cork handle is of a good grade and fit.  Cheap rods often feature bigger cork grips that just don’t fit the hand very well.  Thankfully the TFO Lefty Pro Series has a very nice premium grade cork handle with burled accents.

The reel seat is a streamlined braided graphite insert with anodized aluminum hardware.  Rods in 7 weight and up feature a fighting butt.  TFO put nice alignment dots on each of the 4 rod sections to aid in lining up your sections during assembly.  The rod also has some touches of gold accent paint around the rod wraps.

For convenience, 4-piece rods travel and store marvelously.  If you plan on hiking or traveling, a four piece rod will break down much smaller than a 2 piece rod.  The TFO Lefty Kreh Pro Series II comes with only a Cordura sock for protection, so you need to plan on purchasing a tube separately if you intend to hike or travel with it.  

Fly rod tubes designed for 4-piece rods easily strap onto the side of a hiking pack or can be placed inside the pack. The online reviews for the TFO Lefty Kreh Pro Series II are very positive, with 87% of the reviewers giving it 4 or 5 stars.  

Reviewers laud the performance and quality of the TFO Lefty Kreh Pro Series II with comments like “spectacular value.”, “I challenge a person to tell the difference between the TFO and the expensive rods.”, and “The quality is incredibly great for the price.”

TFO has an excellent product warranty.  Rod makers today normally charge a nominal flat-fee for all repair needs.  In fact, most high-end rod makers charge $50 regardless of the repair needs.  

All TFO products have a no-fault lifetime warranty for the life of the registered owner which does not cover normal wear and tear, accidents, abuse or broken guides.  As of this date, TFO charges a flat fee of $30 plus shipping.

The recurrence of online stories featuring anglers choosing TFO rods over very high-end $700-$800 rods will almost make you suspect foul play. Do experienced anglers really choose a less expensive rod like a TFO over Sages and Winstons?  If you do some digging online you’ll quickly find similar stories.

Real-life testimony to the quality and performance of TFO speaks volumes.  We personally know very experienced fly anglers that have started fishing TFO rods after years of spending top dollar on the best-of-the-best rods.  With such a great price and level of performance, we recommend taking a look at the TFO Left Kreh Professional Series II.

Fenwick Aetos

Skeptics beware, the Fenwick Aetos is a real-deal player.  We thought it would be confusing to have two rods labeled as our first choice, but this rod could very well migrate into the first position.

This is not your grandfathers Fenwick fly rod.  For a budget rod, the Aetos straight-out destroys rods that are three or four times the price.  It’s very lightweight, smooth, easy on the eyes, and accurate.

This fly rod basically covers all the things you’d want to see in a high-end rod, but without the really high-end components to drive up the price.

Right out of the gate the Aetos feels nimble and has a great sense of flex.  Short 20-30 foot casts are pleasant and provide very gratifying accuracy while unloading smoothly.  As the casting distance extends the Aetos comes into it’s own.  

The rod’s sweet spot sits right around the 40-50 foot range.  This is where the Aetos can really show off.  Strong and smooth 50 foot casts are especially accurate and charming.

The Aetos allows you to deliver flies accurately, but does it deliver sensitivity?  Well, the short answer is yes.  For a budget-minded fly rod the Aetos delivers huge on feeling and sensation.  The sensitivity varies only slightly depending on the amount of line you are working.

Shorter distances prove less sensitive, but that’s not to say the rod is insensitive altogether at these distances.  Quite the opposite.  The Aetos is very crisp and provides you with a perfect sense of where your cast will land.

That sensitivity slowly gains steam as your line reaches the 40-50 foot mark.  This is where all the positive attributes of the Fenwick Aetos meet in one place.  This sweet spot is every bit as good as high end rods, if not better. The rod flexes and unloads beautifully and makes false casting really enjoyable.

You’ll notice that you are getting beyond the sweet spot once you get out about 60-65 feet of line in the air.  Again, this shouldn’t be taken as poor sensitivity, just not quite as delightful as the sweet spot.

Even at 70-75 feet the accuracy of the Aetos remains solid and consistent, as does the smoothness.  It is worth noting that the rod doesn’t feel sloppy at all, but you will notice that the strength begins to taper off when stretching out your cast beyond this point.

The performance and smooth action stays consistent, but power at distance is one advantage you’ll see in some higher-end rods.  But taking fish at 75-80 feet isn’t exactly commonplace either, so this wasn’t a deal breaker for us.

The Aetos sports a deep blue color with carbon flake accents that gives the rod a really classy look.  Along with impressive performance, Fenwick designed the Aetos to have attractive aesthetics as well.  The stunning color choice is a simple and effective way to set the Aetos apart from the rest with style.

The 9 foot 5 weight is a 4-section rod which makes for easier packing and friendly travel.  Rods in 4-piece provide a distinct advantage for travelers looking to head out on backpacking adventures or needing to traveling in an airplane.  Fenwick includes a cloth covered rod tube to protect the rod from damage.

Fenwick chose large diameter gunsmoke stripper guides and double foot gunsmoke snake guides for the Aetos.  We weren’t real impressed by the look of that first big stripper guide, but since the rod is such a fantastic performer, it was pretty easy to overlook.

The Aetos features an anodized aluminum double uplocking reel seat to keep your reels solidly in place.  Fenwick also utilized a AAA-grade cork handle that has a comfortable swell and provides a secure grip.

Reviewers online speak very highly of the Aetos, with 88% leaving 4 or 5 stars. Positive comments are the norm like, “Loops are classic, line speeds are just right out to over 55 feet,” and “This rod has a great feel, lightweight swing weight and is absolutely a pleasure to cast.”

All Fenwick Aetos series rods carry a limited lifetime warranty.  So if your rod breaks due to a manufacturing defect, Fenwick covers the replacement free of charge.  Fenwick will fix or replace your Aetos and ship it to you for free.  

You’ll just have to cover the return shipping for the broken rod.  That benefit puts Fenwick a step above most rod makers that charge a nominal fee of $25-$50 for repair or replacement.

Like most rod makers, Fenwick doesn’t cover normal wear and tear or misuse of their products.  But even if you accidentally break your rod, Fenwick will cut you a deal on a replacement.

We are really impressed with the performance, sensitivity, and great price of the Fenwick Aetos in 9 ft 5 weight.  It is really an incredible value at this price.  If you need a fly rod that can lay down some line, and really save you some cash we recommend picking up the Aetos from Fenwick.

Orvis Clearwater

Orvis has been making solid fishing tools for a very long time.  Over the years, Orvis rods have covered the full spectrum from entry level to top-shelf fly rods and everything in between.  The Orvis Clearwater in 9 foot 5 weight delivers serious bang for your buck. A perfect rod for someone who needs a higher quality rod without surrendering their wallet.

Realistically, anglers cant be expected to have a fly rod for every occasion.  Having a good rod to rig with a floating line and another good set up for a sinking line is about all we can ask for.  The Orvis Clearwater is offered as an entry level rod but performs well above the typical entry level fly rod.

In fact, Orvis integrates the technology profile and taper from their high-end Helios model into the Clearwater.  The highly capable Clearwater is obviously meant to be much more than a back-up rod.  Orvis offers the Clearwater in a 4-piece rod that delivers and even experienced anglers thoroughly enjoy.

The Clearwater’s ability to render the slightest bump back to the angler is undeniable.  The rod’s receptiveness to very slight impulses gives the angler a jump on the fish.  And short range casting with the Clearwater is unusually pleasant.

Many entry level rods only load well when the angler is working a long line, or a heavy sinking line.  But the Clearwater loads very well for short range, making up-close casting a delight.

New anglers are unlikely to be casting very far initially.  With that in mind, the Orvis Clearwater is of great assistance to the new angler while developing a sense for the fly rod loading and unloading.  Orvis labels the Clearwater as a mid-flex rod, which places this squarely in the category of a moderate action fly rod.

Though the Clearwater particularly shines at closer ranges the rod is very capable of sending line out to distance.  But lets be realistic, how many fish have you caught on an 80 foot cast?  

The great flex of the Clearwater facilitates casting beyond practical ranges.  Accuracy falls off the further the cast is extended, but that is to be expected with most fly rods.

The Clearwater casts dry flies like a boss at short to medium distances.  There are a pile of mid action rods that perform really well for anglers at various distances, and the Clearwater is no exception in that sense.  But with a price under $200 the Orvis Clearwater is a tremendous exception.

The straightforward strength of the Orvis Clearwater is distinct when fighting big fish.  But the great sensitivity keeps the enjoyment-factor going strong with even medium to small fish.

Orvis has an all around great rod in the Clearwater.  For a great casting dry fly set up with floating line we recommend Rio Gold.

The rod blank itself is an olive color that gives the Clearwater a classy look usually seen in high-end rods.  The rod guides are standard and sport black wraps on the guides and ferrules.

Orvis took advantage of the durable qualities of high modulus graphite in designing the Clearwater.  The premium cork handle fits the hand very well, as should be expected of any reputable rod maker with the reputation like Orvis.

The reel seat is a sleek anodized aluminum with a durable woven graphite insert.  Orvis makes their freshwater versions of the Clearwater in rod weights 2-6 and lengths varying from 6-10 feet.

All of the Orvis Clearwater models come as a 4-piece rod.  We always recommend 4 piece rods over 2 piece due to the convenience of traveling with a 4-piece set up.  And if you do any hike-in fishing the 4-piece rods pack well.   The Clearwater comes with a hard rod tube for protecting the fly rod from breakage during travel and storage.

The online reputation for the Orvis Clearwater fly rod is rock solid.  Reviewers consistently comment on the performance and price of the Orvis Clearwater with comments like “This rod is a steal.”, “It has very good action, a soft tip, and will cast forever.” and “Very pleased!”

Orvis holds one of the most generous warranties in the rod building industry.  Their 25 year no questions asked rod repair program is second to none.  If you break your fly rod, you simply mail it back to Orvis and they will fix it without any cost to you.  It doesn’t even matter how you broke the rod.

Orvis does charge a nominal fee of $60 if for some reason they cannot fix the rod.  In that case they will replace your rod with one of at least equal value for a nominal fee of $60.  There is a great peace of mind that comes with knowing you can fish hard, and your rod is covered.

There is no getting around the fact that Orvis makes solid fishing tools.  They have consistently advanced the frontier of fly rod innovation for decades.  The Orvis Clearwater is a must-cast for the angler looking for a new rod at a great price.

Moonshine Rod Drifter Series

Moonshine Rod Company is a new-comer to the block that initially they caught our attention because of their great price and rock-solid reviews.  After looking them over it became obvious that they are very well made and a great performing fly rod.

Moonshine Rod Company builds their Drifter Series with performance and affordability in mind. You can fish this fly rod hard and know that the durable materials and construction will last.

This high performance graphite rod falls into the medium-action range of flex and comes in a four piece offering.  Moonshine Rod Company includes a hard canvas case for safe storage.

The drifter series can really throw line and provides a really good feel for the rod loading and unloading, which no doubt helps with long a short range casts.  While this isn’t a super high-end rod, the sensitivity is definitely heading in that direction.

The cork grip looks smooth and is well made with good quality AAA grade cork.  Burled ends provide a really unique and signature look, and the overall shape fits your hand nicely.

The Drifter series from Moonshine Rod includes a spalted burl reel seat that adds a really classy look to a fly rod that already radiates with class. Copper anodized hardware tops-off the unique look.

For that added layer of security, the fly rod also comes with an extra tip section and a no fault lifetime warranty.  If you are in the market for an affordable fly rod with great reviews, we highly recommend looking at the Moonshine Rod Drifter Series.

FAQ

Fly Rod

Can you get a good fly rod for under $200?

Yes, you most certainly can get a good fly fishing rod for under $200. 

In this price range you can get a medium-fast rod (with the top third of the rod doing most of the bending) that is made of either fiberglass or graphite. 

These types of rods will provide you with the flexibilty and strength needed to perform well. You can get some very good four peice rods in this price range. 

You willl be able to pick up a good 3- weight rod with a length of eight to nine feet, which is ideal for beginners. 

What to pay attention to when choosing your next fly rod?

The followng are the most important buying consideratioins when choosing a fly rod:

Construction material – the majority of fly fishing rods are made from either fiberglass, graphite or bamboo. Graphite rods are the most versatile, being available in a range of flex rates from slow to medium fast. Fiberglass rods are both softer and slower than graphite rods. Bamboo rods are the softest and most expensive. 

Flex Rate – flex rate is the amount of bend or ‘action’ that the rod permits. The ranges of flex rate are slow, medium, medium fast and fast. If you are a beginner then you should go fo a medium flex rate. Fast flex rate rods are the most difficult to handle and should be left for experienced fishermen.

Weight – the weight does not refer to the actual weight of the rod but rather the weight of the line that is used with the rod. Different rod weights are used for different types of fishing.

A four weight rod is best for trout fishing. Five weights are designed to be used to catch bluegill, small bass and trout. 

A six weight is ideal for river fishing, while casters will want to go up to a seven weight. 

If you are planning on heading out into saltwater, then you will need an 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 weight rod, depending on the type of saltwater fish you are going after. 

What length of fly rod do I need?

If you are a beginning fisherman, you will want to start out with a rod that is between 8 and 9 feet in length. 

However, if your are primarily going to be fishing in creeks and small waterways, you will be better off with a much shorter rod. 

Look for a rod that is between 6 and 8 feet in length. This will allow you to get in around rocky areas and branches that may be overhanging the waterway. 

If you are a relatively experienced fisherman and plan to fish in large bodies of water, you should go for a larger rod.

Conclusion

Anglers who are just getting started in the sport of fly fishing need entry level gear. 

Even the most experienced fly anglers usually start with inexpensive fishing gear and upgrade as needed. 

With that in mind we wanted to include some good entry level options. 

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