Do I Need An Expensive Fly Rod And Reel?

An angler wearing a camo-print long-sleeve and bright orange vest holds a Helios 3 rod with a Mirage reel.

Price is a large variable in fly rods and fly reels. Even though they all do the same thing, some can be extremely affordable and some can extremely expensive. Like cars, they all serve the same purpose but vary greatly in price due to components and features.

How Do They Differ?


  • Fly rods can be made of a variety of materials. Graphite is the most common (and lightest). It also accommodates most casting styles. For slow casting strokes, fiberglass is a great choice. Bamboo rods offer the most personal choice in fly rod selection.
  • Within all these types, there’s a great variety in price. Some graphite rods cost more than bamboo ones and some bamboo rods cost more than used cars.
  • Reels are no different. The components they’re made of, their design, their drag system and their overall strength determine their differences—and their different prices.


  • This is an important distinction with fly rods and fly reels. Try and get the best warranty possible with a company that offers a repair program.
  • Fly rods are susceptible to damage and breaking (especially the tips). Reels break, too. Typically, the more expensive rods and reels come with great warranties, making repair and replacement less of a hassle.


  • There’s a fit for everyone. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get started with fly fishing.
  • Your first rod doesn’t have to cost a lot. Once you start casting and know the foibles and the intricacies of your style, you may want to pick up another rod. These days, few fishermen limit themselves to just one.
  • When picking a rod, don’t look at the name on it or the price tag. Instead, pick up the rod and see how it feels. Once you find one that feels right, look and see how much it costs. It may be the least—or most— expensive one in the bunch.

Fly Rods and Reels: 4 Things More Important Than Price

  1. Do you like it?
  2. Does it do everything you need it to do?
  3. Is it durable and able to handle everything you put it through?
  4. Does the warranty cover a lot and is it easy to use?

To get the most out it of fly fishing, your equipment doesn’t need to be expensive. The less you focus on the tools and the more you focus on the experience, the more you’ll see rods and reels are just a part of the experience.

No matter the cost, they all put us in the same place doing the same thing: Enjoying ourselves for a day on the water, chasing fish. And that’s what really matters.

Shop Fly-Fishing Gear