CAMPING & HIKING

Best Backpacking Fly Rod: Cast in Comfort and Travel with Ease

Backpack travel fly rod
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

When you set out to go fishing, there is sometimes an overload of how much stuff you need to pack and bring. Don’t let your rod be a huge inconvenience holding you down. When looking for the best backpacking fly rod it can be overwhelming, but this article provides some options so that you can find the best fit and package to accommodate you when your out on the water.

Fly fishing is the sport of using an artificial fly to catch fish. This type of fishing requires a certain technique that differ from the normal fishing cast. When casting you must pull your rod back and forth to get the right arc so that when your artificial fly lands on the water it looks natural.

fishing with fly rod

Line and Rod Weight

The artificial fly is designed to be very lightweight, so when casting you will need to rely on your line’s weight to hold and span the arc for your cast. You rod’s weight is designed to have a coordinating line weight, for example a five weight rod should be equipped with a five weight line.

When are are looking at the rod weights there are a few things to keep in mind. You should factor in what type of water you will be fishing in, how far are you casting, the weather conditions, the fly size and your goal fish size.

A good example is that if you are after a larger fish, you will need a bigger fly. If it’s very large you will probably be fishing in a larger body of water which raises the potential for wind speeds. If these factors match up then you are looking for a heavier weighted rod.

Fishing with heavier rod

Here is a good guideline for comparing which fish go with which rod weight.

  • 0-4 Weight – Panfish, smaller trout in small creeks.
  • 4-6 Weight – Average sized trout, grayling.
  • 5-9 Weight – Small mouth bass, large mouth bass, Steelhead, Bonefish, Redfish.
  • 8-12 Weight – Carp, Salmon, Northern Pike, Muskie, Striped bass, False albacore, Peacock bass, Golden dorado.
  • 12-14 Weight – Mahi-mahi (10 – 14), Bluefin, Sailfish, Marlin.

Fly Fishing Terms

Differing from traditional fishing, this sport has techniques and lingo all it’s own. In order to better understand some of the rod specifications then it is important to know some terms and what they mean when you are breaking down a rod to purchase.

Features of a flying rod

Action

The action of a fly fishing rod is referring to how much flex or bend it has. This is something to notate since you cannot adjust the action and you will want to find a rod that matches your strengths and preference.

  • Slow Action – This is designed for fishers who need to make a short, accurate and gentle cast. The generous flexibility and slow line speed give inexperienced casters a chance to have good control of their line. Mostly used for Dry fly fishing, this type of rod bends almost to the top of the cork padding.
  • Medium Action – This type will flex further into the body of the rod and requires less force. It is more forgiving than the fast action rod. This is preferred for freshwater fishing.
  • Moderate Action – Also known as medium-fast action. This rod offers a deeper flex than the fast action which allows casters to comfortably switch between their fishing techniques depending on which fishing situation they are in.
  • Fast Action – This is the stiffest version with minimum flex. It requires high line speeds and performs well against the wind and with larger flies. This is suited for an experienced fisher with good timing and technique.

fast action fishing

Guides

This refers to the loops in which your line with be guided up the pole through. Stainless steel guides boast being corrosion resistant to various types of water. Most rods will offer a ceramic inner ring built in, this greatly reduces the line friction when you are aiming for the perfect cast.

Materials

Not all rods are made from the same stuff. Here is a brief overview of a few of the most popular materials.

  • Graphite/Carbon Fiber – Introduced in the 70s, this type of rod enhanced all the current features. Giving customers a strong, light and very durable rod that wouldn’t easily over bend and break. Most rods are made with this material due to it’s popularity and affordable pricing.
  • Fiberglass – Overshadowed by the graphite option, the glass rods are fewer in availability but are still an excellent lightweight and durable option. This type of rod caters to a slower casting stroke and is more effective for smaller fishing areas.

fiberglass rod

Reel seats

Choosing the right materials on the reel seat is based on where you will be fishing. If you will be around salt water then you will want to chose components that will hold up and won’t corrode over a short time. Saltwater safe materials are Aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber. Wooden rods or detailing is suggested for freshwater fishing as saltwater will cause deterioration.

Also you should notate the reel locking mechanism.

  • Uplocking – The locking nut will turns towards the grip. This gives more room between the bottom of the reel and adds length to the rod’s fighting butt.
  • Downlocking – The locking nut turns toward the butt. Since it locks down, it works with gravity, not against it, which makes it least likely to slip.
  • Slip Rings – This is a great customizing option. However, concern arises in with the difficulty of slipping the rings over the reel footing. Over time, the cork will mold to the reel footing which will give your rod a snugger fit.

slip rings for rod

Reel Included

A fly reel is a very important addition to your fishing kit, this is the way you will be able to pull in that big catch. The reel houses your line, and opposed to standard fishing, you don’t rely on your reel for casting. When casting, you pull the string loose and wrap it around your fingers for better control of the cast.

When looking for a fly reel, some rods will have one included but if you are looking for an elevated model then your best bet would be to purchase one separately. Some options that you should consider are below.

Automatic

This version uses a spring mechanism that will pull the line when the lever is flicked. Automatic reels are heavier than their counterparts and give a limited line capacity.

Switching hands

If you prefer a left versus right configuration then take a moment to see if the reel is able to switch. The manufacturer will include the conversion instructions so that you won’t struggle with switching.

switching hands

Drags

This refers to the braking system in the fly reel. The drags are made to apply pressure to the line which helps hold the line when a fish is on the hook. There are a few different types to chose from.

  • Disc Drags – These have pads that that make up the braking mechanism. Often called the best type because they have a wider range of adjustment to incorporate smaller or finer increments.
  • Palm Drags – This type is a manual brake, it gives you the control of applying pressure to the spool of the reel. This is an okay option for smaller fish, but if you are aiming for larger ones then you will need a more reliable drag system.

palm drags

Available Fly Fishing Rods

Now that you have a better idea of what size rod you want let’s take a look at the current options on the market.

Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod

Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod

Sizes: 3, 5, 8 weight

Price: $60 – $70

Features: Fast action IM8 graphite; travel friendly; ceramic stripping guides; chrome snake guides; includes a four section rod case with adjustable shoulder strap.

The Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod is a four-piece rod that is ready for travel.  The neutral dark gray color helps you blend in around fish, instead of spooking with bright colors. It has been built for fast action, longer casting and has a strong backbone for hard to catch fish.

Made with carbon fiber (IM8 graphite), this rod has maximum durability and sensitivity. This allows you to know when the fish grab your hook and ill give you peace of mind knowing the rod won’t snap if you encounter a fighter.

A high quality cork handle gives you comfort when casting. It is easy to assemble your rod with the aligning dots. When not in use, this rod comes apart into four pieces that fit securely into a four section rod tube.

Check the price on Amazon

Temple Fork NXT Fly Fishing Outfit

Temple Fork NXT Fly Fishing Outfit

Sizes: 4/5, 5/6, 8/9 weight

Price: $170 – $210

Features: Medium fast action IM6 graphite; case included; large arbor reel; weight forward floating line included.

Demand more from your fly fishing rod with the Temple Fork NXT Fly Fishing Outfit. This all in one kit includes a rod, drag reel and a carrying case. The rod is a neutral forest green with a composite cork handle for comfort. This rod breaks down into four pieces and comes with a travel case.

The body is made from a medium fast action IMG6 graphite carbon fiber, which gives a better learning curve for beginners and intermediate fishers. The large arbor reel is made from lightweight cast aluminum and has adjustable disc drag. The reel comes loaded with weight forward floating line, backing and leader.

Check the price on Amazon

Fiblink Lightweight Portable Fly Fishing Rod

Fiblink 4-piece Fly Fishing Rod

Sizes: 5/6, 7/8 weight

Price: $39 – $41

Features: Lightweight; multipurpose hook holder; enhanced aluminum reel seat; 1 guide with stainless steel frame; included rod protection bag.

The Fiblink Lightweight Portable Fly Fishing Rod is a great option for reducing weight but keeping strength. This rod breaks down into four pieces for easy storage and comes with a rod protection bag.

The ultra premium grade cork grip offers excellent comfort while the carbon fiber body offers tough durability and strength. Built in a an enhanced aluminum reel seat, stainless steel framed guide and a multipurpose hook holder.

Check the price on Amazon

Maxcatch Explorer Graphite Fly Fishing Rod

Maxcatch Explorer Graphite Fly Fishing Rod

Size: 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 weight

Price: $40 – $55

Features: Pure IM6 24T carbon fiber body; medium fast action; light and durable reel seat; hard chrome snake guides; ceramic ring stripping guides; included plastic rod tube.

Affordable and well built the Maxcatch Explorer Graphite Fly Fishing Rod offers excellent quality. This rod offers a medium fast flex for casting with good accuracy.

The body is made from Pure IM6 24T carbon fiber which gives incredible durability and strength. Built in is a light and durable reel seat with airspace graded 6061T aluminum. The Pure A quality Portuguese cork handle offers comfortable grip.

It is equipped with super hard chrome stainless steel snake guides and corrosion resistant top guides for extended support and control. An advanced ceramic ring stripping gives minimum friction and allows more line control.

Check the price on Amazon

Eagle Claw Featherlight Fly Rod

Eagle Claw Featherlight Fly Rod

Sizes: 5/6 weight

Price: $25 – $27

Features: Quality and field tested; aluminum and cherry wood reel seat; 7 plus tip guides; power-light; cork handle.

Innovative and unapologetically yellow, the Eagle Claw Featherlight Fly Rod is a better priced option for anglers who want to try something different without breaking the bank. Instead of being made from carbon fiber like almost all fly rods on the market, this rod is made from a fiberglass blend.

This fast action rod holds up well compared to it’s competition and is not floppy on the cast. The aluminum and cherry wood reel seat is a surprisingly nice touch to the details. This rod has 7 guides which make it look like a regular fishing rod, but it fly fishes with perfection and ease.

This rod does not break down into a smaller easy to carry option and no bag is included.

Check the price on Amazon

PLUSINNO Lightweight Ultra Portable Fly Fishing Rod

PLUSINNO Lightweight Ultra Portable Fly Fishing Rod

Sizes: 5/6 weight

Price: $40 – $80

Features: Two options available; super light; thinner; metal adjustable fishing reel seat; die-cast large arbor spool.

Chose your kit with the PLUSINNO Lightweight Ultra Portable Fly Fishing Rod. This rod comes in a more affordable rod only kit, or for a little more you can purchase the fly fishing kit which includes the rod, one fishing reel, fishing line, fishing lures and a case.

Boasting a super light weight, this rod is made from 30-ton toray carbon fiber. The high grade chrome guide ring will not harm the line and advanced guides reduce the friction and keep heat to a minimum.

This fast action model rod is thinner than most on the market and has a high grade wooden handle for comfortable grip. The fishing kit comes with a super large arbor reel that is made from aluminum.

Check the price on Amazon

Sougayilang Saltwater Freshwater Fly Fishing Rod

Sougayilang Saltwater Freshwater Fly Fishing Rod

Sizes: 5/6 weight

Price: $56 – $70

Features: Two colors and optional kits available; alloy reel included; medium fast action; breaks down into 4 sections.

An excellent option for beginners or intermediate fishers alike, the Sougayilang Saltwater Freshwater Fly Fishing Rod is a strong and durable rod to have in your collection.

Included is an alloy fishing reel that can be easily switched from right hand to left hand option. Made from carbon fiber, this rod is strong and won’t easily break. A carry case is not included.

This rod comes in two color options, black and silver. You can also chose from to purchase the rod only or a fishing kit. The kit includes the rod and reel along with flies, lines and a handy box to keep them in.

Check the price on Amazon

Piscifun 4-piece Graphite Fly Fishing Rod

Piscifun 4-piece Graphite Fly Fishing Rod

Sizes: 3/4, 5/6 weight

Price: $55 – $65

Features: Precision rolled Japanese 30-ton toray carbon fiber; chromed stainless steel guides; ceramic ring; sensitive tip flex; strong backbone.

The Piscifun Graphite Fly Fishing Rod is a great option for all anglers. This kit comes with the rod that breaks down easily into four sections for simple carrying and an included rod sock to hold them.

This rod is made from precision rolled Japanese 30-ton toray carbon fiber that makes it very durable and strong enough to reel in that big fish you’ve had your eye on.

The corrosion-resistant chromed stainless steel guides will keep your line safe while the ceramic ring cuts down on friction and gives you an easy cast. A reinforced strong backbone gives you a peace of mind while you are out casting and the Portuguese cork grip adds all day comfort.

Check the price on Amazon

So Which One Should You Choose?

While there are a few stand out rods in the mix, it really all comes down to your preference and need. If you already have multiple cases for fly rods, then you could be looking at a pole only purchase. If you are newer to the sport then you may want an all in one kit. Each rod has it’s own special details that make it different, but at the end of the day most rods are all comparable in a sense.

It comes down to how much you are looking to spend on a rod and what details and sizing appeals best to you. Taking the time to make an educated decision on your fly fishing rod will ensure that you make a great investment, that way you can get the right one to enjoy long days of fishing out in the open water.

Have something to add or want to ask a question? Leave us a comment below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Oli Stan

    I have Temple Fork NXT and it is 10/10 for me. It is quite expensive compared to other brands, but it is the best in my opinion. Its quality is really excellent so it is worth your money. I highly recommend this for beginners. For me, it is better to invest on good stuff like this.

    • Mark Foster

      What a great fly rod!

  • Luke Rogers

    I bought Plussino a couple of months ago and so far, so good. I am truly impressed and pleased with its action. For me, the rod feels really balanced while the casts are smooth. I also appreciate that it loads very easily. It is my favorite at the moment. Highly recommended!

    • Mark Foster

      We like how balanced it is too.

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