Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Fly Fishing Rods

Orvis Recon 908-4

90

2016

Orvis Recon 908-4

The Orvis Recon rod is one of the most versatile performance rods in this class. Beginners and experts have praised its smooth casting ability and ability to ‘work’ fish effectively once hooked. 

Redington Predator 890-4

83

2016

Redington Predator 890-4

The Redington Predator is an affordable performance rod that performs nearly as well as the most expensive rods in the class, at half the price.

Scott Meridian MS908-4

86

2016

Scott Meridian MS908-4

The Scott Meridian is a powerful fast-action rod capable of casting line good distances even in windy conditions. But it struggles a bit with accuracy and finesse in close-in action.

G.Loomis PRO4x 1088-4 Saltwater

86

2016

G.Loomis PRO4x 1088-4 Saltwater

The G.Loomis PRO4x Saltwater is an affordable jack-of-all trades saltwater rod, suitable for beginning salt anglers as well as experienced casters. 

Sage SALT 890-4

95

2016

Sage SALT 890-4

The Sage SALT is best rod in its class in terms of casting power, accuracy, and fish-fighting performance. It is also the most expensive.

Scott Radian 864/4

88

2015

Scott Radian 864/4

The fast-action Scott Radian had the line speed to throw big foam hoppers to aggressive westslope cutthroat, and it was wonderful for working weighted multi-fly nymphing rigs. But when accuracy and finesse were needed, the Radian was a bit limited compared to the Sage Accel or Orvis Recon. 

Sage Accel 486-4

93

2015

Sage Accel 486-4

After just a month of fishing the Sage Accel 486-4, I had fallen in love. The medium-fast action of the Accel offered me a smooth, progressive action that was able to push a lot of line a good distance, but with great tip flex suitable for long mends and delicate presentations.

Rugged Creek Traditional 4-wt

77

2015

Rugged Creek Traditional 4-wt

The Rugged Creek Traditional rod offers a medium-fast action with a soft-flex tip that proved to be relatively easy to cast. Unfortunately, the Traditional lacks the power of a true fast-action (like the Scott Radian or Orvis Recon) and the accuracy of a medium-action like the Sage Accel.

Redington Vapen Black 409-4

87

2015

Redington Vapen Black 409-4

The Redington Vapen Black utilizes the original Vapen’s synthetic grip without the gaudy colors. The fast-action taper provides good casting power with better than average accuracy.

Orvis Recon 904-4

90

2015

Orvis Recon 904-4

The Orvis Recon series fills the middle of Orvis’ rod lineup, and the 9’ 4-wt version is a great example of the series’ strengths. 

Sage Circa

77

2014

Sage Circa

A beautiful new rod design, using a super-slim rod blank, the Circa performs its role as a dry fly specialist perfectly. Just don’t expect it to do anything else.

Orvis Superfine Touch

76

2014

Orvis Superfine Touch

The Orvis SuperFine Touch masters the art of presenting small dry flies to finicky surface feeding fish. Just don’t try using this rod for anything other than that precision dry fly work. 

Redington Butter Stick

85

2014

Redington Butter Stick

Redington’s Butter Stick features a slick, smooth casting action and, thanks to its soft tip flex, a soft presentation on the water. 

Orvis Superfine Glass

87

2014

Orvis Superfine Glass

The Superfine Glass serves as an outstanding rod for dry fly anglers, especially on small to medium sized rivers where casting distance is less vital than casting accuracy and presentation. 

LL Bean Pocket Water

71

2014

LL Bean Pocket Water

The very affordable Pocket Water allows anglers to pursue trout in small streams, ponds, and pools effectively, provided they can find fish within the rod’s limited casting range.

St. Croix Legend Elite

73

2014

St. Croix Legend Elite

The St. Croix Legend Elite performs as fast action power caster and big-fish fighter, though accuracy and delicacy are somewhat sacrificed. 

Sage Response

79

2014

Sage Response

The Sage Response makes reasonable compromises to be a true highly effective “quiver of one" rod though it costs a bit more than some with similar characteristics.

Redington Vapen Red

88

2014

Redington Vapen Red

The Redington Vapen’s combination of power and accuracy puts it among the best in the class, but its synthetic grip and balance in hand make it one of the most comfortable rods in the field.

Orvis Access

77

2014

Orvis Access

The Access rods borrow design elements from Orvis’ premium series, the Helios 2, while keeping the price reasonable for cost-conscious anglers. 

G. Loomis PRO4x

87

2014

G. Loomis PRO4x

The G. Loomis PRO4x presents dry flies as well as it handles drifting nymphs off a sink-tip line. It excels as a near-perfect option for the angler who only wants one rod.

Scott S4 904-4

83

2012

Scott S4 904-4

Think big flies on big water. We found the Scott S4 felt most at home fishing wide rivers from a drift boat or while wading, tossing big dry flies to rising trout, or dragging big, weighted nymphs through the depths for bottom-feeding fish. It’s less ideal when going delicate with small dries or tiny nymphs.

Sage One 590-4

90

2012

Sage One 590-4

One of the most accurate lightweight rods we’ve used. The Sage One 590-4 is especially well-suited to casting dry flies in challenging conditions, since the accuracy and power allow you to place small flies delicately on target.

Redington Link 590-4

83

2012

Redington Link 590-4

Though its performance is just a half-step behind some of the other rods in this class, the Redington Link is a fine fast-action rod at an incredible price.

Orvis Helios 2

91

2012

Orvis Helios 2

The Helios 2 is the lightest fast action rod we’ve found, but it gives up nothing in performance, coming in first or second in our tests on distance, accuracy and versatility (though it’s also the most expensive rod we tested)