Looking to jump into the world of fly fishing? Setting yourself up as a new fly fisherman is no small task, it’s an equipment intensive hobby that requires purchasing some new gear as well as a lot of dedication and willingness to learn. If you’re totally new to the sport or if you’ve never owned your own gear and want to get started for real, purchasing a fly fishing starter kit is a great affordable way to dive in!
Starter kits provide you with a fly fishing rod and reel with line already spooled. All you need is some flies and a pair of waders and you’re ready to hit the water. Considering the enormous spectrum for the cost of rods, reels and fly lines, starting out with a complete fly fishing outfit is one way to get a lot of bang for your buck.
Beginners to fly fishing should be focusing on improving their casting, line management and knot tying. Catching fish will come sooner than later, but it’s important for aspiring fly fishermen to learn the dynamics of casting and gain some experience with the equipment in general. While owning a nice quality rod and reel and fishing with more expensive fly lines is no doubt totally awesome, it’s not necessary for beginners to start with top notch gear.
We recommend a moderate-fast action or moderate action rod for beginners. Fast action rods are stiff and designed for casting into the wind and battling stronger fish while slow action rods are more flexy and therefore accurate at close range and great for delicately fishing dry flies and nymphs. Buying something in between to start off is a good way to get the hang of both styles of casting and gives you a versatile fly rod capable of several fishing styles.
Your reel is the least important component to learning how to fly fish. The first and foremost job of your reel is to hold line — that’s it! Yes, it’s important to have a quality drag system if you plan on pursuing powerful species of fish that take a lot of line, but as a beginner it’s certainly not worth spending a lot on a reel. Learning how to cast and actively fish has everything to do with your rod and your fly line — make that your priority if you’re going to pick up fly fishing. Most of these outfits come with a reel that’s nothing special — trust us, you’ll be fine to learn without a top notch reel, worry about that later.
We’ve tracked down five of the best value deals for fly fishing starter kits that are actually worth buying. While it’s not important to own high quality equipment off the bat, you also don’t want to purchase a junky starter kit that you’ll struggle to learn with.
Our five choices of complete fly fishing outfits are well reviewed by aspiring anglers and even trusted by experienced fly fishermen. Dive into the world of fly fishing — chances are you’ll never look back!
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1. Orvis Encounter Complete 4-Piece OutfitPros:
- An entry level, affordable outfit from top quality outfitter, Orvis
- Rod handle is real cork
- Included reel is built with a stainless steel disc drag system
- By buying an Orvis outfit you’ll learn how to fish with a (high quality) Orvis fly line. Learning to cast with good line makes a HUGE difference
- Has a sharp, high quality look that doesn’t look like an entry level rod
- Both the Encounter and Clearwater rods are of nice enough quality that even after you become an advanced fly fisherman you’ll still want to fish them
- On the more expensive end of beginner fly fishing outfits - but an excellent value buy you’ll fish with into the future
- Orvis does not offer their warranty on the Encounter so consider purchasing the clearwater outfit if you want to ensure you're covered
- Availability of the 6 and 8 weights are intermittent
Orvis is a renowned fly fishing outfitter that’s been making killer gear since 1856. The quality of some of their rods, reels and fly lines is almost as good as it gets (and priced accordingly) but fortunately, they make some awesome entry-level gear as well.
The Encounter Complete 4-Piece Outfit is the perfect introduction for new fly fishermen who want to start with something that’s built by a trusted, quality brand. The cost is quite reasonable on this outfit, but there’s no such thing as a cheapo Orvis rod and reel – buy in confidence knowing this outfitter has your back through the learning curve.
The Encounter is a mid to fast action rod so it’s perfect for the new caster. You can cast streamers just fine with this unit as well as delicately lay out dry flies and nymphs. The versatility with this one makes it the ideal choice for the up and coming angler who wants to be able to experiment with various styles of fly fishing with a single rod.
Orvis offers the encounter outfits here as a 5, 6 or 8 weight. For those fishing for trout and other freshwater species, start with a 5 or 6, for those interested in hitting the salt, you’re going to want the 8 weight.
This entry-level outfit looks and feels like a higher quality fly fishing set up. The rod truly has a smooth action and the handle is comfortable to grasp and crafted from real cork. The composite reel employs a stainless steel disc drag system and is easily converted between left and right handed retrieve.
Orvis spools the Encounter outfit with backing and a weight forward floating fly line and even includes a leader. The quality of your fly line makes a HUGE difference in casting which is perhaps the main reason starting with an Orvis outfit is a great idea. Orvis doesn’t make any fly lines short of good quality, so you can avoid frustrating casting sessions and shorter-term line durability.
Another awesome, slightly more advanced choice by Orvis for an entry-level outfit is the Clearwater. I own several Clearwater rods as an experienced fly fisherman and love the way they fish. It’s another mid action rod that’s both versatile and easy to learn with.
For just a bit more cash you can start out with a Clearwater outfit that you’ll likely return to as you gain experience and keep fishing with forever. The included reel is also of a higher quality and will stay an active member of your gear locker long after you transition from beginner to master. No matter what you start with, Orvis has some excellent options for new fly fishermen.
2. Redington Path II Outfit With Crosswater ReelPros:
- Redington offers a lifetime warranty - good luck finding a quality starter kit at t his cost that has you covered with a warranty
- Offered as a 4 weight all the way up to a 9 weight so you can purchase just what you want instead of settling for something out of your desired range
- Very attractive rod and reel considering they are entry level gear - this combo looks sharp!
- Included rod tube is of great quality - you can’t do much better than what’s offered here in terms of rod transport
- The Path fly rod is built with alignment dots for easy set-up, something that’s always appreciated
- Higher than average price tag for a starter kit. Fortunately, this is a combo you’ll be happy to fish with long after learning to fly fish
- Reel scratches easily
- Some anglers might not like the aesthetic of the reel
Here’s a starter kit from respected fly fishing outfitter, Redington. The medium-fast action Path II rod paired with the Crosswater reel is another great introduction to fly fishing that performs better than the price tag suggests.
This whole set up even has an attractive look that comes off as a high quality rod and reel. There are even laser-etched wooden reel seats on all the rods 6 weight and under – definitely a sharp aesthetic.
This starter kit is available as a 4 weight all the way up to a 9 weight so you can really choose what’s right for your fishing style. There’s even a lifetime warranty included with this purchase enabling you to buy in confidence – something very few fly fishing starter kits offer.
The included rod case is furthermore of a really nice quality for the cost definitely adding to the value of this set-up. The Crosswater reel comes spooled with RIO Mainstream WF line – not my favorite pick but totally adequate for beginners to learn how to cast. The included line is still of a higher quality than most other starter kits provide and can, of course, be replaced down the road when your wallet and skill set are ready.
The rod and reel, however, are certainly above average as far as beginner set-ups go and well reviewed for learning how to fly fish.
An attractive and effective rod and reel, decent line and a killer rod tube, the Path II set up from Redington is no doubt a winner when it comes to getting geared up!
3. Temple Fork NXT Fly Fishing OutfitPros:
- Included fly reel has an adequate drag system and you can also purchase extra spools if you want to upgrade/switch between fly lines
- 8/9 weight has a fighting butt which you’ll appreaciate when fighting powerful fish
- Rod has a life time warranty
- Included rod/reel case is of excellent quality making this purchase an overall good value
- Included fly line is not the greatest quality, but it’s certainly fine to learn on and can always be replaced
- On the more expensive end of enry level combos, but considering the quality and warranty this is a solid value buy
- Some anglers might not like the aesthetic of the all-black reel seat. It's a matter of preference
Here’s a beginner set up from Temple Fork that’s a particularly great value. There are a lot of fly fishermen learning the sport who swear by this starter kit. This is another medium-fast action rod making it great for new casters that’s offered as a 4/5 weight, 5/6 weight, and 8/9 weight.
The 8/9 weight is best suited for saltwater and heavy freshwater fishing and is built with a fighting butt for laying into those larger fish. The IM6 graphite rod with composite cork handle is definitely a winner when it comes to learning how to cast and mend line as well as fight fish.
The included cast aluminum fly reel with disc drag (TFO NXT Fly Reel) is another better than average piece of hardware compared to what the industry typically offers with a starter kit. It’s a solidly built reel that you can even find extra spools for if you want to try fishing this combo with some different fly lines.
As mentioned in the introduction, your reel is the least important part of your set up for learning, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try and purchase something that will still be operable years from now as a backup unit. The TFO fly line that comes spooled with this set up is nothing particularly special, but it’s absolutely adequate for the new caster and can always be replaced if you want to experiment with a higher quality fly line.
Temple Fork also includes a custom Cordura rod and reel case with this purchase. It’s a pretty excellent quality rod case that really makes this starter kit a solid value.
This assortment of gear is all and all a great start for beginner fly fishermen that you’ll be happy to learn on. The rod even has a lifetime warranty so if things go wrong while you’re perfecting your casting technique you’re covered.
A quality medium-fast action rod, better than average reel for the price and an awesome quality rod tube – Temple Fork has really hit all the bases with this one.
4. Wild Water Deluxe 5/6 Weight Fly Fishing Complete Starter PackagePros:
- Very inclusive start up kit that includes some essential gear like nippers, forceps, leader material and more!
- Super reasonably priced considering all the gear you get
- Even includes an assortment of size 14 flies to start casting and fishing with
- Included rod has a not so great quality reel seat - be careful mounting and unmounting your reel with this one
- Complaints about the reel grinding
- Flies are poorly made, but any gear is welcome when you're learning!
This beginner’s kit from Wild Water is a super-inclusive assortment of gear that really sets you up for getting on the water. There’s forceps, nippers, retractable zingers, tippets, flies and a fly box all included – that’s a ton of gear!
The included fly rod even comes with a lifetime warranty which is impressive considering the super low cost of this fly fishing starter package!
The rod is not quite on par with the options by Orvis and Redington listed here, but it’s still a great value buy for the cost that you’ll be happy to fish with. This is a slow action, mid flex IM8 graphite rod so it’s going to feel a bit different than the medium-fast action rods listed here. It’s not our recommended flex index for learning, but if you plan on fishing dry flies and nymphs you might prefer getting started with a rod like this.
Be careful with the aluminum reel seat – it seems to be cheaply built compared to the rest of the rod.
The large arbor aluminum fly fishing reel included here is of decent quality and can be trusted to learn on. This starter package is spooled with 20 pound backing and 5 weight forward line. It’s about as standard as a beginner level fly reel gets but will no doubt do the trick.
The real value of this starter package comes from all the included gear. For quite a reasonable cost you can get set up with essentially everything you need to hit the water, cutting out the costs of equipment like fly boxes, nippers, and forceps.
When you break it down, the cumulative cost of the included gear aside from the rod, reel and line could average upwards of $50 in itself! All in all, this is definitely a solid buy that will effectively break you into the fly fishing world with some added bonus gear.
5. Maxcatch Extreme Fly Fishing Combo KitPros:
- Maxcatch includes a small fly box with 12 wet and dry flies
- Grade A cork handle and aluminum reel seat match that of a higher quality rod
- Excellent value starter kit, you’ll be hard pressed to find a fly fishing set up worth buying for less
- Includes an awesome quality full rod and reel case with rod sock
- Quality of the included reel is adequate for beginners, but you’ll want to replace it once you start to become an accomplished fly fisherman
- Difficulty contacting customer service
- Line does not have welded loops
Maxcatch is an up and coming fly fishing outfitter that offers some pretty righteous set ups at more than reasonable costs. A lot of my accomplished fishing buddies have been surprised to find out that my 5 weight Maxcatch combo is, in fact, an affordable set up from a new outfitter and not a top quality, expensive custom rod.
I’ve definitely been impressed with the value of Maxcatch’s gear and absolutely recommend their rod and reels for entry-level fishermen. This combo kit has everything you need to get started as a new fly angler, even including a nice assortment of dry and wet flies with a box!
Maxcatch offers a nine-foot 8 weight as well as several other rod options for their starter kit. The standard size rod to learn on is a 5 weight, but learning on a 3 weight is definitely a different approach that will be a TON of fun to catch fish on.
If you want to really experience the thrill of a full candy-caned fly rod then the 3 weight is the perfect candidate. The 8 weight is a solid choice for species of larger fish like bass, salmon, redfish and many saltwater species. All rod options are meduim-fast action making them ideal for beginners.
Maxcatch includes their ECO, large arbor design die-cast aluminum reel with this purchase. It’s a decent piece of hardware that should hold up just fine for the duration of your learning experience. There’s even an adjustable drag system to help learn the in and outs of reel operation and maintenance.
The “Extreme” rod included with this starter kit is crafted from IM6 Graphite and built with a grade A cork grip and aluminum reel seat. It’s the real deal, not something that will become buried in the closet once you upgrade.
This starter kit comes equipped with dacron backing, fly line and a leader as well as a little assortment of tackle with a fly box. This is a very inclusive kit that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. For the cost, this is another great value rod set-up you’ll likely continue fishing with even after purchasing higher quality gear.
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