The Best Fly Rod Fishing Brands to Buy in 2018

A 5-weight fly rod
Morgan Lyle

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Who makes the best fly rod? Who are the top fly fishing rod manufacturers?

Different fly fishing guides you talk to will give you different answers, but unfortunately, their recommendations may well be the brands they endorse or which they sell as authorized dealers. 

In an attempt to provide an objective list of the best fly fishing rods, we've researched the best fly rods used in the World Record Game Fishes book, published by the International Game Fish Association.

The fly rods on the following list were all used at one time to set world records. The list includes links to price comparisons and in-depth reviews on those particular brands.

  • 01 of 09

    In the eyes or world-record fly fishermen, it's obvious:  Sage fly rods are the best fly fishing rods. With 75 world records, Sage has more than three times as many records as the next closest competitor.

    Sage, founded in 1980 by legendary rod designer Don Green, is currently located in Bainbridge Island, Wash.

    "Sage was created with one idea in mind--to build the world's finest performance fly rods," the company's website notes. "Using world-class materials and years of experience gained while working with Fenwick and Grizzly rod companies, Don revolutionized the fly fishing world."

  • 02 of 09

    G. Loomis knows a thing or two about world records. Along with the 24 fly fishing world records, G. Loomis' longtime designer, Steve Rajeffthe, holds the world casting record of 243 feet.

    Now based in Irvin, California, the company's founder, Gary Loomis,  ​quickly attracted the attention and admiration of the world's anglers. Throughout the evolution of carbon fiber rod design, Gary distinguished himself as the master at designing rods that defined high performance.

  • 03 of 09

    Thomas and Thomas Fly Rods

    Best fly fishing - Thomas & Thomas Fly Fishing

    The story of Thomas and Thomas Fly Rods is as unusual as it gets. 

    Two fly-fishing enthusiasts—Tom Dorsey and Tom Maxwell married two sisters who happened to have a mutual relative who built bamboo rods. The relative trained the two brothers-in-law to build them, and within a short timeTom Dorsey and Tom Maxwell began by renting a workshop in Pennsylvania where they built bamboo rods to fund their trout-fishing passion. In 1969, in Beltsville, MD, Thomas & Thomas Rodmakers was born as a factory business. 

    Once a principle name in fly-fishing rods and an early innovator in the manufacturer of graphite rods, T & T suffered a decline in reputation in the 1990s and 2000s, but since 2010 has seen a renaissance. 

  • 04 of 09

    A household name for outdoorsmen across the country, Orvis carries plenty more than waders and outdoor gear. Orvis' ZG Zero Gravity Helios fly rod series, for example, was named "Best of the Best" by Field & Stream magazine for two consecutive years.

    Orvis' rods take their place in the fly-fishing record books due partly due to the sheer volume of products they sell. Today, while they are still renowned for fly-fishing gear, the company is a massive retailer that sells as much clothing and other outdoor gear as they do in fishing-related merchandise. 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Founded in 1992, Redington, based in Bainbridge Island, Wash., is a relative newcomer when it comes to the fly rod makers on our top 10 list.​

    But Redington also better understands the new generation of angler better than many rod makers and gears its fly rods to that audience, which is why it’s helped so many anglers set world records in recent years.

  • 06 of 09

    Albright Fly Rods

    Best fly fishing - Albright Fly Fishing

    Albright Tackle LLC makes everything from rods to reels and lines, focusing on providing "affordable and relevant fishing tackle."


    Albright is a very new company, started by members of the Redington fly-fishing team. Like Redington, Albright is a brand whose stated goal is offering an increased level of performance and quality, while still maintaining reasonable prices.

  • 07 of 09

    R.L. Winston Rod Company produces fine fly rods made of everything from bamboo to second-generation boron and graphite composites.

    In 1929, Robert Winther and Lew Stoner started what is known today as the R.L. Winston Rod Company. Originally calling their San Francisco-based company the Winther-Stoner Manufacturing Co., they later combined elements from both their names, renaming it the R.L. Winston Rod Company.

    Technicians at heart, they began the Winston tradition of archiving each rod with a journal entry and a serial number. 

    R.L. Winston remains one of the few quality rod manufacturers that was never subsumed by a larger manufacturer, and one who has continued to focus on what it does best--manufacture quality fly-fishing gear. It is a brand that appeals to ​the purist. 

  • 08 of 09

    Cabela's Fly Rods

    The self-proclaimed "World's Foremost Outfitter," Cabela's is an outdoors superstore with plenty of options for the fly fisher.

    Like Orvis, Cabela's is not a dedicated fishing gear manufacturer, but a massive retailer for whom fishing gear is but one product line. It does not manufacture its own rods but puts its own label on rods from other manufacturers. It is widely believed that both Sage and G. Loomis make many of Cabela's fly rods. 

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Temple Fork Outfitters started off with the "Killer Caddis" and originally made flies and tying tools but is now a proven rod maker as well.

    TFO is renowned for their lifetime warranties and quality products. In 2010, the company partnered with legend designer Gary Loomis to produce and market a signature line of fly-fishing rods.