5 Best Saltwater Fly Rods of 2022: Tested & Reviewed

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: SAGE Maverick (click to view)
“The Maverick features guides for thicker saltwater lines and extra stiff blank for better pulling power. It is a solid rod that balances quality and price, making it ideal for anglers interested in saltwater fly fishing.”

Best Premium Rod: G. Loomis Asquith (click to view)
“The Asquith is ultra-light in your hands, extremely powerful, easy to cast, has a fantastic retrieval, and an extra fast action. You can expect pinpoint-accurate casts and the highest quality performance money can buy.”

Best Budget Rod: Echo Boost Blue (click to view)
“The Boost is forgiving for newbies with less finesse in their casts, capitalizing on aggressive strokes to increase line speed. It’s a solid budget buy and an excellent way for beginners to get into the game.”

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Saltwater fly fishing is very different from freshwater fly fishing. The fish fight harder, the conditions are harder to deal with, and everything is just simply tougher. To handle an environment like that, you’re going to need a fly rod built for the job. 

The best saltwater fly rods have ample pulling power, great casting accuracy, and generate a ton of line speed for windy conditions. You also want the rod blank to be as light as possible and have anti-corrosive materials making up every component of the rod. 

Picking out the right fly rod for you can be difficult. We put this list together to give you some of the best options on the market for a variety of applications and price points.

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Best Saltwater Fishing Rods Quick View

Top 5 Saltwater Fly Rods

Best Overall

SAGE Maverick 1190-4 Fly Rod : 11wt 9'0'

SAGE Maverick

Oversized guides to handle saltwater lines better

Model for any size target

Great for quick casting

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Best Premium Rod

G. Loomis Asquith 890-4 All Water Fly Rod

G. Loomis Asquith

Lightest saltwater fly rod

Superfast action to handle head shakes

Pinpoint casting accuracy

Best Budget Rod

Echo Boost Blue 1290-4 Fly Rod : 12wt 9'0'

Echo Boost Blue

Titanium guides

A black anodized aluminum reel seat

Maximizes line speed on aggressive casts

Best in Windy Conditions

G. Loomis NRX Saltwater Fly Fishing Rod NRX 1088-4 Blue

G. Loomis NRX

Great casting range

Ridiculously responsive

Lightweight blank with extra stiffness

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Smoothest Casting rod

Winston R.L AIR Series Fly Rod

Winston R.L AIR Series Fly Rod

Relaxed casting motion

Less stiff than other rods

Easiest on your arms on long days

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Best Saltwater Fishing Rods

SAGE Maverick Saltwater Fly Rod

Best Overall Saltwater Fly Rod: A well-balanced rod of any size.

SAGE Maverick 1190-4 Fly Rod : 11wt 9'0'
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The Sage Maverick is a solid rod that balances quality and price. With a model weight for almost any saltwater application, you can choose one to target specific species or get a tweener to go after a wider range. Overall, it’s a good choice for anglers looking to get into saltwater fly fishing.

Specifications

  • 6 – 14 weight models available
  • Length: 9 feet
  • Actions across sections: Tip/Medium, Mid/Powerful, Lower/Extra Powerful

PROS

  • Excellent guides for thicker saltwater lines
  • Extra stiff blank for better pulling power
  • USA Handcrafted rods

CONS

  • Not the best in the wind
  • Solid all-around rod but doesn’t shine in anything specific
  • More of an entry-level fly rod

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Rod Details

The big standout for the rod is the balance it brings that lets you cast quickly to moving targets in the water and do it smoothly. It features oversized guides to fit heavier-weight lines, an anodized aluminum reel seat, and a comfortable cork handle. The tip is made to bring more casting torque out of the heftier lower sections, and the rod’s backbone is extra-strong to handle saltwater fighters.

Best Applications

You can target any saltwater species with a Maverick. 7 weights for bonefish, 4 weights for trout, and 14 weights for tarpon are all covered in the model line, making anything possible. An 8 or 9 weight is a great choice to handle most fish, from snapper and cobia to juvenile tarpon and bonefish.

G. Loomis Asquith All-Water Fly Rod

Best Premium Saltwater Fly Rod: The best rod you can buy, the only disadvantage being the steep price tag.

G. Loomis Asquith 890-4 All Water Fly Rod
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The G. Loomis Asquith is just plain amazing. Ultra-light in your hands, extremely powerful, fantastic retrieval, easy to cast, and an extra fast action. If you can stomach the price tag, you won’t ever regret buying an Asquith.

Specifications

  • 4 -12 weight models available
  • Length: 9 feet
  • Fast action rod

PROS

  • Super lightweight
  • Extra stout rod blank for saltwater fish
  • Most accurate casting rod with practice

CONS

  • Steep price tag
  • No rubber gaskets on the reel seat can cause it to loosen
  • Not the highest quality cork

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Rod Details

A combination of cutting-edge design and quality materials makes the Asquith the lightest fly rod you can find without sacrificing any pulling power. You’ll be able to turn any big saltwater fish with the fast action rod while not wearing out your arms casting all day. You can expect pinpoint-accurate casts from the rod and the highest quality performance money can buy.

Best Applications

The 9 weight rod can handle almost anything outside of fully-grown tarpon. Pinpoint, quick casts will let you target even the most skittish species and cut through windy conditions. The sweet spot for the rod includes large bonefish, juvenile tarpon, permit, cobia, and big drums.

Echo Boost Blue Fly Rod

Best Budget Saltwater Fly Rod: A perfect entry-price rod for beginners and a solid option for veterans.

Echo Boost Blue 1290-4 Fly Rod : 12wt 9'0'
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Faster line speeds help you get more line out and cast where you need to faster, which is needed for saltwater fly fishing. The Echo Boost Blue is forgiving for newbies with less finesse in their casts, capitalizing on aggressive strokes to increase line speed. It’s a solid budget buy and an excellent way for beginners to get into the game.

Specifications

  • 2 – 12 weight models available
  • Length: 7-foot, 6-inch to 9 feet
  • Fast action

PROS

  • Great price for a serviceable rod
  • Forgiving for newer fly anglers
  • Aggressive casting maximizes line speed

CONS

  • Carbon instead of metal reel seat
  • Heavier rod weight than competitors
  • Least comfortable handle on the list

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Rod Details

The full titanium guides are excellent for saltwater since they won’t corrode or rust. The lightweight graphite blank has a fast action to add extra pressure to fish, and the rod comes in weights from 6 to 12. The affordable rod comes with an excellent manufacturer warranty for the life of the rod, and it has solid durability, making it a durable option. 

Best Applications

Boost fly rods are best worked on the flats, mangroves, and beaches for most models. You can take a heavier weight and go chase bonito and albacore offshore or a light to mid-weight to stalk snook and jack crevalle. 

G. Loomis NRX Saltwater Fly Fishing Rod

Best Saltwater Fly Rod in Windy Conditions: A stiff fly rod that responds well to pulls and cuts through the wind on casts.

G. Loomis NRX Saltwater Fly Fishing Rod NRX 1088-4 Blue
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A fantastic and slightly cheaper option than the Asquith, the NRX+ also brings a ton of quality to the table. The extra-stiff rod lets you cut through windy conditions on casts and delivers as much power as your reel can handle on pulls. So if you’re looking for a high-quality rod without the price tag of the Asquith, the G. Loomis NRX is your best option.

Specifications

  • 9-foot length
  • 7 weight through 12 weight models available
  • Extra fast/ saltwater action

PROS

  • Cuts through windy conditions with ease
  • Every material is anti-corrosion
  • Well-balanced, light fly rod

CONS

  • A step down from the Asquith
  • More reliable in the hands of experienced anglers
  • Not forgiving on casts, requires a lot of practice

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Rod Details

The NRX+ comes in weights from 7 to 12, all at a length of 9 feet. The high-performance rod takes some finesse to get the most out of, but it has all the power you could ask for in the lightweight rod blank. 

Best Applications

Thanks to its stiff blank and backbone, this rod is one of the best casters in windy conditions. It makes it an excellent option for days out on the boat when the wind can be unpredictable. However, it may be a better rod for more experienced fly anglers, as its casting is dependent on the fisherman’s finesse.

Winston R.L Air Series Fly Rod

Smoothest Casting Saltwater Fly Rod: A more relaxed rod that responds well to relaxed casting strokes and feels smooth.

Winston R.L AIR Series Fly Rod
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Sometimes stiffer and heavier rods can be tiring to cast all day. The Winston R.L, however, responds to a smoother, more relaxed stroke, taking away that fatigue and being an excellent option for beginners and pros alike. If you’re looking to cast hundreds of times a day, then this is the rod for you.

Specifications

  • 6 weight through 12 weight models
  • Length: 9 feet
  • 4-piece rod

PROS

  • Better for beginner or older casters
  • Superfast recovery
  • Comfortable handles

CONS

  • Less accurate casting
  • Not as stiff as others, so less pressure on fish
  • Not the best line guides

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Rod Details

The rod blank is lighter and less stiff than many rods out there, making it easier and smoother to cast. The split handle is well balanced and feels light in your hands. It has comfortable cork handles, oversized guides, and easy to pack and carry with you. 

Best Applications

This is an excellent rod for anglers who want to spend a day on the water but can’t or don’t want to handle casting all day. The more relaxed casting is slower, but the rod doesn’t lack the features or abilities of other rods. It’s a perfect choice for wading fishers.

Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Saltwater Fly Rods

Generate High Line Speed

High line speed allows you to stabilize your line in the air during a cast. This means you don’t lose accuracy and have better control over your line and fly. However, wind, boat movement, and spray can throw you off and make you miss. 

You want a rod that can generate a high line speed because of these reasons. The worse the conditions, the more force you need to generate that speed to get what you need out of your cast and catch fish.

Accurate Casting

Accurate casting speaks for itself for fly fishing. Casting too close to some species will spook them off, while casting behind fish can cause them to miss your fly completely. Putting your fly in the right spot at the right time is crucial to saltwater fly fishing, and you need a rod that fits your style to pull off accurate casts with saltwater flies. 

Pulling Power

Pulling power refers to the rod’s ability to pull fish towards you or exert force to turn the fish, not pull them up from the bottom. Saltwater fishing differs from freshwater simply because the fish are bigger and stronger.

You need a rod with plenty of pulling power to turn a GT, tarpon, or big snook to keep them from spooling your or running into structure. You want to be able to turn fish without breaking your rod or snapping your line, making pulling power an essential factor. 

Rod Material

Pretty much all of the rods we’ve listed are made from graphite or a graphite compound. This is because it gives the rod the flex it needs to act as a fly rod while keeping the entire rod blank as light as possible. You want the rod to be light because of the intense casting motion required for fly rods and how many casts you’ll likely be performing on a typical day.

Rod Weights and Their Application

Your best options for saltwater fly rods will range from 8 to 12 weight rods, with some fishermen preferring 7 weights for bonefish. We’ll break down each weight here:

7 weight

There’s an argument to be made for a 7 weight rod being the best bonefish rod out there. You’ll get plenty of play with the fish, but the largest ones may be too much for the setup. The lightweight gives you an edge in stealth casting to skittish fish.

8 weight

8 weights are a solid choice for mid-sized fish like bonefish, snook, and drum. You can cast stealthily to these shallow-water species with small flies and still have the power to fight them. 

9 weight

9 weights are a tweener size that can handle everything in the 8 weight class and with some skill land larger fish like permit, trigger, and smaller GTs. This weight class is a great option when you want a rod to do it all. 

10 weight

The perfect size weight for permit, roosterfish, small tarpon, and striped bass is a 10 weight. It gives you plenty of pulling power for these species without becoming unwieldy to cast or deal with on a long day. 

11 weight

From 11 weight onward, the rods become much heavier and are essentially only useful for large species. The 11 is the best option for anglers who have trouble casting a 12 weight but still want to go after tarpon, jack crevalle, big permit, roosterfish, and even tunas

12 weight

Hard to get used to casting, the 12 weights can handle everything short of billfish. Large tarpon and GTs are the primary species you’ll use a 12 weight for, but it takes a lot of practice to cast properly. 

14 weight

14 weight rods are for the largest saltwater fish you can target on flies. While overkill on smaller species, fly fishing sailfish and other billfish-sized species require a 14 weight rod. 

Your rod weight should be dependent on both the species of fish you plan to target and your fly fishing destination. There’s an optimal line weight for you no matter what you’re after. 

Perfect Captain’s Insider Tips

Match Your Rod to Your Reel

One of the most important things you can do fly fishing is to match your rod and reel. Of course, they must be the same line weight, but it always helps to match your style. Aggressive casting requires reels that let out line faster, lighter reels won’t weigh down a light rod, and faster retrieval on both is an excellent choice.

Check out our article on the best saltwater fly reels to help you choose the best option for you. 

Always Practice

We noted that the 12 weight fly rods take practice to cast correctly, and you won’t get pinpoint accuracy on any fly rod overnight. So a good exercise is to take your setup and a hula hoop out regularly to practice casting.

Anchor the hula hoop and practice casting your fly into it at various distances. Once you’re consistently hitting your target and landing your fly in the hoop, you’re ready to fish. Fly fishing has a learning curve, so don’t get discouraged if you’re just getting into it. 

Take Care of Your Gear

Saltwater fishing is a different beast than freshwater, which isn’t only because of the fish. Conditions are much harsher, with saltwater being much more corrosive than fresh, sand getting into your gear, and salt spray and wind.

Always rinse your gear after each trip and give it time to dry before packing it away. It’ll extend the life of your gear and keep it from failing when it matters the most.

Here’s a video on how to correctly clean your fishing gear:

YouTube video

Final Thoughts

The absolute pinnacle of fly rods you can buy is the G. Loomis Asquith. Despite the price tag, it’s the smoothest casting, lightest and highest quality rod you’re going to be able to find. You’ll likely never need to buy another one!

Complete Your Saltwater Fishing Tackle

Check our buying guides for other essential saltwater fishing gear: