Advice on upgrading your starter fly rod combo


So, you have 4 Franklins to spend and have decided you want a different/better rod. You have two routs to go here. The first is a whole new combo, but which $400 combo? Here are a few solid contenders. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but is representative of some of the main players in the game at this price point.

TFO Combo:
Pro III – Temple Fork Outfitters (
NTR Reel – Temple Fork Outfitters (

Orvis Combo:
Clearwater rod already comes as a combo.
Bonus: Includes line
Clearwater® Fly Rod Outfit | Orvis

Echo Combo:
ECHO Carbon XL | Echo Fly Fishing
Bravo LT | Echo Fly Fishing

Redington “Field” Combos:
Ready-to-fish combo available in 5, 7, 8, and 9wt versions for specific applications.
Redington Field Kits

So, as I mentioned earlier, there is a second option here, and that is to keep your existing line and reel and use your $400 to upgrade just the rod. Why would you want to do that? Well, for starters, there is a much wider quality gap between a $400 ROD and the $250ish rod that comes in a $400 rod/reel/line combo than there is between that $250 rod and the one in your beginner combo.

Crazy as it may sound, a $4-$500 fly rod is considered “mid price” these days. But that money gets you into an entirely different echelon of quality. You’ll be getting current technology and materials, likely a domestically manufactured blank and build out, as well as higher quality components, and an honest-to-goodness warranty. The warranty may not sound that important, but if you fly fish long enough, you WILL break your rod…and be super happy you have it! there are hat will get you into an entirely different echelon of quality & technology as well as one made domestically. At this price point, you can even get into the entry level of some of the top “boutique” designers like my personal favorite, JP Ross.

JP Ross Beaver Meadow in Carbon and S-Glass with Adams entry-level components

If, instead, you want to ADD to your rod quiver, I’m going to assume that you already have a 4, 5 or 6wt and go from there. The same advice above applies here relative to where you put your money, here are just a few additional thoughts on line weights you might want to add depending on what you already have and what sort of fishing you are looking to do.

If you have a 4wt: Great for trout and small to medium warm water species. If you want to target slightly bigger bass and trophy trout, get a 6wt. If you want to throw bigger bugs to target much larger bass in lakes, etc, and possibly do some saltwater flats fishing, get an 8wt.

If you have a 5 or 6wt: Both are great all-rounders for freshwater. As mentioned above, if you want to go bigger, and 8 is great. If, on the other hand, you are looking to do a bit of creek stomping chasing wild trout or smaller warm water species, I highly recommend a 3wt. Plenty of fun to cast and will make even the smallest fish a ball to land.

Fiberglass is another fun option, especially as an additional 3wt Here’s one from Echo. The Butterstick from Redington is also a great choice. And if you have the extra budget, the JP Ross S-Glass is killer.

If, after reading this, you still have questions, I’d love to talk with you. Just send an email to to request a call back and I’ll get back to you – usually within 24 hours. You can also check out other FAQs here

  • Please note that neither the Fisher of Zen Podcast nor Zen Fly Fishing were paid for these opinions or reviews

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