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Not all fly fishing rods are equal, especially when it comes to surviving the harsh conditions saltwater anglers encounter. Corrosive salt residue, heavyweight flies, and even heavier game fish mean these rods need to be built for more than just looking good.
A top notch saltwater fly rod requires flexibility to cast your fly long distances, sensitivity to work the fly in a natural manner and backbone to fight monster predators into the boat. The following four are among the top designs available, each rising above the competition in construction, feel and function. Each deserves a spot in your rod holder, but our top pick for the best saltwater fly fishing rod must be reserved for the Sage Salt Series.
Our Top Pick for Best Saltwater Fly Rods
Salt 1090-4 4pc Saltwater Fly Rod
The Sage SALT Series of Saltwater Fly Rods were first introduced in 2014 when it was named IFTD's “Best of Show”. The SALT was designed to be an excellent all-around saltwater fly rod and, awards aside, it is obvious that promise has been delivered upon. A combination of fast loading speed, limited bounce, and high line speeds make this an easy casting rod, even for beginners, as well as excellent in high winds. With a bending action located near the butt section, rather than the tip or even mid blanks like many competitors, fighting even the largest monster will not cause you to fear failure. But it is the SALT’s ability to deliver even the smallest fly precisely on target that will leave you in awe.
Whether you’ve spied a weary sea trout slipping out of the flats or a massive redfish waiting in ambush, you can rest assured the SALT will give you the control, feel and tip action needed to place your fly where it'll close the deal. Performance meets style when it comes to looks; the Salt is beauty AND beast all rolled in one. Dark sapphire blanks finished in black thread wraps & silver trim wraps, oversized black anodized aluminum reel seat and full wells cork handles all look stunning. Add the oversized ceramic Fuji stripper guides, hand chromed snakes guides & tip top and hidden hook holder, and it becomes evident this wasn't meant to be looked at, but fished with.
Orvis Helios 2 Flex Saltwater Fly Rod
When it comes to fly fishing it 's hard to compile a "best of" list and not include at least one Orvis product. For the category of Best Saltwater Fly Rod, the honor goes to the Helios 2 Series, but not just because it is an Orvis. Orvis has taken everything they know, and everything that has made it a household name amongst trout anglers, to make its best saltwater model ever. Reported to be “20% lighter and 20% stronger” the Helios 2 may actually be one of the lightest saltwater fly rods available today.
You will never truly appreciate this honor until you are well into the second half of a full day casting. Of course, you will also appreciate the unrivaled tracking, pinpoint accuracy, and extraordinary lifting power – all of which will be key to putting big fish alongside the boat. If there is anything negative to be said of the Helios 2 is that it may be too much an Orvis. The California buckeye burl inset, black nickel skeleton and reversed half-wells cork grips look great but may intimidate new owners into thinking it is too pretty to fish with. But rest assured that looks are not everything and no matter how pretty the Helios 2 maybe it is also strong enough to earn a spot in your rod case.
St. Croix Avid Series Fly Rods
St. Croix is widely recognized as a leader when it comes to producing both spin and fly fishing rods and the Avid Saltwater Fly Fishing Rod Series will not disappoint loyal fans. The exclusive Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) tooling produces continuous-curve tapers with increased hoop strength & sensitivity. Alps zirconium guides on a 316 stainless steel frame, Fuji ECS or TCS reel speed, super-grade cork handles, and a two coat flex finish ensures you are getting a rod with the strength necessary to get the job done.
These are no doubt some of the reasons it was selected as the 2015 ICAST International General Fishing Show saltwater fly rod of the year. Although the Avid is an excellent choice as your next saltwater fly rod, it is not the best. While the Avid will perform well when targeting many inshore species, from bonefish to sea trout, even in its larger sizes, you will find it a bit lightweight if chasing tarpon or even redfish. If it were available in a wider range of saltwater weights, especially nine weights or higher, the Avid would give the Sage a run for the money as the best saltwater fly rod.
Scott Meridian Saltwater Fly Fishing Rod
Scott Fly Rods is known for producing some of the best fly fishing rods available, and the Meridian is no exception. When it comes to the best saltwater fly rod, the Meridian is hard to beat. Lightning line speed and unheard of power are delivered not by increased stiffness but by relying on exceptional recovery speed.
By using the same award-winning ReAct technology seen in many of their other models, Scott has produced an extremely light design without sacrificing power or performance. This means you will enjoy quick, accurate casts at both long and short distances, as well as the backbone needed to turn even the most headstrong tarpon, redfish or anything else you might encounter.
The aircraft aluminum reel seat, self-indexing slide hoods with extra deep knurling, type 3 mil-spec hard coat and titanium nickel guides will ensure season after season of flawless performance. It is little surprise this was “Best of Show” and “Top Fly Rod-Saltwater” at the 2015 International Fly Tackle Dealer (IFTD) show. Once you have it in your hands, you will see why it was also our choice for one of the best saltwater fly rods on the market.
What is The Best Saltwater Fly Rod?
So there you have it, four of the best saltwater fly rods available. Regardless of what criteria you use – quality material & design, action & casting ability or even brand loyalty, these four are likely members of your list too. Although the Sage SALT 1090-4 Fly Rod earns the honor as our best saltwater fly fishing rod, each is an award winning design worthy of your admiration. But why don’t you conduct your test and determine which is the best where it counts – on the water!