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The following article will reveal the best 5 weight fly rods for the money.
But why single out the 5 weight?
If you could choose only one fly rod to cover all your fly fishing, the 5 weight would be the likely choice of most freshwater fly anglers.
If there is any recreational pursuit where the lines between sport and art remain forever blurred, it’s fly angling.
Naming the very best options is fraught. This is a highly subjective area and fly rod ‘politics’ is very regional, indeed parochial at times.
Choosing a fly rod is understandably subjective. A fly rod is very much about feel, and we all feel things differently.
Nonetheless, there are certain attributes or characteristics that determine quality and performance.
Craftsmanship, quality of components and inclusions, and fitness for the intended application.
Nailing these critical criteria ensures a greater likelihood of more anglers connecting to the feel of a rod.
Firstly, let’s cut to the chase and identify our five top products.
The list below has been chosen with considerations for the advanced angler, the novice/beginner, the angler on a strict budget, and rods for the fly angler who will have only one fly rod in the arsenal.
Best Weight Fly Rods For The Money
Last update on 2023-10-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
How To Choose a 5 Weight Fly Rod?
Even for the most advanced fly angler, the benefits of revisiting fly fishing and fly rod basics can never be overstated. Solid basics help us choose a good rod and specifically the right 5 weight rod.
Firstly, decide where you want to deploy it and against what. This will give you a shortlist. Secondly, talk to your buddies and do some research and see what the experts say. Now you have your shortlist.
Thirdly, the artsy bit. Consider your short list with all the feel, art, and fly fishing woo woo you can muster.
Here’s a list of questions that you should ask yourself first
- Where will you deploy this rod and what will you be targeting. Are you wading, angling from a boat, or casting from a bank?
- What flies do you intend to use wet and/or dry? Will you use sinking or floating line or both?
- What are your fly casting skills? How far will you need to cast it, or how short
- What geographical considerations do you need to consider? Considerations include the size of the river or stream, overhanging foliage, seasonal changes, including (and especially) wind
- Do you want to use it in salt water? It’s a stretch but why not? It will be a fantastic sport in the estuaries
- What is your budget?
What Brand and Price to Choose?
Brand means a lot in the fly rod game. If you are just getting into it go with long-established brand such as those listed below
- Look for a good finish. Attention to detail and a refined look is a good indicator of performance quality
- If you’re paying a decent price expect quality components. Interestingly, and this is the case with all rods, it’s easy to spot poor quality components because they look and feel ‘cheap’
- For a lightweight yet powerful, accurate rod, go for a high modulus graphite blanks. Look out for terms such as IM6, IM7, or IM8. They’re graphite labels from the manufacturer and they mean nothing in terms of quality
- Slow actions can be good for beginners, but consider a medium fast action as modern rods can be very forgiving
- More money DOESN’T mean a better rod. Look to reviews. You can pay 300 bucks for a rod or 900 but the performance and finish can be identical. Do your research
- If you are a ‘rough’ angler that tends to be hard on equipment, consider a composite model. High end modern graphite rods are superbly strong against fish, but fragile in slamming doors and concrete
- Select a brand that has 2 or 3 length options
- Look for warranties that are 25 years to life, particularly with the more expensive rods.
How Far Can You Cast a 5 Weight Fly Rod
It might sound obvious but to learn your rod’s limits you need to test its limits. On the first outings, it is always advisable to fish to spec.
Set your rig up as per the limits of the manufacturer’s recommendations. Of course, target as per rod choice.
Your five weight is a fantastic trout rod and the first choice for fly anglers that have only one rod.
Loaded with your research outcomes, it’s time to experiment. For example, the Sage X 10’ will be awesome from a boat. However, can you weight up a little and cast the saltwater estuaries from a bank?
Also, given the stiff Sage X performs well at distance, is there anything you can do with your set up to achieve better accuracy when attempting short casts?
Balance is truly everything, so pushing your rod well outside of spec might sound counter-intuitive. However, for the novice, this is a great way to learn with one rod.
Advanced anglers will be able to extract every bit of performance given their understanding of interactions between technique, equipment and conditions.
Another example is the high-end Loomis G. It’s deadly accurate in short and medium range but the soft tip turns things a little loose (yet still remarkable) for long casts. Can we set up to counter any shortcoming?
Push the limits (within reason) and discover access to species and locations you may not have considered. With a good 5 weight in your backpack, and an exhaustive understanding of its capabilities, there are countless opportunities.
Also Read: Top Baitcasting Rods for The Money
Top 5 Weight Fly Rods 2023 Reviewed
It’s not the cheapest entry-level rod by far. However, it’s a master of affordable quality and performance.
Many rods are touted as being ideal for the novice while suitable for the advanced angler.
This qualification is well overused. However, in this case, the badge fits. While fiberglass might be more forgiving for the beginner, this is a graphite rod that will nurture the learning curve.
For the advanced angler looking for outstanding value and versatility, the TFO is hard to beat.
- Great value choice for beginner and the advanced angler
- Cost effective performance
- Forgiving for the beginner
- Excellent for heavy sinking lines and lightweight floating lines
- A great fishing rod. Sensitivity is well balanced with strength
- The finish is a little lacklustre
- The cork grip looks low grade yet is comfortable enough yet
The lightweight, smooth casting blank is treated with a classy finish that will inspire any newbie.
The lightweight construction reduces fatigue which is a genuine plus for the novice. It takes the drag out of the repetitive casts required to hone and refine accuracy.
Importantly, however, the robust construction provides an element of protection against the inevitable nocks falls and bumps one can expect at the hands of a beginner.
The Redington is a true gift for the beginner. It assists in accelerating essential skill development.
Beautiful to cast and to fish at an entry level price point.
- Excellent value and performance for the beginner
- The supplied carry case is robust and durable offering outstanding rod protection for transport and storage
- Lightweight graphite blank
- The medium fast action is easier for the beginner to manage
- Attractive finish
- Wooden reel seats
- Standard guides
3. Sage X 5101-4 Fly Rod 10′. (Power for The Big Waters)
The award-winning Sage X delivers high end brilliance for the advanced fly angler.
The Sage X is beautifully constructed with a classy finish. The most significant feature is its incredible power.
It’s the perfect choice for long casts in any conditions. The feel is magnificent, and accuracy is unsurpassed.
The Sage X, despite its high-end spec, is incredibly forgiving. Indeed, it would be a wonderful rod for the beginner.
However, in the hands of a beginner, the substantial price tag would make it a very risky choice. A magnificent fly rod, straight from the top shelf.
- Outstanding high-performance fishing and casting.
- Voted best freshwater fly rod and best in a show at ICAC 2017
- Awesome casting manners, unsurpassed in length and accuracy
- Refined high end finish
- Premium aluminum storage tube
- The significant Sage X power complicates short casting
Hardy Zephrus FWS fly rod is the perfect choice for the most discerning fly angler.
It’s ideal for the angler whose budget won’t quite stretch to affording the top shelf models. Hardy is a true British icon.
Its pedigree is your assurance of quality and performance. The Sintrix 440 Blank construction delivers a predictable fast action.
In terms of weight, it feels more like a 4 weight. However, its powerful butt packs enough power to wrestle 8-pound trout without flinching.
The Hardy Zephrus FWS Fly Rod is supremely accurate for medium and long casting.
It’s the perfect mid-price point rod for wide still lakes and stealth hunting.
The build quality is outstanding. The high-tech blank is dressed in Fuji titanium SIC and thin REC black pearl single leg guides. Worth every penny.
- Astonishingly lightweight yet powerful
- A classy yet understated finish
- Excellent medium and long casting
- Effortless casting
- Build quality second to none
- Noisy guides
- Tricky short cast
Orvis is a long-established and highly trusted brand. The finish of the clearwater demonstrates a proud tradition of quality.
Even at this accessible price, there has been no compromise on fit-out and aesthetics.
The Clearwater is brilliant for beginners and supports casting skills development.
The mid-flex action is still fast enough to suit advanced anglers looking for a little distance.
Built to last a lifetime, you’ll be handing your Orvis Clearwater on to your kids or grandkids.
A great combination of tradition and high-tech graphite.
- Outstanding quality
- Medium action is ideal for the beginner
- Classy aesthetics
- A great rod for the beginner that will remain a favorite as skills progress
- An excellent all-rounder
- Unbeatable quality and performance at this price-point
- Not the lightest rod which can be considered a mixed blessing for the beginner
Verdict: What is the Best 5 Weight Fly Rod?
No doubts the selections above will spark debate. It’s fly fishing after all, and in no way does one size (rod) fit all applications, tastes, and desires.
There are brilliant rods sitting on the cutting room floor. Their absence from this list will confound many a fly angler.
One thing is certain, however. Any rod selected from the list above will ensure you are blessed with quality, performance and even value for money.
There is an option in there for every fly angler whatever your skill level.
Whether you fish the silent and still broad waters or the babbling brooks deep in the mountain forests, your solution is in this list.
The 5 weight is often the choice of the angler with a lone rod arsenal. So, which rod would I choose? The Sage X…and why?
The Sage X has unquestionable credentials and pedigree. It sports outstanding inclusions and an impeccable finish.
The performance is so beautifully balanced that even a novice can extract the best from its KonneticHD technology.
All I need to do now is borrow some cash from somebody…anybody?