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5 Best Fly Rods For Steelhead Fishing [year] (Reviews And Buyers Guide)

fly rod for steelhead fishing

My top pick as the best fly rod for steelhead fishing is without a doubt the Redington VICE fly rod. With the blend of performance and affordability, it’s difficult to not choose this well balanced fly rod as the best for steelhead fishing. It’s fast action makes casting into the wind a breeze as well as maintaining excellent control of the line.

  • Unparalleled performance
  • Affordable for everyone
  • Fast, yet manageable
  • Overall balanced feel and weight for all day casting scenarios
  • This is an attractive fly rod

It doesn’t matter if you’re your a die hard steelheader in the Pacific Northwest or stalking steelhead in the tributaries of the Great Lakes, the most crucial piece of steelhead gear that you own is your fly rod.

There’s a lot of confusion out there on the interwebs regarding what kind of fly rod you should consider when it comes to steelhead. So the purpose of this article is to cut through a lot of that noise, and give you all the information you need to decide which is the best steelhead fly rod.

This is based of my own personal experience as a steelhead fly fisherman, as well as from the advice from other steelhead pros.

So let’s dive right in and take a look at what I’ve found to be the best single handed fly rods for steelhead fishing.


Steelhead Fly Rod Quick List

Best Fly Rods For Steelhead Fishing

Now let’s take a closer look at each of these fly rods and what makes them ideal for steelhead.

1. Redington VICE Fly Fishing Rod (Top Pick)

The Redington VICE fly rod is one that comes recommended by many experienced steelhead fly fishermen. And there’s a reason why…performance and affordability.

I spend a lot of my time steelhead fishing in the winter. This generally means that I’m fighting wind, rain and who knows what other kind of weather while standing waist high in freezing cold water.

But alas, not to worry.  The Redington Vice fly rod is the perfect solution for steelhead fishing in such a scenario.

With the Redington Vice’s multi-modulous carbon fiber bland has a fast yet manageable action, with a reserve of power that allows for easy casting on those windy days.

The butt end of this steelhead fly rod is robust and substantial, giving you the leverage you need when you rest it against your hip when fighting that monster steelie.

The additional power you’ll find in casting the Redington VICE fly rod is brought forth from the solid midsection. This fly rods ability to easily cast a large fly over great distances, and doing so accurately, makes it a fantastic fly rod for steelhead.

Combined with a tip that’s nimble and reactionary, what results is a level of performace and confidence that any steelhead fly fisherman would want in a steelhead fly rod.

In addition to the great feel, castability and performance of this steelhead fly rod, what I also like is the price tag, easily making the Redington VICE the best steelhead fly rod under $200. If you’re looking for a great steelhead fly rod that performs as well as a $600 fly rod, then the Redington VICE is it.


  • Affordable
  • Fast, yet manageable
  • Balanced feel and weight for all day casting
  • Attractive color scheme


  • Weight. This fly rod is heavier than other steelhead fly rods on this list.  Not a deal breaker for me though. Still a great all-day-on-the-water option.

Bottom Line: 

The Redington VICE comes in the top of the list as the best steelhead fly rod due to a blend of it’s incredible performance and affordability. Even though the rod is reported as being heavier than other fly rods the same size, it still doesn’t impede steelhead anglers who want to stay out on the water and cast all day long.

2. Redington Torrent Fly Rod 890-4 8WT 9’0″ 4PC

Redington Torrent fly rod is another great steelhead rod option. If you’re looking for a fast action fly rod that is capable of handling the tough conditions that come with steelhead fishing, the Redington Torrent fly rod might be the perfect option.

The high quality construction and versatile performance of the Redington Torrent means this steelhead fly rod isn’t just for beginners, but for all anglers of any skill level. Anyone will be able to appreciate this rod’s accuracy and smooth action.

This steelhead fly rod is rated as fast action and feels exactly how you’d expect your fly rod to feel. It’s well balanced and stiff from the tip all the way down to the butt. This, combined with the 54 and 42 million modulus blank and premium Toray Graphite blank construction makes for an extremely accurate and smooth casting experience.

The fly rod comes in a deep glossy green finish and eyes which are are wrapped in dark green with gold accents. The cork handle is light and tight.  In short, this steelhead fly rod looks sharp right out of the tube.

Steelhead, salmon redfish or carp, the Redington Torrent fly rod is an incredibly versatile fly rod that is competitively priced.


  • Incredibly smooth fast action fly rod
  • Lightweight making casting all day long a breeze
  • Comes with a durable aluminum tube with custom black anodized end caps
  • Versatile fly rod. Can be used in a variety of applications.


  • Some users have reported that this rod is better suited for longer casts, leaving shorter casts a little more difficult.

Bottom Line:

The Redington Torrent is an excellent choice of fly rod for steelhead for both beginners and experienced fly anglers alike. Steelhead fishing doesn’t always occur in perfect weather, which means you’ll be fighting wind at times. The Redington Torrent is no match for these headwinds due to it’s fast action.

If you’re looking for a fly rod that’s not only perfect for steelhead fly fishing, but also great for bass and even salmon fly fishing, then the Redington Torrent is an excellent choice.

3. Sage Fly Fishing Fly Fishing 896-4 Pulse 8WT 9’6″” L Rod (Piece 4)

If you’re ready to cast a fly like a dream into your favorite steelhead waters, then the Sage Pulse fly fishing rod is going to take you there. It might feel like you’re casting a $1000 fly rod, but then you remember this is a steelhead fly rod that comes in more than half of that.

Designed from scratch and tested in waters all around the world, the Pulse has easily earned it’s way onto this list of the best steelhead fly rods with ease.

The Sage PULSE is rated as a fast action fly rod, which is exactly what I look for in a good steelhead fly rod.

The Sage Pulse fly rod is the perfect option for harder fighting fish, like steelhead, that reside in fresh or saltwater. The rod features a full-wells cork handle with a fighting butt which makes fighting steelhead not only more enjoyable, but more comfortable.

The rods graphite Ille blank provides fast action, durable, and accurate performance that only a Sage rod could provide.

If you have any hesitation in purchasing a Sage fly rod, then you can leave your worries behind.

That’s because Sage covers all of their rods with an unconditional lifetime warranty.  That’s the kind of assurance that makes it easy to seal the deal.


  • Casts beautifully with power and accuracy
  • Impeccable feel and balance
  • Great all-around rod for every angler who doesn’t want to break the bank


  • Some anglers have reported that the Sage PULSE is slightly weighted more towards the tip.

Bottom Line:

The Sage PULSE is an excellent, and popular choice among steelheaders. As a mid ranged fly rod, the PULSE is my pick as the best steelhead fly rod under $500.  Compared to other fly rods at a similar price point, you won’t find another that has such excellent feel and balance. The PULSE is an excellent choice for steelhead as it’s both lightweight, strong and accurate.

4. Fenwick AETOS Fly Rod 

If you want a steelhead fly fishing rod that you can easily and quickly build trust in, then the Fenwick AETOS is a good choice. The AETOS offers high performance combined with affordability, making it a great option for all budgets.

Not only is the AETOS fly rod the perfect choice for steelhead fishing, but because of its versatility, this rod is also a good choice for other larger species of fish such as salmon, redfish and large bass.  Don’t hesitate using the AETOS fly rod in salt water either. It can handle that just as easily as freshwater. Just be sure to rinse off the rod and reel at the end of the day.

The AETOS steelhead fly rod has a very impressive feel to it. It features a soft tip with a fast action, although some users of the rod have reported that it performs more like a medium than a fast.

This rod casts smooth, making roll casting and overhead casting not only easy, but enjoyable.

When the steelhead finds your fly and the fight is on, the AETOS is up for the challenge. With its strength and backbone, the largest salmon or steelhead won’t stand a chance.

You can count on this steelhead fly rod performing above expectations. It casts accurately and is enjoyable to use.


  • Affordability
  • Durability. A great choice for both saltwater and freshwater applications.
  • Accurate fly rod. Sweet spot tends to be 25 to 50 feet.  Past that the Fenwick can deliver the fly smoothly and gracefully, but accuracy might be sacrificed.


  • Some anglers report that that cork on this fly rod is of lower quality when compared to fly rods of similar price point.

Bottom Line:

The Fenwick AETOS is another excellent choice for steelhead fly fishermen.  For under $200 you get the performance and feel of a fly rod 3 to 4x that price.  A great choice for the versatile angler, the AETOS will deliver in both freshwater and saltwater applications.  Large fish like steelhead and even salmon are an easy match for this fly rod.

5. Orvis Clearwater 7 Weight 10ft Fly Rod Outfit (Best Steelhead Fly Rod And Reel Combo) 

The Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod Outfit is the perfect fly rod combo for steelhead fishing, hands down.

If you’re looking for the whole package for your next steelhead or salmon fly fishing trip, then you’ve found it. This steelhead fly rod and reel combo comes with everything you need, minus the flies.

Included in this steelhead fly rod kit is:

  • The Orvis premium quality Clearwater 7 wt, 10 ft fly rod,
  • Rod Tube
  • Orvis Clearwater fly reel
  • Orvis Clearwater fly line
  • Backing
  • Tapered leader

The Rod

The Orvis Clearwater fly rod is an attractive rod with a green blank and silver hardware. The cork handle is of good quality, and is sure to last

The 10 foot long Orvis Clearwater fly rod gives you the added length needed to cast with complete line control and paint the water with those steelhead flies.  You’ll love the sweet tight loops this steelhead fly rod casts.

With fish on the line, the rod performs as you’d expect. It’s responsive and solid the entire time.

The lightweight and balanced feel to this fly rod will keep you casting for steelies all day without tiring.

The Reel

With two years in design and development, the Orvis Clearwater IV fly reel features a powerful inline disc drag that is more than capable of holding its own against other more expensive high end reels.

The Clearwater’s positive click drag knob provides consistent settings every time, and can easily be converted to left or right hand retrieve depending on individual preference.

This fly reel is ideal for throwing large streamers for steelhead, or any other species of fish you’re after.


  • This is the complete steelhead fly fishing package.
  • A popular fly rod and reel combo that’s more than capable of handling a steelie.
  • Added length for supreme line control and fly placement.


  • Drag on this reel has been reported to be difficult to tighten appropriately once a large fish is on the line.

Bottom Line:

I like this fly rod and reel combo, especially for beginners, because it comes equipped with everything you need to get started fly fishing for steelhead, minus the steelhead flies of course.

At 10 feet in length and a 7 weight fly rod, it’s the perfect size for steelhead fishing. Orvis backs up this rod with a 25 year warranty, which gives me added confidence in this fly rod combo.

And on top of all that, it’s a good looking rod that casts like a $1000 rod.

Steelhead Fly Rod Buying Guide and FAQ

What To Look For In A Good Steelhead Fly Rod

If you’re new to fly fishing, or even if you’re not, you might have noticed that there’s a lot of variety out there when talking about fly rods.  This holds true when talking about steelhead fly rods too.

Spey, Switch or Traditional Fly Rod For Steelhead?

You might read somewhere that perhaps using spey and switch fly rods is the best for steelhead.  Well, I’m going to just give my opinion that if you’re anywhere new to fly fishing, then you should consider sticking with a traditional single hand fly rod.

The reason I say this is because I believe it’s important to spend your time fly fishing for steelhead and not spending time learning a new style of casting.  Once you’ve got these steelhead fishing skills down, then you might consider transitioning to another style of fly rod. But I haven’t…and probably won’t.

What Weight fly rod to use for steelhead?

Again, If you are newer to steelhead fishing, then I highly suggest that the best fly rod weight for steelhead be between 7 and 8. And like I mentioned above, you’ll want to purchase a sturdy, fast action traditional single hand fly rod.

Standard single hand 8 weight to be one of the most versatile rods you ever own.  I have used my 8 weight for LOTS of stuff. Steelhead, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Carp, Bonefish, Silvers, Chum, Permit, and a bunch of other species

Long term you would be better off opting for a 7-8 weight that you can use for big steelhead and salmon exclusively.

Butt Or No Butt

Should you purchase a steelhead fly rod with a fighting butt? Or not? Well it comes down to a matter of personal preference of course.

But when I’m fly fishing for steelhead or salmon and hook into one of those bad boys, I always prefer to have a fighting butt. I can rest the rod against my body which often times is all the help I need.

In addition to providing the leverage, and comfort, that’s needed to fight, and ultimately land the fish, fighting butts can also protect the area  you rest your rod from all that wear and tear from battle.

Steelhead Fly Fishing Tips For Beginners

Here’s a few fly fishing tips for those of you who might be new to the sport. And if you are…welcome!

  • Be sure to assemble a proper fly fishing setup of rod, reel, line, and leader
  • Practice casting in a field before going fishing
  • Learn and few knots and fly fishing lingo
  • Talk to local fly shops for advice on local fishing conditions and fly pattern selection
  • If the steelhead aren’t running, then Panfish, Bass, and Trout are all excellent species of fish to start out on and gain experience.
  • Best case scenario? Find a mentor to help guide the learning process. Online social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook are excellent ways to connect with local anglers and learn basic fly fishing techniques.


I’ll say it again, the most crucial piece of steelheading gear that you own is your fly rod. Taking the time to do the proper research will pay dividends down the road…especially when you’re standing in the river hoping to drift a nymph into the steelhead strike zone.

To recap, the best steelhead fly rod will be something that’s fast action, over 9 ft in length and is equipped with a fighting butt.

Sure, there’s a ton of fly rods that meet these requirements, so take another look at the 5 steelhead fly rods I researched and reviewed for you on this post.  Any one of these fly rods will be more than enough rod to get you to hook and land your next steelhead.

I leave you with a look at my top pick for best steelhead fly rod.

Redington VICE Fly Fishing Rod

Just to recap, my top pick is without a doubt the Redington VICE fly rod. With the blend of performance and affordability, it’s difficult to not choose this well balanced fly rod as the best for steelhead. It’s fast action makes casting into the wind a breeze as well as maintaining excellent control of the line.

  • Unparalleled performance
  • Affordable for everyone
  • Fast, yet manageable
  • Overall balanced feel and weight for all day casting scenarios
  • This is an attractive fly rod

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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