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best fly rod combo for small streams

Best Small Stream Fly Rod Combo (Reviews And Buyers Guide)


Fly fishing in small streams can be highly rewarding. Along with likely escaping the bigger crowds that popular lakes and rivers bring, fishing small streams can often be a much more intimate experience with fishing and with nature.

From tiny streams meandering through high alpine meadows in the west, to brushed in mountain streams in the thick eastern states, small streams have an infinite number of species and experiences to offer. One of the biggest, is the pursuit of small native trout, which are often confined to the very upper headwater reaches of the stream, away from the effects of humans and non-native fish.

For fly fishing in small streams, it helps to have a fly rod combo that is well suited to the task. Let’s take a look below at some considerations when purchasing a small stream fly rod combo and a few models on the market that fit the bill.

Small Stream Fly Rod Combo (Quick List)

Best Small Stream Fly Rod Combo Reviews

1. Orvis Superfine Glass 3-weight 7’ 6” Fly Rod 3Pc Outfit (Top Pick)

Orvis, one of the classic and quintessential names of fly-fishing. It is no wonder of of their fly rod combo kits made the list. The Superfine Glass 3-weight rod combo kit is a classic example of what a small stream mountain rod should be. If tiny water and scenic mountain streams are your game, you will find this rod to be fittingly at home in the scenarios.

The Rod

While much of the rods on the market are graphite or carbon, the classic material has always been bamboo or fiberglass. The Orvis Superfine Glass 3-weight rod stays true to heritage with this fiberglass rod. Fiberglass rods are all about feel, precise casting, and classic slow action bend.

This 3-weight 7.5 foot fiberglass rod is absolutely perfect for small creeks with close range casting, allowing you to deliver flies to fish with delicacy and precision. Not only a great heritage style fly-rod, but a modern performing small stream rod, undoubtedly.


In keeping with the classic heritage Superfine Glass Rod, it is paired with a redesigned ultra-classic, Orvis Battenkill Reel. This machined aluminum reel oozes simplicity in the best of ways. It’s design is more or less unchanged over the past decades. Why fix what isn’t broke?

The drag on this reel can be disassembled, cleaned, and put back together in a matter of minutes. On the fly drag adjustments are quick and easy. While there’s not much to say about this reel, remember that it has been relied upon for decades and makes a great pairing to just about any rod.

Orvis really kept with the heritage feel of this setup by including the reliable Battenkill reel. Enjoy this one spooled up with to notch Hydros Freshwater Floating fly-line with a weight forward design.  

2. TFO Professional II Fly Rod Outfit

Temple Fork Outfitters, or “TFO”, has become a reputable source of entry and mid-level fly fishing rods that perform nearly as well as some of the top dollar rods. Nothing fancy here, just good performing rods with an unbeatable guarantee. And it’s for this reason that there are lots of TFO rods in the hands of fly anglers all over the world.

This TFO combo kit for fly fishing is a great setup for starter or intermediate level anglers. Including not only a fly rod great for stream fishing, but also a carrying tube, spooled reel, and line tippet; this is a setup to get you on the water quick!

The Rod

TFO includes a 3 weight rod from the PRO II series, certain to please you with it’s performance. The 7.5 foot long medium fast action rod has a progressive taper to offer smooth casting that is powerful, yet forgiving. The rod features alignment dots at every ferrule to ensure straight connections every time.

I have owned several TFO rods in the past and can attest to their casting ability and forgiveness. They are great in the hands of beginners and the more experienced, alike. Did I mention they have a no-hassle rod replacement guarantee? That is pretty hard to beat for the price.

The Reel

TFO has artfully matched their 3 weight PRO II fly rod with a Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel. While cast reels have always been a budget option to high dollar machined reels, recent advances in technology have allowed superior aluminum cast reels to be made. The Liquid Fly Reel is a shining example of this.

The drag system, where the functionality matters most, features CNC machined components to ensure top performance where it really matters. On top of that, the easy adjustment on the center-pin makes fine tuning a breeze.

This reel comes pre-spooled in this combo kit with Scientific Anglers floating trout line well suited to a variety of applications. Simply attach your leader, tie on a fly, and you are good to go!

3. Wild Water Fly Fishing Deluxe Rod and Reel Combo (Best BUDGET Small Stream Fly Rod Combo)

This little combo kit has nearly everything you need to make a trip out to your local trout stream. The Wild Water Fly Fishing combo kit is perfectly suited to small stream fishing scenarios. On top of that, it includes a number of key tools necessary for a fly-fishing outing.

The kit not only comes with the rod and reel already spool up with line, but it also includes features like a stocked box of flies, tapered leaders, line tippet, and a few key tools for your fly fishing kit. Overall, this combo kit comes in at an excellent price point for the amount it offers. It’s a great entry level kit or a good spare set to have on hand.

The Rod

The included fly rod with this setup has great specifications to make a solid stream fishing rod. It’s rated at line weights 3 and 4, which is a great all-around small stream size, even ready for the big Brown Trout lurking under the bank. The 7 foot long rod is compact enough to cast in the thick brush and still offers some good powered casting ability.

The rod breaks down into 4 separate pieces that fit into a 4 pocketed sleeve, and then inside a protective hard tube case for transport. This makes packing the rod on the plane or in your backpack much more convenient. Especially if you have a brushy hike to your favorite fishing hole.

The Reel

The reel included with this setup is a nice basic disc drag reel that comes spooled up with weight forward 3-weight floating line and blaze orange line backing.

The large arbor design on this reel helps keep annoying loops to a minimum and helps retain line life and strength. The components of the reel are all aluminum and stainless steel to help ensure durability and corrosion resistance. The easy adjust disc drag allows for very fine tuning even mid-battle with the fish of your dreams.

What To Look For In A Small Stream Fly Rod Combo

While there are certainly decent “do-it-all” fly fishing rods, for a dedicated angler, it can often be very helpful, beneficial, and enjoyable to have dedicated setups for certain styles of fishing. This certainly holds true for small stream fishing. Fishing in small streams can demand a different set up circumstances. This generally equates to: shorter casting distances, more casting obstructions, and smaller-sized fish. As such, you should demand a fly rod combo setup that will best suit these specifications, or those demanded of your local fishing hole. Here are some considerations to take into account when buying a small stream fly rod combo.

  • Light to Medium Weight ~ Fishing small streams generally means smaller sized fish. While the chance of a 20 plus inch brown trout hiding in a deep pool of a mere trickle of a stream is always a possibility, even smaller setups can handle such a fish occasionally. You will want to cater the rod weight to the size of fish you will be catching most with it. For the tiniest of streams and small mountain trout, some people will even go as far down as a 1 or 2 weight rod. However, for most small stream fishing, I always feel that a 3 or 4-weight is a good “all-around” size for this style of fishing. These sizes are small and whippy enough to fling flies in small creeks and still beefy enough to hand some hard fighting 16” rainbow trout.
  • Slow-Medium Action ~ In small creeks, conventional fly-casting isn’t always the best option. Sometimes you need to get creative with weird roll-casts, flips, and bow-arrow style casts. When dealing with shorter lengths of fly line out at a time and lightweight flies, a slower action rod can help you transfer more power to your line tip. A slow or medium action rod will bend throughout the length of the rod, giving you a little more power to whip short sections of line under that tight overhanging tree.
  • Shorter Length ~ Lastly, fishing small streams often means lots of casting obstructions. Unless you are fishing a nice meandering alpine meadow, small streams often have shoreline vegetation and trees very close. A long 9 foot fly rod is surely to get you hung up in a small brushy streams. As such, I prefer to look for an 8 foot or shorter rod. Ideally, something around 6 feet for those super brushy streams. A shorter length also allows you to be a little more precise with your casts. That can count when that small stream pool up ahead is barely larger than your kitchen sink.

Final Thoughts

Small stream fishing for small native trout in the remote mountains is one of my favorite ways to experience fly-fishing. Small trout streams can be found in nearly every corner of the country and offer anglers a diverse amount of easily accessible opportunity. If you like hiking and seeing cool sights, I can’t think of a much better way to do it than fishing a small stream with fly-rod in hand.

Remember to cater your specific set up to your specific needs. Though in general, our recommendations above should suit just about any small stream fishing scenario. A nice lightweight and short rod will suit most small streams best.

Here’s another look at the small stream fly combos mentioned in this post:

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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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