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The 7wt rod doesn’t get near the love it deserves. Sandwiched between the all-purpose trout rod that is the 6wt, and the big-fish stick 8wt, the 7wt seems a bit out of place.
Unless, of course, you know what you’re looking for in a 7wt.
I have an old pre-IM6 Trophy Cup Winston 9′ 7wt. It’s a 2-piece rod, weighs just barely over 3 ounces, and casts like an absolute dream. I’ve punched big streamers from a drift boat with it, and also hooked and landed 20-inch browns on size 20 dries. If you’re looking for a do-it-all rod, that old 7wt of mine is hard to beat.
Of course, that’s not what most folks think of when they’re looking for a 7wt. I reckon most people pick it up to fill a specific niche – fishing bigger streamers, on bigger water, to bigger fish, without the added weight and bulk of an 8wt rod. And, a 7wt should more effectively push flies through wind than a 6wt, too.
When you get right down to it, I think most anglers want a 7wt for the latter reasons I’ve outlined. My old Winston is a true unicorn of a rod – there’s likely not another quite like it out there. And it’s unfair to hold modern 7wts up to that standard.
With that in mind, we can agree that the best 7wt fly rod for the money is one that should excel at throwing big flies – hoppers, streamers, and assorted nymph rigs – from a drift boat or shore. A 7wt should turn over leaders against a strong wind, and have the backbone to turn those really big fish. And, a 7wt shouldn’t tire your arm out unnecessarily, either.
That’s why, if push came to shove and I had to pick the best 7wt fly rod for the money that’s available today, I’d choose the Orvis H3F.
Why the H3F?
The Helios 3 series is going to go down in fly rod history as one of the best production rods ever. I think it’ll soon rival the cult status of the Sage XP. It’s just that good. Orvis has long put together amazing products, but the Helios 3 line is in a class entirely its own.
The rod has almost no swing weight, is dead-accurate, and lightweight. It’s strong, tracks straight, and has the power to handle fish in big water.
It’s the best 7wt fly rod for the money, and it’s not close.
F vs D
Orvis’ previous rod series, the Helios 2, also came in two different designations – tip-flex and mid-flex. The Helios 3 sports either an F or D, which stands for Feel and Distance, respectively.
I picked the 7wt H3F here on purpose. I have – and regularly fish – a 9′ 6wt and 9′ 8wt H3D. Those rods have landed sockeye salmon in Alaska, and permit in Mexico. They’re the workhorse rods in my quiver, and see the most time when I’m chasing really big fish.
For a long time, I fished an old Echo ION XL 10′ 6wt when I needed to put flies in front of big fish. The rod was alright, but it’s heavy, and not terribly accurate. Then again, how accurate do you need to be with flies that are 5 to 6 inches long?
Well, that’s why I ended up getting the more expensive set of H3Ds I own. I was chatting one day with Orvis guru Tom Rosenbauer, picking his brain on which rod I should get for an upcoming trip to Belize. Tom said that if I was just looking for a rod to chuck line and didn’t care about accuracy much (like when you’re salmon fishing, for example) that a cheaper 8wt would be just fine. But if I wanted to really get on spooky permit, roosterfish, or something else in Belize, the accuracy of the H3D was worth the extra money.
And, as usual, Tom was right. And that’s why I’ll go on record here saying that the $949 Orvis wants for the H3F 7wt is worth every penny.
The accuracy, light weight, and ease with which these rods cast is outstanding. I own four different H3 models, and hope to own a few more.
Best 7wt Fly Rod For the Money Runner Up – Douglas DXF
No article about the best 7wt would be complete without a runner-up entry, and that’s exactly where the Douglas DXF finds itself. I place it here because it’s priced much more attractively at $395.00, and it’s still a fantastic rod. While I think the Sky G is the best rod on the market currently, the DXF is an affordable, fun rod that does a lot of things well.
The rod doesn’t weigh much, has little swing weight, and tracks smoothly. I’ve fished this rod in a variety of lengths and weights, and the folks over at Douglas manage to keep the same progressively fast action throughout them all.
Of all the more affordable 7wt rods I’ve fished, the Douglas DXF handles far more admirably than any other.
Finding the best 7wt fly rod for the money depends entirely on what you want out of your new stick. Given the reality of today’s rod market, and how folks tend to fish these days, this should give you a good jumping-off point as you go shopping for new rods.
Like, share, and comment below! Let us know if you have a favorite rod. Feel free to ask me questions, I’ll respond when I’m off the river!
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