What’s the Best Fly Fishing Combo for Beginners?

So, you’ve decided to enter the life-consuming world of fly fishing, a decision that will bring you years of excitement and frustration.

And the frustration comes right at the beginning.

Getting into fly fishing is complicated and confusing. There just seems to be more gear you need to buy than for traditional fishing, and it all has confusing names. Why do you need 4 types of fishing line all at once, anyways?

So, I’m going to help you out, and help you avoid much of the confusion of your initial purchase decisions, by helping you find the best fly fishing combo for beginners. 

…if you’re looking to save time and effort, you can get it all at once by purchasing a fly fishing combo.

My first experiences fly fishing were at my lake house using a 50-year-old rod my grandfather had left my dad. The thing was far from pretty and weighed as much as a baseball bat. An afternoon spent fishing with it required an evening spent icing my shoulder.

I finally got tired of the old thing, so I went down the road to Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought the cheapest combo they had. I don’t remember the brand. What I do remember is how excited I was to have this lighter, prettier rod and reel in my hands.

I rushed down to a nearby pond and started casting away. I wasn’t there 30 minutes before the rod snapped in my lands.

That afternoon taught me a valuable lesson that I’ve carried with me throughout my career as a fly-fisherman: do your research before spending money on new gear.

What is a fly fishing combo?

From the outside looking in, fly fishing requires a lot of different equipment. Let me try to clear up some of the confusion for you.

To get started fly fishing, you need a fly rod, a reel, fly line, backing (line under the fly line), leader, tippet, and of course, flies. Now, the type of fish you’re targeting will determine the characteristics of each piece of this equipment, but we’ll get to that later.

The backing is part of the “fishing line” that connects the fly line to your reel. The fly line is the weighted part of the line that bends the fly rod and helps you to propel your fly forward when you cast.

The fly line connects to the leader, which is a piece of replaceable tapered monofilament line (which comes in different thicknesses), which then connects to the tippet. The tippet is non-tapered monofilament that comes in different sizes as well, but is thinner than the leader, and connects to the fly. The purpose of tippet is to extend the life of your tapered leader each time you lose or cut off a fly. 

So, if you’re just getting started fly fishing, you need to purchase all those things. Use the resources on our page, and you’ll be able to find all the products that we know and trust at affordable prices.

But, if you’re looking to save time and effort, you can get it all at once by purchasing a fly fishing combo.

Fly fishing combos are sold by many major rod manufacturers and include a fly rod, reel, fly line, backing, a rod case, and sometimes leader, tippet, and flies. By simply purchasing the combo package, you’ll have everything you need to get started fishing as soon as possible.

Best Fly fishing Combo for Beginners

Here are the fly fishing combos we recommend, along with their price, the type of water you can use them in, and the weights available.

Brand Price Range Type of Water Rod Weight Available
Orvis Encounter $ Freshwater 5,6,7,8
Reddington Path $$ Freshwater & Saltwater 4,5,6,7,8,9
Orvis Recon $$ Freshwater & Saltwater 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
Orvis Helios 3 $$$ Freshwater & Saltwater 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12

Orvis Encounter

Orvis is one of the most trusted and widely used brands in fly fishing. That should come as no surprise to you, as we’ve listed 3 of their combos.

The Orvis Encounter fly fishing combo is created with the entry-level angler in mind. As Orvis puts it: ‘Instead of “entry level,” we think of our Encounter rod outfits as “affordable awesomeness.”’

What that means for you is that while the rod has the affordability of a beginner’s combo, the package is not sacrificing in performance. ‘’ Available in 5,6,7, and 8 weights, the rod comes in all of the most common sizes for America’s most popular fish.

The Orvis Encounter comes in sizes and weights that are perfect for targeting medium sized trout, large and smallmouth bass, panfish, and all other medium sized, freshwater fish.

In the package comes the Orvis Encounter Rod, Reel, backing, and Orvis Clearwater fly line.

The rod has a relatively fast action, which allows for beginner casters who haven’t yet nailed down their technique to still be able to place their flies where the fish are. Also, the Clearwater fly-line is forward weighted, allowing for a larger margin of error in your casting.

Reddington Path

Now, if you’re looking for a similar level of affordability to the Orvis Encounter, but you’re trying to fish in saltwater, look no further than the Reddington Path.

Reddington is another top, trusted brand in fly fishing, and the Path is their most affordable model. While the lower weights are effective for trout and bass in freshwater, it is the higher weight options, the 8 and 9, that will be perfect for targeting medium-sized saltwater species.

These species include bonefish, permit, and small tarpon on the flats, snook and redfish inshore, as well as stripers, salmon, and steelhead wherever you can find them.

These rods feature a moderate-to-fast action. This action is perfect for beginner fly fisherman whose technique is not perfect or consistent. The Reddington Path has the strength to be able to cast long distances and into wind, while having the flexibility to allow for anglers to fight fish without breaking them off.

The flexibility of the rod is especially important for beginner fisherman catching saltwater fish, as saltwater fish pull hard and long, and learning the technique to fight them properly takes experience to develop.

Features of the rod include wooden reel seats on rods up to the 6 weight models, and anodized aluminum reel seats on the 7 weights and above. Also, each of the four pieces of the rod has alignment dots on the ferrules for easy assembly. Lastly, these rods come with a lifetime warranty.

Included with the rod is a Crosswater reel pre-spooled with RIO Mainstream weight forward (WF) fly line.

The Crosswater reel is crafted from a durable polymer and features a disc drag system capable of controlling hard running fish. Coming in the standard right-handed setup, the reel can also quickly be converted to left-handed, which is a perk! Crosswater reels feature a 1-year warranty.

If you were to purchase the components of the Reddington Path separately, you would pay $140 for the rod, $90 for the reel, and $40 for the fly line, totaling $270. 

Orvis Recon

Now, the previous two rod-and-reel combos we’ve talked about were both quite affordable (at least, it the fly fishing world).

This next option, the Orvis Recon, is a more luxurious package. Coming in at $548, you’re dropping a serious chunk of change, but in my opinion, you’re getting what you pay for.

The Orvis Recon package features a Recon Fly Rod, Hydros SL Reel, Access Fly-Line, 125 yards of 20 lb Dacron backing, and a rod tube. All of these components are high quality pieces of equipment on their own, but when combined they form a formidable fly fishing outfit.

The Recon Fly Rod, which would be priced at $429 by itself, is one of Orvis’ nicest models and comes in whatever rod weight you need. There’s an Orvis Recon 3-weight perfect for fishing for small Brook Trout in mountain streams, and an Orvis Recon 10-weight that can wrestle 80-pound Tarpon.

Furthermore, the Orvis Recon Fly-rod comes backed with Orvis’ 25-year guarantee, a guarantee that I’ve tested multiple times with satisfying results.

The Hydros SL Fly Reel, which comes standard with the Recon package, is one of the highest quality reels Orvis makes.

The large arbor design allows for quick line retrieval and less spooling of the line as compared to a smaller reel. The sealed carbon drag stands up to saltwater, dirt, and whatever else you throw at it. And the zero start-up inertia drag system and asymmetric drag knob allows for powerful, adjustable drag.

I’ve fished with Hydros SL Reels for years, and mine has never let me down.

Orvis Helios H3

This last package is the nicest rod and reel combo that you can buy from Orvis.

It’s perfect for beginner fly fishermen who know they want to dive straight into the deep end and don’t want to settle for anything less than the best.

Well, the best is the Orvis Helios H3 package.

The H3 package comes with the matte midnight H3 rod, a Mirage Reel, and Orvis’ Premium Fly line.

The H3 rod is Orvis’ follow-up model to the wildly popular Helios 2 (which is the fly-rod that I use for nymphing and dry-fly fishing for trout).

Coming in two different models, H3F and H3D, the top-tier new model from Orvis is unsurpassed in the most important metric in casting: accuracy. Orvis describes the rod as  “a rifle in a world of muskets” and says it is the most accurate rod they have ever created.

The H3F model is perfect for fishing situations where you’ll be casting less than 60-feet (if you’re just getting started, don’t let this distance intimidate you- you’ll get there!) The “F” stands for feel, as the F model utilizes its flexibility to provide incredible feedback with every cast, nibble, or headshake.

Orvis’ H3D brings the “distance.” This rod is what you grab when you’re trying to pound the bank 75-feet away with a hopper from a drift boat. Or when you’re trying to drop a big streamer right behind a log that’s 60-feet away.

The H3D is power and the H3F is finesse. 

No matter which rod you buy, it comes with a beautiful midnight matte finish, anodized aluminum reel seats, and titanium stripping guides. Also, your new prized possession thankfully comes with a 25-year warranty, so you can treat your H3 like the weapon it is.

In this H3 package, the rod comes with a Mirage Reel. Like the H3, the mirage reel is Orvis’ top model.

Designed with hard fighting fish and corrosive saltwater in mind, the Mirage features a completely sealed carbon and stainless steel disc drag system that requires no maintenance.

The knurled drag knob on the reel lets fishermen effortlessly and blindly turn the drag from free to full, stopping a fish in its tracks. And the large arbor design allows for quick retrieval of large amounts of line.

All of these features are combined in an elegant and simple lightweight aluminum design.

Best Fly fishing Combo for Beginners – Conclusion

If you’re just now getting into fly fishing, purchasing a fly fishing combo package can save you time, money, and confusion.

You don’t have to pick out the perfect rod, find a reel, and then buy fly-line. You can just buy it all at once!

The package that will be the best for you depends on where you’re fishing, what kind of fish you’re targeting, and how much money you’re willing to spend. That can seem overwhelming, but if you use the information we just gave you, you’ll be on your way to making the right decision!

If you get the chance to purchase one of these combos, and use it out on the water, let us know in the comments below! Tell us how the rod felt casting, and if you caught any fish. Make those of us sitting at a computer writing about fishing jealous.

If you found this article to contain helpful information helpful for you to decide which fly fishing combo to purchase, make sure to give us a like and share it with your fishing buddies.

They may be in the market for some new gear!

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