The 5 Best 5-Weight Fly Rod Options for You

Published on 05/19/2023 · 7 min read5- weight fly rods are one of the most common and versatile rods. Fly Fishing Instructor and Curated Expert Rylyn S. details the top-recommended 5-weight fly rods!
Rylyn S., Fly Fishing Expert
By Fly Fishing Expert Rylyn S.

Photo by Spring Fed Image

5 weight (5WT) fly rods are the most popular rod model in the fly fishing rod lineup. They deserve to have a place in every fisher’s quiver. If I were to choose one rod for freshwater that would cover most applications, it would have to be the 5WT. And there are dozens upon dozens of 5-weight rods on the market to choose from. 5WTs are available at different price points, and each fly rod offers something for every angler, especially for trout and bass.

As an Outdoor Educator and Fly Fishing Instructor, it is generally agreed that the 5WT is the most balanced and introductory weight for fly rods. I typically recommend them when setting up a beginner with a dependable outfit that can be fished without prior experience.

As experience increases, fly fishers tend to gravitate towards a “better tool for the job” model. For instance, I would much instead use my 3WT 7’6” Douglas Upstream for the small spring creeks here in the Ozarks. But my wife, as a beginner, is still comfortable using her 5WT.

In this article, we will explore the most recommended 5WT rods in fly shops today and dive into the performance and versatility that make them suitable for all anglers—from beginners to experts.

However, it’s important to note that the best rods are not always the most expensive rods. Even in the Yellowstone Angler shootout, less expensive options outperformed the most expensive 5WT rods.

When looking at the price of fly rods, craftsmanship is certainly higher quality on more expensive fly rod options, but that does not mean it will make you a better fly fisher.

To me, more expensive rods are like holding a Cadillac in your hands; it’s sure to impress your friends out on the water. For some, it may be hard to show up with a $250 rod while your buddies are using $750–1100 rods. But ask yourself if a higher-priced rod will make you that much better of an angler…

From personal experience, I always pick the best-performing rod, even if it is more expensive than what I originally planned on spending. I figure that buyer's remorse will not happen when I pay the extra bucks.

The following list features rods that can do it all. If you are looking for a fly rod that can throw dries, nymph rigs, and even a small streamer, here they are!

1. Douglas Sky G

While guiding here in the Ozarks, this is a fly rod that I always keep in the raft with me, mostly because of its versatility. This fly rod fits all fly anglers from the beginner as much as it does the expert.

With its G-Tec blank, revolutionary G-Tec platelets that are used to construct the actual rod, this rod weighs in at 2.7oz. It’s also built to take a beating. The titanium recoil guides are crushproof. It’s also backed by a lifetime warranty. And the REC titanium guides create even more efficient casting due to hardly any friction between the fly line and the guides.

This rod is highly accurate anywhere inside the 15–60ft range, which is perfect for trout fishing. Also, the craftsmanship of this rod is stunning—just take a look at that reel seat and cork grip! This fly rod also comes with an aluminum rod tube.

I recommend the SA Amplitude MPX fly line for this rod. But I also find that the SA Infinity and Rio Gold have their advantages regarding fishing nymphs and small streamers.

2. G Loomis NRX+ LP

Sometimes when power is in play, it takes a skilled angler to cast a fly rod. That is not the case with the NRX+ LP. This fly rod can cast loops 10–90ft if fitted with the correct tapered fly line.

For these characteristics, this fly rod reminds me most of the Orvis Helios 3F, but without the same price tag.

I would say from the past NRX+ model; the LP is truly a better-fitting rod for a fisher who needs a fly rod that is well-versed in the application. I am not a dry-fly junky; the trout here in Missouri are better caught by nymphing and with streamers. Not too many big hatches happen regularly here in the Ozarks, and this fly rod performs for just that.

In terms of line, I like the Rio Gold and the SA Infinity on this fly rod. If you want to stick to dry fly fishing and light nymphing, go with the Rio Gold; otherwise, the SA Infinity will have you well-versed with this fly rod.

3. Winston Pure

This fly rod is a joy to hold in my hands. I wouldn’t consider this a power rod, but more of a short-distance fly rod. This moderate-action fly rod is made for delicate and accurate casting. It can be used to fish nymphs and streamers, but at the heart of the blank, this fly rod is a dry fly rod. Though I wouldn’t necessarily call this a slow-action fly rod like most notable dry fly rods. It can pack a punch when it needs to with delicacy in mind.

I personally prefer this fly rod with a weight-forward fly line like the Rio Elite Technical Trout. The best use for this fly rod is for larger rivers where accuracy and distance are needed for a dry fly. I could see this in anyone's quiver for fishing rivers like the Henry’s Fork, South Fork of the Snake, and North Fork of the White.

4. Orvis Clearwater

Anyone can pick up the Orvis Clearwater and cast. The ideal casting range is 30–60ft, although there are no problems with making an 80ft cast. After the 60ft mark, the rod loses power, and it becomes less accurate.

The Orvis Clearwater is a little on the heavier side compared to other rods in its class, but it doesn’t give one that fatigued feeling at the end of the day. I recommend a heavier rod in a medium-fast action for beginners, that way they can easily feel their backcast.

The rod has a simple matte-black design that isn’t catchy to the eye. So it isn’t a fly rod for those looking for a flashy look. The great part about this fly rod, though, is that it comes as a rod-reel combo with the Orvis Clearwater reel.

I prefer to use simple lines with this fly rod, as it is a beginner-friendly setup. Throw a Rio Avid Trout Fly line or Orvis Clearwater on this, and you’ll be well versed. In my opinion, this is the best fly rods one can buy for this price due to its durability, lifetime warranty, and versatility.

5. Fenwick Aetos

This fly rod is a “best-bang-for-your-buck” fly rod. Yes, cheaper materials are used. And yes, it is made overseas, but that does not take away from its performance. This fly rod ranked highly in the 2022 Yellowstone Angler 5 Weight Shootout, beating rods in the $700 range. Though, in my opinion, the cork quality is pretty poor, and this fly rod doesn’t give the curb appeal like most fly rods. But, at less than $200, you are truly getting more performance than what you are paying for.

Many will find everything they need in this rod—which is exactly what a 5 weight is meant to be without the high price tag. Yes, there are better-performing 5 weight fly rods, but this rod is more tailored to those on a lower budget.

I would pair this fly rod with a simple line like the Orvis Clearwater WF5F or a SA Mastery MPX.

Final Thoughts

Photo by Rick Wallace

All of these fly rods are stellar for multi-applications. I truly believe that no fly angler should be without a 5 weight fly rod in their quiver. They are versatile and can handle most freshwater applications like small bass, trout, panfish, and bluegills. If you are just getting back into fly fishing or are a beginner, take a look at a 5 weight. If you are having trouble determining which option is best for you, or if you’d like help building a full setup (fly rod, fly reel, backing, fly line, and leader) talk to one of us Fly Fishing Experts here at Curated. We would love to help. Tight lines!

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Douglas SKY Fly Rod
Scientific Anglers Amplitude Infinity Fly Line
Rio Freshwater Trout Series Premier Rio Gold Fly Line

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Scientific Anglers Amplitude MPX Fly Line
Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod
Rio Freshwater Elite Technical Trout Series
Rio Avid Trout Gold Fly Line
Scientific Anglers Mastery MPX Fly Line
G. Loomis NRX+ LP Fly Rod
Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod

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