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Favorite Trout Rods for 2024

Favorite Trout Rods for 2024

We are gearing up for spring fishing and are looking over our favorite rods for trout fishing.  Here are some of our favorite 9'0" 5wt rods for trout fishing:

Entry-Level:  That is a can of worms to say entry-level.  How about rods under $300?  "Entry-level" rods usually mean "as cheap as they come".  These are some quality rods that don't cost a ton.

1.  Orvis Clearwater - Still a perennial favorite.  Its a great rod for beginners, backups and for those atypical fisheries where you need a rod for a trip but you might not be using it on your home waters...  Its got a nice feel that will help dial in your cast.  Its pretty powerful and does really well with distance casting.  It does struggle in close a little more than others.

2. TFO Blue Ribbon - This is our favorite rod under $300.  Typically, price-point rods lack something that you want.  Feel, response, balance, etc.  However, the LK Legacy is one of those gems that is so nice that it might become your favorite new trout stick.  There is really nothing that it lacks.  Sure, there are lighter and more responsive rods out there, but this feels good enough to fish year-round without having any gripes about it.  

3.  Echo Carbon XL.  This little rod has a nice and easy cast with good action.  It can be a little "dull" with the feel, but for the price, it is more than adequate for trout fishing.  I guided with one of these rods for several years and nobody ever complained about it.  It lacks the stiffness and power of the Clearwater, but some folks claim that the Clearwater can be too stiff and overpowering, especially with shorter distances.  A very nice choice for your first rod, backup or upgrade from the old noodle you found at a yard sale. 

4.  Douglas LRS -  Do not overlook this rod.  Its got it all.  Smooth casting, loads of power and a nice presentation when you need to tone it down...  Douglas is not one of the most well-known rod brands, but everything they make is gold, and this is a diamond-in-the-rough scenario.  Nice and punchy with a smooth finish, just how I like my mixed drinks...



Mid-Priced Rods: $300-$600.  Mid-priced rods are great for anglers working their way up from an entry level rod as well as folks that may not fish a ton, but want a nice piece of equipment that will be reliable for years to come.  These are great rods that will provide top-end performance without costing top-shelf prices.  They really do perform at a higher level.  You will feel the responsiveness, be able to make better adjustments mid-cast, and will have overall more control with less overall weight bogging your shoulder down... 

1.  Douglas DXF -  This rod is one of our absolute favorites.  It has the best, smoothest presentation of any rod in this price point, and it received the top overall score in our most recent testing, even scoring above the top-end rods.  All of the anglers in the shop love it as an all-around great trout rod.  Its a little lighter than some with a really smooth presentation for dry flies.  It might lack a little power if you are streamer fishing with big flies, but for everything else you do, this is our top pick under $600.

 2. TFO LK Legacy - Much like the TFO Blue Ribbon, this rod punches above it's weight class.  The Blue Ribbon is a bit less powerful than this one, but the Legacy has extra gas in the tank so-to-speak, and it has a bit more response to it through the middle sections.  It means that you can really open it up and get some distance with it when needed, and it handles nymphs/streamers a bit better than the Blue Ribbon.  There is a solid contingency of Hood River locals that are all fishing this rod and looooove it.

3.  Sage Foundation - Folks tend to have a love it or leave it attitude with Sage rods.  Their lower-end rods get little love from most anglers.  However, the Foundation is an absolute barn-burner.  Its so nice to cast I had to double check the label to make sure that I wasn't casting a more expensive model.  They have consistently set the bar for minimum quality standards on all fly rods and this is no different.  Sage improves their technology so fast that they pass their "old" tech down to the base-model rods quickly.  The Foundation is nicer than their top-end rods were 20 years ago, and better than any other "entry-level" rod.  I would be very happy fishing this rod for a season or more.  Its got everything you would want.  The casting stroke is very smooth like the Douglas DXF.  It has a bit more power and is a little faster than the DXF, but still buttery smooth.  Plus you get MADE IN THE USA products that are top-notch.

4.  Echo Trout X - Solid overall rod.  Echo's rods are always built to be workhorses.  They perform well, hold up to abuse and will not let you down.  We love Echo rods, and this is one that they built well.  Its got a very easy casting stroke to it.  Really powerful in that middle section that allows you to unload with ease.  I think this rod does a better job than most if you need to make mid-cast adjustment.  It doesn't really shine in one particular area over any of the other rods, except maybe durability.  If you tell me that you are sick of rods that break and you need the most durable stick, then I reach for an Echo or TFO every time.

Top-Shelf Rods $600+:  You have always wanted that new, shiny, perfect fly rod.  There are a few rods that are a full head above the competition.  You will never feel the need to upgrade, never wonder if you are fishing the best rod, never wonder if you missed a fish due to poor quality equipment.  There is a good reason they all cost as much as they do, these are all game-changers...

1.  Orvis Helios FOrvis Helios D - Whether you like your rod a bit on the fast side, or you like to take it a little slower, the new Orvis Helios D / Orvis Helios F are as nice as a fly rod can be built.  With side-to-side wobble virtually eliminated, the line loses almost no energy to wasted movement.  This results in easier, longer, more accurate casts.  Seriously, its mind-blowingly good.  Plus the top-notch components, stellar finish, ultra lightweight and thin blank, the Helios is the new best rod ever made....

1.  Sage R8 Core - But there can only be one first place rod you say?  How about three total...  The Sage R8 Core is every bit as nice as the new Helios.  Its closer to the Helios D as its a bit on the faster side of rods, but still sits in that mama-bear medium-fast action that we love.  Its very lightweight, incredible responsive and recovers a bad cast like it's nobody's business.  

 3.  Douglas Sky G - Super lightweight, ultra responsive, its a superb rod.  It's our best selling top-shelf rod.  $200 cheaper than either of the others, it doesn't feel like it.  We love this rod.  Both the manager and assistant manager have one and are not planning on getting rid of them anytime soon.  

4.  Sage Trout LL - The 9' 5wt may be that perfect trout rod.  Its just got that feel to it.  Its not as fast as the Helios D, R8 or Sky G, but if you wanted a faster rod, those are great options.  This one is incredibly accurate, but still packs a big punch if you need to push it.  Slow doesn't mean lacking power.  Its got both.  

5.  Sage Sonic - Another fantastic choice no matter the model.  Its on the faster side of things as most Sage rods are, but its also very nice to cast.  Its got all the things that you want.  At several hundred dollars less than the others, the Sonic is a top end rod, even if its not Sage's top-tier.  


Whether you need a new rod, your first rod, or your last, we have a ton of choices.  Plenty of rods are great and didn't make the cut for this list.  Its all personal preference, and we have tons of options for your fishing needs.  Give us a call, shoot us an email or come into shop.  We are ready to help

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