Why do you need fly fishing gear that is specialized for saltwater?
Well, a couple of factors makes saltwater specific gear worth a buy. Firstly saltwater (as the name reveals) is full of salt and therefore having fly fishing gear that is built from non-corrosive/corrosive-resistant materials is a good idea. Secondly, the conditions when fly-fishing in salty water is often quite different than when freshwater fishing. Windier surroundings combined with a need for getting some distance between you and your fly requires a rod that does not bend as easily as your average freshwater rod. The flexibleness of the rod is determined by its action-classification. When looking for salt-water gear rods, you want to go no lower than medium-action, and in most use cases a fast-action rod is preferable. We recommend finding a rod with a minimum length of 8”, but do not go further up than 10” as the rod will be too heavy and you will lose a lot of accuracy.
The saltwater gear (including rods, reels, lines and hooks) generally needs to be stronger than its freshwater counterparts are. This is due to the saltwater fish being bigger, heavier and more aggressive than the freshwater fish. Below is a summarized list of what you should look for when buying saltwater fishing equipment.
Rod length: the preferred size for most saltwater conditions is 9”. Go the 8’ if you want more control, or grab a 10” if you are looking for maximum casting distance. Beware that the handling and rod flexibility will drop the further up you go.
Rod strength: Rods that are built for saltwater-conditions are often stronger and a bit thicker than freshwater rods. You want to look for fast-action rods if you prioritize accuracy over distance.
Reels: Saltwater reels should be able to withstand high line speed. It is also crucial that the reel is equipped with a strong disc drag built for fighting bigger fish. It is a big plus if the drag is sealed so that the moving parts are less exposed to salt and sand.
The material of the components: As stated in the beginning the material used in the saltwater equipment needs to be non-corrosive or at least corrosive-resistant.
1. Redington Crosswater 890-4 Fly Rod
Our first pick is the Redington Crosswater 890-4 Fly Rod. It is an excellent balanced rod for saltwater fishing due to its structure and size. The 890 is a medium action rod, meaning it is relatively easy to control while still being able to make longer casts even in windy conditions. The length (9’0″) of the graphite rod will allow you to consistently present the fly 30-40 ft. away – an important factor when picking out a rod for fishing in open water. If you are looking for more rods with more power, look further below for the fast-action rods with identical length.
The reel is perfect pulling up those bigger saltwater fish, because of the heavy-duty disc drag system that is of (of course) adjustable. The reel is also adjustable for both right and left-handers.
The combo includes a rod and reel case that will provide good protection while traveling – although it may be clumsier than the traditional soft-bag. Included in the combo is also a quality RIO MainStream WF Floating Fly Line, RIO Dacron Backing, and RIO Tapered Leader.
The length and the medium action of the rod combined with the heavy duty reel in this combo makes it a great beginner-intermediate package. While primarily being a saltwater gear, this can also be used for fishing in bigger lakes and rivers where cast distance often is needed. The Redington Crosswater set is for you if you are on the lookout for a versatile rod that is mostly suited for salt-water fishing.
Oh, and this set is also backed by the Redington 1 year warranty.
2. Sage Salt 890-4 Fly Rod Outfit w/Hatch Finatic Reel
This is the state of the art fly-fishing combo. This combo does everything that a saltwater combo is supposed to do, yet the rod is much lighter and agile than most other saltwater rods. It comes with the highly rated Sage Salt rod sporting 9” and a line casting rating of 8. It is a fast-action rod, which makes it a great caster in windy condition, enabling you to get some distance in your casts – even when fishing into headwind. The Sage Salt won the ICAST/IFTD for best Saltwater Fly Rod.
The Hatch Outdoors Finatic 7 Plus is a phenomenal reel made from solid aluminum. The monoblock frame/foot design combined with the sealed drag-system makes it very resistant to corrosion.
The combo comes rigged with the premium RIO Bonefish Quickshooter WF Floating Line, RIO Dacron Backing, RIO Saltwater Tapered Leader (this can however be changed upon request). A rod tube and sock is also included in the set.
3. Temple Fork NXT Fly Fishing
Best beginner saltwater rod and reel combo
This medium fast action fly fishing rod is perfect for beginners who really want to get some distance in their casts when fishing at the ocean. The rod comes with a large NXT reel nicely suited for the bigger saltwater fish. Keep in mind though, that this rod and reel combo is not specifically built for saltwater fishing thus it is extra important to wash the gear clean after use in saltwater. If this is done properly (focus on rinsing the reel), then this rod and reel combo will fulfill the needs of all beginners and most intermediate saltwater anglers. The combo can easily be used as a freshwater rod as well, given that distance is more important than precision (big lakes, rivers etc.). Since the price is relatively low, compared to the quality of this combo, this set takes the prize for the best beginner saltwater combo.
4. Finfeuds pick
If you want a premium rod and reel combo but think the Sage Salt combo mentioned further up is a bit too expensive, this TFO BVK rod definitely gives you the best bang for your buck. It is sporting a length of 9” and a weight rating of 8. The BVK is a fast-action rod that is built for making long yet accurate casts. TFO is known for making rods with a great response – so you can more easily feel if a fish is biting or just bumping into the fly. Since this is in the lighter end of saltwater rods, this rod will also do well when used at the lake or river.
The Behemoth reel is designed for saltwater fishing. It comes with a super heavy-duty carbon fiber drag perfectly suited for reeling in bigger, more aggressive fish. The drag is sealed, which makes it less exposed to salt/sand/water. More so, the reel comes with a lifetime warranty! Combining the TFO BVK with the Redington Behemoth Reel makes for a great yet affordable rod and reel combo that will last many years.
5. Best salt and freshwater combo
The TFO Mangrove 9” 6WT is one of the ‘softer’ rods in this recommended list. It is only a medium-action rod, whereas most other rods in this list is fast-action rods. Because of the lower action, it lacks a bit on the distance of the casts, compared to the fast-action rods. The accuracy of this rod is however, phenomenal, due to the lower action and a weight rating of only 6. The accuracy of this rod makes it a perfect hybrid for both saltwater and freshwater fishing if distance in your casts is not absolute priority. If you are fishing in both saltwater and freshwater regularly, this balanced rod is for you.
We recommend combining the TFO Mangrove rod with the KastKing Katmai Waterproof Reel, because of the disc drags waterproofness and the overall saltwater approved design. Even the ball bearings in this reel is saltwater rated. It is placed at a very low price point for a 2017 forged aluminium reel.