3 Best Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combos For Smallmouth Bass

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post discussing my three best bass fly fishing rod and reel combos to tame Smallmouth Bass with this year. Smallmouth Bass are a challenging and fun species to chase and one which many enjoy with the old fly flicking around the place as well.

However for those looking to get into the sport, or even looking to upgrade their gear, choosing the right rod and reel can be a challenging task. This is where combos come in as they are already matched and balanced for us from the start. And to help you out, I have had a look around and come up with three good options below.

Let’s check them out…

My three recommended fly fishing rod and reel combos for Smallmouth Bass

I will review these in more detail below however if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience:

02/19/2024 02:05 am GMT Lasso Brag

What are fly fishing rod and reel combos for Smallmouth?

As above, rod and reel combos are a matched set put together by the manufacturers or retailers with the advantage of reducing the need to guess which rod and reel fit together and are well-balanced.

Bass rod and reel combos are characterized by specific qualities suitable to catch freshwater bass. These qualities, among other things, include construction material, durability, and comfortability to be able to handle the stringer fight of the Smallmouth.

best fly rod and reel combos for smallmouth - reel with rod

What should you be looking for?

In light of the above, the following considerations can assist when looking for a fly fishing rod and reel combo suitable for Smallmouth Bass:


  1. Length
  2. Weight
  3. Action
  4. Recovery rate
  5. Construction material
  6. Additions


When it comes to Smallmouth, most tend to go for 9-foot options as they are accepted as a “middle of the road” length.

  1. Short fly rods: Rods under this category (under 8ft) are space savers and can be traveled with ease. Accuracy is a strong suit for short fly rods as there is less length to move around and the blank recovers faster than a comparable longer one.
  2. Long fly rods: For this type, the rod length ranges 8 feet above with the advantage of elevating the front and back cast. This keeps the fly further away from you while it whizzes back and forth. Choose a longer rod for the best line control and to quickly get around obstacles.

Since you are targeting Smallmouth Bass, the recommended rod length range would be 7’11” to 9’.


When you shop for fly rods, the weight rating indicates the suitable fly line for a specific rod. Fly rods range in weight from size 0 or 1 weight (lightest rod) to about a 15 weight (the heaviest). The weight of the rod is typically determined by the line weight that is paired with the rod. Ideally speaking, the weight of your line should be the same as the weight of your rod.

The best fly rod weight for Smallmouth ranges from 7 to 8 as this setup allows you to easily throw larger bass flies while also providing you with the power you need to land these large fish.


The action of a fly rod refers to where the rod bends when pressure is applied. There are varying categories for fly rod action.

  1. Fast action: Fast action rods have a lot of power. They load and unload the line quickly, resulting in high line speeds. This type of rod may be complex for beginners to use.
  2. Moderate action: A rod with a moderate or medium action is exceptionally versatile. This type is more forgiving than a fast-action rod, and it is somewhat flexible while also providing a reasonable degree of stiffness. A moderate-action rod will bend moderately for half of its length while remaining stiff in the other half during casting.
  3. Slow action: The last type of rod bends from the tip to up to three-quarters of its length. Slow action rods are commonly constructed of fiberglass and bamboo. Many anglers who fish in small streams prefer this type of rod.

Smallmouth Bass is commonly caught using fast action fly rods. The rod can generate high line speeds to cast large flies and generate tight loops.

best fly rod and reel combos for smallmouth - rod and reel on log

Recovery rate

This fly rod quality simply refers to how quickly the bent rod returns to its natural, straight position. A slow-recovery rod will wobble around after you’ve delivered the cast, whereas a fast-recovery rod will return to its normal state much faster.

Another advantage of fly rods with a higher recovery rate is they ensure that most of the energy generated during the casting stroke is transferred to the fly line. Consequently, this allows the cast to travel further and land more accurately.

Construction material

There are three common materials used to make fly rods. They are enumerated below:

  1. Bamboo: This construction material is the heaviest. However, while there is an issue with the bamboo’s weight, this extra weight makes it easier to cast short line lengths with this type of rod. Bamboo is also naturally flexible due to the density variation of the fibers.
  2. Graphite: These rods are generally incredibly light. Compared with fiberglass and bamboo, graphite material is lighter and more robust which ensures that they hold more resistance with less material resulting in thinner, longer, lighter rods.
  3. Fiberglass: Glass rods are difficult to break. Because the fibers stretch much more than graphite fibers, the rod can bend much deeper. Glass rods are generally much less expensive than graphite, owing to the lower cost of the material itself.

Although all three materials would be excellent, fiberglass and graphite are the most selected fly rods for Smallmouth Bass fishing.


Other potential additions include:

  1. Guides: These have two primary functions. Guides organize the fly lines and help distribute the force applied along the line during casting and fish fighting. Select fly rods with corrosion-resistant guides for durability.
  2. Handles: The grips and handles of a custom fly rod are also very essential. Choosing the correct handles is critical to having the right feel and fit for your hand. In light of this, look for fly rods with comfortable, non-slip handles.
  3. Rod butt: This is a part of the fly rod that the angler uses to act as a fulcrum, giving him more leverage over the fighting fish.


  1. Arbor size
  2. Drag system
  3. Reel size
  4. Construction material
  5. Additions

Arbor size

A fly reel’s arbor is the diameter of the spool where the backing is attached. Essentially, the larger the arbor, the faster the retrieval of the line. Arbor sizes are classified into three categories: standard, mid-arbor, and large arbor.

The majority of modern fly reels one can find on the market today are mid-arbor or large arbor reels. A large arbor reel is required when fishing for Smallmouth Bass. One practical advantage of a large arbor is that you have a larger frame allowing you to hold more backing while still being able to retrieve your line quickly.

Drag system

The drag system prevents the arbor from spinning too quickly when the line is pulled off. On most reels, there is usually a tiny drag knob on the side that the user can turn to tighten or loosen the drag. This provides the necessary adjustment, such as making it harder or easier to pull off the line.

Two kinds of drag systems are available: click drag and disc drag. For smallmouth bass fishing, you should choose the latter. A disc drag system works by applying pressure to the central spool to slow down a fish, so there is not much struggle on your part as you reel in the fish.

Reel size

Size is an essential factor to consider when it comes to fly reels. The main reason for this is that the fly reel must be large enough to hold the type of fly line you intend to use. The reel should also be able to balance your rod.

Suppose you will use a 6 or 7-weight rod to catch Smallmouth bass, a large arbor reel in the 6 or 7 weight range can hold 100 to 200 yards of backing and 30 yards or so of a fly line. This amount of line is recommended for Bass species.

best fly rod and reel combos for smallmouth - Man fly fishing

Construction material

This feature is instrumental to the durability of any fly reel you will purchase. For this quality, fly reels can be made using bar stock aluminum, cast aluminum, or composite.

  1. Cast aluminum: It is a less expensive material for producing fly reels. Flaws in the reel components of cast products can occur due to the introduction of outside grasses or particulates in the casting process. If this happens, there will be a weak spot at the point of contamination.
  2. Composite: These reels are typically very light. Because composite reels generally are molded rather than machined, they share some of the same issues as cast aluminum reels and composites can crack or break in frigid temperatures.
  3. Bar stock aluminum: The best quality aluminum reels are bar stock reels. They are made from single aluminum blocks with a tough finish. They are generally lighter, more resistant to drops and can withstand wear and tear.


  1. Hand orientation: The natural way of retrieving for most people is with the opposite hand of the casting hand. However, certain fly reels have ambidextrous orientation, which is an excellent feature for providing flexibility.
  2. Cloth bag: Some products include a storage bag, such as a cloth bag. This item becomes handy for keeping your fly reel.
  3. Handle: It is best to shop for fly reels with ergonomic handles since they provide you comfort and leverage.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. Wild Water Deluxe Fly Fishing Combo

My first recommended product is a complete package of fly fishing gear that comes at a very reasonable price. This 4-piece graphite fly rod includes a center disc drag die-cast aluminum large arbor reel with a few flies thrown in for good measure. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Wild Water
  • Rod material: Graphite
  • Rod length: 9’4”
  • Rod action: Medium fast action
  • Reel arbor size: Large
  • Reel drag system: Adjustable disc drag
  • Reel construction material: Cast aluminum

Other inclusions:

  • Spare leader
  • Fly box
  • Line nipper
  • Rod case

Why have I chosen it?

This initial product recommendation is perfect for newcomers in the fly fishing sport. The set is packed with everything they need with the rod intended for use with a 5 or 6 weight line. It is also accompanied by a fishing reel made from die-cast aluminum which aside from having a large arbor size, it’s hand orientation is switchable to offer versatility to all of its users.

2. M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Premier Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

This second fly fishing combo comes with a complete set of durable and high-performing equipment. It is straightforward to use suitable for experienced and newbies alike. See its specifications below:

  • Rod material: Carbon fiber
  • Rod length: 8’4”, 8’6”, and 9’
  • Rod action: Fast action
  • Reel arbor size: Large
  • Reel drag system: Disc drag
  • Reel construction material: Machined aluminum

Other inclusions:

  • Retractable zinger
  • Line nipper tool
  • Fly box + 10 pcs. flies
  • Rod case

Why have I chosen it?

The rod is extremely durable due to its 5-layer carbon construction and perfectly balanced with an aluminum lightweight fly reel equipped with a smooth drag system. This rod and reel combo can be organized inside a tough and convenient travel bag and a pouch to keep the small items intact to avoid damaged equipment. This is a great option for those who like to get out amongst a number of different species.

3. Orvis Clearwater Fly Rod And Reel Outfit

My last combo contains an impressive smooth pickup in the reel and a rod with chrome snake and stripping guide with a ceramic insert. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Orvis
  • Rod material: Graphite
  • Rod length: 9’
  • Rod action: Fast action
  • Reel arbor size: Large
  • Reel drag system: Disc drag
  • Reel construction material: Cast aluminum

Other inclusions:

  • 25-year warranty
  • Rod case
  • Full black nickel aluminum reel seats
  • 100 yds. 20-lb. backing

Why have I chosen it?

The rod weight units of 5 and 7 are perfect for making tight loops and covering great distances. The cork handle has been enhanced and is now more comfortable to hold for extended periods. Finally, the large reels’ washer drag system provides plenty of torque for impressive fish-landing power. This is a great high end option for fishers of all levels.


And there they are, my three best fly rod and reel combos for chasing Smallmouth Bass. I hope it was helpful and as usual, let me know of your experiences with them below.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun


3 Best Fly Rod and Reel Combos For Smallmouth Bass - Pinterest

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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.