Best fly fishing Combo under $100 may be the best fly rod combo under $200 update 9/15/19

Update: My new favorite Rod!


Not that I go around trying every inexpensive fly fishing combo in the world in order to find the very best possible, but I do think I’ve found a winner.  Watch the following video to see why I like the Cortland Fairplay fly fishing outfit.

Last Summer I picked up a Cortland Fairplay 8′ 5/6 fly rod at Walmart.  You can’t order these things online through Walmart but you can find them at some of the larger stores if you’re lucky.  I was pleasantly surprised with the rod’s performance.  Of Course the components on a 30 dollar fly rod are pretty cheesy, what with the plastic reel seat and the foam grip but other than that the blank features a very sweet action, with a slim profile, (it’s skinny and sleek, not bulky and large) and it’s light weight and super fun to cast.


How to Cast…Your first cast, how to do it!

You can also pick up the Cortland Fairplay Combo at Walmart for just a little over $45 bucks but you have to go directly to the store and it has to be the right Walmart.  They don’t all carry this combo. Its kind of a crapshoot.  You can buy the combo which includes a reel with the backing and floating weight forward fly line on it .

Here’s what Cortland has to say about their 8′ 5/6 outfit. The Fairplay 8 FT fly fishing outfit features a 4 piece composite blank which is perfectly matched with our preloaded graphite matrix composite reel. The strong, lightweight rod is fitted with a hook keeper.  The reel has a solid drag system and a quick release spool button. The kits are preloaded with 65 feet of WF floating fly line and 150 feet of backing. Perfect for the beginner fly fisher or as that extra combo you might pack for a spare. 

– The 5/6 WT model is ideal for smaller species, including trout and pan fish.


You can buy this Cortland Fairplay outfit on Ebay for about $70 right now.

Here is a popular pick from Amazon, its under 100 bucks but still twice the price of the Cortland Fairplay Combo that I can buy at my hometown Walmart for about 50 bucks today.  The Amazon offering does come with a few cool added features which are in the description below.

I have not used the reel and lin from Cortland’s Fairplay outfit, only the rod, but to me, on an inexpensive fly fishing combo the reel is literally just a place to hang the line.  I’m assuming the line is your standard red, weight forward pvc floating fly line, made by Cortland or at least sourced by them.  They have been in the business for a long time so the reel and line will be just fine although the reel is constructed of “graphite matrix composite.”  So it might break if you fall down just right.

A word of caution:  I like to read the reviews on Amazon products. If something generally has decent reviews I think that’s a good thing.  Some reviewers will say the reel is buttery smooth, others will say its crap.  The take away here is that newbies who buy this stuff for the first time really don’t know what to expect, or what they are getting, so, in short, they don’t know what they are talking about.  I try to read the 3 star reviews to keep from being overly excited about any product. But when they say the line is crap, or the reel is crap, I honestly don’t know what they expect for such an inexpensive product.

Here is what you get:
Fly Fishing Package – 9 ft, 5/6 weight, 4 pc rod, large arbor reel, preinstalled line, backing and leader, a rod sock, a rod case, a fly box, flies, and a detailed instruction book. Includes spare leader, zinger and nipper/knot tying tool.
Rod comes with Lifetime Warranty. Slow action, mid flex IM8 graphite design, aluminum reel seat, stainless steel stripper guide with SiC ring, stainless steel single foot snake guides and hook keeper. 7” western-style grip made with high quality cork and compressed cork trim rings.
Waterproof, Floating Fly Box – 5.25″ x 3.5″ x 1.25″, custom foam design, holds up to 372 flies. Includes 3 each of Black Ants, Parachute Adams, Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymph flies, all size 14. Best suited for Trout, Panfish, small streams, ponds, and backpacking
Diecast Aluminum Fly Fishing Reel – Large arbor design reel, pre-loaded 20 pound blaze orange backing, weight forward 5-weight floating fly line, and 9’ 5X leader. Diecast aluminum spool, frame and reel foot, stainless steel internal components, quick release spool, and disc drag for fine tension adjustments.
Wild Water is a US based company started in 2006. US based support. Package includes rod bag, lightweight rod case with a zippered storage pouch, starter booklet, and gift box packaging.

That seems like a very good deal to me.

What if I want to Skagit Cast with my inexpensive fly fishing Combo?  That’s simple just loop on a Rio Skagit Mow tip for a shooting head along with a sink tip on the end of that. Your weight forward fly line becomes your running line, your 20 dollar Mow tip is your mini skagit head and you are set up to Skagit cast sink tips and streamers with your inexpensive fly rod combo.  

The Rio Skagit MOW tips can be found on Amazon or Ebay or elsewhere and make dandy little shooting heads for shorter fly rods anywhere from 6′ to 8′ long in the 3 to 6 weight range depending on a variety of factors such as how heavy or light you like to line your rod and what sink tips you fish.

I haven’t done exhaustive research but good ideas for sink tips would be Rio Versileaders or 7′ to 10′ Airflo Polyleaders or Loop Poly tips.  Possibly go longer if that works for you.  Another possibility is custom 7′ to 12′ custom chopped sink tip material from t3 up to t8.

I prefer lighter sink tips and smaller flies on my little fly rods but you can go heavier for mini dredging on smaller water if you like. Which I have.

You can do most of the standard Skagit and Scandi casts provided you keep your hands low and use your wrists like swivels to implement a super compact casting stroke.  Its a super fun way to experience a tight line grab swinging for hatchery Trout and Smallmouth.

You can also use the lighter MOW tips for that ultralight feel on tiny fly rods.

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