The best fiberglass fly rods transport the angler back to a simpler time (and style of fly fishing). Fly fishing was a serene and slow endeavor before high-tech innovations in rod design and fast-action rod tips. Today, anglers are rediscovering the joy of fiberglass rods, and we take a look at nine of the best to help you rediscover fly fishing’s fiberglass roots.
History of Glass Fly Rods
The use of fiberglass to make fly rods dates back to the 1940s. Fiberglass fly rods enjoyed immense popularity through the 1970s as a substitute for bamboo. Fiberglass proved more manageable to produce than bamboo, which meant cheaper rods. Eventually, though, glass rods fell out of favor with the introduction of carbon fiber rods, which were lighter in weight.
Today, fiberglass fly rods are enjoying a resurgence driven by nostalgia and innovations by many top rod makers. Fiberglass is a popular beginner rod due to its affordability, ease of use, and fun factor. Seasoned anglers, too, have reacquainted themselves with glass, not just for backcountry beaver ponds but for the added feel fiberglass rods provide to casting and fighting fish of all kinds.
It’s no wonder fiberglass is enjoying a comeback with all of the options available by rod companies and the experience it provides for anglers of all levels.
Why Choose a Fiberglass Rod Today?
Anytime fiberglass is discussed, two main reasons dominate. The first is the price. An angler can pick up a fiberglass rod for anywhere between $25 to $250 in most cases. Additionally, fly fishers who have already spent hundreds -sometimes thousands- of dollars on contemporary graphite fly rods find the price of fiberglass an excellent insurance policy for a broken tip or an exciting change of pace from fast-action rods.
The second reason fiberglass has become popular is the increased feel or response the angler senses when casting and playing fish. Today’s high-tech rods focus the energy of fly casting to increase line speed and accuracy. While these innovations are celebrated, many lament the loss of feel when casting. Fiberglass returns that sensation to fly fishing.
Fiberglass vs Graphite Fly Rods
Fly fishers today have options for fly rod materials, but most rods are made from carbon fiber, either graphite or graphene. The significant difference between graphite and carbon fiber is that graphite fibers are thinner and stiffer than fiberglass. Ultimately, the design of graphite rods is geared towards efficiency, the focus of energy exerted through the rod for the express goal of casting distance and accuracy. This correlates to greater line speed for the angler than a fiberglass rod of similar weight.
By contrast, fiberglass rods do not direct as much energy toward the rod’s tip. While you may give up some of the advantages of graphite, a fiberglass rod can result in a softer landing of the fly and a fabulous feel when casting. Additionally, since fiberglass bends up to three times more than carbon fiber, anglers can place more pressure on a fish with less risk of snapping your tippet or yanking a hook out of the fish’s mouth.
Best Fiberglass Fly Rod Quick Picks:
Who says fun can't be sophisticated? The Orvis Superfine takes pleasure very seriously because what's the fun of 'glass if you're missing fish.
Echo's River Glass is the perfect 'glass rod for tight quarters, gin-clear waters, and skittish trout. It's a welcome addition to any back-country adventure.
Best Fiberglass Fly Rods: Full Reviews
The only thing more nostalgic than a fiberglass fly rod is thumbing through an old Cabela's catalog. The Cabela's CGR transports you back in time with a classic 'glass rod that is as easy on the wallet as it is to cast.
- Slow Action for superb feel and tippet protection
- High-quality guides, reel seat, and grip
- Rod features a nylon rod case
A nod to the fiberglass revival, Moonshine's fiberglass series comes with a lifetime warranty and extra rod tips if you roll one up in your window. A classic design with plenty of details, the revival series fly rods will revive your love of creek fly fishing.
- Lifetime Warranty
- Highly responsive tip, which you get two of!
- Copper anodized hardware
Scott's rod-making predates graphite rods. While other rod makers hopped on the resurgence, Scott never stopped making them because they believed in the material for high alpine lakes and bushy creeks.
- Line weights 2-4 availability
- Complete flex profile with medium recovery
- Internal ferrules for deep flex
Smooth and oh, so sweet! The Redington Butter Stick may have been the rod that sparked this fiberglass revival. The newly designed Butter stick is stronger, smoother, and perfect for chasing trout. And the updated color adds to the feeling that you're casting butta.
- Sunshine Yellow Blank
- Improved Strength and Casting Feel
- 4 Pieces for Easier Travel and Space Savings
Known for making exquisite rods for dry fly fishing, Thomas & Thomas presents their Lotic Series for the 'glass angler. Designed with innovative glass fibers, the Lotic series offers line speed in a style of fishing not known for line speed. The result is accuracy and distance, in addition to a delicate presentation.
- Available in 3 to 5 weights
- Flex profile increases line speed
- Made in the USA
Who doesn't like a little flash with the feeling you get from fiberglass? Fiberglass takes pigment very well. The result is brightly colored rods like the River Glass from Echo. The River Glass comes in a fun turquoise and red color that adds to the fun you'll have casting this rod.
- 3- and 4-piece travel designs
- Glacier or Amber colors in all sizes
- Line weights from 2 to 5.
Epic's FastGlass series is serious about smoothness, and the 5-weight 580 is sure to make your dry fly days much smoother. Their secret? Unidirectional S2 Glass, which Epics says is stronger than standard S- or E-glass. The FastGlass really puts the fun into functional when chasing trout.
- Industry-leading FastGlass fly rod blank
- Stunning FLOR grade cork grip
- Hard anodized Epic reel seat
Many fiberglass rods appeal to a casual angler. Orvis' Superfine appeals to the specialist, a tactician that selects the perfect tool for the situation. The Superfine's preferred situation is selective trout. When accuracy and subtlety are what the situation calls for, you'll be glad you chose the Superfine.
- Built with S-2 fiberglass
- Rod weights from 2 to 8
- Made in the USA
Moonlit's Lunar combines the soft feel and flex of what you'd expect in fiberglass with enhanced casting and setting capabilities. With that ability, it's no wonder the Lunar is offered in expanded sizes up to an 8-weight. You'll be over the moon once you get your hands on the Moonlit Lunar S-Glass.
- Progressive taper outperforms typical casting
- 2- to 8- weight in a variety of bold colors
- Lifetime Warranty
Tips for Fishing With Fiberglass Fly Rods
Slow Down Your Casting Stroke With a Glass Rod
Fiberglass bends more aggressively than typical graphite rods. Longer fibers stretch three times more than graphite, making the need for slower casting strokes and more time for the rod to load forward and backward casts. This can be an advantage when learning how to cast and emphasizes letting the rod do the work rather than your shoulder.
Remember, You’ve Got Less Backbone to Stop a Fish
Since fiberglass fly rods bend much more than graphite rods, playing a fish will be a different experience. Anglers need to work a bit harder to stay connected to the fish. Luckily, fiberglass allows fly fishers to exert more pressure on line, even lighter tippets, like 6- and 7X.
Use Glass Rods in the Right Circumstances
Fiberglass fly rods are great when used to their strengths. Today, rod makers offer fiberglass rods for almost any fishing situation, but fiberglass is not the ideal rod in windy conditions or for hucking meat – though not impossible. The rod is far more helpful in close quarters, like small creeks lined by bushes, and when you want your fly to land delicately on the surface.
Conclusion on the Best Fiberglass Fly Rods
The fiberglass renaissance is here. As fly fishing’s popularity enjoys ever-greater innovations and technological advancements, fiberglass is a throwback to a simpler time, a more traditional fishing experience, and a ton of fun. It’s no wonder fiberglass rods have stood the test of time.