These are my recommendations of the best fly rods for beginners, organized by the type of water you want to fish.
For spring creeks and small streams
I would recommend fiberglass as the best fly rod for creeks and small streams. These rods have an action similar to a bamboo fly rod and are very durable.
These rods recommended below can be overloaded by one line weight ( 4-weight floating line) if you will be fishing tighter streams. The heavier line will be able to generate more speed with less of a backcast.
Echo Glass Series (Model RG-369)
3-weight, 6’9″, 3-piece, fiberglass “s-glass” for $249
The glass series rods are short-line rods with a medium action. The action is distributed throughout the rod so that excessive line speed does not build up, allowing for a delicate presentation of the fly. The rod loads deep and recovery is smooth so you can feel the cast from the rod tip to your hand, making it perfect for fly fishing for small trout in creeks and small streams while still being able to handle larger trout. The rod has alignment dots on the rod pieces to make for quick and easy assembly.
Redington Butter Stick (Model 370-3)
3-weight, 7’0, 3-piece, fiberglass rod for $249.95
This rod is a good value for the performance it gives. This slow-action rod allows delicate cases in tight places. It also features the construction necessary to throw larger flies. Built with high modulus fiberglass this rod has a retro look, though is a bit pricey.
For small to medium-size rivers and lakes
Here you need a good general purpose fly rod that will be good against the wind. A four piece, 9’0, 5-weight, single-handed graphite rod works perfectly here. You can’t miss with any of these rods:
Ross Essence FC (Model 590-4)
5-weight, 9’6″, 4 piece, graphite for around $180
A great mid-priced medium-action fly rod. It is well balanced and highly responsive.
This four-piece rod makes travel easy and includes a micro fiber storage sock and tough, Cordura tube.
The cork grip can be a little small if you have larger hands.
St. Croix Mojo Trout Fly Rod (MT865.4)
5 -weight, 8’6″, 4 piece, graphite fly rod for $199
This rod has moderate-fast action rod allows for good placement of flies at a wide range of distances, though may be a little stiff near the bottom of the rod allowing for casting into the wind and with heavier flies. It comes in 4 pieces which makes it easy to travel with, but does not come with a carry case.
Temple Forks Outfitter Pro II (TF 05 90 4 P2)
5-weight, 9′, 4 piece, graphite fly rod for $169.95
This graphite fly rod has a medium-fast action, and is perfect for any skill level. It is able to handle larger flies and streamers that larger rivers and lakes often call for.