Walk softly and carry the right stick.
Sage Salt HD ($950)
Permit at 70 feet, 20 mph headwinds, guide screaming in your ear. What do you want in your hand? The Salt HD. Sage tweaked the composite of its already whippy Konnetic rod technology to transfer energy more efficiently, for faster casting. Sure it’s expensive. But do you really want to miss your shot?
Scott G ($845)
Scott’s G series can do it all, and the company updated it in 2017 with new tapers and lighter materials. The rod is fast enough that you can lay out line when you need to, and it has enough feel that you can place a size 24 midge with nary a ripple.
Echo Gecko Kit ($169)
Parents: Want to fish more? Bring the kids along. The Gecko, from staff favorite Echo, looks awesome and costs almost nothing. Don’t have kids? Get a Gecko for the back of the truck, so you always have a small-water spare.
Winston Nimbus ($650)
Six bones is a bargain? It is for the Nimbus. This is essentially one of Winston’s famed $900 graphite and boron rods, but made exclusively from graphite. You won’t even notice the difference on the water.
Redington Butter Stick ($250)
The fun one
The Butter Stick isn’t new—it debuted a few years ago—but it’s responsible for more giggles than any rod in years. The slow-action fiberglass translates to perfect presentation (except in the wind) and makes eight-inch fish feel twice as big.
Orvis Helios 3D ($845)
The cast master
Forget Orvis’s image as a stodgy brand for traditionalists. The Helios 3D (the D stands for distance) is as advanced as any rod out there. The proprietary blank reduces vibration and side-to-side movement, correcting your mistakes (trust us, you’re making a few) so the rod casts smoothly in a single direction. The only limit to its reach is your arm.