Fenwick got its name from a lake in Washington, where a small group of men passionate about fly fishing performance began developing rods that would set the pace of angling innovation for the coming decades.
Ever since 1952, when the company was formed around crafting high-quality rods out of cutting-edge (for the time) fiberglass blanks, Fenwick has been at the forefront of fly fishing innovation. In 1973, Fenwick introduced the first all-graphite fishing rod, the now famed High Modulus Graphite (HMG) rod.
But Fenwick’s innovation doesn’t stop at rod materials. They’ve dedicated themselves to crafting high-quality rods ideally suited to different, innovative fly fishing techniques, and they consider themselves students of the sport, constantly studying professionals and amateurs alike to gather insights on fly fishing, and how they can improve their product offerings.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 of Fenwick’s top rods on the market, which combines classic styling and high-tech materials and innovative designs to create truly one-of-a-kind fishing rods.
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We recommend having a good handle on your fishing preferences and intended areas of fishing before purchasing a rod. This is because while all rods are intended for fly fishing, many are particularly designed for particular kinds of fly fishing - lakes, streams, ocean, shore, etc.
Choosing the wrong rod can lead to a lot of frustration, so you’ll want to know exactly what you’re looking for. Below is a quick guide on the major differences between different styles of fishing rods.
Rod and line weight are most closely related to the size of fish you want to catch. Lighter weight, more sensitive lines are better suited to a small quarry that’s found in small ponds, and streams, while heavy lines can handle large ocean-going fish, such as small sharks and swordfish.
Rod length is related to rod and light weight - usually, if you’ve got a longer rod, it’s going to use a heavier line and be more robust. This is because longer rods generally cast farther, and when you’re going after small fish, you don’t really need a huge cast distance, and long rods can be quite inconvenient in tight spaces.
This refers, mainly, to how stiff the rod is. The stiffer the rod the “faster” the action, and the more flexible it is, the “slower” the action is. Slow actions help are more forgiving when it comes to line snaps, while fast actions give you rapid response time and a great line feel at the expense of stiffness and a higher risk of line snap.
Because of this, a medium-slow rod is usually recommended for beginners. As you gain experience fishing, you’ll get an idea of your preference, and you can opt for a faster or slower action as you prefer.
While you can safely use a saltwater rod in freshwater, you can’t safely use a freshwater rod in saltwater. The corrosive salt water will quickly eat away at the rod, and render it useless.
Saltwater rods are also generally much longer, and employ heavier line weights and large grips with fighting butts to help you reel in big ones, so though you can use them for smaller freshwater stream fishing, it’s really best to have a specialized rod for each if you plan on doing both.
The Fenwick AETOS is a top-of-the-line fly rod built on Fenwick’s tradition of developing high quality, high-performance rods. Featuring a fast recovering, high-performance action, and a variety of different models available, including saltwater, freshwater, switch, and double-handed Spey versions, rods within the AETOS series can handle just about anything. This 4 piece rod comes in a length of 6’ all the way to a monstrous double-handed 15’ version.
All versions of this rod are painstakingly crafted with attention to detail, and made of an advanced, lightweight graphite material; this rod is certainly a bargain compared to other fly rods in its performance range by other manufacturers.
The lightweight, modern tapered feel is accented by a high quality, AAA grade cork handle, large diameter gunsmoke stripper guides, double foot gunsmoke snake guides, and an aluminum anodized double uplock reel seat, and the deep blue 4 piece rod blank is accented with carbon flakes, making this high-quality rod quite the looker.
The HMG has a world of history before it. This rod was first introduced to the world in 1973 as the world’s first all-graphite fishing rod, and over 40 years later, it’s been reinvented as a modern classic, combining a light, comfortable rod design with a laser-tight, yet forgiving medium-fast action that gives you a crisp line feel and high line speed and accuracy in both close range and far casts.
This 4-piece rod comes in lengths of 7’ 6” to 9”, and line ratings correspond from 4wt to 8wt. We’d recommend a mid-length, mid-weight model if you’re looking for a new “jack-of-all-trades” model, but all of these rods can handle a tremendous variation of different sizes of fish.
New life is breathed into the classic design with modern details such as the matte black 4-section blank, complete with carbon binding, an aluminum anodized uplock reel seat, AAA grade cork handle.
Inexpensive compared to the dozens of rods that have come after it, lovers of the HMG claim that, even after handling rods that are over twice the price, they keep coming back to the classic design and comfortable feel of the HMG.
The Fenwick Eagle is a perfect entry-level fly rod, combining a medium-fast action with the high-quality, 4 piece graphite rod design that Fenwick is renowned for. Combining decades of traditional development and manufacturing techniques with modern components and a lightweight design, Fenwick invites you to FEEL THE ACTION™ of Eagle. Rod lengths vary from 8’ to 9’, and line weights from 4wt to 8wt, giving you plenty to choose from if you need a specialized rod.
Even the longest, heaviest weight rod weighs in at under 4.6lbs, giving it unmatched sensitivity and lightweight strength among its rod class. The smooth, direct cast of the medium-fast action combines with a surprising amount of backbone when it comes to bringing in your catch, and has great control when you need to cast into tight spots.
Other Build details include a high quality, lightweight cork handle, an aluminum uplock reel seat with a woven carbon spacer, and hard chrome stripper and snake guides.
You might think that Fiberglass construction isn’t exactly a cutting-edge technology, but the Fenwick Fenglass fly rod may just change your mind. Crafted to perfection with the a unique unidirectional s2 glass construction, this rod is designed specifically with incredible smoothness and accuracy in mind, and combines a medium action design with a delicate, slow fly presentation, and a smooth cast.
Ranging from 6’ 6” to 8’ 3” models packing 4-8wt line ratings, smaller versions of this rod are ideal for small stream fishing and fishing off of kayaks and smaller water vessels in small lakes, while larger versions combine the accurate, smooth casts of small models with plenty of strength to handle larger quarry.
Build details include a high-quality full cork handle, and Feralite® styling and reel seat. If you’re looking to get away from trendy fiberglass and you want a smooth, stylish rod with a great, accurate cast, try the Fenwick Fenglass, and feel the joy that only authentic, traditionally made fiberglass can give you.
The Fenwick World Class Fly Rod comes by its name honestly. Crafted with 3M Powerlux® Resin that’s as lightweight and durable as it is powerful and high performance, this resin allows for a more even tension distribution under load than comparable graphite and fiberglass offerings, and allows for much higher break strengths, while maintaining a low weight and slim blank profile.
The action of this rod is fast and smooth, allowing for great cast lengths while maintaining an accurate and forgiving line feel, and it comes in a tremendous multitude of rod lengths ( 7’ to 13’ 6”) and line weights (3wt to 12wt), and many models that can handle multiple line weights.
Other build details include high grade, custom tapered cork handles with both RHW and FW options, and (depending on the model) hardwood or aluminum reel seats. If you’re looking for a rod made out of exotic materials that will perform admirably under almost all circumstances, the World Class is truly in a class of its own.
This is only a sampling of the Fenwick Rods available to you, but hopefully, it gives you an idea of the quality, value, and tremendous variety that this decades-old company provides.
As innovative today as they were at their inception, Fenwick is constantly updating old classics, and attempting to find out what the next big advance is in fly fishing, and their obsessive attention to detail and craftsmanship shines through through every rod they make, from bargain-basement beginner offerings to exotic, expensive rods.