Can You Use a Freshwater Fly Rod in Saltwater?

There aren’t many rules when it comes to fishing gear. But having the correct fly rod for both salt and freshwater matters. So, you might be wondering why you need a specific rod for each type of water and if you can use the freshwater fly rod in saltwater and vice versa.

You can use a freshwater fly rod in saltwater. However, it won’t last as long, as its material is susceptible to corrosion. Additionally, it might not be efficient because it’s not designed to handle the fight of heavier saltwater fish species.

In this article, I’ll discuss several topics related to this question, including the difference between freshwater and saltwater fly rods. I’ll also tell you how to select the right one for each case and how to care for it.

freshwater rods can be used in saltwater

The Difference Between Freshwater and Saltwater Fly Rods 

Although they function the same, fresh and saltwater fly rods have several differences since the environments are different. Each is designed to withstand the challenges of the environment in which you use them. Here are the significant differences:


Salty water is corrosive and can destroy materials that aren’t corrosive resistant. Therefore, saltwater fly rods are made of non corrosive materials such as graphite blanks and stainless steel guides, which can withstand the corrosive nature of saltwater. 

On the other hand, fresh water will hardly affect your fly rod except for everyday wear and tear. Freshwater fly rods are also made of graphite, but tend to use lower quality guides and reel seats.


The fly rod power is also described as stiffness or “action”. The power is categorized as:

  • Light
  • Medium
  • Heavy

Saltwater fly rods typically have faster action since saltwater fish species are heavier and have stamina. Thus, the rod must be strong to withstand the weight. In addition to the size of the fish, saltwater anglers tend to compete with casting in stronger winds, which requires a faster action rod.

On the other hand, freshwater fish species are typically lighter. For this reason, freshwater fly rods are lightweight. However, it also depends on the size of the fish. Therefore, there are medium freshwater rods for those fishing in lakes or large rivers. For an in depth review of the different actions of rods, check out Why Do Fishing Rods Bend? How Rod Bending Increases Yield.


The reels for saltwater rods are larger and heavier. This is because most saltwater fish either reside offshore, where the waters are deeper, or the fish has greater room to run, which requires more line capacity. Therefore, the reel must be wide, hold a lot of backing, and have adequate stopping power known as drag.

Conversely, freshwater fly rods have lighter reels that may have little to no drag, depending on the size of the fish targeted. The reel also doesn’t have the line capacity of the saltwater rod.  

reels with saltwater rods are heavier

How To Choose the Right Fly Rod

The kind of fly rod you choose largely depends on your targeted species and casting style. Having the correct rod can be the difference between getting the fly to the fish and also landing the fish once hooked. 

Here are some things you should consider while buying a fly rod:

Know the Fishing Environment – Freshwater vs. Saltwater

Some people have a favorite fishing spot, while others like to try new waters for every fishing type. You need to know the kind of water where you’re fishing if you want your rod to last longer. 

As mentioned before, salt water is corrosive and harbors heavier fish species. Therefore, you should have a fly rod that can withstand the environment and size of the fish.

Also, selecting a saltwater fly rod is best if you like to travel frequently. A saltwater rod is preferable since you can conveniently use it in freshwater without compromising its lifespan, but not vice versa.

Work With a Reasonable Budget 

The price of a fly rod can vary depending on:

  • The brand
  • The type
  • The weight
  • The material

However, it can be confusing to identify the best fly rod, especially with so many available options. So, one of the best ways around this is to work with a budget. 

It’s preferable to first set aside what you’re willing to spend on the fishing gear. And the price should be inclusive of the reel. Then, you can research the different types within your budget. 

As you shop, look out for quality. However, remember that expensive doesn’t always mean good quality and vice versa. With the advancement of technology, you can still get a cheap but quality fly rod. 

Working with a budget ensures you don’t overspend or go into debt. Hence, it’s better to wait until you have enough money to buy in cash.

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A quality rod that will not break the bank is the TEMPLE FORK OUTFITTERS Pro 2. This rod is durable, has fast action, and is capable of landing almost any saltwater species. Although this is a great starter rod, it can be used by more seasoned anglers as well. Temple Fork Outfitters makes great rods and reasonable price points. You will not find another rod of this quality under a $200 price point. 

Determine the Rod Characteristics

The rod characteristics determine its efficiency. Although it mainly depends on your preferences, you shouldn’t compromise on strength, flex, and durability. Here are two features to look for in a fly rod:

  • Flexibility: Ensure the rod is flexible enough, especially for delicate applications. Although it may be slow action, it’s more forgiving. However, a faster action rod is better if you’re fishing offshore or dealing with stronger winds and currents.
  • Strength: Ensure the rod is strong, specifically at the butt section. And this allows you to deal with heavier catches. The good thing is most rods are more robust than they appear, making it hard to get a weak one.

Prioritize a Four-Piece Rod

As you select your rod, it’s essential to think about traveling. Thus, you need an easy rod to carry on an out-of-town fishing trip. 

Most rods come in two pieces and four pieces. While the two-piece is okay, a four-piece is better regarding travel benefits.

How To Care for Your Fly Rod

The quality of your fly rod and the fishing environment determines its durability. However, caring for it can also extend its lifespan. Here are some measures you can take to ensure it lasts longer:

  • Rinse and dry your rods before storing. Ensure you dry them before storing them, especially when you don’t use them often. Proper storage prevents mildew growth, which can destroy your rod.
  • Put them in their sock and solid rod case. Unless you use your rods frequently, always store them in their sock and solid case. The case prevents dust build-up, so they remain in good condition for longer.
  • Clean the cork handle. Wipe the cork handle with a wet cloth to remove the grime.

Parting Shot

Although you can use a freshwater fly rod in saltwater, it might get damaged because salt water is corrosive. Therefore, use a more durable saltwater rod to withstand corrosion and larger fish species.

As you select a fly rod, ensure it suits your fishing environment, budget, and is strong and flexible. Additionally, ensure you care for the rod properly to extend its lifespan.