Fenwick Aetos    9’ 5-weight      $189.95

Fenwick Aetos

Fenwick Aetos

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George's Notes:

The Aetos slams the door on all other contenders for the best inexpensive fly rod in our 2017 Shootout! This is the third Shootout where it has held the crown, and for lots of very good reasons.  This is a nice light rod with a swing weight that matched the Radian.  The performance was quite respectable, being as good or better than a lot of far more expensive rods at short and mid-distances.   Only out long did it suffer.  I thought that the medium-fast action and softer tip were just about perfect.  It’s a lot like the Zephrus, one of our top performing rods.

This is a good-looking rod too; with a rich dark blue color and dark brown wraps with some silver trim wraps on the butt section.  Fenwick uses a half wells cork grip but the quality of the cork is not nearly as good as the best rods and has a lot of filler.  The reel seat is a solid plain anodized aluminum double uplocking seat with no spacer.  Functional but not as attractive as the skeleton seats with nice wood inserts.  If you get the feeling that the craftsmanship is not as good as many of the other rods, you are right.  But what can you expect for $189?  The guides are one SiC stripper and the rest are black colored hard chrome snake guides.   This is a nice light rod, with a light swing weight and will be a pleasant rod to fish all day, especially with dry flies.

As a starter rod this is pretty hard to beat.  It performs well and the price is right. 


The perfect line: S.A. Amplitude MPX in WF-5-F.

Performance at 25 feet:  18.8 points out of 20

Surprisingly good in close.  Light in my hand and threw nice loops with decent accuracy.  Better than the much more expensive Recon and DXF. 

Performance at 45 feet:  18.5 points out of 20

Not as good as our best rods but definitely better than the BVK and the Sage Pulse.

Performance at 70 feet: 8.4 points out of 10

Pretty good out long but a little more power would help here.  Still it is about equal to the Legend Elite and DXF at long range.



Fenwick Aetos

Fenwick Aetos 

Buy Now 

James' Notes: 

If your budget won’t allow for a rod over $200, there’s no question, the Fenwick Aetos is your best option.  No, it’s not made in America, so if you are looking for a comparable rod that is made in the USA, be prepared to pay $425-$475.  The St. Croix Legend Elite, Orvis Recon, Sage Pulse, or Scott Flex are all possible options.  

But honestly, I like the action and swing weight of the Aetos better than many of these American made rods!  If you want an all-around 5-weight rod that performs better than the Aetos, plan on spending more than $350. 

The Aetos is a great rod for all skill levels.  Sure, experienced anglers will appreciate a nicer rod, with better cork, a fancier reel seat, better guides, and higher craftsmanship than the Aetos offers.  But I honestly feel that even expert fly casters would be impressed at how well the Aetos performs.

This probably isn’t the last 5-weight you’ll ever buy, but it will certainly get the job done, and when you are ready to purchase a nicer rod you’ll have a great back up rod, or a rod that you can lend to friends or pass on to an appreciative child.


Performance at 25 feet:  19 points out of 20 

Feels better than other inexpensive and several mid-priced rods.  Great power and accuracy, although it could have a little more feel.  The Aetos performs like a much more expensive rod.

Performance at 45 feet:  19.4 points out of 20

Light swing weight and powerful, this rod crushed the other inexpensive rods in terms of both feel and accuracy. Nice, clean tight loops.  Bravo!

Performance at 70 feet:  9.5 points out of 10

Well surpassed my expectations for an inexpensive rod.  I could punch it quite hard without getting a tailing loop, similar to the TFO BVK or Orvis Recon.  There is tremendous value here. 



Fenwick Aetos

Fenwick Aetos

Buy Now 

 Logan's Notes:

The Fenwick Aetos is still our best rod under $200.  It has an incredibly light swing weight (8.9 oz.).  Nothing in this price class really comes close to feeling as light as the Aetos.  The performance is surprisingly good at all distances for such an inexpensive rod. 


Logan’s Casting Notes:

Performance at 25 feet:  17 out of 20

The Fenwick Aetos performed well at 25 feet.  I liked its medium fast action.  For me, the Reaper was a little more accurate in close. 

Performance at 45 feet:  18.5 out of 20

At 45 feet the Fenwick Aetos was extremely smooth and well balanced.  It’s got plenty of power and good feel in the tip, making it a very pleasant rod at 45 feet.  

Performance at 70 feet:  7 out of 10

One of the few rods that felt good to me at all distances.  It had plenty of power to reach out long but this is a better short to mid-range rod. 




Fenwick Aetos

Fenwick Aetos

Buy Now 

 JG's Notes:

For the price you pay - $189.95, the fit and finish of the Aetos is great.  And its performance makes me think that I’m casting a far more expensive rod.

25 Feet – 18.8 points out of 20

At short targets the Aetos is pretty good. It’s a little aggressive but not overly so.  The rod is light, feels good in my hand and gave me good accuracy.

45 Feet – 18.8 points out of 20

The Aetos is a really good rod for mid-range targets.  It’s light in hand feel, and smooth medium-fast action, make hitting the mark easy.

70 Feet – 18.4 points out of 20

The Aetos loses some muscle at long range but would still reach the longer targets with decent accuracy.