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#12 (tie)   Fenwick Aetos    9 foot #8   $189.95

Fenwick Aetos best inexpensive 8 weight fly rod
Fenwick Aetos best inexpensive 8 weight fly rod
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George’s Notes:

The Fenwick Aetos, at under two hundred bucks, is an incredible bargain!  There is no question that this rod takes the title of Best Inexpensive Rod in our Shootout.  Nothing else really comes close, especially when you factor in the kind of performance the Aetos delivers.  It’s hard to gripe about the cheap components, especially for such a ridiculously low price.  How did it score so well?  The Aetos picked up a lot of points in the price and warranty categories and didn’t lose that many in the more important performance scores. The shocking thing to me is that the Aetos scored higher in our final results than seven rods over $300, including the Sage Salt HD at $950!  Yes the BVK at $279.95 is marginally better, but you’ll have to spend another $30 to get a hard case.  I liked the fast action and the relatively light overall weight and swing weight of the Aetos.  It’s a pleasant rod to cast but it did lack the firepower of the best rods.

The Aetos is finished nicely in an attractive midnight dark blue with some silver trim on the butt section. The alignment marks are very well done and I don’t know why more manufacturers don’t use these.  The guide wraps are dark brown and surprisingly the epoxy finish on the wraps is excellent.  A full wells grip is used, but the quality of the cork is not so hot.  A lot of filler is used on these pre-shaped grips, but what can you expect for such a low-ball price? The plain gray anodized double uplocking seat is nothing fancy either. The two locking rings are small and hard to grip.  Keep a pair of pliers handy, as you may need them.  A short fighting butt is used that looks too narrow to be as comfortable as the ones on the better rods.   Fenwick uses two dark colored SiC stripping guides, followed up with fairly large size, black hard chrome snake guides.  Like other Fenwick rods, this is built in Korea.

Performance at 35 feet:  19 points out of 20

Feels very good in close – as good as the Recon. I was tempted to rate it higher.

Performance at 60 feet:  19 points out of 20

Shorter to medium distances are the sweet spot for the Aetos, where it forms nice controllable tight loops with good accuracy.

Performance at 80 feet:  18.5 points out of 20

Now the lack of power hurts.  Not much for guts and this hurt the accuracy.  The Recon was much better here.

Performance at 100 feet:  18 points out of 20

Not many casters will get even close to 100 feet with this rod, especially if there is any wind to contend with.

12. (tie) Fenwick Aetos 9’#8 4pc $189

Fenwick Aetos
Fenwick Aetos
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James’ Notes: 

Plain and simple – the Fenwick Aetos offers the best performance you can get for the least expensive price.  Only the Loop Q, (for $40 more) comes close.

The Aetos is no stranger to us for superior performance at an inexpensive price.  The 9 foot 5 and 6-weight rods have always performed well in our past shootouts, as has the 11’1” 5-weight switch rod.  If you want good performance combined with a good price, look no further.

This is also a good-looking rod with decent components and one of the best warranties we’ve found.

It’s nearly impossible to beat the Aetos.  (If you know of something else, please let us know)…

1st impressions:  Excellent performance value.

Performance at 35 feet: 18.5 points out of 20

Surprisingly good!  The Aetos feels good in hand, with pretty good feel and accuracy.  Thumbs up, especially for the money.

Performance at 60 feet: 18 points out of 20

Plenty of power!  I was not quite as accurate with it as with other rods, however. I thought I was more accurate with the Aetos when I was casting it aggressively, much like the Recon.

Performance at 80 feet: 19 points out of 20

For me, as nice as the Recon at 80 feet.  If your maximum budget is under $200, the Aetos is the winner.

Performance at 100 feet: 18 points out of 20

Here’s where the Recon is worth the extra dough.  Even if you never cast this far, the Recon does a much better job at extreme long range and also for handling heavy wind.

#15. (tie)  Fenwick Aetos    $189.95

Fenwick Aetos
Fenwick Aetos
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 Logan’s Notes:

The Fenwick Aetos is our top selling inexpensive rod.  At $189.95 the Aetos is just an outstanding 8-weight rod!  Its light swing weight gave me nice feel with its softer tip, and it had a surprising amount of power.  The craftsmanship is nothing special, and you might need to take extra care if you use it in the salt, but nothing beats this rod for the price.

Performance at 35 feet: 18.5 out of 20

The Fenwick Aetos performed well at 35 feet.  Its action and power lent themselves more to short and midrange casts.

Performance at 60 feet: 18.5 out of 20

At 60 feet the Aetos was still a great rod.  It had plenty of power to get it there without shooting line, but it wasn’t quite as accurate as other rods like the Hardy Shadow or the TFO BVK.

Performance at 80 feet: 18 out of 20

Longer casts were very doable with the Aetos, but when I gave it the power necessary to hit 80 feet, it lacked accuracy.

16. (tie) Fenwick Aetos  56.5/60    $189.95

Fenwick Aetos best inexpensive 8 weight fly rod
Fenwick Aetos best inexpensive 8 weight fly rod
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JG’s Notes:

You’ve got to love the Aetos for many reasons.  It’s nice and light in hand, it casts very well at short to medium distances, it costs less than $200.00, and it has a terrific warranty. The Aetos doesn’t get treated to the top materials or components used on more expensive rods, but to many anglers on a budget, this won’t matter.  What else do you need to know?

Performance at 35 feet:  19

I like the Aetos a lot, and had great results with it at short-range targets.  I was able to get accurate casts out of this lightweight, responsive rod.  I docked it slightly for splashy landings, but the feel in hand is really good.

Performance at 60 feet:  19

The Aetos gave me pleasing results at 60 ft.  I was getting accurate casts combined with great feel.  The presentation and performance here were as good as the Sage X.

Performance at 80 feet:  18.5

At long range the rod didn’t give me as much return for my input as it did at close range.  It still feels good and has decent accuracy, but it’s just not as easy to hit 80 feet as with the high-end rods that use ultra-light components and proprietary resin systems. 

Performance at 100 feet:

I had mixed results getting the Aetos to 100 ft.  If everything went well, and there was little wind, I could get there, but I had issues with power application causing tailing loops.

Fenwick Aetos
Fenwick Aetos
Fenwick Aetos
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