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The 8 weight fly rod is an essential tool for nearly every fly angler. Whether targeting Bonefish, Steelhead, Bass, or Pike, its versatility is unrivaled. Fortunately, there are many excellent 8 weight rods available today, with features that suit any angling pursuit. Today, we’ll take a look at several of the very best 8 weights of 2024, to help you pick the right tool for your fishing.

Winston Air 2 Max

Although Winston is known for their trout rods, they have also excelled in creating some top-tier salt/predator rods. With the Air 2 Max, they push the envelope further, entering a new realm of ultra-high performing salt and big game rods. 

Combining an assortment of award-winning components and materials with a taper and blank that focuses power exactly where you need it, the Air 2 Max is designed to tackle any 8 weight scenario with ease. With high-quality components like Cerecoil stripping guides, Recoil snake guides, a FLOR-Grade cork, and a fully anodized reel seat, Winston has created a rod that looks amazing and performs just as well.

Price: $1,245.00

Pros

  • Premium componentry
  • Lots of feel but still has power

Cons

  • Hefty price tag

Thomas & Thomas Sextant

For many anglers, fly fishing is a sport and culture where preference is based, at least partially, on style and flair. Having the right rod that aesthetically matches both the social fabric of your destination and the natural environment is vital. If you are looking for an 8wt flats rod for your next luxury destination trip, the Thomas & Thomas Sextant should be high on your list.

The Sextant oozes class and sophistication; if you haven’t held one, you owe it to yourself to experience its quality firsthand. Fortunately, the Sextant validates its beauty with substance. These high-performance tools are built to handle anything the salt can deliver. The 8wt is powerful with quick recovery speed, but refined enough for the flats, bonefish lines, and smaller flies. Consider the T&T Sextant an ideal pick for your next luxury Bonefishing trip.

You can find the full blog review HERE

Want to learn about different models? Read our Sextant Model-by-Model Review HERE

Price: $995.00

Pros

  • Premium components and build quality
  • Excellent short and mid-range performance

Cons

  • Heavier than other high-end saltwater 8wts

Scott Sector

Despite being landlocked in Colorado, Scott Fly Rods has a long history of designing groundbreaking saltwater rods. The Meridian 8wt was near perfect and remains one of the most legendary salt sticks ever built. When the Sector replaced Meridian a few years ago, we were skeptical Scott could strike fire again, but we were wrong!

The Sector has solidly built a reputation of its own. Unlike its predecessor, the Sector isn’t a complete canon, but we love the rod for its sweet touch, feel, and responsiveness that helps make accurate and delicate shots. Don’t let the buttery goodness fool you; the rod still has the backbone to make most casts, but maybe not with quite the authority as the Meridian at longer range.

You can find the full blog review HERE

Want to learn about different models? Read our Sector Model-by-Model Review HERE

Price: $1,045.00

Pros

  • Accuracy and feel at short/middle distances
  • Premium componentry and build quality

Cons

  • Loses steam beyond 80 feet
  • Expensive

Atlas Signature 

The Atlas Signature 8wt has received high praise since hitting the market. Whether you are an experienced pro or a newbie, the Atlas Signature is a rod you can pick up and immediately feel comfortable casting. The rod has the lightest swing weight out of any 908 on the market, and features high-end componentry like Cerecoil stripping guides and a graphene blank that gives the rod an impressive strength-to-weight ratio. With Trident’s Castability Guarantee, you have seven days to test the Atlas Signature risk-free. If you don’t like it, return it for a full refund or exchange. 

However, we are confident you’ll want to keep your Atlas. At $499, you’re getting a fly rod that is capable of out-gunning premium rods that cost twice as much. What’s more, after several years of testing the prototype, the Atlas Signature 8wt has been fine-tuned to perform in varying fishing situations. We recommend these three fly lines by Scientific Anglers: the Titan Taper for Northeast Stripers, the Amplitude Grand Slam for general salt purposes, and the Amplitude Bonefish for a delicate presentation to spooky fish.

Price: $499.99

Pros

  • Excellent Price and Value
  • Extremely Light! 
  • Great all-around performance

Cons

  • Not as established as other rod manufacturers

Orvis Helios

Orvis has done it again with the all-new Helios, producing an incredibly lightweight rod with plenty of power and insane accuracy. Considering the success and popularity of the H3, you may be wondering what Orvis did to make the new Helios better. For starters, Helios is even lighter, sporting a noticeably lighter swing weight when compared to the H3. Additionally, accuracy has improved thanks to the state-of-the-art construction and design of this new rod. We won’t go into the specifics of how Orvis did this, but needless to say, it worked.

As with the previous Helios series, this new iteration comes in two versions: “D” for distance, and “F” for feel. Both the D and the F are outstanding tools, and choosing the right model for you will depend on the application. If you need a delicate presentation for spooky fish, then the 8-weight F will be an excellent choice. For Pike, Stripers, and other scenarios requiring plenty of power for big flies and/or shooting line, the 8-weight D is a cannon. Regardless of the specific Helios you choose, this rod covers all the bases, but you’re going to pay for its performance with a price just shy of $1,200.

Price: $1,198.00

Pros

  • Very low swing weight
  • Extremely accurate
  • High-end componentry

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Still has the white label (some like it, some don’t!)

Hardy Marksman Z

The Hardy Marksman Z passes most checkmarks we look for in an 8wt saltwater rod. Light but powerful. Fast but versatile. The Marksman Z can do a little bit of everything beyond reasonably well. 

This lightweight cannon from Hardy features premium components such as Cerecoil guides, high-grade cork, and an asymmetrical reel seat. Fortunately, this pretty package also backs up its handsome looks with excellent performance, sporting precision accuracy with plenty of reserve power for long casts. Overall, the Hardy Marksman Z ranks high among premium 8 weights, and would be a great choice for anything from Bonefish in the Bahamas to the Stripers of New England.

You can find the full blog review HERE

Want to learn about different models? Read our Marksman Z Model-by-Model Review HERE

Price: $995.00

Pros

  • Light and powerful
  • Top-Notch Componentry
  • Accurate across the board

Cons

  • On the pricier side for an overseas-built rod

TFO Mangrove Coast

Ask your fellow fly fishing peers their thoughts on TFO fly rods, and you’ll hear several different opinions ranging from “overseas produced junk” to “just as good as premium rods at a fraction of the cost.” Hyperbolic statements aside, the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes. Take the Mangrove Coast, for example. 

While not the most powerful, accurate, or lightest 8wt, its medium-fast action is perfect for the intermediate angler looking to get their feet wet in a turtle grass flat for the first time. The Mangrove Coast is also a slick looking rod with salt-friendly components to boot. Budget-conscious DIY anglers will appreciate the performance and value of the TFO Mangrove Coast.

You can find the full blog review HERE

Price: $349.95

Pros

  • Accurate at distances under 60 feet
  • Exceptional Value

Cons

  • Loses steam at longer distances
  • Wind and bulky flies are the Mangrove Coast’s kryptonite

Sage Salt R8

The Sage Salt R8 remains a solid choice for discerning 8 weight buyers. Although you might have to take out a second mortgage to afford one, the Salt R8 delivers an impressive amount of features into this salt-specific premium rod. Whether you love or loathe Sage, there is no denying they’re a perennial thread mover in this industry, and they just seem to have the ‘it’ factor when it comes to pushing the envelope with new fly rod technology.

Thankfully, the Salt R8 8wt backs up the hype with performance. While we aren’t quite ready to anoint the rod a flats fishing game-changer, we can definitively say this is the best 8wt Sage has made in eons. This is lofty praise but completely warranted, thanks to the rod’s Maserati-like control and responsiveness while still having the pep to floor it when needed. You might lose steam at the furthest of flats fishing distances, but the Salt R8’s shining performance in most fishing situations makes it a strong option.

You can find the full blog review HERE

Price: $1,100.00

Pros

  • Exceptional accuracy at close-to-mid range
  • Geared toward the average angler
  • Fun to cast!

Cons

  • Long distance performance 
  • Pricetag

FAQ

What species can be targeted with an 8wt?

8-weight rods are ideal for a variety of species such as Bonefish, Snook, Striped Bass, Peacock Bass, Northern Pike, and more. 

Is an 8 weight rod difficult to cast?

Although heavier than a 5wt, the casting mechanics remain virtually the same with an 8wt. The best thing you can do before any big trip is to practice your casting. Even better, hire a professional casting instructor for a lesson to work out any kinks.

What fly line should I choose for my 8wt?

Choosing the right fly line depends on many factors such as target species, the size of fly you’ll be fishing, and the water temperature. For lots of specific information about picking the right fly line, check out our Blog.

How do I choose between a fast-action and medium-action 8wt rod?

Fast-action rods are generally stiffer rods that offer more power and line speed, but at the expense of feel or “flex”. Typically, fast-action rods are best for windy conditions, casting bigger flies, and casting heavier fly lines. On the other hand, medium-action rods flex deeper into the rod blank, offering more “feel” and increased finesse, but at the expense of power. Most anglers who prefer medium-action rods appreciate their finesse and overall gentler presentation, especially for spooky fish. Generally, medium-action rods are more beginner-friendly to cast, whereas a fast-action rod might take more practice to get the timing just right.

What are the key differences between premium and budget-friendly 8wt fly rods?

We are very lucky these days to have many budget-friendly fly rods which still perform quite well. That being said, there are some distinct differences between premium rods and their economy counterparts. Primarily, the materials used in premium rods will be higher quality than those found in budget rods. Some of these materials, like the graphite used in the blank, can greatly affect the performance of the rod. Other materials, like the reel seat insert and the paint finish, are more cosmetic and subjective. Additionally, warranties may differ between premium and budget 8 weight fly rods. Premium rods tend to have a more substantial warranty, but you should check with the manufacturer for each specific model.