Our overall rating:4.5
- Soft tip aids short casts
- Excellent rod loading
- Precision casting at wide range of distances
- Larger models can pick up lots of line
- Quick recovery
- Lightweight yet durable and has plenty of power
- Wide guides to reduce friction
- Affordable price range
- Not the best cork grips
- Slightly heavy swing weight
- Cheap guides
Fly anglers are constantly on the search for the best fly rods, and unfortunately, most of the highest performing and best fly fishing rods are on the high end of the price spectrum.
Luckily, not all rods fall into this price category, and the Fenwick Aetos is one of these rods. In this complete Fenwick Aetos fly rod review, we will cover the specs, looks, and performance of this quite popular fly rod.
Hopefully, you will be as surprised as we were at this rods ability to perform with the top rods on the market.
We’ve also got some suggestions for Fenwick Aetos alternatives at the bottom of this post.
Here are some of the main features that you can expect to see in a Fenwick AETOS Fly Rod:
- Fast action taper
- Beautiful design and coloring
- Quality graphite blanks
- Alignment dots
- Reliable reel locking system
- AAA cork grips
- Hard rod case included
- Range of models for variety of fishing types
The Fenwick Aetos fly rod is available in 17 different models. There is an Aetos rod available for any fly fishing that you have in mind. From small brook trout to tarpon, there is a rod that can get the job done.
The Aetos is available as a lightweight ultralight rod to heavy Spey casting rods, and fly rods that will be able to go head to head with tarpon.
All models of the Fenwick Aetos are fast action rods, meaning the rod flexes at the tip. Fast action rods are known to load quickly and also are great for placing the fly at increased distances.
All models come in four piece sets and also come with a custom Fenwick hard rod tube and bag.
Simple reverse half wells are used for the lighter weight rods. As you move into the rods designed for larger bass and steelhead you have the full wells for a little more gripping room as well as the extended handle, also known as a fighting butt, that gives you a much more comfortable fighting position when landing large fish.
As you get into the rods designed for steelhead, salmon, and saltwater species the rods contain a TPSF grip that is popular for two-handed Spey casting. These handles also have an extended handle.
I think one of the biggest factors that you can take from these specs are the weights. Rod weights can give you an idea of the quality of graphite used in the rods. Low-quality graphite is generally heavier than high quality.
If you take the biggest brand names and put them up beside similar models from Fenwick, you will find the weights are very similar. Some models might be a little lighter, but I was very surprised to see how well Fenwick stacked up next to them.
We really like the different length options available for each weight model. If you think you are going to need some extra casting power, then the option of a longer rod really helps.
Fly anglers have a tendency to be as picky with the aesthetics of fishing gear nearly as much as the performance of the gear. Because of this, we felt it was necessary to break down the looks of the Fenwick Aetos.
The Fenwick Aetos is a “value-based” rod as a lot of people have taken to grouping it.
You are not going to find the hand-carved wood inserts you might expect in a top end fly rod, but that shouldn’t detract from the beauty of the Aetos.
We are breaking down some main points that characterize the Fenwick Aetos rod.
The blanks have a beautiful dark blue coloring with hints of gray carbon flake accents and silver trim distributed throughout. It has similar color wrappings around the ferrules, though slightly darker.
At the ends of the blanks, there are visible alignment dots to help you line up the three blanks with the handle correctly for better casting ability.
All Aetos fly rods come with a standard SiC (silicon carbide) stripping guide along with several aluminum snake guides along the length of the rod all with a gunsmoke finish.
The number of snake guides will vary depending on the length of the rod model.
These guides are designed with a larger diameter than most guides found on other rods. This reduces friction as line as the line moves through the guides, improving line stripping speed.
It is also important for the larger rod models where shooting line is an often used tactic.
One of the few downsides to this rod are the thin snake guides that will bend easily if knocked around.
The handles of the Fenwick Aetos are cork and come in a variety of designs to match the type of fishing.
There is no definitive ranking system for the quality of cork, but if you examine and handle enough fly rods, you begin to see the difference.
Fenwick claims that the cork used on the Aetos is “AAA” quality cork. This is usually reserved for the highest quality cork, and when looking at Aetos handles, I would put it closer to “AA.”
Make no mistake, these handle well on the water, but they are just simply not the highest grade cork.
The reel seat of the Aetos is black anodized aluminum with a graphite inlay. The aluminum here has a cheap look to it but will hold up to any fishing situation.
The reel seat uses two up locking mechanisms to hold the reel securely.
While this might be overkill for the lighter models, the dual up locking mechanism is really useful when you will be landing salmon and other saltwater species.
For the Spey models, a down locking mechanism is also used.
When casting at different distances, you are looking for and wanting tight loops. What tight loops tell you is that the rod is loading efficiently and will result in accurate fly placement.
As we have stated earlier, all Fenwick Aetos models are fast action. For the larger models, fast action is the standard, as you need distance. You also need to be able to pick up excess line and be able to deliver it back into the water quickly.
The issue that a lot of people have with fast action rods is their performance at ranges of 30ft and less.
While not a problem when fishing for large freshwater or saltwater species, trout fishing often requires casts at this distance. A lot of times a fast action rods just load too quickly and overpower the line, and you are not able to deliver accurate casts at short distances.
Let’s take a look at casting abilities at various distances for these models.
Very short casts (<20ft)
You are never going to be casting this distance with the larger models (8wt and above), so we will exclude them from this section. Since the Aetos is available in models that are most often used in smaller streams how well will these fast action rods perform?
The answer is quite exceptionally. The 3 and 4wt models have no problem placing a fly in the water accurately at this distance when using a standard and roll cast.
5 and 6wt rods can put a fly down in this range, but lose a lot of accuracy and begin to get some wobbly loops.
Short casts (20-30ft)
At this range the Aetos performs much better than one would expect for a low price, fast action rod.
It’s nowhere near as accurate at this range as a medium to slow action rod, but it is pretty impressive for a fast action.
The Aetos accomplishes this through using a soft tip. A lot of fast action rods will be stiff. By utilizing a soft tip, the rod is still able to deliver at shorter distances.
As you move down the rod to the butt, there is an increase in stiffness, and this is what allows the rod to do so well as long distances as we will see.
Medium casts (30-50ft)
The Aetos 5-8wts perform beautifully in the 50-60ft range with tight loops and accurate casts. You will not feel the need to push the rod at all, and it seems to move and cast of its own volition. This range is prime time trout and bass casting distances.
These weight rods have no problem with picking this line off the water, reloading, and delivering it back into feeding lanes.
Long casts (50-80ft)
In the 50-80ft range the Aetos still performs well. You begin to feel some of the swing weight at this distance, especially with the 5 and 6wt rods but it’s nothing serious. You can tell the power is running out at as you get into the 70ft range.
The 8wt rods and higher are smooth and have nice, tight loops and fantastic presentation. It’s not as smooth at this distance as some high-end fly rods, but it’s up there.
The higher weight Spey rods are also wonderful at this distance. They also have no issue picking up this amount of line off the water.
Extreme distance casts (>80ft)
While the 8wt and 9wt rods can reach these distances, it takes a lot of overpowering the rod and your not getting very accurate fly presentations.
The 10 and 11wt rods can reach this distance consistently. The casts still feel light, and there is plenty of power to launch the line effortlessly.
Best uses for Fenwick Aetos
The Fenwick Aetos fly rod is available in models that can be used for all types and techniques used in fly fishing.
- The small 3 and 4wt rods are perfect for chasing small trout in spring and mountain creeks.
- The 5 and 6wt models give you all the qualities needed in trout rods for freestone rivers andtailwaters chasing rainbows and browns.
- Bass, steelhead, and salmon can be caught with the traditional 8wt rod.
- If you enjoy Spey casting, the 6-9wt rods with TPSF grips will suit your needs.
- Fenwick even offers larger 10 and 11 weight rods that can land bonefish, tarpon and other saltwater game species.
For an angler looking to buy their first fly rod or if you are looking for a good backup rod, the Fenwick Aetos is, without a doubt, one of the top options.
Whatever rod you choose, you can be sure that you’re getting a rod that is going to be able to perform and help you land fish on a consistent basis.
Fenwick AETOS Fly Rod Alternatives
Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod
Similarly to Fenwick’s Aetos, this one is also a fast action rod. More than that, it features ceramic stripping guides and chrome snake guides which ensure smoother gliding and greater durability.
If you are looking for a lightweight rod with great casting accuracy, then this might be the one. Half well cork handle is comfortable even on rainy days while machined aluminium reel seat guarantees reel being attached sturdily. It’s a winner in all aspects!
TFO Temple Fork Lefty Kreh Pro II Graphite Fly Fishing Rod
TFO’s widely known quality shines through this model again. Not only do these rods look luxurious with the golden logo and black matte blanks, they excel in performance.
Contrary to Fenwick Aetos, TFO’s models have fast and progressive action for better casting. Premium grade cork, oversized stripper guides and anodized reel seats just take it to the next level. No matter your skill level – this rod will be your trusty partner!
St. Croix Imperial Fly Rod
The name “Imperial” represents the quality of this rod perfectly. Beautiful handcrafted burgundy rod features premium quality SCIV and SCII graphite which together ensure the rod is lightweight yet durable.
Every piece of its’ design is meant for high performance. Both small and large fishes are no issue – St. Croix Imperial provides great casting accuracy and longer distance than many of its’ peers. If you are looking for true craftmanship and value, this is the rod to go for.