Best Fishing Rods
The subject of who makes the best fishing rods and what qualifies one to be better than another is something that will never be settled. Many expert anglers and prize-fighter fishermen even argue with professional competition panels about what type of rods should or shouldn’t be allowed to compete.
With that in mind, choosing a fishing rod is not that complicated once you know a bit about them. Sure, the selection of rods can be overwhelming, but by focusing on a few key components and engineering features, it will be easier to make sense of the chaos.
Best Fishing Rods Reviews
Shakespeare UglyStik GX2 Spinning Rod
The GX2 was released back in 2013. This new generation of Shakespeare UglyStik has a lot going for it in terms of strength, maneuverability, durability, and variety. GX2 rods come in various styles and sizes and even in a few variations designed specifically for women.
This fishing rod has saltwater fishing written all over it. The durable EVA grip feels comfortable and will let you control the rod really well.
The new generation UglyStik also comes with a different kind of rod blank. It’s made of a combination of graphite and fiberglass which helps balance out the weight while also strengthening the core. The same clear tip is used in the design.
Because of this, the rod is more sensitive than others and plies itself to a wide range of fishing applications. The GX2 is also known for being available with one-piece or two-piece guides.
What's to like about the Shakespeare UglyStik
By far one of the best features is the one-piece guide design. It is called the Ugly Tuff and is made of stainless steel as opposed to the old ceramic guides. This improves the reliability of the rod and the durability of the guides.
What's not to like about the Shakespeare UglyStik
Due to its enhanced sensitivity, the UglyStik GX2 may not be the ideal fishing rod for beginners. Although it comes in sizes from 4’6” to 9’, there’s a slight learning curve to handling the GX2, regardless of its size.
KastKing Perigee II
The KastKing Perigee II line of fishing rods comprises both baitcasting and spincasting rods. These fishing rods come in all sizes and are among the best fishing rods in the lightweight division.
Perigee II rods are made with full graphite poles. Not only does this make them light and easy to use on extended fishing trips but it also gives them enough sensitivity to handle small agile fish and also a variety of feisty species.
This level of control is great no matter how much experience you have. The rod blanks come in 29 different sizes and varying degrees of strength, starting at ultralight and ending with heavy rods.
The design feels like a one-piece rod design. That’s mainly because the power and flexibility of Perigee II fishing rods are constant. In terms of comfort, the Perigee II rods come with mostly EVA grips.
These are soft, offer an ergonomic grip, and have a great finish too. Other rod highlights include Fuji O-Ring guides, graphite reel seats, and a very durable Saf-T Keeper hook holder.
What's to like about the KastKing Perigee II
It’s the value for the money for beginner and amateur anglers that sets the Perigee II fishing rods apart. With most sizes catering to first-timers and those fishing closer to the shoreline, these fishing rods offer great performance and superior control at a competitive price.
What's not to like about the KastKing Perigee II
One minor drawback of Perigee II fishing rods is that they top out at a length at about 7’4”. If you need something longer for competitions or if you simply enjoy casting your bait as far out as possible, then the Perigee II may not be your best bet.
Plusinno Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel Combos
Plusinno makes fishing rods for every angler’s wallet. The carbon fiber telescopic fishing rod kit has everything you need except the bait to get you started on your weekend off.
There are two options here. You can get the fishing rod and reel combo or the complete kit which has all other accessories you may need including fishing line, lures, hooks, and a carrier bag. Depending on the size of the fishing rod, you’ll get the appropriate line.
Speaking of sizes, Plusinno telescopic rods range from 5.91 ft. to 10.83 ft.; there’s something in this range for everyone, beginners and experienced anglers alike. With the largest model, you can reach impressive lengths, especially given the strength and accuracy of this medium power fishing rod.
The rod is made of carbon fiber and fiberglass, which is used to strengthen the otherwise elastic rod. Stainless steel is used for the reel seat and an EVA foregrip handle should help you exercise total control over the fishing rod.
What's to like about the Plusinno Telescopic
After all is said and done, it’s the telescopic design that adds the most value to this rod. The largest sizes are made of up to nine sections, all collapsible and very easy to transport.
What's not to like about the Plusinno Telescopic
This particular model is available in fewer variations than the competition.
Sougayilang Telescopic Fishing Rod
Sougayilang is responsible for some of the most affordable but serviceable fishing rods, reels, accessories, and fishing gear on the market. The telescopic fishing rod is one of the most cost-effective fishing rods the manufacturer makes.
This fishing rod can be found in five sizes, the shortest being 5.91ft and the longest 10.91ft. Clearly at the top end, the rods are bigger than what is used in many competitions. But, this fishing rod was designed for the weekend angler and anyone else looking to have a good time.
The ultralight weight is achieved thanks to the combination of high-density carbon fiber and E-glass composite.
This fishing rod comes with all-stainless steel spinning guides which minimize the risk of tangling the line and offer smoother casting. This also makes the rod a good choice for saltwater fishing.
The reel seat enjoys the same level of durability. It’s made of aluminum, it’s corrosion resistant, and it can be used in a variety of fishing applications and weather conditions.
What's to like about the Sougayilang Telescopic Fishing Rod
Besides the affordability, the nicest thing about the Sougayilang telescopic fishing rod is surprisingly not the portability that stems from its telescopic design. It’s in fact the superior balance of the rod and the way it transfers power smoothly from the top to the butt cap.
What's not to like about the Sougayilang Telescopic Fishing Rod
One of the minor drawbacks is the very short one-year warranty plan. Compared to what other to manufacturers offer, this is nothing to write home about.
Cadence CR5 Spinning Rod
Cadence CR5 fishing rods are available in one-piece and two-piece variants. Regardless of your preference, all fishing rods boast the same high durability and smooth operation.
The smallest CR5 spinning rod is a one-piece ultralight, moderate power 4’8” rod. At the top end, you can find a 7’0” medium heavy power two-piece spinning rod. There’s something here for everyone except maybe those looking for specialty or competition-grade rods.
Ideal for inshore and freshwater fishing in general, the CR5 spinning rods are easy to use even with no prior fishing experience. The smooth operation of casting and retrieving is ideal for first-timers.
Although the rods lack some sensitivity, they’re accurate enough for a wide range of species like bass, trout, walleye, red fish, and more.
The fishing rods also have two options when it comes to handles. You can get either full grip or split grip handles, the latter being ideal if you like handling less weight in your hands. The premium cork wrapped in EVA high density foam is another sign of quality craftsmanship and adds to the level of comfort and control.
What's to like about the Cadence CR5 Spinning Rod
Not only are the stainless steel guides well-crafted but they also feature SiC inserts. This is what’s responsible for the superior smoothness of the line casting and retrieval process. Of course, this feature is enhanced by the even power transition.
What's not to like about the Cadence CR5 Spinning Rod
Like many other fishing rods, the CR5 lacks some durability in the two-piece variant. Yes, it is easier to take on the road, but it won’t last you nearly as long as any of the one-piece models.
Types of Rod
Spincasting rods are characterized by the above-handle mounted reel and the forefinger trip trigger. They are relatively light and can accommodate both spincasting and baitcasting reels. These rods are also comfortable and easy to learn with.
Baitcasting rods are preferred by experienced anglers. They are quite similar in design with spincasting rods but they are stronger and more accurate. The extra strength allows for the use of heavier line and cover.
Surf rods tend to be very long fishing rods. Some can be up to 14 ft. in length which is great as it allows you to throw lures upwards of 100 yards. A good surf rod will always be both sturdy and powerful. Otherwise, the length won’t compensate enough to get your lure out to a great distance.
Trolling rods are fishing rods that you can use on the move. They’re popular with anglers that take their boats out constantly. They’re also popular for Great Lakes salmon fishing and for catching ocean fish.
But what makes them different? Trolling rods are designed to provide leverage, support, and flexibility when you’re casting your bait to the side of a moving boat. These are heavy-duty rods that give you a better shot at catching feisty large fish.
Telescopic rods are versatile and convenient. They’re preferred by many anglers. The collapsible design is great for portability. The use of more eyes throughout the parabolic arc promotes better weight distribution and eases the stress on the rod.
These rods can also reach amazing lengths. One downside of telescopic rods is that they require extra maintenance and care.
Ice rods are used primarily in ice fishing. They can be as small as 24”. Their design features a carved handle and two opposing hooks. The hooks can be used for hand-winding the line.
Ultralight fishing rods are made for light lines, small lures, and small fish. They are usually no longer than 5.5 ft. and have a maximum of 6-lb. line capacity. These rods are usually popular when fishing for trout, crappie, bass, bluegill, etc.
Fly Fishing Rods
Fly rods are usually only used in fly fishing. Different sizes are used for different-sized bait. You can call these rods highly specialized in some regard. However, they are among the least versatile.
To use fly rods to their maximum potential, you would need a couple of them, one each of a different size, in order to accommodate different baits and catch different fishes.
The fishing rod’s length is a highly debatable matter. Some argue that the best length for any situation is the length that’s easiest to work with by the angler. With that in mind, during fishing competitions, specific lengths are mandatory for a variety of locations and fish.
Generally speaking, longer rods can give you more control. They can also pick up more line and deal better with pressure. But, they’re not applicable in every situation. The easiest example of this is ice fishing.
There’s no reason to use a 9-ft. fishing rod when fishing on a frozen lake.
Fishing rods usually come with three-piece handles consisting of a butt cap, reel seat, and grip. This means that the handle can be one of the most flexible and customizable parts of a fishing rod.
Because of this, there are multiple types of handles, categorized by design, materials, and combinations of components.
Cork Ring Handles
Cork rings are the traditional look and feel of a professional fishing rod. They’re light, comfortable, and can offer a solid grip.
EVA foam grips are popular with angles that prefer foregrips and freshwater to light saltwater fishing.
Cork Tape Handles
Cork tape handles are not very durable. However, they offer a very firm grip even when the handle gets wet. These are common handles for surf rods and any other fishing rod with longer butt sections.
Shrink Wrap Handles
Shrink wrap handles are preferred by many inshore angles as well as some surf angles. Shrink wrap is durable and can easily be fitted over other grips.
Cord handles probably offer the best grip. They are tough, rugged, and slightly heavier than others. Their price also tends to be higher.
Split Grip and Pistol Grip Handles
This type of fishing rod handles uses less material in order to reduce the rod’s weight.
Full Grip Handles
Full grip handles go hand in hand with heavy lines and heavy baits. They’re often used on fishing rods that demand two-hand grips.
Power ratings are assigned from ultralight to extra heavy. Anglers may also refer to the power of a fishing rod as the backbone, as in a lot of backbone equals lots of power. A fishing rod’s power rating and its line strength tend to go hand in hand.
The more powerful the fishing rod, the heavier the line you can use. There are two things you need to remember about power when it comes to fishing rods. First of all, the type of water you’re fishing in has a big say in the power requirement.
Open waters usually require thin lines, therefore light to medium power rods. However, when fishing in thick cover, you will need a powerful rod in order to get the fish out of the water fast and stop it from tying you up.
The second thing to remember is that two heavy fishing rods of different classes or types aren’t necessarily of equal strength.
There are two things you need to think about when discussing weight and fishing rods in the same sentence. First of all, take the actual weight of the rod.
The weight of a fishing rod is determined by the materials and its length. Graphite is the material of choice for anglers that prefer a sensitive and lightweight rod.
Fiberglass rods weigh more and are stiffer. Although they are less sensitive, they are also better for troll fishing.
The other aspect of weight is line weight. More often than not, when you’re looking at fishing rods, online or in outdoor stores, you will notice various weight numbers with the rods.
Those weight numbers tend to indicate the optimum line weight or the supported line weight range. As already discussed, the line weight is also important in determining how powerful the fishing rod needs to be to support it.
How to choose a fishing rod
Even if you have some fishing experience or you’re no stranger to fishing competitions, selecting a fishing rod can be one of the most difficult tasks. That’s because different species of fish demand a certain type of rod and whether you’re fishing in saltwater or freshwater also affects your choice.
Therefore, in order to choose one of the best fishing rods for the task at hand, consider the following factors/components: handle type, length, reel type, material, brand, power, rod type, and the fish you’re trying to reel in.
After you’ve found the perfect combination of components, account for your level of expertise. Sometimes, the best rod for the job is not easy to control by a beginner.
What is a spinning rod?
Spinning rods are fishing rods designed to work with a spin casting reel. This type of rod supports an above-handle reel mount and they also come with small eyes. Another common characteristic is the forefinger grip trigger.
It’s also worth pointing out that spinning rods are not to be confused for spincasting rods. One of the key differences is the positioning of the spinning reel which sits under the rod. Spinning rods have a wide range of applications and are popular in salmon fishing, trolling, bass competitions, trout fishing, etc.
What size fishing rod?
The majority of fishing rods are about 6 to 12 ft., not including specialty fishing rods that could be much shorter or longer.
If you don’t have much fishing experience then a 6- or 7-ft. fishing rod would probably be the best choice. It’s easy to control and has a mild learning curve. Also, the length should be enough for a wide range of applications and species.
How to use a fishing rod
Using a fishing rod properly starts with finding the right lure, the right bait, and of course the right fishing rod for the species you’re after.
After you know you have everything you need, the most important aspect is getting the casting right. There are various casting techniques but the overhead cast is the easiest to learn and master. It’s as simple as launching the rod forward and releasing your thumb off the casting reel at the same time.
How to clean fishing rods
You can clean a fishing rod with a homemade vinegar and water solution. Use a soft cloth to wipe the rod and use a soft-bristle brush to remove dirt and gunk. It’s important to clean the fishing rod after every fishing trip and even more so if you fish in saltwater regularly.
You might also want to apply paraffin on the joints in order to maintain that smooth action. Candle wax would work just as well. Do this after you’ve washed, cleaned, and dried the fishing rod.
Although the Shakespeare UglyStik GX2 holds a special place in our hearts as one of the best fishing rods, all fishing rods in this article are more than capable of saving the owners from the disappointment of going home empty-handed (assuming there are actually fishes in the water). Each model has its own advantages, as some fishing rods are more straightforward while others require an experienced hand in order to shine.
Depending on your experience, preferred length, and how much you’re willing to spend, there’s at least one option on this list that will meet your requirements.