Your ability to catch fish can only go as far as your gear will allow, but quality gear can take your fishing abilities to a much higher level.

Not only will a fishing rod worth its merit help you cast to and land fish efficiently, but it’s also going to last for years.

There are several decisions you need make before narrowing down your rod selection.

As we will discuss later in the article, there are a lot of different styles of rods, some better suited for certain types of fishing than others and depending on your answers, some rod characteristics are going to have more of an impact on your decisions.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before reading on:

  • What style of fishing are you interested in taking part? Fly fishing, spinning tackle, and baitcasting all need different types of rods that pair with the reel needed and provide certain qualities that make that style of fishing easier.
  • What is the average size of fish you think you will routinely catch? This is going to determine length, weight, action, and power that you will need in the rod.
  • What is your price range? As life goes, the highest quality gear usually costs a pretty penny. Luckily, there are a lot of affordable options that still provide incredible performance, and we will take a look at several of these.

If you don’t have answers to all or any of them, that’s fine, and by the end of the article, you will be able to address them.

What to look for in a rod

In this section, we are going to go over the anatomy of a fishing rod and some general characteristics that you should be knowledgeable about. With this information, you should be able to look at any fishing rod and determine if it works for you.

What you should pay attention to:

  • Rod Material
  • Rod Length
  • Rod Weight
  • Rod Action
  • Rod Power
  • Guides
  • Handles
  • Reel Seats
  • Portability

Rod material

Rods are mostly made from a carbon composite graphite, fiberglass, or natural product such as bamboo.

For general fishing purposes, we would not recommend bamboo rods. They just won’t stand up to extended fishing outings and are difficult to handle.

Graphite is a lightweight material that is very durable and has high tensile strength. Graphite rods are more sensitive to bumps and gentle takes. Graphite rods are also able to cast further distances than fiberglass.

Fiberglass is less brittle than graphite and is a more durable material.

Rod length

When thinking about rod length you need to be aware of the type of fishing you are going to be doing.

If you are fly fishing, you need a longer pole such as an 8-9′ rod. The reason is that to cast a weighted line you need to generate a lot of momentum and longer rods give you this edge.

Outside of fly fishing longer rods tend to cast further than shorter rods. If you don’t plan on ever casting more than 50ft, there is not need to buy a 9′ rod.

Besides casting, rod length also plays a role in rod power. Rods are tapered as they move up the tip to keep the balance correct so at the tips of longer rods you usually have much thinner material.

Shorter rods do not taper as much and usually are much more powerful than longer rods making them better at working large, aggressive fish.

Take all of this with a grain of salt, we are talking in generalities, and with today’s rod making technology, a lot of brands are breaking these barriers and producing longer more powerful and shorter, more delicate rods.

Rod weight

The weight of a rod is determined by the type of fishing the manufacturers had in mind when designing it.

The most important aspect of rod weight is that it is well balanced. Even if a rod is heavy, if it balances well with your reel it doesn’t feel heavy when casting. It’s one of those aspects you pick up on as you handle more rods and reels.

Obviously, rods designed to fight marlin are going to be heavier than a 2oz rod for trout fishing.

Again, it’s all about the balance. If that’s right, you won’t have a fatigue problem and will be able to cast and fish all day.

Rod action

The action and power of a rod are the most confusing and often misused terms when it comes to fishing rods.

The action refers to where the along the length of the rod it flexes or bends.

Slow action rods flex through the entire rod, medium action flexes in the mid section and tip, and fast action only flexes in the tip of the rod.

For whatever reason, we label the different types of actions in terms of speed.

  • Fast action: Can cast further, but not very accurate at close range. A lot of bass rods come in this action because of the sensitivity and the ability to set the hook quicker.
  • Medium action: This action is a good all round beginner rod that can get a lure out there but also performs well at shorter distances. It also is pretty versatile in terms of baits that it can cast effectively.
  • Slow action: Slow action rods are excellent for working casts at short distances that need extreme accuracy and delicate presentation. They are great for when using light tackle for small, finicky fish. This action is also popular on rods used in trolling for large fish. The distribution of pressure across the entire rod makes heavy lifting possible.

Rod power

While action refers to where on the rod flex occurs, the power is how much pressure it takes to cause the rod to bend.

  • High power takes a lot of force and is better suited as casting heavy lures and fighting larger fish.
  • A rod with low power is going to be more sensitive to takes and better for delicate fishing situations.

There are more variations than just low and high power, and you can key in on the exact power you need when you have a better idea of the type of fish you are going to stalk.

Guides

Guides are the small eyelets that run along the length of your fishing rod.

They function to keep you line in place and also to guide the line in a more direct path when casting.

The four main types of guides you will find on a rod are:

  • Stripping guides
  • Single foot guides
  • Double foot guides
  • Snake guides

You will usually find one or two stripping guides located closest to the reel. They are larger in diameter and provide the needed space for line initially leaving the reel.

Single foot guides and snake guides are the types found throughout the rest of the rod’s length.

While guides are necessary, they also produce friction causing the casting speed to slow and limiting casting distance.

Guides are made from a variety of materials with some producing more friction than others. The best guides are made from silicon carbide, and you will often see this labeled by its chemical abbreviation SiC.

Other materials that reduce friction include Alconite, Hardloy, and aluminum oxide.

Handles

The absolute best handles grips you can have on a fishing rod is high-grade cork.

It is light and provides a great gripping surface even when wet. The concern with cork is that you can’t be sure you are getting a high-quality cork unless you are physically holding and looking at it.

Besides cork, EVA foam is another popular grip material used in higher quality rods. While foam is more durable than cork, it is less sensitive.

Handles often vary in their style. Most smaller rods for bass and smaller species will use a simple straight stick design.

For rods designed for larger species where a lot of lifting is involved, you might see an extended length handle or a split grip where both hands can be used to lift the rod.

This style is also used for over hauling your cast for added distance. A lot of casting rods will also use a trigger style handle that involves the reel seat. This design gives you a lot more control of the rod and helps with more accurate casting and handling.

The best thing you can do to determine what handle fits you best is to find the nearest retail store or shop that carries fishing gear and get a feel for as many different handle designs as you can.

Reel seats

The real seat is the area that locks in with your reel and usually sits above the grip or between split grips.

Most quality rods will use an aluminum reel seat for a little more structure and strength or graphite for lighter designs.

These sections are also often anodized to provide a tougher surface. Some rods might utilize ceramic materials that are still durable and cut down on weight from a metal insert.

Another important feature to reel seats are the locking mechanisms. These are usually screw-like and are on a threaded portion of the reel seat. These sometime lock up, lock down, lock both ways, or are double locked from one direction.

Larger rods built to hold bigger reels and handle bigger fish often have dual locking systems.

Portability

Another important quality, and sometimes ignored, is how easy is it going to be to transport the rod.

If you own a boat or live near the water, a single piece rod might be a better option. These rods are usually more sensitive and have a more consistent cast and overall rod performance.

If you’re a traveling angler and like to hit lots of new water, you need a rod that is going to be able to travel well. You will be better served with a 2-4 piece rod or a telescopic rod.

Best rod gear review

It is difficult for us to pick out the best rods. There are thousands of different models and types of rods designed for specific types of fishing.

To make this a little easier on us, we are going to break our picks down into 5 different styles of rods including, best fly rod, best spinning rod, best baitcasting rod, best trolling rod, and best beginners rod.

Best fly rod:
TFO Lefty Kreh Professional Series II

Temple Fork: Professional Series Fly Rod, TF 07 10-4P 2

Many fly anglers love Temple Fork Outfitter rods. They’re made from quality material, perform well on the water, and you don’t have to take out a loan to own a couple.

Lefty Kreh is a legend in the fly fishing world and his input on this fly rod is evident by its smooth performance, power, and sensitivity.

Available models

There are 16 different models of the Professional Series II Fly Rods. They have you covered from ultralight to saltwater fly fishing with 2 to 10wt rods that weigh from 3 to 5oz. All come in 3-4 piece sets.

Materials and design

The blanks on this rod have a beautiful black matte finish with gold trim and logos. The blanks also feature alignment dots for proper guide placement.

All of the Professional Series II models are made from a mid-modulus graphite that is masterfully tapered. It helps the rod load line well and is powerful enough to to keep constant pressure on larger fish.

All models feature high-quality cork grips. Smaller models feature half well design cork grip, while larger models use an extended full well handle design with a fighting butt.

The Professional Series II utilize an anodized aluminum reel seat with graphite inserts. Smaller models use a single uplocking mechanism while the large models employ a double locking mechanism.

Guides, action and power

These rods feature a single, oversized SiC stripper guide with the rest being aluminum snake guides.

All of these rods are medium-fast action and have wonderfully soft tips for excellent sensitivity. We would consider these rods to be medium power and that makes for a very versatile fly rod.

Pros

  • A steal for the performance
  • Great sensitivity throughout the rod
  • High-quality cork grips
  • Excellent medium to long casting

Cons

  • Cheap snake guides
  • Poor close range casting in medium to heavy weight rods

Click here to view on Amazon.

Best spinning rod:
Fenwick Eagle

Fenwick Eagle Spinning

 

Fenwick Eagle is a legend among its kind and provides for a lot of versatility, all thanks to wide range of models and functionality.

Available models

As mentioned, you have a lot of options and can find a rod that will fit your spin fishing style perfectly.

Rod models range from 3.7 to 10oz with lengths between 5’6″ to 8′.

All are available in either one or two piece sets. These models also vary in their action and power.

Materials and design

The Eagle rod has a very natural look. Its burled cork handle pairs well with the light olive blank coloring and dark olive wrappings and is easy on the eyes.

The Eagle uses a mid-modulus graphite in all of its models. It features an excellent taper and results in a rod that is sensitive, but extremely durable and able to generate a lot of power.

The Fenwick Eagle uses a unique B2 burled cork for the handle grip. It has the feel of traditionally used cork, but they claim it to be more chip and dent resistant.

Depending on the model, these rods have three potential hand grip designs.

Guides, action and power

The Fenwick Eagle uses stainless steel single foot guides on all models.

While this provides a lot of corrosion resistance, they also produce a lot of friction between their surface and the line.

The rod still casts well, so it is not too much of an issue. It also features an extra wide stripping guide that is great for a spinning outfit.

The Fenwick Eagle is available in rod actions ranging from ultralight to medium heavy power. They are also available in several rod actions from moderate to fast action.

What this gives you is the ability to choose a spinning rod that can deliver extremely light or heavier lures.

Pros

  • Options for rod action and power
  • Nice sensitivity
  • Can cast wide range of lure weights
  • Durable guides

Cons

  • B2 cork is suspect
  • Brittle tip

Spinning rods is not the only category where Fenwick excels. For fly fishing fans, AETOS model might be the perfect choice.

Click here to view on Amazon.

Best baitcasting rod:
St. Croix Premier Casting

St. Croix Premier 7ft MHF 1pc Casting Rod

These high quality rods are no strangers to baitcasters, that for several perks they bring on the table.

Available models

The St. Croix Premier Casting Rods come in 12 different models giving you a wide selection of performance properties to choose from.

These rods pair very well with baitcasting reels and play off of each other nicely giving you a high performing rod and reel outfit.

Models range from 3.5 to 5.4oz with lengths between 5’6” to 7’ and come in both one and two piece sets. The models also range in line weights that they function best with from 8 to 25lb test.

Materials and design

The St. Croix Premier Casting Rod blanks have a stunning black pearl finish with a turquoise trim that contrasts well with the light cork grips.

The St. Croix uses a high modulus graphite for their rod construction. It gives the rod fantastic performance properties including extra power needed to sling lures and put some lift and heavy fish.

The taper also results in a beautifully balanced rod that feels weightless when casting.

There are five different handle designs available. All are split grip, with high-quality cork and have trigger handle designs. These grips also provide some extra hand space for when you hook up on a trophy fish.

The reel seat is a made from Fuji ECS material and is a trigger design which adds some extra manueverabilty and control of the rod.

It is also extremely comfortable for the wrist. This reel seat is lightweight and very durable. It also uses a single downlocking mechanism that provides a secure and tight fit of the reel to the rod.

Guides, action and power

This reel features aluminum oxide guide rings with black frames. These guides cut down on friction and aid in this rods superb casting ability.

These Premier Casting Rods are all fast action and come in a variety of powers ranging from medium-low to high power.

Most anglers who go with a casting reel option have a baitcasting reel in mind and opt for higher power rods that allow some extra distance to their cast and the ability to use heavier lures.

Pros

  • Fast action is perfect for baitcasters
  • Options on rod power
  • Very stiff and can produce a lot of lifting power
  • Fantastic casting ability
  • Very balanced
  • One of the best reel seats available

Cons

  • Let us know when you find some – this rod is close to perfect.

Click here to view on Amazon.

Best trolling rod:
Okuma Classic Pro GLT

These rods were designed and built with power, ruggedness, and ability to handle large, deep running fish.

This series of rods are perfect for any style of trolling fishing from downriggers, dipsy diving, to precision trolling, especially when combined with proper trolling reel.

Available models

There are 9 models available of the Pro GLT that will cover any of your trolling techniques.

  • Downrigger models are available in lengths from7’ to 8’6” with weights ranging from 10.6 to 12.2oz. Line weights range from 10 to 25lb test.
  • Dipsy Diver models range from 9’ to 10’6” in length with weights coming in at 13.1 to 18.6oz. Optimal line weights range from 10 to 30lb test.
  • Precision trolling models are available in 8’6″ and 9′ models with weights of 11.1 and 11.3oz respectively. Line weights for both range between 10 and 20lb test.

Materials and design

The Pro GLT series of trolling rods are made from fiberglass. Fiberglass is the perfect material for this type of fishing style as it provides the rods with excellent rod power, flex, and strength.

All models feature a triangular EVA foregrip that really limits the amount of rotation you get in the rod when cranking on big fish.

The rear grip is also EVA foam with the butt section wrapped in a shrink tube overlay that provides a lot of extra gripping power and ease in removing the rod from the holder when a fish is on the line.

This series of rods utilize stainless steel Fuji-style reel seats with graphite inserts with a durable uplocking mechanism to hold that big reel in place.

Guides, action and power

All guides are a double foot construction for added strength along with titanium oxide inserts to stand up to any line from braided to copper lines.

Depending on the style of the GLT you purchase the action and power of the rods will differ.

All Downrigger models are slow action with moderate-light to medium power.

Dipsy Diver models are all medium power with moderate action while the precision trolling models are moderate-fast action and medium power.

Pros

  • Variety of models for different trolling techniques
  • Fiberglass perfect for this style of fishing
  • Built for lifting power
  • Reinforced line guides
  • Excellent gripping capacity
  • Would like more support around the reel seat

Cons

  • Would like more support around the reel seat

Click here to view on Amazon.

Best beginners rod:
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 6'6' - Medium - 1pc

Because spinning reels are so popular and one of the most used type of reels in the US we wanted to list a spinning rod as our best rod for the beginner angler.

Not only does this rod perform well, but it is also extremely durable and affordable.

All are qualities needed in a rod a novice is starting out with. If you are wanting a casting rod, there are Ugly Stik Elite models of those types of rods as well and lets not forget about the GX2 models that might stun you completely.

Available models

There are seventeen different models of the Ugly Stik Elite spinning rods!

Lengths range drom 4’6″ to 7′. We really like to option of the shorter rods and which are great for going up against big rolling cats.

All models are backed by a seven-year warranty and gives you an idea of how confident the manufacturers are in the durability of their product.

Materials and design

Don’t let the name of this rod fool you, the Ugly Stik Elite looks pretty good. It has a black gloss rod blank finish with red lettering and trim.

The material used in these models are termed Ugly Tech Construction and is a mix of glass fiber and graphite.

This provides an excellent blend of durability, lightness, sensitivity, and strength. These models also utilize the Ugly Stik Clear Tip. This tip is sensitive, but also provides added strength that is usually missing from medium action rods.

All models use a full single piece cork grip. The quality of the cork is not the best, but it is far from the worst and will provide plenty of grip in any weather condition.

All models feature a skeleton graphite reel seat with stainless steel hoods that secure tightly around the reel seat.

Guides, action and power

These rods utilize single piece stainless steel guides termed Ugly Tough and that are very rugged and resist bending and torque.

Though the manufacturer doesn’t list the action, from experience it’s a medium to medium-fast action rod.

The power ranges from ultralight to medium heavy depending on the model. For a someone looking to break into fishing, a medium power with medium to medium-fast action is excellent for learning to cast and is a good medium between sensitivity and strength.

Pros

  • Rugged and durable
  • Extremely affordable
  • Fantastic skeleton reel seat that holds reel securely
  • Lots of rod length options
  • Lots of rod action and power option
  • One of the most reliable and long lasting rods available

Cons

  • Not the best sensitivity
  • Cork grip is lower quality

Click here to view on Amazon.

Conclusion

There is a myriad of different fishing rods that are out there and available to you.

Some are better suited than others for certain styles of fishing . There are bad rods, good rods, and great rods and we hope that in this article we have outlined how to tell the difference and listed some great rod choices for you based on what type of fishing you plan to master.

Happy Angling!

Summary
Best Fishing Rods
Article Name
Best Fishing Rods
Description
Looking for the best fishing rods for your angling needs? Look no further - this article covers all you need to know.
Author
Publisher Name
Cast For Fish
Publisher Logo
Adam
 

I'm Adam and I run Cast For Fish to share my passion for fishing as well as give some advice so you could enjoy this great hobby in the best possible way.