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Whether you’re just looking for a simple fishing rod for a lazy day on the boat, or you need a strong rod that can withstand a heavy catfish, finding the perfect fishing rod for your needs isn't easy.
To help you find the right option for you, we’ve created a set of criteria to help us establish an unbiased, completely transparent list of rods that will be a great choice for your next fishing trip.
Keep in mind, all of these rods are high quality, but a fishing rod and reel are designed for different circumstances and different fish, so you should first decide what the goal of your rod is in the first place.
If you aren’t sure, we’ve broken down some helpful considerations for your fishing needs. Whether you’re fly fishing or regular fishing, from spinning rods to casting rods — we've evaluated a number of products that will work for any fishing adventure.
Let's get started!
Best Fishing Rods
- Best Spinning Rod: St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod
- Best Fishing Rod for Casting: St. Croix Premier Series Casting Rod
- Best Ultralight Fishing Rod: Daiwa Presso Ultralight
- Most Durable Fishing Rod and Reel: Ugly Stik GX2
- Best Inshore Fishing Rod and Reel: Shimano Teramar Southeast
How to Choose the Best Fishing Rod for You
Anyone new to fishing may find the process of choosing what rod to buy very daunting since there are so many different types of rods, lures, and baits to choose from.
Here are some basics to consider when looking for a fishing rod:
Consider what you’re fishing for
The type of fishing you’re doing — and the species of fish you are looking to catch — are going to both play a major part in the type of fishing rod you buy.
Larger fish will likely require a rod with greater power (like an extra heavy rod compared to a medium heavy rod) and durability, but lightweight rods can be great for catching small fish that don’t bite as hard and need a more sensitive tool to detect their nibbles.
The weight of your bait and lures is also a deciding factor. Spinning rods tend to be great for lighter bait, while a casting rod is going to be your option if you need heavy lures and larger bait.
You’ll also want to think about the rod length and how easily it works for your specific needs — for example, the rod length directly affects the casting distance. So if you’re looking to get a longer casting distance, you’d go for a longer rod, while if you need a short casting distance, you can opt for a shorter rod length.
Material can play a big part in your decision as well, and it isn’t as simple as which material is the strongest.
Graphite is a common choice amongst anglers for its sensitivity and accuracy, but it can be brittle and lack durability.
Fiberglass is more flexible and will bend more without breaking, but fiberglass rods lack power and accuracy.
Consider power and action options
Many fishing rods come with different power and action options.
Power refers to the amount of resistance a rod will give, while action refers to the speed at which the rod will return to its normal state.
For example, fast action is great for precision and sensitivity, while slow action rods can be more forgiving for a fish that’s going to put up a fight.
Heavy power is going to be good for quick fish that need to be hooked hard, while lighter action is going to be good for lighter bait and lures. A medium heavy rod is good for in between.
A little research into the fish you are trying to catch can go a long way, as different rods will provide different benefits, and many rods come with customizable power and action, so knowing what you are trying to catch and where you are going to fish is going to help you purchase the correct product.
Note that slow action rods aren’t listed here because they’re a specialized type of rod that aren’t used too often (and are mainly combined with fly fishing or ultra light rods).
5 Best Fishing Rods, Reviewed
These are five tried-and-true options that fishermen swear by.
1. St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod: Best Spinning Rod
What we like
You have likely come across a spinning rod before since they’re the most common type of fishing rod. A spinning rod is a versatile rod and is useful for all kinds of fishing.
Whether you’re looking to catch crappie, walleye, trout, pike, or bass, a spinning rod is going to be a great choice for you. The St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod is a great choice for its versatility, customizable options, and great warranty.
This St. Croix spinning fishing rod won’t give you any backlash and is great for fishing under trees or on the shoreline. With graphite blanks, anglers can expect a lightweight product that is sensitive, giving the angler lots of notice that a fish is considering — or has taken — the bait.
The actions of the St. Croix Spinning Rod have been tuned and balanced for peak performance. There is a reason that St. Croix calls this line of rods its Premier Series. Every piece of the rod has been built with premier products and every part of it has been designed for versatile, strong, sensitive, and precise performance.
The rod is also highly customizable, with 8 different lengths and 7 different power options, as well as the option for fast and moderate action. Not only is the rod made from the finest materials and is highly customizable, but St. Croix also provides a 5-year warranty on the product, striving to build confidence in consumers towards their brand.
The St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod is made in America and delivers quality at a reasonable price.
- Highly versatile rod with lots of customization options
- Built with precision, sensitivity, and strength in mind
- Made with superior products but still available at a reasonable price
- This all-American product comes with a 5-year warranty
- Graphite sacrifices durability for precision
What customers love
Many anglers talk about the St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod’s versatility and precision, claiming that even the smallest nibbles are detectable with this rod. Many are surprised by the power of the rod and its ability to handle even some of the toughest fish, while others marvel at the craftsmanship and quality of materials. Many reviews from fishers say that this is a great rod for catching walleye, pike, and trout.
- Rod lengths: 4' 6", 5' 0", 5' 6", 6' 0", 6' 6", 7' 0", 7' 6", and 8' 6"
- Power: Medium, Medium Light, Ultra Light, Light, Medium Heavy, Heavy, and Extra Heavy
- Action: Fast and moderate
St. Croix Premier Series products come with a 5-year warranty.
Learn more about the St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod
2. St. Croix Premier Series Casting Rod: Best Fishing Rod for Casting
What we like
Like spinning rods, casting rods are very versatile and can be used in a number of situations — and they’re an ideal bass fishing rod. However, veteran anglers often prefer casting rods as they tend to be more accurate and have a greater casting distance.
With that said, the challenge that can come with a casting rod is that they tend to be a little heavier than other rods. The St. Croix Premier Series Casting Rod, however, has mitigated this concern by creating a casting rod that has all the power and accuracy but in a lightweight model.
Like their spinning rod, the St. Croix casting rod is made of superior graphite that provides sensitivity, but due to the quality is not as brittle as other graphite rods. It is still made from some of the best, quality products out there to give you a full fishing experience that is precise, sensitive, and powerful. All of this is accomplished while remaining an affordable option when compared to rods of similar quality.
This bass rod also has a baitcasting reel. While spinning reels can be better for beginners because they do not tangle as easily, baitcasting reels are often beloved by veteran fishers for their ability to be accurate even when fishing at a longer casting distance.
The St. Croix Premier Series Casting Rod is going to provide you with a lot of versatility in fishing, both in location and species, but is ideal for bass fishing. It comes with the same great 5-year manufacturer’s warranty that can be seen on its other products as well.
- St. Croix Premier Series Casting Rod is a great rod for veteran anglers looking to catch bass
- The baitcasting reel makes this rod incredibly accurate, even when using it at great casting distance
- Made with top-of-the-line products like other Premier Series rods
- Comes with that same great 5-year warranty
- Baitcasting reels tend to tangle more, so they can be a little harder for beginners
What customers love
Bass fishermen love this bass fishing rod and claim that it helps them bring in the big fish when they use it. Veteran anglers praise the accuracy, sensitivity, and strength of the bass rod.
Customers who have bought this product note that it is significantly lighter than other casting rods they have purchased in the past, though they note it provides the same benefits that a casting rod brings to the table.
Despite baitcasting reels having issues with tangling, some customers have noted that the St. Croix Premier Series Casting Rod is ideal for brushy areas they fish in. All in all, if a bass fishing rod is what you’re looking for, this is the one for you.
- Rod lengths: 5' 6", 6' 0", 6' 6", and 7' 0"
- Power: Medium, Medium Light, Medium Heavy, and Heavy
- Action: Fast
This rod also comes with a 5-year warranty.
Learn more about the St. Croix Premier Series Casting Rod
3. Daiwa Presso Ultralight: Best Ultralight Fishing Rod and Reel
What we like
We’ve looked at rods that are lightweight and we’ve looked at rods that are good for heavier fish in deeper water. But what if you are looking to fish in small brooks and rivers, or what if you are looking to catch something smaller, like a brook trout? This is where Ultralight rods come in.
Ultralight rods are built for small bait to catch smaller fish in, generally, shallower waters. Since ultralight rods can’t handle larger weights, they can be a bit more brittle, which is why it is important to buy a quality ultralight rod, as a cheap one is likely to snap. For this reason, we recommend the Daiwa Presso Ultralight.
If you are looking for a rod that is casting within 8 feet, the Daiwa Presso Ultralight may be ideal for you. It is made from quality IM-7 graphite. The Presso rod series is a great option for those looking for a rod with both casting power for light lures and shock-absorbing action to handle strong fish on ultra-fine lines.
The blank of the rod is made using micro-pitch taping during the curing process, which ensures that the resin and graphite are evenly distributed. This even distribution results in maximum power and sensitivity for the rod.
Though ultralight rods are not usually intended for bigger fish, the Daiwa Presso Ultralight can handle some larger, stronger fish, as it is made from quality material that can handle a fight with stronger fish while remaining incredibly lightweight. The durability really sets it apart from other ultralight rods.
Of the rods we have looked at so far, the Daiwa Presso Ultralight is less expensive, but it does not sacrifice quality for a lower price. The value that the Presso series brings to the table makes it one of the top rods.
- The Daiwa Presso Ultralight is a great option for shallow waters and smaller fish
- Despite its lightweight, this ultralight rod can handle strong fish because of the superior shock absorption
- Great casting power for light lures with superior-quality graphite
- Cheaper than many rods without sacrificing quality
- Ultralight rods are not ideal for deep sea or offshore fishing and cannot handle larger fish
What customers love
Even though ultralight rods are not usually intended for larger fish, customers are commonly surprised at the size of fish they are able to catch with the Daiwa Presso Ultralight.
Customers say it is great for small brooks and ponds that do not require a large casting distance. We agree that this rod is great for fishing around docks and under bridges, with some customers saying it is an ideal rod for mini-jigging. Customers also appreciate the number of options and customizability that the Daiwa Presso Ultralight comes in as it relates to length.
- Rod lengths: 4' 0", 5' 0", 5' 6", 6' 0", 6' 6", 7' 0", 7' 6", 8' 0", 9' 0", and 11' 0"
- Power: Ultra-light
- Action: Fast
Learn more about the Daiwa Presso Ultralight
4. Ugly Stik GX2: Most Durable Fishing Rod and Reel
What we like
As previously mentioned, graphite can be brittle and break if anglers are not careful. While using higher quality graphite can mitigate this concern, as some of our previously discussed rods use, many fishers prefer to use a stronger material in their rods.
But what do you use to make your rod more durable while also not sacrificing the versatility of using a lightweight rod? Fiberglass can be a great option here, as it is only slightly heavier than graphite rods but significantly more flexible and durable. If the versatility of a fiberglass rod is what you are looking for, the Ugly Stik GX2 might be the rod for you.
This spinning rod provides you with all the casting power and action of other rods we have discussed, but due to it being made of fiberglass, it is able to bend more than other rods and is significantly more durable, great for reeling in big fish who are putting up a big fight.
Their stainless steel insert also provides additional strength and durability to the rod. Since this is a spinning rod, the Ugly Stik GX2 will use spinning reels, which is significantly less likely to tangle and makes a great rod for amateurs and veterans alike.
Since the Ugly Stik GX2 uses a spinning reel, it comes with a number of versatile uses. A spinning reel can be used for fly fishing, but it is also great for deep sea fishing, as well as fishing with live bait for fish like catfish or walleye.
Any angler can appreciate the number of options that the Ugly Stik GX2 provides because of its durability and strength while also being lightweight.
- The Ugly Stik GX2 is a durable spinning rod that does not sacrifice the versatility of being lightweight
- Can be used in a number of different fishing scenarios and for a number of different species
- The Spinning reel does not tangle easily, so they are great for veterans and amateurs alike
- The Ugly Stik GX2 is very affordable without losing quality
- Some customers complain that the rod does not disassemble easily
What customers love
When looking up the reviews, what is striking is the number of ways anglers have used this rod. Some reviews have noted that they use it for salmon fishing, others claim that they actually find it to be a great option for fly fishing, and still others claim that it is a top-notch fishing reel and rod combo for deep-sea fishing. Customers praise the durability, with many reviewers pointing out that variations of this rod have been used for many years.
- Rod lengths: 4’ 8”, 5’, 5’ 6”, 5’ 10”, 6’, 6’ 6”, 7’, and 9’
- Power: Ultralight, Light, Medium, Medium Heavy, and Heavy
- Action: Moderate, Moderate Fast, and Fast.
Learn more about the Ugly Stik GX2
5. Shimano Teramar Southeast: Best Inshore Fishing Rod
What we like
The Shimano Teramar Southeast spinning rod is a fishing rod specifically designed for use in the southeastern United States. It's a high-quality, durable rod that's designed to handle the unique demands of fishing in the area, which includes a variety of inshore and nearshore saltwater species. As mentioned previously, spinning rods can also be an option for fly fishing.
The rod is available in a range of lengths and power ratings, so anglers can choose the right size and strength for their needs. The Teramar Southeast spinning rod is made with Shimano's TC4 blank technology, which is a blend of high-modulus graphite and carbon fibers that creates a lightweight and responsive blank. This technology also makes the rod strong and durable, so it can handle the rigors of saltwater fishing.
The rod is outfitted with high-quality Fuji guides that are designed to reduce friction and improve casting distance and accuracy. The guides are also built to withstand the corrosive effects of saltwater, ensuring long-lasting performance. The rod also features a custom Shimano reel seat that securely holds the reel in place.
As previously discussed, since The Teramar Southeast is a spinning rod, it will have a spinning reel, which means it is less likely to tangle and far easier for amateurs to handle. This provides a high degree of versatility, making it a great all-in-one rod for most circumstances, though it is designed for saltwater fishing mostly.
- The Shimano Teramar Southeast is a great rod for the Southeastern part of the United States, so generally designed for saltwater fishing
- Lightweight graphite makes it an easy-to-handle rod, especially with the spinning reel
- Built to endure the corrosive effects of saltwater, thus making it a durable rod despite being made of graphite
- A great rod for amateur and veteran anglers
- Despite the quality of the rod, graphite is not the most durable fishing rod material
What customers love
Customers love the versatility of the Shimano Teramar Southeast spinning rod. Some customers are surprised at how well the Shimano Teramar Southeast works for fly fishing. In fact, this spinning rod is praised for the variety of locations and styles of fishing that it is appropriate for. Customers also praise the durability of the rod, despite it being made of graphite.
- Rod lengths: 6’ 6”, 7’, 7’ 6”, and 8’
- Power: Medium, Medium Heavy, and Extra Heavy
- Action: Fast and Extra Fast
The Shimano Teramar Southeast Spinning Rod comes with a 30-day guarantee.
Learn more about the Shimano Teramar Southeast here
How We Picked Our Favorite Fishing Rods and Reels
For the sake of transparency, we opted to create a four-step criteria to evaluate these products. The goal of this criterion was to make our decisions as objective and unbiased as possible.
However, while we believe in our method, it is worth noting that what makes the best fishing rods are going to come down to the needs of individuals. Our criteria include:
1. Extensive Review of Product Qualities
We thoroughly searched through multiple websites to compile a comprehensive inventory of all the services available. To conduct a thorough evaluation of fishing rods, it was essential for us to have a clear understanding of all the qualities and features. We compared the features with those of other fishing rods to identify the industry norms.
2. Credible Media Sources
To ensure that we were taking into account the opinions of respected media outlets in the field, we conducted extensive research on fishing rod outlets and sought out high commendations from our colleagues in the industry.
3. Real Consumer Reports
We evaluated the feedback provided by actual customers by consulting review platforms and various social media websites. It's crucial to keep in mind that some websites have the ability to selectively display reviews on their own pages, which highlights the importance of cross-checking third-party sources.
4. Real Fishermen
We had our team reach out to amateur and professional fishermen to see what they had to say about different types of fishing rods, reels, rod length, and more. Finding experts in the field helped us properly evaluate the qualities of these products.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of fishing rods?
Fishing rods come in all kinds of designs and types, with each one bringing its own positives and negatives depending on what type of fishing technique you are using or what kind of fish you are trying to catch.
Spinning rods and casting rods tend to be the most common and popular types of rods, largely because they can be incredibly versatile in the ways they can be used and also the types of fish they can catch.
Casting rods tend to be used with baitcasting reels while spinning rods are commonly designed with a spinning reel. Both of these types of fishing rods tend to come in either a two-piece or a telescopic design.
The difference is that a telescopic rod is broken down into a number of different segments, which makes it great for portability and storing, but makes it generally weaker than the two-piece design.
Another common type of fishing rod is the fly rod. Fly rods are used in fly fishing, a very popular type of fishing that requires light bait and a long, light rod for delicate, precise casting. A variation on this type of rod is the Tenkara rod, which doesn’t have a reel.
Like the fly rod, surf rods and ice fishing rods are designed for a very specific kind of fishing. Surf rods are long, strong rods that are used for a longer casting distance from the shore.
On the other end of this spectrum, the ice fishing rod is a short, sensitive, and lightweight rod that is dropped into frozen lakes in order to catch walleyes, pike, trout, and other fish that live in cold water. In these situations, you wouldn’t need a long casting distance.
Finally, if you are looking to fish from a moving boat, a trolling rod is going to be your best bet. Designed to be powerful and durable, a trolling rod is mounted to the back of a moving boat. The bait mimics a live fish as the boat moves, attracting larger fish like tuna.
What is the most common type of fishing rod?
The most common type of fishing rod is the spinning rod. This is because the spinning rod is so versatile and can be used in a number of circumstances and by anglers of almost any expertise range, from amateurs to experts. However, when considering what the most common rod type is, it is important to consider what kind of fishing you’ll be doing.
Casting rods are the most common for both beginners and children and are the most common rod used to catch smallmouth bass.
Ultra-light and telescopic rods are commonly found with backpackers and campers because of their lightweight and portability. And, as discussed previously, while a spinning rod can be used for fly fishing, a fly rod is going to be most commonly used by veteran fly fishers.
Keep in mind that slow action rods aren’t typically used as often as the rods listed here, and so they’re typically only seen in special circumstances.
While we have shown you a number of quality rods, it is up to you to decide which one fits your lifestyle best.
A fishing rod is a tool and, as such, needs to be paired with the appropriate job. Just like a screwdriver shouldn’t be used as a hammer, and vice versa, a fly fishing rod should not be used in place of a casting rod.
If you keep our tips in mind, you’ll be empowered to purchase the right rod for the right job.
Best Fishing Rods
- Best Spinning Rod - St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod
- Best Fishing Rod for Casting - St. Croix Premier Series Casting Rod
- Best Ultralight Fishing Rod and Reel - Daiwa Presso Ultralight
- Most Durable Fishing Rod and Reel - Ugly Stik GX2
- Best Inshore Fishing Rod - Shimano Teramar Southeast