Best Fishing Rods Compared
There are hundreds of different kinds of fishing rods, short rods, long rods, high action & low action rods, sea fishing rods, surf fishing rods, fly fishing rods, ice fishing rods, surf fishing rods, rods for travelling, rods for competitions, you name it and there is probably a rod for it. Fishing is a massive sport and hobby, with varied types and places to fish. If you just think about the length of fishing rod they can vary drastically from 2ft (62cm) ice fishing rods to 14ft (4m) surf fishing rods.
There is a reason for this and every difference inherent in a fishing rod, for example, surf fishermen need to cast out past the breaking surf and the longer rod enables the fisherman to cast heavy gear longer distances, whereas ice fishing you are not casting but lowering the equipment through a hole in the ice so a long rod is a disadvantage.
When it comes to catching fish, though, one thing is clear; you need to have the best fishing rod for the waters you fish on the most. If you have the wrong fishing rod, or the incorrect line strength, then your efforts of actually catching any fish become more futile. And although your better half allows you to go out for a few hours on a weekend, if you continuously come back empty-handed, their patience might wane thin.
Have you been thinking about getting a new fishing rod? If so, then you have found the right place to help you get started on this path! Within this guide, we’re going to give an overview of what makes a great fishing rod, as well as providing some reviews of ten different fishing rods available to you. Some of these will be cheap fishing rods, and others will be some great options (and sometimes, those two paths cross). After the reviews, we’ll help you create a checklist of things to look for when you are picking your fishing rod, and have a section which covers some Frequently Asked Questions.
- G Loomis NRX802s
- St. Croix Legend
- Reinforcet graphite
- Excellent balance
- Shimano Expride EX266L
- Well balanced handle
9 Best Fishing Rods
G Loomis NRX802s
Pieces: 1 Piece
Line: weight 6-10 lb
Lure: weight 1/8oz to 1/4oz
Action: Extra Fast
- Extra sensitive
- Fast action
- Cork handle
St. Croix Legend Elite Freshwater Fly Fishing Rods
Pieces: 1 piece or 2 pieces available
Line weight: 6lb to 12lb
Lure Weight: 3/16oz to 5/8oz
- Reinforced graphite
- 15 years warranty
- Comes in 2 parts
Shimano Expride spinning (EX268MA)
Pieces: 1 piece
Line weight: 5lb to 10lb
Lure Weight: 3/16oz to 1/2oz
Shimano says that it is their goal to enhance the enjoyment of fishing. To do this they have engineered rods for every possible type of fishing, fish and body of water, Salt water rods, fresh water rods, surf rods, inshore rods, to name a few and within these categories yet more subcategories, they have so much choice it's a bit scary to attempt to buy a rod from them in case you get it wrong. But don’t over think it, a good spinning rod can be used to work well in most environments. What Shimano have done is make the best rod for every type of fishing imaginable, will it mean that you will catch the perfect fish? Maybe, but it will certainly give you confidence in the knowledge that you have the best rod for that fish. One thing I can guarantee is that if you buy a Shimano rod it will give you many years of excellent fishing. If I have to choose a rod, then it's the Expride spinning series.
These rods were tested by professional anglers for two seasons across the USA, feedback given and improvements made. These are excellent rods. The Expride series of freshwater spinning rods are available in lengths from 6ft 8inchs to 7ft 2inchs, however all of these are one piece rods which can make transporting them difficult. But transport aside the smallest rod at 6ft 8inchs whose specs I listed above is a great rod, medium power and a moderate action it is great from new and seasoned anglers alike.
New anglers will find casting and setting the hook fairly easy to master with this rod, and seasoned anglers will enjoy the feeling through the rod during the fight to land the fish. The handle is about 8.5 inches and well balanced with cork grips. Match this rod with a Shimano spinning reel and you will be the envy of everyone no matter where you choose to fish.
- Suitable for new anglers as well
- A bit hard to transport
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2
The Clear Tip design provides you with responsiveness and strength. Not to mention, the light EVA grips offer fishermen comfort for any outing.
The stainless steel Ugly Tuff guides come in one piece and eliminate the need for insert pop-out, and it can be used with any kind of line. It is a one-piece rod construction.
- Lightweight and durable
- Sensitive and responsive
- Some find it to be heavier than expected
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
And the Daiwa BG Spinning Reel has many features to boast about. Some key features are an anodized machined aluminum casing, a solid screw-in handle, an air rotor, an aluminum ABS Spool, a braided line ready spool, a waterproof drag system, carbon ATD, a manual return bail for larger models, and an infinite anti-reverse system for smaller ones.
With this Daiwa BG Spinning Reel, you get quality and durability.
- Great value and quality
- Tugh threaded handle
- Smooth drag
- Soome find it heavier
Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
All together, the Penn Battle II Spinning Reel is a winner with great casting range, durability, and a powerful, but smooth drag experience.
Lamiglas INF 735C Infinity Bass Fishing Rod
Pieces: 2 pieces
Line weight: 2lb to 6lb
Lure Weight: 1/16oz to 3/8oz
Power: Ultra light
Action: Moderate to Fast
The infinity freshwater range is a new line, but don't think it is an untested rod. These rods are incredibly light and very sensitive. Even with a small fish on the line, you will feel it, the moderate to fast action will help you to set the hook with ease and maintain a good pressure to tire the fish until landed. The rod comes in two pieces enabling ease of transport whether you have the 7ft or 7ft 6inch rod.
- Very lightweight
- High-quality materials
- Might be too lightweight for some people
Fenwick HMG Spinning Rods
Pieces: 2 pieces
Line weight: 4lb to 8lb
Lure weight: 1/16oz to 3/8oz
Action: Moderate Fast
But as the company grew they noticed the significance of the new sport of Bass fishing and began to develop rods specifically for this type of fishing alongside their existing range of rods. Then in the 1970’s Fenwick became the first rod manufacturer to make an all graphite fishing rod, which as I’m sure your can understand revolutionized fishing rod construction in every area of fishing.
Today Fenwick are still innovating and pushing the boundaries in fishing rods, specializing in rods for specific types of fishing rods rather than general angling. If your are looking for a great spinning or casting rod, ice fishing, or fly fishing then Fenwick is well worth looking at. The HMG Spinning series are excellent rods for use with a spinning reel, and range in length from 6ft to 7ft 6in in length, some one pieces some two piece rods. I have chosen the HMG66M-FS-2 as my favorite. It is a nice length at 6ft 6inchs and a two piece making transportation easier. The rod is graphite with Eva and cork handle. The action in moderate fast which will give a good degree of sensitivity and casting distance. The line is supported by 8 titanium guides along the rod. The handle is not too long that it will feel cumbersome, but long enough to give good balance allowing comfortable grip over the reel.
- Great spinning
- Great casting distance
- Not too long handle
Abu Garcia Venerate Casting Rod
Line weight: 4lb to 10lb
Lure weight: 1/16oz to 1/2oz
Power: Medium Light
So if they have achieved honors as high as this surely they are going to continue this excellence in their fishing rods. The Venerate series are all manufactured from 36-ton graphite meaning they are incredibly lightweight, strong, but balanced and very sensitive.
The guides are titanium alloy which only maintains the lightweight balance of the rod. The handle is premium cork and well balanced. The state that this rod delivers unparalleled comfort and sensitivity. I have to say the rod does seem like they made it fit for royalty.
- Extra lightweight
- Very strong
- Well balanced
- Comes in only 1 piece
Criteria for Evaluation
One piece rods, rods that are one complete piece from the butt to the tip are, for most anglers to be better in regards to the feel of the rod, when handling fish. But due to the length of most fishing rods, 6ft or more the problem with a one piece rod is transporting the rod safely, and this becomes more difficult the longer the rod. Two piece rod are engineered to be split into two parts and easy to slide together. Some fishermen say that two piece rods lack sensitivity. I have never really noticed the difference, other than every rod whether one piece or two piece has a different feel.
Refers to the best line weight to use with the rod.
Refers to the minimum to maximum lure or hook weight the rod is designed for. The rod will handle substantially heavier lure weight but this will effect the action.
The power of a rod is not a specific measurable value and more a guide issued by the manufacturer of the rod. The power classification range from; ultralight, light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, heavy and ultra heavy. The power is really an indication of the type of fishing you intend to do with the rod, what size of fish you are aiming to catch. For example, an Ultralight rod is suitable for catching smaller fish and situations where the rods responsiveness is important, opposed to ultra heavy rods are used for surf fishing and heavy fish. In theory, you can catch a fish with any rod, but using a heavy powered rod to catch a small fish, would work but you would not feel much of the fight, and a light powered rod catching a heavy fish would need exceptional rod skills and would usually end in broken line or fishing kit. The best way to view the power value stated on rods is to take into account the purpose the manufacturer states for the rod, and what they state the rod is best suited for.
An action is often confused with the amount of bend the rod has and where on the rod the bend is, tip, middle to tip or whole rod, but this is not correct. The Action of a rod is the speed in which the rod returns to its natural or starting position. It is also often assumed that the action is related to reeling in the fish, reeling and landing the fish is more about technique, a fast action rod will give you sensitivity and enable a softer hook set. The action is important for casting, but only when in conjunction with line weight and lure weight. A fast action rod will bend and return to its starting point or natural point very quickly. The casting weight and line weight must be within the weights stated for the rod, then when casting the cast weight will cause the rod to bend during the cast, this bend then flexes back to its natural position helping to flick the stick and weights a greater distance, with a slow action rod the rod returns to its natural position slower, and most of the casting power is from the length of the rod and the technique of the cast. However, if you load a rod with more weight than it is designed for you will reduce the actions of the rod. The action as the power value is a value that is decided by the manufacturer, I might feel that a rod has a fast action, but someone else will think it is a medium action.
A Few More Things To Think About
What does the “action” mean, and how does it affect my choice when looking for the best fishing rod?
When you hear the word action within the fishing world, this term is describing how much bend can be found on each rod. There are four main types of actions – extra fast, fast, moderate and slow. If you have a rod which only bends along the top 1/3 of the rod, then you have an extra fast action fishing rod. If you have rod which bends more than halfway, then you have a slow action fishing rod. If your fishing rod bends between these two, if it is closer to the 1/3 mark, then you have a fast action fishing rod, and if it bends closer to the ½ way mark, then you have a moderate action fishing rod.
There are a couple of different factors in determining the type of action you will need on a rod. If you need a rod which provides faster power in the hook setting, as well being more sensitive, then you will need to go with an extra fast action fishing rod. These kinds of rods typically don’t cast out as far, and the line is typically a smaller weight, as you only have a single hook.
The fast action and medium action fishing rods typically allow you to cast the line further out, as there is less chance of the line breaking for the heavier fish, as they can handle a heavier line weight. You can also utilize other types of bait compared to the extra fast action, allowing you to fish for a greater variety of fish.
The slow action fishing rod allows you to have the heaviest line weight possible, but is also one which will take the longest to reel in a fish. You can go with a variety of different lures with the slow action rod, and if the water is choppier, this is the kind of rod you want, as it will ensure your fish is fully hooked onto the lure and doesn’t rip it out of its mouth.
What kind of material should my fishing rod be made out of?
Although you can always create a makeshift fishing rod out of a stick and some nylon string, these days manufactures like to use two different materials to make fishing rods, which are fiberglass and graphite.
A fiberglass rod is made mostly out of glass, which will help you obtain toughness and is typically paired with a slow action fishing rod. The toughness of the rod allows you to put bigger lures on the end of the line, as well as having a heavier weight on your lines.
A graphite rod is the most common material found within rods within the marketplace today, due to their lightweight and durable material. Because they are more lightweight, they tend to have extra fast or a fast action, which means they have to carry a lighter line weight. These lines are great for those who want to capture a lot of smaller fish in a shorter amount of time, and view fishing as more of a sport than as a time for relaxation.
How much line weight can you use with each rod?
No matter if your rod is made out of fiberglass or graphite, each rod will have a weight limit for the lines which can be used. This is both a low weight and a high weight, and it is very important to stay within the recommended guidelines which are posted. If you have a lighter fishing rod, but have a heavier line for that rod, the weight of the line can actually snap your fishing rod! And if you have a heavier rod, but have too light of a weighted line, the line will snap without even blinking an eye. Knowing the type of line weight you will need for where you fish will be a very important and determining factor in which kind of fishing rod you should obtain. The heavier the water, the heavier the line needs to be; the clearer the water, the lighter the line can be.
Are there any other important features you should be looking for within each fishing rod?
Once you really start doing your research into the best fishing rods, you will notice there is a very large discrepancy in prices among rods. Knowing what is a good value for the budget have can be hard to determine, however, there are some key things which you can look for within each rod that will allow you to determine if it is a good value or not.
Grip – Because you are going to be holding the fishing rod for at least part of the time you are in the water, you need to have a grip which is both comfortable and durable. Not only this, you need a grip which is responsive to when there is a fish on the line, to alert you that there is some action that needs to be taken. Most of the better rods on the market have a grip made out of cork, and the even the cork has different grades. The higher the grade, the more comfortable and responsive the grip is.
Guides – The more guides you have on a fishing rod, the better your fishing rod will cast out in the water. This also is typically reflected in the pricing, as the more expensive fishing rods have more guides on them as well. In addition to this, the material the guide is made out of is very important, and the best graded material within the market today is a silicon carbide. Although there are other materials out there, over time they tend to corrode and are weakened by being exposed to water on a consistent basis. If you are fishing in salt water, this is especially true, so ensure the rings you have on your fishing rods are made out of a durable material for the environment you typically fish within.
Reel Seats – Although there is not much variation within the reel seats on a fishing rod, it’s important to know what your reel seat is made out of. If the rod uses cardboard for a reel seat, for example, then very quickly after you purchase the fishing rod, this part will break, and your fishing rod will become useless. This is a simple question to ask, and one that will save you some heartache down the road.
When it comes to finding the right fishing rod for your needs, it is best to come up with a checklist of attributes which are most important. If you are in the market for a new fishing rod, then you need to ensure you consider the following characteristics:
Graphite or Steel – depending upon the kind of water you fish in, as well as the type of fish you are fishing for, this will determine what kind of material you need your fishing rod to be made out of. If you are in clear water and are fishing for lighter fish, then a graphite rod is the best choice for you. If you fish in water that tends to be a choppier, and are out looking for heavier fish, then having a steel rod is better. The graphite rods tend to not have as heavy of line weight, which means they are easier to bring in and you can turn your lines faster. By having a steel rod, you can have a higher weighted line, meaning you can hunt for bigger fish, and ensure the line doesn’t break after you have hooked them, and you can reel them in.
Guides on the Fishing Rod – While looking at fishing rods, you need to consider how many guides you have on your fishing pole, as well as what material they are made out of. The more guides you have on your fishing rod, the more accurate your line will cast out into the water. If you need to have an accurate cast, then you need to ensure you have at least eight different guides on your fishing rod. However, if you don’t necessarily care where our line is cast out in the water, then you can go with fewer guides. Not only this, but the guides can be expensive to replace, so the less you have, the less your maintenance cost will be long term as well. There is no reason to get more guides than you need.
Not only do you need to concern yourself with the number of guides you have, but also what material they are made out of. If you are going to be around a lot of saltwater, then having guides which could corrode from the salt is clearly not optimal. There are a few different materials out in the marketplace for guides, so ensure you know what you are getting. Even if a guide is coated in a rust resistant material, if you are going out fishing a lot, then you will want guides which are made out of the material that is corrosion proof, not just coated in that material. Make sure you know the type of water you fish in the most, and ensure the guides on your fishing rod will work within those conditions.
Grip and Reel Seat – On all fishing rods, they will have some sort of a grip system which you need to be comfortable with. Not only will fishing rods come with a rear grip, but there are certain models which will come with a fore grip as well. When it comes to having a fore grip, it truly depends upon what you are comfortable with. When you are reeling a fish in, you might prefer to have both of your hands on the rear grip; or, you might want to have one hand on the rear grip and one on the fore grip. You won’t really know until you try a couple out, and get a sense on what style will work for you. In addition, the material the grips are made out of is important as well.
Your hands need to be comfortable when holding the fishing rod, both when you are casting the line out, as well as reeling a fish in. Luckily, if you find the right fishing rod, the easiest thing to change out is the grip, so even if everything else lines up, you can just pay to have a pro change out the grip to the one that fits best for your hands. In addition to the grip, the other important part of the fishing rod is the reel seat. You need to ensure it is a durable material which will not break down while you are out fishing. There are some reel seats which are made out of cardboard, which is a very inexpensive material; but, when it gets wet, it will break down, and cause your fishing rod to not function properly anymore. If you are going to make the purchase of a new fishing rod, ensure you know what kind of reel seat it comes equipped with.
Q: If my fishing rod breaks, can it be repaired?
Yes, there are a variety of ways for your fishing rod to be repaired. Just because it is broke, it does not mean you have to buy a new one or replace it. However, not every part on a fishing rod can be replaced. Clearly, if the rod itself breaks, you will have to purchase a new one, as there is no good way to fix a graphite rod. You can glue it back together, but the tensile strength of the rod will be lost, and more than likely it will break again in the same spot, as that spot is made weaker by the break.
But, when it comes to replacing almost every other part, it can be replaced or improved upon. Whether it is your guides, your reel line, the handle or your grips, they can all be replaced or upgraded. As long as your fishing rod stays durable, then you can continue to use it for as long as you want, and as long as it is a good and viable option for you for the type of water you fish within. The more a rod ages, the weaker it does become, so you will need to be aware of the strength of your rod, and if you see it weakening over time, you will need to replace it.
Q: How should you clean your fishing rod?
When you clean your fishing rod, which should be done after every trip, there are certain steps you should take to ensure your rod is ready to use on your next trip.
The first thing you should do is clean the guides. If you don’t clean anything else on your fishing rod, you should clean the guides, as they are used on every cast and catch, and because the lines spend a lot time in the water, the guides tend to catch a bunch of grit and grime. Because the guides collect all this junk, it can affect your line and how your line performs over time. The best way to clean your guides is to use Q-tips along with some kind of cleaning agent, whether it is dish soap or even WD-40. When you clean, you need to ensure you clean both the inside and outside of the guide, as stuff can build up in either place. If stuff is left on the guides, it could eventually corrode your guides out, which will make you have to repair your fishing rod before going on your next expedition.
Once you have cleaned the guides, you then give reel house and the grips a good wipe down, and you can use a disinfectant wipe. By making sure these are wiped clean, you can ensure there is no bacteria growing on them, so when it is stored properly, there won’t be any mildew or mold that will grow on your fishing rod.
Q: How should you store your fishing rod?
After you have come back from a successful fishing trip, and have cleaned your rods, then you need to ensure they are stored properly. You will want to have a bag which can store each rod you have separately, so they do not get tangled, and don’t damage each other while they are stored. In addition to this, you need to find a place where you can store them vertically. This will ensure that the rods stay as straight as possible. Just like with a piece of wood, if you store the wood horizontally with two braces located at the end of each side of the piece of wood, it will eventually bend in the middle. If your rod starts to bend at all, then it cannot be made straight again, and the rod will be ruined.
In addition to this, because you put a lot of strain on your fishing rods, you will want to ensure they are stored in as much of an environmentally controlled area as possible. The hotter they get, the weaker they become. Although you may notice this within the first year of use, the heat will eventually cause the rods to break down, and will shorten the life you have the rods for. If you notice you have to replace your rods every three years, whereas your fishing buddies are able to go five or more years, it may be due to the way you are storing your fishing rod.
When it comes to finding the best fishing rod for your needs, you need to take a little bit of time and do the proper amount of research is vital towards having a fishing rod that you will be happy with long-term. Even if you enjoy fishing, if you have the wrong fishing rod for your needs, then you will not be able to enjoy fishing to the fullest extent. By taking the time to ensure you know the kind of fishing rod you want, whether it is a cheap fishing rod for an occasional use, or a high-end fishing rod you want to use more competitively, there are all kinds available to you. Hopefully, by utilizing this guide, you will be able to come up with the characteristics needed for the type of fishing you are doing.