10 Best Ultralight Fishing Rods of 2021 Reviewed

Fishing Ultralight reel and rod at freshwater

Ultralight fishing rods can be hard to get right. Balancing weight with stability, functionality, and endurance is no easy task.

While some need ultralight fishing gear for trekking and backpacking, others may just like the challenge of fishing with the lightest gear possible. Ultralight fishing rods can be fun and effective, but finding the right one can be a real challenge if you don’t know what to look for.

Thankfully, we reviewed this year’s top picks so you don’t have to. Read on to find out what 2021 has to offer in ultralight fishing gear!

In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:

Overview
BEST OVERALL
KastKing Brutus Fishing Rods, Spinning Rod 5ft -Ultra Light - Moderate-2pcs
Title
KastKing Brutus Spinning Rods
Price
$36.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Details
BEST OVERALL
Overview
KastKing Brutus Fishing Rods, Spinning Rod 5ft -Ultra Light - Moderate-2pcs
Title
KastKing Brutus Spinning Rods
Price
$36.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Details

10 Best Ultralight Fishing Rods of 2021 Reviewed – Overview

Here are the top 5 picks (keep scrolling for more details and picks 6-10).

Overview
LOWEST PRICE
KastKing Brutus Fishing Rods, Spinning Rod 5ft -Ultra Light - Moderate-2pcs
okuma Celilo Graphite Lightweight Ultra Light Trout Rods, CE-S-602UL-1
St. Croix Rods Trout Series Spinning Rod
Fenwick Eagle Spinning Fishing Rod, Brown, 5' - Light - 1pc
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod, Multi, One Size (USSP602M)
Title
KastKing Brutus Spinning Rods
Okuma Celilo Ultralight Troutfishing Rods
St. Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod
Fenwick Eagle Spinning Rod
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
Price
$36.99
$29.99
$109.99
$53.38
$63.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
⭐⭐⭐⭐
⭐⭐⭐⭐
LOWEST PRICE
Overview
KastKing Brutus Fishing Rods, Spinning Rod 5ft -Ultra Light - Moderate-2pcs
Title
KastKing Brutus Spinning Rods
Price
$36.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Details
Overview
okuma Celilo Graphite Lightweight Ultra Light Trout Rods, CE-S-602UL-1
Title
Okuma Celilo Ultralight Troutfishing Rods
Price
$29.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Details
Overview
St. Croix Rods Trout Series Spinning Rod
Title
St. Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod
Price
$109.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Details
Overview
Fenwick Eagle Spinning Fishing Rod, Brown, 5' - Light - 1pc
Title
Fenwick Eagle Spinning Rod
Price
$53.38
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Details
Overview
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod, Multi, One Size (USSP602M)
Title
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
Price
$63.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Details

1. KastKing Brutus Spinning Rods

KastKing Brutus Fishing Rods, Spinning Rod 5ft -Ultra Light - Moderate-2pcs
1,073 Reviews
KastKing Brutus Fishing Rods, Spinning Rod 5ft -Ultra Light - Moderate-2pcs
  • Brute Tuff Composite Glass/ Carbon Fiber Fishing Rods– It’s a Brute! KastKing Brutus fishing rods are designed for incredible toughness and durability without losing the performance and feel all...

If material quality really is everything, the KastKing Brutus rods are a clear choice for the top of this list. While some don’t love the glass and carbon fiber composite blanks, this tough-as-nails combo makes for a flexible, light, and yet strong fishing rod.

Only the spinning rod is available in the ultralight category but with 22 different models available, there’s something for just about any fishing endeavor. Whether you’re fishing for walleye, bass, salmon, or catfish there’s a KastKing Brutus rod for you.

Take some time to look at the different rod features on each model, as they are somewhat different, but really you can’t go wrong with the KastKing Brutus rod. In particular, let’s look at this brilliantly built rod a bit closer. This rod combines solid materials with an even more impressive design.

Comfortable, and yet durable, this rod is brilliant from top to bottom. The EVA foam handles, in particular, are a great addition. They make a long day of fishing much more comfortable and contribute to the sensitivity of this impressive fishing rod.

Pros:

  • Very strong design 
  • Affordable
  • Graphite and glass rod blanks

Cons:

  • Reel seat issues 
  • Heavier, fewer ultralight options 

Check Latest Price >>

2. Okuma Celilo Ultralight Troutfishing Rods

With sensitive and responsive graphic blanks and aluminum oxide guide inserts, the Okuma Celilo leaves nothing to be desired. At an astounding price point, these spinning rods were designed for trout fishing and are great for landing panfish with an ultralight rod.

This rod is just a little bit less durable than the KastKing Brutus but otherwise, it’s a great choice and one of the lightest options available. There are many rod lengths available, including some shorter rod lengths that aren’t carried by other brands, so you can even fish indoors. 

Otherwise, the Okuma Celilo has a smooth and comfortable action and the cork grips are really high quality. This rod is an amazing buy, but it’s best suited for experienced anglers. This is a really sensitive rod and it does take something of a special touch to get the most out of it.

That said, you’re unlikely to run into problems. Between the graphite composite blanks, a stainless steel reel seat, and quality cork grips, this fishing rod offers a great deal of quality for the price. 

Pros:

  • Affordable 
  • One of the lightest rods available 
  • Graphite rod blanks 

Cons:

  • Best for experienced anglers 
  • Not the strongest 

Check Latest Price >>

3. St. Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod

St. Croix Rods Trout Series Spinning Rod
  • DYNAMIC BLEND OF SCVI AND SCII GRAPHITE: For a serious and discriminating angler who appreciates performance and value; High-modulus/mid-modulus, high-strain graphite fiber; Ideal mixture of power and...

With the right spinning wheel and the perfect spot, the St. Croix Trout Series rod is ultralight trout fishing heaven. It’s a little on the pricey side, but for the more discerning, the quality construction is well worth it. Made from a composite of high-modulus and low-modulus graphite for both strength and flexibility, this is a highly sensitive and responsive fishing pole. 

St. Croix uses an interesting fortified resin system to strengthen the rod. First, the fishing rod blank is sealed with a super-strong resin. Then, it’s cured in tightly temperature-regulated ovens for the perfect results. This makes for a very strong product with a long lifespan and few malfunctions.

This is part of why St. Croix offers a 5-year warranty. While this rod doesn’t have the same versatility as others on the list, its accuracy and performance at spinning for trout is impressive enough to earn it the third spot on the list. 

Pros:

  • 5-year warranty 
  • Trout spinning features 
  • Great accuracy 

Cons:

  • Pricier
  • Best for experienced anglers 

Check Latest Price >>

4. Fenwick Eagle Spinning Rod

One thing to love about the Fenwick Eagle rod is its simply beautiful classic design. It looks like everything you expect a fishing rod to be, and you can tell from looking at it that there are years of expertise put into the design. It’s constructed from graphite, with cork handles, and it’s incredibly comfortable and easy to use.

This rod feels like a dream and every piece is ergonomically designed. The smooth and reliable action that Fenwick is known for is the main draw for this rod. This makes the common complaints about this rod especially frustrating. Some people report that the manufacturing process is less than perfect.

So you might end up with misaligned guides or other issues that can be a hassle to work out. One especially great feature, though, is the stainless steel guide system with an aluminum oxide insert. This strong and reliable guide system will give you increased casting distance and accuracy by reducing the friction on your line.

The versatility of this rod is really impressive and it’s effective for a range of species, from trout to bass and walleye. 

Pros:

  • 5-year limited warranty 
  • Smooth and reliable action 
  • Classic design 

Cons:

  • Range of prices
  • Unreliable manufacturing 

Check Latest Price >>

5. Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod, Multi, One Size (USSP602M)
  • Strong, yet balanced graphite and fiberglass construction

The Ugly Stik fishing rods have attracted a lot of buzz lately and the GX2 lives up to the hype. In particular, the Ugly Stik clear tip design adds a great deal of strength and sensitivity to the tip of the rod. It’s truly an innovative design and eliminates the risk of having a tip snap off.

Every part of this rod is designed for durability and the graphite and fiberglass rod blanks are also impressively supple and strong. It comes with a 7-year warranty which is a testament to the durability and solid construction of this pole. 

As a two-piece rod, this model is great for traveling, although some have noted that this isn’t the best fast action rod. It’s a little slower and less sensitive than some of the other options on this list. It’s still hard to beat the construction and toughness of the Ugly Stik though.

There’s a reason the line has developed a reputation for reliability and quality. 

Pros:

  • Clear tip adds strength and accuracy 
  • Unique graphite and fiberglass rod blank
  • 7-year warranty 

Cons:

  • Grip is uncomfortable
  • Slower action

Check Latest Price >>

6. Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod

Shakespeare’s Micro Spinning Rod is an amazing deal if you’re going after small fish like crappie. It can handle larger fish, but this rod really shines with the lightest lures. As you can probably tell, the whole point of this rod is its affordability.

This is a great introductory rod for someone who wants to try out ultralight fishing for the first time. It’s not quite as sensitive as the other options here, but it does get the job done. It’s also a lot easier to use effectively than some of the top-of-the-line models you might be tempted by.

The reliability and comfort of this rod, and not the mention the price, make up for the reduced sensitivity and straightforward design. There’s nothing fancy or special going on here, but this is an amazing price for such a reliable ultralight rod.

That said, you should be careful if you get stuck or hook something too big. This is a very light rod and it will snap if you put too much pressure on it. 

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Reliable
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Not as sensitive 
  • Very delicate 
  • Pay attention to lure weights 

Check Latest Price >>

7. KastKing Perigree II Fishing Rods

KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rods, Casting Rod 7ft - Medium and Medium Heavy - Fast - Twin-tip Rod (2Tips+1 Butt Section)
  • AMAZING QUALITY CARBON FIBER BLANK - All Perigee II two-piece fishing rods are constructed with Toray 24-ton carbon matrix KastFlex blank technology for power, strength, and accuracy. Available in 29...

With 24-ton carbon fiber rod blanks, Fuju O-ring line guides, and a graphite reel seat, this KastKing model is great in both the casting rod and spinning rod versions. There are a lot of options with this model. One-piece rods and two-piece rods are available, at a variety of lengths, and with a range of actions from fast action baitcasting rods to moderate action spinning rods.

This makes the KaskKing Perigree II great for a variety of species, though it’s important to pay attention to the length, strength, and action speed you need. Overall, people seem most pleased with the Perigree II for walleye. One issue some have pointed out is that the lightest KastKing rods available have a problem with the tip breaking off.

That said, the KastKing Power Transition System gives the two-piece rods a smoother feel and transfers power efficiently through state-of-the-art spigot joints. This makes the rod quite sensitive and overall effective, but subject to defects like a broken tip. 

Pros:

  • Very sensitive
  • Casting and spinning rods available 
  • Light and strong 

Cons:

  • Tip breaks off 
  • Best for experienced anglers 
  • Pay attention to lure weight ranges

Check Latest Price >>

8. Sougayilang Graphite Trout Rods

Sougayilang Fishing Rods Graphite Lightweight Ultra Light Trout Rods 2 Pieces Cork Handle Crappie Spinning Fishing Rod
  • Sensitive Graphite Composite Blanks:Hybrid design construction for un-matched sensitivity with the security of through handle construction.

Marketed for ultralight trout and crappie fishing, the Sougayling ultralight graphite rods are an excellent lower-cost option. With a graphite rod and cork handle, these rods are very light and, correspondingly, very sensitive. They can’t handle much larger than trough and crappie, but they definitely do serve the intended purpose well. 

There are also reports of tips snapping off on the Sougayilang, but it’s hard to know whether this is a manufacturer error or just a matter of going after big fish or not using light enough lures. Another small issue is that the guides seem to be a bit off.

They work fine for the most part but may cause fishing lines to snap more often and reduce your accuracy. The other thing to keep in mind is that with any of these rods, there’s a lot of room to modify and add gear. Or, try pairing these rods with different spinning reels to get better results and balance out the defects in whatever rod you’re using. 

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable 
  • Sensitive 

Cons:

  • Tip breaks off 
  • Not great for larger fish 
  • Misaligned guides 

Check Latest Price >>

9. Cadence Ultralight Fishing Rods

Cadence Fishing CR5 Spinning Rods | 30 Ton Carbon | Fuji Reel Seat | Stainless Steel Guides with SiC Inserts | CR5-601S-MF
  • What You Get From Cadence: Cadence fishing poles offer high-performance premium features at an unbeatable value. Fishing with quality, dependable gear should not mean breaking the bank. Cadence has a...

These two-piece Cadence spinning rods are constructed from a carbon blank together with stainless steel guides and a Fuji reel seat for a combination of flexibility and strength. Easy to travel with and easy to use, this is a great option for families and teens.

A more experienced fisherman may want something with more versatility or sensitivity, but for the dependable ultralight pole, this Cadence series is a good choice. Among the small issues folks have pointed out, this rod has an issue with the tips breaking off more easily than one might think.

The eyelets as well seem to bend pretty easily. That said, this rod can stand up to a lot, and will definitely serve your needs for a family fishing trek or a day at the lake. It’s a safe and comfortable option at a reasonable, if slightly high, price point. 

Pros:

  • Easy to use 
  • Two-piece rods available 
  • Smooth action 

Cons:

  • Not as sensitive
  • Tip breaks off more easily 
  • Eyelets bend 

Check Latest Price >>

10. Shimano Clarus Casting Rod

Designed for freshwater casting, the Shimano Clarus is an incredibly strong and versatile fishing rod. It’s great for bass, walleye, and even redfish and this tough rod can handle just about anything. It all starts with the high modulus graphite blank, combined with corrosion-resistant titanium oxide guides, and a custom reel seat that truly makes this one-piece rod a thing of beauty. 

Not everyone needs something gorgeous though. This rod is a bit pricier than the others and it’s harder to pack as a one-piece rod. This model is also highly sensitive and a bit difficult to control. For an experienced angler with the money to spend, though, the Shimano Clarus is a solid investment. 

Pros:

  • Custom reel seat 
  • Great grip 
  • Very accurate and sensitive 

Cons:

  • Pricier 
  • One-piece rod 
  • Best for experienced anglers 

Check Latest Price >>

Our Winner:

Overview
BEST OVERALL
KastKing Brutus Fishing Rods, Spinning Rod 5ft -Ultra Light - Moderate-2pcs
Title
KastKing Brutus Spinning Rods
Price
$36.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Details
BEST OVERALL
Overview
KastKing Brutus Fishing Rods, Spinning Rod 5ft -Ultra Light - Moderate-2pcs
Title
KastKing Brutus Spinning Rods
Price
$36.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Details

As you can see, there’s a lot of variety in the market right now, which is great for anyone looking to replace an ultralight pole or add to their collection. No matter what kind of journey you have planned, 2021 has an ultralight fishing rod for you. 

The KastKing Brutus won the top position for its superior strength and construction, but the Sougayilang, for instance, is a solid option for smaller fish. It all depends on how you want to use the rod. The other thing to keep in mind is to pay attention to material and construction.

A great-looking rod is not always a well-constructed one. The ten on this list, however, are all reliable choices for an ultralight fishing rod.

What Sets the Top Picks Apart? 

In short, the main concern with ultralight fishing poles is the quality of the material. While all the rods on this list are made of high-quality materials that give you a combination of durability, lightness, and strength, there are tradeoffs to consider.

Some anglers may want truly the lightest rod possible, while others will want more strength and stability. To that end, we paid special attention to the materials used for each of these poles. Another way in which the materials used can influence your fishing experience is through the level of sensitivity they allow.

Ultralight fishing rods are much more sensitive than heavier options, and this can be a real advantage. The materials used are the main factor in rod sensitivity. Finally, there are different kinds of ultralight rods designed for different kinds of fish, environments, and approaches.

It’s important to think about the size of the fish you’re going after as well as the environment you’re fishing in. We’ll note along the way which of these fishing rods are better for saltwater or freshwater environments. 

Another quick note before we get into the rankings, we tried to be inclusive in this list. So there are some spinning rods, some casting rods, and each description specifies what kind of fishing the rod is best for. One of the disadvantages of ultralight rods is that, in the interest of weight reduction, they don’t do everything.

So it’s best to know exactly what you want to use it for before diving in. In other words, ultralight fishing rods are best for the angler who already has a dedicated core rod or collection of rods. Or, for someone who has a very specific use in mind, such as backpacking or trekking.

If you’re just looking for a multipurpose fishing rod, something else may be a better choice. If you’re looking for ultralight though, these rods can more than deliver! 

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    Riley Draper

    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.