8 Best Fishing Rods (2021)

fishing reels and rod equipment

High-quality fishing rods are critical players for success on any fishing expedition. Their efficiency is optimized when you pair them with the right fishing reels and lines so that you can finesse your technique. Knowing how each type of rod works and what they are suitable for helps you optimize the application of the ones you already have and get the right rod for your fishing needs when you want to upgrade.

We will be reviewing some of the best fishing rods currently on the market to understand what separates high-quality rods from the rest of the pack. Our review features different types of fishing rods and what they do best.

At the end of the article, you will be able to determine the best reel combo and other fishing gear that complement them.


Best Fishing Rods – Winners

Check out our quick recommendations here, or keep scrolling for detailed reviews:


Best Overall Fishing Rods

1. St. Croix Premier Split Grip Casting Rod

Features

Type:  Casting rod

Construction:  Graphite fiber

Rod Length:  6’6” or 7’

Power:  Medium, medium-heavy, or heavy

Weight: 4, 4.2, 4.7 or 5.4 oz.

Pros

  • Premium-grade cork handles
  • Covered by a 5-year manufacturer warranty
  • Durable, lightweight SCII graphite blank

Cons

  • Leaning towards pricey

The rod comes in a balanced split-grip design on a premium SCII graphite fiber blank in a black frame that is lightweight, durable, and sensitive. It has been double-coated with their proprietary Flex-Coat cure for extra protection against the weather.

This fishing pole also has Kigan Master hand 3D guides which have slim but hardy aluminum oxide inserts. They have incorporated a Fuji ECS reel seat with a frosted silver hood that fits the hand perfectly. They have premium-grade cork handles that assure a firm, comfortable grip regardless of the fishing conditions.

Depending on your target fish and fishing style, you have a range of power and rod action ratings to choose from. They are all covered by the St. Croix premium 5-year warranty, which is backed by their superstar service to give you that extra peace of mind.

View on Bass Pro Shops >>

Also available on Amazon


Best Lightweight Fishing Rods

2. Ugly Stik Elite Casting Rod

Features

Type:  Casting rod

Construction: Graphite fiber

Rod Length: 6’

Power: Light, medium, or medium heavy

Weight: 6.38 oz.

Pros

  • Extra lightweight graphite blanks
  • Covered by a 7-year warranty
  • Premium cork grips
  • Exposed blank design for extra sensitivity

Cons

  • Frays braided lines

They have the Ugly Tuff one-piece stainless steel line guide that is extra durable. It will not allow insert pop-outs and runs all the way to the strong and sensitive Clear Tip, which is made of fiberglass. Their exposed blank-style reel seats with cushioned stainless steel hoods are durable, comfortable to palm, and will allow your fingers to come into direct contact with the blank for extra sensitivity.

Their blanks are extra lightweight, courtesy of their Ugly Tech construction process that employs 35% more graphite than their predecessor, the Ugly Stik GX2. Their premium cork grips come etched with the Ugly Stik logo in an aesthetically appealing way.

This fishing rod offers a firm grip despite the wetness you will face out in the water. The Ugly Stik Elite rods have been granted a 7-year warranty which speaks to the manufacturer’s confidence in quality.

View on Bass Pro Shops >>

Also Available on Amazon


Best Budget Fishing Rods

3. PLUSSINO Elite Hunter

Features

Type:  Casting and spinning rods

Construction:  IM6 graphite

Rod Length: 7’

Power: Medium or medium heavy

Weight: 4.7 oz. casting or 4.5 oz. spinning

Pros

  • Premium durable spigot ferrule construction
  • Ceramic coated non-winding line guides
  • Light and sturdy IM6 graphite blanks
  • Accommodates all types of fishing lines

Cons

  • They barely hold up against big saltwater fish

The Elite Hunters have casting and spinning 2-piece rods. Their graphite blanks have been subjected to IM6 carbon matrix technology, giving them incredible strength and sensitivity while remaining compact and lightweight. They have a split and full grip, featuring non-slip cork and EVA handles for comfortable and steady handling.

The line guides are stainless steel with ceramic inserts to reduce friction. They can accommodate both mono and braid, so you will not experience line pop-outs, and slippage is minimized. Vibrations from the lines are transmitted through the fishing rod to your hands, enhancing sensitivity.

These rods have spigot ferrules that have been designed to last, unlike regular ferrules, which are prone to damage. They leave a 0.6” gap between the rod’s two sections that allow a range of motion without straining the joint. The plastic reel seat is double locked on the rod for extra stability, and it comes with a cushioned hood that will ensure your reel stays snugly in place.

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Best Fishing Rods for Spinnerbaits

4.  St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod

Features

Type:  Spinning Rod

Construction: Graphite fiber

Rod Length: 5’

Power: Medium

Weight: 2.2 oz.

Pros

  • Premium spinnerbait high-performance line guides
  • Sensitive, lightweight SCII graphite fiber construction
  • Non-slip cork handles
  • 5-year service backed warranty

Cons

  • Not suitable for heavy fish

It comes with premium Sea Guide Atlas Performance SS304 line guides finished in a sleek black. They are frictionless and mounted from the bottom of the rod to line up with the reel, making them ideal for a spinning reel.

They come with the Sea Guide XDPS reel seats with fiber-reinforced nylon bodies and sandblasted cushioned hoods made of SS316 material, which holds up impressively against corrosion.

The SCII constructed graphite fiber blanks have a high modulus and strain rating, making them durable, sensitive, and lightweight. They have been treated with a fortified resin system for extra strength and resistance to damage from environmental elements. They handle especially well courtesy of premium grade cork with enough traction and softness for a comfortable, sustainable grip.

They are covered by St. Croix’s 5-year warranty, backed by their Superstar service guarding your investment.

View on Bass Pro Shops >>

Also Available on Amazon


Best Fishing Rods for Crankbaits

5. St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass Casting Rod

Features

Type: Casting rod

Construction:  S-glass fiber

Rod Length:  6’10”

Power: Medium to heavy

Weight:  5 oz.

Pros

  • Covered by a 5-year warranty
  • Integrated Poly Curve technology for accuracy and smoothness
  • Strong S-glass fiber construction
  • Premium Fuji TCS reel seat
  • Split grip for extra sensitivity

Cons

  • A bit pricey

The treble hooks usually attached to crankbaits are harder to get into the mouth of bass than single hooks. Because of their smaller size, the bass can throw the hook in the middle of the fight, or you might yank the lure out of their mouth entirely if you are overzealous.

Therefore, a crankbait rod should have slow to medium action to enable you to maintain steady pressure for setting the hook and snagging big game. They also hold up enough momentum to hurl lures with baitcasting reels for long casts.

These moderate action rods have been made using St. Croix’s exclusive Integrated Poly Curve(IPC), giving them a crisp, smooth, and precise action. As a result, they are ideal for high-impact angling techniques like deep-diving and square bill crankbaits.

The smooth, long casting is supported by black framed Kigan Master Hand 3D line guides with frictionless aluminum-oxide rings. The split-grip handle maintains the rods’ lightweight build while allowing direct contact with the blank for extra sensitivity.

They have non-slip premium cork handles covering their 100% linear S-glass blanks, which have been double coated with Flex Coat slow-cure finish for extra protection.

View on Bass Pro Shops >>

Also Available on Amazon


Best Telescopic Fishing Rod

6. KastKing Blackhawk II Telescopic Fishing Rod

Features

Type: Spinning and casting

Construction: Graphite fiber

Rod Length: 6’6”

Power: Medium

Weight: Undisclosed    

Pros

  • Versatile collection for different fishing styles
  • Compressible to a third of their extended size
  • Durable 24-ton carbon matrix constitution

Cons

  • Practical for lightweight fishing only

These rods have six pieces connected by snug-fitting ferrules, which allow seamless power transition for enhanced sensibility and strength, making it feel and perform like one continuous rod. They are easy to assemble and disassemble; you extend it from the tip section going downwards and shrink it from the bottom section going up.

The extra task is aligning the line guides to the tip, which is also a breeze. Being collapsible to a compact length makes this telescopic fishing rod portable and convenient as it fits in confined spaces and can be taken on many trips. You can even store them fully rigged with the reel on the rod and the lines in the guides for instant deployment.

Their 24-ton carbon matrix blanks are designed using KastKing’s KastFlex Toray technology, and the solid glass tips are durable, sensitive. They will have no flat spots during casting for a smooth, accurate cast. This is aided by numerous floating line guides made of stainless steel.

This graphite rod is offered in 14 different lengths and actions, so you won’t miss a spinning or baitcasting rod for most forms of saltwater fishing or freshwater fishing, whether you are looking for bass, trout, other panfish from the bank, on a kayak, or any other vessel.

The telescopic rod comes with graphite reel seats which combine well with their EVA handles for comfortable, stable handling.

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Best of the Rest

7. KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rods

Features

Type: Casting or Spinning

Construction: Carbon fiber

Rod Length: Assorted

Power: Middle to ultra-light

Weight: Assorted

Pros

  • Covered by a 1-year warranty
  • Effective power transitioning system in spigot joints
  • 2 fishing rods for the price of 1
  • Versatility in fishing techniques

Cons

  • The tip becomes brittle after multiple uses

The Perigee II series have one-piece and two-piece models. The two-piece models come with twin tips, a medium and medium-heavy or medium and medium-light power that you can choose from, essentially giving you two of the strongest fishing rod options for the price of one.

Their blanks are forged using 24-ton carbon matrix fiber for extra durability, power, and sensitivity. The two-piece blanks have spigot joints with KastKing PTS computer specialized control wrapping that enables them to transition the power evenly throughout the rod for a one-piece feel and efficiency.

They come with the usual KastKing quality parts, including Fuji O-ring line guides, high-strength fishing reel seats, high-density EVA grips, and Saf-T Keeper hook holders to prevent your line from flailing about when you haven’t casted. They perform equally well for baitcasting or spinning, and you can land a variety of fish using diverse techniques.

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8. Phenix Maxim II Casting Rod

Features

Type: Casting rod

Construction: Carbon fiber

Rod Length: 7’3”

Power: Heavy

Weight: Undisclosed

Pros

  • Durable SiC line guides
  • Tough carbon fiber blanks
  • Customized fishing reel seat

Cons

  • A bit heavy set for a carbon fiber rod

Their blanks are made using a multi-axis carbon fiber scrim, giving them sensitivity and power for long and accurate casting on lightweight frames. This is reinforced with cross-wrapped carbon tape that boosts their strength and enhances flexibility.

They are fitted with sleek, high-density EVA handles that are comfortable for prolonged usage and combine well with the single-piece locking fishing reel seat custom-designed by Phenix.

They have premium silicon carbide guides that are smooth to prevent friction with the fishing line and are also excellent heat conductors, guaranteeing fishing line safety.

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Fishing Rod Buying Guide

Best Fishing Rods

Source: Pixabay

Action

This describes where the rod bends when pressure or weight is applied to it. A fast action rod will bend somewhere in the top third of the blank, a moderate action rod will flex in the middle of the blank, between the lower third and the top third, and a low action rod will bend in the lower third, all the way to the handle.

Fast action is the most common because it has sufficient sensitivity to light fish bites and is easy to load up when setting the hook. It also accommodates many fishing techniques targeting a variety of species.

These reasons make it most suitable for beginners. Moderate action is used for larger fish targeted with aggressive lures that do not require sensitive bite indications. The longer flex makes them ideal for long casting distances, so you can toss your spinnerbaits and crankbaits further away in the water.

Slow action rods have a more parabolic curve which is ideal for light lines wielding light lures, ideal for trout and panfish.

Fishing Rod Power

This is a measure of how much the rod is resistant to bending and is determined by the amount of pressure needed to bend the rod at its action rating. The resistance will be classified using terms such as ultra-light, light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy, and extra heavy.

Light power is used with light tackles and small lures targeting smaller fish like trout and panfish in general. Medium power is used with a baitcasting reel for average lures and rigs, typically for bass and walleye. Heavy power goes with larger lures used to target bigger bass, catfish, and pike.

Overloading your rod creates a lot of tension, such that you may not feel the bite and end up losing the fish. It may also lead to the rod snapping due to excess pressure. Most rods will indicate their power which should guide you in your selection depending on the type of fish you are aiming for.

Stiff rods are good for fishing methods that require quick hook sets and fishing under deep structures, while lighter rods are good at setting hooks for light-biting species because they have a softer feel, so you won’t miss the bite.

IM6, IM7, IM8 Sensitivity Ratings

These are terms used to compare different carbon blank types. IM ratings are not technically an industry quality or material standard, but they have been used for decades. To many companies, they symbolize where the carbon/graphite rod is ranked among their rods. Don’t take the rating alone without actually studying the rod because standards vary with the companies.

The IM rating refers to the stiffness of the rod in relation to its size. The higher the rating, the stiffer the material by weight, meaning less of it is required to achieve the same stiffness as more of a lower-rated rod. The heavier a rod is, the less effective it is in casting and retrieval, and the stiffer it is, the more sensitive it is. Consequently, a higher IM rating is preferred for efficiency.

However, this comes at a price; the rod will cost more, so you need to decide if the benefits increase will justify the price increase. Also, consider the fish you will be targeting and the kind of fishing you will employ; It does not add as much value for bottom bouncing as it will to jigging. The ability to make blanks with thinner walls also has a flip side; the thin wall can’t hold up to rough handling, and many anglers break their expensive rods by accidentally banging them in their boats or dropping them.

Modulus and Tonnage Rating

These are more measurable comparisons between graphite/ carbon fishing rods. The million modulus rating is a United States standard, while the tonnage rating is universal. The IM6 rating is comparable to a 39 million modulus or a 24-ton blank. As these ratings get higher, the rods get lighter, meaning a 30-ton blank is less hefty than a 24-ton blank, so is an IM7 or IM8.

Strain Rate

This is a measure of the strength of the material, and you can’t discuss modulus ratings without including them. For perspective, an IM6 rod with a modulus rating of 39 million might have a strain rate of 750,000.

As the modulus rating increases, the strain rating decreases because the rod becomes brittle. Modern technology is, however, countering this, and there are very strong rods with high modulus ratings. An acceptable strain rate for a fishing rod is around 700,000.

One-Piece vs Two-Piece Fishing Rod

A one-piece rod is traditionally lighter, more sensitive, and sturdier than a two-piece rod. Although the continuous construction ensures no weak points, the same points will allow loss of sensitivity, leading to losing the gentler fish. For the stronger fish, these joints can be stress points where splinters will begin.

However, two-piece fishing rods are easily portable as they fold compactly and can fit in tight spaces. However, the difference between these two rods has steadily reduced over the years as two-piece rod designs advance. This is because they have become more sensitive, and their connections are more compact.

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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.