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Best Fishing Rods Reviewed 2020

Need a good rod but don’t know where to start?

We’ve got you covered!

Below, you’ll find an exhaustive list of the best fishing rods for any situation, freshwater or saltwater. After careful research, field testing, and detailed comparison, we’ve put together an unbeatable resource to help you make the best choice for your needs.

Here’s a quick glance at the best fishing rods:

Best Freshwater Fishing Rods

Best Saltwater Fishing Rods

Best Specialty Fishing Rods

Best Freshwater Fishing Rods

Spinning rod

Spinning rods are great choices for novices and experts alike. Designed to be paired with a spinning reel, they’re easy to cast in windy conditions, making them a popular choice for inshore, surf casting, and walleye anglers.

St. Croix Premier PS66MF – Our Pick

St. Croix PS66MF Premier Graphite Spinning Fishing Rod with Cork Handle, 6-feet 6-inches

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Specifications Pros Cons
Length: 6’6”
Material: graphite
Power/action: medium/fast
Lure size: ¼ to ⅝ oz.
Line weight: 6 to 12 lbs.
Handle: cork
Guides: 7 + 1 Fuji stainless steel with aluminum oxide inserts
Pieces: 1
  • Fantastic sensitivity
  • Great power
  • Excellent casting
  • Quality handle
  • Awesome guides
  • A great all-arounder
  • Expensive

St. Croix builds some legendary rods, and their medium-powered, fast action Premier spinning rod is among them. Expect premium components and materials, as well as careful attention to detail.

Extremely well-balanced and sensitive, the Premier is strong enough for everything from bass to reds, walleye to stripers. If I were going to have a one-rod arsenal, this is the rod I’d pick. Sensitive enough to detect light strikes and strong enough to muscle real brutes, this rod is about as good as it gets for a “do-it-all” option.

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:
Best Spinning Rods

Ultralight spinning rod

Ultralight fishing is a great way to increase the excitement of catching panfish like crappie, perch, sunfish, and bluegill–and for experienced anglers, it’s a heart-stopping option for bass, too! Spinning reels are ideal for ultralight applications, as they’re designed for the light lines you’ll use.

St. Croix Premier PS60ULF

St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod PS60ULF

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Length: 6’
Material: graphite
Power/action: ultralight/fast
Lure size: 1/32 oz. to 3/16 oz.
Line weight: 2 to 6 lbs.
Handle: 12.25” split cork/spinning
Guide material: 6 + 1 Fuji aluminum oxide
Piece: 1

It’s no surprise that another St. Croix makes our list, as they’re quickly outstripping their premium competition, including the trusted Fenwick name.

The Premier ultralight features a fast action, and as a combination, it provides the sensitivity you want with the cushioned hookset you need for fish like crappie. Strong, supple, well-balanced, and light, this rod is everything you’re looking for. Whether you’re angling for bass, perch, or trout, this rod can handle them all with no worries–and your line will break long before the Premier does.

Pros:

  • Fantastic sensitivity
  • Excellent casting
  • Quality handles
  • Awesome guides

Cons:

  • Expensive

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Ultralight Spinning Rods

Baitcasting rod

Baitcasting rods are designed to be paired with baitcasting reels, allowing excellent casting with heavier-diameter line. Often built around the needs of bass anglers, among whom baitcasting tackle is the go-to choice, expect medium to heavy power matched with fast actions.

Dobyns Rods 734C FH Champion Series

Dobyns Rods 734C FH Champion Series Heavy Fast Casting Rod, 7'3', Black/Blue

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Length: 7’3”
Power/Action: heavy/fast
Material: graphite
Handle: cork/casting
Guides: 10 + tip/Zero Tangle Kigan with SiC inserts
Lure size: ¼ to 1 oz.
Line weight: 10 to 20 lbs.
Pieces: 1

Dobyns is a name known to pretty much every bass angler, and their rods are trusted tools that have proven their effectiveness season after season and tournament after tournament. It’s no surprise that a Dobyns rod made our shortlist, and the 734 is an impressive addition to our reviews.

Indeed, this rod is sufficiently powerful, light, castable, and sensitive that it’s simply fantastic with crankbaits, jerkbaits, worms, jigs, and anything else you’d want to throw. Perhaps the best all-arounder I’ve seen, if you can only bring one rod to the lake, this would be an awesome choice.

Pros:

  • Awesome, all-around blank
  • Excellent guides
  • Excellent handle
  • Very sensitive
  • Great for a variety of lures and techniques

Cons:

  • Expensive

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Baitcasting Rods

Crankbait rod

Sneak a peek into any bass angler’s tackle box, and you’ll find crankbaits. Yes, soft plastics might have the edge, but there’s no denying that crankbaits are deadly on largemouth, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t throw them. And when paired with a rod designed to maximize their action and slightly cushion your hookset, they’re simply deadly.

St. Croix Legend Glass Casting LGC74MHM

St. Croix LGC74MHM Legend Glass Casting Fishing Rod with IPC Technology, 7-feet 4-inches

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Length: 7’ 4”
Power/action: medium-heavy/moderate
Material: fiberglass
Line weight: 10 to 20 lbs.
Lure weight: ⅜ to 1 oz.
Guides: 10 + tip, Fuji K-Series tangle-free guides with Alconite rings and Corrosion Control matte finish frames
Handle: 16” split cork
Pieces: 1

St. Croix’s Legend series offers no-compromise performance, and their Glass Casting models are among the best rods available for crankbaits.

I particularly like the 7’4” moderate action, medium-heavy power model. Long enough to cast into the next county, it’s still nimble enough for accurate casting, and surprisingly light to boot.

The fiberglass blank on this rod loads like a charm, enabling great casts and providing the cushioned hooksets and constant pressure you need to keep bass on your lure. In fact, it’s a real pleasure to fish with, improving your performance with crankbaits immediately. Often described as the “Cadillac” or “Lamborghini” of crankbait rods, one afternoon in your hand will confirm why this rod has won a cult-like following.

Pros:

  • Incredible blank
  • Sensitive
  • Awesome guides
  • Loads easily
  • Excellent quality handle
  • Long, accurate casts

Cons:

  • Expensive!

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Crankbait Rods

Swimbait rod

Swimbaits are simply murder on everything from bass to walleye and pike, combining life-like action with the scent and taste that drive fish wild. Rigged on a jig head or single hook, they demand a rod with the backbone to drive a hookset home, as well as the sensitivity to detect the gentle “suck” when a fish inhales your lure.

Dobyns Champion Series Swimbait Rod DC 807 MAG HSB

Dobyns Rods 807MAG HSB Champion Series 8'0' Mag Heavy Fast Swimbait Rod, 8'6', Black/Blue

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Length: 8’
Power/action: extra heavy/fast
Material: graphite
Handle: continuous EVA foam
Guides: Fuji tangle-free K-guides with Alconite inserts
Lure size: 3 to 10 oz.
Line weight: 20 to 50 lbs.
Pieces: 1

If you take a look in tournament anglers’ boats, you’ll almost certainly find a selection of Dobyns Champion Series rods.

Their swimbait rod is designed around a blank that delivers unrivalled hookset power, providing the stiffness you need to send a single hook home. Paired with a fast action, you’ll feel every nibble, bump, and suck, giving you the confidence to fish hard.

And as you’d expect from Dobyns, this rod comes with premium components including excellent guides, an outstanding reel seat, and a long, comfortable EVA foam handle.

Pros:

  • Incredible blank that delivers positive hooksets
  • Awesome sensitivity
  • Awesome guides
  • Excellent handle

Cons:

  • Expensive!

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Swimbait Rods

Jig rod

Flipping, casting, swimming, dragging–jigs can do it all! It’s no surprise, then, that they’re a popular choice for largemouth, especially in high summer when the vegetation gets thick. Since you can run jigs in weedless versions, and because they’re ideal for pitching into nearly impenetrable cover, they let you fish places that other lure choices just can’t reach. But to make the most of this fantastic option, you need a specialized rod with just the right mix of strength and sensitivity.

Doomsday Tackle “The 47”

Length: 7’3”
Power/action: heavy/fast
Material: carbon fiber
Handle: split cork/casting
Guides: 9 + tip/Fuji Tangle Free K guides with Alconite inserts
Lure size: ⅜ to 1 ½ oz.
Line weight: 12 to 30 lbs.
Pieces: 1

Doomsday Tackle’s “The 47” may look like a rod your father or grandfather fished when you were young, and its creme and red styling is certainly a nod in that direction. But make no mistake: it’s as high-tech as they come!

The 47 is 7’3” of carbon fiber, making it both surprisingly light and supremely strong. The tip is supple and sensitive, allowing you to get the most from your jig before quickly stiffening to a powerful, bass-dragging backbone. Hookset and control are all but guaranteed by this blank, making it an easy choice for the best jigging rod.

Pros:

  • Awesome blank
  • Excellent guides
  • Excellent handle
  • Very sensitive

Cons: ???

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Jig Rods

Dropshot rod

Drop shotting is one of the hottest techniques for bass. It offers a subtle, finesse presentation of a worm that largemouth can’t resist. In fact, you can work the edge of a weed bed that’s been hit hard by other anglers and still hook a big one!

But because this technique demands a finesse presentation, a standard bass rod with a heavy backbone probably isn’t the best choice.

Abu Garcia Villain 2.0

PENN Fierce II Spinning Live Liners

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Length: 6’ 10”
Power/Action: medium-light/extra-fast
Material: graphite
Handle: split EVA foam/casting
Guides: 10 + tip/titanium
Lure size: ⅛ to ½ oz.
Line weight: 6 to 12 lbs.
Pieces: 1

Abu Garcia’s Villain series of casting rods is winning more than a few converts from the likes of Shimano and G. Loomis. If you’re not familiar with the Villain, it’s worth noting that you can expect top-notch quality at a pretty modest price.

Right up front, you’ll notice two things about the medium-light Villain: it’s very, very sensitive and it has plenty of power for muscling a big fish. If you’ve never fished an Abu Garcia, keep in mind that their version of a “medium-light” may be a touch more stiff than average. With that in mind, I’d probably call this rod medium.

Despite that backbone, the tip is shockingly adept at translating bottom composition, the wriggles of your soft bait, and the actions of bass to your hands. You’ll know whether the bottom is muddy, sandy, or rocky–and you’ll feel when it changes, too.

And because the tip is limber, it makes working a worm a breeze. You’ll be able to make it gyrate enticingly with a few pops of your wrist, and still know that when it’s time to set the hook, the Villain has the power to do so with authority.

Pros:

  • Awesome sensitivity
  • Great backbone–more like a medium than a medium-light
  • Excellent guides
  • Excellent handle
  • Great action on your soft bait

Cons:

  • May be a bit light for anglers who want a true medium rod
  • Casting will suffer with lighter lines

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Drop Shot Rods

Flipping/pitching rod

Flipping is a technique bass anglers use to toss a lure at short range, targeting heavy cover like a lay-down, a weedbed, or a gap in a lilly-choked pond. It’s essential that your rod be stiff and sensitive–a tough combination to deliver unless it features an excellent blank.

Dobyns Champion 766Flip

Dobyns Rods 766FLIP Champion Series Heavy Flip Fast Flippin' Rod, 7'6'', Black/Blue

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Length: 7’ 6”
Power/Action: heavy/fast
Material: graphite
Handle: continuous cork
Guides: Zero Tangle Kigan guides with SIC inserts
Lure size: ⅜ to 2 ½ oz.
Line weight: 14 to 30 lbs.
Pieces: 1

Dobyns’s Champion series are the rods many professional anglers reach for, and for flipping, the 766Flip is about as good as it gets.

Providing the stiffness you need for this technique, while still offering surprising sensitivity, a couple of casts is all you’ll need to be hooked. From the premium-grade cork handle to the Kigan guides, expect high-end materials throughout–and the performance to match!

Pros:

  • Very stiff blank with plenty of power to muscle big bass
  • Excellent sensitivity
  • Great guides
  • Awesome handle

Cons:

  • Expensive

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Flipping and Pitching Rods

Jerkbait rod

Jerkbaits imitate the erratic action of an injured or excited minnow, triggering reaction strikes from fish like bass, walleye, and stripers whether they want to feed or not. But jerkbaits need to be worked with the right rod to get the most from them, and that means a winning combination of stiffness and sensitivity.

St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod

St. Croix TRS66MF Triumph Graphite Spinning Fishing Rod with Cork Handle, 6-feet 6-inches

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Length: 6’ 6”
Power/action: medium/fast
Material: graphite
Handle: continuous cork
Guides: 7 + tip aluminum oxide inserts
Lure size: ¼ to ⅝ oz.
Line weight: 6 to 12 lbs.
Pieces: 1

St. Croix’s Triumph Series rods are made with serious anglers in mind, combining outstanding blanks with premium components to build a rod anyone would be glad to fish.

The Triumph spinning rod is an ideal choice for casting and working jerkbaits, providing the stiffness you need to rip your lure, the backbone for hard hooksets and nasty fights, and the sensitivity to feel what’s going on at the end of your line.

Pros:

  • Fantastic sensitivity
  • Excellent casting
  • Excellent handle
  • Awesome guides
  • A great all-arounder for jerkbaits
  • Priced right!

Cons: ???

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Jerkbait Rods

Freshwater trolling rod

Freshwater trolling rods are perhaps the best way to fish species like walleye. Designed to ride in a rod holder and pair with a downrigger, they need long, comfortable handles and blanks that bend just enough to create the optimum hookset.

Shimano Talora Downrigger Rod

SHIMANO Talora Downrigger Rod

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Length: 8’ 6”
Power/Action: medium/medium fast
Material: N/A
Handle: (12” rear/6” fore)continuous EVA foam
Guides: Fuji with aluminum oxide inserts
Lure size: ¼ to 1 oz.
Line weight: 15 to 40 lbs.
Pieces: 1

Shimano’s Talora Downrigger Rod is 8-feet, 6-inches of walleye doom. Designed from the ground up as a trolling rod, it delivers the performance you’re looking for on northern lakes.

Offering a medium-powered blank that provides reassuring control in a fight, as well as a medium-fast tip that’s just hard enough for good hooksets, this is a hard rod to beat for dedicated trolling applications.

Pros:

  • Great tip for solid hooksets
  • Long EVA foam handle
  • Strong blank that lets you fight and muscle big fish
  • Awesome guides and reel seat

Cons: ???

Rod and reel combo for freshwater

Do you want to hit your local pond or lake, but you’re just not sure what rod and reel to buy? A solid combo can have you fishing in no time.

Cadence CC4 Spinning Combo

Cadence CC4 Spinning Combo Lightweight with 24-Ton 2-Piece Graphite Rod Strong Carbon Composite Frame & Side Plates Ergonomic EVA Handle Knob Reel & Rod Combo

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Length: 6’ 6”
Action/power: medium-light/moderate-fast
Material: graphite
Handle: split EVA foam
Guides: stainless steel with SIC inserts
Line Weight: N/A
Lure Weight: N/A
Pieces: 2

Cadence’s C4 reels are an outstanding option for the price, and in this combo, they come paired with a rod that’ll put a smile on your face!

Ideal for panfish, trout, and walleye, this all-arounder offers enough backbone to provide control in a fight, while still throwing light lures on light lines. Sensitive enough for bluegill and sunfish, strong enough for large walleye, it’s a hard combo to beat.

Pros:

  • Great all-arounder for freshwater
  • Nice blank
  • Very sensitive
  • Great guides

Cons: ???

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Rod and Reel Combo

Best Saltwater Fishing Rods

Surf fishing rod

Surf fishing demands a long rod that can cast like a dream, as well as an extra-long handle clad in shrink tubing to provide a no-slip grip. Built for big fish and large spinning reels, expect medium-heavy powered rods made of fiberglass composite.

Penn Carnage II

PENN Carnage II Surf Spinning

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Length: 11’
Action/power: medium-heavy/moderately fast
Material: graphite/fiberglass composite
Handle: continuous rubber shrink tube
Guides: 8 + 1 Fuji K with Alconite inserts
Line Weight: 20 to 50 lbs.
Lure Weight: 2 to 6 oz.
Pieces: 2

Penn specializes in saltwater fishing tackle, and if you’re an inshore, offshore, or beach angler, you’ll know their name is trusted. The Carnage II series are excellent surf rods, built to cast, fight, and last.

Penn equips the Carnage II with a composite of graphite and fiberglass that pairs the rigidity and sensitivity of the former with the flexibility and durability of the latter. The tip is quite sensitive, and from nibbles to the action of a crankbait, you’ll be aware of what’s going on at the end of your line. The blank bends easily for the first 40% or so, before hitting the real backbone this rod offers, which is confidence-inspiringly stiff.

Looking for a rod that’ll let you muscle a 4- to 6-foot shark?

You’ve found it!

Pros:

  • Excellent sensitivity
  • Excellent durability
  • Strong blank that lets you fight and muscle big fish
  • Excellent handle
  • Awesome guides and reel seat
  • Great casting

Cons:

  • Not as light as graphite rods

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Surf Fishing Rods

Offshore saltwater rod

Saltwater trolling for sailfish, marlins, tuna, wahoos, sharks, and other large, aggressive species of fish demands a strong rod, precise attention to component details, and some pretty specialized gear. And while you don’t need to worry about casting, hard fights will break rods that aren’t up to the task!

Penn International VI INTVI305060AR

Length: 6’
Power/Action: medium/fast
Material: tubularfiberglass
Handle: EVA foam/slick butt
Guides: 4 + 1 Aftco Wind On Roller Guides
Lure size: N/A
Line weight: 30 to 50 lbs.
Pieces: 1

Penn’s International VI is the rod I’d want for chasing tuna, sailfish, and sharks. Built from incredibly strong tubular fiberglass, and featuring five Atfco roller guides, it can handle heavy lines and wind-on leaders without missing a beat. A long EVA foam handle, ending in a slick butt, gives you the controll you need when you hook a big fish, and it’s fair to say your arms will fail before the Penn does!

Pros:

  • Awesomely strong blank
  • Long EVA foam handle
  • Awesome roller guides
  • Awesome reel seat

Cons:

  • Expensive!

Inshore saltwater spinning rod

Whether you’re fishing the Intercoastal, a mudflat in south Louisiana, or warm-water shallows in Florida, a good inshore rod is essential for snook, reds, and specks. Built tough, they need to cast well in the wind and hold their own in a tough fight.

Redbone Hurricane Inshore RDB-761MS

Redbone 7' Medium Inshore Spinning RDB-701MS Rod 1 pc/8-17Lb

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Length: 7’6”
Material: graphite
Power/action: medium/fast
Lure size: 3/8 to 3/4 oz.
Line weight: 8 to 17 lbs.
Handle: cork
Guides: 8 + 1 Fuji New Concept
Pieces: 1

Plenty of professional guides hand a Redbone to their customers, and more than a few use them themselves. That’s an incredible testament to the quality you get for the money, and it’s simply amazing that these rods don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Blank quality is excellent, combining sensitivity and strength. This relatively long rod casts to the next county (or parish!), and its backbone really begins to strut its stuff about a third of the way toward the handle. You’ll find plenty there to help you muscle a brute from cover, turn a runner, and set your hook.

I doubt you’ll find a better rod for the price–indeed, for any price!

Pros:

  • Fantastic sensitivity
  • Excellent casting
  • Excellent handle
  • Awesome guides
  • A great all-arounder for larger fish
  • Priced right!

Cons:

  • ???

Rod and reel combo for saltwater

If you want to get on the water quickly, one option is to buy a solid rod and reel combo. Ideally, this pairs an excellent rod with an outstanding reel, and in the best of cases, takes the work out of selecting a rod and reel separately.

Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Penn BTLII4000701M Battle II 4000 Spinning Reel Combo, Inshore, 7 Feet, Medium Power

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Length: 7’
Power/Action: medium/extra fast
Material: N/A
Handle: continuous cork
Guides: 7 + 1 aluminum oxide inserts
Lure size: N/A
Line weight: 10 to 17 lbs.
Pieces: 1

Penn’s Battle II reels are a solid spinning option for saltwater species like striper and redfish, and in this case, a 4000-size reel comes with an excellent Penn rod to match.

This rod offers a medium power blank with the backbone to fight large fish and control them in a fight. And with an extra fast action, you’ll feel every ripple on the bottom, sense every wiggle of your lure, and detect even the lightest strikes.

A long cork handle gives you plenty of space for your hands, providing the grip you need when the fight is on.

Pros:

  • Strong blank with plenty of power to muscle stripers, reds, and small sharks
  • Excellent sensitivity
  • Great guides
  • Awesome handle

Cons:

  • Can come damaged in packaging

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Saltwater Rod and Reel Combo

Affordable fishing rod for fresh or saltwater

Not every angler can afford to spend hundreds on a rod, and with many excellent choices threatening to break the bank, it’s easy to feel left out. But if you know what you’re looking for, you can get a really good rod for less money than you’d expect.

Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik Elite USESP702M

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Medium - 2pc

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Length: 7’
Material: fiberglass/graphite composite
Power/action: medium/moderate
Lure size: 1/4 to 5/8 oz.
Line weight: 6 to 14 lbs.
Handle: cork
Guides: 7 + 1 Ugly Tuff stainless steel
Pieces: 2

Ugly Stiks are legendary for their bomb-proof toughness, and if you’ve ever snapped a rod tip doing something stupid, you immediately see the appeal of a durable Stik!

As its name suggests, the Elite series is a step up from the Ugly Stik’s other offerings, providing quite a bit more graphite in the predominantly fiberglass blank. That reduces weight considerably and adds a bit of stiffness to the otherwise pliant fiberglass. As far as action is concerned, I’d probably place this rod at medium.

At seven feet, you’ll find plenty of rod for long casts and plenty of backbone for big fish. In fact, I’d feel pretty confident with this rod on everything from bull reds to pike without worrying about the rod. That’s saying something, especially for the price.

Pros:

  • Fantastic sensitivity
  • Excellent casting
  • Excellent handle
  • A great all-arounder for larger fish
  • Priced right!

Cons:

  • Not as refined as more expensive options

Best Speciality Fishing Rods

Telescopic rod

Telescopic rods offer maximum portability. They’re an awesome choice if you want to keep your fishing gear in the trunk of your car, pack a rod on a hike to a stream, or bring your rod on your next flight. While probably not the equal of a conventional rod, they’re much easier to store and transport.

Daiwa B.B.B. 6106TMLFS

DAIWA B.B.B 6106TMLFS

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Length: 6’10” extended; 16.5” collapsed
Material: carbon fiber
Power/action: medium-light/moderate-fast
Lure size: 1/16 oz. to 1/2 oz.
Line weight: 4 to 10#
Handle: split cork/spinning
Guide material: stainless with SiC inserts
Segments: 8

Daiwa is a respected name in fishing, and from rods to reels, they supply anglers with products made from high-end materials. Located in Japan, their offerings vary by region, and unfortunately, they don’t really sell telescoping rods in the US.

The good news is that Amazon carries a few of their Japanese range, including the excellent B.B.B. or “Triple B.” This telescoping rod is the real deal, and it’s favored by anglers the world over when they’re looking for a travel rod.

Measuring 6’10” when extended, its eight segments are constructed from premium carbon fiber blanks. Sensitive, strong, and durable, this is the travel rod that stands-up best to a conventional challenger. While perhaps not as sensitive as a one or two-piece rod like a St. Croix, I would gladly fish the Triple B.

Pros:

  • Great blanks
  • Pretty sensitive
  • Pretty strong
  • Excellent handle
  • Very nice guides
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Expensive

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Telescopic Fishing Rods

Portable/travel/backpacking rod

Travel makes a standard rod a real pain, and there’s little that can be done about one or two-piece rods if you’re taking a flight. Instead, it’s wise to invest in a travel rod that breaks down into four pieces, allowing you to pack it away in anything from a backpack to a carry-on.

Fiblink Travel Spinning Rod

Fiblink 4 Pieces Travel Spinning Rod Medium Graphite Spinning Fishing Rod Portable Fishing Rod (7' Medium)

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Length: 6’ 6”
Material: carbon fiber
Power/action: medium/fast
Lure size: ¼ to ⅝ oz.
Line weight: 8 to 14 lbs.
Handle: split cork
Guides: 7 + 1
Pieces: 4

Fiblink’s travel rod breaks down into four pieces and is easily re-assembled to its full 6-foot, 6-inch length. Made from high-quality carbon fiber, it’s very stiff and sensitive, enabling anglers on vacation or business to make the most of their time on the water.

A capable rod, its medium power blank is a great all-arounder, handling line weights that put most North American species in range.

Pros:

  • Easy to pack!
  • Great price!
  • Sensitive, strong blank
  • Excellent handle
  • A good all-arounder

Cons:

  • The final two segments can be fragile

Rod for kids

If there’s a little angler in your family, you’re probably counting the days until they catch their first fish. But if you’ve searched the shelves for a kids’ rod that’s more than a cheap toy, you’ve probably come away frustrated. But don’t worry: there are real fishing rods for kids–if you know where to look!

Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik Spinning Combo

Ugly Stik Spinning Combo

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Length: 5’ (two pieces)
Weight: N/A
Material: fiberglass
Power/action: light/fast
Guides: 4
Line weight: 2 to 6 lbs.

Ugly Stick’s Spinning Combo is a great rod for kids if you’re looking for a longer, lighter action rod for panfish. That extra length will translate into longer casts, and if you’ve got a young angler who’s really into fishing but not quite big enough for adult tackle, this combo is an awesome choice.

Ugly Stik’s legendary toughness. A whack or two on a pier or rail will do nothing to this rod. Moreover, the light, fast blank will make catching every bluegill, perch, or sunfish feel like Moby Dick!

Casting is pretty good for such a short rod, and it’s a fantastic option for teaching fishing fundamentals.

Pros:

  • Sized right for kids
  • Inexpensive!
  • This is a real rod that’s truly capable of catching fish
  • Comes with a reel already spooled with line
  • Strong, durable Ugly Stik blank
  • Nice, adult-grade handle

Cons:

  • Reel quality–as you’d expect at this price-point–is just acceptable

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Rods For Kids

Ice fishing rod 

Ice fishing demands specialized tackle, including short rods designed for in-line reels. Since there’s very little space in most ice shelters, and no need for casting, these short rods are designed for vertical presentations, setting tiny jigs dancing with just a flick of the wrist.

St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod

St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Rod (28', Ultra-Light)

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Length: 24” or 28”
Power/Action: ultralight/light/medium-light/medium/medium-heavy/heavy
Material: carbon fiber
Guides: 3 + 1
Lure size: N/A
Line weight: N/A
Handle: split cork/EVA foam
Pieces: 1

St. Croix produces first-rate rods for every angler, species, and situation, and their Mojo Ice Fishing Series is no exception. Crafted from ultra-stiff, ultra-strong carbon fiber, you won’t find a more sensitive rod–or one better suited for sluggish bites

Stiff, sensitive, strong: these words take on new meaning with the Mojo, and you’ll feel even the most hesitant strikes with this rod. It delivers comfort in spades, too, with a combination cork/EVA handle that allows for a wide range of grip styles.

Pros:

  • Ultra-sensitive
  • Strong
  • Amazing handle
  • Good guides

Cons: ???

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Ice Fishing Rods

Fly fishing rod

If you’re chasing brook trout in the eddys of a stream, throwing tantalizing flies behind rocks and into pools, you need a rod that can provide distance and accuracy. Fly fishing gear can be mysterious to the uninitiated, but we’ve got you covered!

Loop Opti Stream

Length: 9’
Weight: 5wt.

Loop’s Opti Stream is perhaps the best value, high-performance fly rod you’ll ever find. Those are strong words, but this is an exceptional 5wt. rod at a very reasonable price.

Casting at 25 and 45 feet is phenomenal. Accurate, tangle-free, and light-in-hand, it demonstrates why it’s a perennial favorite for serious fly anglers. Casting at longer distances is tough, as the Opti Stream just isn’t powerful enough when you need super-long range.

That said, for a short- to medium-distance 5wt., you simply can’t do better at any price.

Pros:

  • Excellent short- and medium-range casting
  • Amazingly well-balanced
  • Light in hand
  • Great price!

Cons:

  • Long-range casting suffers

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Fly Fishing Rods

Tenkara rod

Developed on the trout streams of inland Japan, tenkara fishing is gaining popularity in the West, especially among high-altitude backpackers and hikers. In part, this is due to the clean aesthetic and simplicity of tenkara: rod, line, and fly–the three components of fishing stripped of any excess.

Team Oni USA Oni Type I

Length: 13’/ 24 ⅜”
Segments: 8
Material: carbon fiber
Weight: 3.1 oz.
Flex profile: 6:4
Handle: 11 ¾”EVA foam

More than one tenkara expert thinks the Oni Type I is the finest rod in the world. That’s saying something given its competition, and if you’re looking for the best, this is a very good place to start.

Designed by master Masami Sakakibara, the Oni Type I is intended for experienced tenkara anglers due to the light lines it’s intended to cast. Subtle, strong, delicate, and powerful: the Oni Type I is the epitome of no-nonsense excellence and somehow greater than the sum of its parts.

Pros:

  • Excellent casting
  • Extremely sensitive
  • Very strong
  • Amazingly well-balanced

Cons:

  • Designed for experienced anglers and very light lines

Check out our buying guide and reviews of our favorites:

Best Tenkara Rods

What We Consider When Selecting a Rod

Power

Power describes how much force is required to bend a rod. Together with its action, a rod’s power tells you a lot about how it will perform.

A rod’s power is determined by the material from which it’s constructed and the amount of that material present in cross-section (taper). It’s also affected by the length of the rod, with shorter lengths of the same material and taper being stiffer than longer lengths.

Ultralight

Ultralight rods are designed to provide the ultimate in sensitivity and excitement, increasing the feel of small fish on your line. Designed primarily for panfish species like sunfish, bluegill, crappie, and perch, they can also be used by experienced anglers to catch large- and small-mouth bass and trout.

Ultralight rods will bend easily under even modest weights, providing very little control should you hook a large fish. This can lead to an intense test of an angler’s skills with anything larger than a panfish.

But don’t get the wrong idea–ultralight rods are still plenty strong!

Ultralight rods are typically matched to tiny spinning reels, lines in the neighborhood of 2 to 8 pounds, and very light lures (typically as light as 1/32 of an ounce).

We recommend ultralight rods for:

  • Panfish of all kinds
  • Small- and -largemouth bass in the hands of experienced anglers
  • Trout in the hands of experienced anglers

Light

Light rods are a step-up in power from ultralight. This makes them an excellent choice for panfish, but also allows them to handle small-mouth and trout–and the currents they’re known to prefer!

Probably a better all-around choice than ultralights for less experienced anglers, they provide more control over struggling fish while still offering the sensitivity to detect nibbling panfish.

Light rods usually work best with line between 4 and 8 pounds, and are almost always paired with small spinning reels. Typical lure weights vary, but a range between 1/32 and ¼ ounces is common.

We recommend light rods for:

  • Panfish of all kinds
  • Smallmouth bass and trout

Medium-light

Medium-light rods are the sweet spot in power, allowing you to fish many different techniques and species well.

From crappie to perch, bluegill to trout, you’ve got the power to wrestle even the biggest of these species with authority, current or no current. And with good technique, experienced anglers can tackle walleye, too.

And as a finesse rod for largemouth applications like weightless senkos and drop shotting, it’s very hard to beat.

Medium-light rods are often paired with light- to medium-sized spinning reels, but you’ll find baitcasting rods with this power rating, too. Typical line weights run from 4 to 10 pounds, with lure weights in the 1/16 to 5/16 ounce neighborhood.

We recommend medium-light rods for:

  • Panfish of all kinds
  • Smallmouth bass and trout
  • Finesse techniques for largemouth
  • Walleye in the hands of experienced anglers

Medium

Medium-powered rods are a common sight in both salt- and fresh-water, as they have the strength and backbone to muscle substantial fish. Indeed, in shorter lengths and tough material like fiberglass, you’ll find anglers using them to troll for tuna, wahoos, sailfish, sharks and other large species.

Medium rods are great for a variety of applications, from running crankbaits and jerkbaits, to yo-yoing swimbaits off the bottom. Great with live bait, too, there’s not much they can’t do–making them an extremely popular all-around choice.

They also provide the backbone you need to muscle larger, stronger fish like red drum, largemouth, walleye, and striped bass–pretty much any species that maxes out around 20 pounds.

Popular line weights range from 6 to 12 pounds or so, with lures between ¼ and ¾ ounces being common.

We recommend medium rods for:

  • Inshore fishing
  • Surf casting
  • Freshwater species like walleye
  • Treble-hooked largemouth bass techniques like crankbaits and jerkbaits

Medium-heavy

Medium-heavy rods have serious power, allowing anglers to muscle massive fish and drive single hooks firmly home. Very stiff, they’re often used by largemouth anglers for techniques that demand a firm hookset like worms and other soft plastics.

When composed of fiberglass, they can be very, very tough, making them a popular choice offshore, as well as for anglers chasing freshwater species like pike, lake trout, and steelhead.

And when tapered just right, bass anglers who like crankbaits–and who doesn’t?–find that they provide just enough cushion to keep those treble hooks where they belong.

This is also a popular power for surf fishing and inshore applications, especially when larger species are the target. From giant rays to big sharks, you’ll have the backbone to turn the fight to your advantage.

Typical line weights run from 10 to 20 or more pounds, and expect to cast lures no lighter than ⅜ of an ounce.

We recommend medium-heavy rods for:

  • Inshore fishing
  • Surf casting
  • Large freshwater species like pike and lake trout
  • Treble-hooked largemouth bass techniques like crankbaits and jerkbaits

Heavy

Heavy rods are as stiff and strong as they come, and they’re designed for the largest, meanest fish out there, or to provide an instant, powerful hookset on largemouth bass.

Expect backbone like steel, incredible control in a fight, and strength that just won’t quit.

In shorter lengths, heavy rods are a good choice for shark, grouper, tarpon, and other massive saltwater species. They’re also popular for lake trout and trophy pike.

In longer lengths, they’re a common choice for a variety of largemouth applications like flipping and pitching, as well as worm fishing with single hooks. Expect instantaneous hooksets, especially with braided line.

Heavy rods are typically built for line above 12 pounds, though lure size varies with the specific application.

We recommend heavy rods for:

  • Offshore fishing
  • Freshwater species like lake trout
  • Single-hooked largemouth bass techniques like flipping, pitching, and worming

Action

A rod’s action describes where along its length it will begin to bend under load. Fast action rods are stiff for most of their length, bending near the tip. By contrast, slow action rods begin to give closer to the handle and reel seat, curving over a much greater percentage of their length.

Extra-fast and fast

Extra-fast and fast rods–of whatever power–preserve stiffness through most of the length of the rod. This provides better sensitivity at the tip, improves hookset, and allows anglers to impart better action to most lures.

Moderate fast

Moderate fast rods allow a bit more flex than faster options, offering some cushion for hooksets–often a desirable trait with crankbaits and jerkbaits. This can prevent anglers from snatching a sharp treble-hook clear of a fish’s mouth, and it still provides plenty of sensitivity at the tip.

Moderate

Moderate rods allow a nearly parabolic arc, bending the rod over most of its length. That often contributes to toughness, while preserving enough strength to muscle big fish. And while not ideal for hooksets for applications like soft baits, for treble-hooked lures and situations where durability is a priority, this can be a good choice.

Slow

Slow rods are usually composed of forgiving fiberglass, and they’re designed to bend along almost all of their length. Sometimes chosen for their performance with crankbaits, they offer a cushioned hookset that lets a lure hang in the mouth of a fish for just a second, improving connections.

describing power and action

Guides

Guide quality is essential on most rods, especially as you move up in power.

Guides have two main purposes: they protect your line from friction, and they distribute force over the length of the blank. In both cases, more is almost always better than fewer, as more points of contact reduce the stress at any one point on both line and rod. (On spinning reels, they also help channel line from the spool, which is why you’ll find a large “stripper guide” nearest the reel on most spinning rods.)

Typically, you want one guide per foot of the rod, plus one.

There are some notable exceptions to this rule, namely surfcasting rods and fly rods.

When surf casting, more guides can reduce casting distance–perhaps the most important job the rod has. As a result, you’ll find fewer guides on rods designed for surf fishing.

Fly fishing rods typically have pretty rudimentary guides. That’s because fly line isn’t at all like conventional line, and it’s just not subject to the same stresses.

But for most rods, most of the time, guide quality is not a point for compromise.

Guide material

Guides are attached to your rod via feet, and their secured with adhesives and some form of wrapping.

Three things are important here:

  • the guides need to be securely attached,
  • the guides need to be strong enough to take some abuse, and
  • the guides need to be corrosion resistant.

A common material for quality guides is stainless steel. It’s strong, it’s rugged, and it resists corrosion.

Insert material

Many guides feature inserts.

When a guide doesn’t have an insert, it’s typically highly-polished stainless steel covered in coating to further reduce wear. An example of this is Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik, and having tested this rod first-hand, I can assure you that the guides get the job done and then some.

But many high-end guides like those from Fuji feature a ceramic insert. This reduces friction quite a bit, and it’s fair to say that these are generally superior to polished stainless steel.

The best way to test guide quality is also demonstrated below. Just try sawing the line you use against a large guide. If the line breaks quickly, it’s a sign to give that rod a pass.

video demonstrating how fragile line really is and how quality guides can be tested

Roller Guides

Offshore trolling rods sometimes feature a unique guide style called a roller guide. Designed to accommodate heavy-diameter lines, extreme forces, and searing friction, they provide lots of space for large knots joining main line to leader.

The Aftco Wind On Roller Guides on the Penn International VI are just one example.

Material

Modern fishing rods can be made from a variety of materials, including carbon fiber, graphite, and fiberglass. Some feature composite construction, using more than one material in the blank that provides their backbone.

Graphite

Graphite is a common blank material, providing strength, stiffness, and light weight in a single package. Usually described with the word “modulus,” fishing blanks that have higher modulus numbers are–diameter to diameter–stiffer than those with lower numbers.

Graphite also provides excellent sensitivity, a hallmark of high stiffness.

But graphite’s weakness is brittleness, and when pushed too far, it tends to crack and break.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is older rod technology, but that doesn’t mean it’s not excellent rod tech.

Fiberglass rods tend to be heavy, just like fiberglass boats, and inch to inch, foot to foot, they’ll weigh more than the other options. That said, fiberglass blanks can be very flexible and amazingly tough at the same time. They can also be extremely rigid in short, tubular lengths, making them an ideal option for offshore trolling rods.

Where fiberglass doesn’t shine is sensitivity or fast actions (except in very short lengths). It’s just not as stiff as other options.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber is space-age tech, taking everything good about graphite and raising it up a level. Extremely stiff, amazingly strong, and surprisingly light, it’s a great choice for blank material.

Carbon fiber is sensitive to impacts, and a hard whack on a piling or boat can damage your rod.

It’s also extremely expensive, as you’d expect!

Composites

Some rod manufacturers combine materials in an effort to wring the best from each of them. One common example is a graphite core–providing stiffness and strength–around which fiberglass is then wrapped–offering flexibility and toughness.

When done well, these composite rods perform very well.

Length

Rod length matters.

Generally speaking, the longer the rod, the further it will cast. And generally speaking, the shorter the rod, the more accurately it will cast.

A good place to start is 6’6” to 7’. That’s the sweet spot of distance and accuracy: any shorter, and you’ll lose range; any longer and accuracy will suffer.

Handle

Much about which handle to choose is a personal decision, and what’s comfortable to me may be misery for you. There are two primary handle materials you’ll find on rods: cork and EVA foam.

Cork

Cork is a natural material that’s warm to the touch and just soft enough to provide a firm, comfortable grip. Premium-grade cork is attractive, too, and though not as durable as synthetics, it can take a beating.

EVA foam

EVA foam is a synthetic material that provides a soft grip. A bit colder to the touch than cork, it’s generally more inexpensive and durable.

Final Thoughts

We hope this article gets you on the water and onto the fish, and if it’s helped you or left you with questions, please let us know.

We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment below!

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