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Best Inshore Spinning Rods Reviewed For 2020

Last Updated: October 23rd, 2020
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Between challenging weather; long, rough rides; and big, mean fish, inshore anglers put their tackle to the test. And the right choice for an inshore rod can mean the difference between a memorable catch and a disappointing failure.

From sight-casting to reds to throwing live bait specks or flounder in a channel, a good inshore rod has the length to cast well and the strength to muscle a monster.

If you’re looking for the best inshore spinning rod, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive buying guide and reviews.

Quick glance at our top choices:

Related: Best Inshore Spinning Reels

Best Inshore Spinning Rods

St. Croix Mojo Inshore - Best Inshore Spinning Rod

St. Croix MIS70MHF Mojo Inshore Graphite Spinning Fishing Rod with Split-Grip Cork Handle, 7-feet, Black Cherry Metallic

Amazon 

Length: 7’6”

Power/Action: medium/fast

Material: graphite

Line weight: 8-17 lbs.

Lure weight: ⅜-¾ oz.

Guides: 8+1 Fuji

Handle: split cork

Pieces: 1

St. Croix’s rods are legendary, and the Mojo Inshore is no exception to their commitment to quality.

The 7’6” medium Mojo is as good an inshore rod as you’ll find, and it’s my first choice for redfish, speckled trout, striped bass, and anything else of similar size. Probably too much rod for flounder, there are better choices for smaller fish, such as St. Croix’s Tidemaster.

This Mojo Inshore sports a muscular medium-power blank with a very sensitive tip. Ideal for detecting light strikes or feeling the texture and contours of the bottom, I also find that it loads and casts like a dream. You’ll find the real strength of this rod about a quarter of its length from the tip, and when you do reach it, it’s confidence-inspiring.

Premium Fuji guides keep your line safe even in the worst fights, and with 17-pound mono and an appropriately dialed-in drag, you can tame some big reds, stripers, or specks with this rod.

Expect a long, split cork handle with plenty of territory for a firm grip.

Pros:

  • Premium quality components throughout
  • Extremely sensitive tip
  • Excellent blank
  • Superb guides
  • Nice long handle
  • Casts well

Cons:

  • Graphite isn’t the most durable material

Hurricane Calico Jack

Hurricane Calico Jack Inshore Spinning Rod, 7'6' - Medium

Amazon 

Length: 7’6”

Power/Action: Medium

Material: IM7 graphite

Line weight: 8-17 lbs.

Lure weight: ⅜-¾ oz.

Guides: Fuji

Handle: continuous cork

Pieces: 1

Hurricane has built a quiet following of avid anglers who know how to spot quality, and their Calico Jack line delivers a lot of rod for not a ton of cash.

With a feel that’s comparable to the original Redbones--truly excellent rods--the 7’6” Calico Jack won’t disappoint. Its graphite blank is incredibly sensitive, allowing you to feel every bump and hit, however soft, and it makes a great rod for everything from reds to specks.

Built with awesome Fuji guides, I’d trust this rod in a serious fight, but the graphite blank--like all of its kind--is sensitive to abuse. If you bash this rod against your boat or a pier, you can create a micro-fracture that will cause it to fail under load.

That’s something to watch for, and in my estimation, Hurricane has a bit more trouble with this than St. Croix or Penn.

That said, this blank provides plenty of backbone, and with the proper drag setting on a quality reel, you can wrestle some real brutes with this medium power rod.

Casting is excellent, and this relatively long rod loads well.

I like the long cork handle on this rod, and it’s pretty nice, especially at this price point. There’s plenty of space for even the biggest hands, and it’s long enough to provide leverage when you tie into a big one.

Indeed, if there’s any problem with this rod, it’s that delivering a strong, durable graphite blank on a budget is pretty much impossible.

Pros:

  • Great price for graphite
  • Extremely sensitive blank
  • Excellent guides
  • Nice long handle
  • Casts well

Cons:

  • Not as durable as more expensive graphite rods

St. Croix Tidemaster

St. Croix Rods TIS70LM Tidemaster Graphite Inshore Spinning Fishing Rod with Cork Handle, 7-feet, Black

Amazon 

Length: 7’6”

Power/Action: light/moderate

Material: graphite

Line weight: 6-12 lbs.

Lure weight: ⅛-⅜ oz.

Guides: 8+1 Fuji

Handle: continuous cork

Pieces: 1

The Tidemaster, like the Mojo Inshore, is a no-compromise rod for those who demand premium-quality tackle.

The 7’6” light model is as good a flounder rod as money can buy. Long enough to cast into the next zip code, it’s also sensitive and strong. You won’t find the “steel” in this blank until about a third of the rod takes a bend, but when you do, you’ll know you’ve got what it takes to muscle a brutish flatfish into your boat.

And for small species like bluefish and croaker, this rod turns what might be just a fish into a fight!

As you’d expect, St. Croix delivers on the quality components--Fuji throughout.

The handle on the Tidemaster is continuous, high-quality cork, and there’s no need to worry about enough space for even the largest hands.

Pros:

  • Premium quality components throughout
  • Sensitive tip
  • Excellent blank
  • Great guides
  • Nice long handle
  • Casts well

Cons:

  • Graphite isn’t the most durable material

Penn Battalion

Available at Bass Pro

Length: 7’

Power/Action: medium/extra-fast

Material: graphite

Line weight: 10-17 lbs.

Lure weight: ¼-1 oz.

Guides: 8+1 Fuji

Handle: continuous cork

Pieces: 1

Penn’s name is well-known in the salt, and I see a lot of their rods and reels on the water. That’s a testament to the loyal following Penn has built by delivering the goods year after year.

The 7’ Battalion is an excellent inshore rod, and if you prefer continuous cork--as I do--a strong rival for the St. Croix Mojo Inshore.

It’s that good!

This model is built with a medium-power, extra-fast blank that combines incredible sensitivity with the power to turn a bull red in a circle. You’ll find the true strength of this rod quickly, and when you do, it’ll put a smile on your face. It’s my personal choice for tackling the salt flats south of Cocodrie, and if you can find a better rod, please let me know!

Built for mean fish and hard fights, it wears premium Fuji guides and a long handle with plenty of grip space.

Pros:

  • Premium quality components throughout
  • Sensitive tip
  • Excellent blank
  • Excellent guides
  • Nice long handle
  • Casts well

Cons:

  • Graphite isn’t the most durable material

Penn Battalion

Available at Bass Pro

Length: 7’

Power/Action: light/extra-fast

Material: graphite

Line weight: 6-12 lbs.

Lure weight: 1/16-⅝ oz.

Guides: 7+1 Fuji

Handle: continuous cork

Pieces: 1

Penn’s light-power Battalion is my top pick for a flounder rod. Providing plenty of backbone for even the biggest flatfish, with a solid reel and a well-tuned drag, this rod works wonders.

Extremely sensitive at the tip, you’ll feel the gentle suck of a flounder picking up your lure or live bait, and when the fight is on, you’ll know you have the upper hand. As you’d expect, you’ll hit this rod’s “steel” quickly, and there’s plenty of muscle there for fish under 15 pounds.

Casting is excellent with this rod, and you can count me as impressed!

Premium Fuji guides and a long, continuous cork handle have you covered during hard fights, too.

Pros:

  • Premium quality components throughout
  • Extremely sensitive tip
  • Excellent blank
  • Exceptional guides
  • Nice long handle
  • Casts well

Cons:

  • Graphite isn’t the most durable material

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite - Best Budget Inshore Spinning Rod

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

Amazon 

Length: 7’6”

Power/Action: medium/medium-fast

Material: graphite/fiberglass composite

Line weight: 8-17 lbs.

Lure weight: ¼-¾ oz.

Guides: 8+1 stainless steel

Handle: continuous cork

Pieces: 1

Shakespeare’s Ugly Stiks have a bomb-proof reputation for toughness, and if you’ve had a light, stiff graphite rod break on you, you’ll know that durability isn’t something to dismiss.

I own a few of the Elite models, and though I was initially skeptical, they’ve won me over with their performance.

The 7’6” medium-powered rod is a very good choice for anglers on a budget, and even if you can afford to spend more, if you’re searching for a rod that’s tough, strong, and capable--look no further!

The Elite is built with a composite blank, combining the best features of fiberglass and graphite. Stronger (and heavier) than pure graphite, an occasional whack against your gunnel isn’t going to ruin an afternoon’s fishing. And though this rod delivers strength in spades, it’s also plenty sensitive.

Let’s put it this way: if I were pushing an inshore rod to its limits in a fight, this is the rod I’d pick. I’m not the least bit worried that the blank is going to snap, and the backbone is simply incredible.

The sacrifice necessary for this rugged strength is sensitivity and feel, and the high-modulus graphite blanks on the St. Croix and Penn are definitely more sensitive and high-end.

But that said, I’ve put the stainless steel guides Shakespear uses to the test, and they really do deliver. If your line gives in a fight, it won’t be their fault.

Finally, the long cork handle on this Stik is nicer than you’d expect at the price point.

Pros:

  • You won’t find a more durable rod at any price
  • Sensitive tip
  • Very strong blank
  • Excellent guides
  • Nice long handle
  • Casts well

Cons:

  • You won’t get the premium feel of Penn or St. Croix

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite

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

Amazon 

Length: 7’6”

Power/Action: medium-light/medium-fast

Material: graphite/fiberglass composite

Line weight: 6-12 lbs.

Lure weight: ⅛-⅝ oz.

Guides: 8+1 stainless steel

Handle: continuous cork

Pieces: 1

The 7’6” Ugly Stik Elite in medium-light power is a fantastic, no-nonsense flounder rod.

Built as tough as the medium I reviewed above, it’s simply a workhorse. Sensitive enough to feel the soft bite of a flounder, it’s not a head-to-head competitor with the St. Croix or Penn. But it is half (or less!) the price, and I can virtually guarantee that you won’t break it--even on bigger fish than you have any business catching.

I like this rod for flounder a lot, and it’s no slouch on everything from blues to your average speck.

And like its stouter brother, expect rock-solid guide quality and a handle that’s nicer than you’d expect.

Pros:

  • You won’t find a more durable rod at any price
  • Sensitive tip
  • Very strong blank
  • Excellent guides
  • Nice long handle
  • Casts well

Cons:

  • You won’t get the premium feel of Penn or St. Croix

What We Consider When Selecting an Inshore Spinning Rod

Inshore angling is demanding, and your rod needs to be ready for a real brute. That said, too much power works against you most of the time, and you need to strike the right balance between strong enough to tilt the odds in your favor and sensitive enough to feel a light strike.

For the vast majority of species: redfish, speckled trout, striped bass, and the like, a medium-power rod is plenty. But for flounder and smaller species like bluefish, a medium rod is a touch too much, and light or medium-light is ideal.

Related: Best Saltwater Fishing Rods, Best Saltwater Rod and Reel Combo

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.

Generally speaking, a rod with a fast action will offer greater sensitivity at the tip, helping you detect strikes more easily. And generally speaking, a rod with a slow action will provide more cushion on the hookset.

When you’re fishing a single hook, faster is the better choice. But when you need a touch more time for the fish to engage, or you’re throwing a treble-hooked lure, slower can often be better.

describing power and action

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. All other things being equal, a stiffer blank will increase the power of your hookset and allow for longer casts.

Ultralight tells you pretty much everything you need to know: the blank’s power is ultra-light, meaning that it will bend under modest loads. Even with a fast action, a two-pound fish is going to bend your rod into a parabolic arc.

Now, you might be thinking that ultralight means “weak.” Nothing could be further from the truth, as this gentleman’s bass demonstrates:

Ultralight and light aren’t synonyms for weak, buy heavy does mean very, very strong.

Indeed, as you increase power, moving up the scale from light, to medium, to heavy, you increase the stiffness and strength of the blank. Bigger fish demand a heavier rod, but much as with action, you want to match the rod to what you’re fishing.

Heavy power rods are designed for the largest, meanest fish out there: lake trout, shark, monster pike, huge muskie--that sort of thing. Medium power rods, by contrast, offer a stiff backbone for excellent hooksets and work really well on species like redfish, striper, and specks.

But if you’re after flounder, they’re usually just too much rod!

For the most part, an answer to the question, “What species am I after?” will tell you which power to select.

Length

Generally speaking, the longer a rod is, the further you can cast with it, but the less precise those casts will be. Shorter rods are deadly accurate, but casting distance will suffer.

Inshore angling features plenty of long casts, and the rods tend to be a bit longer than comparable freshwater models.

7’ to 7’6” rods are great all-rounders for inshore anglers, and you’ll find this length in the hands of the majority of fishermen you’ll run into.

Line and Lure Weight

A rod will almost always have designated line and lure weights marked near the reel seat. And while you can exceed these bounds, performance will suffer.

Unsurprisingly, these weights vary with the rod’s power and action, telling you what will cast and fish best with that particular blank.

Guides

Guide quality is a critical aspect of a good rod, and merely adequate guides will lose you more fish than dull hooks and cheap line combined.

As you fight fish on your line, the guides take that strain, dividing it by their number (roughly). As they do, the friction between the line and the guide material can get intense, and unless those guides are made of the highest quality materials and really designed to perform, they’ll wear your line, compromising even the strongest braids.

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, that’s a sign to give that rod a pass.

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

Generally speaking, more is better as an increase in guide count means that each one takes less strain, creating less friction at any one point.

A good rule of thumb is one guide per foot--plus one.

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 is strong, stiff, and ultra-light. Due to its high stiffness, it’s also quite sensitive, and it makes a great choice for a rod. The downside of graphite is that it can be pretty fragile, especially if it’s been subjected to bumps or knocks.
  • Fiberglass is heavier than graphite and usually less expensive. It’s not quite as sensitive or as stiff, but it can be incredibly strong, earning it a place in your angling arsenal. Especially when you’re fighting above the weight of your rod, a bit of fiberglass in the blank is a welcome addition.
  • Carbon fiber is the stiffest, strongest, lightest, and most expensive material used for rod blanks. Its performance is unparalleled, but so is its price!

Handle

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

  • Cork is warmer and more attractive, but less forgiving of rough treatment.
  • EVA foam is softer and cooler to the touch, and it’s pretty tough stuff.

Final Thoughts

We hope that these reviews have helped you pick your next inshore spinning rod, and we’re confident that any rod on this list will keep a smile on your face.

If we’ve helped you make your choice, we’d love to hear from you!

Please leave a comment below.

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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