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Best Rod For Redfish and Speckled Trout - Amazing Inshore Performance

Written by: Pete D
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Speckled trout and red drum are two of the most popular game fish in inshore southern waters, and there’s not an angler alive who would turn up his nose at a sunrise run from a launch to a hot spot near the coast.

Frequently fished on the same trip, having a rod that works well for both species makes a lot of sense. Fortunately, there are plenty of good options for discerning fishermen.

If you’re looking for a new rod to fish reds and specks, we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorites, as well as a complete buying guide to get you up to speed quickly.

Quick glance at the best rods for redfish and speckled trout:

Related:

Best Rod For Redfish and Speckled Trout Reviewed

St. Croix Premier - Best Rod for Fishing Red Drum and Speckled Trout

St. Croix Rods Premier Spinning Rod , 7'0'

Amazon 

Power/action: medium-light/fast
Length: 7’
Line weight: 4 - 10 lbs.
Lure weight: ⅛ - ½ oz.
Material: graphite
Guides: Kigan Master Hand 3D guides with aluminum-oxide rings
Handle: continuous cork
Pieces: 2

We’re fishermen ourselves here at USAngler, and there’s probably no rod company we like better than St. Croix. Their Premier series is simply amazing, and from the high-end cork to the Kigan Master guides, every element of this lineup is top-notch.

Reds and specks are two different beasts; however, they’re often fished in the same trip. And one thing I really appreciate about the 7-foot, medium-light Premier is that it’s sensitive enough to detect every wriggle of a soft plastic shrimp tugged above a grass flat and still hook and fight a bull red.

The secret to that versatility is a fantastic graphite blank that transmits feel better than all but the best of its competitors while providing plenty of backbone starting out near the tip. St. Croix’s blanks are typically a tad heavier than their rating, and I’d call this one a medium-medium-light, making it about perfect for both specks and reds and pretty much anything else you’d fish inshore.

It’s rated for 4- to 10-pound mono and loads easily under lures as light as ⅛-ounce. Casting is as good as you’d expect in terms of distance and accuracy, too. One word of caution, however: graphite blanks aren’t terribly forgiving, and if you want to protect your investment in the St. Croix Premier or any other graphite-blank rod, be careful to set the drag below the maximum mono line weight, even if you’re running heavier braid.

The Kigan Master guides are as good as they come, and even if you’re fishing 4-pound test, they’ll offer the slick, friction-free performance you need in a hard fight.

Cork lovers beware: the quality of the Premier’s handles will tickle your fancy.

Overall, this is a very difficult rod to beat for speckled trout and red drum.

Pros:

  • Awesome blank that’s both sensitive and strong
  • Casts well even with light lures
  • Awesome guide quality
  • Awesome handle quality
  • St. Croix’s Premier uses the highest quality components

Cons:

  • ???

St. Croix Triumph

St. Croix Rods Triumph Spinning Rod MLF, 7'0'

Amazon 

Power/action: medium-light/fast
Length: 7’
Line weight: 4 - 10 lbs.
Lure weight: ⅛ - ½ oz.
Material: carbon fiber
Guides: Sea Guide Atlas Performance SS304
Handle: split cork
Pieces: 1

St. Croix’s Triumph series is no less impressive than the Premier. The principal difference between the two is the name of the blank material, with the Triumph swapping “graphite” for “carbon fiber.” As far as we can tell, these are actually the same material, perhaps manufactured or applied in slightly different ways.

Apparently, the Premier uses a more advanced manufacturing technique that results in a stronger blank.

Our choice for specks and reds is the 7-foot, medium-light rod. This Triumph is both sensitive and strong, allowing great feel for a variety of lure types and applications. Spoons, topwater, swim baits, and big popping corks: they’ll all fish really well with the Triumph.

You’ll find plenty of backbone, too, as St. Croix tends to under-rate the power of their rods. Hooksets will be hard, and fights will be short.

The medium-light Triumph loads easily and casts like a dream. Expect both excellent distance and pinpoint accuracy.

And, of course, St. Croix delivers spectacular component quality. The cork handle is gorgeous and well-shaped, and the SGAP SS304 guides are remarkably slick. 4- and 6-pound lines will get the pampering they need to perform, and I wouldn’t hesitate to run light mono if that’s what the situation calls for.

If the Premier is too hard on your wallet, the Triumph is a worthy alternative.

Pros:

  • Awesome blank that’s both sensitive and strong
  • Casts well even with light lures
  • Excellent guide quality
  • Awesome handle quality
  • St. Croix’s Premier uses the highest quality components

Cons:

  • ???

Hurricane Redbone Inshore

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

Amazon 

Power/action: medium-light/fast
Length: 7’
Line weight: 6 - 12 lbs.
Lure weight: ¼ - ½ oz.
Material: graphite
Guides: Fuji New Concept 
Handle: continuous cork
Pieces: 1

Hurricane rods are a mid-range delight, offering excellent performance without breaking the bank. Their Redbone Inshore series has you covered whatever you’re after, but our choice for specks and reds is the 7-foot, medium-light rod.

This Redbone Inshore sports a stiffer-than-average graphite blank with a tad more oomph than even the St. Croix Premier. As such, it’s rated for slightly heavier line. That makes it a great rod for anglers who like a little harder hookset or slightly more power, and I’d call this rod almost a medium but with the sensitivity of a medium-light.

As you’d expect, given that, it’s great for positive hooksets when you have a lot of line out, and it fights like Mike Tyson in his prime: aggressively. It doesn’t sacrifice its sensitivity, however, and the feel is excellent.

That extra stiffness doesn’t allow the Redbone Inshore to load as easily with light lures, but big spoons, plastic shrimp, and live bait are no sweat to cast into the next parish.

The blank wears Fuji New Concept guides that work just as they should, and if you like 6-pound test, don’t hesitate.

This rod has high-quality cork handles with plenty of real estate for big hands and tough fights.

All-in-all, the Redbone Inshore is an excellent rod for red drum and speckled trout.

Pros:

  • Awesome blank that’s both sensitive and strong
  • Closer to a medium than a medium-light
  • Casts well
  • Excellent guide quality
  • Awesome handle quality

Cons:

  • Won’t cast light lures well

Fenwick HMG

Fenwick HMG Spinning Rod

Bass Pro

Power/action: medium-light/fast
Length: 6’ 9”
Line weight: 6 - 12 lbs.
Lure weight: ⅛ - ⅝ oz.
Material: graphite
Guides: stainless guides with zirconium inserts
Handle: continuous cork
Pieces: 1

Fenwick is a legendary name in rod manufacturing, and their HMG is very hard to beat. For specks and reds, their 6-foot, 9-inch medium-light is simply excellent, rivaling the St. Croix Triumph and Hurricane Redbone Inshore.

This Fenwick is built with a strong, sensitive graphite blank that’s just a touch stiffer than the St. Croix. Like the Hurricane, it boasts a slightly heavier line rating to reflect that. On the water, that translates into plenty of backbone for big reds and hard hooksets, without losing the sensitivity you need to play a swimbait or work a soft plastic on the bottom.

While the Fenwick is rated for ⅛-ounce lures, in my estimation, it can’t cast them quite as well as the St. Croix Triumph or Premier. Blame that on the blank, though that’s a trade-off plenty of anglers will happily make for more backbone and heavier line weights.

The stainless guides on the HMG don’t wear a premium name like Fuji, but they more than get the job done.

Finally, Fenwick delivers amazing cork handles, and if you’re a fan, they’ll definitely get your juices flowing.

Pros:

  • Awesome blank that’s both sensitive and strong
  • Closer to a medium than a medium-light
  • Casts well
  • Excellent guide quality
  • Awesome handle quality

Cons:

  • Won’t cast light lures well

Shimano GLF

Shimano Fishing Gulf SPN 66 M Saltwater Inshore Spinning [GLFS66M]

Amazon 

Power/action: medium-light/fast
Length: 7’
Line weight: 8 - 14 lbs.
Lure weight: ¼ - ⅝ oz.
Material: graphite
Guides: stainless steel with aluminum oxide inserts
Handle: split cork/EVA foam
Pieces: 1

Shimano’s GLF lineup is designed around the needs of Gulf Coast anglers, and specks and reds are right in their wheelhouse.

My choice for this mixed menu is the 7-foot medium-light. Shimano equips this rod with a graphite blank that, like the Fenwick and Hurricane, is probably closer to medium power. That’s reflected in the line rating recommended for this rod.

You’ll find the GLF has plenty of fight, and there’s no red drum or speck that will defeat this rod’s backbone. Hooksets are harder than with the similarly-specced St. Croix, just as you would expect.

And like the Fenwick, though this rod is rated to throw a ¼-ounce lure, you might find that a bit tough given how stiff its blank is. Again, though, that’s a trade-off plenty of folks will be willing to make given the line rating and backbone of the GLF, especially if you tie into bull reds often. 

Sensitivity is excellent, too, but not as good as with the St. Croix.

Shimano knows fishing, and their no-name guides are smooth and finely polished, delivering the performance you need when a fight is on.

The GLF wears an unusual combo of cork and EVA foam. While perhaps not deserving of top marks for aesthetics, the handle works and fishes well.

Pros:

  • Awesome blank that’s both sensitive and strong
  • Closer to a medium than a medium-light
  • Casts well
  • Excellent guide quality
  • Awesome handle quality

Cons:

  • Won’t cast light lures well

Ugly Stik Elite

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Medium - 1pc

Amazon 

Power/action: medium/fast
Length: 7’
Line weight: 6 - 14 lbs.
Lure weight: ¼ - ⅝ oz.
Material: Ugly Tech
Guides: stainless steel
Handle: continuous cork
Pieces: 1

If you fish inshore a lot, you’ve seen plenty of Ugly Stiks. Known for their bomb-proof toughness, they can take abuse that a graphite rod just can’t. From bumps to knock, mishandled snags to really big fish, Ugly Stiks shine where other rods fail.

My pick for a red and speck rod is the 7-foot medium.

Shakespeare uses a proprietary blend of graphite and fiberglass to make the Stiks’ blanks, and the result is a nearly unbreakable rod. Outstanding backbone and a never-say-die blank work well when you hook a bull red, and you’ll never feel under gunned in a fight.

Rated for 6- to 14-pound mono, this is a rod that savors heavier braid and higher drag settings, as it can take the abuse a graphite rod just can’t.

The trade off is lower sensitivity, and the fiberglass construction just can’t deliver the feel of super-stiff graphite. For live bait, that’s no problem, but for single-hooked lures like spoons, you’d be better off with other options.

Casting is really nice with the Ugly Stik, and it loads easily and throws lures with real gusto.

The no-name stainless guides work surprisingly well, and I’ve tested them with light mono with no trouble at all. They’ll get the job done, no question.

And the continuous cork handle on the Elite is pretty nice, too.

For about half of the next most affordable rod on our list, you get a lot of performance from a Stik.

Pros:

  • Bomb-proof
  • Great backbone
  • Casts well
  • Guides work well
  • Really nice handle 

Cons:

  • Not as sensitive as a graphite rod
  • Not as refined as the other rods on our shortlist 

Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Rod for Specks and Reds

Blanks, power, and sensitivity

Speckled trout and red drum aren’t a lot alike, other than their affinity for shrimp and small fish!

But they’re frequently fished in the same trip, and it’s pretty common in my experience to switch to specks if the reds aren’t biting. Moreover, it’s not uncommon - given their preferred habitat - for you to hook a red while fishing for specks and vice versa.

Specks and reds share the same waters and diets

Specks and reds share the same waters and diets.

The problem is that specks run from about 19 to 25 inches, weighing in at about 3 pounds. By contrast, mature reds measure 28 to 33 inches, topping the scales at 6 to 8 pounds. 

Ideally, you’d fish specks with a light to medium-light rod and reds with a medium to medium-heavy rod. But a light rod won’t have enough backbone for a big red, and a medium-heavy rod won’t have sufficient sensitivity for specks.

large redfish put up a fight

When you tie into a bull red, get ready to fight!

The answer is to find a “heavy” medium-light or a “light” medium rod. You want a line rating of between 4 and 14 pounds and lure weights between ¼-ounce and 5/8 -ounce. 

Your rod should have a fast action, providing a sensitive tip for techniques like swim baits or working the bottom with soft plastics.

Typically, the best option for a speck and red rod is a blank made from graphite, offering superb sensitivity and strength. They’ll land well and cast as far as you need while providing outstanding feel and more than enough backbone as long as you do your job with the drag.

Keep in mind that graphite blanks are relatively delicate. If you choose to run heavy braid, never set the drag for more than the line rating of the rod. Cranking that drag up higher than that can cause the rod to break, and that’s just a question of user error.

Line and lure ratings

Specks can be fished with line as light as 4-pound test, but big red drum may demand 12-pound test or more. That’s not too much to ask from a good rod, an excellent reel, and the right line.

Guides

You’ll need awesome guides to protect light lines, and especially if you're set up for specks, but hook a red, you’ll be in for a real fight!

Typically, it’s good advice to stick to the midpoint of your rod’s line rating, meaning that a stick rated for 4- to 10-pound test is probably best with 6- or 8-pound mono. And while not exactly fragile, 6-pound test isn’t steel cable.

Even just a bit of heat can melt right through it, and it’s your rod’s guides that prevent this failure. Smooth guides reduce friction and heat, protecting your line during a fight and distributing its stress along the length of the blank.

Casting, fighting, and length

Inshore fishing usually demands a combination of long and accurate casts. 7-foot rods are a good compromise, offering both solid distance and admirable precision.

woman catching redfish with rod

Specks may not test your rod to its limits; bull reds will.

They’re also long enough to really create a parabolic arc during a hard fight, distributing stress across their entire length. That “spring” action can allow a high-quality light-medium rod to wrangle a bigger fish than you might expect, especially if it’s wearing top-notch guides and a good reel with a proper drag setting.

Handles

Whether you prefer cork or EVA foam, a long handle with plenty of room for casting and fighting is essential.

Every rod on our list delivers that in spades.

Our Pick! The St. Croix Premier!

Frankly, any of the rods on our shortlist today will catch both specks and reds, and from the Triumph to the GLF, all but the Ugly Stik could easily be our top choice.

What makes the Premier stand out to us is its uncompromising quality, super high-end components, and overall strength as a superb speck and red rod.

Its graphite blank combines ultra-sensitivity with tremendous strength, and even though this rod is light and slender, you can put it to the test on a monster red and it’ll pass, every time. Don’t overload your drag, and it’ll do its part in the fight, summoning more than enough power to fight 3-foot bulls into your landing net.

Premium guides and exceptional handles make the Premier an all-around package that’s very hard to beat for twice the price.

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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