The Best Trout Rods: Our Picks for 2024

Written by: Dan R
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Trout and fly fishing go hand in hand. But what if you’re not a fly fisherman? Does that mean you have to miss out on some of the best and most popular fishing this country has to offer? Not at all. With the advancements of fishing rods over the years comes more and more options for a spin fisherman to chase trout.

Whether you’re just getting into trout fishing or you’re looking to upgrade your gear, we’ve got you covered.

Quick glance at the best trout rods of 2024:

 

St. Croix Premier

St. Croix Premier

  • High-quality rod at an affordable price
  • Very sensitive
  • Excellent for casting light lures
  • Able to handle big trout
  • Included hook keeper
 

Ugly Stik Elite

Ugly Stik Elite

  • Super strong composite blank
  • Excellent beginner rod
  • Exposed blank reel seat helps with bite detection
  • Inexpensive
 

G-Loomis Classic

G-Loomis Classic

  • American made
  • Quality and craftsmanship is unlike any other
  • Designed specifically with trout in mind
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
 

Fenwick Eagle

Fenwick Eagle

  • Lightweight, high-quality graphite construction
  • Burled cork handle is chip resistant and comfortable
  • Highly sensitive and strong
  • Backed by a 5-year warranty
 

St. Croix Triumph

St. Croix Triumph

  • Quality that St. Croix is known for at a great price
  • Excellent for casting light lures
  • Available in both one-piece and two-piece construction
  • Highly sensitive 


Related:

Best Trout Rods Reviewed

St. Croix Premier

St. Croix Rods Premier Spinning Rod

Available at: Bass Pro | Amazon 

Blank Material: Carbon Fiber
Length: 4’6 to 8’6
Action: Moderate and Fast
Power: Ultra-Light to Extra Heavy

While not the most budget-friendly rod on this list, the St. Croix Premier line of rods offers a high-quality rod at a decent price. 

Made right here in the U.S, the St. Croix Premier has the perfect balance of power and sensitivity, able to withstand big trout while maintaining the sensitivity needed to detect even the most subtle bites.

The Fortified Resin System exclusive to St. Croix, combined with their SCII carbon, make this rod super strong and lightweight with the power to handle big feisty trout and the comfort of being able to cast all day long.

There are a lot of different power and action combinations available, but we recommend the 7’ ultra-light for a good all around trout rod. If you’re going after bigger fish, you can always bump that up to the 8’6 light version, which still maintains the sensitivity but gives a little more power to turn hot trout attempting to make a run for it.

Pros

  • High-quality rod at an affordable price
  • Very sensitive
  • Excellent for casting light lures
  • Able to handle big trout
  • Included hook keeper

Cons

  • Reel seat sometimes loosens off not holding the reel secure

Ugly Stik Elite

Shakespeare Ugly Stik 7’ Elite Spinning Rod, Two Piece Spinning Rod, 6-14lb Line Rating, Medium Rod Power, Fast Action, 1/4-5/8 oz. Lure Rating

Available at: Bass Pro | Amazon 

Blank Material: Composite
Length: 5’ to 7’6
Action: Moderate Fast, Extra Fast and Fast
Power: Ultra-Light to Medium Heavy

Ugly Stik rods are known around the world because they are tough and cheap. There's no denying how tough these rods are, and with a price point starting around $60, it’s hard to go wrong.

The Elite line of rods has taken the incredible strength that Ugly Stik rods are famous for and tweaked everything from the graphite/fiberglass blend construction, to the guides and the handle. The result is a surprisingly light rod that hasn’t lost an ounce of its durability.

The use of fiberglass in the blank does make this rod both heavier and less sensitive than most others on this list, but with 30% more graphite than other rods in the Ugly Stik line up, it’s the lightest option they offer, and it’s that same fiberglass that gives it the strength the name is famous for.

This rod is an entry-level trout rod, and if you’re just starting out and don’t want to spend a lot of cash, this is your rod. We recommend going with the 7 foot ultra light, as it’s best for making accurate casts with light line while still being light enough to not overpower smaller trout.

Pros

  • Super strong composite blank
  • Excellent beginner rod
  • Exposed blank reel seat helps with bite detection
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Composite construction makes it heavier than most other trout rods
  • Fiberglass tip is not as sensitive as graphite

G-Loomis Classic Trout and Panfish

Classic Trout Spinning, SR783-2 GL3

Available at: Bass Pro | Amazon  | FishUSA

Blank Material: Carbon Fiber Blend
Length: 5’ to 7’
Action: Moderate and Fast
Power: Ultra-light and Light

If you’re looking to splurge on what’s considered by many to be the best trout spinning rod on the market, then look no further. 

G-Loomis ranks up there as one of the elite rod makers in the world, and for good reason. The quality of their rods is second to none, and while the price definitely reflects that, this is the best example of you getting what you pay for.

Most of the rods on this list offer options to cover any type of fishing, but the G-Loomis Classic Trout and Panfish rod was designed with smaller fish in mind, more specifically trout. The multi-tapered design paired with their fiber blend technology sees different types of blank material not throughout the entire blank but instead on stress points. The result is one of the lightest, strongest, most sensitive trout rods available.

Pro’s

  • American made
  • Quality and craftsmanship is unlike any other
  • Designed specifically with trout in mind
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

Con’s

  • Expensive

Fenwick Eagle

Fenwick Eagle Spinning Fishing Rod, Brown, 7' - Ultra Light - 2pc

Available at: Tackle Direct | Amazon 

Blank Material: Graphite
Length: 5 to 8 feet
Action: Moderate to Fast
Power: Ultra-light, Light and Medium

Fenwick is another household name when it comes to fishing. If you’ve been fishing long enough, chances are you’ve probably fished with a Fenwick rod at some point.

Fenwick has an outstanding reputation for creating high-quality rods at a good price. Considered an entry-level rod, the Eagle is one of the best options for someone looking to get into trout fishing without having to break the bank.

With high-quality graphite and a minimalist design to reduce weight, it is surprising that they can offer what feels and fishes like a high end rod at an entry-level price. More sensitive and more powerful than any other rod in its class, the Eagle is also a rod that can be fished comfortably all day without any arm fatigue.

Pro’s

  • Lightweight, high-quality graphite construction
  • Burled cork handle is chip resistant and comfortable
  • HIghly sensitive and strong
  • Backed by a 5-year warranty

Con’s

  • Stiff rod tip can sometimes break easily

St. Croix Triumph

St. Croix Rods Triumph Spinning Rod, 6'0'

Available at: Bass Pro | Amazon  | Tackle Direct

Blank Material: Carbon Fiber
Length: 5 to 7 feet
Action: Moderate and Fast
Power: Ultra-Light to Medium Heavy

If you like the St. Croix Premier that we discussed above, but don’t like the price, then the Triumph might be for you. Not only are the two rods very similar, but they are almost identical, and comparing the two side by side, it’s hard to distinguish the subtle differences.

St. Croix uses the same Fortified Resin System and SCII carbon as the Premier line, meaning the Triumph has the same sensitivity and strength. You’re getting the same blank with this rod as you would with the more expensive Premier.

Where the two differ is in the reel seat and cork used in the handle. Not as high in quality, this is where St. Croix can help to save some money. That's not to say that the materials used on the Triumph aren’t good quality, just that it’s where the rod gets its little extra weight from. Some people even prefer the construction of the handle on the Triumph over the Premier.

Pro’s 

  • Quality that St. Croix is known for at a great price
  • Excellent for casting light lures
  • Available in both one-piece and two-piece construction
  • Highly sensitive 

Con’s 

  • While still light and comfortable, it’s heavier than other St. Croix trout rods
  • Does not have a hook keeper

What to Consider When Selecting a Trout Rod

There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing the right trout fishing rod. What complicates things even more is that the right trout rod can be completely different from angler to angler, depending on the water they might be fishing or the type of trout they’re chasing. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for your new trout rod.

Durability

It doesn’t matter what we’re fishing for; we all want a rod that is durable: something that can stand up to the punishment we’re more than likely to give it. After all, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than hooking into that trophy fish and having the rod fail. I’ve been there, and it’s not fun.

When it comes to trout fishing, a lot of us are doing it on a river bank, crashing through brush, downed trees, whatever might be in our way as we venture to the next hole. No matter how careful we are with our rods when we’re doing this, they’re going to take some serious punishment, so it’s important to have something that’s going to withstand it.

Action

The action and power of a fishing rod are the two things that tend to confuse anglers the most. Some confuse the two; others believe that the two are interchangeable. They are, in fact, two different things.

When we talk about the action of a fishing rod, we’re talking about how high up the rod bends when pressure is applied to the tip. For example, a fast action rod will bend closer to the tip. Moderate action rods will bend further down the blank, and slow action even further down. Rod manufacturers offer several action options, but fast, moderate, and slow are the most common.

Despite the fact that many talk about action and sensitivity as two different things, the sensitivity of a rod is directly related to the action. The faster the action of a rod, the more sensitive it is going to be, and the better you’re going to be able to detect the often small bites of a trout. For this reason, we recommend going with a rod that has a fast to moderate action for trout. Not only will those actions help with noticing light bites better, but they will also help with a quick, solid hook set.

Power 

Now, let’s have a look at power, and how it differs from action. A rod's power is a measure of its strength, or how much force it takes to bend the rod. A rod with ultra-light power is going to take a lot less force to bend than a rod with heavy power.

There will always be debate among trout anglers as to what power is best-suited for trout fishing. What it ultimately comes down to is the fish you’re going after. Fishing tiny creeks for smaller trout, you’re going to want an ultra light power. If you’re fishing a river that still has those small trout, but also offers the potential to hook into something bigger, you’re going to want a rod that has light to medium power. Rarely will we go any higher than medium, even if we’re chasing lake-run brown trout or steelhead. Any heavier than a medium power rod and it starts to get very difficult to fish with the precision and light line that even the biggest trout require.

Length

Just as important as action and power, yet somewhat overlooked, is the length your trout rod should be. This is also going to depend on what type of trout fishing you plan on doing. On tiny creeks, you can get away with a shorter rod for smaller fish and often tight quarters. The bigger the river you’re fishing, or the fish in it, the longer the rod you are going to want to use.

From the tiniest of brook trout to the biggest steelhead, trout are very in tune to their surroundings and often require the lightest of presentations so they don’t shy away, especially in clear water. Think of your rod as a shock absorber. The longer the rod is, the more it’s going to absorb the strength of the fish, taking much of the pressure off the lighter line. On any given day I can fish a rod as short as 7 feet and as long as 15 feet, depending on what I'm after and where I’m after it. Of course, you don’t need to go out and buy multiple rods to chase trout, and a rod anywhere from 7 feet to 9 feet will cover just about any situation you find yourself in. Trout rods in those lengths offer good castability, can easily handle light line, and are able to take care of bigger fish while still not overpowering the smaller ones.

Weight

I’m not talking about weight as we would typically think of it when associated with fly rods. That’s more comparable to the power of a spinning rod. Instead, I’m talking about the actual physical weight of the rod.

When trout fishing, not only are you usually walking a river bank, but you’re also going to be making cast after cast, after cast. This can get tiring, even with the lightest rod, but fatigue from making all of those casts is sure to ruin a good day on the water. There's only so much an arm can take before it starts to groan in protest..

The weight of a rod is directly related to the components the rod is made with, and, unfortunately, in turn, related to the price of the rod. Yes, there are some rods on this list that are affordable and lightweight, but for the most part, the higher quality components that offer that light weight come at a price.

Price

Everyone is value-conscious these days, and rightfully so. The price of a rod is related to the quality of that rod, but that doesn’t mean you have to drop hundreds of dollars on a trout rod. There are plenty of budget-friendly, entry-level rods that will catch fish just as well as higher end rods.

There is no right or wrong answer to how much you should be spending on a trout rod. What it comes down to is what you’re comfortable spending.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to be a fly angler to enjoy the incredible trout fishing this country has to offer. With the amount of spinning rod options available today, getting into trout fishing is easier than ever before.

Whether you’re new to trout or looking to upgrade your gear, we hope this rundown of our picks for the best trout rod in 2023 helped. Leave us a comment and let us know if it did!

About The Author
Dan R
Review Editor
Dan was practically born with a fishing rod in his hand. Growing up in the Great Lakes Region fishing has been a major part of his life from a very young age. When not on the water you can find Dan enjoying time with his family.
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Roger Kirkpatrick
Roger Kirkpatrick
5 months ago

Dan, your article has good information even for an experienced fisherman. Everyone has an opinion and you included the variable factors and effects that need to be considered when purchasing a new trout rod. Thank you.
Roger

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