The Best Collapsible Fishing Rods for 2024

For decades, travel rods have been multi-piece affairs to allow them to fit in confined spaces like luggage, backpacks, and trunks. But a new generation of collapsible rods that telescope rather than disassemble are changing the game.
Reviewed by: John Baltes
Last Updated:
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The Best Collapsible Fishing Rods for 2024

If you need a rod that packs small and fishes big, the best collapsible rods are an option you should consider. And while they’re are plenty of “toys” out there that aren’t designed for serious fishing, companies like Daiwa and KastKing offer telescoping rods that are serious fishing tools

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Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

Daiwa’s Ballistic X Tele Spin rods are a fantastic choice for frequent travelers, and the 2.7 meter (9’ 10”) model is ideal for bass fishing on the go.

Daiwa builds the telescoping blanks of these rods from a special blend of carbon fiber that uses less resin, making them lighter, stronger, and more sensitive. Their experience in rod building allows them to manufacture a telescoping rod that casts and fights like a standard two-piece model - which is really saying something - and part of the reason it’s one of our picks for the best collapsible rod.

In keeping with European conventions, Diawa doesn’t report the line rating of this rod, but from the lure weights, you can assume standard bass-fishing tensile strengths for finesse techniques. I’d probably run 20-pound braid, with a 6- to 8-pound mono or fluoro leader.

This Ballistic X Tele packs down to just 28 inches, making it easy to store in a suitcase, leave in your trunk for a quick trip to the water, or pack on your back for a hike to a pristine lake or pond.

Designed for spinning reels, this is an excellent rod for finesse bass techniques like Ned and wacky rigging, and there’s no question that it provides the sensitivity you’ll need to feel every bump and soft suck.

If the salt is more your thing, I wouldn’t hesitate to use the Ballistic X Tele inshore. 12-pound mono is no sweat for this rod, though 20-pound braid might be the better choice for a spinning reel. Either way, it would make a great option for pier fishing or chasing specks and reds in shallow water.

The split cork/EVA foam handle is well executed and a pleasure to fish.

If you’re looking for a compact, capable bass rod for finesse techniques, or you’d like a top-flight travel rod for inshore fishing, look no further.

Length collapsed: 28.3”
Length extended: 9’ 10”
Material: HVF NANOPLUS carbon fiber
Action: fast
Guides: Seaguide with zircon inserts
Lure weight: .35 to 1.41 oz.
Line weight: ?
Handle: split EVA foam/cork

Pros:

  • Cutting-edge materials
  • Excellent quality
  • Sensitive and powerful blank
  • Great cork/EVA foam handle
  • Versatile blank works well in fresh- or saltwater

Cons:

  • ???
Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

KastKing has a well-earned reputation for delivering outstanding performance for the price. The Blackhawk II is certainly no exception, and if you’re looking for a best collapsible rod for panfish, smallmouth bass, largenmouth, perch, and trout, it’s very hard to beat.

Unlike Daiwa’s offerings, designed primarily around the needs of European anglers chasing carp, KastKing designed this rod for North American anglers - and it shows.

A Toray 24-Ton Carbon blank offers extreme sensitivity, plenty of hard-fighting backbone, and excellent castability. And while many telescoping rods are easy to break - especially near the tip - KastKing uses fiberglass to up the ante on durability where it matters most.

The result is a rod that fishes very well, closing the gap between telescoping tackle and standard two-piece rods.

We’ve chosen to highlight the 6’ 6” medium-light rod as it’s ideal for panfish and other common freshwater species. And I woul;dnt; hesitate to use the Blackhawk II for trout, smallies, or largemouth, especially if I’m fishing finesse techniques.

The line and lure weights enable you to use 20-pound braid and throw reasonable finesse options to bass, and while this wouldn’t be my top choice for crankbaits or topwater, you can make it work be selecting mono and turning your drag down just a bit to soften your hookset.

The long, split EVA foam grip is durable, well executed, and built to fight.

Overall, KastKing’s Blackhawk II is among the best collapsible fishing rods you’ll find at any price, and don’t forget to check out the other options.

Length collapsed: 21.7”
Length extended: 6’ 6”
Material: Toray 24-Ton Carbon Fiber
Power/action: Medium-light/fast
Guides: 7 + 1
Lure weight: ⅛ to ½ oz.
Line weight: 6 to 12 lbs.
Handle: split EVA foam

Pros:

  • Excellent materials
  • Excellent quality
  • Sensitive and powerful blank
  • Great EVA foam handle
  • Available in a wide variety of lengths, powers, and actions

Cons:

  • ???
Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

Most collapsible rods would be completely overmatched by large, powerful fish.

Not the 9’ 10” Daiwa Ninja X Tele.

If you need a travel rod that can handle blue cats, pike, muskie, bull reds, small sharks, and other hard-fighting species, this is the rod for you.

The blank is made from carbon fiber tuned to a medium-heavy power and fast action. Not only does it provide outstanding backbone to turn the odds in your favor when the pressure’s on, it can set a hook with real authority.

Whether you’re chunking live bait or big lures, this Ninja X Tele has you covered, and it loads well with appropriately weighted terminal tackle, hitting the next area code if necessary.

Designed for spinning tackle, I’d probably choose to run 20-pound braid - or heavier - with an appropriate leader depending on the species and conditions.

What I wouldn’t be concerned about is losing fish.

This rod is definitely built to fight, and the long, continuous cork handle is made for battle that’ll have your arms aching.

If you need a rod that can pack down to fit in a suitcase or trunk, and still perform when you’re chasing big, mean fish, the Daiwa Ninja X Tele may be the best collapsible fishing rod you’ll find.

Length collapsed: 30”
Length extended: 9’ 10”
Material: carbon fiber
Power/action: medium-heavy/fast
Guides: aluminum oxide
Lure weight: 0.70 to 2.10 oz.
Line weight: ?
Handle: continuous cork

Pros:

  • Excellent materials
  • Excellent quality
  • Sensitive and powerful blank
  • Great cork/EVA foam handle
  • Versatile blank works well in fresh- or saltwater

Cons:

  • ???
Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

Daiwa’s Sweepfire Tele is popular in Europe and Asia, where telescoping rods are far more popular than in the US.

Available in a range of lengths, these rods are designed for species such as carp, pike, eel, and the like, meaning that they’re meant to cast heavier lures, fight strong fish, and provide sharp hooksets.

This Sweepfire Tele is the 3 meter (9’ 10”) model, capable of casting lures that weigh more than 1 ½ ounces. And while the manufacturer doesn’t specify a line weight - European and Asian rods often don’t - you can assume that it’s built for relatively heavy lines.

What sets this Daiwa apart from competitors like Plussino and Sougayilang is pretty simple to quantify: it’s made from excellent materials, constructed by a legendary tackle company, and designed for serious anglers.

As a result, it feels and fishes much like a standard rod, offering plenty of sensitivity, backbone, and hok-setting power.

I wouldn’t hesitate to use this rod to catch North American species like pike, muskie, and catfish, and if a trip to the salt is in your future, inshore species like redfish, black drum, snook, and other hard fighting species are well within its capabilities.

The generous cork handles provide plenty of space for even the largest hands, and you’ll have plenty of room for hard fights and long casts.

Of course you’re in the market for a telescoping rod because space is at a premium: this Sweepfire Tele collapses to just a touch over two feet, making it easy to store and transport.

For larger freshwater species as well as popular inshore species, Daiwa’s Sweepfire Tele is a serious rod for serious fishermen.

Length collapsed: 2’ 2.5”
Length extended: 9’ 10”
Material: graphite composite
Action: fast
Guides: titanium oxide
Lure weight: 1.41 to 3.17 oz.
Line weight: ?
Handle: continuous cork

Pros:

  • Top-notch materials
  • Excellent quality
  • Sensitive and powerful blank
  • Great cork handle
  • Versatile blank works well in fresh- or saltwater

Cons:

  • ???
Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

If the Ballistic X Tele Spin would stretch your budget too far, consider the excellent Legalis Tele Allaround.

Daiwa builds the telescoping blank of this rod from high-modulus carbon fiber, a material not quite as expensive as the HVF NANOPLUS carbon fiber. Nevertheless, HMC is an excellent blank material, providing light weight, incredible backbone, and amazing sensitivity.

And like the Ballistic X Tele Spin, the Legalis feels and fishes like a standard two-piece rod.

Fully 8’ 10” when extended, it collapses to a touch over 30 inches for storage.

Best for finesse techniques for bass, though perfectly capable with spinnerbaits, in-line spinners, and crankbaits, the Legalis Tele Allround is a great travel rod for bass anglers.

This rod would do well inshore, chasing red and specks, flounder and blues, and the lure weight ratings allow you to pitch live bait a country mile.

20-pound braid or 12-pound mono will work beautifully on the Legalis.

The long, split EVA foam handle provides plenty of real estate for your hands, and there’s more than enough territory to give you options in a tough fight.

More affordable than the Ballistic X, the Daiwa Legalis is still easily ranked among the best collapsible fishing rods.

Length collapsed: 31.10”
Length extended: 8’ 10”
Material: HMC+ carbon fiber
Power/action: fast
Guides: titanium oxide
Lure weight: .35 to 1.76 oz.
Line weight: ?
Handle: split EVA foam

Pros:

  • Excellent materials
  • Excellent quality
  • Sensitive and powerful blank
  • Great cork/EVA foam handle
  • Versatile blank works well in fresh- or saltwater

Cons:

  • ???

Buying Guide: What to Look for in the Best Collapsible Rods

Quality

In the fishing world, it’s easy to divide tackle into two general groups: options that serious anglers should consider, and cheap toys that are going to work once or twice before breaking.

If you’re old enough, you’ll remember infomercials for Ron Popeil’s “Pocket Fisherman,” an interesting idea, sure, but not something I’d buy or recommend to a friend.

pocket-fisherman

The Pocket Fisherman isn’t for sale anymore, but companies like Plusinno and Sougayilang are 

picking up where the legendary Popeil left off.

Now I’m not saying that these products are absolute junk, and they may work a few times before the tip breaks, the telescoping sections start to slip, or some other catastrophic failure strikes. 

But serious anglers who need a compact travel rod would do well to skip these questionable products, choosing collapsible rods instead from companies with decades of tackle experience and hard-won reputations for quality.

Daiwa manufactures collapsible rods for the European and Asian market, where these designs are popular and common. And KastKing is breaking into the North American market with similar designs, the point being that neither company would risk its reputation on a bad product.

Materials

Daiwa and KastKing use known, relatively high end materials for their collapsible rods rather than no-name carbon fiber, or “99% Quality Carbon Cloth” as Plusinno advertises.

For instance, the Daiwa Ballistic X Tele Spin has a blank made from a proprietary form of carbon fiber that Daiwa calls HVF Nano Plus. 

As they describe the material, In contrast to normal carbon fiber rods with high resin content in the space between the carbon fibers DAIWA HVF (High Volume Fiber) rods are made of a carbon fiber compound with less resin, called HVF.

Since resin has a high weight, rods made of HVF are more condensed, more light weight and feature a faster action.

Nanoplus: Resin material first is enriched with a nanoalloy compound and then is used for connecting the single carbon fibers, thus enabling the design of very lightweight and robust blanks.”

KastKing uses Toray 24-ton carbon fiber (IM6) in the blank of the Blackhawk II, and to be fair, Plussino and Sougayilang claim to use the same material in their rods. But real-world experience tells another story, and even if these three companies use the same blank material, there’s no question about how much more durable the KastKing Blackhawk II is.

Plussino and Sougayilang collapsible rods have a bad habit of breaking on the strike, under load, or when being extended or collapsed.

THat’s not going to be an issue with any of the rods on our shortlist, guaranteed.

Length

Collapsible rods need to be short when closed and proper fishing lengths when open.

Typically, the longer your rod the further it will cast, but the less accurate those casts will be. The reverse is just as true.

Daiwa’s rods tend to be on the longer side, as carp angler sneed long rods for casting far from shore.

The KastKing Blackhawk II is a normal rod length for North America, and if I were solely interested in freshwater species like perch, bluegill, and bass, it would be my top choice.

Power and action

European rods don’t report power and action the same way we do in North America, and that can make assessing the Diawa line-up on our shortlist tough.

One thing you can be sure of is that all of these collapsible rods sport fast actions: that’s pretty much guaranteed by the blank material.

You can judge the rod’s power by assessing the lure weights it’s designed to cast.

Handle

Collapsible rods are limited in how compact they can be do to the need for a real handle that can enable good casts and provide enough real estate for hard fights.

And whether you like a continuous handle, cork, EVA foam, or a combination of these materials, you’ll find a wide range of options among the rods we’ve reviewed today.

Cork has the advantage of feeling warm and looking good, but EVA foam is more durable as well as easier to clean.

Line and lure weight

Casting lures or baits that exceed the limits of a rod’s recommended lure weights can dramatically affect performance, and at the upper end, can even damage the blank as it loads before the cast and comes under tremendous force as you snap it forward.

It’s best to stick to lures and bait options that fit within the recommended range.

The Daiwa rods on our shortlist don’t report recommended line weights, but they’re relatively easy to surmise from the lure weight ratings.

Final Thoughts

Constant travel doesn’t need to end your love of fishing, and with one of the best collapsible rods in your arsenal, you’ll find that the time you spend on the water is that much more enjoyable. 

As you’ll see from our reviews, our top picks make it easy to pack your passion and hit the water wherever you go, and one or more will fit the bill perfectly for your next fishing adventure.

If you have questions or comments, please leave a comment below!

We look forward to hearing from you.

About The Author
John Baltes
Chief Editor & Contributor
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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