Over 44 million Americans over the age of 60 fish every year. It is never too early or too late for someone to enjoy the wonders of fishing. However, to make the experience as enjoyable as possible, the angler needs the correct equipment. All fisherman, no matter their age, need the right fishing rod, which can be difficult to find. There is a wide variety of rod styles available for different types of fishing. This is a guide to help you quickly and easily find the best fishing rod for your needs.
Best Saltwater Fishing Rods
When fishing in saltwater, you’re likely to encounter larger fish like tuna, blue marlin, and wahoo, among others. Saltwater fishing generally requires a more powerful reel to handle the more powerful fish. Saltwater rods are also made specially to handle the damaging effects of salt water on the gear.
Here are some great saltwater fishing rods to consider:
This powerful saltwater rod is made to be durable for a long lifespan. Alongside the built-in durability, this rod can be purchased in a heavy or extra-heavy option. This rod is particularly useful for bottom fishing and is made out of graphite, which increases its flexibility.
This single-piece saltwater rod is 7′ long and weighs between 8 and 17 lbs. It has medium power and moderate-fast action. The line weight is 8 – 17 pounds with a lure weight of 3/8 – ¾ oz. This rod has a cork handle and zirconia inserts. For a great combination of weight and power at a reasonable price ($139.99), this is a great option for your saltwater fishing trips.
Best Freshwater Fishing Rods
Freshwater fishing is a broad term that can include a variety of different environments. In order to determine the best fishing rod for your particular situation, consider whether you will be fishing on a boat or dock, from the shore, ice fishing, and what type of fish you are looking to catch.
Here are some great freshwater fishing rods to consider:
This freshwater rod is made for comfort and efficiency. Once assembled, the Lamiglas Insane Surf is 9′ in length, which is great for casting. It has a moderate-fast action rating and utilizes technology to provide a perfectly tuned action. The rod has a line weight between 10 and 17 pounds and is made of graphite with cork grips. One of the best features of this rod is its particularly comfortable handles: unique X-Flock handles with heat-shrunk grips. This rod starts at a price around $129.99.
The St. Croix Triumph is a casual, quality option. This rod comes in three options: medium-light power rating with a length of 6’6”, medium-light power rating with a length of 7′, and a medium power rating with a length of 6’6”. It comes in 2 pieces to make it convenient for travel. The rod is made with durable SC 11 graphite with a cork handle. At $90, this is a quality piece of equipment to fit even a tight budget.
Best Ice Fishing Rods
Ice fishing has a rich history dating back hundreds and hundreds of years; fishing equipment has come a long way since the Inuits first started refining the ice fishing practice. The power of your ice fishing rod will depend on which fish you’re aiming to catch. For perch, a light rod will be the best. A medium rod is deal for walleye, whitefish, and trout. Pike require a heavy rod. It is typically suggested to use a medium-action rod.
Here are some great ice fishing rods to consider:
Part of the popular “Legend” line, these St. Croix rods are a favorite among fishermen. At 24 inches, they are a perfect, manageable length. They come in medium-light, medium, or medium-heavy weights. These St. Croix rods have a custom style that makes them stand out amongst others, and this line is known for its technological quality, particularly a feature that allows the user to detect a fish before its caught.
This rod and reel combo is an attractive and long-lasting option for an ice angler of any experience level. The rod is made of steel, graphite, and aluminum giving it a sleek look. Even better, these materials are profoundly durable. The Abu Garcia Veritas Ice Fishing Rod has a heavy power rating and is useful for catching larger fish.
Best Fly Fishing Rods
Fly fishing generally requires a long rod to allow for a longer cast. Additionally, you you should consider the size of the flies that you will be using as bait, the fish you want to catch, and your experience level. Longer, heavier rods are best for catching large or combative trout, fishing in an area with heavy winds, or for novice fly fisherman. A 5-weight rod will allow for the most maneuverability, and a length of 8.5 – 9 feet is ideal for beginners. Longer rods can be difficult to manage and shorter rods will greatly limit the amount of fish you can catch.
Here are some great fly fishing rods to consider:
This rod is designed specifically for fishing trout, which is probably the most common among fly fisherman. This rod comes in either four or six pieces, and it is easy to assemble – even for a beginner. It comes with a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty. It has a moderate-action, giving it a lot of flexibility, and ranges from 7’6” to 9′ in length. Line weight varies from 2 – 6, and rod weight varies from 2.1 – 3.0 ounces. All options are $149.95. For someone one wants a basic, but reliable fly fishing rod, this is a great option.
For those looking for an upgrade, check out the Sage Circa Fly Rod 589-4. This rod is also built for trout fishing. It has a slow or moderate action and uses a specific Gore-Tex layered Pro Shell fabric to make it light weight and create top-of-the-line responsiveness and precision. If you have a wider budget, this is a great option.
This is the perfect option for a fly fisherman on a budget. It’s much more affordable than the Sage Circa, but boasts comparable benefits, just to a lesser degree. The St. Croix Rio Santo has a moderate action rating and is a slower rod, aiding in control.
Best All Around Fishing Rod
To avoid having to collect a different fishing rod for every occasion, look into some simple, sturdy options that can be used in a variety of fishing scenarios.
This Pflueger Trion GX 7 has an ultralight action rating giving it extensive flexibility. This rod might be a bit difficult to control as a beginner, but an experienced angler will enjoy the freedom capabilities. This rod is made of graphite and is lightweight and sensitive. It has a cork handle and is an inexpensive option.
Best Fishing Rod for Beginners
Beginners should have the chance to test out which rod works best for them. If you’re a beginner and you need a fishing rod for an upcoming trip, the first step is to research the trip itself. Will you be in a boat with some friends? Are you going fly fishing? Ice fishing? Will you be on a pier? Are you going to be in freshwater or saltwater? Remember to keep these things in mind and research which fishing rod will work best for your particular trip. It’s also not a bad idea to spend some time talking to the person at your local sporting good’s store to familiarize yourself with the existing options.
Here is a great fishing rod to consider as a beginner:
This fishing rod is extremely versatile. It comes with two action tips that allow you to change up the flexibility if necessary. All rods are 7′ and come with a lifetime warranty. Due to the emphasis on style, this rod is slightly more expensive than other options, priced right around $129.77. While a cheaper fishing rod is generally suggested for a beginner, if you know that you will be fishing often and want a quality product, this rod is highly recommended.
Best Bass Fishing Rods
Bass fishing is among the most popular in the sport. If you’re unsure which kind of fish you will likely be catching, adjusting your purchase to fit bass fishing conditions is a safe bet. Due to its prominence and popularity, there are numerous options for fishing bass.
This spinning rod is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater fishing. It has seven sections, and when assembled is 7.87′. It is made from carbon with an EVA fore grip. This fishing rod is priced between $23.99 and $37.99. Since this rod has a medium-power rating, it is not suitable for very large fish, but is great for bass.
This graphite fishing rod is particularly known for its durability. This is a baitcasting rod. This rod is acceptable for saltwater and freshwater and has a medium-heavy power rating. This rod alone, without the reel, is $96.23. Fit to catch bass, as well as perform on other fishing trips, the versatility of this model makes the investment worth it.
Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
For an all-in-one purchase, take a look at rod and reel combos. There are combos for almost every type of fishing rod — spinning combos, bait casting combos, fly combos, saltwater combos, spincast combos, and more.
Here are three highly rated rod and reel combos:
This spinning rod and reel combo is made from 24 Ton graphite rod. It is 7′ long and has a medium-action rating. The spinning rod is reasonably priced at $80.45. The Mitchell 300 Pro comes in bright green, and is a great basic spinning rod and reel combo.
This spinning combo has a sleek metal body and 4 + 1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings. The rod length is 9′, and it has a power rating of medium-heavy. It has a fast action and its line is rated for 15- 30 lbs. The reel is positioned for either the right or left hand. The reel size is 6000, and it has a gear ratio of 5.6:1. A featured highlight of this particular product is the retrieve rate of 41 made possible by the Techno-BalancedTM rotor. This combo is only $92.14 and is a quality model.
Most Expensive Fishing Rods
Some will only be satisfied with the greater things in life. For the angler with a hefty budget who wants to get the best possible fishing rod, check out some of the options below.
This is one of the most expensive fishing rods on the market with a variety of extra features to live up to the price. In order to preform properly in any situation, the Daiwa Morethan Branzino Urban Spinning Rod is made to cast in all positions. This rod come in two parts, which is more convenient for travel, and it is durable, made from some of the best quality materials.
Any fishing enthusiast would love this piece in their collection; this rod is made from fine bamboo. It has a 4-weight rating and is 7′ long. Usually, fly fishing rods are a bit longer, which makes this model seem more like a collector’s piece. However, it will work, and it will work well. It has a fast action, and is available for $2,395.00.
Best Baitcasting Rod
The great thing about baitcasting is that it offers more control than other techniques.
Since you will be casting over and over again, remember to find a light weight rod. Rather than looking for flexibility, a fiberglass rod is ideal. The rod should be between 6′ 5” – 7′.
This is a great baitcasting rod to consider:
Similar to the St. Croix Legend Icefishing Rod, the Extreme Series is made specifically for baitcasting. The rod is made of high-modulus graphite, making it especially light. The light weight gives it more sensitivity. The handle is unique in its aerodynamics and comfort. The best part is that for the high quality and performance, the rod is actually affordable.
Best Portable Fishing Rod
If you’re going on a trip, packing lightly is always of importance. A portable fishing rod will take up less space in a crammed car, or will be easier to carry for camping or hiking. Additionally, portable fishing rods are less likely to break. The delicate tip of a fishing rod can be very susceptible to falling or having things fall on it. Storing your fishing rod in pieces inside a safe case can greatly reduce the chance of your rod being damaged.
Here are some portable fishing rods to consider:
This retractable, easy to carry rod is a great portable fishing option. It is made of fiberglass and is durable, yet flexible. When assembled, it is 5.91 feet. This product is a fishing pole that you can use for a variety of different fishing methods — boat fishing, sea fishing, and shore fishing alike.
This kit has a low price of just $41, and you will definitely be pleased with what you paid for. The rod is made of graphite and has a cork grip. It comes in 5 pieces in a 17”x9”x3” case. It also comes with a size 20 reel. This rod can catch a number of fish, is strong, and can withstand saltwater environments.
Best Fishing Rod for the Money
If you prefer quality and affordability over the flashy features of the higher-end models, take a look at the products below:
This lightweight fishing rod is only .34 pounds and 7.25 feet long. It is made of graphite with a cork handle and has medium-fast action. This rod is a perfect, quality fishing rod without all of the extra bells and whistles adding to the cost. This rod is ideal for casting fishing. It is made in China with a limited lifetime warranty and is available for $37.36.
Fishing Rod Variations
Fishing rods have different variations of length, power, action, and material that are useful in different situations.
Let’s define these terms before we continue:
Power is the amount of weight that the fishing rod can lift. Power levels are described as heavy, medium-heavy, medium, medium-light, or light. The heavier the power, the larger the fish you will be able to catch.
“Action” refers to the fishing rod’s flexibility.
- Fast action — only bends at the tip and is mostly rigid
- Medium action – bends at the tip and middle of the rod
- Slow action — bends to the butt of the rod
Action is particularly important because it determines sensitivity and how well you will be able to control the fish once it is caught. Fast action rods are generally preferred due to their sensitivity and control. Medium action rods are adequate and are even preferred in certain situations.
There are long rods, medium-length rods, and short rods. Long rods are preferred when fly fishing and shore fishing. Medium length rods are preferred when casting. Short rods are ideal in boats to keep the long fishing pole from getting in the way.
Fishing rods are generally made of either fiberglass, graphite, or glass. The material greatly affects the action. The more modules, the faster the action will be. Different materials will have different modules. Fiberglass rods typically have a module measurement between 6 to 13 million. Graphite rods have a module measurement of 33 to 66 million. The lighter the weight, the faster the action rating.
Other Rod and Fishing Terms
In order to pick the right fishing rod there is certain terminology that will help you properly research, and have an educated conversation with a sales associate.
Here are some key terms to know:
Parts of a Fishing Rod
- Shaft — the handle of the fishing rod
- Reel Seat — where the rod and reel are attached
- Butt Cap — the end of the handle
- Guides — rings that help guide the line
- Tip Top — guide at the very top of the fishing rod. This is a particularly vulnerable part of the fishing rod and can break easily.
Types of Fishing
- Surf Fishing — fishing from the shore
- Bottom Fishing — specifically fishing the bottom of a body of water for bottom-dwellers, such as catfish
- Fly Fishing — fishing using artificial flies as bait
Other Useful Terms
- Tackle — fishing components, such as bobbers, sinkers, hooks, and lines
- Rig — a specific part of the tackle
Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Fishing Rod
Before you go to the sporting goods store and start shopping, start to think about which questions you might be asked. If you can provide an answer to the following questions, you will give the sales associate better insight into which fishing rod will be a good fit.
What is your experience level?
A new fishing rod is an important investment, but it may take some time to familiarize yourself with all the elements of the shopping process. For this reason, it is recommended that a brand new fisher starts the shopping process by looking at cost. It is likely that a beginner will learn more about the instrument as they go, and eventually want to purchase a new rod to fit their needs. Therefore, it’s best to start on the cheaper end and work your way up. It’s also beneficial to get a medium action rod for your first fishing rod. This can help you determine whether you need more or less flexibility. Lastly, some rods are more difficult to work than others. For example, rods over 9′ can be problematic for new anglers. Casting and fly fishing are also more difficult than other types of fishing that might be better for a novice.
What type of fish do you want to catch?
If you’re looking to catch larger, heavier fish, you will definitely need a fishing rod with a higher power rating. A rod without a strong enough power rating won’t be able to carry big fish. Conversely, if you use a rod with too high of a power rating, you will not have the necessary sensitivity, and the fish could wiggle himself free. Know which fish live in the body of water where you will be fishing and which power level is best to catch that particular type of fish.
Where are you fishing?
Fishing in salt water requires a tackle made out of specific material to keep the salt from damaging the fishing rod. Also, long rods are ideal for fishing close to the shore. Medium-length rods work best for fishing from a bank. Short rods are best for fishing in a boat.
Are you using light or heavy bait or lures?
The weight of the bait or lure you use will help determine some of the specs you want on your fishing rod.
How often do you plan on using the fishing rod?
Cost is extremely relevant if you are looking to get a fishing rod and only use it once in awhile. You aren’t going to want to spend a lot of money on a fishing rod that you won’t be using very often. Conversely, you will want to invest in an appropriate fishing rod if you plan to use it repeatedly.
Is this for commercial or casual use?
If you’re buying a fishing rod for a commercial purpose, durability and quality are key. In this situation, you would need to spend the extra money to have a piece of equipment that you can rely on often and for a long time.
Top Brands to Consider
When it comes to fishing rods, brand name does matter. Going with a well-established brand can ensure the quality of the fishing rod. Here are some quality brands in the fishing community that definitely indicate a level of superiority:
Shakespeare was started in 1987 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. By 1959, William Shakespeare Jr., the owner of the company, was brought into the National Sporting Goods Hall of Fame. To this day, the company takes this rich history and sticks to its original owner’s high standards.
This brand is known for its dependability. In fact, in 2012, this was the top selling brand in the country. Shakespeare has a number of different models that are sure to suit your needs while providing a high quality product.
The biggest thing that sets St. Croix rods apart from others is the technology behind the engineering of every model. Some of the technologies included in St. Croix rods include:
- Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) Technology – IPC Technology creates rods with smoother actions, more power, and higher sensitivity.
- Advanced Reinforcing Technology (ART) – ART adds strength with minimal addition of weight.
- Taper Enhancement Technology (TET) — Another technology that creates improved actions and sensitivity, especially combined with IPC technology.
- Fortified Resin System (FRS) – FRS provides ideal temperature and better timing throughout the fishing process.
St. Croix is an established company that has been making fishing rods for 65 years. Many life-long fishermen consider St. Croix models to be some of the best made.
One of the popular fishing rod brands out today is Abu Garcia. The company was originally founded in Sweden in 1921, and their first fishing reel was introduced in 1941. The official “Purveyor to the Royal Swedish Court” has been providing quality fishing equipment ever since. Along with it’s great quality, Abu Garcia has the Carbon Matrix drag system which assists with control and balance.
Pflueger is an American Company that was founded in Akron, Ohio in 1916, but the owner’s father was in the fighting gear company even before that. Pflueger makes a large number of different equipment, but the main focus is always on quality. Fishing equipment is and always has been their only focus; they are experts in the field and have been for over 120 years. There have been numerous Pflueger products that exemplified innovation in the field, and Pflueger is still one of the leading manufactures today.
Fishing is a great hobby to enjoy time alone or with friends or family. It’s also a great way to get some home-caught fillets. The most important part of fishing is finding a rod that is going to suit your needs.
Remember to consider where and what you will be fishing. If you need something more versatile, there are rods that can move from boat to shore. If you have more specific needs, you will be able to accommodate them as well. Experience level matters. A novice will want something easier to manage, versatile, and inexpensive. A more experienced person will have the confidence to spend the money on something a little more specific and a bit tricker to use.
Never be afraid to research and ask questions. Don’t be talked into something more expensive than your budget allows, but if this is a serious hobby, it doesn’t help to buy cheap equipment that will have to be replaced often. Happy fishing!