Fishing is a great way to relax and unwind in nature. It’s a popular hobby for millions. And, it can even put food on the table. What’s more, fishing has been shown in research to boost mental and physical well-being. But choosing the wrong gear can lead to stress, frustration, and poor results—especially if you’re new to the sport. So, finding the best fishing rods is a great place to start before you head off to the nearest (or perhaps farthest away) fishing hole.
Having the best fishing rods for the job can help you catch small creek bass in freshwater to large marlin, sailfish, or tuna from the deep saltwater sea. The gear, though, can vary significantly. So, before you choose the best fishing rods and reels for the job, you first need to know where you’re headed for your next adventure—or if you want something that can handle a wide variety of fishing types and techniques.
The lines can cross between some different types of fishing, but some of the most common general categories include:
- Lure – a form of angling (i.e., fishing with a rod and reel) with artificial bait and a hook
- Bait – uses a free-running spool that spins to let the line out, using your thumb to slow the spin rate. It tends to be more accurate than lure, so it’s popular when fishing under docks or along weedy river edges
- Float – which also uses a lure but is combined with a floating bobber to keep the bait higher in the water
- Fly – with an artificial fly, rod, and reel, you mimic the natural movement of flying insects to entice fish
- Ice – grab your warmest winter gear and drill a hole in the ice to fish
- Shore – which can be done from a pier, dock, beach, or shoreline rather than a boat
- On the water – choose your adventure with a boat, canoe, kayak, or even paddleboard, and head away from the crowds
- Trolling – with the help of a moving boat, you toss the bait behind and hope to catch the big one.
For many who are just starting to get into fishing, freshwater fishing with your rod and reel is where it’s at. But it can also depend greatly on what waterways are most available.
Whether you’re looking at saltwater or freshwater fishing, you’ll also want to choose a type of rod and reel that match the type of fishing as well as the size of the fish you’re going for. For instance, light tackle is a good setup for catching smaller fish. But if you’re going for the big one, you’ll need heavier tackle with stiffer action.
Here are some of the best fishing rods along with their best uses:
|Fishing Rod with Reel||Pros||Cons||Notes||Price|
|Pflueger President Spinning Combo||
||Only good for freshwater fishing||While this is a near-perfect setup for beginners, it’s still good for seasoned fisherfolk.||~$90 – $110|
|Ugly Stik GX2||
||While an affordable option, a small number of users have complained of quality control issues—with some individual rods being more durable than others. Fortunately, your purchase is protected with a warranty.||Depending on the model (ultra-light to medium or medium-heavy), this all-around rod is strong enough for larger saltwater fish but is still flexible enough for smaller freshwater fish and can be used for just about any type of fishing technique.||~$36 – $88|
|St Croix Triumph Travel Rod||
||While these rods can be taken apart for ease in transport, they do sometimes stick and can be difficult to pull apart.||If you’re looking for a rod that casts further yet is more accurate, this one does the job. It also travels well as it breaks into four parts to pack into a convenient travel case.||~$155 – $165|
|St. Croix AVID Series Spinning Rod||
||May not stand up to large fish.||The St Croix series is said to elevate any fisherperson’s sport due to its exceptional sensitivity, comfort, and leverage.||~$170 – $240|
|KastKing Perigree II||
||Reportedly, some rods can be fragile. They also aren’t the best for long-distance casts.||Coming with a wide range of power (ultralight to heavy), action (moderate to fast), and lengths from 4’ to 7’6”, this best fishing rod checks almost all of the boxes for your outdoor recreation at an affordable price.||~$50 – $75|
|Fenwick HMG Spinning Rod||
||May provide some limitations to casting due to the friction from the line and the first-rod guide, which is the same size as the other guides.||This rod is a great bang for the buck that’s well-made and provides above-average sensitivity. It’s lightweight and comfortable and looks great to boot.||~$120 – $150|
|Penn Carnage II and III Spinning and Trolling Rod||
||This isn’t the right rod if you intend to fish in fresh and saltwater. It’s only designed for saltwater. That also means it’s stiffer and works best with larger fish.||Whether you’re onshore, in the surf, or out on the boat, this spinning rod is designed to handle just about any saltwater adventure.||~$220 – $240|
|Plusinno Two-Piece Spinning Rod||
||This rod isn’t as portable as some. It also lacks some of the durability found with other rods on the list, so it needs to be treated with a bit more TLC.||With great affordability, this rod still provides great balance, accuracy, and is comfortable for all-day fishing.||~$38.00|
||This setup isn’t the best for the experienced fisherperson, unless you just want an affordable backup or something that’s super portable.||If you’re new to fishing, it can help to try it out before investing a lot of cash. This setup provides an affordable way to dip your pole into the water without a lot of risk.||~$48.00|
Especially if you’re new to fishing, it can be confusing, stressful, and overwhelming to pick from the abundance of options from the nearby sporting goods store. Fortunately, there are great, affordable options available for nearly every type of fishing. And with the best fishing rod and reel options, you’ll be ready to pack up your gear and head for the nearest fishing hole and start catching.