Because there are many different types of fishing, identifying the BEST fishing rod can be quite an open-ended question with not an easy answer.
This article reveals the 8 best fishing rods for specific types of fishing including saltwater, trolling and surf fishing. Before you get to the 8 product reviews, there is an in-depth buying-guide which gives you all the factors you need to consider before purchasing a fishing rod.
We hope this buying guide helps you pick out the best fishing rod for you and your skill level.
The Buying Guide
- The Buying Guide
- Looking for Rings or Rod Guides?
- Other General Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Fishing Rod
- Leading Brands of Fishing Rods
- Top Fishing Rods Overview
- 1. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger—First Place Spinning Rod
- 2. Team Daiwa Surf Rod— Your First Choice for Surf Fishing Rods
- 3. Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Rod and Reel Combo—Your First Pick for Rod and Reel Pairing
- 4. Shimano Talora—First Place Trolling Rod
- 5. Okuma CELILO Graphite Rod— First Place Baitcasting Rod
- 6. Gary Loomis Conquest Mag Bass Casting Rod— First Place Bass Rod
- 7. KastKing Blackhawk— First Choice for Telescopic Rods
- 8. Penn Bluewater Carnage— Your Number One Choice For Saltwater Rod
- Finding the Best Fishing Rod for Your Fishing Getaway
When you are choosing the perfect fishing rod, there are some technical things that you need to consider first.
The following are the features to keep in mind before you can purchase your fishing gear:
Materials and Frames
The material of the rods is very important as it affects how it will perform and also its lifting power and sensitivity.
The following are the different types of materials that rods are made from:
- Graphite: The main difference between graphite and carbon fiber is that this type is old in technology. It is also much more affordable, brittle, and rigid.
They are easily made from burning bamboo, hence very lightweight and very responsive. They last longer if handled with great care.
- Fiberglass: Rods made of fiberglass are cheaper and can be the most preferably option even if they are economical. They are thicker and weak but good if you are looking for a medium, heavy rod.
Most people prefer using fiberglass rods because they are sensitive to small movements and give you a natural presentation, which are best for trolling.
Fiberglass is tougher than carbon fiber and graphite, meaning it won’t break when you hit a hard rock in the bottom. Most Shakespeare rods are made of fiberglass for this reason.
- Combination of Composites: This is the best rod in the market, combining all the small bits of different types of material in its manufacture.
- Carbon fiber: This is an upgrade of graphite material because it does what the graphite do better. It is lighter and much more responsive. It also bends at a highly-efficient angle and amount. Carbon fiber carries all the downsides of graphite as it is more brittle. It will not break when you are using it as it is flexible but will break when it falls.
They are the most expensive rods as they are made of composites based on boron mixed with plastic resin and carbon fiber.
Measurement of Cast and Rod
The correlation of casting a line and the measurement of the rod length is very important to the success of fishing.
Some surfcasting rods can reach up to 12-13 feet long!
The casting distance affects the weight of the terminal tackle and the acceleration of the rod’s tip. Longer rods give longer casts because the terminal tackle will accelerate faster.
However, casting with a longer rod has its disadvantages, for example, you‘ll require more room for casting and you will need to practice to use it.
This is the location of that curve of the rod—right from the blank. Rods which are slower bend on the end of the blank. Middle to moderate rods find their curve at the center and the faster rod bend 1/3 from the tip.
For you to cast well in the lake, you will need to consider how heavy your terminal tackle is. A heavier tackle gives you more force for casting, meaning you will cast a long distance. Using a lighter tackle, will force you to invest in a much lengthier rod so you’ll be able to still cast a longer distance.
This is the pressure and weight that a fishing rod can handle in order to flex.
Every rod is designed for particular weight of lures and sizes of lines. For you to handle a lighter line and a lighter lure well, you will need a lighter power.
Rods come in the following categories depending on power:
- Extra-light to “light”: If you are in the look-out for panfish and gamefish in freshwater, this type of rod is a good choice for you. Its responsiveness and flexibility, makes you feel great when the fish begins to move around or when the bait touches the bottom of the lake.
These rods will bend easily when you are lifting the fish out of water. They are suitable for freshwater ponds, streams, lakes, and lines weighing lighter than or equal to 9 pounds in a lighter weedy cover.
- Medium: These rods give great versatility and can be used for a wide range of fishing, from smaller gamefish in saltwater to heavy catfish and pike in freshwater.
Most fishers like fishing with a medium-power rod because they can use them anywhere as they offer a mix of responsive lighter rod and stiffness of a heavy rod. With these rods, you can lift fish of 20 pounds in a cover of moderate weed.
- Medium-heavy: They have great versatility but can be much stiffer which increases the power of lifting bigger fish. These rods are used in saltwater when fishing big catfish, salmon and striped bass.
Fishers who use these rods like catching fish weighing 50 pounds in weedy areas.
- Heavy: These are the surfcasting rods used of taking out sailfish, gar or tuna. They have a great lifting power which can enable you to easily lift weed out of water when you hit them.
The best models are designed with carbon fibers to ensure that you do not break the tip, making it more durable as well. They are great when using lines weighing around or over 155 pounds.
Looking for Rings or Rod Guides?
These are the rings that allow the line to pass through. They are important to consider because you will need a heavy guide to be able to lift and fight the big catch or even handle a heavy line.
This is explained below:
- Ring feet: They come in two styles, double-foot and single-foot. The most important factor here is the support provided by the material and where it’s connected at a point on the rod.
- Materials for the frame: The ring frames material can make a difference in corrosion. You can always replace old ones with new ones. Marine-rated rings are best—you should avoid the ones coated by chrome. Ring frames made of stainless steel are the best and most marine poles are designed with solid titanium.
- Roller guides: Most fishers use roller guides when they are catching huge fish like tuna. You only need to use these roller guides when going deep fishing because they can be expensive.
- Ring liners: This is the part that touches the line. Various materials for liners include nanolite, aluminum oxide, acolyte, titanium oxide and silicon dioxide, just to name a few. If you are fishing in saltwater, buy one which is marine-rated and a ring which works well with the weight of your line.
Other General Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Fishing Rod
Apart from the features of the fishing rods, you also need to consider the following:
- Finding the right place: Before you can find the perfect spot for fishing, first consider the bulkiness and weight of all your fishing gear you are carrying.
- Weather conditions: In addition to the water conditions, ask yourself what time of year you will go fishing. Do you need any modifications or specifications to the rod so that it can cope better in the cold or hot? Or maybe you need to purchase extra accessories such as fishing gloves to maximize the effectiveness of the rod.
- Rod Type Wars: Using the freshwater rods with saltwater will make the guide rings and reel seats are corroded. Most rods are coated with acrylic or thin titanium which corrodes easily. Some freshwater rods are made of graphite which is cheaper and there is less corrosion. Rods made out of aluminum do not rust but they will galvanically corrode. You do not need to change all your fishing gear but you can do a few maintenances such as cleaning the reel and rod after use and oiling the bearings.
- Frequency of fishing: You should consider how often you will go fishing. For frequent fishers, the durability of the rod needs to be very strong as it regular encounters the tough demands of natural water. If you do not go very often, a cheaper, more affordable rod may be a stronger consideration.
- Weight of the tackle: Consider the type of fishing you will be going before buying that fishing rod. You may need a lighter weight or heavy one depending on the currents of the river or the lake. If you are not sure of what to buy, get one that is heavier than what you need.
Leading Brands of Fishing Rods
Finding the best brand for fishing gear is always a dream for every fisherman.
The following manufacturers are the go-tos on the market:
- Okuma: They manufacture cheaper saltwater rods. Based in Taiwan, their rods are cheaper and are of good quality. They also make a wide variety of different products that fits anyone from a beginner to a professional.
Okuma manufactures the best heavy and medium-heavy rod needed for catching tuna, salmon and sailfish. Okuma rods are good enough unless you’re okay with buying expensive gear and are best if you need a stiff and snappy fishing rod.
- Daiwa: Still around from the 50s, Daiwa started making their American products in 1966. Since then, they make sure to crank out some pretty amazing fishing gear for both saltwater and freshwater.
They make the best surfcasting rods and devote an entire section of their market for reels and rods. What most people like about Daiwa, is the accessories that they give to them alongside the fishing rods. You can get a rod that comes with a nylon carrying case.
They are also good at providing replacement parts and great customer service support. They have quite a few different products to choose from including the ultralight rods for trolling and saltwater reels that use electric power. You may have difficulty in choosing from the wide range of products that they offer.
- Shimano: Rods from this Japanese-based manufacturer are made of high technology and high-quality materials found among other fishing rods. They first manufactured golf equipment and lightweight bicycles using alloys and high graded carbon fiber.
Now, they make fishing rods using the same materials which makes them more reliable and high performance. They are a bit expensive but offer high power and strength both in marine and fresh waters. The only downside of Shimano rods it that they are sensitive.
- Penn: Their reels and rods are mostly designed specifically for trolling. However, they can be used in other ways, too. In as much as you will pay more for these gears, they are good for saltwater. They offer the best lightweight rods available.
They not only manufacture saltwater rods but also make amazing freshwater rods. You can use their trout rods to catch big brookie or rainbow. Penn has a good history of making high-end fishing rods. They are very good innovators that introduce new products into the market much more frequently than most of its competitors.
- ABU Garcia: This fishing gear company manufacturers products similar to what Shakespeare manufactures but in better quality that is why you will have to invest a bit more if you’re buying their rods. They are the first company to manufacture ring guides out of solid titanium.
They have excellent products and tend to specialize in manufacturing gears for fresh water. Though they also make a few products for saltwater. ABU Garcia fishing gear is normally refined, tough and responsive. ABU Garcia rods are a good choice if you are looking to have the best fishing experience in freshwater.
- Shakespeare: Most fishermen start fishing using Shakespeare’s rod. They manufacture cheaper, lightweight and ultra-light fishing rods which can be used for smaller gamefish in freshwater.
However, their rods are not used for catching bigger fish but they have given an alternative with their Intercoastal and Tide Pool series. Shakespeare enables fishers to use the ultralight rod to hook the small fish and can get a fight making it much fun.
Top Fishing Rods Overview
1. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger—First Place Spinning Rod
The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger is regarded as one of the most impressive and reliable spinning rods currently available in the market. Best known of its supreme lightweight and unrivaled responsiveness, this age-old fishing rod has been acknowledged as one of the most popular among angling fans since its original design in the 1970s.
There are a couple of elements that the Ugly Stik Tiger takes to new heights in the product concept and design.
1. Shakespeare is renowned for the construction process that produces a graphite core while having carbon fiber as the outer material. This process is actually patented to Shakespeare, it is that well protected. The main bonus of having this construction this the “bend-ability” of the rod. Whether you are catching supremely large catfish or pike, the Ugly Stik Tiger will bend all the way back and will not break. This is an amazing feature and leaves anglers with great confidence in tackling larger fish in the water.
2. The Ugly Stik Tiger is also known for being able to battle hard against aggressive and combative fish in freshwater environments. Each Ugly Stik Tiger comes fitted with the following:
- strengthened rod tip
- high-quality stainless steel
- graphite seat reel
Choose the Ugly Stik Tiger for great value and strength against tough fish.
2. Team Daiwa Surf Rod— Your First Choice for Surf Fishing Rods
Surf fishing is most of the most idolized of fishing experiences, where the hope of casting into the sun-kissed water will reap the rewards of big, salty game. The Team Daiwa Surf rod is one of the most reliable rods to choose if surf fishing is your game.
What makes surf rods distinctive is their use of carbon fiber from high-glass and filled ever so lightly, to ensure that:
- the rod is light
- more sensitive
- longer cast length
Sensitivity is really important and with these design specifications, there is no doubt that you will notice even the smallest of nibbles. Team Daiwa have really produced a high-class, hand-crafted surf rod.
Three main advantages of the Team Daiwa Surf rod include:
1. With a length range of 7-12 feet, this rod can cast at great distances in the ocean water which maximizes your chances of success, reaching far beyond what other rival surf rods can reach.
2. The whole product design focuses on long-range casts and improving the chances of your heaviest catch of the day.
3. The seats of the reel are designed from advanced Fuji composites which ensure they are water-tight and safe to use in most situations.
Team Daiwa has everything necessary to ensure a successful surf fishing experience.
3. Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Rod and Reel Combo—Your First Pick for Rod and Reel Pairing
While some anglers prefer to invest time in exploring their own combination of rod and reel, there are others who prefer to purchase a pre-determined combo. This can be ideal for those who prefer to have it pre-assembled and ready to go.
The Penn Spinfisher V provides a great combo for anglers and trumps most of the alternative combos available in the market. The combination on the Spinfisher V is supremely well-matched to give the best chances of successful fishing experience, while also containing the great quality that most have come to expect from the brand.
The two best features are:
1. Included in its design are ergonomic grips, line guides from stainless steel and inserts constructed from aluminum oxide. These features all ensure brilliant sensitivity, explosive power on the water as well as long-term durability.
2. Its reel is equally great, built from a frame made of all metal, with a sealed drag system. The reel is absolutely secure from having water entering the body, which is great for durability.
Finding a great combo can be a timely and costly endeavor. The Penn Spinfisher V provides those interested in combos with a well-priced and durable option.
4. Shimano Talora—First Place Trolling Rod
Trolling fishing rods allow anglers with an increased chance of success by having multiple fishing lines drawn through the water. This form of fishing is most commonly used for trawler and large bulk fishing situations.
The Talora rods are incredibly versatile and are able to cope with any demands that are thrown at it. The series of rods come as 6 per series which range in length from up to almost 11 feet.
The Talora is ready to equip you with catching salmon on a rolling river as well as going deep into the ocean.
Three top features of the Talora series include:
1. The perfect blend between being affordable and long-term durability.
2. The construction of the Talora series is from TC4 HM blanks which are built from carbon fiber composites. This material is particularly lightweight, speeding up the pick-up and reducing the strain.
3. Durability is enhanced through the addition of aluminum oxide lines, making the entire rod absolutely corrosion-resistant.
If you want an affordable option for freshwater trolling that delivers on quality, these rods can be considered as certainly the best option, dealing with all the pressures exist from dragging a line behind your boat.
5. Okuma CELILO Graphite Rod— First Place Baitcasting Rod
Back in the day, baitcasting appeared quite a complex exercise that was out of the reach of the masses. However, modern baitcasting reels such as the Okuma CELILO have changed the game. Containing brakes that are magnetic as well as incorporating backward-reverse, baitcasting is now more accessible than ever before.
While many may believe that a decent baitcasting reel will suffice, they are wrong, the quality of the rod is incredibly important. The Okuma CELILO Graphite Rod matches these quality criteria by being able to cast much more weightier baits and comfortable reel in heavy bass.
The three best features include:
1. The CELILO delivers the perfect synthesis between feel and power. This ensures that anglers are able to have a great cast length while maintaining remarkable responsiveness to even the smallest of bites.
2. The rating of the CELILO is marine due to its materials like stainless steel and composite construction made of ceramic. This means the rod is versatile and can be used with freshwater or saltwater.
3. The rod is supremely durable and will be able to deal with a significant amount of stress.
For the best and most accessible baitcasting experience, the Okuman CELILO delivers all the essential ingredients for a successful outing.
6. Gary Loomis Conquest Mag Bass Casting Rod— First Place Bass Rod
Bass fishing is commonly known as one of the more expensive ends of the fishing market. To be an effective bass fisher, normally there needs to be a significant level of investment in a bass fishing rod.
This rod is the best value bass rod currently available to purchase. Coming at a premium price, the rod ranges in length from 6-7 feet long and it can be purchased in anything from medium to extremely strong.
No matter your lure preferences, there is likely to be a Conquest Mag rod that suits your bass fishing needs.
The two best features of the Conquest Mag include:
1. To improve sensitivity and durability, the rand blanks are constructed with Spiral-X Technology, which will undoubtedly raise your bass fishing game to new standards.
2. Other impressive features of the Gary Loomis Conquest Mag model are the strong cork grips and the Torzite line guides which are designed by Fuji.
The Gary Loomis Conquest Mag rod is a significant but good value investment in bass fishing. Bass fishing can’t be done effectively on the cheap and the Conquest Mag range has strong design features to maximize the potential for success.
7. KastKing Blackhawk— First Choice for Telescopic Rods
Similarly constructed compared to other known rods, these rods, however, are designed to slip into each other so that they can open and close. They have been much maligned over the tears for its poor construction, however recently, design and building standards have increased in quality.
The KastKing Blackhawk should definitely be your first choice for telescopic fishing rods available to purchase. The Blackhawk is a high-quality build which when fully compact can be only 24 inches long, ensuring it is ideal for transporting.
Two impressive features of the KastKing Blackhawk include:
1. The KastKing rods are made in a vast array of different lengths which provides fishers with great choice and an ability to tailor the rod to their personal length preference. The maximum length is almost a whopping 11 feet for this design.
KastKing is the only manufacturer to give such huge variety in telescopic fishing rods.
2. By being marine-rated, this rod is constructed from tough materials, which means that they can be easily used for inland fishing as well as coastal fishing.
The most essential factor about a telescopic rod has to be their transportability—as they’re light and rather thin—they are commonly used for camping trips or long fishing getaways.
8. Penn Bluewater Carnage— Your Number One Choice For Saltwater Rod
Due to the corrosive properties of salt water, it is imperative that saltwater rods are designed to cope and withstand the pressure to ensure maximum long-term performance. Penn rods are largely regarded as and named as your first choice for those wanting to do saltwater fishing.
The Penn Bluewater Carnage is the latest in a prestigious line of saltwater rods. Before committing to purchasing, it is certainly worth investigating older Penn models, particularly for those on a budget as the bluewater product comes and premium price.
There are four main bonuses to purchasing the Penn Bluewater Carnage Saltwater rod:
1. Constructed from graphite derived from one singular piece, the Penn Bluewater Carnage rods can be considered as remarkably tough and having great flexibility. These features are ideal for catching large ocean fish.
2. By using composites from aluminum and ceramics, the rod is better able to withstand salt spray compared to stainless steel rods.
3. There are eleven unique handle scenarios, giving purchasers a great deal of choice.
4. The construction and product design ensure that the Penn Bluewater Carnage copes with saltwater very well and also has a lightweight feel.
The Penn Bluewater Carnage is certainly the best saltwater fishing rod around. With technology always improving, it is worthwhile to keep monitoring the advances of Penn’s product line-up.
Finding the Best Fishing Rod for Your Fishing Getaway
This article has shown you that there are at least eight different categories for the best type of fishing rod. It is very difficult to decide on one rod for all conditions.
Whether you are fishing in salt or freshwater, onshore or on the coast, there are different fishing rods considered the best for these contexts.
The buying-guide discussed all the different factors you should consider before deciding upon the most adequate product for your needs. It is imperative that you understand what your fishing needs are: where you will be fishing, what type of fish you will be catching and how often you will go fishing. Knowing your fishing needs maximizes the chances of you selecting the best fishing rod that can be good value financially as well as being successful on the water