1. Best Spinning Rod: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger
Shakespeare is the undisputed king of spinning rods, especially if you’re looking for something lightweight and responsive. Their Ugly Stik line dates back to the mid-70’s, and ever since they were created they’ve been a fan favorite.
The Ugly Stik Tiger line takes everything you love about Shakespeare rods and kicks it up to the next level.
1. They are famous for their build process which uses a carbon fiber outer surface that’s been wrapped around a graphite core. This patented process produces rods that can bend all the way without breaking which is a relief when you hook a big catfish or northern pike.
2. The Tiger line in particular is built to stand up against freshwater gamefish that loves to fight hard. They all come with:
- reinforced rod tip
- premium stainless steel
- graphite reel seat
Most people think of Shakespeare spinners as the rod of choice for inland fishing, but Ugly Stik Tigers are great for marine spinning too. They’re tough enough to handle big water gamefish, while still being responsive to make catching panfish a lot of fun.
You just won’t find a better value than these fishing sticks anywhere.
2. Best Baitcasting Rod: Okuma CELILO Graphite Rod
There was a time not so long ago when using a baitcasting reel was more of an art than anything else. But now modern reels have magnetic brakes and anti-reverse features that make casting easier than ever.
A great baitcasting reel isn’t enough, you need to have an outstanding rod to go with it. The best on the market is the Okuma CELILO Graphite Rod.
Okuma CELILO Graphite Rods are made especially for tournament pros but they’re priced for everyone. They are designed to be able to throw heavy baits and catch big bass.
1. These rods are engineered to hit the sweet spot between power and feel, optimizing the length of your cast while still providing the responsiveness you need to feel every nibble.
2. They are marine-rated, making use of stainless steel and ceramic composites so you can use them whether you’re standing on the surf or fishing at the lake.
3. They are tough and durable. It gives the power you need in order to pull a big catch off the bottom without worrying about whether or not your rod can take the stress.
3. Best Rod and Reel Combo: Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Rod and Reel Combo
While many anglers prefer matching their preferred rod with their preferred reel, others like to purchase preassembled combos, to make things simpler.
But this doesn’t mean you don’t want a well-matched, high-quality combo – you want the best possible rod and reel you can get for the money.
And while there are many choices available, few can compete with the Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Combo.
Both the rod and reel that comes with this combo package feature the kind of quality you’d expect from Penn and they are perfectly matched to provide the best possible fishing experience.
1. The graphite rod comes with lightweight EVA grips, stainless steel line guides and aluminum oxide inserts. This means the rod will provide the sensitivity, durability and strength you need, without increasing the price unnecessarily.
2. The reel is similarly impressive, as it features an all-metal body, sealed HT-100 Slammer drag system and a water-tight design.
4. Best Surf Fishing Rod: Team Daiwa Surf Rod
There’s nothing like standing on the surf and casting way out into the waves, hoping to hook a striped bass or redfish. The next time you hit the shore, take one of Team Daiwa Surf rods with you.
They’re made of a low-filler, high-glass carbon fiber method that:
- reduces weight
- increases sensitivity
- boosts the length of your casts
You’ll be able to feel every nibble and get out further from the shoreline than you ever have before.
Frankly, Team Daiwa Surf line is just about perfect in every way for shoreline fishermen. You can look at these rods and see the quality and craftsmanship that went into making them.
1. Daiwa makes them long and strong, length ranges from 7 feet up to 12 feet. The longest rod can easily cast a 16-ounce tackle way out into the ocean. If you’re a serious surf angler, you’ll appreciate the quality of these rods.
2. Everything down to the ring guides has been engineered for long casts and big catches.
3. The reel seats are made especially for Daiwa out of advanced composites from Fuji so they’re tight and secure.
If you manage to hook a trophy fish, you won’t have any problems getting it to the shore even in choppy surf. They makes some of the best offshore fishing rods around.
5. Best Trolling Rod: Shimano Talora
Shimano’s tough Talora trolling rods are the best on the market. They’re a surprisingly versatile line of rods, equipped to handle whatever you throw at them. It offers a selection of 6 in this series, ranging from 7 to 10 feet long.
So whether you prefer to run deep with a downrigger or slay salmon using a dipsy diver, there’s a Talora rod ready to do the job.
1. They’re right in the sweet spot between affordability and durability.
2. They’re built using TC4 HM rod blanks, which Shimano creates out of lightweight and responsive carbon fiber composites.
3. They also use built-in aluminum oxide line guides which are fused directly to the body of the rod for increased durability.
The entire line of Shimano Talora rods are the gold standard for affordable freshwater trolling.
They’re built to take the sort of constant abuse that comes with dragging your line behind the boat. Everything from the reel seats to the grips are reinforced and overbuilt so they won’t break if you hit a snag.
6. Best Saltwater Rod: Penn Bluewater Carnage
Penn rods have a reputation for being one of the best on the market for saltwater fishing. If you’re looking for a new bluewater rod, you really can’t go wrong with anything that Penn offers.
But if you are considering the price and performance, then the Penn Bluewater Carnage series is worth checking.
1. Penn Bluewater Carnage rods are made using one-piece graphite construction which makes them ultra-strong and flexible. They’re perfect for landing the sort of big gamefish you only find in the ocean.
2. They use aluminum and ceramic composites which resist the salt spray better than stainless steel.
3. They include heavy-duty graphite reel seats on every model.
4. They deliver a saltwater rod that’s tough, reliable, and surprisingly light.
Penn’s Carnage line is made up of 17 different rods that can be customized with 11 different handle options so you’re sure to find the right rod for you.
With so many options, all of them built around Penn’s tough carbon fiber frame, you should check out the Bluewater Carnage series when you’re ready to buy your next saltwater rod.
7. Best Bass Rod: Gary Loomis Conquest Mag Bass Casting Rod
You can’t get the best bass rod available without spending a fair amount of money, but some high-end rods – like the Gary Loomis Conquest Mag Bass Casting Rod – provide such incredible value that you’ll likely forget all about the expensive price tag.
Available in lengths ranging from 6.5 to 7.5 feet in length, you can opt for medium, medium-heavy and extra-heavy powers.
However, all of the models available feature fast action, which works well for most common bass-fishing techniques. And no matter whether you prefer fishing with 1/4-ounce lures or 1 ¼-ounce lures, there’s a Conquest Mag model to suit your needs.
1. Made from Spiral-X Technology rod blanks, with through-handle technology, these rods are simultaneously sensitive and durable, and they’ll help elevate your fishing to entirely new levels.
2. In addition to the high-quality blank used as the rod’s foundation, the Gary Loomis Conquest Mag also features some impressive components, including Fuji Torzite guides and full cork grips.
8. Best Telescopic Rod: KastKing Blackhawk
Telescopic rods are usually tucked away in your backpack or stuffed in your car’s trunk. In the past, telescopic rods have gotten flack for being cheaply built. But these days, there are really good options out there for fishermen who need portable gear.
The best telescopic rod around is the KastKing Blackhawk line because of their low weight, high build quality, and range of models. The Blackhawk is a compact 24-inch long when completely collapsed.
1. KastKing makes carbon fiber Blackhawk rods in a variety of lengths, and offers 6 different rods to choose from. They come in lengths all the way up to 10 feet and 10 inches for their surfcaster.
In fact, they’re the only company manufacturing telescopic rods that offers such a range of choices.
2. They are made with stainless steel and ceramic guides so they’re marine-rated. You can take them with you whether you’re fishing inland or along the coast.
But with all telescopic rods, the versatility and quality is really secondary to size and weight. Most people put these in their packs when they go camping or hiking, so they need to be small and light.
The Blackhawk line fits the bill, with rods that will fit in any backpack and weigh less than a pound, even for the huge 10’10” surfcaster.
9. Best Portable/Travel/Backpacking Rod: Browning Fishing Safari Travel Spinning Rod
Historically, you’d have to sacrifice quality to obtain a high-quality travel or backpacking rod. But modern anglers can choose from some very high-quality rods that are also easy-to-transport and bring with you when you travel.
But few of these can compete with the Browning Fishing Safari Travel Spinning Rod, which is the best option in the portable rod category.
Featuring a three- or four-piece design (depending on the total length), the Fishing Safari Travel Rod is easy to break down and carry, no matter where your travels take you.
It also provides the kind of sensitivity that serious anglers demand, and it is available in several models, which provide different power ratings and actions.
1. Featuring an HTSC20 high-tensile strength carbon blank, with Fuji aluminum oxide guides and a Fuji graphite reel seat, the Fishing Safari Travel Rod is not only portable but durable too.
2. A protective rod sock and hard travel tube are both included to help keep your rod safe while you travel.
10. Best Cheap Fishing Rod: Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning Rod
Budget-limited anglers often fear that they will have to select a poor-quality rod and simply make the best of it.
However, there are a surprising number of affordable yet high-quality rods on the market, like the Berkeley Lightning Rod Spinning Rod.
Made from a 24-ton, multi-modulus graphite blank, the Berkeley Lightning Rod Spinning Rod provides plenty of quality despite not costing very much money at all.
Berkeley’s Lightning Rod line includes rods ranging from 5- to 7-feet in length, and with power ratings ranging from ultralight to medium-heavy. You can also select from several different actions, ranging from extra-fast to moderate.
The Berkeley Lighting Rod features many high-quality components, including stainless steel guides, aluminum oxide inserts, a double-locking reel seat and a rubberized cork handle.
This ensures that the rod won’t only work well on the water, but that you’ll enjoy using it too.
11. Best Rod for Kids: Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
Although a lot of parents are inclined to pick up a very low-cost rod for their kids, it is a good idea to avoid the bargain-basement and look for rods that provide a fair bit of quality.
And if possible, you should always look for the most durable rod possible, to help stand up to the wear and tear kids often inflict on their rods.
The Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod is a great choice, and it’ll suit youngsters fishing for just about any common species, from crappie to panfish to bass.
1. Most importantly, these graphite and fiberglass rods come in a wide range of sizes (from 56 to 108 inches) including several that are ideal for youngsters.
2. You can choose from several different powers and actions, to help provide your child with the best possible rod for his or her needs and skill level.
3. These rods feature Ugly Tuff Guides, which enable very long casts, one-piece stainless steel inserts and Ugly Stik’s classic Clear Tip.
12. Best Ice Fishing Rod: Clam Outdoors Ice Team Professional Series
Just because you’re fishing through the ice doesn’t mean you don’t want a high-quality rod, like one of the Clam Outdoors Ice Team Professional Series line.
These rods feature hyper modulus solid graphite blanks, and their action is hand-crafted by Ice Team Pros, so you know that your rod will perform as you need it to once you hook a big fish.