Best Fishing Rods: All Around, Bass & Fly Rod Reviews

This article is about choosing the best fishing rods in 2015. So Let’s not talk about the time when the introduction of the fishing rod was a huge advancement in the history of angling, that’s way too long ago! Let’s just get into what you are here for in the first place…

Top Fishing Rods

ModelRatingNotesType
badge-best-seller-miniCrystal River Fly Rod Combo Kit3.9No backing line.Fly Fishing
Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit4.4Right to left convertible reel.Fly Fishing
Lew's Fishing American Heroes Speed Spool5.0Some proceeds go to veterans.Baitcast
badge-best-seller-miniAbu Garcia Black Max4.31-piece, low profile rod.Baitcast
badge-best-seller-miniMitchell 300 Pro4.82-piece rod.Spinning
Shakespeare Bigwater Ugly Stik4.4Freshwater and saltwater.Spinning
Okuma SLV4.7Graphite 4-piece.Fly Fishing
Okuma Cedros4.81-piece rod.Jig Casting
Daiwa Sealine4.73-piece rod.Surf Spinning
Eagle Claw Powerlight IM-74.9Graphite backbone w/ cork handle.Spinning
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX24.11-piece rod.Spinning
Zebco 33 Combo4.72-piece rod.Spincast

Now a bit of perspective. Before rods, fishing consisted of dropping a bait or lure (Hmm… probably a live warm) into the water on the end of a loose string. Setting the hook consisted of violently yanking the line upward, hardly as predictable or successful as how it’s done with a rod or a pole.

Good thing that’s not what you are here for, as trying to convince you not to use your hands is beyond the scope of this article.

Characteristics of the Best Fishing Rod

fisherman fishing rods

Sometimes its good to rent a few rods first to try them out before purchasing.

The goals of the modern rod design remained the same as with the original cane poles. Fishermen want a combination of flexibility, sensitivity, strength, and action. The need for strength and flexibility run hand in hand. The rod needs to be able to bend under the weight of a fighting fish, but obviously must be flexible enough not to break.

That’s what finding the best fishing rod is all about.

The angler must be able to apply a lot of pressure to the rod as he tugs and pulls at the fish, so the rod must be strong. To this end, some poles are made of several interlocking pieces, while others are one single piece.

The rod must be sensitive, meaning the angler can feel the slightest movement of the line along the pole. When a fish hits the line, the rod transmits that movement up to the fishermen. It’s important that the rod can transmit those tiny motions so that the hook can be set in time.

Also, the pole’s sensitivity means that the angler can gently jig lures underwater, using small arm movements to elicit desired movements of the lure.

The action of a top rated fishing rod indicates how quickly the rod snaps back to a neutral position after being bent. Action is important when it comes to setting hooks and jigging lures (see below). The action of a fishing rod determines how easily the hook can be set once a fish is detected.

Jigging & Freshwater

Jig fishing, which makes use of a small spinning reel, which in my opinion is the best spinning rod & reel combo usage, while freshwater fishing using the longest rods in better. Jigging is a technique where a lure with a small weight is dropped into the water column and then bounced up and down (jigging) to attract fishes’ attention. The jigging motion requires a very flexible rod with fast action so that the up and down motion of the lure is fast.

You want the lure to drop no more than 6-inches, and quickly bounce back up. A rod with slow action will let the lure drop too far; the lure won’t fall far enough with a stiff rod. When jigging, a rod that is 12 feet (or more) long is usually used.

All Around Best Rod & Reel Combo

The invention of the fishing rod is what really started recreational fishing. Fishing went from a tough, all-or-nothing activity of throwing nets and building traps, to a relaxing pastime enjoyed by people of all ages. Rod and reel fishing may not necessarily bring home hundreds of fish at once, but it can’t be beat for enjoyment.

It doesn’t cost much to take up rod and reel fishing, either. A $30 rod and reel combo (check out the Zebco 33 combo or various Shakespeare/Ugly Stik combos) and a few dollars in bait, and you’re carrying on the angling tradition. There’s no better way to spend an afternoon.

Best Fly Rods

Fly fishing rods

A selection of fly rods on deck.

As technology advanced, different materials were used to make the best fly rods. These fly fishing poles are stronger, longer, and more durable than cane poles used in the past. There are many options today in this category:

  • Collapsible poles
  • One-piece poles
  • Miniature or kid-sized poles
  • Telescopic fly fishing poles
  • Rods you can rest on your hips
  • And rods you can stick in the ground

While the design and use may be basically the same, the fly fishing rod has come a long way in the last hundred years.

Rod Length Matters

Modern rods come in a wide variety of lengths, ranging from 5 to 16 feet. The most common size is in the 5 to 8 foot range, however. Rods for spinning and baitcasting reels, for instance, are usually no longer than 8 feet.

When selecting the best baitcasting rod setups, the rod does not really need to be able to reach very far. It only needs to be long enough to cast properly and provide support for setting hooks and reeling in fish.

Fly Fishing

That is not the case for choosing the best fly fishing rods for the money, as they are usually 6 to 10 feet long. When fly fishing, the angler is attempting to gently touch a lightweight lure to the surface of the water. Having a longer rod allows the fishermen to “reach” out farther, helping him achieve the back-and-forth casting motion that fly fishing requires.

Telescopic

Now a days Most fly fishing poles are telescoping or multi-part. This means the pole is actually 4 or 5 individual pieces that nest tightly inside one another. This makes the rod easier to store and transport, and also helps prevent breaking under stress. Finding the best telescopic fishing rod is another thing altogether.

Fishing Pole & Rod Reviews

fishing pole review

Use a friend’s pole until you get comfortable with your choice of material.

Nowadays, most top rated poles, the one considered as the best fishing pole for bass or otherwise, are made of synthetic materials. Most modern rods are made of glass fiber (fiberglass), graphite or even stainless steel. Bamboo or cane poles are still widely available as well especially if you are into building your own rod.

Fiberglass Rods

Fiberglass rods are by far the most common on the market because they combine good performance and a low price tag. Fiberglass rods can be very cheap, even cheaper than bamboo or cane poles. They are very strong, pretty flexible, and moderately sensitive.

Fiberglass is a very durable material, making it suitable for fishing in situations where the rod may encounter some abuse, such as shallow fishing in a rocky stream.

Fiberglass rods are made by many companies at many price points. Quality brands like Ugly Stik, Shakespeare, and Zebco manufacture rods that run under $30 and are very popular, long-lasting fishing rods. At the same time, many fly fishing rods are made of fiberglass, and they can get pretty expensive. Fly rods range from a cheap $20 Eagle Claw to high-end rods like a Redington Butter Stick ($249) or an Echo Two-Hand fly rod ($299)

Graphite Rods

Graphite rods are a high-end product. Graphite is also known as carbon fiber. This material produces rods that are very strong, very flexible, and extremely sensitive. For this reason they are sought after by professional fishermen.

Graphite rods tend to be rather expensive but idea when looking for the best bass fishing rod. Fishing and outrigger shops offer a line of more affordable graphite rods that run in the $40 range. However, graphite rods from brands like Okuma or St.

Croix quickly run over the $100 mark. Graphite is popular with deep sea fishing because it is mostly waterproof. Try to buy your equipment all on one shop so you could negotiate a better price on all your accessories, including fish finders and vests.

Stainless Steel Rods

Stainless steel is a very unusual material for fishing rods. It is not very flexible or sensitive, but it is extremely strong. This is for the most part a saltwater or deep sea fishing product. The stainless steel is sought after because it is very strong and absolutely does not rust, making it perfect for the rough, salty conditions of marine fishing and is considered the material of choice for the best saltwater fishing rods available.

The rods range widely in price, from models like the Okuma Longitude ($39.99) to Halo rods ($100+). You will notice that brands common in freshwater fishing—Zebco, Shakespeare, Bass Pro—are not big in the saltwater market, and do not offer many (if any) stainless options.

Cane Poles

Cane poles are still very popular as well. They can be made at home or purchased from local vendors, usually for around $20.

Once that first cane pole was invented (perhaps discovered is a better word), anglers never looked back. Cane poles were the golden standard for bank fishing for centuries. Of course, modern fishermen are using rods today that are a bit more advanced than the old cane poles were.

However, it’s interesting to note that cane poles are still widely used and sought after for their simplicity and reliability. That really speaks to the lasting design and durability of the simple pole.

What good is a rod for kayaking?

angler deep sea kayaking

Take a few rods before heading to deep sea fishing, just in case.

In case by now it isn’t clear, the simple addition of a rod offered several advantages for early anglers (yes, I am going a bit historic here). First of all, the rod amplifies the motion of the line. Without a rod, the kayak angler had to carefully monitor the line in his hand. A fish hitting a line creates some motion, but not much, so detecting fish on the line was difficult without one.

Because of the compact nature of a these small boats, it necessitated a simple means to hold the rod while kayaking. There are now many angling kayaks that come with a built in rod holder but there are many manufacturers that have come up with universal kayak rod holder accessory to attach to one’s ‘yak.

  • First, the use of a long, flexible kayak fishing rods means that the motion was amplified. Basically, the fish hits the line, and when the line bounces around against the rod, it makes the rod dance around. All in all, it’s much easier to tell when a fish has hit the line.
  • Secondly, the rod provides a great mechanical advantage for pulling in fish. Harkening again to the “Tom Sawyer” method of fishing—bare fishing line in the hand—it’s easy to see how pulling a fish in would quickly become a tug-of-war game. The line can cut your hands, or the fish can dive into inaccessible areas.

A rod gives the kayak angler leverage to pull the fish to the surface. In fact, that is essentially how it works, as a lever. The angler arches the rod high into the air from his kayak which places considerably more pressure on the line than simply pulling with one’s hand.

Its not much of a sport to fish using nets or homemade weirs that funnel fish into a small area and catch them. Either way, it is difficult, time consuming, and nowhere near as enjoyable as fishing with a simple kayak fishing rod and reel combo.