The Best Spinning and Casting Fishing Rods for Beginners and Pros Alike

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There’s a memorable scene in Cast Away where Tom Hanks spears a small fish from about 15 feet away. Of course, he had four years to practice and master this skill, and his survival literally depended on it. For the rest of us weekend warriors, a fishing rod will do just fine, thanks. But the wrong rod can make you feel as despairing as Tom Hanks in that other scene in Cast Away when he loses Wilson (RIP). That’s why it’s crucial to pick the best fishing rod for you.

If you’re just getting into fishing, the number of options can be overwhelming. Not only that, but they can be expensive, and you might not want to sink too much money into a hobby you’re just trying out. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best fishing rods you can buy online. Of course, the rod is only part of the equation — you also need the right lures and lines for the kind of fishing you’re planning on doing.

There are multiple kinds of rods and reel options that suit different kinds of fishing and experience levels. Some examples include:

  • Casting
  • Spinning
  • Combos

Spinning rods should be paired with spinning reels and casting rods with baitcasting reels, and there are significant technical differences between the two. But in general, spinning reels will be best suited to beginners looking for smaller fish, while casting reels can handle larger catches and are generally suited for more experienced anglers. When you see “combo” in that list, you might assume it somehow combines casting and spinning. But a combo simply refers to a fishing rod that comes with the reel pre-attached and assembled — these are available for either casting or spinning.

Fishing rod and reel combos have the obvious benefit of convenience. They’re pre-assembled, and you can count on the two components working together well. More advanced anglers will likely want to opt for buying their rod and reel separately. The benefit here is customization — once you know what you like and what your needs are, it’s easier to fine-tune your equipment.

We’ve rounded up both rods and reel combinations as well as standalone rod options. Take a look at our list below.

  

1. Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod

BEST OVERALL 

The GX2 from Ugly Stik is a durable casting rod that’s available in five different lengths and four power levels. It’s made from a mix of fiberglass and graphite, making it lightweight yet durable. The fiberglass tip adds sensitivity. It’s a reasonably priced option as well.

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2. SHIMANO Solora 2 Piece Spinning Rod

BEST SPINNING ROD

Like a lot of Japanese manufacturers, Shimano has its toes in multiple fields. While best known to the average consumer as the premier manufacturer of bike components, the company also has a substantial output of fishing rods and equipment. This affordable option is designed for beginner anglers; the cork handle makes it comfortable to use, while the fiberglass build makes it a sensitive option as well. The Solora 2 is a spinning rod.

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3. PENN Conventional Rod and Reel Combos

BEST COMBO 

Bass Pro Shops allows you to choose between different reel sizes and gear ratios, and this rod from Penn is a premium option that includes a reel. The reel has 5 hidden stainless steel bearings and the reel is designed to be able to make quick adjustments to power and speed. The solid fiberglass tip ensures strength and sensitivity.

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4. Bass Pro Shops Crappie Maxx Mighty Lite Crappie Rod

BEST VALUE 

Suffice to say, Bass Pro Shops knows a bit about fishing, which is why it’s not surprising they have their own line of rods. It’s designed to help you feel small movements from crappie. It’s available in sizes ranging from 7′ to 12′.

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5. St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod

BEST UPGRADE

This spinning rod from St. Croix is a premium option that’s available in a variety of lengths and power options. It has comfortable cork handles and a graphite build. It’s lightweight, sensitive and sturdy.

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6. KastKing Perigee II

MOST VERSATILE 

KastKing makes a variety of fishing rods and fishing lines, including the Perigee II, which is available in configurations for for different kinds of fishing including trout, walleye, salmon, catfish, steelhead or saltwater fishing. The sturdy carbon fiber blank offers a lightweight build combined with durability.

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7. Abu Garcia Roxani Baitcast Combo

ALSO CONSIDER

This option from Abu Garcia is a good option if you’re looking for a rod and reel combination. It’s a baitcaster, which is generally recommended for more adept anglers. It offers smooth operation with minimal backlash.

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8. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

STRONG AND SENSITIVE

The Ugly Stik series from Shakespeare is one of the most popular options in terms of value and quality, and this option includes a rod and reel. The unique graphite and glass construction of the rod is noted for its strength and sensitivity.

fishing poles Image Courtesy of BassPro