10 Best Fishing Rods in 2020 – Reviews & Comparison

Did you know that there is a difference between fishing rods and fishing poles? It’s true; fishing rods are usually made out of conventional materials and have guides and eyelets. Fishing poles, on the other hand, are usually made out of natural materials (wood, bamboo, etc.), are longer than rods and typically don’t have eyelets or guides. Many amateur fishers use the two terms interchangeably but they are, strictly, speaking, different.

Fishing rods are usually easier to use and are the go-to decision for most fishermen. Their combination of power, versatility, and ease-of-use makes them a popular choice.

There are a lot of fishing rods out there of varying quality. As such, you will want to make sure you do your research so you don’t buy something that is poor quality. To help you out, we sat down and put together this list of the 10 best fishing rods for your fishing experience. We put these 10 fishing rods through the gamut and ranked them based on their quality, versatility, and overall product value.

Now, with that intro business out of the way, let’s get to it.

Best Fishing Rod – Comparison

Picture Product Name Power Length Price
Shimano FXS 2-Piece Medium Fast 6’0″/6’6″ Check Latest Price
Okuma Celilo Ultra Medium heavy 6’6″ Check Latest Price
Shakespeare Wonderpole Malti Size Check Latest Price
Daiwa Mini System Ultralight  4’5″ Check Latest Price
Entsport E Series Camo Medium and Medium Heavy 7’ Check Latest Price
Penn Squadron II Surf  Medium Heavy 10′ Check Latest Price
KastKing Crixus Graphite Medium Lignt 6’0″ Check Latest Price
Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fast Action Check Latest Price
Ugly Stik Elite Medium Heavy 6’6″ Check Latest Price
Penn Spinfisher V Penn Spinfisher V Heavy 7’ Check Latest Price

 

Top 10 Best Fishing Rods for Anglers of All Stripes

1. Shimano FXS 2-Piece Spinning Rod

First up is the Shimano FXS 2-Piece Spinning Rod. We have covered a lot of Shimano products here to good effect. The brand is characterized by its high-quality engineered products. The FXS 2-Piece Spinning Rod is a competent budget rod that is in line with their product philosophy; affordable and effective.

The FXS is a 2-piece rod meaning it can be disassembled for transport and storage. Each blank is made from “Aeroglass’”, a unique synthetic variant of aerogel, a material known for its lightness, durability, and high temperature resistance. The rod features reinforced aluminum oxide guides and a solid locking graphite reel seat.

The Shimano FXS is a medium-power rod so it’s best suited for medium-species fish like trout or bass. It is not very long for a medium rod and measures just under 6’ long. This means that you will have to work a bit harder for longer casts.

The Shimano is designed for spinning reels and has a sturdy reel seat meant to reduce vibration and pressure. The handle is coated in a durable EVA foam with a small fore grip right above the reel seat. The foregrip is a nice touch but it might be too small to grasp without your hand hitting the reel.

The Shimano might not be professional quality but it has a fantastic cost/value ratio. It costs about as much as a week’s worth of groceries but can last for years of fishing. If we are going by pure bang-for-your-buck, then the Shimano is clearly a top contender.

What We Like:

  • Simple, no-frills design
  • Sturdy aero glass construction
  • 2-piece design is portable
  • Solid graphite reel seat
  • Full EVA handle grip
  • Aluminum oxide reinforced guides

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not amazing quality
  • Foregrip too small

2. Okuma Celilo Ultra Light Trout Rod

Our next entry is the Okuma Celilo Ultralight Trout Rod. As the name implies, this rod is designed specifically for trout, but it works well for other species of medium-size fish. Okuma, like Shimano, is another Japanese fishing manufacturer that has been well-received by the fishing community. The Celilo is a budget-friendly rod made with Okuma’s trademark quality.

The Celilo is made out of sensitive graphite blanks that transmit each strike succinctly and accurately. The 2-piece design means you can break it down for storage and transportation. Together, the rod measures 6’6” long and each piece measures just over 3’. The Okuma only has a single guide with aluminum oxide inserts. Near the foregrip is a small ring for mounting the hook when not in use.

The Celilo also has durable cork rear and foregrips. The rear and foregrip surround the graphite reel seat which is reinforced with stainless steel hoods. Best of all, it is very affordable and makes a good rod that won’t burn a huge hole in your wallet.

As far as performance goes, the Celilo performs in the range of a much more expensive rod. It is ultra-light so it has relatively slow action, but it is incredibly sensitive and has a good response. Setting hooks is easy and the rod is balanced for stability.

We did find the cork handles too small, and unfortunately, the quality only gets it so far. The Okuma has some durability issues, but nothing that is completely out of the ordinary for a more fragile ultra-light rod. As long as you don’t push it past its limits it will serve you well.

What We Like:

  • Very affordable
  • Natural cork fore and rear grip
  • Stainless steel reel seats
  • Ultra-light power for increased sensitivity
  • Great for travel

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Durability issues
  • Only 1 line guide, at least 2 would have been better

3. Shakespeare Wonderpole Spinning Rod

Sitting at third is the Shakespeare Wonderpole Spinning Rod. The Wonderpole features a unique telescopic design and comes in models that range from only 6” to a whopping 20’ feet long. The Wonderpole is designed specifically for casting and allows for precise bait placement. When not in use, it collapses to just under 16” long for storage and transportation.

The spinning model of the Wonderpole also includes a line keeper, fluorescent tip, and spare cap to keep on the tip when not in use. Each blank of the Wonderpole is made out of durable and lightweight fiberglass. Fiberglass is a popular material for fishing poles due to its balance of flexibility and rigidity. Fiberglass will crack and shatter if put under too much force though.

The Wonderpole has a lot of uses outside of fishing too. We found many users who claim they use the rod for setting wires and antennae mounts due to its long length. It is not designed for these purposes but hey, who doesn’t love a versatile fishing rod for more than just fishing?

The Wonderpole might be a bit difficult for beginners to use. It only has one guide near the tip and the action is different than most fishing rods. If you set it up with a set of quality lures and bait then you have the perfect rod for fly fishing or crappie fishing.

Like most telescopic rods, the extension can be jammed if gunk and dirt get in between the blanks. Cleaning it after each use should avoid this problem.

What We Like:

  • Extra long telescopic design
  • Flexible fiberglass blanks
  • Fluorescent tip
  • 20’ maximum extension
  • Other uses besides fishing

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Blanks can get jammed with dirt
  • Fiberglass will shatter under high loads

Also Read: Best Fishing Kayak – Smooth Fishing Experience

4. Daiwa Mini System Ultralight Spinning Combo

The Daiwa Mini System Ultralight Spinning Combo is a wonderful spinning rod combo with a carrying case from Daiwa. The Daiwa is a good rod to have on the go as it breaks down into 5 pieces and is compact and reliable. The Daiwa can break down and fit into a space smaller than that under your car seat so it’s a great choice for the user on the go.

This ultralight rod only measures 4.5’ long when assembled so it is on the shorter side of things as far as spinning rods go. As such, it’s best suited for lighter species fishing and inshore or dock fishing. The 5-rod blanks are made out of graphite composite and are rated for 2-6 pound lines.

The included reel with the Daiwa has a 5.1:1 gear ratio and a smooth ball bearing drive. The reel is smaller than the usual spinning reel but that makes sense considering its combined with a short ultralight rod. The mini-reel has a nifty Twist Buster mechanism that reduces line tangles and twists.

The one flaw of the Daiwa is the carrying case. It is pretty useful but you need to completely disassemble the rod so it will fit in. Unfortunately, this makes packing and unpacking the rod quite the hassle, especially if you are frequently on the move.

The performance is solid for a budget combo rod but not professional quality. It is not designed for everyday use but it’s perfect for those impromptu moments when you find that perfect fishing spot.

What We Like:

  • Compact portable design
  • Ultralight power and reel
  • Sturdy graphite reel seat
  • Tactile EVA grip
  • Heavy-duty carrying case

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not amazing quality
  • Hassle to pack and unpack

5. Entsport E Series Camo Legend Casting Rod

Sitting at the halfway point of our lineup is the Entsport E Series Camo Legend Casting Rod. The Legend has a 2 piece construction and comes with an extra rod tip of different powers. One of the rods is a medium power rod and the other a medium-heavy rod. Each rod is made out of tough 24-ton carbon fiber that has high tensile strength and retains good sensitivity.

The Entsport has an “Extreme Exposure” reel seat which is enhanced with corrosion-resistant aluminum reel hoods. The Legend also features an extremely tough and tactile EVA split-grip with a unique and eye-catching camo design. The line guides are made from stainless steel and feature Entsport’s special ceramic “FINESSE” guides that minimize friction and reduce line snags.

The Legend has an extreme exposure reel seat. The reel seat is sturdy and is designed for heavy-duty reels. The Legend works bet with a heavier baitcasting reel but it can accommodate a solid spinning reel as well.

A few downsides though; The split-grip handle is a bit too small on the bottom to comfortably grasp. The exposed reel seat works very well but it might make some reels sit at an awkward angle depending on how it’s adjusted.

Overall, the Entsport Camo Legend is a good rod that can perform at the level of a much more expensive fishing rod. There are some quality control issues from the manufacturer and some users complain that the rod was shipped to them already broken. Luckily, the manufacturer responded to these claims and will replace broker equipment quickly.

What We Like:

  • Unique camo aesthetic
  • 2 rods for the price of 1
  • Durable carbon fiber construction
  • Exposed reel seat
  • Corrosion-resistant line guides
  • Good customer support

What We Didn’t Like:

  • EVA handles a bit too thick
  • Quality control issues

6. Penn Squadron II Surf Spinning Rod

Sitting at sixth is the Penn Squadron II Surf Spinning Rod, an ideal choice for heavy bait and catching heavier species of fish. The Penn Squadron has a heavy-duty 2-piece construction that breaks down for storage and transportation. The Surf Spinning Rod comes in 5 different sizes ranging from a 9’ medium power model to the 12’ medium-heavy model. It’s best designed for large species of bass, trout, and catfish.

The Surf rod is made from reinforced carbon fiber blanks with a Fuji-reel skeleton and reel seats. The guides are made from stainless steel and have zirconium inserts, a low friction material that reduces drag and line snags. The split handle has a premium cork foregrip and a TAC rear grip on the extra-long handle.

One of the better features of the Surf is its generous 5-year manufacturer warranty. Some users complained about quality control issues from the manufacturer but they are responsive when answering warranty inquiries.

This is a budget-friendly rod so don’t expect professional performance. It is good for casting at long distances but noticeable has shortcoming with smaller casts. The carbon fiber blanks are sturdy but we have seen better varieties of the material that transmit vibrations better. Overall though, it’s a solid beginner-friendly rod or makes a nice backup spinning rod.

What We Like:

  • Very affordable
  • Extra-long design good for casting
  • Medium-heavy power for catching large fish
  • Large handle
  • Zirconium guides
  • Generous warranty

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Quality control issues
  • Some sensitivity issues

7. KastKing Crixus Graphite Spinning Rod

Heading into the homestretch at 7th is the KastKing Crixus Graphite Spinning Rod. The Crixus is a newer model from KastKing and has some great features that anglers of every experience-level can love. The Crixus features a good blend of power, stability, and control.

The KastKing is made out of sturdy M6 graphite blanks that give amazing power and performance. Carbon fiber manages to be flexible yet light at the same time while giving incredible torque. The Crixus is a medium rod and has fast action so its good for precise strikes and setting hooks. The handle of the Crixus is made from a durable SuperPolymer handle that gives maximum control and comfort for long days of fishing.

The spine of the rod features corrosion-resistant stainless steel guides with zirconium inserts. The guides work well with practically any kind of line such as fluorocarbon, monofilament, and braided fishing lines. The rod features a sturdy graphite reel seat that reduces vibrations and keeps the reel safe from pressure.

The Crixus is a solid rod but has some issues. Chief among them is the handle. The handle is very comfortable but a bit too tacky. It also does not transmit vibrations as well as something like cork or EVA. They also made the slightly odd design choice to put the hook holder under the reel seat near the handle. Not a big deal but you’ll poke your hand if not careful.

What We Like:

  • Powerful performance
  • Lightweight graphite construction
  • Extremely durable polymer handle
  • Multiple models available
  • Zirconium guides are smooth

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Handle reduces vibrations too much
  • Hook holder under the reel seat

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8. Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod

Our eighth entry on our list is the Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod. This 4-piece fishing rod is designed for fly fishing and made to break down for storage and transportation. This rod is designed for long casts in windy conditions when you need precise bait placement.

The Toccoa Fly Rod is made from IM8 graphite. Each graphite blank is designed for maximum sensitivity and durability. To set up the rod you just align the 4 pieces and screw them into place. Each graphite blank has alignment dots that point out the correct direction to screw them together. The screw threads cna wear down if wound too tightly so make sure that things are not overtightened before using.

The Tailwater has a durable natural cork handle with a separate fighting butt rear handle. You can also get a model without this extra rear handle. The reel seat is made from machine cut aluminum with double lock rings that keep the reel secure while in action.

This rod has a very fast action which means it’s good for finesse fishing and casting. It comes with a convenient carrying tube that has a plush lining to protect the pieces when inside. We appreciate the portable design but the 4 pieces make it a bit of a hassle to break it down and set it up every time you want to fish.

What We Like:

  • Lightweight and flexible design
  • 4-piece portable construction
  • Natural cork handle
  • Convenient and secure carrying case
  • Alignment dots make it clear how to screw together

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Too long for some
  • Hassle to put together and break down

9. Ugly Stik Elite Casting Rod

Up next is the Ugly Stik Elite Casting Rod, another entry from famous manufacturer Shakespeare. The Elite is the newest model of their entry-level Ugly Stik line and features a new construction that favors baitcasting. The Ugly Stik is made from a tough graphite/fiberglass composite material in a 35/65 ratio. This ratio allows the rod to be very light while still retaining its strength and durability.

This baitcasting rod has a premium cork grip with the signature Ugly Stik logo laser-etched. It has the famous Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides with inserts that minimize friction and maximize retrieval smoothness. The Ugly Stik is a very strong medium-heavy rod and is designed for larger species of fish.

The Ugly Stik has a graphite reel seat with an aluminum reel hood. It is designed for baitcasting reels but it can work with spinning reels as well. Right above the foregrip is a convenient hook holder attachment

The Ugly Stik is a great choice for beginner baitcasters who might need some practice before moving on to a more sophisticated rod. That being said, even a more experienced fisherman can appreciate the Ugly Stik’s reliability and performance.

What We Like:

  • Durable and reliable
  • New graphite ratio makes it light
  • Full-length cork handle
  • Fast action and responsive tip
  • Very affordable

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Breakage issues at tip
  • Cork handle gets gummy when left wet

10. Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Combo

Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Combo

Last but certainly not least on our list is the Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Combo. First things first, the Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Combo is definitely one of the more expensive options out there but that higher price tag comes with better quality. The rod has a solid graphite construction with stainless steel guides. Each component is treated to resist corrosion so it’s an ideal rod for saltwater fishing.

The included reel has a new HT-100 slammer drag system. It is a high-performance reel that has a dedicated anti-reverse bearing that makes casting and retrieval smooth. The reel and rods are both pretty heavy so you’ll want to make sure you are used to using a heavier setup.

The Penn Spinfisher has amazing quality and reliable performance. The reel performs well and is a nice addition to the heavy-duty rod.

What We Like:

  • Amazing performance and quality
  • Heavy-duty power
  • Sturdy graphite frame
  • Stainless steel guides and aluminum oxide inserts
  • Extra-long handle

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive
  • Very heavy rod/reel combo

Conclusions:

So there you have it, the top 10 best fishing rods to get the best fishing experience. Choosing the right fishing rod is kind of like an art and you only get better with practice. Your choice of a fishing rod is probably the most important equipment choice you will make so you’ll want to make sure it’s something that fits your unique style.

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Derek S. Webb
 

Derek Webb is a family man, outdoor enthusiast, and Editor-In-Chief at Outdoor On! He is a regular columnist in big media publication - writing from fishing to camping to various outdoor stuff.