The Best Spinning Rods of 2020 – Reviews & Buying Guide

Ah, the life of an angler. Who doesn’t love the feeling of sitting on the waves in the early hours as the sun is rising, watching the fish crest the surface?

Even the most perfectly poised fishing trip can go poorly if you don’t have the proper equipment. As any reelmaster knows, one of the most important tools in your arsenal is your rod and reel. Your rod and reel of choice largely determine the overall fishing experience and need to be picked based on the kind of fishing you are doing.

Spinning rods are a class of fishing rod favored for their precise casting, versatility, and ease of use. Spinning rods are normally the go-to option for beginner anglers but many experts have a solid spinning rod in their lineup.

Spinning rods are very popular so there is a large selection to choose from. With more choices comes more uncertainty. We put together this comprehensive list of the 8 best spinning rods to help facilitate your choice. These tods have been chosen and ranked based on their overall quality, features, durability, and ease-of-use.

Best Spinning Rods – Comparison

Picture Product Name Action Length Price
Ugly Stik-Elite
Elite Medium 6 feet Check Latest Price
Shimano Solara 2 Piece Fast 6 feet, 6 inches Check Latest Price
Cadence CR5-30 Spinning Moderate Fast 6 feet, 6 inches Check Latest Price
Entsport 2-Piece Sirius Entsport 2-Piece Sirius Medium Light 7 feet Check Latest Price
KastKing Perigee II  Fast 7 feet Check Latest Price
Berkley Lightning Spinning  Medium 7 feet Check Latest Price
Abu Garcia Ike Dude Medium 6 feet Check Latest Price
St. Croix Mojo Inshore Fast 7 feet Check Latest Price

 

8 Best Spinning Rods for Landing That Perfect Catch

1. Ugly Stik-Elite

It’s lean, it’s mean, it’s…ugly? The Ugly Stik Elite is the most recent iteration of the fan-favorite Ugly Stik from Shakespeare and it has some impressive additions over the older versions. The newest Ugly Stik stands just shy of 6’ tall and is a medium-rated rod. The Ugly Stik is made from a graphite/fiberglass composite. Shakespeare changed the graphite ratio to 35% in the Elite so it weighs less but still has that characteristic Ugly Stik toughness.

Compared to some other spinning rods the Ugly Stik is pretty simple. The handle is made from a solid cork foam and it has three stainless steel guides. One area where the Ugly Stik excels is its handling. It is a medium rated rod, but graphite is particularly good for transducing movements down the rod. So even though it’s a medium rod, it has the sensitivity of a much lighter rod. This feature puts a different spin on catching medium-species fish like catfish, bass, and muskellunge.

This rod does not come with a reel so you will have to supply your own. The Ugly Stik works best with a spinning reel but you don’t necessarily have to use a spinning reel. The reel seat is a bit higher over the handle than usual, so you shouldn’t use a heavy reel or else it may be harder to balance properly.

Overall, the Ugly Stik is probably not professional quality. It has some noticeable design quirks that keep it in the mid-tier range. Specifically, the 2-piece design is a bit obtuse and it’s not immediately clear where the connection is. The handle is shorter than we like also, which could be a problem when handling larger fish.

However, you would be hard-pressed to find a better spinning rod at the same price point. The Ugly Stick feels like a $100+ rod even though it’s almost half that price. This very high value/cost ratio is one reason why we gave it the top spot on our list.

What We Liked:

  • Versatile
  • 35% graphite ratio keeps weight low
  • Tactile cork handle
  • Designed for spinning reels
  • Flexible tip is responsive
  • Straight forward, no-frills design
  • Great price

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Connection is hard to spot
  • Reel seat is a bit too high
  • Does not handle heavy reels well

2. Shimano Solara 2 Piece Spinning Rod

Shimano is at it again with the Solara 2-piece spinning rod. Shimano is well known among fishers for its high-quality and precisely engineered fishing equipment. The Solara is their take on a budget spinning rod and it’s a great addition to their lower-cost lineup of fishing gear.

First things first: the Shimano is a budget rod so it’s not perfect. That being said, it has solid functionality and reliable performance that makes it a perfect spinning rod to learn with or backup in case your main fails.

The Solara integrates something called “aero glass” into its design. Aero glass is a form of aerogel, a material that is sometimes called “frozen smoke” due to its translucent and transient appearance. Aerogel is known for its low density, extremely high tensile strength, and ultra-high durability. The aero glass makes the Solara very light and flexible, yet strong. The Solara also has reinforced aluminum oxide guides that transmit strikes quickly and accurately.

The Solara also has a comfy cork handle and solid graphite reel seat. Its low weight and high sensitivity make a great rod to start out on but even experienced fishers can find some niche use for it. The Solara comes in 5 different models, including ultralight and medium options.

As far as performance goes, the Solara has medium power and fast action. It’s good for moderately-sized fish and does not bend much after the tip, which gives it a higher sensitivity. The graphite reel seat is very sturdy and inflexible which is a good thing when applying a lot of pressure to the reel.

We especially like the cork handle. Cork is usually a better handle material than EVA foam as it does not dampen vibrations as much. Cork also retains warmth which can keep your hands comfy on cold days.

What We Like:

  • Solid performance
  • Great for beginners
  • Cork handle is comfy and responsive
  • Great price
  • Good materials
  • Sturdy reel seat

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Guides can catch the line
  • Tips have a bad tendency to snap
  • No replacement tips available

3. Cadence CR5-30 Spinning Rod

Sitting at third is the CR5-30 Spinning Rod from Cadence. Cadence is relatively new to the market so it’s not surprising if you have not heard of them previously. But they have been attracting a lot of attention recently with their products.

The CR5-30 is a smooth, lightweight rod that comes in several power ratings. The length can range from a short 4’8” to a full 7’0”. Each model is made from a 30-ton carbon fiber matrix which gives it high durability and low weight. It is ideal for several freshwater species including bass, walleye, trout, redfish, and flounder.

The Cadence also features a high-grade cork handle, SiC line guides, and an adjustable Fuji reel seat. A lot of spinning rods have reel seats that are just a bit too high for heavier reels so it’s nice that the CR5-30 lets you adjust the reel seat. The SiC line guides placed within the guide rings minimize line friction which prevents snags and tears.

Perhaps the single best feature of the Cadence is how easy it is to use. It is light enough that virtually anyone can use it and it takes very little effort to set up. The super-smooth power is easy to get a handle on and the SiC guides keep reeling action smooth and snag-free. We especially like how you can slightly adjust the reel seat depending on which reel you use. It also breaks down into 2-pieces so you can use it as a travel rod.

Overall, this rod has very few negative. Some users complain that the handle is too small and that it can be a bit difficult to put the 2-piece design together. We also saw some complaints about quality control as some users report pieces were delivered to them broken.

What We Like:

  • Solid performance and construction
  • High-quality 30-ton carbon matrix
  • Adjustable reel seat
  • Premium cork handle
  • SiC guide inserts prevent snags and tears
  • Good travel rod

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Handle is too narrow around the middle
  • Connection is difficult to work
  • Quality control issues with the manufacturer

Also Read: Best Saltwater Spinning Reels for Your Next Fishing Expedition

4. Entsport 2-Piece Sirius Spinning Rod

Entsport 2-Piece Sirius Spinning Rod

One of the first things to notice about the Entsport 2-Piece Sirius Spinning Rod is its sleek and sophisticated design. This stylish 2-piece rod has been precisely engineered for sensitivity, high strength, and reduced weight. Like many spinning rods, it has an enhanced reel seat and a stainless steel hood that keeps the reel securely in place. Stainless steel guides and ring inserts resist corrosion and allow for smooth casting and reeling action.

The Sirius features a high-density EVA foam grip that is very durable and soft. Normally, EVA foam has problems with reduced sensitivity by the Sirius hits that perfect mix of cushion and sensitivity. It has a multi-purpose ring hook holder that is simple and effective.

The Sirius is pretty versatile and works well in either freshwater or saltwater. Carbon blanks are resistant to corrosion and the guides are coated with an anti-corrosion finish. Also, while we are on the topic of water-damage, EVA foam does not get waterlogged, which can be a problem with some lower quality cork handles.

The Sirius is a medium-rated rod so you will most likely want to use a light to a medium spinning reel. One problem is that it seems to be designed specifically for right-handed anglers. The handle near the reel seat is shaped to fit the right hand and it does not seem that you can switch it around. You can still use it left-handed though you might run into some difficulties.

The Sirius is designed to fit spinning reels but it can also handle baitcasting reels. This versatility is nice as you don’t have to carry around 2 separate rods. Either way, it makes a good choice of rod to keep in your car for random fishing days. It is also very affordable and has the quality of a much more expensive rod.

What We Like:

  • Very durable
  • Good quality materials
  • High-density EVA foam handle
  • Pronounced reel seat and aluminum hood keeps reel secure
  • Multi-purpose hook holder is simple but effective
  • Medium power with good casting
  • Versatile

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Lefties may have trouble using it
  • Reel seat is high
  • Tip is not as flexible as we would like

5. KastKing Perigee II Spinning Rod

Made for both freshwater and saltwater, this spinning rod from KastKing is a solid choice for fishers who like to tackle game of all sizes. KastKing is well-known for its precisely engineered products and good company reputation. The Perigee II is the newest model in the Perigee line of spinning rods.

The Perigee II features a carbon blank construction designed with KastKings trademark Kast Flex engineering to keep it flexible and accurate. The KastKing features high-quality components including Fuji O-rings, an ergonomic graphite reel seat, and a durable carbon fiber finish to increase durability.

The main feature of the Perigee II is that it is two rods in one. Each Perigee comes with 2 separate rod tips, either a medium and medium-heavy or medium and medium light. One rod is designed for spinning reels and the other for baitcasting reels. To be honest, there is not that much difference between the two rods and you can use either rod for either kind of reel. But it’s nice that KastKing thought about adding some customization options.

The Perigee has smooth power and a spigot-joint design that transmits vibrations accurately and precisely. There is a simple hook-holder though we would have liked a ringed hook holder better. The reel seats are very sturdy which allows for smooth casting and removes any unwanted weight. We also like how the EVA grips repel water and don’t get soggy.

Overall, the KastKing Perigee II is one of the more versatile mid-tier rods out there and has some neat engineering features that make it easy to use and strong. For instance, the guide placement was calculated using computer simulations to determine the optimal line angles for casting and reeling. That is some precision engineering.

What We Like:

  • Precision materials and engineering
  • High-quality carbon fiber blanks
  • Spinning rod and baitcasting rod
  • Spigot joints give smooth power
  • Very sturdy graphite reel seat keeps reel secure
  • Simple and effective hook holder
  • Water-resistant EVA handle
  • One-year warranty

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Rod threads can strip if screwed too tight
  • Ring hook holder would be better
  • Large gap between tip and handle

6. Berkley Lightning Spinning Rod

True to its name, the Berkley Lightning Spinning Rod allows for lightning-fast casting and action. Berkley offers this particular rod in spinning and baitcasting models so we will focus specifically on the spinning model here. It is made from 24-ton multi-modulus carbon composite blanks and features stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts. Aluminum oxide is resistant to corrosion so you don’t have to worry about rusting and snagged lines.

Both versions of the rod are available in several sizes from ultra-light to medium-heavy variants. The handles are ergonomically designed and sit low enough under the reel seat that you won’t have to worry about your hands hitting the reel. The aluminum oxide guides work particularly well with braided lines. However, aluminum oxide inserts have a tendency to groove over time, especially when compared to alternate insert materials like ceramic.

The Berkley is pretty sensitive and lightweight so it’s good for those looking for something that can detect subtle strikes. While it is fairly stiff given its weight, it’s not well-suited for catches that need more power.

You know that old adage “You get what you pay for”? It’s true here. The Berkley is very affordable and makes a good budget rod, but only if you are willing to compromise a bit on durability and the quality of the components. Unfortunately, this does mean that it is prone to breaking at the tip. The reel seat also sits fairly high above the handle which, while increasing sensitivity, is slightly unbalanced.

Overall though, the Lightning is a good choice if you are looking for a budget or backup light spinning rod. If you are ok sacrificing a bit of durability for a good price, then it’s worth the purchase.

What We Like:

  • Light, flexible, and simple
  • Spinning and baitcasting version available
  • Aluminum oxide guides are light and smooth
  • High sensitivity
  • Rubberized cork handle
  • Strong carbon fiber construction

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not good for heavier fish
  • Reel seat is very high above the handle
  • Aluminum oxide can form grooves over time

7. Abu Garcia Ike Dude Spinning Rod & Reel Combo

The Ike Dude is named after professional bass angler Mike “Ike” Iaconelli, a regular in the Bassmaster Elite tournament circuit. This combo package comes with both a rod and spinning reel and is a very budget-friendly option. The Ike Dude comes in 2 main sizes: a 5’8” and 6’0” model. The rod body is made from a lightweight graphite composite that is designed to be durable and lightweight.

The line guides of the Ike Dude are made from stainless steel and the handle features a high-density EVA foam grip for increased stability and better grip. The rod can break down into two pieces, a feature that makes it highly portable and a good choice for a travel rod.

The Ike Dude comes with a stock reel that is actually not too shabby. The included reel has a 2+1 ball bearing construction and an aluminum spool and graphite rotor. The included reel does not have anti-reverse controls but it has a pretty smooth action and comes pre-spooled with 6 lbs line. You can also buy a version that comes with a baitcasting reel. Fortunately, both types of reels have adjustable retrievers for both right and left-handed users.

A few problems though: We noticed a few complaints about the tip breaking though we are not sure if that is a design issue or a defect in manufacturing. Also, some users report receiving the rod with pieces already broken. It is virtually impossible to avoid all manufacturer defects, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

Overall though, the Ike Dude is a good option if you are looking for a competent rod/reel combo that won’t break the bank. It’s made from good materials, is well-constructed, and is designed by a professional angler.

What We Like:

  • Designed by a pro angler
  • Rod/reel combo package
  • Graphite composite
  • High-density EVA foam is stable and comfortable
  • Included reel is decent
  • Reversible retrieval

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Reel makes a lot of noise
  • Quality control seems hit or miss

Also Read: Best Surf Fishing Rods: Pick Your Surf Fishing Rod Like a Pro

8. St. Croix Mojo Inshore Spinning Rod

Last but certainly not least is the St. Croix Mojo Inshore Spinning Rod. The Mojo is a high-quality rod that is a bit more expensive than the other rods we have covered, but the extra premium comes with better performance and durability.

The St. Croix is built out of SCII graphite and features stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts. Each component is specially treated to prevent corrosion and the premium cork handle is firm, durable, and does not dampen vibrations too much. The Fuji reel seat is a nice touch and is placed just the right distance above the handle. Best of all, everything is backed by an extremely generous 5-year manufacturer warranty.

The Mojo comes in 8 different size options, all of which are 7’0” or longer. That’s a good deal longer than the average 6’0” spinning rod so you’ll want to make sure it’s not too long to use comfortably. The extra length comes with a bit more flexibility so it has a fast action. It is well balanced and allows for precision casting.

The only thing we did not like was the split grip handle. While it’s a good idea in theory because it lowers the total weight of the rod, the bottom portion of the handle is a bit too small and round for optimal grip.

What We Like:

  • High-quality materials and construction
  • Extra-long design
  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel guides
  • Fuji reel seat
  • Precise, effortless casting
  • Well balanced

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Bottom handle is too small
  • A bit more expensive

Conclusions:

Spinning rods are the go-to option for many anglers due to their versatility, simplicity, and relatively low learning curve. The right spinning rod can make or break your big fishing trip so make sure you pick something that will allow you to enjoy the experience to its fullest extent. Whether you are a beginner or a top-notch finesse fisher, a good spinning rod is a practical investment and a good option to have in your lineup.

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.