Best Fishing Rods of 2020: Complete Reviews with Comparisons
To many people, fishing is a fun hobby that lets them escape the chaos of everyday life, enjoy a few hours of peace, and get rewarded for it. For others, it’s much more than that. Some people devote their life to fishing and become the ultimate experts that live and breathe fishing.
Even if you’re not a pro, a good fishing rod can make a world of difference. This is why we want to help you choose the perfect one. Take a look at our five best fishing rods on the market.
Fishing Rods Reviews
1. Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod
For more than 40 years Ugly Stik has been making fishing equipment. The Elite spinning rod is one of their most popular options, thanks to a blend of high quality and good value for money. If you can live with a few drawbacks, it can be an excellent choice.
The Elite spinning rod is a good option for both beginners and pros. It offers optimal performance and durability that will satisfy the needs of most anglers. Made of stainless steel and graphite, it’s strong and long-lasting.
However, despite the added graphite, it might still be a bit too heavy for some. Weighing 8.8 oz., it’s not among the most lightweight options out there.
The rod features cork handles, which offer a tight and comfortable grip. Hours of fishing shouldn’t be an issue with the well-designed handles. It also sports reel seats with stainless steel cushioned hoods to ensure that the reel wouldn’t move around.
The clear tip design is highly responsive, so you should be able to notice even minor strikes and nibbles. Ugly Stik also promises versatility, in the sense that you can use this fishing rod with any type of line. However, some users don’t feel like they’ve delivered this promise, at least not with braided lines that can damage the tip eye.
The rod measures 79.2 x 3 x 3 inches, long enough to fit most anglers’ needs. Unfortunately, it’s a one-piece rod, so there’s no way of adjusting the length.
What's to like about the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod
The best thing about the Elite spinning rod is its durability. Users have been very satisfied with how well made the rod such that longevity shouldn’t be an issue. In addition, it’s a fairly affordable option considering the quality and features.
What's not to like about the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod
Unless you’re experienced in using heavier rods and are looking specifically for them, this one might not be the best option. There are more lightweight fishing rods out there that may be less tiring if you have to hold it or haul in fishes all day. Also, the tip eye is rather poorly made, and braided lines can create abrasions that might make the line snap.
2. Sougayilang Fishing Rod
The Sougayilang fishing rod is great for occasional fishing adventures. It’s a decent rod that offers a few handy features, though not particularly for pros. On the flipside, it comes with pretty much everything that you might need.
The rod is made of high-density carbon fiber and fiberglass. This makes it lightweight but might take away from the durability in the long run. Although the company promises great hardness and longevity, you might be a bit disappointed with the build quality if you’re looking for a top-notch fishing rod.
The reel features 13 + 1 smooth ball bearings that are corrosion-resistant, along with precision matched gears at a 5.5:1 gear ratio. The aerospace-grade aluminum design is well-made and durable so there should be no issues here.
It comes in three sizes:
- 91 ft. – 5.92 oz., 5 sections, 70.47 in. open length, 16.4 in. closed length
- 89 ft. – 6.88 oz., 6 sections, 82.68 in. open length, 16.53 in. closed length
- 87 ft. – 7.94 oz., 7 sections, 95.08 in. open length, 16.73 in. closed length
Another thing that makes this rod a good choice is all the goodies included in each purchase. Aside from the rod and reel, you also get:
- 1 x spare spool
- 1 x 110 yds. fishing line
- 3 x fishing lures
- 12 x fishing accessories
- 1 x gear carrier bag
What's to like about the Sougayilang Fishing Rod
The telescopic design of this rod makes it very versatile. It can fit various fishing scenarios and is great for beginners and casual fishermen. The reel is also very well-made and should provide good durability.
What's not to like about the Sougayilang Fishing Rod
The rod is not for any kind of heavy-duty fishing. If you’re a pro and are in need of a high-quality rod that you can take to any battle, this one may not be a good option for you. The price is a bit too high for a rod of this quality. You’re mostly paying for the accessories, which you can just as well get on your own.
3. KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rods
The Perigee II series of rods is arguably KastKing’s best yet. The rods offer a variety of features that fishermen of all skill levels will enjoy. Even though some of the claims are a bit too exaggerated, most users will like the Perigee II rods.
The Perigee II rods are made of Toray 24-ton carbon matrix and feature KastFlex blank technology. However fancy this might sound, the actual quality might not be as impressive. Some users have complained about the tip breaking off during heavy use. Even though this doesn’t happen very often, it’s worth taking into account.
Now, the rod sports a few very impressive features. The famous Fuji O-ring line guides are pretty rare in rods of this price range. That alone may make the rod worth taking a look at. In addition, the high-density EVA grips ensure a comfortable and tight grip.
The two-piece rod features KastKing PTS hybrid spigot joints that enable optimum power transition through the blank. KastKing claims that you’ll feel like you’re holding a one-piece rod when you have this one in action.
What's to like about the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rods
Perigee II rods sport some high-quality components that many competitors can’t match. It should be able to serve you for a long time and keep up with all kind of fishing adventures. They’re also surprisingly cheap considering the wide array of features.
What's not to like about the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rods
As mentioned, some users didn’t find the rod that well-made. When exposed to stubborn fish and the like, the tip can break off. In addition, the warranty isn’t really as advertised. Even though advertised as ‘no questions asked,’ some users complained about hidden costs when buying replacement parts.
4. Cadence CR5 Spinning Rod
If you’re looking for great strength and durability, the CR5 is one of the best fishing rods out there. Featuring high-quality materials, this rod can be great for heavy users that need to adapt to various fishing conditions.
Made of 30-ton carbon fiber, the blank of this rod is near unparalleled when it comes to durability. It also offers surprisingly good sensitivity considering how strong it is, so you get the best of both worlds.
The stainless-steel guides feature SiC inserts that ensure durability and make sure the line doesn’t get stuck in the guides. They reduce friction to a minimum and transfer vibrations through the guides to your hands, adding to the overall sensitivity.
The FUJI reel seat is promised to offer great stability, but some users found it rather disappointing. It doesn’t always stay tight in such a way that you might experience some wiggling.
The cork handhold ensures a tight grip for use with heavy fish with ease. However, it’s not the most comfortable out there. This might be an issue for those less seasoned after holding the rod for a few hours.
Aside from these few minor drawbacks, it’s a good overall rod. If strength matters more than comfort, it can certainly be a good choice.
What's to like about the Cadence CR5 Spinning Rod
What sets the Cadence CR5 apart from the competition is its power and durability. In this price range, you’re not likely to find a rod as well-built as this one. It’s also sensitive enough to let you register even the mildest of pulls for precise fishing.
What's not to like about the Cadence CR5 Spinning Rod
The reel seat is the potential trouble spot, especially if you care about it being a tight fit all of the time. It might impact the overall experience, so keep that in mind in your final decision. Additionally, the cork handhold may get uncomfortable with time – not a good choice of material if you live in a warm climate (such as subtropical or warmer).
5. OKUMA Celilo Rod
If you’re looking for a simple and affordable option, this can be a good choice. It doesn’t have any over-the-top features, but rather it delivers a decent experience at a low price. But if you’re a serious fisherman looking for a high-end rod, you might have to keep looking.
Even though OKUMA states that this rod is used by pros worldwide, it’s much more suitable for beginners. There are no complex features to mess with, just a rather clean-looking and simple rod suitable for occasional anglers that don’t expect top-notch performance.
As you can imagine, the quality of the blank isn’t close to the best. It is, however, one of the most lightweight fishing rods of its class, weighing in at only 3.2 oz. It’s still durable enough to satisfy the needs of beginners if they fish in waters where smaller fish live.
As for the other components, they’re pretty well-made especially when you take the price into account. The hooded reel seats are stainless steel so you shouldn’t experience any durability issues there. The same goes for the cork handle, which most users found quite comfortable.
The guide insert, however, could be a bit better. There have been some issues with them getting loose with time, so this might not be the best long-term option.
What's to like about the OKUMA Celilo Rod
The main selling point of the Celilo is its price. It’s affordable enough for wannabe fishermen who aren’t sure of their commitment. It’s a good starter rod and can be a great stepping stone towards more premium rods.
What's not to like about the OKUMA Celilo Rod
Obviously, pros won’t find this one overly appealing. If you switch your fishing conditions often and expect the rod to keep up, this one might let you down. The blank can’t withstand heavy pulls that require lots of stop and hold, which is when it can the most devasting to have a snapped fishing rod.
Fishing Rods Buyer’s Guide
So you’ve seen some of the best fishing rods that the market can offer. But what makes them such popular choices? Each of them comes with its own sets of benefits and shortcomings, so how do you choose?
Well, here are all the features that you need to take into account:
Types of Fishing Rods
There are two main types of fishing rods: casting and spinning.
Casting rods have their guides placed at the top of the blank. They allow the anglers to position their casts with better precision and accuracy. There are two main models of casting rods: spin casting and baitcasting.
The main difference between the two is the guide size near the reel seat. Baitcasting rods have smaller guides so that they accommodate the path that the line takes while peeling off from the reel.
In addition, there’s a special variant of casting rods called the trolling rods. These are heavy-duty rods that are mainly used for catching bigger game fish like marlin and tuna.
Because of the need to fit the spinning reel, spinning rods are generally lighter and smaller than casting rods. The guides are at the bottom of the blank to allow for better comfort. These rods are great for beginners, as they’re very easy to use and often very comfortable.
The main materials used in fishing rods are fiberglass and graphite. Most fishermen prefer graphite rods as they’re more rigid and capable of better power transfer. However, they’re often more brittle than fiberglass rods.
Fiberglass is a much sturdier material that offers great durability and little maintenance. Fiberglass rods are more suitable for aggressive catches like pike and muskellunge.
Fishing Rod Length
In general, most rods are between 6-12 ft. in length. It’s measured from the end of the handle to the end of the tip. It’s very important to find the right length as it influences casting abilities in different situations.
For example, if your goal is to cover more water, a longer rod should be your choice. You can cast longer distances, which is generally more suitable for those looking for a more peaceful experience.
On the other hand, shorter rods are great for close combat situations. They have less bend so fighting the fish is much easier than with a longer rod. So before you choose your desired length, consider the type of fishing you’ll be doing.
Fishing Rod Action
The terms “power” and “action” are important to look at together. Power refers to the amount of force needed to bend the rod. Action shows where that bend happens along the blank.
Slow-action rods bend near the handhold. This ensures more flexibility and whip. Fast-action rods only bend at the top one-third of the blank. They’re more rigid and suitable for situations where you need to lure your bait.
Fishing Rod Weight
Weight is an important factor because it influences both sensitivity and comfort. Lightweight rods are great for beginners and everyone that has to spend hours fishing. They also let you pick up on more subtle pulls, so you’re less likely to lose your bait.
On the other hand, heavier rods are generally sturdier and stronger due to the materials used. They’re most suitable for short fishing adventures where you have to fight your catch tooth and nail.
Fishing Rods FAQ
What size fishing rod should you get?
When it comes to finding the perfect size, it mostly depends on your skill level and intended use. For example, beginners could benefit the most from a rod of around 7 ft. in length. This is because it can provide the best balance between accuracy and casting distance, and as such it allows them to work on their skills.
Pros can choose near any rod sizes, depending on whether they have to fight with the fish and how much water they need to cover.
What are fishing rods made of?
As for the blanks, we already mentioned that they’re most commonly fiberglass or graphite. The other components can be made of all kinds of materials.
For example, the best handles are usually made of cork or rubber (actually a wraparound over the rod). They offer a tight grip and make sure your hands don’t tire after long hours of fishing. Guides and reels should always be made of a sturdy material such as stainless steel or reinforced aluminum.
Always make sure to research the materials used, especially if you’re buying a more expensive rod. Price doesn’t always match build and material quality, so be careful when choosing.
How to choose a fishing rod for beginners?
First of all, beginners should always go for a less expensive option. High-end models offer a lot of features that you might not need, which can be more confusing than helpful.
As for the other factors, we already mentioned that beginners should go with shorter rods of around 7 ft. They should also be lightweight so that you can handle them without exhausting yourself. Lastly, beginners often benefit more from spinning rods since they’re easy to use.
How to set up a fishing rod?
Depending on the type and components, there are all kinds of ways to set up a fishing rod. However, here are some general guidelines to follow:
- If you have a two-piece rod, assemble it by screwing the top piece into the bottom one.
- Pass the line through the guide at the top of the rod and make your way to the handle.
- Wrap the line around the reel spool and make sure to tie a good knot.
- Wind the line onto the reel handle by turning it clockwise. You should have a 1/8-inch gap between the outer spool edge and the line
- Tie on a hook along with the live bait or lure.
How to use a fishing rod?
There are many ways to use your fishing rod, mostly depending on the type of fishing you’re doing. Here’s how to use it in the most basic way:
- Once you’ve set up the components of your rod, choose the lure and add it to the line.
- Cast out by using a variety of techniques depending on the kind of fishing you’re doing.
- Reel in your catch by using the appropriate mechanism. This will depend on whether you’re using a baitcaster, spincaster, or spinning reel.
Now that you know pretty much everything you need to find the best fishing rod for your needs, it’s time to announce our winner.
Based on the features mentioned in the buyer’s guide, it’s safe to say that the Ugly Stik Elite spinning rod is the best choice on the market right now.
It has many features that cover the needs of fishermen of different skill levels. It’s very well-made and durable, which means it can be a smart long-term investment. Lastly, it comes at a price that’s more than fair for everything it offers.
Still, if you’re on a budget or a newbie looking to get into the game, the OKUMA Celilo might be your best choice.