If you’re into fishing and fishing boats, you probably want to make sure your gear is up to snuff. We’ve compiled our list of the top 10 fishing rods here to help you choose wisely the next time you’re at the tackle shop. We’ve judged these rods on criteria including construction quality, sensitivity, durability, special features, and price, and picked out the top contenders for a wide range of applications.
So let’s have a drumroll, please, as we call out these top 10 fishing rods:
Cashion CK Worming and Jig
Kayak angling has become incredibly popular in recent years, but most rod-builders are only now picking up on the special needs of kayak fishermen. One of their biggest issues is snagging the rod butt in their PFD, which they’re always wearing. Cashion designed the CK Worming rod with an unusually short, squat butt section which lays up against the forearm but doesn’t snag the PFD when a kayak angler casts from his or her sitting position. The rod is manufactured with a carbon fiber rear grip designed to transmit vibrations, with the blank through the reel seat for added sensitivity.
Visit Cashionrods.com for more info.
Crowder Deep Drop
Certain types of fishing require rods designed from the ground-up for one mission and one mission alone, and that’s the case for deep-dropping. The weights needed to drop baits to depths of 1,000 or more feet and the tug of monster grouper, tilefish, and other unique bottom-dwellers found deep in the ocean require a rod immeasurably strong, yet still sensitive enough to detect bites from far below. The Crowder Deep Drop is one such rod, built with curved uni-butts and Aftco swiveling or Winthrop rod tips (so the rig can be fished from a boat’s gunwale holder). Lengths range from 5’0” to 6’0”, line classes range from 50 to 130, and Crowder proves how well they build Deep Drop rods by backing them up with a lifetime warranty.
Price: $449 to $699.
Visit crowderrods.com to learn more.
Daiwa Team Daiwa Surf
Surf fishing takes a rod designed for uber-far casts, but it also has to be able to handle lots of weight for when the waves kick up. That’s exactly what the Team Daiwa Surf rods do, thanks to high-modulus carbon graphite backbone made with Daiwa’s exclusive HVF (high volume fiber) low-resin construction. While scaled-down versions (to 7’0” long, medium-light power) are available, the 12’0” long medium-heavy model can handle an eye-opening 16 ounces of lure and/or rig weight, and line up to 60 pound-test.
Price: $179 to $189.
Visit daiwa.com to learn more.
Upon its introduction in 1995, the Falcon LowRider casting rod made some serious waves in the fishing world. With more compact guides placed closer to the blank and an increased number of guides, friction from line hitting the rod itself was reduced and casting distances were extended. In 2019 Falcon made multiple improvements to the rod, adding K-frame guides and switching to a higher grade of aerospace-rated carbon fiber in the blank, reducing its weight. Twenty-two versions of the LowRider are currently available, with different models sized and tweaked for specific fishing methods.
Visit falconrods.com to learn more.
Fenwick Elite Walleye Spinning
Anglers on the prowl for walleye in specific will want to check out the Fenwick Elite Walleye Spinning, which comes in 5’9″ to 7’4″ lengths in medium to medium-light power and extra or extra-fast action. For 2022 this line now has Powerlux 200 resin, evenly supporting the carbon fibers to deliver a top-rated strength-to-weight ratio. Handles are premium-grade cork, guides are titanium with zirconium inserts, and these rods also feature a limited lifetime warranty.
Price: $169.95 to $179.95.
Visit fenwickfishing.com to learn more.
Oyster Master Series
When price is no object and you want to fish with a rod that’s a work of art, the Oyster Master Series hand-made bamboo fly fishing rods will be at the top of your must-have list. These rods are custom-made to order, with hand-split and planed Tonkin bamboo, nickel-silver reel seats, agate stripping guides, silk threads, and Portuguese cork. They can be customized with hand-engraving, 24K gold inlay, thread color, number of sections, size, and weight.
Visit oysterbamboo.com to learn more.
Penn International VI
Some fishing rods meet standards, and others set them. The Penn International VI is the latest iteration of a long line of Penn’s offshore fishing rods which set the standards others are judged by. Butts and reel seats are aluminum, guides are Fuji Silicon Nitride, roller guides are Aftco, grips are EVA, and the backbone is nearly unbreakable one-piece tubular fiberglass. These rods are designed to stand up to battles with blue marlin, tuna, and other denizens of the deep, and they’re available in line class ratings up to an eye-popping 130 pounds. Bent-butt models are also available.
Price: $279 to $799.
Visit pennfishing.com to learn more.
Sage R8 Core 590-4
The Sage R8 fly rod line is designed for multiple applications and tremendous range. Available in three-weight to nine-weight, in 8’6″ to 10’0″ lengths, they feature a fast action for a wide variety of freshwater fly fishing. While there are plenty of options and we can’t say which is ideal for you, personally, dry fly anglers looking for trout will gravitate towards the 590-4. The grip is half-wells cork, it includes a hook keeper, and an aluminum tube and case comes with the rod for safe travelling.
Visit farbank.com for more info.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik
Some people will wonder why we think the Shakespeare Ugly Stik, which is available in a wide range of sizes and styles, deserves a spot in the top 10 fishing rods. After all, these low-tech fiberglass rods don’t have the best action in the world, nor do they have the best sensitivity. And yeah, they are kind of ugly. But they have an ace in the hole that makes them beloved by anglers all across the world: they’re virtually indestructible. You can literally bend them into a circle and they just won’t break. Buy an Ugly Stik and if you don’t misplace it or lose it overboard, you’ll likely own it for the rest of your life. New for 2022 are the Catch Ugly Fish Lake Pond Spinning Combo and the Bigwater Spinning Combo, both of which come with Shakespeare reels; the Pond Spinning Combo also includes pre-spooled six-pound line and a mini-tacklebox with some basic gear.
Price: $69.96 to $79.95.
St. Croix Avid Surf Spinning
When it comes to surf rods the St. Croix Avid Surf series will be tough to top. Made with high-modulus SCIII carbon in two pieces, this line of surf rods has amazing sensitivity and light weight for its size. Guides are Fuji K-series with Alconite rings, the reel seat is Fuji, and the butt section has 70/30 split grips with cork tape handles. Models are available in seven to 11’0″ lengths in medium to medium heavy power with moderate fast and fast actions. We also love that St. Croix rods are American made in Park Falls, WI.
Price: $260 to $3890.
Visit stcroixrods.com to learn more.
Are there other rods on the market you might prefer over the ones we’ve listed out here? Of course there are. Might your personal list of the top 10 fishing rods differ? For sure. But these 10 stand-outs deserve your attention, because each has earned its spot as one of the 10 best fishing rods an angler can own.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2020 and was last updated in June of 2022.