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 CRT Kayak Worm and Jig
- Crowder Deep Drop
- Daiwa Team Daiwa Surf
- Falcon LowRider
- Fenwick HMG Travel
- Oyster Master Series
- Penn International VI
- Sage X
- Shakespeare Ugly Stik
- St. Croix Tidemaster Inshore Spinning
Cashion CRT Kayak Worm 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 CRT Kayak Worm and Jig 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 uni-directional carbon fiber to enhance sensitivity and reduce rod twist, and is available in a 6’9” length with a fast action and medium-heavy weight designed specifically for bass fishing.
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 HMG Travel
It’s difficult to find a fishing rod appropriate for travel which still maintains decent quality, yet doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. But the Fenwick HMG Travel is graphite with spiraled carbon thread, has Fuji guides, and comes with a rigid travel case. It breaks down to under three feet for easy transport (and fits into the overhead compartment on an airplane) and unlike most travel rods, has two tip sections (one medium light and the other medium) so you can adjust the rod’s capabilities as you travel from one place to another and target different sized fish.
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 X 1090-4
High quality travel fly rods don’t come cheap — and that includes the Sage X 1090-4 — but if you’re willing to spend big bucks to travel to places like Belize, Ascencion Bay, or the Abacos to experience the ultimate in fly fishing for species like permit, bonefish and tarpon, you’ll want to be carrying the best of the best. (And if you’re not sure where to go for your own personal ultimate fishing adventure, check out boats.com’s Top 10 Fishing Destinations Bucket List).
No matter where you may choose to go, the Sage X delivers. This 9’0” 10-weight weighs under four ounces, yet can handle tough saltwater species thanks to their KonneticHD high-density graphite/resin composite construction. Energy transfer is optimized along the length of the blank, enhancing the feel for line control and minimizing vibrations.
Visit sageflyfishing.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.
Price: $39 to $179
St. Croix Tidemaster Inshore Spinning
The most popular saltwater fishing rod built by St. Croix, the Tidemaster Inshore Spinning series comes in 6’6” to 8’0” models ranging from light to heavy power. The backbone is built with SCII graphite which offers stellar sensitivity, the reel seats are top-shelf Fuji DPS graphite, and the rod is armored with two coats of slow-cure Flex-Coat. Yet despite the very high level of quality these rods maintain a reasonable price-point. We also love that the Tidemaster is American made in Park Falls, WI.
Price: $150 to $220.
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.