Best fishing rods 2018 featured image

Have you ever gone to buy a fishing rod and been absolutely confused on what you should buy?

What length do you need? What does medium or medium / heavy mean? Do you get a spinning or a casting rod? What’s the difference?

Worry not.

In this guide I will go over all of the fishing rod nomenclature you need to know when selecting a new fishing rod. Also I have provided a few options for what I consider to be some of the best fishing rods on the market today and a small review of each to go along with the suggestions.

While choosing any fishing rod will technically work. Choosing a rod designed to fit your specific needs and the species of fish you will be targeting will help to increase your chances of leaving with something rather than going home empty-handed.

Best Fishing Rod Comparison 

Fishing Rods Quality Our Rating
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX 2 A
Abu Garcia Veritas 2.0 Spinning Rod B+
Shimano Solara 2 Piece Spinning Rod B
St. Croix Bass X Spinning Rod A+
Lew's Fishing American Hero Speed Stick A-

What You Need To Know Before Buying A Fishing Rod

Choose A Fishing Rod Length

When you are first deciding on a fishing rod, the first thing you will need to look at is the length. The length of the rod is measured from tip all the way to the butt of the handle. Most fishing rods range in length from 4 feet at the short end all the way up to 14 feet on the long end.

For most freshwater fishing a rod length of 5 foot to 7 foot is fairly common. When it comes to fishing rod length there is a general rule of thumb. Shorter rods cast short distances and longer rods cast longer distances.

Short rods are great if you are fishing from a boat. Typically shorter rods are used with lighter lures and allow for more finesse fishing. Kayak anglers also tend to prefer shorter rods as they take up less room and are easier to cast.

If you will be fishing from a bank or using deep diving crankbaits you will want a longer rod. Longer rods are also more ideal for throwing heavy lures as well and will allow you to cover a lot of water quicker than a shorter rod. Among saltwater anglers, longer rods are quite common. Mainly due to the fact you will be casting further distances and heavy lures.

Know The Power

The power of the rod is how much pressure it takes to bend a rod. Fishing rods are typically classified as ultralight, light, medium, and heavy or some combination of those. Heavier action rods will require more power to bend as opposed to lighter action rods.

Light and ultralight rods are used to target smaller species of fish such as trout or panfish. Heavier rods have a stiffer backbone and are commonly used for large species of fish like Bass.

Understand The Action Of Your Fishing Rods

The action of a rod is best described as the point where the rod bends. Fast action rods will bend closer to the tip, while slower action rods will bend closer to the handle.

The action of the rod will affect your overall casting distance and should be considered when selecting lures. A lighter, slower action is good for casting light baits while a heavier, faster action is ideal for heavier baits and stronger hooksets.

One of the biggest issues most new anglers have when determining the action of the rod, is that a lot of rod manufacturers will use the same terminology they do for power. Other manufacturers will use terms like fast, extra fast, or moderate fast. This is better terminology and easier to determine for the beginning angler.

Decide On The Material

Fishing rods typically come in one of two material types. Either graphite or fiberglass. There are rods that are a combination of both. Rods that are made from both fiberglass and graphite are ideal for the fisherman that fish in a variety of waters.

Graphite rods are typically on the higher end of the fishing rod spectrum. Fishing rods made from graphite tend to be more sensitive, because of the process used to create them. However, if you find cheaper graphite rods you need to be careful because there are a number of steps that need to be completed to make graphite from being brittle. Cheaper graphite rod manufacturers may not go through all the necessary steps and could result in an inferior rod that breaks more easily than it’s high-end counterpart.

While graphite rods are typically preferred fiberglass rods also have their place. Fiberglass rods tend to be heavier than their graphite counterparts, but are also less prone to breaking and some like the Ugly Stik GX2 from Shakespeare are practically unbreakable. Fiberglass rods also tend to be cheaper and are great for the beginning or weekend angler.

Reel Seats, Fishing Rod Handles, and Guides

Reel seats are pretty basic and don’t have many options. The whole purpose of the reel seat is to hold your reel. Most anglers tend to prefer a cutout that allows you to feel the rod. This helps you to detect lighter bites.

The most important thing about a real seat is to find a rod that you are comfortable holding. I recommend heading to any retailer that sells fishing rods and just hold a bunch of them until you get a feeling for what you want. It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect action, power, and rod length if you aren’t comfortable holding it.

Rod handles are also pretty basic. You will find handles come in only a few basic materials. The main one being cork. Rod handles can also be shorter or longer. This is important. Shorter handles allow you cast more precisely with one hand, while longer handles allow you to use both hands to cast greater distances.

Guides are the loops attached to the rod. They are there to guide your line. Typically the outside of guides are made of stronger materials like aluminum or titanium. However, the insides may be made with ceramic or plated with chrome. This is to help reduce friction as the line moves through the guides.

Best Fishing Rod Reviews

Fishing Rods Quality Our Rating
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX 2 A
Abu Garcia Veritas 2.0 Spinning Rod B+
Shimano Solara 2 Piece Spinning Rod B
St. Croix Bass X Spinning Rod A+
Lew's Fishing American Hero Speed Stick A-

Shakespeare Ugly Stick GX 2

If you’re planning on only owning one rod. Make it a Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2. These rods are incredible for the price point. In 2013 Shakespeare finally redesigned their ugly stik rods and created the GX2. The GX2 is made for a combination of graphite and fiberglass. More graphite than fiberglass allows you to really feel those subtle bites you might not feel on a more budget rod.

Not only that, this rod is practically indestructible. There are a number of videos on Youtube that really show just how strong this rod is. The GX2 is available in both casting and spinning models.

Along with a variety of actions and powers to choose from. You can get a combination rod and reel set for 10 bucks more. This is great if you are a beginner. However, the reel is probably only worth 10 bucks and you would be better suited to picking up a better reel for the rod. But for 10 bucks you get an ok backup reel. Not a bad deal if you ask me.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Sensitive fiberglass tip and strong backbone
  • Wide range of models for all applications

CONS

  • Guides may not be perfectly placed
  • Heavier than most higher performing rods
  • Not the greatest rod for finesse fishing

Abu Garcia Veritas 2.0

The Veritas 2.0 from Abu Garcia is a sturdy rod that is designed to tackle hard fighting bass. While this rod comes in a variety of sizes and actions, the best rod to choose is the medium-heavy in either 6’ or 7’. The 7 foot model, in particular, is sturdy, well built, and comes with a locking mechanism that makes fishing enjoyable.

This rod has a strong backbone. Yet is sensitive enough to be a decent hook setter. The rod also features titanium guides that help to reduce friction. This means that the rod can cast further and retrieve quicker. As soon as the line touches the water, it begins transmitting feeling back to the angler. Allowing for better hook sets.

Overall the rod is fantastic for a novice or experienced angler. As with all Abu Garcia rods you can really feel the quality that went into making this rod.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Light, Strong, and Sensitive
  • Wide range of models for all applications

CONS

  • Guides are prone to breaking or bending.

Shimano Solara 2 Piece Fishing Rod

When it comes to a novice angler choosing a fishing rod, the Solara 2 piece fishing rod from Shimano is a great choice. This rod comes at a reasonable price from a name you can trust. The Solara comes in a variety of power and action ratings. Making it easier on the novice angler to collect a small fleet of fishing rods for a range of tasks.

The rod construction is made from a durable aero glass fiberglass material. With aluminum oxide guides for durability and a graphite reel seat. While fiberglass does not offer the sensitivity that graphite does, the composition of this rod will stand the test of time. Plus it will allow you to throw crankbaits, due to the slower action of fiberglass.

PROS

  • Aluminum Oxide guides
  • Reliable and affordable
  • Comfortable rear and foregrip cork handle

CONS

  • Pretty heavy rod compared to other higher end fishing rods

St. Croix Bass X

If you’re looking for a quality rod made from quality materials, I suggest you check out the Bass X from St. Croix. Be warned that this rod comes with a higher price point than most of the fishing rods listed here. But it is well worth the money.

The Bass X is made from SCII graphite and coated with 2 layers of flex coat. The guides on this rod are a stainless steel frame with an aluminum oxide inner layer to reduce friction and increase cast distance and retrieval speed.

The rod also features FUJI ECS reel seats and a premium split group cork handles with an EVA trim. The Bass X casting and spinning rods continues to show St. Croix’s commitment to excellent fishing rods

PROS

  • Handmade from high-quality materials
  • Wide variety for all applications
  • Stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts

CONS

  • More expensive than other fishing rods on this list

Lew's American Hero Speed Stick

If you’re looking for a comparable rod to the St. Croix listed above at a slightly lower price point the American Hero Speed Stick from Lew’s is a great choice. One of the best things about this rod is that a percentage of the proceeds from rod go to charities to help U.S veterans. Honestly, this is more than enough of a reason to pick up one of these rods.

The Lew’s American Hero Speed Stick features a blank made from IM6 graphite that is reinforced with premium resins. This rod offers a strong backbone yet has plenty of sensitivity. The rod also features stainless steel guides and inserts, making them very durable.

Much like the St. Croix this rod also features a split handle made from EVA. Also, every rod comes equipped with a stainless steel titanium hook keeper. If you’ve been looking for a rod that is durable, balanced, and versatile. I suggest giving the American Hero Speed Stick a go.

PROS

  • A portion of this fishing rods profits goes to help veterans
  • Made from high-quality graphite
  • Stainless steel guides
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Blank is made from sensitive graphite. A few online reviews noted that their rod cracked under normal use. Most be careful with this rod.

Wrapping Up

When it comes to selecting a decent fishing rod there are a number of factors you need to consider. The length, materials, power, and action of the rod all need to be considered when you are looking for a fishing rod that will do exactly what you want it to do.

If you are looking for a rod to catch trout or panfish you’ll want a rod with an ultralight to light action with a slow action. However, if you’re looking to target larger species like Bass a medium to medium-heavy rod with a fast action is what you’ll want to cast those larger lures and topwater baits.

When picking out the best fishing rod you really need to look at the materials used. Graphite offers more sensitivity and a lighter rod than fiberglass. However, fiberglass is often more durable due to the process of how graphite rods are made.

Overall there is no one best rod. You have to choose the rod that works best for you.

If you found this article helpful be sure to share it on social media so others can learn as well.

As always thanks for reading and remember adventure….is waiting.

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