Best Fishing Rods for The Money in 2018

For a fishing addict, the best fishing rods are considered a close companion. In a wide variety of baits and techniques, how can you choose the right rod for your fishing style?

After a careful consideration of thousand fishing rod models on the market, we come up with an insightful review, comparison and also a guideline for you.

In this article, I will enlist the 9 best fishing rods that you should consider in 2018. This shortlist also contains fishing rods reviews based on my real fishing experience.

Besides, to assist you to choose a suitable rod for you, there is a detailed buying guide which explains separate parts of a fishing rod.

Top 9 Best Fishing Rods

First, let's take a glance at the 9 best-curated fishing rods.

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Buyer's Guide to Get The Best Fishing Rods

best-fishing-rod-reviews

The 9 above rods are only a super small portion in a world of thousands fishing rod. So there might be some question rising while considering a fishing rod, like “If I spend more money, can I get a better rod?”, “Is this massive rod bad for my first fishing game?”, “Is there any inconvenience of a telescopic rod?”, etc.

These types of questions are considered normal. I have asked more than those questions when I started going fishing a few years ago.

This detailed guideline is based on my real experience as a fisherman for five years. Some below information are from my viewpoint so that it can be inaccurate or wrong in your case.

Please consider this guideline as a reference source, and review your current circumstance to get the best suitable fishing rod. Let's go!

Length

Length is the first criterion when thinking about a new fishing rod. A fishing rod can have a length from 6 to 12 feet.

There is no rod’s length for all fishing plans, kinds of fish and fishing environments. It also depends on your angling experience and your pulling power.

For example:

  • You kids need a shorter rod than you because they are shorter than you.
  • If you want to catch big fish, pick a shorter and stronger rod.
  • If you go fishing in a crowded space like in the forest, choose a shorter rod.

Don’t buy a too long fishing rod if you are a beginner. You can have difficulties in catching fish with that length.

My recommendation is that you should go for a medium rod’s length, around 8 to 9 feet. This length is enough for you to practice control, while still allows you to enhance your skills.

Action

Action refers how much the rod bend before getting back to the normal state. The faster the action, the more pressure you put on the fish.

There are 3 popular types of action in fishing: Extra Fast, Moderate, and Slow. Action type affects the rod's bending level. A rod with extra fast action will bend a little, while one with slow action takes awhile to get back to the neutral state.

  • Extra Fast/Fast: this action bends just a little. Rod with this action is used for the big fishing game. This action allows you to set a hard and power hook.
  • Moderate: this action is quite flexible, and it's the top popular choice of average fishermen. It allows you to catch both big fish and small fish, with an unlimited variety of hook setting power.
  • Slow: this action bends the whole length of the rod, providing the most flexibility level for fishers. You can use a fishing rod with slow action to catch small fish.

Length and Action always go together. Depending on the fish species that you want to capture, you should choose an appropriate action level for the best result. If you catch small fish, pick up a rod with a lighter action. If you pick big ones, a rod with heavier action is more appropriate for you.

Power

Power (also called Rod Weight or Power Value) refers to the ability of the rod to lift the weight from the tip. Rod's material and width are 2 main factors that affect the power level. In generally, there are 7 power levels, including:

  • Ultra-Light
  • Light
  • Medium-Light
  • Medium
  • Medium-Heavy
  • Heavy
  • Ultra-Heavy

So which power should you choose for your next fishing rod? The choice of power is based on your fish species, types of fishing, or the fishing environment.

For example, heavy and ultra-heavy rod are mostly used to catch big fish in deep seawater like black bass or catfish.

Please notice that if you choose the wrong power level, then the fishing game can be either not funny at all, or even failed!

You can't use an ultra-light rod to catch big fish in deep seawater. And use a ultra-heavy rod to catch panfish seems to be ridiculous.

So watch your condition first, then pick a power level that is relevant to your fishing game.


Construction

Construction is determined by the number of pieces that form your fishing rod. A typical rod often has one to two pieces, but a travel-sized rod can have multiple parts. A two-piece rod, for example, offers you a firm feeling over a telescopic one.

The downside of a travel-sized rod is that it can't be as sensitive and powerful as a solid normal one. But you can't carry a ten feet rod on your trip with comfort. It'll be a problem for you to put a long rod in your car with safety.

There is no perfect construction for everyone. So you'd better choose a rod's structure based on your condition and fishing type.

Material

best-fishing-rods

There are two main types of material for the fishing rod that you should consider: graphite and fiberglass (also called carbon fiber). In general, fishing rods made from graphite are lighter and more sensitive than those made from fiberglass.

Graphite fishing rods are also more susceptive, that helps you have a faster reaction when the fish make a strike. With that lightness and sensitivity, graphite fishing rods thus are more expensive than fiberglass ones.

But fishing rods made from fiberglass still have some advantages over graphite ones. Graphite fishing rods are too sensitive. They are more fragile and more likely to break, so they are more suitable for catching small fish. Fishing addicts still often pick up fiberglass fishing rods when joining big games like tuna or tarpon.

If you have just started with fishing, then graphite material is the best choice for you. When I started learning fishing, graphite fishing rod was my favorite rod. So go for the material that is the best suit for you!

Weight

When thinking about buying a fishing rod, weight is a key essential criterion that you should notice, especially when using it in a long time. A lightweight rod tends to be more sensitive to any bites and bottoms. But if it's bend too much, it can be broken easily. But a thick rod, which is more durable to sudden catches, are not comfortable to your hands if you have to use it for hours.

Besides, you should also consider the types of fishing you will use with your fishing rod. A fly fishing (to catch small fish) is more exciting with an ultra-light rod. But a bass fishing game needs a medium-light rod to carry a bigger weight.

Guide

A guide is made up of a ceramic ring and a metal frame to secure the line. This ring varies in size, price, and material. There is a countless number of guide material. But in a nutshell, silicon carbide and alconite are two best material.

  • Silicon carbide: If you want to invest in the best guide, then choose guides made from silicon carbide (or SiC). A SiC guide provides a smooth surface and avoids rubbing for the line. With this guide, you can have a longer fishing enjoyment without worrying about the heat when going casting.
  • Alconite: If you are a beginner in fishing, or you don't want to invest much in a top-tier guide, you can pick up an alconite guide. Although alconite guides are less smooth than SiC one, their price are more reasonable, thus budget

The number of guide on a rod also affect your fishing performance. The more guides a rod have, the more flexible your rod’s bending will be. When it comes to a fishing rod with many guides, the guides will keep the rod bend consistently. This results in longer casts and more forceful actions in big fishing games. So if you plan to use your rod to catch big fish, make sure that you have more than one guide on your rod's tip.


Handle

A handle (or Rod Handle) consists of a grip, a reel seat, and a butt cap. The choice of handle is based on fisherman's preference:

  • Durability
  • Ease of grisp
  • Lightness

Grip: Grip can be made from a wide variety of materials, namely cork rings, cork tape, wood, Hypalon, etc., or even mixed materials. The grip's quality does have a significant effect on your fishing application, and vice versa.

The best fitting grip results in the best performance, enjoyment, and comfort. To pick up a proper grip material, think about your expectation of an ideal grip depending on the fishing environment, fish species, and budget.

A Hypalon grip is extremely resistant. It is also easy to install for newbies. If you plan to catch big fish, Hypalon is also an excellent material for its durability and power.

A foam grip is more comfortable for your hands, but it is not as firm as a cork grip. Use a foam grip when you go fishing for a short time, or in a fishing game with small fish.

A high-quality cork grip may cost you more, but it's worth your investment in the long run. If you have just begun your first fishing exercise, a reasonable grip with minimum function is the best choice.

Reel seat: Reel seat can be made of many different types of materials, sizes, and weight based on the fishing rod.

A graphite reel seat performs best in a light fishing game in lighter saltwater. But a fishing game in deeper seawater requires metal reel seat for its durability and power. Make sure you have picked up a highest quality reel seat, because reel seats can’t be easily replaced.

To change the reel seat, you will have to remove the grip.

Butt cap: This small end of the rod handle can sometimes be undervalued because of its size. But little did you know that a good butt cap can unique look of the overall rod?

A butt cap collection can refresh your fishing rod and make it look like a custom one.

There are many materials (vinyl, cork, rubber, EVA, foam, etc.) and weight levels for your references. If you have any problems with balancing, choose a lightweight butt cap and just change its color.

For most cases, go for a butt cap that makes you most excited. To me, turning the butt cap is like changing daily outfits. It brings little joy for me in fishing games.

Line

A line is a cord that is used for angling. Modern lines are mainly made of either nylon or silk. Before that, lines consist of catgut. Some specialty lines like fly lines or wirelines can even consist of PVC, metal, titanium or stainless steel.

There are two types of line: mono line and braided line. The choice of line is based on your skills and fishing environment.

  • Mono line: This single strand can avoid knot breaking better than braided line. In some big fishing games, a mono line is safer. It is also less expensive than braided one. Mono lines are highly recommended for newbies. However, this line type provides less power than braided one, so it can be used best for small fish.
  • Braided line: If you don't have a proper preparation with a braided line, you will make a zero shock to the whole rod. In most cases, this shock may cause a break in the knot. A strong plus of braided line is that it can assist you best to catch big fish because of its superpower.

There come endless discussions on choosing line types. Some anglers argued that mono line performs well in most cases, while pro fishers prefer braided line for all of their fishing activities. So you’d better do your homework. Buy a rod with one line type, then buy an extra line for the remaining type, and test the both two kinds of rod in specific fishing environments. Only you can decide which line type works best for you in your cases.

Top Rated Fishing Rods Reviews

Sougayilang Spinning Telescopic - fit into your palms

What I love in this fishing rod is that it can collapse down to travel-size (around 1.5 ft.). I can bring this rod into my backpack, while I'm on the bus, in my car, or anywhere I go. This telescopic rod is made of high density and carbon composite, which is comfortable for you if you have to use it in a long time.

With medium-light power, this rod can be used to catch various types of fish.

There are 6 rod sizes that can be used for various fishing types: freshwater bass trout fishing, saltwater surf fishing, or inshore fishing.

This telescopic fishing rod is designed with travel-size as top in mind. It can be used best to catch small fish up to 6 pounds in small streams or freshwater. Thus it may not be durable enough for big fish. This rod best fits with all Sougayilang fishing reels.

Pros

  • Can be used for various types of fish
  • Compacted design & easy to carry on the way

Cons

  • The eyelet construction is not stable and easy to break out
  • Not suitable to catch big fish

Sougayilang Portable Pocket - the regular rod for both starter and pro

This pocket fishing rod from Sougayilang is a great fishing companion for both pros and starters.

The fishing rod is made of fiberglass, carbon fiber, and steel. This combination makes use of the advantages of each material. With a high portion of fiberglass, the rod is more durable and not easy to break even under high bending pressure. Moreover, stainless steel makes the rod harder to catch and fight with big fish.

With 3 guides and 2 choices of the line (either braided or mono-fishing), your rod will be more flexible and consistent. I have used this telescopic rod for 2 years before switching to Shimano FXS. This rod provides long and powerful fish casts, thus makes the big fish game more exciting.

Since this telescopic rod is made of carbon fiber (or fiberglass), it can't be as sensitive and flimsy as a graphite one. So I highly recommend you not to use this rod for big fish catching, because it'll become uncomfortable for your hands if you have to hold it for a long time.

Pros

  • Hard and durable rod
  • Multiple guides provide long and powerful casts

Cons

  • The eye-guide is only glued and easily pop out of place

Ugly Stik GX2 - Exclusively Crafted for Newbies

If the Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod is the choice of intermediate or pro fishermen, this Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning brother is an excellent choice for those who have just started learning fishing.

The spinning system keeps the line straight and also avoid tangled reel, especially when you haven't been an expert in rod control. The handle is made of soft EVA foam, which offers a comfortable feeling for you for long-time use.

This rod only has one firmly piece. But if you are a travel addict, then this solid construction might be not convenient for you.

This rod can be used with lure from ¼ to ¾ oz in weight. It is mainly made for beginners, but not a perfect choice for pro players. If you want to search for a superior alternative, it'd be better for you to check the Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod.

Pros

  • Suitable for newbies
  • Avoid tangled reel
  • Comfortable EVA foam handle for long-time use

Cons

  • One-piece construction is not travel-friendly
  • Only one guide make this rod can result in a lack of power and flexibility

Shimano FXS - Tiny Companion for Ultra-light Games

Shimano FXS is my favorite rod for any small fish species. This rod is made of aero glass material, which provides sensitivity. This high sensitivity allows you to reach a greater accuracy in fish casting.

Since the day I have got this rod, I felt more confident when going fishing. I know that this rod will help me reduce the amount of missing. The aluminum oxide guides offers a smooth surface for fish casts and retrieves.

There are multiple guides on the tip, which makes me easy to utilize the power of the whole rod to catch fish.

There are many power levels for this fishing rod. You can either pick up the ultra-light power (5’ or 5’6’’) to catch panfish in small lakes, or a 7-feet medium-heavy power for bigger games. Shimano FXS offers a soft EVA foam handle grip, which provides you a comfortable feeling while maintaining robustness for a long time.

Shimano FX2 is not ready for big fish at all. The graphite reel seat lacks durability and power. Thus it might cause discomfort for you if you have to use it for a long time.

Pros

  • Comfy and for catching small fish
  • High sensitivity for better accuracy

Cons

  • The graphite reel seat only works best with Ultra-Light power.
  • Not suitable for big fish.

Ugly Stik GX2 - Casting rod for pro players

If you are seeking a casting rod that can maximize your fishing enjoyment, then go for this pro rod! Unlike the spinning twin for newbies, this casting elder brother provides you more extra power and freedom. This casting rod performs best in long distances.

Its line stretches straightly and hard to get tangled. So you don't have to change the line regularly as on the spinning rod.

Moreover, the mono line is accurate enough for you to fish casts. This rod is recommended for getting big fish like tuna or walleye. But I bet you will find a lack of satisfaction when using this rod for smaller fish.

If you want to try some unique fishing situations like fishing structure, casting plugs, or fishing kelp, you can change the default mono line with a braided one. The braided line can be purchased separately and is not included in the rod package.

Pros

  • Can perform well even in long distances
  • Mono light is straight and not easy to be tangled

Cons

  • Probably hard for newbies

Ugly Stik Elite - Premium custom made just for you

This Elite spinning rod features 35% more graphite than Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod. Thus it's more lightweight and comfortable for you if you have to use it for hours. There is only one guide, so I guess this spinning rod cannot bend as consistently as when it has 3 guides.

The handles are made of premium cork, which adds a custom-made look to the rod. I am sure that you will stand out in crowds when using this rod in any fishing games. This rod consists of 2 pieces and easy to into fit into your backpack or car.

However, when comparing this rod with a one-piece rod, this rod might lack secure feeling.

To enhance the custom look of this rod, you can get a separate butt cap. Choose any material and shape for the butt cap that you want. This will be a big plus to your rod.

Pros

  • Lightweight and comfortable to carry for long hours
  • Travel-friendly with 2-piece construction

Cons

  • Only one guide results in a lack of strong action in rod's bending

Ugly Stik GX2 - A must-have modern offspring

This offspring of the original Ugly Stik adheres the tradition while adding more amazing improvements in both design and function. GX2 still follows the Ugly Tech construction with an enhancement in the rod material.

The material mix of fiberglass and graphite makes this rod stronger yet still sensitive. This combination also offers a better balance. This new equilibrium allows you to control and cast fish for an extended period of time with comfort.

Covered with a black matte black background and red lines, this rod will add a modern look to your fishing rod collection. The printed EVA logo on the grip finishes a classic yet modern look of this telescopic rod.

This rod is designed for both left and right hand. And it provides medium power for all sizes. Its lengths and power allow you to catch a vast variety of fish species.

This rod is one-piece construction and a little bit long to put in your backpack or car. If you are a travel addict or a person who loves compacted gears, you will find it hard to carry on your trips.

Pros

  • Better balance
  • Fiberglass and graphite combination for a robust and sensitive rod
  • EVA foam grip for extended fishing comfort
  • Modern design

Cons

  • The handle is too long
  • Heavy feeling for extended fishing hours

Entsport Graphite Portable Baitcast Rod - highest number of guides

This bait cast rod is by far my most favorite rod in these 9 best fishing rods. Consisted of a high density of carbon blank, this rod is super lightweight yet till elastic. This solid construction with 2 pieces keeps the rod compact and durable while maintaining the sensitivity and accuracy to catch and fight various types of fish. This rod has medium-heavy power, which is the best suit for bottom fishing.

The reel seat is with a cushion to keep the line secured even in rough water. This guide combination ensures to transfer the vibration from the tip to your hand better. This reel seat has been cut out one side. Thus you can directly touch the reel seat with your fingers. In other words, you always have a constant contact with the blank all the time.

This is also the casting rod with the highest number of guide. With these six (plus one) stainless steel guides throughout the rod's length, your rod has an equivalent power from the grip to the tip. This power allows you to maximize your rod's bending ability when go fishing for big fish.

To have a wider choice of fishing conditions, you should add a braided fishing line.

Pros

  • Strong yet light
  • 6+1 guides with the highest level of flexibility
  • Work best with massive fish

Cons

  • Lack of movement restriction for the reel seat
  • A weak point appears in the place that connects 2 poles together

Eagle Claw Pack-It Telescopic - compact fishing partner on the go

This telescopic rod is exclusively designed for big games in deep saltwater. There are 4 built-in ceramic guides to keep the bending smooth. With the length only 5 foot 6 inch, this rod has the maximized performance when catching and fighting big fish with an intense action.

And don't worry if you have to grab this rod for long hours. You will have the support from the super comfy EVA foam handles.

The glass construction makes this telescopic rod more durable and hard to break even under hard pressure. The reel seat is made from graphite, which can be a hurdle if you go fishing in a deeper saltwater.

I wish the manufacturer could make this reel seat in a more persistent material like stainless metal.

This compact partner seems to be a little bit short for starters (the medium length of a fishing rod is around 8 to 9 feet). Those who haven't played fishing much will struggle to control this rod while catching big fish. This length is only suitable for experience fishers. Just my two cents.

Pros

  • Short length suitable for big fish
  • 4 guides for flexible bending
  • Soft EVA foam handles

Cons

  • Graphite reel seat can reduce fishing performance in deep saltwater

Conclusion

With a detailed look at 9 best fishing rods above, as well as a short buying guide for the best fishing rod, I hope you have an idea of starting to get a rod for you. How about you, do you have any comment or experience sharing on my fishing rod reviews?

If you get into this habit for a long time, you will know that a good fishing rod can't be cheap. Picking up a fitting rod requires an overview of what you want from the rod, how every piece of the rod can affect your fishing experience.

If you are a starter and just want to try fishing for fun, any lightweight or pocket-sized rod with reasonable price seems to be good enough for you. But if you are serious in this hobby, then go an extra mile with a higher price and premium material. Trust me, a high-quality fishing rod with advanced functions worth your every penny.

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