6 Best Backpacking Fishing Poles: Top Rod Brands Reviewed

by Andrew

6 Best Backpacking Fishing Poles: Top Rod Brands Reviewed

by Andrew

by Andrew

Combine your love of traveling and fishing and spend more time in the beautiful outdoors. Investing in a high-quality, high-performing travel fishing rod will make each trip go by smoothly. We have reviewed and compared the best backpacking fishing rods that are on the market today. From spinning to telescopic rods and fly rods in between, you’ll find a top-rated model for your backpacking travel endeavors in no time.

Preview

Product

No. of Pieces

Rod Weight

Travel Bag Included?

Check Price

St. Croix TRS66MF4 Triumph Travel 4-Piece...

St. Croix Triumph

4

0.17 Lbs.

Yes, Travel Case

DRAGONtail Shadowfire 365 12' Tenkara Fly...

DRAGONtail Shadowfire 365

8

0.18 Lbs.

Storage tube & Rod sock

Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager Spinning Travel Kit

Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager

5

0.31 lbs.

Yes, Padded, Soft-sided Travel Case

Eagle Claw PK56TS Pack-It Spin Combo...

Eagle Claw PK56TS

1

0.68 Lbs.

No

Daiwa Presso Ultralight Pack Spinning Rod...

Daiwa Presso

4

0.15 Lbs.

Yes, Semi-hard Travel Case

Sougayilang Telescopic Fishing Rod - 24 Ton...

Sougayilang

1

0.21 Lbs.

No


Why Invest In A Backpacking Fishing Pole

If you know for sure that you’ll be using your rod after long cycles, hikes, or car journeys, then investing in a travel rod is wise from the get-go. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending a lot of money on a rod that you can’t transport.

Luckily for you, there’s a wide range of backpacking fishing poles on the market that would suit your needs. Continue reading our guide to narrow down your search even further, and take into account some of these considerations.


What Makes A Great Backpacking Fishing Rod?

Rod Length

When you’re buying your next fishing rod for the road, the technique will hugely determine the length of the rod. You’ll need to focus on your fishing environment or where you hope you'll be fishing the most to choose the right length. A good rule of thumb is as follows.

Type of Rod

Average Sizes

Break down rods (like spinning rods)

5’6”- 6’8” in length

Telescopic rods

Tend to stay below 6’6”

Travel-friendly fly rods

Between 10’4 to 12’ in length

Portability

Portability is probably the most critical aspect when buying a backpacking fishing rod. If you’re unable to fit it into or onto your backpack, then it'll ultimately defeat the purpose. Most pack rods will break into 4 or 5 pieces, with each segment staying between 10-20 inches in length. Telescopic rods can go even smaller, but you’ll have to buy a carrying case yourself for many of these models.

Rod Material

Beloved brands like St. Croix, Okuma, and Daiwa are known for using high-quality materials when producing a new rod for any technique. They’ve even developed new and improved blends of materials that are lightweight yet strong when you’re out on the water.

Nowadays, rods are mainly composed of either carbon-fiber or graphite. Carbon fiber blanks are great for hast actions, and when fully assembled, you won’t lose too much sensitivity. Graphite tends to be a little cheaper but not too short on performance. The right blend of graphite will separate a good rod from a mediocre one.

Action & Power

The “action” is used to describe where a rod flexes if pressure is put on the rod. Faster action rods flex mostly near the tip, and slower actions will bend further down the line. On the other hand, the power refers to the rod's resistance when it’s being flexed.

A rods’ power rating is also designed to handle a specific range of bait weights and line sizes. Most backpacking fishing rods will have a light or ultralight power rating with a fast or medium-fast action rating. These tend to be the most common ratings in spinning and baitcasting rods.

Extra Rod Accessories

Whether you’re looking for a rod to accompany a spinning reel you already have for traveling or looking for a full fly rod starter kit, you'll find what you're looking for, and more with our reviews on the best backpacking fishing rods. Some added features or accessories you could expect with your purchase are as follows:

  • Fishing rod travel tube or sock
  • Fishing rod travel case
  • Reel
  • Line and baits
  • Additional tips

Price & Warranty

Prices and warranties will vary from the model of each rod and the manufacturer. The more 'added features' you want with your rod, the higher the price will be. The best advice we can give you is to write down some key features or accessories you want, and your budget for everything, before you start looking.

Warranties, on the other hand, are very typical of many brands. We've listed some warranties worth mentioning in our pros lists, so be sure to check how long your warranty is on your new backpacking travel fishing rod.


6 Best Backpacking Fishing Poles Reviewed

1. St. Croix Triumph

best backpacking fishing pole

Number of Pieces

4

Rod Length

5’6”

Weight

0.17 Lbs.

Handle Type

Split-grip, Cork

Power

Ultra-Light

Travel Bag Included?

Yes, Travel Case

St. Croix has created a series of rods well-known by anglers for their durable yet sensitive performance. The Triumph Series rods are all constructed of premium-quality materials that are durable enough to withstand rough conditions. The Triumph Series rods are also perfectly priced and design-specific to suit a ton of anglers' needs. The Triumph travel spinning rods are in a handy 4-piece design and are built for savvy anglers seeking the best in performance, value, and convenience. It a perfect companion when you’re hiking, cycling, or driving to new fishing environments. 

This perfectly crafted, SCII Graphite rod, is accompanied with a padded nylon soft case. This travel bag gives your rod added protection when traveling long distances. This mid-modulus graphite blank has a higher strain rate than common fibers. This means your rod weighs virtually nothing when it’s packed away neatly in your bag.

Having a good grip won’t be a problem. This medium-fast fishing rod has a premium cork handle that gives you an incredible grip, and even when wearing gloves. The overall design is sleek and traditional, with a Fuji DPS reel seat with frosted silver hoods, hard aluminum-oxide guides with black frames, and it’s finished with two coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish. This gives this rod a beautiful and professional finish. It’s hard to beat this travel spinning rod on price, performance, design, and portability, making it our top pick for the best backpacking fishing rod.

Pros
  • Sensitive & durable
  • Very light in weight
  • SCII high-quality Graphite blank
  • Backed with a 5-Year Warranty
Cons
  • Not suitable for catches over 5-6 lbs.

2. DRAGONtail Shadowfire 365

best fly fishing rod for backpacking

Number of Pieces

8

Rod Length

12’

Weight

0.18 Lbs.

Handle Type

Full Cork

Power

Fly

Travel Bag Included?

Storage tube & Rod sock

If you’re looking for a fly fishing rod that will serve you well for long journeys, then you're in luck! DRAGONtail has produced a complete starter kit for fly fishers who want to travel to new destinations. The Shadowfire 365 is our number one choice for the best backpacking fly fishing pole, and here’s why.

This starter kit includes everything but an angler to cast it. You’ll get 3 soft hackle flies, an ultra-premium furled Moonlit line, tippet, an EVA foam line holder, a storage tube, and a stylish rod sock for extra protection. The Tenkara fly fishing series was made with simplicity in mind. There’s no reel needed, so you can rig up quickly and hit the water as fast as you want, with DRAGONtail stating the rods need a mere 3 minutes to set up.

What we loved the most about this 6:4 action and 8 segment fly rod is that it breaks down to 23.25 inches. So sticking it into an appropriately sized backpack for traveling is a breeze. The IM 10 graphite blank can handle fishes below 18 inches. And, of course, you can land larger fishes, depending on your Tenkara skills.

From its 10-inch cork handle to it’s 2 Universal & Regular Tip caps, there’s a lot to like when it comes to this backpack friendly fly fishing rod. It’s a perfect way to get your tackle box full of supplies before hitting the water, too!

Pros
  • All-in-one package
  • Lightweight, 12 ft rod
  • Easy Set-up
  • ONE-TIME Rod Replacement Warranty
Cons
  • Lilian that’s included with the rod rips easy

3. Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager

best backpacking fishing travel kit

Number of Pieces

5

Rod Length

6’

Weight

0.31 Lbs.

Handle Type

Split Grip, Cork

Power

Medium / Light

Travel Bag Included?

Yes, Padded, Soft-sided Travel Case

Create your fishing world, and explore it with style with the Voyager Spinning Travel Kit.  Okuma's dedication to developing quality rods and raising its standards of what they can produce and what is expected, with an eye always to value. You see all of this hard work in this 6’0” spinning rod that’s matched perfectly to its’ 20-size spinning reel.

The sensitive 5-piece rod breaks down to 16-inch pieces that fit perfectly into the accompanying padded, soft-sided travel case. The fishing rod, reel, and tackle pack are held in their own organized and padded sections within the case, so nothing will go unseen on your trip. The case measures 17 x 9 x 3 inches for easy storage and for carrying long distances.

The reel included with the Voyager travel kit is great for catching trout, panfish, bass, catfish, and walleye fishing. It features a ball-bearing drive system with a corrosion-resistant graphite frame. It also has a cut brass pinion gear and one-piece anodized aluminum spool. And it can be changed from left- to right-hand retrieval. When you purchase the Full Okuma Fishing Travel kit, you’ll be buying more than just good quality fishing gear; you'll buy your next favorite fishing rod that's suitable for the majority of fishing environments.

Pros
  • High quality, perfectly sized travel bag included
  • A 20-size spinning rod with light action
  • Inexpensive, good overall quality
  • 1-Year Limited Lifetime
Cons
  • Eyelets are cheaply made, not suitable for certain lines

4. Eagle Claw PK56TS

best telescopic fishing rod for backpacking

Number of Pieces

1

Rod Length

5’ 6”

Weight

0.68 Lbs.

Handle Type

EVA Foam

Power

Ultra-Light

Travel Bag Included?

No

Finding a telescopic rod that you trust can be tricky. They’re either poorly constructed, allowing them to lose all sensitivity, or experience more wear and tear more quickly compared to segmented blanks. The Eagle Claw left us and many other anglers stunned with its performance. The PK56TS Pack-It Spin Combo Telescopic Rod proves that not all telescopic rods will fail you. This rod and reel combo is a steal for its portability and weight.

The 5'6" spinning rod is made of lightweight fiberglass, and the weight stays low with its' EVA foam handle. We prefer a cork handle as they tend to be more comfortable and dependable in more weather conditions, but this handle did surprise us a little. It’s high-density foam, so it's comfortable to hold for several hours. The ultra-light Eagle Claw ball bearing reel that accompanies the rod is constructed of aluminum. And it’s preloaded with line so you can catch up to 10 lbs in freshwater environments.

This 1-piece rod and reversible 10-size reel with line preloaded onto the spool will be the only pieces you’ll receive when you unbox your new rod. You must buy lures, leaders, and of course, a travel bag yourself. But for the price and the performance when catching bass, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well you can cast and reel with this Eagle Claw Telescopic Combo. 

Pros
  • Best telescopic rod for your money
  • Perfect for hiking, or cycling
  • Ceramic guides for smoother line retrieval
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
Cons
  • Only suitable for freshwater fishing- not a very versatile rod

5. Daiwa Presso

best ultralight backpacking fishing pole

Number of Pieces

4

Rod Length

6’ 6”

Weight

0.15 Lbs.

Handle Type

Cork

Power

Ultra-Light

Travel Bag Included?

Yes, Semi-hard Travel Case

If you’re an experienced angler in the middle of striper season, and you're in search of an extremely portable and ultra-light rod, then the Daiwa Presso Spinning rod is for you. This 4-Piece, 6’6” rod can be broken down into 18-inch segments. There’s a semi-hard travel case included in your purchase, and you can put it into or attach it to a fishing backpack. You won’t notice the weight at all, as the Daiwa Presso Ultralight pack is one of the lightest models on the market today, making it a perfect match for travel fishing.

The IM-7 Graphite blank and cork handles may look traditional and sophisticated, but its performance is where it shines. It’s a remarkably powerful rod if you're fishing for light to medium size fish. Catching some bigger targets, like medium-size bass and musky fish, could be a possibility. But, it's safer to use it within its recommended application range, especially if you’re new to fishing.

We were also very impressed with the quick recovery the rod offers after casting. We found a slight bit of stiffness in the blank for an ultralight rod, which helped us land casts accurately. Casts feel smoother and remain stable throughout your fishing trip. Intermediate and experienced anglers will find this rod a lot of fun, making it our first choice for the best ultralight backpacking fishing pole.

Pros
  • Steady balance when fishing
  • Sensitive yet sturdy blank
  • Comfortable, high-quality handle
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty
Cons
  • If pushed too much outside of its recommended application, expect the tip to snap quickly

6. Sougayilang

best collapsible fishing pole for backpacking

Number of Pieces

1

Rod Length

6’ 9”

Weight

0.21 Lbs.

Handle Type

EVA

Power

Medium

Travel Bag Included?

No

If you're on the hunt for a rod that is less traditional and a lot more snazzy, then check out the Sougayilang Telescopic Fishing Rod. Not only does this blank look fashionably forward, but it’s also made out of 24T carbon fiber, so it's incredibly strong. This telescopic rod is also resistant to seawater corrosion as it features stainless steel hooded reel seat and line guides. It’s our choice as the best portable fishing rod for backpacking for its versatility and strength.

Most traditional fishing rods feature cork handles, so of course, the Sougayilang has the opposite. The handle is covered with a plush EVA grip soft enough to hold all day long. Since cork is usually more supportive than EVA, We were astonished by how comfortable it was to hold for long periods. If you suffer from any hand issues such as carpal tunnel or arthritis, this rod is worth considering.

The rod comes in 6 different lengths, and they all can fit easily into a backpack. The length we recommend for its versatility and sensitivity was the 6’9”. It’s a medium power rod that can catch bass and trout, and it can be used for surf fishing or inshore fishing—all at a price that you won’t believe.

Pros
  • All lengths and sizes can fit in a backpack
  • Ergonomic handle for comfortable fishing
  • Versatile rod- good for saltwater applications
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty
Cons
  • May feel too stiff for some anglers

Break Down Vs. Telescopic Fishing Rods

Telescopic and breakdown poles have their own pro’s and con’s, but one thing they do have in common, they’re great for traveling and are perfectly portable. Telescopic rods are compact, low in weight, and usually relatively cheap. But some bad models of telescopic rods have left a sour taste in many anglers’ mouths, and many just can’t shake the thought of them being unreliable and prone to breaking. 

We find that good quality, telescopic rods can be great for anglers that air travel quite frequently or that find carrying chunky travel cases a hassle. Break down rods or travel rods are known for having more precise power and action and tend to have a lot more sensitivity. They’re perfect for walking trails, long cycles, or hikes to new fishing areas. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, so consider your fishing location and environment before you choose.


Tips For Safely Carrying Fishing Rods When Backpacking

You’d hate to spend your good earned money on a top-of-the-line travel rod for it to break from falling off your backpack. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get from A to B with your fishing rod safely intact.

  1. 1
    If you’re attaching a rod case or sock to the outside of your backpack, be sure to attach it with a thin rope in at least two areas with an appropriate fishing knot. It will save your rod from swinging around unknowingly in your background, giving you more peace of mind.
  2. 2
    If you’re using a travel case, be sure all parts are in each section correctly. It will save your reel or kit from knocking around inside your bag. 
  3. 3
    Check your guides and reel seat isn’t damaged when packing and unpacking your equipment. You could have damaged parts of your rod when returning from a trip, so check everything before and after each excursion.
  4. 4
    Wear the correct footwear if you’re hiking to a fishing destination. Slipping and landing on your new rod will cut your trip short, and fast. Be prepared with the correct gear, and it will make your trip go smooth sailing.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are fishing rods and fishing poles the same thing?

Well, a fishing pole is technically constructed of a natural material, like bamboo or cane. Whereas, fishing rods are made of newer materials, like carbon fiber or graphite. But technically, many anglers and websites use 'poles' for 'rods,' and vise versa. So, there may be no difference.  

What are other backpacking fishing essentials?

Some other essentials you might consider taking are:

  • Fishing rod case
  • Travel-friendly reel
  • Line & lure (to fit your location)
  • Additional tips in case of one breaking
How reliable are these backpacking fishing poles?

Nowadays, brands compete against each other to create the best of the best travel rods, at affordable price points. They’ve already proved their worth to a ton of anglers that have already taken them on trips. There's no stopping you from having your new rod for seasons or years with the right care and maintenance.

Does the fishing technique really matter when deciding on a backpacking fishing rod?

Absolutely! A chef wouldn’t buy a pot to fry an egg, and an angler shouldn’t buy an ultra-light spinning rod to catch a large game fish. If you’re hoping to get a widely versatile rod for plenty of fishing locations, then stick with a medium-light in power, and moderate to fast in action.

What brands manufacture the best backpacking-friendly fishing rods?

New travel rods are coming onto the market every day. But some of the brands that we won’t stop hearing about are Okuma, Daiwa, Plussino, and St Croix. These brands have created some amazing technique-specific travel rods that are constructed so well that you’d never believe the price when you see it.

Where is the best place to buy these backpacking rods and other fishing gear?

Scrolling and searching through Amazon is always a great way to read other anglers' reviews and finalize your decision. You can find some great deals and have your new rod delivered straight to your door within just a few days. Or else you can try your local tackle store. They could have your favorite model in stock today.


Conclusion

Making your decision for your next purchase should be a lot easier, with all of our tips, tricks, and knowledge within our guide. The St Croix Triumph 4-Piece Rod proved to be the best backpacking fishing rod, in a sea of travel-friendly rods. This portable, dependable, and reliable rod won’t disappoint you on its level of performance, no matter your fishing abilities.

If another rod stands out above the rest, then go for it! All of the rods on our list performed exceptionally well, and we’re sure you’ll be happy, whichever one you chose!

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