For many kinds of fishing, such as bass, musky, or pike fishing, an accurate and long-distance cast is necessary to catch the target. There’s nothing better for that purpose than a baitcasting reel, and the right casting rod will get the best performance out of a baitcaster.
Jigging and giving accurate presentations with crankbaits is much easier with a fast-action casting rod. There are plenty of rods out there with price tags between $100 and $150 that will do the trick. Anyone searching for the right baitcasting rod can read through this guide to find everything there is to know.
Choosing a Quality Baitcasting Rod Under $150
Rod Material Composition
Older rods used to be made of fiberglass, but it was too heavy and rigid. It had some great sensitivity, but to get more flex out of the rod graphite was developed. Modern-day graphite is lightweight and won’t break under duress, but there are still cheap imitation materials out there. Strategic angling will require high-quality graphite to withstand conditions while still hauling in fish, but it should always be sensitive so the angler can feel bites on the line.
Longer rods are meant for longer and smoother casts, and since baitcasting reels are known for that specialty, it makes sense to buy a longer rod. Anything over about 6.5 feet is considered a longer rod, although they get much longer, with some reaching 12 feet or longer. Fishing in rivers and tight spaces with branches overhead will call for a smaller rod. Ice fishing rods are the shortest of all, but where baitcasters are required, a longer rod is generally called for.
One-Piece vs. Two-Piece
The obvious benefit to a two-piece rod is added portability. Many anglers fear that two-piece rods don’t have the hauling capacity or durability of single-piece rods, but with current manufacturing and fiber technology, that’s no longer the case. High-quality two-piece rods perform as well as one-piece rods, but there are knockoff two-piece rods that won’t. Two-piece construction makes it easier to transport longer rods to a fishing spot, just make sure it can still handle a tough fish.
Baitcasting reels usually have many nooks and crannies that aren’t impervious to salt and other corrosive elements, which is why spinning reels are generally preferred for saltwater angling. For that reason, casting rods are usually thought to be for freshwater sources. However, many still have sealants applied to the exterior to keep water and corrosive elements from entering and destroying the blank.
Baitcasting rods should have enough length and handle line well enough to send bait and lures sailing a mile in the right conditions. Of course, part of this requires some skill on the part of the angler, but the rod itself also needs to have the right action and the right balance to allow a skilled fisher to cast a lure as far as they want and land it exactly where they want to on the water.
Rod Action & Power
The power of the rod is a description of its strength. Rod powers range from ultralight to heavy, with many stages in between. A heavy-powered rod may seem best, but they lack flexibility. Rod flexibility is called rod action. If a rod bends close to the tip, it’s got a fast action. If it bends closer to the handle, it has a slower action. They can have moderate or slow action, or they can have an action somewhere in between.
Line Weight & Line Guides
Manufacturers give their rods ratings to indicate what kind of line will work best. This is given as a range of line weights. The rod handles line better within that range. Another thing that can help improve line handling with a rod is durable and smooth line guides. These are the small circles that line runs through to keep it from touching the blank—the less friction, the smoother the casting and the lower the chance of a line break.
Fish that really make anglers fight can be hauled in using a rod with a handle that gives a good enough grip to get some leverage over them. Ergonomic designs help keep angler's hands comfortable during long fishing trips, and improvements in the reel seat and rod blank technology add rod sensitivity so anglers can feel attacks on the line and give lifelike presentations to lures like crankbaits and swimmers.
5 Best Baitcasting Rods Under $150 Reviewed
1. Abu Garcia IKE Signature
Best Baitcasting Rod Under $150
12 - 20 Lbs.
This is one of the best all-around casting rods available. It has the length for beautiful long-distance casting and the right medium-heavy action to get a good hook set on bass, catfish, or even trout. The single-piece graphite blank is light enough to hold onto, and the EVA foam grip makes it comfortable to keep in-hand throughout a day of fishing. For additional holding power, the pistol grip leaves tons of space to place hands wherever they’re most comfortable and will give the most leverage to pull fish out of the water.
In addition to a strong backbone and good grip, this rod also has stainless steel guides that keep friction off the line. Line breaks are rare unless an unusually large or strong target goes off on a run. With more line guides than most, this rod can handle line exceptionally well. The guides have zirconium inserts that can handle lots of pressure, although it would be preferable if they were single-piece guides to prevent having inserts pop out.
The reel seat holds a baitcaster snug, which is no surprise, considering it’s from Fiji. The IKE has a fast tip action that helps set a hook and give a lifelike presentation to jigs and swimmers. Fishing crankbaits work fantastically with this rod, and there’s also an 8-foot version for anglers who want to cast further or chase larger targets, or shorter versions for finesse fishing or casting with limited space. For the best baitcasting rod under $150, this one can’t be beaten.
2. St. Croix Mojo
12 - 20 Lbs.
St. Croix has made one of the most balanced baitcasting rods on the market with its updated Mojo series. Jigging and good old-fashioned worm fishing are both easy with the Mojo, which is lightweight but still very strong.
To make it longer-lasting, the rod has two coats of sealant to keep water and other corrosive elements out. There’s also cork in the split handle for additional comfort and a hookkeeper to prevent tangles. This is a shorter rod, but it should be just the right length for the majority of anglers. If not, there are longer lengths available in the St. Croix Mojo series.
The body of this rod feels secure, even for a single-piece rod. That’s likely because St. Croix has built it with what they call a Poly Curve Technology, which gets rid of transitional points in the blank. Line guides designed in an interesting ‘3D’ technology handle any kind of line well, even braid. The fast action really helps in a fight with a fish and gives a great hook set. It can also rip lures through vegetation easily.
The lower section of this rod is a bit stiff. Not so much that it will break, but a little more flex would save some effort when trying to bring in a target. That stiffness means the sensitivity of the rod is good enough to feel a bite from a bass, although nibbles from smaller fish might be missed. Overall this is a great, responsive rod that works great for bass fishing despite a few minor shortfalls.
3. Lew’s Custom Lite HM85
Best Rod for Crankbait Fishing
12 - 25 Lbs.
There’s a reason they call this a lite rod. The blank in this rod is light but performs like a much heavier rod, built with 85 million modulus graphite that allows less material to have the same strength. It still has the fast action anglers have come to love for setting the hook in bass, pike, or muskie, and the backbone for hauling a big catch out of the water. The split-grip handle makes it easy to get a solid grip on the rod, even when it’s raining, although the foregrip and rear grip could be a little bigger.
The reel seat keeps a baitcasting reel in place and has no edges, so the angler's fingers won't rub up against it. It also transfers motion from the blank right into the angler’s hands so they won’t miss a bite on the line, even if it’s just a light nibble. All this sensitivity and the lightness of this rod make it the perfect casting rod for crankbait fishing. Casting cranks and popping the rod sends just the right motion into the lure. Plus, it supports low-profile baitcasting reels with mid- to high-speed gear ratios.
Titanium oxide guides help this rod handle line smoothly without snags or twists. There’s no hook keeper on it, but everything else you need for effective crankbait fishing is there on this rod. It has a nice look to it, and it’s built to last several seasons of fishing, not to mention it’s backed up by a lifetime warranty, one of the best in the market.
4. Fenwick Elite Tech Bass
Best for Bass Fishing
10 - 17 Lbs.
A favorite of bass anglers, this Fenwick rod is lightweight and has an extra-fast action that makes pretty much perfect hooksets almost every time. The backbone kicks in very far up the rod and stops fish with a medium-heavy power that hauls them out of the water without being overly stiff.
The rod is long enough for long casting and has titanium line guides that help keep casts accurate. These line guides last through lots of action in conditions that would bend or break the weaker guides typically found on lower-quality rods.
Handles with a mixture of cork and EVA foam make both the foregrip and the rear grip easy to hold, even when wet. There's also a rubber cap at the butt of the rod so that anglers can hold it in their gut for extra leverage over particularly energetic targets. There aren’t many handles as comfortable as the one on the Fenwick Elite when there’s a fish on that desperately wants to be off.
Like the other rods so far in this guide, the blank of the Elite is graphite. The manufacturer hasn’t rated it by modulus, but it seems just as strong as any other leading baitcasting rod and shows no intentions of snapping during use. It’s unobtrusive and works well throughout the day without tiring out the angler's hands or arms. Pair it with the right baitcasting reel and lure, and you’ll be well-prepared for a great day of fishing.
5. St. Croix Triumph XHF
30 - 65 Lbs.
St. Croix returns to the list with its Triumph series, one of the most highly-favored baitcasting reels for anglers chasing any of the most common freshwater targets. It might not have the ultralight weight of finesse rods used for more flinchy targets like trout or crappie, but with the right technique, anglers can still use this rod to go after those species as well.
It has an excellent fast action for clean hooksets and a strong backbone that transfers motion along the length of the rod for superior bite sensitivity. It also boasts a higher line weight rating than any other casting rod in this guide.
It’s been optimized for musky fishing, and the seven-foot length makes it great for casting or trolling for muskies. With standard strength test, say around 12 pounds, this rod will cast a mile. It’s backed up by the same 5-year warranty that St. Croix offers for all of its casting rods, but it’s durable enough to last a long time anyway. It’s double-coated to prevent damage from water, and it has a nice cork handle that makes it comfortable to hold for a long time.
There’s very little in this best rated rod to be disappointed about provided it's used correctly. Since it's capable of chasing muskies or bass and can even survive if a big one happens to bite at the bait, this rod can also be a great casting rod for beginners and those just starting to learn how to use a baitcaster.
Baitcasting Rod vs. Other Fishing Rods
For more accurate casting at longer distances, there’s nothing that will beat baitcasting rods. Spinning rods have their line guides on the underside, which means their eyelets will generally be stronger, but casting rod guides usually cause less friction on the line.
More specialized trout rods, catfishing rods, or pike rods will have less strength and slower actions to suit the characteristics of those target fish. Casting rods are more all-purpose, generally being used for bass and muskies. They’re also usually less expensive than specialized rods, although spinning rods and casting ones are comparable in cost.
Baitcasting Rod: Prices vs. Expectations
There are certainly baitcasting rods that cost more than $150, and they have some additional benefits.
They might have more advanced composite materials in the blank that give them more strength and flexibility at a lighter weight, but they are usually overkill for a typical weekend or casual angler.
Cheaper casting rods are great for entry-level sport fishing enthusiasts, but their guides and blanks will most likely not hold up to harsh conditions like rods in the $100-150 range.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Does a longer rod cast further?
Generally speaking, a longer rod gives a more extended cast, but that's only when comparing rods with the same power and action. A fast-action rod helps give a flick to a cast that can then send the lure flying. The weight of the lure or bait is also a factor, but if a long cast is imperative, then a longer casting reel will be too.
Do bass fishermen use baitcasters?
Baitcasting reels are the preferred tools for most bass anglers, although there are still those who use spinning reels or even spincasters. The ability to have a thumb on the line or feather the spool and drop a lure exactly where they want it is what wins most bass anglers over to baitcasting reels. Plus, casting further is a great help in larger lakes where bass like to swim.
Can I put any casting reel onto any casting rod?
Pretty much any casting reel will fit onto any casting rod, but to maximize performance, reel and rod weight should be matched up somewhat. To preserve balance on a rod and reel, set a low-profile baitcaster on an ultralight rod or a large round reel on a heavy-powered rod. The desired target will determine the size of the gear and tackle.
How do you stop a backlash baitcaster?
Learning how to cast a baitcaster can be challenging, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. Spooling the line properly is key, as is casting with a thumb on the line and setting the brakes correctly. Start slow with the brakes at full force until you get the hang of it.
How long should the grip be on my baitcasting rod?
Some anglers like a longer grip to have more options and to be able to hold the butt of the rod in their gut to get more leverage over a fish. Others prefer shorter handles to keep their whole setup easier to transport, and there’s also the question of split-grip or full handles. Full handles are better for folks who want to be able to grip anywhere on the handle while split-grips usually give anglers more hoisting power.
The right casting rod should be comfortable and also offer superior line handling, castability, and fish-stopping power. The Abu Garcia IKE Signature has all this and more, which is what makes it the best baitcasting rod under 150 for anglers who are looking for a high-performance rod without the massive price tag.