Learning to fish is one of the best ways to spend time outdoors. Beginners will face something of a learning curve at the start, but learning is easy and fun with the right rod.
New anglers looking for a high-quality rod can read this guide to find the perfect one.
Why First Time Anglers Need a Beginner-Friendly Rod
No matter what style of fishing, the rod is going to bear the weight of the fish, cast the lure, and set the hook. Learning how to do these things can be difficult on a professional-grade rod.
The best type of fishing rod for beginner anglers is probably a spinning rod because they are much easier to use overall. Beginner rods are usually less expensive, making sport fishing more accessible to everyone.
Buying Guide: How to Choose a Fishing Rod for Beginners
Target Fish & Fishing Environment
Saltwater rods need to be corrosion-resistant, and they are typically longer because there is so much more room to cast out on the open ocean.
In smaller streams, tributaries, lakes, or rivers, a shorter rod is better because it can cast more accurately, and there isn’t as big a risk of getting your line tangled in vegetation on the backcast.
You should also make sure to get a powerful enough rod for your target. Beginner rods are usually medium-powered because the heavier rods are likely overkill at the novice level.
Type of Fishing
Certain fishing styles call for different rods. Surf fishing rods, for example, are built to hold much heavier line for the larger targets. Fishing rods for boats may have specialized handles like the ones on a trolling rod.
Fishing rods for piers might hold more line to cover the extra distance, while dock or shore fishing might be built for flipping and pitching. The best type of fishing rod for beginner anglers is probably a medium length rod that can do most non-specialized techniques.
Rod Type & Fishing Technique
Price & Warranty
Like other fishing rods, the more you pay for a beginner fishing rod, the better the materials used in its construction will be.
More expensive rods are more likely to have extensive and long-lasting warranties, but replacing a budget rod is often faster and cheaper than fixing an expensive one under warranty.
5 Best Fishing Rods for Beginners Reviewed
If you prefer watching over reading for our top three picks, then check out our Youtube video that breaks down the best models and why we have chosen them for beginner anglers!
1. PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber
Best Beginner Fishing Rod
2 - 10 lbs.
This beginner fishing rod ticks all the boxes. It’s built from strong yet lightweight carbon fiber, it has a telescopic collapsing mechanism to make it easy to carry, and it comes with a spinning reel that’s easy to learn on. It’s also durable enough to take a beating, and the action is forgiving for those inclined to make a rookie mistake here and there.
One of the most important features on a spinning rod is the strength of its line guides, and this rod has extremely durable ones. Maintaining good line control is comfortable with this rod, which is ideal for beginners. For beginners who want to try their hand in various environments, this rod is treated to resist corrosion from saltwater.
Casting is easy with this rod, and the line control is unparalleled. The handle is left-hand convertible, and it provides plenty of torque for pulling the fish in. The included reel has a nice slow 5.6:1 gear ratio that will let beginners learn how to get lures up to speed and fight fish on the line.
If you don’t want to shop around for lures and line, you can also buy this beginner’s fishing rod with a full kit with everything you need to get out on the water and start learning.
2. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2
Tough rod blank
The Ugly Stik is famous amongst anglers for its durable rod blank and fast action. This medium-heavy option is excellent for beginners because it has enough backbone to best substantial targets.
EVA grips on the handle make it easy to hold onto this rod when there’s a fish on, and it also dramatically reduces hand fatigue during long days on the water. The reel that’s included with this Ugly Stik has 3 ball bearings, so it operates smoothly. There’s also an anti-reverse bearing, so beginners won't inadvertently spin the handle in the wrong direction.
Not only is the rod blank on the Ugly Stik durable, but it's also very sensitive, and the clear tip design makes detecting bites on the line a cinch. Bearing in mind that this is a light action rod and the line weight rating is fairly low, it's still an excellent rod for catching small to medium-sized targets that beginners are most likely to catch.
While the balance of the rod with the reel on is a bit lopsided, this is still the best fishing rod & reel combo for beginners because it is easy to cast and has enough strength to reel in common targets like bass and walleye. It will also work in saltwater, but you should take care to rinse it after each use.
3. Fenwick AETOS
Best Fly Fishing Rod for Beginners
Aluminum reel seat
Learning how to fly fish can be intimidating, but with a good beginner fishing rod, it’s much more reasonable. Most fly fishing rods for beginners have cheap plastic components, but the AETOS has an anodized aluminum reel seat, a cork handle, and sturdy line guides.
All these features make for superior line handling and unparalleled comfort when casting. This rod has more backbone than standard fly fishing rods for beginners. It’s perfect for trout fishing, but it is also constructed to work with other fly fishing targets as well.
Casting is easy with this fly rod once you have the technique down. The line guides are wide to make it easier for line to fly off the rod. It also loads well, and the fast action allows the angler to snap the line out during a cast and get a good hook set. It’s the perfect fly rod for the widest variety of fly fishing techniques and targets.
The warranty on this rod does leave something to be desired, but it does exist, and the rod is inexpensive enough that replacing it is well within the realm of possibility. It also comes with a rod sleeve to make storage easy, and it breaks down into four sections for additional portability.
4. Cadence CR5
Best Spinning Rod for Beginners
2 - 6 Lbs.
Newcomers to sport fishing can benefit greatly from the two-piece construction and lightness of the Cadence CR5. While it might not stand up to huge targets, it’s perfect for trout, crappie, and panfish.
Learning how to cast on this lightweight rod is a breeze, although anglers might find some difficulty casting much heavier rods right after switching from this one. If it’s used in tandem with some heavier rods, then the CR5 is a great way to learn finesse tactics and how to cast ultralight lures. Plus, it makes hauling fish out of the water that much more entertaining.
This rod has a good length for distance casting, but it isn’t so long that the cast's accuracy will suffer. There’s plenty of backbone in the rod blank, and it has a more parabolic bend thanks to the moderate action. In addition to being the best spinning rod for beginners, the CR5 has impeccable balance so even experienced anglers will enjoy casting and reeling fish in with it. Built with high-quality materials like a Fuji reel seat and 30-ton carbon, this rod seems like it will stand the test of time.
5. OKUMA Celilo
Best Cheap Beginner Fishing Rod
2 - 6 Lbs.
Sensitive graphite blank
Budget fishing rods rarely exhibit the workmanship of the OKUMA Celilo. The cork handle is easy to hold onto for long periods and doesn’t slip when it gets wet. The line guides are inserts, but they don’t show any signs of popping out or bending. This rod is a bit longer than many other beginner fishing rods, meaning it’s easier to cast longer distances. There might be rods that cast with more precision, but this rod does just fine.
The blank is made out of graphite, which makes it very durable and yet lightweight. You can feel everything from bites to nibbles, thanks to the superior sensitivity in the blank. Since it’s an ultralight beginner fishing rod, you might need to take care not to jerk the rod too hard when setting the hook.
The blank has plenty of backbone to set the hook, but it might snap if it's jerked suddenly, and a big fish is on the line. Still, with its ultralight power, this rod is fantastic for learning finesse fishing methods and casting ultralight lures. Beginners looking to reel in a bass that weighs between 2 and 3 pounds will have great success fishing with the OKUMA Celilo.
Quick Guide to Fishing for Beginners
Safety is paramount when out on the water. Always have a life jacket on and fastened and take care to examine your surroundings when casting to avoid hook injuries. Check local regulations and see what kind of fishing license you need.
The best place for fishing is in your own backyard. Practice casting before you go to the water, and you won’t risk as many hooks and lures. Speaking of which, make sure you have all the tackle you could possibly need. Bring weights and bobbers if you’re going to use them and make sure you know how to tie a cinch knot.
Bring fishing gloves and pliers so you can catch and release fish so they'll still be there for other anglers to try and catch. As always, when in nature, follow the Leave No Trace guidelines to preserve your fishing spots.
Beginner Fishing Rod Setup: Tips & Tricks
Many people want to know how to set up a fishing rod for beginners. It can be as straightforward or as complicated as you want based on your tackle. Most reel seats have a spinning component to tighten the reel in place. For the best attachment, wipe down the rod before attaching the reel.
To put a line on a reel, it’s easiest to attach the free end to the reel and then spin the reel handle backward until the line is properly spooled. It might be easier to have someone help with this. Match your line weight and rod rating with the species you’re chasing. Larger targets mean heavier test, and a more powerful rod will be needed.
Beginner Fishing FAQs
Is fishing hard to learn?
While some techniques require lots of practice, central requirements like casting and setting the hook are relatively easy to learn. As long as you put the effort into it, you’re sure to get the basics of sport fishing down in no time.
How do I know what size spinning rod to buy?
A spinning rod should balance with the spinning reel it’s paired with, and the length of it should be based on the casting style. Trolling rods will likely be shorter while casting rods are longer. Ice fishing rods are the shortest of all.
What essential fishing gear does every beginner angler need?
Once you have your fishing rod, you need to have hooks, bait, lures, line, and other tackle like floaters and bobbers. It will help to have a carrying case or a tackle box to keep everything organized and within reach.
What is the difference between cheap and expensive models?
Many beginners don’t want to spend the equivalent of a mortgage payment on their first rod. Many can be had for $100 or less, although there are others that cost more. The difference is usually in the rod blank material and there’s likely to be a better warranty on more expensive rods.
Where is the best place to buy my first fishing rod?
For the most frequent sales and the widest variety of rods to compare, Amazon is one of the best places to buy a beginner fishing rod. Many of the sellers are authorized retailers or the manufacturer itself, meaning warranties frequently apply.
The best beginner fishing rod should be a versatile length, durable enough to handle bumps and bruises, and be usable in just about any environment. The PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber is the easiest to cast and has all these boxes ticked, which is why it’s the best beginner fishing rod on the market today.