5 Best Beginner Fishing Rods: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

by Andrew

5 Best Beginner Fishing Rods: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

by Andrew

by Andrew

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.

Preview

Product

Rod Length

Line Weight

Power

Check Price

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combos Carbon...

PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber

6’11”

2 - 10 lbs.

Medium

Shakespeare USSP662M/35CBO Ugly Stik GX2...

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

6’6”

17 Lbs.

Medium-heavy

Fenwick AETOS Fly Fishing Rod, 9 ft., 5 wt

Fenwick AETOS

11’1”

5/6wt

Fly

Cadence Fishing CR5 Spinning Rods | 30 Ton...

Cadence CR5

7’0”

2 - 6 Lbs.

Ultralight

Okuma Celilo Graphite Lightweight Ultra Light...

OKUMA Celilo

8’6”

2 - 6 Lbs.

Ultralight


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

  • Spinning Rods
    Spinning rods are generally considered the best type of fishing rod for beginner anglers because spinning reels are easier to use, and the rods meant to hold them are ideal for learning how to cast. They don't have issues with birds nests like baitcasting reels do.
  • Baitcasting Rods
    Learning how to use a baitcaster is troublesome at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll have much more control over your casting and reeling. Baitcasting rods don’t depend as much on their line guides as spinning rods, although they still need to be able to take a beating.
  • Fly Rods
    Much longer and more parabolic than casting or spinning reels, fly rods are very intimidating for newcomers to the style. After a few times out in a river in waders, though, beginners will get the hang of loading the rod and start to learn other tricks like roll casting.
  • Trolling Rods
    Besides holding more line so they can keep lures in the water, trolling rods should have a handle that sits easily in a rod holder. Many also have bent handles to give the trolling lures a better presentation in the water.
  • Surf Fishing Rods
    Fishing in the surf requires a corrosion-resistant fishing rod and one that can hold really thick line. The waves will tax the line more, and the fish tend to be much larger in the surf as well.

Rod Features

  • Action & Power
    Many anglers rush for a fast action rod, but beginners will find a medium or moderate action rod much more forgiving if dropped or miscast.
  • Rod & Line Weight
    Carrying a heavy rod around and casting it repeatedly can cause many beginners to fatigue and ruin an otherwise fun day of fishing. A lightweight and comfortable rod that can handle the line weight you need to catch your target is always the best bet.
  • Rod Length
    While longer rods are better for casting further, shorter ones allow for better lure placement. For beginners, the best beginner fishing rod is somewhere in the middle, between about 5'6" and 7 feet long.
  • Other Features
    Additional features that can heighten the appeal of a beginner fishing rod are things like a carrying case, hook keeper, sturdy reel seats, a comfortable grip, line guides that won’t bend or break, and the ability to break the rod down into multiple pieces, so it's more portable.

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

1. PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber

Best Beginner Fishing Rod

Rod Length

6’11”

Line Weight

2 - 10 lbs.

Action

Fast

Power

Medium

Pieces

One

Key Feature

Telescopic construction

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.

Pros
  • 12-month warranty
  • Durable
  • Rod & reel combo
  • Saltwater friendly
Cons
  • Needs more sensitivity

2. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

Runner Up

Rod Length

6’6”

Line Weight

17 Lbs.

Action

Moderate

Power

Medium-heavy

Pieces

One

Key Feature

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.

Pros
  • 7-year rod warranty
  • Clear rod tip
  • Good castability
Cons
  • Not great for large targets
  • Lopsided balance

3. Fenwick AETOS

Best Fly Fishing Rod for Beginners

Rod Length

11’1”

Line Weight

5/6wt

Action

Fast

Power

Fly

Pieces

Four

Key Feature

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.

Pros
  • Casts easily
  • Cork handle
  • Sturdy line guides
Cons
  • Short warranty

4. Cadence CR5

Best Spinning Rod for Beginners

Rod Length

7’0”

Line Weight

2 - 6 Lbs.

Action

Moderate

Power

Ultralight

Pieces

Two

Key Feature

Lightweight portability

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.

Pros
  • Durable hardware
  • Well-balanced
  • Cork handle
  • Parabolic action
Cons
  • Best for small targets

5. OKUMA Celilo

Best Cheap Beginner Fishing Rod

Rod Length

8’6”

Line Weight

2 - 6 Lbs.

Action

Fast

Power

Ultralight

Pieces

One

Key Feature

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.

Pros
  • Great for bass fishing
  • Strong line guides
  • Perfect for finesse fishing
Cons
  • Less precise casting

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.


People Also Ask (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.


Conclusion

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.

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