8 Best Rods For Trout Fishing: Reviews & Comparisons

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Freshwater trout, steelheads, and those world-famous rainbow trout - these are the most well-known kinds of the most popular sport fish in North America. Trout are tricky creatures; they are smart, they can see, and they are skittish as all get out. If you want to catch one, you can use a spinning rod or try your hand at a fly rod. But that rod had better be strong enough to fish them out. 

Preview

Model

Rod Length

Handle Type

Check Price

Okuma CE-S-461UL-1 Celilo Graphite...

OKUMA Celilo

4’6”

Split

St. Croix TRS66MLF2 Triumph 2-Piece Graphite...

St. Croix Triumph

6’6”

Split

Wild Water Fly Fishing 9 Foot, 4-Piece, 5/6...

Wild Water Fly Fishing Combo

9’0”

Western (Reverse Half Wells)

Cadence CR7 Spinning Rod, Fishing Rod with 40...

Cadence CR7

5’10”

Full grip

Shimano Solara 6'6 MH Spinning Freshwater...

SHIMANO Solara

6’6”

Split

G loomis Trout/Panfish Spinning Fishing Rod...

G. Loomis Classic Trout Panfish

7’0”

Split

KastKing Calamus Ultra-Light Weight Spinning...

KastKing Calamus

5’0”

Split

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod

Ugly Stik GX2

7’0”

Split


Why Specific Rods Are Needed for Trout Fishing

Specific fishing styles have to be used to snag trout according to their environment and food source. There are two main types of rods that are generally used to fish these styles. Fly fishing rods are usually longer and more lightweight.

They are designed to cast extremely light fly lures very long distances based on the weight of the line that the fly is attached to. Spinning rods work the opposite way: the weight of the lure drags line away from the reel during a cast.


How to Choose a Quality Trout Fishing Rod

Rod Composition & Construction

Rod blanks are most commonly made from graphite to stay lightweight but also have enough strength to pull in trout. Older rods were made of glass, and newer varieties are made out of fiberglass. Some are made of carbon or wrapped in carbon, and stainless steel is often used for line guides and other accents on the rod body.

Rod Length & Action

The length of a rod determines casting distance and the line weight capacity. The longer the rod, the heavier fishing line it can support and the larger fish it can usually handle. Shorter rods are great for smaller bodies of water and fishing in tight spaces around lots of cover and structure.

Rod action describes how much the rod will bend under pressure, which is key information for casting. Trout rods are usually fast action, meaning the bending of the rod stops close to the rod tip. That means the blank should have a strong enough backbone to pull a trout in.

Rod Handles

Split grip handles are in two sections, one at the very butt of the rod and the other above with the space in between taken up by the reel seat. A pistol grip is a shorter handle with a trigger-shaped extension on the underside.

While they're a bit out of fashion lately, they are still good for fishing small rods in tight quarters. A full-grip handle takes up all the space underneath the reel, and it's great to use in a rod holder or for additional leverage with a tough fish.

Power Rating

A rod's power rating indicates how much pressure is needed to bend the rod wherever the action rate dictates it will bend. Heavy-rated rods will not bend without a heavy fish on the line while light rods will bend with small fish on the line. Since trout are often very clever and small, trout rods are usually light rods.

Line Weight & Guides

The weight of the line a pole can handle indicates not only what kind of fish you catch but also what type of lures you can fish with successfully. If you're fishing a fly reel, the line weight is especially important because the weight of the line is what causes a clean cast.

Spinning Reel Seat

The reel on a fishing rod needs to be able to take lots of pressure from a fish as well. For this reason, the reel should fit on a reel seat snugly without any worry that it will come undone. Devices to fix and attach a reel can also be part of the reel itself. In any case, the last thing you want is for the reel to get pulled off your rod by an angry fish.

Price & Warranty

Price is obviously a deciding factor in many anglers' reel selection. That being said, a higher price doesn't guarantee the best performance all the time. Many rods come with warranties to protect against improper procedures in the manufacturing of the reel. These warranties are usually one or two years. If you're lucky, it might be for the lifetime of the original purchaser.


8 Best Rods for Trout Fishing Reviewed

1. OKUMA Celilo

Our Top Pick

Rod Length

4’6”

Line Weight

1-4 Lbs.

Handle Type

Split

Material

Graphite & stainless steel

Pieces

One piece

Warranty

1-year limited

The Okuma Celilo trout spinning rod is known for its low weight and high performance. The versatility it provides the trout fisherman is nearly unparalleled. The ultralight 4'6" model is great for casting to tight locations, on small streams, and near lots of cover and structure. The moderate rod action is excellent for trout anglers who want to cast baits instead of ultralight fly lures or just have a spinning rod around for backup.

For additional sensitivity, the entire blank is made out of graphite. One of the most useful features of this ultralight model is the thru-blank handle design, which means the graphite blank runs through the center of the handle. That means you can really feel the smallest movements at the end of your line. Cork helps keep the grip comfortable for your hands without diminishing the sensitivity of the pole.

If you want to fish for trout without getting into fly fishing and all its many particularities, rewarding though they may be, the Okuma Celilo is probably the best option out there. If you tend to hit fishing spots that have more room and fewer weeds and structure, try out one of the longer length models. For peace of mind, the rod comes with a limited warranty that protects against defects created during the manufacturing, which buyers can register for here.

Pros
  • Thru-blank handle design
  • Ultralightweight
  • Warranty included
  • Cork handle
Cons
  • Low line weight

2. St. Croix Triumph

Runner Up

Rod Length

6’6”

Line Weight

4 - 10 Lbs.

Handle Type

Split

Material

Graphite

Pieces

Two-piece

Warranty

5-year

For the experienced trout fisher, this is a great rod with plenty of length options ranging from 5 feet to 7’6”. Trout fishing gear doesn’t get much better suited than this, even if amateur anglers might not be able to tell the difference. For one thing, while many rods are made of graphite, this one is built with SCII graphite (equivalent to an IM6 or IM7) that is nearly incomparably lightweight and sensitive. It also takes more strain than most of the competition.

The included double coating of Flex Coat slow-cure epoxy finish will help keep the rod from weathering as quickly while also keeping water away from the blank itself. Fast action models will give enough power to get the clean hook set you want, even at longer casting distances.

Bear in mind that while this St. Croix trout rod does boast an impressive 5-year warranty and what is easily one of the most helpful customer support teams you can find, there may be some additional fees to get one repaired under warranty. For the Triumph line, you should be able to make a warranty claim and get your rod repaired, replaced, or even upgraded for less than a benjamin.

The Fuji DPS reel seat on the Triumph line is built to be strong enough for common targets found while boat fishing, fly fishing, and beach fishing. Pair that with the action on this rod, and you have enough strength to take it out with you on a wide variety of fishing trips.

Pros
  • Lightweight graphite build
  • Double-coated Flex Coat
  • Power and sensitivity
  • Strong reel seat
  • Portable 2-piece construction
Cons
  • Additional fees for warranty repair

3. Wild Water Fly Fishing Combo

Best Fly Rod for Trout

Rod Length

9’0”

Line Weight

5/6 weight

Handle Type

Western (Reverse Half Wells)

Material

Graphite

Pieces

Four-piece

Warranty

1 Year

Newcomers to fly fishing will love this all-inclusive combo, and experienced fishers of fly might even find some appeal in the low cost and the one-stop-shop aspect. Like all the most popular fly fishing rods, this is a four-piece, the practicality of which is readily recognized if you try to envision packing this 9-foot fly rod into the trunk of your car.

Upgrades in rod tech have made it possible to manufacture these rods in four (and even up to seven!) pieces without sacrificing any of the strength or action you need to reel in trout with a lightweight fly lure. The IM8 graphite blank in this Wild Water combo is no exception.

The reel seat is machined aluminum, which is heavier than graphite but more durable, too. It also has double lock rings to make sure the reel can take a heavy hit from an anxious trout. The stripper guide, which is the first line guide after the reel that marks the length each pull of line with your left hand should be, is stainless steel, while the other guides have silicon carbide rings that are super hard to keep your line under control.

The rod can take 5 or 6 wt line, and its slow action is perfect for beginners because it generates a more gradual line speed, thereby granting them more control over casts as they learn the proper technique. Now for all the extra trout fishing gear. This is a package deal, and Wild Water really wants anglers to have the best trout rod combo possible. 

There's a rod case with storage pockets, a fly box that holds up to 372 flies, 9 flies to get you started, a 9-foot tapered monofilament leader to disguise your line from the trout when it lands, a retractable reel, line nipper, and a poker to clean the eyes of your fly hooks out. The reel that comes with this combo is a left-right reversible 85mm that’s preinstalled with chartreuse weight-forward 5 wt line with orange backing and also has an adjustable-disc drag system for a nice cast.

Pros
  • Full fly fishing kit
  • Slow action for beginners
  • Super-portable four-piece rod
  • IM8 graphite construction
  • Machined aluminum reel seat
Cons
  • Likely unsuitable for larger streams

4. Cadence CR7

Best Rated Trout Rod

Rod Length

5’10”

Line Weight

6-10 Lbs.

Handle Type

Full grip

Material

Carbon

Pieces

One-piece

Warranty

1-year limited

So much we read about this best rated Cadence spinning rod is glowing praise, and it comes as little surprise. This is certainly one of the lightest within its price range with its 40-ton carbon construction. It's been built to hold trout patterns, nymphs, and other types of flies with ease.

The shorter rod length makes this rod fantastic for fishing your way around cover like underwater grass or structure like submerged trees or stones. Cadence does offer this rod in plenty of sizes, such as the ever-popular 7’0” model. All of them are double-wrapped carbon for additional protection against the elements.

The full grip on the handle can be useful to tuck under your arm when you’re fighting a more feisty fish, plus it’s made of cork for comfort and keeping your hands in the game during long fishing sessions. If you like to try fishing worms in the morning or switching to them in the evening when the bigger targets tend to come out and go for live and creature baits, then the fast action and medium power of this rod will serve you just fine.

For additional peace of mind, it also comes with a 1-year limited warranty, which means they’ll either repair or replace defects in workmanship or materials for that duration, but offer no protection against damage sustained otherwise.

Pros
  • Maneuverable
  • Lightweight
  • Action & power for live bait
  •  Fuji reel seat
  • Carbon-wrapped for durability
Cons
  • Limited warranty only

5. SHIMANO Solara

Best for Beginners

Rod Length

6’6”

Line Weight

8-17 Lbs.

Handle Type

Split

Material

Fiberglass

Pieces

Two-piece

Warranty

One-year limited

If you want to get into trout fishing and don’t want to put up too much for that first trout rod, this Shimano is one of the best for beginners. It has all the performance you need to familiarize yourself with trout fishing without inundating yourself with all the technical details that have turned so many people off from trout fishing with a fly rod. Shimano’s patented Aeroglass is used in this model, giving it additional sensitivity and flexibility to help newcomers find fish and learn how to react to a bite.

The rest of the specs are pretty standard for a capable trout fishing rod. It comes in two pieces for additional portability and has the action needed for a clean hook set. The hook seat is graphite and has two secure locks to make sure the reel can handle your target.

Cork handles will keep new anglers' hands comfortable so they can continue practicing casting and even finesse methods without getting fatigued and giving up. This rod also comes in four sizes, from 5’6” all the way up to 7’0” so beginners can see how different casting and fighting fish can be if only the rod length is changed. The line weight capacity of the 6’6” model will allow anglers to try out all sorts of different lures and baits on trout as well as other target fish.

Pros
  • Flexible & sensitive
  • Versatile
  • Portable
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Not ultralight

6. G. Loomis Classic

Top of the Range

Rod Length

7’0”

Line Weight

4-8 Lbs

Handle Type

Split

Material

Fiber blend

Pieces

Two-piece

Warranty

Lifetime limited

This is the blank canvas of trout spinning rods. The specs on this G. Loomis are so slick it's like having a moldable rod to suit whatever kind of trout fishing you enjoy most, or whichever kind you can try out depending on the time of year.

The seven-foot length will give a great long cast, and the fast action will provide you with the rod tip you need to get a hook set. While it may be too long to use in a narrow creek or stream, there's always the five-foot model for that kind of scenario. Like all the rods from G. Loomis, this one is made with a fiber blend not used by any other company, giving it a unique character that makes it an elemental part of many experienced and pro-anglers’ trout fishing gear.

This is an ultralight rod, which makes it enormous fun to use in running water with flies, spinners, and even nymphs, designed to mimic a favorite food source of trout. While the comparatively low line weight might dampen enthusiasm, anything you'd want to throw at a freshwater trout is going to be handled ably on the G. Loomis Classic Trout Panfish.

It's more than understandable that the price tag on this trout rod is going to keep it out of the hands of amateurs and less frequent trout anglers. Still, to be completely honest, most of the benefit of this rod is in the diversity of its performance in different applications and, therefore, most likely to appeal to upper-tier trout fishers anyway. Regardless of who purchases one of these rods, they can enjoy a limited warranty that lasts the lifetime of the original buyer.

Pros
  • Powerful & durable
  • Versatile
  • Ultralight
  • Fast action
Cons
  • Designed for light line

7. KastKing Calamus

Best Ultralight Spinning Rod for Trout

Rod Length

5’0”

Line Weight

2 - 6Lbs.

Handle Type

Split

Material

Graphite

Pieces

Two-piece

Warranty

Limited lifetime

KastKing is well-known for crafting inexpensive fishing gear that performs surprisingly well compared with other popular brands. The Calamus trout rod is stellar for an ultralight spinning rod for trout the masses can access.

The shortest 5’0” rod length is ideal for keeping in the trunk of a car to whip out when you have a spare half-hour to stop at a small stream and try your hand at some trout fishing. When you get there, the fast action and moderate strength will help you reel the fish in, and the line capacity and lure weight will ensure that you don't need to haul a heavy tackle box everywhere with you.

Yes, chuck a few flies in next to this collapsed and stowed two-piece rod, and you'll be prepared for tons of last-minute fishing stops. It might not be the best rod for heavier or complicated rigging, but a bunch of finesse angling and lightweight lures can be done with this inexpensive rod, and the graphite construction is resilient enough to hold a larger fish than you might think at first.

Pair it with a super-light spinning reel, and you have the perfect outfit for trout fishing when you're tight on time, cash, or both. It's even lightweight enough to give to younger anglers and future ones who are looking for their first spinning rod to try to catch some trout.

Pros
  • Strong graphite construction
  • Ultralight
  • Portable
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Not great for heavier rigs

8. Ugly Stik GX2

Trusted Brand

Rod Length

7’0”

Line Weight

8 - 20 Lbs.

Handle Type

Split

Material

Graphite, Fiberglass

Pieces

One-piece

Warranty

7-year limited

Inexpensive and super-effective, Ugly Stik is one of the best-known and trusted brands in fishing gear, and they continue that legacy with their GX2. Designed to be a high-performing trout rod with a better feel than competing models at a similar price point, the GX2 is a nice update of the Ugly Stik that boasts some surprisingly cool features.

For one thing, the construction is a blend of graphite and fiberglass that gives the angler a great feel for what's happening on the line while still allowing powerful rebuttals to trout attacks on the lure. The Clear Tip design Ugly Stik has had for a while now is still on this model, giving the angler even more ability to set a hook cleanly. 

The grips don't throw anything off balance and are comfortable on the hands. The length of the rod will give any mid-size lure a great casting distance, allowing anglers to hit hard-to-reach areas or bounce spinners and blades off rocks or cover to drag trout out into open water. It's a one-piece rod, so the length may not be convenient for every angler, but it's not so much trouble to lay across the back seat of a car or even carry over one shoulder.

Pros
  • Ultralight
  • Well-balanced
  • Great castability
  • Powerful action & rod tip
Cons
  • Less portable

Fly Rod vs. Spinning Rod for Trout Fishing

Fly rods are infamous for being difficult to use, although this is usually overstated by anglers who got burned out on them and quit trying. In reality, they aren’t so hard to figure out, although they do require practice.

Fly rods’ line capacities are measured in weight to match the line they’re best suited for. A 5/6 weight fly rod is best for trout, though a 7/8 weight might be advisable for larger steelheads. Trout fly rods usually have a medium-fast action.


Trout Fishing Rod Setup

Ideally, you’ll have a fast action light or ultralight spinning rod and reel combo and mono line, about 8 lb. test. There are a variety of ways to set your rig up. Check out a few methods for setting up your trout rig and line, including a fly/lure, weights, a split shot, and possibly even swivels and floats.


Tips on How to Use Trout Rods

  • Determine Fishing Location:
    Trout stay still in rivers, usually out of the current to rest in a place where the water is reoxygenated and they can feed, while in lakes they are swimming around looking for food but stick to cover for their own protection.
  • Check Weather Updates:
    Trout will be looking for cooler new water when it's warm out, and they'll start heading to the depths of a lake when the water sinks below a temperature. Make sure you know what the weather is going to do before you head out.
  • Properly Baiting Your Hook:
    To learn some ways to bait a trout fishing hook, watch this video!

Trout Fishing Gear

In addition to the rod and reel, anglers will need a few other things to fish for trout. To fish from the banks, waders that go over your clothes to keep them dry are ideal. A fishing vest with storage pockets will help keep gear in order. A net to scoop the trout and pliers to de-hook them are a good idea to have too.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What size/length rod is the best for trout fishing?

It depends on your skill level and where you're fishing. A short rod is best for smaller bodies of water and fishing in tighter spaces. A long rod is suitable for casting out further, and an even longer rod is best for fly fishing.

What lures do trout like?

Most of what trout eat are aquatic insects in a larval state. For this reason, they love nymph lures. Match the color with the type of water you’re fishing. For clear water, get grey or shiny metallic colors. Big trout also like larger lures like frogs and even mice lures toward the end of the day from time to time.

What is the best time of day to fish for trout?

You can fish for trout all day, but they are very smart fish. Don’t overfish one zone with one type of lure. Make sure to go back with a new type of lure if you think there were trout who were too shy to bite at one type of lure before. You can fish for trout from sunrise to sunset if you have the time and the know-how.

What depth do trout feed at?

In lakes, they hand out between 35 and 45 feet when it’s cooler outside. In warm summer months, they tend to go deeper, say 55 to 65 feet. In rivers, rainbow trout and many other types eat below the surface and also eat from the surface. You can tell where they are from the ripples they create as they feed.

Where do trout hide in streams?

Anywhere they can get some rest from the current. Ideally, they also want a place where food is easy to come by. Look for cover like rocks and submerged trees to try and find trout in a stream.

What is the difference between one-piece and two-piece models?

There used to be a big difference in action, strength, and that sort of thing. Nowadays, two-piece rods perform just as well as a one-piece but remain more portable.

Light vs ultralight rod for trout fishing – which is best?

An ultralight rod will make every fish a lot more fun to reel in since it will feel like more of a fight. That being said, ultralight trout fishing may be too delicate for new anglers, and in that case, a light setup is just fine too.


Conclusion

Trout fishing is a ton of fun and a great challenge to anglers of all experience levels. For its superior construction, including the thru-blank handle design, we recommend the OKUMA Celilo for anyone who feels like going trout fishing.

At the end of the day, of course, the type of rod you chose to use will depend largely on your fishing style and experience, but the OKUMA Celilo is extremely adaptable for anglers of all sizes.