7 Best Ultralight Spinning Rods: Reviews of Popular Brands

by John Laconsay

7 Best Ultralight Spinning Rods: Reviews of Popular Brands

by John Laconsay

by John Laconsay

By design and construction, spinning rods are the preferred rod for anglers looking to cast their line out farther with lighter lures. These rods can range from ultralight to heavy power, depending on an angler’s preference.

If you’re in the market for a high-quality ultralight spinning rod, you’ve clicked on the right article. We’ve simplified the vetting process by reviewing the best rods for your specialized fishing needs. 

Preview

Product

Rod Length

Line Weight

Primary Material

Check Price

St. Croix TRS56ULF2 Triumph 2-Piece Graphite...

St. Croix Triumph

5’6”

2-6 lbs

Graphite

Okuma Celilo Graphite Lightweight Ultra Light...

Okuma CE-S-862ULa

8’6”

2-6 lbs

Graphite

St. Croix TSS60ULF2 Trout 2Piece Graphite...

St. Croix Trout Freshwater

5’6”

2-6 lbs

Blend of SCVI and SCII graphite

St. Croix PFS60ULF Panfish Graphite Spinning...

St. Croix Panfish Series

5’4”

2-6 lbs

Blend of SCVI and SCII graphite

Daiwa PSO704ULFS-TR Presso UL Spin Rod...

Daiwa Presso

6’6”

2-8 lbs

Graphite

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Ultra Light...

Ugly Stik Elite 7’ Ultra-Light 2pc

7’

2-6 lbs

Ugly Tech Construction with added graphite

Sougayilang Graphite Carbon Fiber Portable...

Sougayilang

5’9’’

5-10 lbs

Carbon Fiber

What Are Ultralight Rods Good For?

There’s a misconception in the angling community that ultralight rods are only useful for targeting smaller fish. In reality, investing in a good-quality ultralight rod allows you to do so much more.

Whether designed with single or multi-piece blanks, these rods are excellent for travelers who want to make the most of any trip out on the water. The lightweight design makes for smooth, far-reaching casts without bulky or complicated installments.

This type of rod is good for catching bass, crappie, trout, or perch, but a good-quality rod won’t break under the weight of a fish that’s a bit bigger. An ultralight rod is a stealthy option when fishing environments that anglers occupy often. The lighter lure will give you an advantage because of its inconspicuous appearance, especially when paired with a long-distance cast.


Buying Guide: Choosing The Best Ultralight Rod

Rod Material Composition

Without a doubt, an ultralight rod made from graphite material that is corrosion resistant is the top contender among rods made from fiberglass material. The appeal of fiberglass is that the material is less expensive than most materials, but the performance follow-through is subpar at best. Fiberglass material lacks the power and sensitivity that graphite guarantees.

Rod Length & Weight

Ultralight rods will be shorter in length and lighter in weight than other rods on the market. These rods typically range from 5’ to 7’ in length. Anglers might select a longer rod if long-distance casting is their main priority but might opt for a shorter rod if prioritizing accuracy when casting.

Rod Action & Power

Ultralight rods have a light physical weight, but the rod's power is also classified as ultra-light, which means that the blank is highly flexible and bends more when tugged than a rod with heavy power. Because of this, rods with a lighter power are ideal for catching smaller fish.

Rod action ranges from slow to extra fast and plays a big part in the rod’s sensitivity to movement.

Line Weight & Guides

Line weight capacity is generally between 1-4 lbs for ultralight rods, though a good-quality rod would likely be able to manage a weight up to 6 lbs without much issue. Because of the line weight, it’s best to select a lure that is less heavy than what you might find on a fast action heavy power rod.

Guides on a rod can reduce friction, and on spinning rods, the guides are wider to allow for a smooth cast. The number of guides on a rod depends on rod length and affects the precision of a cast.

Handle Grip

When it comes to handle grip, rods are commonly outfitted with either cork or EVA foam material. Even though cork is slightly less durable than EVA, a cork handle would be preferable in colder weather because the material is warmer to the touch. There are split grip and full grip handles, with full grip typically weighing more because it extends over more of the blank. For anglers looking for a lighter option, split grip is the way to go. 

Reel Seats

Matching the right reel seat to the rod is crucial. Reel seats range in size, so the right one for your rod depends on the diameter measurements of your reel seat and rod blank. For an ultralight rod, you'll likely need a size 16, 17, or 18 reel seat. Rods with more girth and power would require a reel seat upwards of size 20.

Price & Warranty

Prices for ultralight spinning rods range upwards of $20 in some cases. Finding a good-quality rod isn’t impossible with a limited budget, and we include a great affordable rod in our review. However, it’s worth the investment if you decide to spend more on a rod made with the material and installments you're looking for.

Most brands will offer warranty plans for their rods, ranging from one-year to lifetime protection.


7 Best Ultralight Spinning Rods Reviewed

1. St. Croix Triumph

Our Top Pick

Rod Length

5’6”

Line Weight

2-6 lbs

Handle Type

Premium-grade cork

Primary Material

Graphite

Warranty

5-year

St. Croix fishing rods recur in our ranked reviews because this is a brand that can be trusted to manufacture high-quality gear worth your investment. The St. Croix Triumph is the best ultra light spinning rod for a number of reasons concerning the quality of material, design, and warranty protection. 

The rod itself is constructed with premium graphite, which has a good reputation for being incredibly lightweight, durable, and sensitive at an affordable price. The cork handle is outwardly appealing, as far as looks go, while also delivering on the practical front.

The rod length will have a beneficial impact on casting accuracy without sacrificing casting distance. As far as lure weight goes, anglers can use lures ranging between 1/32-3/16 oz. Also worth noting is line weight, which ranges between 2-6 lbs.

There are two ultralight models ranging from moderate to fast action, so anglers can determine which action best fits their fishing habits. Because the 5’6” model is a two-piece rod, it can be easily compacted and stored for the angler traveling nationally and internationally. The aluminum-oxide guides will help to reduce friction when casting out the line, and the reel seat is a Fuji DPS with a frosted silver hood.

Pros
  • Warranty plan
  • Strong grip cork handle
  • Graphite material
  • High performance at affordable price
Cons
  • Higher priced investment

2. Okuma CE-S-862ULa

Runner Up

Rod Length

8’6”

Line Weight

2-6 lbs

Handle Type

Cork

Primary Material

Graphite

Warranty

One-year limited

The Okuma CE-S862ULa model is a close match to the St. Croix Triumph. This rod is great for the angler looking to catch salmon and trout because it is designed to reap maximum benefits. Anglers wanting to invest in a high-quality ultralight rod but looking for a more inexpensive alternative to our top choice should opt for this rod.

Constructed with the best materials available, the Okuma ultralight rod is made with graphite material. The rod’s length ensures that anglers will be able to extend their casts farther, but because of its length, accuracy when casting will be less of a guarantee. This model is equipped with eight aluminum oxide guides and a tip, so issues with friction shouldn’t occur. 

As for additional features, the cork handle is equipped with fore and rear grips to ensure stability and comfort. There are stainless steel hooded reel seats, which are worthy of praise because not only are the reel seats visually appealing, but guaranteed to last. There will be no issue with rusting and corrosion as long as the rod is properly cared for and maintained regularly. 

Similar to the St. Croix Triumph, this rod has a 2-6 lb line weight, which allows for variety in an angler’s target fish.

Pros
  • Less expensive than St. Croix Triumph
  • Fore and rear cork grips
  • Warranty plan
  • High quality material
Cons
  • Less convenient size for travel

3. St. Croix Trout Freshwater

Best Ultralight Spinning Rod For Trout

Rod Length

5’6”

Line Weight

2-6 lbs

Handle Type

Premium-grade cork

Primary Material

Blend of SCVI and SCII graphite

Warranty

5-year

The St. Croix Trout freshwater has been ranked our best ultralight spinning rod for trout. Though priced on the more expensive end of the spectrum, the quality of the rod makes it stand out among other rods designed specifically for trout fishing.

This fast action ultralight rod is made of two pieces, making it a great option for travel. The rod is highly durable and sensitive, with features that specifically cater to an angler's needs while trout fishing. From the stainless steel guides to the split style reel seat, the construction accounts for the details that anglers would pay attention to. Comfort is an amenity with this rod, both in the reel seat installment and the cork handle.

A unique quality for this rod by St. Croix is that it has been built with a Fortified Resin System (FRS), which ultimately strengthens the blank 33% more than most rods you can find on the market with more traditional structures. This design choice is meant to stop micro buckling and make the rod more durable for long-term use.

Just like the St. Croix Triumph, this rod is covered by a five-year warranty plan in the case of any manufacturing and structural issues.

Pros
  • Great for trout fishing
  • Warranty plan
  • FRS
  • Compact for travel
Cons
  • May not be as suited for other types of fishing

4. St. Croix Panfish Series

Best Ultralight Spinning Rod For Crappie

Rod Length

5’4”

Line Weight

2-6 lbs

Handle Type

Premium-grade cork

Primary Material

Blend of SCVI and SCII graphite

Warranty

5-year

The ultralight St. Croix Panfish Series Spinning Rod is another high-quality rod that has been specifically designed for a certain type of angling. In this case, we consider this St. Croix fishing rod as the best one on the market for catching crappie.

Constructed with a blend of SCVI and SCII graphite, the quality of the material is indisputable. Across the board, St. Croix has been highly ranked in our review because of the careful attention paid to design installments such as the Fortified Resin System (FRS) and the Sea Guide guides. Customer reviews on the brand’s website celebrate the rod for its sensitivity and its capacity to reel in heavier fish, within the line weight, without issue over the course of several years. 

As for the rod’s features, the guides are outfitted with stainless steel rings and frames that will prevent rusting. The premium-grade cork handle is a trusted installment that ensures the angler’s comfort while fishing, whether in warm or cool climates. The blank’s strength due to the FRS cure and the high-quality material makes this a great option for crappie fishing.

This rod also has a five-year warranty plan, so should you choose to purchase this rod, your investment is protected.

Pros
  • Warranty plan
  • High-quality material
  • FRS
Cons
  • Single blank, so it is not as compact for travel

5. Daiwa Presso

Best Travel Ultralight Spinning Rod

Rod Length

6’6”

Line Weight

2-8 lbs

Handle Type

Cork

Primary Material

Graphite

Warranty

One-year, 5-year, and limited lifetime plans

The best travel ultralight spinning rod we’ve found on the market is the Daiwa Presso ultralight spinning rod. This four-piece rod can be assembled and disassembled with ease to be very compact and easily transportable. Because it is a multi-piece rod, the ability to travel and fish nationally and internationally is simplified.

With the inclusion of a semi-hard travel case, anglers who purchase this rod can rest assured that their investment will be protected. The investment is relatively affordable compared to the other rods in our review, and prospective buyers can trust that the rod is made from good-quality material such as graphite and cork.

Anglers looking to fish for trout and panfish will appreciate this rod, which will take the hassle out of backpacking or hiking with the equipment to fishing locations. The models for the Daiwa Presso range in lengths from 5’6” to 7’, and we consider the 6’6” an excellent middle ground for getting the best accuracy and distance for casting.

This model also allows for a heavier line weight, which increases the potential for your fishing outings. Friction can be a main issue with some rods on the market, but the eight guides on the Daiwa Presso will work to reduce the risk of friction.

Pros
  • Graphite material
  • Multi-piece and compact
  • Allows for heavier line weight
  • Easy travel
Cons
  • Assembly of 4-piece rod takes more time

6. Ugly Stik Elite 7’ Ultra-Light 2pc

Best Ultralight Spinning Rod Under $50

Rod Length

7’

Line Weight

2-6 lbs

Handle Type

Cork

Primary Material

Ugly Tech Construction with added graphite

Warranty

7-year

Finding a great ultralight spinning rod can be done at an affordable rate, and the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod is a prime example of this. This rod is ranked as our best ultralight spinning rod under $50 because the materials and installments are comparable to more expensive gear that yields similar results.

Ugly Stik rods receive customer praise for how good the quality is while being forgiving on the wallet. Anglers looking to invest in an ultralight rod for the first time should consider opting for the Ugly Stik Elite and test it out for themselves. The brand is known for manufacturing durable gear at affordable costs, and this ultralight rod is no different. 

The rod's notable features include stainless steel guides, stainless steel hoods with exposed blank-style reel seats, and other specialized Ugly Stik trademarked installments. The handle is made of premium cork, and all-in-all the rod’s design has been thoughtfully considered and constructed. This rod contains 35% more graphite than the brand’s Ugly Stik GX2 model.

Like the other reviewed products, this rod is in high demand and can be purchased through Amazon. Anglers who opt for this rod will also receive a 7-year warranty plan. 

Pros
  • Long warranty plan
  • Most affordable
  • Good quality
Cons
  • Limited availability because of high demand

7. Sougayilang

Best Telescopic Ultralight Rod

Rod Length

5’9’’

Line Weight

5-10 lbs

Handle Type

EVA grips

Primary Material

Carbon Fiber

Warranty

A-to-Z Guarantee Refund

The Sougayilang Graphite Carbon Fiber telescopic fishing rod has been ranked our best telescopic ultralight rod. Telescopic rods such as this one are ideal for traveling, and unlike the 4-piece Daiwa Presso rod, this rod is essentially a single rod that extends to full length and retracts with ease when not in use. 

In addition to being a great telescopic ultralight option, the Sougayilang is also the best ultralight saltwater spinning rod we’ve found on the market. Anglers who purchase this rod can trust that the material will be protected for years to come because of the rod's saltwater approved corrosion-resistant qualities. From the reel seat structure to the guides, the use of corrosion-resistant aluminum and stainless steel is effective in maintaining the rod's quality.

Whereas the other ultralight rods in this review were constructed with graphite as the primary material, this rod is made with high-density carbon fiber and e-glass composite. Anglers who have reservations about carbon fiber rods can rest easy, knowing that this is a carbon fiber rod worth trying out. Its affordable price makes it a good option for anglers interested in ultralight fishing and looking to try it out for the first time. 

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Good for saltwater fishing environments
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Carbon fiber may be less durable

Who Makes The Top Ultralight Spinning Rods

Finding an ultralight spinning rod designed and constructed to last begins with finding a brand you can trust. Though St. Croix rods are typically more expensive, this brand keeps the angler in mind and designs rods that are specialized for certain types of fishing.

Daiwa and Okuma rods are some of our favorites because these brands produce high-quality gear that is typically priced below $100. Another affordable option is a Shimano ultralight spinning rod. The Sensilite Spinning series is constructed with high-quality material that makes it the perfect rod for panfish and crappie angling. 


Tips for Ultralight Fishing Rod Setup

Ultralight spinning rod and reel setup begins with choosing the right rod for your fishing needs and selecting a reel with the appropriate fit. It’s not necessary to make the jump to high dollar equipment when first starting, especially when there are good-quality, affordable options. When it comes to the right line, we recommend a 4 lb high visibility monofilament line, as this is affordable and great for casting lighter lines with lighter lures.

It’s important to organize the lures and jigs needed for ultralight fishing because this will make it easy to grab what you need and get going. Building the right setup begins with purchasing items like trout magnet jigs and ball head jigs that work best for this type of fishing. Anglers wanting to learn more about what gear they might need can find a number of great resources on the topic.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can you catch bass on an ultralight?

Yes! An ultralight spinning rod is well-suited for smaller and mid-sized bass. For instance, a rod that is constructed well shouldn’t snap under the pressure when reeling in a 6 lb bass.

Which spinning reel should I get for my ultralight rod?

When it comes to choosing the best spinning reel, be sure to match the size of the blank of your rod’s external diameter with the reel seat’s inner diameter. Once you know which size you need, you can determine what qualities in a reel you’re looking for –– from aluminum or graphite material to the type of spool.

What lures can I use with an ultralight spinning rod?

Lures on the lighter side are the way to go. When you purchase your rod, you’ll be able to find the specific lure weight capacity and will be able to choose lures that fit within that range.

Are there any special care and maintenance steps for ultralight spinning rods?Question

To ensure that your rod is long-lasting, we recommend cleaning your fishing rod after every fishing trip. In between uses, store your rod in a cool, dry area, preferably in a rod case or rod tube.  

Where is the best place to buy the best ultralight spinning rods?

Amazon is a great resource for finding the best ultralight spinning rods, reading through reviews, and comparing brands. For this reason, Amazon has our vote.


Conclusion

Ultralight spinning rods are a great addition to any angler’s fishing gear. Rods like the St. Croix Triumph are excellent for small and mid-sized game fishing for trout, crappie, and even bass.

The novice and experienced angler should consider investing in an ultralight spinning rod if looking to make long-distance casts and take a stealthier approach to catching fish.   

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