Fishing Rods and Reels for Any Occasion

Fishing Tackle / Fishing Tips / August 11, 2017

How to Choose the Best Fishing Rods and Reels

Many Fisherman use only one rod and reel for a variety of fishing purposes. We’re here to put together a list of fishing rods and reels for you to check out if you need a little help deciding on your next combo. If you’re on a tight budget a 6 to 6 ½ foot medium action spinning rod. Its acceptable for most fishing situations. Some situations demand a specific rod and reel combination. For example, casting a tiny weightless fly requires fly-fishing tackle. Casting a foot long Muskie plug requires a strong rod with a heavy duty reel.

It’s not uncommon to see anglers sporting 3 or 4 rods. They may carry that many rods, with multiple light-medium- or heavy set ups, each rod and reel designed for a different approach. Its also common for each of those poles to hold a different kind of lure for easy switches and combinations. Most anglers know that after a fish misses a top water lure, its best to throw a subsurface spinner or crank bait. Its easier to carry multiple rods with multiple rigs rather than throw the same bait twice or take the long time necessary to re-rig your solitary rod.  This certainly isn’t necessary. One pole is plenty to get the job done but that approaches can add a lot of fish to your belt.

The basic rod and reel combinations are: Spinning, Spin-Casting, Fly-Casting, Bait-Casting, and Trolling. We’ll cover each one and do our best to point you toward some of the better combo options available.

Fishing Rods

  Rod Action

What is rod action? Rod action refers to where a rod bends. Rod action is determined by the degree of taper in the rod. Extra fast, Fast, moderate, and slow are the typical actions in a rod.  Slow action rods begin their bend about half way up the length of the rod. Slow rods are what you think of when you see that deep U-shape with big fish on the other end. Moderate action rods bend half way up the rod. Fast rods bend a big higher up, the last 1/4th of the rod. Extra fast rods have a light bend in the upper 1/4th of the rod. Power is the amount of force needed to bend the rod. It is determined by the thickness of the rod shaft.


Sensitivity is the ability of the rod to telegraph vibrations from the line through the tup and on to the hand. It is determined by the material and by the rod’s action. A fast action rod is generally more sensitive than a slow action ros of the same material.

What are Rods made of

There are a few different materials rods are created from such as fiberglass, graphite, boron, or bamboo, just to name a few. Each material brings a different capacity and strength. Fiberglass is simple. Its economical, durable, and an all-around solid pick for a fishing rod. Most rods are made from fiberglass. Graphite is stronger and more sensitive than Fiberglass. Boron is only slightly stronger than graphite. Its even more sensitive than the other two. However, Boron is significantly more expensive than Fiberglass or Graphite. Bamboo is a category all its own, mainly used for custom made fly-fishing rods.


Length by itself, should not be a major consideration when choosing a rod. However, length is important in certain situations. A short rod works best for casting in tight quarters, while a long rod is essential for long-distance casting. The current trend is toward shorter, thinner rods that are equally as powerful as the longer thicker rods of years past.


Casting is the best angling technique when fish are holding tight to cover, concentrated in dense schools, or hiding in areas where they would be easily spooked if the fisherman moved too close. Accurate casting is necessary in many situations. A bass lying under a log often ignores a lure unless it is places within inches of its mouth. A fly fisherman casting to a rising trout must hit a target less than one foot in diameter.

For maximum casting accuracy, use a medium action rod. A rod that is too stiff results in the angler throwing the lure rather than casting it. A rod that is too whippy makes it difficult to control the direction of the cast.  Casting distance is important when approaching fish or trying to reach open-water fish from shore. For maximum distance, use a long powerful rod with guides that are spaces close enough together so the line flows freely. On spinning or spin-cast reels, fill the spool within one-eighth inch of the rim to avoid friction when the line whips off the spool.

Spinning Rod/Spinning Reel Combos

Spinning Tackle is popular because it is versatile, backlash-free, and designed for extra casting distance. The open-face reel allows line to whip off a fixed spool. The rod has large guides so coils of line can flow through with little friction. One drawback to an open-face reel is that beginning anglers may have trouble with line snarling behind the spool. That’s a relatively small price to pay though for all the simplicity and advantages of the spinning reel.

Abu Garcia Ike Dude Spinning Combo

Taking inspiration from legendary bass fisherman Mike Iaconelli, the Abu Garcia Ike Dude Fishing Rod and Spinning Reel Combo offers a combination of precision and power ideal for novice anglers. This rod and reel combo features an ultra-light weight yet durable design. The reel’s graphite body and rotor gives you considerable leverage while reeling, and the rod’s lightweight composite blank construction provides responsiveness and sensitivity to light bites. With its two ball bearings and aluminum spool, the spinning reel delivers strong, smooth reeling operation to help you land your catch. And thanks to its high-density EVA grips, this rod and reel combo offers a comfortable grip.

Penn Pursuit II Spinning Surf Combo


This is a good combo for the money. This is Penn’s entry level surf spinning reel and rod and is a solid set up for fishermen getting into surf fishing. The 7000 and 9′ rod can be used in the surf or off the pier. Pair your combo with 30# mono and use 3-4 oz when in the surf. It has pretty good balance. The reel has a smooth retrieve and the instant anti-reverse works as advertised. It took me a little getting used to, because as soon as you stop winding it the anti-reverse stops the reel instantly. It is also easy to dissemble for cleaning and lubrication. It holds about 200 yards of #25 or 300 yards of #15 mono line. It can also hold 450 yards/#30 or 355 yards/#40 lbs braid.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Combo

The Shakespeare USSP602M/30CBO Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Combo makes fishing accessible, simple, and fun. This fishing combo pairs a highly durable Ugly Stik rod with a dependable Shakespeare fishing reel. Modeled after the iconic Ugly Stik, the rod offers a lighter feel and improved components while maintaining the strength and durability of the original. The rod’s Clear Tip design responds to even the lightest nibbles and strikes, while the durable and lightweight EVA grips offer a comfortable handhold. Its two-piece design is crafted with a composite of graphite and fiberglass, creating a well-balanced yet powerful rod that is virtually unbreakable. The spinning reel features a hardy aluminum spool to ensure long-lasting performance. And thanks to its four bearings, the fishing reel delivers exceptionally smooth operation.


Spin-casting equipment offers many of the same advantages of spinning tackle. The closed-face design reduces tangling and its push cast button makes casting extremely easy. However, the closed face design of the reel increases line friction and reduces casting distance. Spin-casting reels clamp to the top of the rod handle, while spinning reels attach underneath the rod. Its important to note that most spin-casting reels aren’t meant for large trophy fish (except maybe bluegill). They’re meant to target smaller species. If you want to go chasing pike, you’d be better off using one of our other heavier options.

This fishing combo features an innovative and aggressive new rod grip design giving you extra strength that is comfortable to hold. Designed to enhance the relationship of your and the reel and providing secure comfort and control. It has 4 custom designed bearings providing a 3:6:1 retrieve ratio. Don’t worry about which hand to use, this spincaster has a changeable left handed or right handed retrieve. The spincaster reel comes spooled with 100 yards of #10 mono. Don’t worry about storage as the 6 foot ZR33 separates into two pieces making transportation easy.

This fishing combo features an innovative and aggressive new rod grip design giving you extra strength that is comfortable to hold. Designed to enhance the relationship of your and the reel and providing secure comfort and control. It has 4 custom designed bearings providing a 3:6:1 retrieve ratio. Don’t worry about which hand to use, this spincaster has a changeable left handed or right handed retrieve. The spincaster reel comes spooled with 100 yards of #10 mono. Don’t worry about storage as the 6 foot ZR33 separates into two pieces making transportation easy.

Fly Reels

Fly reels are not as important as other types of reels. Their prime purpose is to store line. Fly rods are normally extremely long. Short fly rods run about 8 feet while most are longer than 9 feet long. Fly rods differ from other rods in their ability to flex from base to rod tip. This flexibility allows fly fishermen to whip the rod and line create length to cast with.

Wild Water AX56-090-4 Complete Starter Package

This is WildWaters AX56-090-4 Series 9′, 4 piece fly rod with a LIFETIME WARRANTY, a center disc drag die cast aluminum large arbor reel preloaded with backing, a weight forward (5 weight) floating fly line and 5X 9′ tapered leader, a rod sock, a rod case, and a fly box with three common fly patterns (Cahill, Foam Beetle and Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymph). It also comes with an additional spare leader(perfect for beginners), a spool of tippet material and a total of 18 flies. You will also get an additional spare leader, a spool of tippet material, a pair of nippers with a nail knot tool, a pair of forceps and 2 zingers.This rod is for 5 or 6 weight line and is great for everything from small trout and panfish to small bass. It will fish well at the local pond or on a trophy trout stream. This rod is designed by Wild Water to be very forgiving for the beginning fly caster yet sophisticated enough for an experienced angler to appreciate. When you look at the price you may need to read this a few times to believe it!! Rod Specifications: Line Weight: 5 or 6; Rod Length: 9 Feet; Number of Sections: 4; Rod Case Length: 32 Inches; Flex: Mid; Action: Slow; Material: IM6 Graphite; Rod Weight: 5.7 ounces; Grip: Western; Rod Blank Color: Dark Gray; Winding Color: Black. Suitable fly pattern substations will be make if the flies pictured are unavailable. The reel in this package will arrive set up for left hand retrieve but can easily be changed to right hand retrieve if desired.

Crystal River C/CTFK1 Fly Fishing Combo


The Crystal River Fly Rod gets the job done at an unbeatable price. This rod is clearly for beginners. If you’re looking for a fly rod to get into fly fishing to see if you actually enjoy it compared to other rod options, this is a great option. There are some reports that the reel begins to wear out with excessive and extended use but it should last you long enough to get used to the sport, and then upgrade to one of our other great rods. This rod comes in two pieces but it is not designed to be broken down constantly. Don’t expect to separate this rod in to multiple pieces for transportation or storage. This isn’t a bad combo but you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for an entrance fly combo at a cheap rate, this is your pick.

Orvis Clearwater 908-4 Fly Rod Outfit

The Orvis Clearwater Fly Rods feature an unbelievable taper and action. If you had to buy one highly capable, yet extremely affordable, big-game rod to cover saltwater, salmon, and steelhead, the Clearwater 908-4 would be your best bet. Strong and responsive, and created with both fresh- and saltwater anglers in mind, it is adaptable to any number of situations, from snook and redfish to largemouth and coho. Backed by a 25-year guarantee to repair or replace no matter the reason. The Orvis Clearwater 908-4 Fly Rod Outfit includes the Clearwater IV Fly Reel, Clearwater WF8 Fly Line, 20lb Dacron Backing, and a Tapered Leader that is professionally rigged and loaded, ready-to-fish! A cast aluminum large arbor fly fishing reel that’s lightweight enough to balance properly with your favorite fly rod and truly the best value fly reel around. Two years in design and development and with a powerful inline, Rulon to stainless, stacked disc drag that can hold its own with high-performance machined reels, the all new Clearwater Large Arbor costs significantly less than its machined cousins.


Bait-casting tackle excel fo casting accuracy. Modern reel design has all but eliminated backlashes once a constant headache for many fishermen. Bait-casting rods, especially those used to cast heavy lures or crankbaits are stiffer than spinning rods.

Lews Fishing American Heroes

The combo features an all-new 5-ball bearing American Hero baitcast reel with a one-piece, lightweight graphite composite frame and sideplates. The reel weighs 7.2 ounces. The combo rod features a one-piece premium IM6 graphite blank for extreme sensitivity to detect even the lightest of bites. Its guides are gunsmoke stainless steel frames with stainless steel inserts. Reel Features – One-piece, lightweight, graphite composite frame and sideplates – Quality 5-bearing system with stainless steel double shielded ball bearings and Zero-Reverse one-way clutch bearing – Externally adjustable Magnetic Control System (MCS) – Machine forged aluminum anodized blue spool – Durable Rulon drag system, provides up to 10lb. drag power – High strength solid brass main gear and crank shaft – Aluminum bowed handle with Lew’s custom paddle handle knobs – Zirconia line guide – Quick and easy removable graphite palming sideplate – Aluminum anodized blue spool tension adjustment knob – Fully adjustable, smooth, bowed graphite star drag system Rod Features. This rod is the real deal at an unbeatable price.

Shakespeare AGLPCBO

Whether you’re an experienced fisherman or just getting into baitcasting, the Shakespeare Agility Baitcast Rod and Reel Combo offers ideal performance and reliability at an excellent value. This casting rod and low profile baitcast reel features adjustable magnetic cast control, so you can dial in your casting distance from the shore or on a boat. The 2+1 bearing system, brass drive, and pinion gears offer a smooth feel, with instant anti-reverse to prevent pullback and a multi-disk drag system for exceptional performance. The fishing rod features a graphite composite construction that offers excellent strength without losing sensitivity, so you can feel every nibble on the line. The ported aluminum spool helps keep the Agility Baitcast Rod and Reel Combo lightweight, while Hybrid Tech Grips help keep the casting rod firmly and comfortably in your hand. Designed to be both fun and functional, the Shakespeare Agility Baitcast Rod and Reel Combo makes fishing like a pro easy for the whole family.


Rods and reels use for big-water trolling are similar to bait-casting outfits but are much heavier. Trolling reels are rugged, store a lot fo line and have smooth drag. Because they are not designed for casting, they are less expensive than fine=tunes bait casting reels. Trolling reels do not have the line-twist problems of spinning reels

Shakespeare Sturdy Stik Trolling Combo

Shakespeare combos are perfect for anglers looking for a reliable product without breaking the bank. The Sturdy Stik combo is perfect for trolling and bottom fishing. The graphite frame and side covers are study and stainless. The one drawback is the Study Stik is a single piece solid glass rod so don’t expect to break the rod down and transport it super easily like other rods. The study stick won’t wear and tear on your hands like other rods due to the comfortable EVA grips.

Penn Squall Level Wind Trolling Combo

Lightweight graphite frame and side-plates, High-strength marine grade bronze alloy main gear, 1 piece tubular glass blank and a solid tip. The Squall Level Wind combos are factory matched and ready for war. While a little more expensive than the Sturdy Stik rod, this rod is no beginner purchase. Using Penns most popular level wind reel, and a nearly indestructible tubular glass blank these combos are great for recreational or charter use.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this is enough basic information to get you started in selecting the best rod and reel combo for your needs. If you’re looking for more information on lure techniques, how to target specific fish, or a plethora of other topics, make sure to check out the rest of our articles!

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