Top 10 Best Inshore Spinning Rods in 2020

After testing more than 40 inshore spinning rods, it's time to share our exclusive findings and our top 10 picks overall. Also contains an in-depth buying guide and an FAQ that'll make you an inshore expert in minutes. Your next rod is waiting below!

Best Overall
Penn Battalion
SEE Best Price
Best value
KastKing Crixus
SEE Best Price
Best Premium
St. Croix Mojo
SEE Best Price
Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated December 13, 2020
Show Contents

Inshore fishing refers to angling done in water less than 30 meters deep, such as in estuaries, bays, inter-coastal waters and channels. Offshore fishing, on the other hand, refers to fishing that takes place much further out, usually in waters deeper than 30 meters. 

With that said, the calmer, shallower waters that you’ll venture into while inshore fishing require a certain type of spinning rod specifically made with inshore fishing in mind. 

This is important because inshore fishing typically uses lighter tackle, which will, in turn, determine the size and type of fish you catch. The rod, therefore, needs to be tailored specifically to these conditions. Learn about the different types of fishing rods here.

Top 10 Inshore Spinning Rods in 2020

Whether you're a fishing novice or a seasoned angler with a preference for inshore waters, getting a spinning rod that is tailored to inshore fishing is a must. And, whether you’re on a budget or you're looking for a premium product, you’ve come to the right place. 

Below, we’ll go over 10 of the best inshore spinning rods on the market, as well as what to look for when shopping around for this type of rod.

1. Penn Battalion Inshore Spinning Rod

Best Overall
PENN Battalion Inshore Spinning

The most impressive thing about this rod is its unbelievable strength and durability. In fact, made with a 30-ton graphite blank, it truly stands out compared to other rods in terms of its strength. 

However, despite this rigidity, the Penn Battalion is still highly sensitive, allowing you to detect even the smallest fish nibbles, perfect for inshore fishing. 

Additionally, the design is quite stunning, with twisting strands of carbon fiber running up the rod to create a scale pattern that also acts as an added layer of strength and durability.

This rod also comes with reliable and well-reputed Fuji brand aluminum oxide guides, and some models even come with a Fuji Skeleton reel seat as well. 

  • 100% graphite blank for incredible strength
  • High sensitivity
  • Works great with braided lines
  • Fuji Skeleton reel seat only comes with select models
  • Over $100, so this definitely isn’t a budget rod

2. KastKing Crixus Fishing Rod

Best value
KastKing Crixus Fishing Rods

KastKing Crixus Fishing Rods have IM6 Graphite Blanks, which work to offer both strength and sensitivity. 

While some other Kastking fishing rods have slightly higher quality graphite blanks, the Crixus comes in at a lower price. So, you really can't do better in terms of value.

This rod is made with stainless steel guides, which have zirconium oxide rings. Both of these materials work to make the rod highly durable and perfectly suited for use with monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided lines. 

Additionally, the Crixus comes with a slip-resistant golf-style super-polymer handle, which provides a solid grip that prevents your hand from slipping even in rainy weather. Plus, the design is sleek and attractive, making the Crixus a stylish choice for any angler.

The reel seats are made of graphite, perfectly adequate and proportional to the rod's price; however, they aren't as strong and sturdy as other premium models. 

The other thing to bear in mind is that this is a 2-piece rod, making it practical for transport but potentially less sensitive. 

Overall, the KastKing Crixus is a lightweight spinning rod, that also has a durable design to make it an excellent value in terms of performance and price.

  • Affordable price
  • Two-piece rod, making it easy to transport
  • Very lightweight
  • Two-piece rod, which means slightly reduced sensitivity
  • Reel seats not very sturdy

3. St. Croix Mojo Salt

Best PREMIUM
St. Croix Mojo Salt Graphite

As the best premium rod on our list, St. Croix’s Mojo boasts Advanced Reinforcing Technology (ART), which uses carbon fiber, which increases strength without increasing diameter, or makes the rod any heavier. 

This means that you benefit from the added strength without additional fatigue.

If you're looking for smoother actions and a lot of sensitivity, then the St. Croix Mojo is an excellent choice since it comes with Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) tooling technology. This effectively eliminates all transitional points in the blank for even action, increased robustness, and much greater sensitivity than other similar rods. 

Glass rods have a reputation for being heavier than graphite rods, making them more tiring to hold, while also reducing sensitivity. 

However, this model is actually built with a blend of SCII graphite and linear S-glass. Therefore, the hybrid graphite/glass combination helps keep the weight down. 

  • Smooth line distribution 
  • Comfortable grip
  • 100% linear S-glass
  • Glass rods can be slightly heavier
  • Glass rods can have reduced sensitivity

4. Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod


Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod certainly deserves the "elite" in its name. 

With 35% more graphite than former models, it's much lighter and still focuses on being a highly sensitive rod. However, being lighter and sensitive in this instance doesn’t get in the way of strength, as this is a very durable and robust rod.

The reel seat comes with cushioned stainless steel hoods, and the cork handle has an embellished logo inscription on it, giving it a sleek and tasteful touch of style.

In the end, the Ugly Stik Elite spinning rod is straightforward both to use and to carry around. And, the combination of resilience and sensitivity, as well as it having sleek and modern design make this rod a highly desirable option for virtually any angler. 

  • Added graphite for lighter weight and increased sensitivity
  • Eye-catching and modern design
  • Stainless steel guides prone to wear and tear

5. Fenwick HMG Inshore Spinning Fishing Rod

Fenwick HMG Inshore Spinning Fishing Rod

This spinning rod is particularly notable for its carbon-bound rod blank with spiral carbon threads. This unique feature offers impressive strength, accuracy and sensitivity, all of which are highly desirable options for any angler. 

The rod also includes durable Fuji titanium guides and a robust and comfortable AAA cork handle, which means that you won't lose your grip even in the harshest conditions. 

Furthermore, the double retaining rings on the reel seat guarantee that the rings won’t come loose, even with frequent use.

And, to top it all off, Fenwick’s HMG rod also has a very sleek and modern look. 

The handle has an efficient, understated design. And, along with the porcelain blank and the delicate graphic detailing, this model gives off the vibe of being a lot more expensive and more premium than it actually is.

Plus, with a limited lifetime warranty, this rod is a great choice for anglers with a limited budget who still want a stylish, good quality, and robust spinning rod.

  • Reputable rod series - re-crafted specifically for inshore use
  • 30-ton graphite blank with spiral carbon wrap
  • AAA cork full grip handle
  • The exposed blank on the grip puts your thumb in a position that is uncomfortable for some

6. Penn Squadron II Surf Spinning Fishing Rod

Penn Squadron II Surf Spinning Fishing Rod

Next up, the Penn Squadron II Surf is every bit as stylish and as elegant as its name suggests. 

The blanks have a slender, sleek diameter and are in an eye-catching white, red, and black color scheme.

The tip section is also soft and flexible, which works to improve sensitivity. And, it also has top quality guides placed along the rod and a sturdy, graphite reel seat from Fuji, making the Squadron II an overall good quality rod. 

Also, this is a two-piece rod, so it has the perk of being very portable; however, it might be less sensitive than one-piece rods. 

All in all, this model is sleek, modern, and highly durable, making it an excellent addition to any angler's rod arsenal. 

  • Fuji reel skeleton and full reel seats
  • 5-year Limited Warranty
  • Supplied with a matching cloth bag
  • 2-piece rod
  • Not as light as graphite rods

7. Hurricane Calico Jack Inshore Spinning Rod

Hurricane Calico Jack Inshore Spinning Rod

If you want strength and performance, you’ll be glad to know the Hurricane Calico Jack is both powerful and effective. 

This rod features multiple Fuji components and boasts a sublimely tapered IM7 graphite blank. 

These aspects combine to form an equally strong and sensitive rod with a sturdy backbone to help you land those impressive, jaw-dropping catches.

In the end, this rod has superior action, and comes with an ultra-responsive tip, making it perfect for using saltwater lures or presenting live bait.

  • Ultra-responsive tip that’s great for working both saltwater lures
  • Extreme sensitivity
  • Some users report frequent breakage with 20lb braid lines.

8. Okuma Nomad Xpress Inshore Rod


Okuma Nomad Xpress Inshore Rod

This rod is designed for fishing on the go and breaks down into multiple individual pieces. This makes it very easy to transport and pack up into your car when you're going on your next fishing trip. 

The rod is designed to maintain optimal sensitivity equal to that of a single piece rod.

This model comes with European Spigot Ferrules for the connection, has a durable graphite blank construction, aluminum oxide guide inserts. It also comes with a cork grip and a slip-resistant rubber gimbal, so it holds up well in rainy and wet weather conditions.

Finally, the Nomad Xpress rod comes with a sturdy canvas travel bag with a shoulder strap and carry handle. In the end, this makes it the ideal travel spinning rod.

  • Very portable as it breaks down into separate pieces
  • Comes with a waterproof travel bag with shoulder strap
  • Has warning about potential chemical exposure, including TDI, which is known in the state of California to cause cancer and congenital disabilities or other reproductive harm.

9. Lew's Inshore Speed Stick

Lew's Inshore Speed Stick

Lew is a well-established brand known for innovative and stylish designs. 

This popular rod features premium HM40 graphite blanks and durable stainless-steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts.  

One unique feature of this model is its ComfortTouch grip with an extended front foregrip designed to provide leverage when fighting fish. The handle also comes with soft palming material for extra comfort and grip.

  • Stylish black and white color scheme
  • Highly sensitive 
  • Choice of power: medium-light to heavy
  • Some users say the weight is tiring after a lot of use.

10. St Croix Mojo Yak Spinning Fishing Rod

St Croix Mojo Yak Spinning Fishing Rod

This rod is designed with kayak anglers in mind and has many features that aim to optimize your fishing experience when in a smaller fishing craft.

This model is constructed from premium, high-modulus SC III graphite blank with Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) mandrel technology to provide accurate, precise actions. In other words, the Mojo Yak is designed with the keen angler in mind. 

The rod also comes with Kigan Master Hand 3D guides and slender but strong aluminum-oxide rings and black frames. Plus, it's got a Fuji DPS reel seat with a sleek black hood, which offers high-performance, as well as a highly-modern look. 

  • High-strain graphite fiber
  • Five-year warranty
  • Short butt can make it difficult to cast far

Click here for my review of the best Surf Fishing Rods on the market. 

Things to Consider When Buying Inshore Spinning Rods

Before buying an inshore spinning rod, there are several questions you should ask yourself (and the manufacturer!) so that you can be sure to get a rod with all the features you require. 

This way, you can be sure to purchase the perfect inshore spinning rod for you, tailored to your fishing style and experience level.

Rod Power 

Action and Power Fishing Rod Infographic

A spinning rod's power is referred to using words like 'light,' 'medium,' 'medium-heavy,' or 'heavy.' This describes the rods' strength and lifting power. 

A heavy rod will be made from stronger and heavier lures and lines and can lift heavier weights and provide the kind of momentum you need to tug bait or fish through certain obstacles in the water.

These rods will obviously be heavier to hold and tire you out when used for extended periods of time. 

Light rods, on the other hand, are designed for smaller lures and use thinner lines. 

So with that in mind, make sure you match the weight of the lure you plan on using with the power of your rod. Otherwise, you’ll risk damaging the tip, and this can even lead to rod snapping.

Consider what type of fishing you want to do and whether it will require a light, medium or heavy power spinning rod.

Rod Action

Fishing Rod Action and Power Correlation

When talking about action, manufacturers will use words like 'fast,' 'medium,' 'moderate', and 'slow.' 

Sometimes, they will be combined for greater precision, for example, moderate-fast.

Action refers to how much the spinning rod bends when there's weight acting on it. Fast action spinning rods, for example, will bend pretty much directly at the tip, medium action rods bend along the middle, and slow action rods bend much closer to the reel. 

Fast action spinning rods don't allow a great deal of leeway so that they can be rigid and much more sensitive. In other words, this means you’ll be able to feel even very light nibbles from smaller species. 

Slow action rods, on the other hand, are a lot more flexible and bend much more deeply than fast action rods. As they retain more power in the rod, they will allow you to cast farther. 

Again, decide what kind of fishing you want to do and choose a spinning rod which is fast, medium or slow accordingly.

Rod Length

Deciding on the length of your rod is fairly straightforward. A longer rod will allow you to cast farther, but a short rod will be more precise and will make sure that you’re able to avoid casting into weeds and other types of vegetation.

If you're looking for accuracy, opt for shorter spinning rods. If you're casting in wide waters, then go for longer rods. 

For inshore fishing, a long rod of about 6.5-7 feet is usually your best option.

One-Piece Vs Two-Piece Blanks

picture of a two piece fishing rod

The main advantage of two-piece rods is that they are straightforward to transport and can fit your boat or car without any problems. Like in The Okuma Nomad Xpress Inshore Rod, you can easily pack the rod up in your car when going on a fishing vacation.

However, the downside is that two or three-piece rods can be less sensitive as sensitivity is going to diminish considerably at the connection points. This can make it much harder to detect very light catches. And, depending on the species that you’re targeting, this can greatly impact the success of your fishing trip. 

However, spinning rod designs are always improving and innovating, like The Okuma Nomad Xpress Inshore Rod, which is still a highly sensitive rod despite the fact it can be broken down into several pieces.

Materials

Spinning rod blanks are usually composed of either fibreglass, graphite or composite materials.

Fibreglass spinning rods are durable and hard-wearing; however, they are often heavier to hold and less sensitive. This makes them slightly less efficient and more taxing to use. 

Graphite spinning rods, however, are lightweight and very sensitive, but they can be delicate and require greater attention to be paid in terms of caring for them.

Spinning rods made of composite materials combine fibreglass and graphite positive aspects to create a durable yet sensitive product, like with the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod.

Decide if strength exceeds sensitivity in importance for you personally before choosing which material to go with.

Additionally, different rods will have different handle materials, which can impact how the rod feels in your hand, as well as your comfort when fishing for extended periods of time. 

Spinning rod handles usually come made of either cork or EVA foam.

Cork is the most conventional handle material. It feels comfortable for the palm and provides good traction on the hands, even when they're wet. 

However, top-quality cork is more difficult to come by these days, and so some manufacturers substitute with cork composites. Some of these substitutes work perfectly decently and provide a good grip, but some can be too heavy and lack traditional cork comfort.

EVA foam is the modern upgrade on cork. It is a much more durable material, easier to clean and feels less heavy in hand. This reduces the weight of the rod overall, which is a big plus. 

It's best to physically test out both cork and EVA foam handles so you can determine which feels better for you before buying.

Price

Price is an important factor to consider when purchasing an inshore spinning rod, especially as fishing equipment can quickly get very pricey if you don't keep an eye on the purse strings.

If you want to be a bit more modest with your fishing expenses, then there are a great range of low-cost spinning rods, like The KastKing Crixus The Ugly Stik models featured on our list. 

However, make sure you check that the features offered are robust and built for durability and longevity. 

Buying cheap rods that are prone to breaking will actually end up costing you a lot more in the long run. 

Also, check for a warranty for a bit of added assurance that you are indeed buying a long-lasting product.

Frequently Asked Questions

Angler doing inshore fishing with a spinning rod

There's a lot of information to take into account when it comes to choosing which inshore spinning rod to purchase. Below are some answers to common questions raised when discussing spinning rods.

What is an inshore spinning rod? 

An Inshore spinning rod is a rod tailored to fishing that occurs in waters shallower than 30 meters deep and is designed to be durable in saltwater, which means that it will be corrosion-resistant. 

With inshore fishing, anglers tend to use lighter tackle and cast further, so the rod will need to be equipped for this kind of activity. 

Learn more about the difference between spinning and casting rods here. 

What is the best size rod for inshore fishing?

Longer rods will allow you to cast farther, while shorter rods will give you more power and strength when fighting fish. For most inshore fishing situations, a long rod of about 6.5-7 feet is favorable.

What Power and Action are best for inshore fishing?

A medium power rod tends to be the best choice for inshore saltwater fishing. 

However, a fast action rod is a solid choice when using artificial lures and, if you want greater sensitivity, to feel those light nibbles.

What's the difference between offshore and inshore fishing?

Inshore fishing refers to fishing that occurs in water less than 30 meters deep, such as estuaries, bays, inter-coastal waters, and channels. 

Offshore fishing, meanwhile, refers to fishing that takes place further out at sea and in waters deeper than 30 meters. 

Can I use a freshwater rod in saltwater?

It is not recommended to use freshwater fishing equipment in saltwater, as salt is highly corrosive. Saltwater rods will come built with highly durable and non-corrosive materials that are adapted specifically for use in saltwater conditions.

Should I use a 1-piece or a 2-piece rod for inshore fishing?

This comes down to personal preference. 

As I've already mentioned, two-piece rods are very portable, and you can fit them into your car and onto your boat without any issue. 

However, many argue that two-piece rods lose sensitivity at the connection, making it more difficult to detect light bites. This can really be a problem with inshore fishing as you are more likely to come across lighter fish in shallow waters.

The Okuma Nomad Xpress Inshore Rod has superbly designed connections that help preserve the rod's sensitivity, even though it comes in detachable pieces.
 
Ultimately you'll have to weigh up whether sensitivity is the most important factor for you or whether you're willing to sacrifice a bit of sensitivity if it means you can have a rod that's easy to transport.

What reel should I pair with my inshore rod? 

You will want to get a reel with corrosion-resistant materials for saltwater inshore fishing. Most cheap reels will not be equipped for saltwater conditions, so you might have to look into more premium products.

You will also most likely want to get a spinning reel that is suitable for use with braided lines unless you plan on using solely monofilament lines

The most important thing is that you get a reel that feels comfortable in your hand and can use and control effectively. 

To find out more about which inshore spinning reel to pair with your inshore rod, check out this post on inshore spinning reels

Conclusion

inshore sea trout fishing by the sea, spinning rod

Whether you're looking to step up your inshore fishing game, or entering into saltwater fishing for the first time, having a great spinning reel specifically designed for inshore fishing is going to help ensure you have a great experience on your next expedition. 

But before you choose a rod, ensure that you're aware of all the features and materials essential to inshore fishing and do your research on which attributes of a spinning rod will cater to your specific experience and level. 

Even if you're on a lower budget, numerous durable, high-quality models will perform well even when used long-term. 

Hopefully, this guide has given you some insight into inshore fishing, and which spinning rods are assured to provide you with a great inshore experience.

FishingRefined is a participant in several affiliate programs. When you buy products through the external links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more.