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Top 10 Best Spinning Rods in 2021

After testing more than 50 different spinning rods, we boiled our reviews down to our 10 favorites with versatile abilities and features. Read along to discover our exclusive top picks - your next trusty spinning rod is surely waiting below.

Best Overall
Ugly Stik Elite
SEE Best Price
Best value
Berkley Lightning
SEE Best Price
Best Premium
St Croix Bass X
SEE Best Price
Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated February 16, 2021
Show Contents

Not only are spinning rods trendy amongst anglers in North America and Europe alike, but the finest spinning rods are easy-to-use, versatile, straightforward to cast, and just awesome to fish with. 

And, as long as they’re rated for it, they’re good for both freshwater and saltwater fishing!

If you're new to fishing, spinning rods are a good starter rod as they're simple and enjoyable to use. If you're a seasoned angler, they're also a great option for serious fishing as they allow for both efficient and precise casting, even when casting longer distances.

Below, I’ve put together a list of the absolute best, fish-wrangling spinning rods on the market today! Let’s jump in!

Top 10 Best Spinning Rods

The fact the spinning reel is positioned below the rod on a reel seat, and the fact you can use your dominant hand to hold the rod, makes spinning rods very comfortable to use, even for extended periods of time.   

So whether you're on a budget or looking for a premium, top-of-the-line product, let’s get to our guide to the top 10 best spinning rods currently dominating the market.

1. Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod 

Best Overall
Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod truly is an elite product. It has 35% more graphite than other Ugly Stik models, making it lighter while also allowing for increased sensitivity. This is all while maintaining the durability that Ugly Stik rods have always been known for. 

This model also comes with one-piece stainless steel guides, which work to enhance its durability, as well as a clear fibreglass tip, which makes the rod lighter, better balanced, and again, offers even greater sensitivity. 

The design has also been updated for a better look and design. 

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod is easy to use and carry around, and the combination of excellent materials, high durability, and increased sensitivity, as well as its sleek and modern design make this rod a must-have for any angler. 

Top Features:

  • Added graphite for lighter weight and increased sensitivity
  • One-piece stainless steel guides
  • Fibreglass clear tip
  • Eye-catching and modern design

2. Berkley Lightning Rod

Best value
Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning Rod

Berkeley Lightning Rods aren't as well-known as other brands and models, but they are a great choice for anglers looking for a bit more affordability in their fishing gear.

This lightweight rod was designed as part of the Berkley Shock Rod series, tailored specifically for braided lines. 

All the rods in this series come with graphite blank construction and a fibreglass scrim. This makes them both light and durable. They also feature a fortified bottom section of the rod, which can withstand extra stress when using braided lines.

This model's handles are designed with efficiency in mind, leaving the blank exposed for a large portion on top, which overall provides greater sensitivity.

The guides are double-footed, with silicon carbide ceramic inserts. In other words, they are ideal for use with braided lines as the silicon carbide inserts are stronger than conventional aluminum oxide inserts.

The Lightning Rod comes in various lengths and line weights so that you can adapt the purchase to your preferred fishing style. In other words, the Berkley Lightning Rod is an excellent choice for those looking for a cheaper product, which still offers a good deal of performance and sensitivity. 

Top Features:

  • Stainless Steel Guides with Aluminum Oxide Inserts
  • Rubberized Cork Wrapped Full Handles
  • Great Value
  • Available in a range of lengths and line widths

3. St Croix Bass X Spinning Rod 

Best premium
St Croix Bass X Spinning Rods

This premium 6'-10" spinning rod is made from mid-modulus graphite, which is known to be excellent as it was used on their previous 'Triumph' and 'Mojo' series. 

The handle is complete with an extremely comfortable Fuji reel seat, and a grip made from soft cork that incorporates a small hood made of EVA foam. Like some of the other rods on this list, the guides also have aluminum inserts that are completed with black frames for increased durability, and style while out on the lake. 

Comfort was certainly a priority for St Croix when they were designing this rod. It is extremely lightweight in your hand, and the cork handle is sure to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.

The look of the rod is understated and chic and with its very comfortable, ergonomic design, you can’t go wrong with this rod, especially when fishing for extended periods of time. 

Top Features:

  • 5-year warranty
  • Mid-modulus graphite fibre for lightweight durability and sensitivity
  • Utilitarian design
  • Graphite blanks and aluminum-oxide guides

4. Ugly Stik Carbon Spinning Fishing Rod

Ugly Stik Carbon Spinning Fishing Rod

The second Ugly Stik on today’s list boasts a few notable mentions, such as it being the lightest Ugly Stik Spinning Rod made to date. Plus, this reliable spinning rod has the perfect combination of durability and sensitivity, making it an all-around top-of-the-line choice.

Made entirely from extremely strong graphite, it is also extremely lightweight, but even then, it is still a very well-balanced rod and, like all other Ugly Stik rods, it’s extremely durable. 

The model also comes with a solid graphite tip, which permits for greater sensitivity in detecting subtle changes underwater, which often means being able to identify those extra delicate fish strikes. 

Additionally, The Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides can withstand the toughest types of fishing line, including braided. 

This new Ugly Stik rod also comes with the highly comfortable Fuji Soft-Touch reel seats, and Winn split grips, which facilitate traction when retrieving your line.

Finally, the price is very reasonable for anglers that are just starting out, and with a 7-year warranty, this rod is most definitely a worthwhile investment. 

Note that it also comes in 6 different models ranging from 8 to 17Lbs, so that you can choose the rod best suited to your level and needs.

Top Features:

  • Very lightweight
  • Solid graphite tip provides increased sensitivity while maintaining durability
  • Stainless still Ugly Tuff guides
  • Fuji reel seat for added comfort
  • 7-year warranty

5. KastKing Crixus Fishing Rod

KastKing Crixus Fishing Rods,IM6 Graphite Spinning Rod & Casting Rod

KastKing Crixus Fishing Rods have IM6 Graphite Blanks, which provide the essential mix of sensitivity and strength for virtually all types of fishing.

Some other Kastking fishing rods have slightly higher quality graphite blanks, but as the Crixus comes with a lower price, you really can't find a better value.

The Kastking Crixus also comes with a solid graphite blank foundation, making it perfect for catching all sorts of those freshwater species.

These rods are also made using Stainless Steel Guides, which have zirconium oxide rings, both of which, essentially, make this model extremely durable. Plus the Crixus is perfectly equipped to accommodate any monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided fishing lines

These fishing rods also come with a golf style super polymer handle, which are very comfortable and sturdy, as well as being resistant to slipping out of your hand; perfect for fishing in more turbulent weather. 

Finally, the reel seats are also made of graphite, which is a huge bonus for the price. And, overall, the KastKing Crixus Fishing Rods' lightweight and durable design make it an excellent value purchase for all anglers.

Top Features:

  • SuperPolymer Handle
  • KastFlex IM6 Graphite Blanks
  • Stainless Steel Guides 
  • 20 Different Models

6. Abu Garcia Vengeance Spinning Rod

Abu Garcia Vengeance Spinning Rod

Altogether, the rod is made of solid graphite, making it very lightweight yet still very durable. 

The Spiral Carbon Core Construction gives the break strength a big boost, too, while its high-density EVA component further enhances its overall sturdiness. 

On top of being lightweight and reliable, the Vengeance is perfectly balanced with Titanium alloy guides. Overall, the lightweight design, strength and balance of this rod makes it an easy rod to handle, even for the newest anglers. 

Plus, the micro click reel hood design gives the rod a sleek look, while also providing a strong connection between the reel and rod. Not to mention the fact that you can use all kinds of bait applications with this model as it comes with a Texas-rigged hook keeper. 

This model's great advantage is its enhanced break strength, which is up 22% from the brand’s previous models, and its total strength has been increased by an astounding 30%, which provides remarkable strength and sensitivity, even within its lightweight parameters. 

Finally, the Vengeance is compatible with monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided lines, so that you can use whatever type of lines you need for your next fishing expedition, without needing to bring multiple rods along with you. 

With a three-year warranty and coming in at a very reasonable price, the Abu Garcia Vengeance is an excellent investment for virtually any angler. 

Top Features:

  • 24-ton graphite construction 
  • Zirconium coated guides 
  • High-Density EVA handles 
  • Texas-rigged hook keeper for all bait applications

7. Penn Mariner II Boat Spinning Fishing Rod

PENN Mariner II Boat Spinning Fishing Rod

No matter how you look at it, Mariner II Boat spinning rods are sturdy, reliable, stylish and the best part is that they won't break your bank! 

This model is perfect for reducing friction with both monofilament and braid lines with 1-piece tubular glass blanks and robust stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts. The triangle-shaped grip also provides greater ease and comfort for the angler.

Additionally, the non-corrosive graphite reel seat facilitates a strong lock on the reel foot, reducing flex, even when under significant strain, such as when you’re reeling in a monster bass or Pike!

Finally, the graphite gimbal also provides more secure leverage. In other words, the Penn Mariner II Boat Spinning Rod is a highly durable saltwater fishing rod made of robust and top quality materials that will last you through many years of angling.

Top Features:

  • Tubular glass blank
  • Graphite reel seat
  • Stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts
  • EVA triangle foregrip
  • Aluminum oxide Inserts

8. Fenwick HMG Spinning Fishing Rod

Fenwick HMG Spinning Fishing Rod

This spinning rod is particularly remarkable for its carbon bound rod blank that features extra strong helical carbon threads. This unique feature provides astonishing strength, precision and sensitivity, which is something that any fisherman or woman can enjoy. 

The rod also includes robust Fuji titanium guides and a highly durable AAA cork handle, which means that you won't lose your grip even in the harshest conditions. Next, the double retaining rings featured on the reel seat ensure that they won't become loose or break from frequent usage.

The rod also has a very stylish look and a handle that’s specially-made with an ergonomic look and design. Along with the eggshell blank and the subtle graphic detailing, this model gives the impression of being a far more expensive, premium rod, rather than an affordable, yet reliable choice.

With a limited lifetime warranty, this rod is an excellent choice for anglers on a budget who want to be sure to get an attractive, high quality and durable product.

Top Features:

  • AAA cork full grip handle
  • Deep pressed titanium guides
  • Sea-guide soft-touch alien reel seat with positive lock design 
  • Carbon bound blanks spiralled with carbon thread 
  • Fuji guides with stainless steel deep pressed frames with aconite inserts

9. St Croix PS70MF Premier Graphite

St Croix PS70MF Premier Graphite Spinning Fishing Rod with Cork Handle

As the second St Croix spinning rod on our list, the Premier is a slightly lower cost rod, making it perfect for anglers with a bit of a tighter budget. 

This model is made of SCII graphite, known for being one of the finest materials used in rod construction. It's also a highly esteemed rod as it has an extremely lightweight (1.5Lbs) design, while still being remarkably strong and sensitive. 

The aluminum-oxide guides, while adding a little weight, are very sturdy and wear-resistant. Furthermore, the Fuji DPS reel seat improves comfort, while the premium-grade cork handle provides a comfortable yet strong grip. 

Another great aspect of the St Croix Premier is that it is handmade, with noticeable attention to details. All in all, this gives you a sense of having a unique rod, made especially for you.

The Premier is available in different sizes, and with different power ratings and speeds, which means you can tailor the rod to your specific fishing goals, skill level, and ambition.

Top Features:

  • Mid-modulus SCII graphite construction
  • Premium-grade cork handle
  • Fuji reel seat with silver hoods
  • Aluminum-oxide rings

10. Ugly Stik Bigwater

Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Fishing Rod

The third Shakespeare Ugly Stik model and the final spinning rod on our list is the Ugly Stik Bigwater.

This spinning rod is specifically designed for big water fishing, which is often a slightly more challenging expedition for anglers, especially newbies. Plus, this rod is equipped for saltwater fishing, and especially for catching big salmon.

The Bigwater boasts an inner graphite spiral design covered with fibreglass for greater strength. 

It's also got stainless steel guides and aluminum oxide inserts, plus a graphite reel seat and stainless steel hood. With all those strong components, you can be sure this rod is built for longevity. 

Another great feature of this rod is the Epoxy coated blanks, which protect from UV exposure, and the cork handles are comfortable and provide excellent grip. 

There's a reason Ugly Stik rods are so popular, and this model has all the features which make the brand so sought after. 

  • Great performance in saltwater
  • Fuji double footed Stainless steel guides
  • Lightweight blank design
  • High-grade custom tapered cork handles 
  • Selected hardwood and aluminum reel seats

Why Choose a Spinning Rod?

Casting Rod and Spinning Rod Compared

It's worth mentioning that spinning rods are designed specifically to be compatible with spinning reels. So if you own a spinning reel, then you should definitely look into purchasing a spinning rod to accompany it.

Otherwise, a spinning rod’s adaptability to different types of fishing, and their focus on comfort are two of its biggest appeals.

For instance, while a shorter spinner rod is ideal from smaller species, a slightly longer spinning rod can also be used for saltwater and salmon fishing. 

They're also ideal for use while trolling and fishing with pretty much any type of bait or lures. 

Together, this all makes the spinning rod a very versatile choice for anglers, and also means that they’re a great buy for any angler who likes to try his or her hand at several different types of fishing. Whereas with baitcasting or spin casting rods, the reel goes on top of the rod, with spinning rods, it goes underneath and is held in place by a reel seat. This makes it very comfortable to use spinning rods even for extended periods of time, which can be a great advantage if you're heading out on all-day expeditions.

Spinning rods are recommended if you're new to angling or if you're not looking for huge game catch (though the bigger spinning rigs can still handle big pulls).

Things to Consider When Buying Spinning Rods

Before making your purchase, there are certain key features that you should look for and be aware of. Knowing these ensures that you buy the perfect spinning rod for you, tailored to your fishing style and level.

Power

Action and Power Fishing Rod Infographic

A spinning rod's power is usually referred to with words like 'light,' 'medium,' 'medium-heavy,' or 'heavy.' These are used to describe the strength and lift power of the rods. 

A heavy rod will be made from stronger and heavier lures and lines as they can lift more weight and provide the kind of power you need to haul in large bait or fish through obstacles in the water, such as weeds and other aquatic plants. 

As the name suggests, these rods will be heavier to hold and can be a bit tiring to use for extended periods of time. Light rods, on the other hand, are designed for smaller lures on thinner lines. 

Be careful to match lure weight to the power of the rod, or else the tip can damage or break and even snap the rod.

In the end, you’ll need to decide whether the type of fishing you want to do will require a light, medium or heavy power spinning rod before choosing your rod and making a purchase.

Action

Fishing Rod Action and Power Correlation

To refer to action, manufacturers will use words like 'fast,' 'medium,' 'moderate,' and 'slow.' Occasionally, they will be combined for a bit more precision, for example: medium-fast.

Action refers to how much and where the spinning rod will bend when there's weight pulling on it. 

Fast action spinning rods, for example, will bend at the tip, while medium action rods bend in the middle and slow action rods bend much nearer the reel. 

Fast action spinning rods don't allow for much leeway, so they tend to be rigid and more sensitive. 

This will allow you to feel even a very light take. Slow action rods are far more flexible and bend a great deal more than fast action rods. As they retain more power in the rod, they will allow you to cast farther.

Rod Length

Deciding on the length of your rod is fairly simple. 

A longer rod will allow you to cast farther, but a shorter rod, although it won’t cast as far, will be more accurate, and you can be sure not to cast onto weeds or other obstacles. 

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

One-Piece Vs Two-Piece Blanks

close-up of a two-piece fishing rod

The big advantage of two-piece rods is that they are straightforward to transport, and, given that most fishing boats can't fit a rod laying down at longer than 7 feet or so, a two-piece will easily fit on your boat without any problems.

But the downside is that two-pieces often lose sensitivity at the connection, making it harder to detect lighter catches. This can make your fishing trip less fruitful overall. 

However, spinning rod designs are always getting more and more refined and innovative, which means that some two-piece rods might not necessarily mean sacrificing sensitivity.

Ultimately, you’ll need to weigh whether you value portability above sensitivity, or vice versa, before deciding on a one or two-piece spinning rod.

Materials

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

Fibreglass spinning rods are ultra sturdy and hard-wearing. However, they are often heavy to hold and can lack all-important sensitivity. This makes them slightly less efficient and certainly more tiresome to hold. 

Graphite spinning rods, conversely, are very lightweight and highly sensitive, but they can be fragile and need more attention and care than fibreglass. 

Spinning rods made of composite materials combine the positive aspects of fibreglass and graphite, like the best overall Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod.

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

Spinning rod handles usually come made of either cork or EVA foam. However, cork is the most traditional handle material. It feels comfortable in hand and provides a good grip even when your hands are wet. 

But good quality cork is harder to come by these days, and so many manufacturers substitute with cork composites. Some of these substitutes work perfectly fine and offer a good grip, but some can be too heavy and lack the comfort of a conventional cork handle.

EVA foam is the more modern update on cork. It is a much more robust material, easier to clean and feels less heavy in hand. This can reduce the weight of the rod overall. 

It's best to physically try out both cork and EVA foam handles so you can determine which feels best for you before making a purchase.

Price

Price is a big factor to consider when purchasing a spinning rod, especially as fishing equipment can get very expensive fast if you don't keep an eye out.

If you want to be a bit more cautious with your fishing expenses, then there are a great range of low-cost spinning rods, like The Berkeley Lightning Rod and all The Ugly Stik models featured on the list. 

However, make sure you check the features are solid and built for durability and longevity. Buying cheap rods that wear down and break quickly will actually be more expensive in the long run. 

Also, check for a warranty, so that you can be sure that the manufacturer has paid attention to making a long-lasting product.

Frequently Asked Questions

There's a lot of information to unpack when it comes to choosing which spinning rod to buy. 

Below, we look at some of the answers to common questions that pop up when discussing spinning rods.

What reel should I use with my spinning rod?

There are many spinning reel sizes to choose from, and all are organized according to a numbering system, which indicates the size of the reel.

The important thing to remember is the smaller the number, the smaller the reel. 

Some brands use a 2-digit number, while others use a 4 digit number. However, this is easy to adapt to as it is either 20 or 2000, for example.
Small-sized spinning reels range from 1000/10 to 3500/35, while large spinning reels range from 7000/70 to a whopping 30,000/300.
 
At 30,000+, it's recommended that you use a line strength of 60Lb for a monofilament line or 80Lb for a braided line, and it's mainly for catching sharks, tuna, and other much larger species.

If you're starting out and not sure yet what kind of fish you're aiming for, then it's recommended that you go for a medium reel to allow you that flexibility to either go for a lighter tackle in freshwater or heavier tackle in the sea. 

This will save you money and prevent you from having to buy several different reels before you've really decided what kind of fishing you want to be doing.

Is it a good idea to buy more than one spinning rod?

If you're an active or die-hard angler, it’s probably worth your while investing in a range of spinning rods. 

This is so you can have a wide range of rod lengths, powers, and actions, all specifically tailored to different types of fishing expeditions. 

However, if you're a beginner, it's definitely not essential to have more than one spinning rod, and you’ll definitely want to master using your first spinning rod before you branch out to trying others.

If you want to know more about rod types, click here.

Are spinning rods good for beginners?

The simple answer is yes, spinning rods are ideal for beginners. 

This is because they are easy to wrap your head around using, and are easy to operate effectively, making them very enjoyable to use, and an absolute must for beginners! 

They also tend to be lighter weight and are best adapted for light tackle and smaller fish, making them perfect for children interested in fishing. 

Conclusion

Fishing tackle set and fishfinder, echolot, sonar at the boat. Spinning rods with reels and lures

Spinning rods are, for many anglers, the absolute rod of choice. They are straightforward to use, can operate in a diverse range of environments, and their lightweight quality makes them pleasant and comfortable to use.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced angler, spinning rods cater to various expeditions, conditions and levels. 

Make sure you get informed on all the features and materials to look out for when choosing your spinning rod and get clued up on which attributes will cater best to your fishing trip. 

Even if you're looking for a budget option, several durable, high-quality models will serve you well over the years to come.

Further reading: The Top 10 Best Inshore Spinning Rods (Picked By Pro Anglers)

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