The 5 Best Spinning Rods in 2021 [Buyers Guide]

There are many fishing rod types, but spinning rods are the most common. They’re easy to use, versatile, and less tangly than other options. Yet, the abundance of spinning rods makes it tough to choose. So, here’s a list of the best spinning rods and how to pick one.

Comparison Table

ModelLengthPower
Ugly Stik Elite4’6”-6’-6’6”-7’Ultra-light, medium, medium-heavy
Ugly Stik GX24’8”-5’-5’6”-6’-6’6”-7’Ultra-light, light, medium, medium- heavy
St. Croix Premier5’6”-6’-6’6”-7-7’6”-8’6”Ultra-light, light, medium, medium-light, medium-heavy, heavy, extra-heavy
Fenwick HMG6’-6’6”-7’-7’6”Medium-light, medium, medium-heavy
Eagle Claw PK555SP5’6”-6’6″Medium

Why Do You Need to Buy a Spinning Rod

Easy to Use

Spinning rods are used by beginners and professionals while casting rods tend to be used by professionals only.

The design of a spinning rod makes it much simpler to use, unlike a casting rod, which takes some time and practice to master. The position of the reel below the rod itself makes it easy to access and control. You can even adjust your drag in the middle of fighting a fish.

Versatile Options

Spinning rods are versatile in their options. You can find a spinning rod in any power, action, length, and material. If you’re an experienced fisherman, the day you go shopping for a new spinning rod is like being a kid in a candy shop. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, you’ll probably find it.

Better on Windy Days

One of the reasons why most people gravitate towards spinning rods is that they’re less prone to tangles, which means that you can use them for fishing in any weather.

Windy weather, in particular, unleashes a backlashing hell on casting rod users. So, most anglers pick spinning rods when they know the weather is getting windy to avoid a tangling mess.

The 5 Best Spinning Rods in 2021

Here’s a selection of the best spinning rods on the market and what makes them stand out.

1. Ugly Stik Elite – Best Overall

Ugly Stik Elite

Unless you have 0% knowledge of fishing gear, you’ve probably heard of Ugly Stik rods by now. These rods are popular because they managed to check every box there is, and Ugly Stik Elite is no exception! It’s one of the most affordable, durable, sensitive, and versatile spinning rods out there.

Let’s start with the construction. The Elite is a composite rod, meaning that it combines graphite and fiberglass in the build of the blank. Also, this budget-friendly rod has 35% more graphite than the GX2, so not only is it indestructible but also stiffer and more lightweight.

The durability doesn’t stop there. It prides itself on having one-piece stainless steel Ugly Tuff

guides, which makes it last longer than its counterparts. In addition, it has a clear tip that adds more sensitivity to the gentlest nibble.

However, this budget-friendly rod isn’t just about being tough. It has a cork handle, as opposed to synthetic counterparts, which provides the user with a comfortable grip on a long fishing day.

Some rods limit your options, but not the Elite. It comes in lengths of 4’6”, 6’, 6’6”, and 7’, which gives you the freedom to choose the length you’re most comfortable with. Plus, it comes in different rod weights, including ultra-light, medium, and medium-heavy. And you can get it in one-piece design for maximum durability or two-piece design for portability.

Nonetheless, it has one flaw, which is that the reel seat is a bit small for average reels, so try to match it with a smaller reel.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • One-piece stainless steel guides
  • Sturdy composite rod
  • Comfortable cork handle
  • Sensitive clear tip
  • Versatile in options

Cons:

  • Reel seat is small

Final Verdict

The Ugly Stik Elite is an iconic fishing rod that excels in terms of affordability, durability, sensitivity, and the variety of options that it comes in.

2. Ugly Stik GX2 – Runner-Up

Ugly Stik GX2

If the features and specs of the Ugly Stik Elite don’t cater to your needs, don’t worry. The Ugly Stik rods are the gift that keeps on giving. If you want a more affordable and versatile option, you’ll get it in the Ugly Stik GX2 rod.

We’ll start with materials. The GX2 is a composite rod that combines both graphite and fiberglass. This choice helps make the rod lightweight yet durable and stiff enough to be sensitive but not too much that it breaks.

Like the Elite, this affordable rod has one-piece stainless steel Ugly Tuff guides that are highly durable. In fact, you know the manufacturer trusts the durability of this rod since it is backed by a 7-year warranty, which almost never happens with affordable rods. Yet, this is not any affordable rod.

In addition, it has a sensitive clear tip that keeps you in touch with what’s happening underwater.

It comes in a wide range of models. Sizes include 4’8”, 5’, 5’6”, 6’, 6’6”, and 7’. Also, it has more weight options, such as ultra-light, light, medium, and medium-heavy. Plus, you can pick a one-piece or two-piece option. However, the two-piece one is much less durable.

Pros:

  • More affordable than the Elite
  • Sturdy composite rod
  • 7-year warranty
  • Extremely versatile options
  • One-piece stainless steel guides
  • Sensitive clear tip

Cons:

  • Weak two-piece option

Final Verdict

The Ugly Stik GX2 rod is the perfect alternative to the Elite that stands out with how cheap yet high-quality and versatile it is.

3. St. Croix Premier – Premium Choice

St. Croix Premier

If there’s something that St. Croix is known for, it’s making top-notch rods. Their spinning rods have a reputation for lasting a lifetime, which is more than most rods on the market. So, if you’re looking for a premium-quality fishing companion, check out the St. Croix Premier rod.

This rod prides itself on its mid-modulus graphite blank construction that has a higher strain rate than common fibers. So, it’s lightweight, durable, and sensitive.

Also, the US-built rod boasts slim, strong aluminum-oxide rings that ensure its durability. St. Croix trusts its rod enough to back it with a 5-year warranty, as well. Plus, the cork handle is pretty comfortable to hold all day, and its grip is strong.

This rod will blow you away by offering six different sizes and powers that range from Ultra-light to extra-heavy. The lengths vary from 5’6” to 8’6”. Plus, like the Ugly Stik rods, it comes in one-piece and two-piece options.

The downside to all this awesomeness is the price tag, which is still worth it in the long run.

Pros:

  • Graphite rod
  • Comfortable cork handle
  • 5-year warranty
  • Durable aluminum-oxide rings
  • Excellent variety of options

Cons:

  • Expensive

Final Verdict

The St. Croix Premier rod is the perfect choice for any angler that wants premium quality by any means necessary.

4. Fenwick HMG – Best Classic

Fenwick HMG

The Fenwick HMG series has been around for so long that your grandpa probably has one of his own. Fenwick has created a reliable name for almost half a century, and now we recommend the best that it has: the Fenwick HMG rod.

This ancient beauty has a carbon-bound blank that is spiraled with carbon thread, which offers unparalleled durability. Plus, it has stainless steel Fuji guides that won’t rust or let you down. Rest assured that the rod is actually worth the hype, as it is backed by a lifetime warranty.

Also, the AAA Cork full-grip handle offers comfort and secure your grip on the rod. The reel seat has a positive lock design to keep your reel secured no matter what.

You have a variety of models to choose from. Sizes include 6’, 6’6”, 7’, and 7’6”, so it caters to medium to long casting needs. Plus, it comes in medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy, which means beginners and professional anglers can use it all the same. Also, it comes in portable and non-portable options.

Yet, you can already tell that it’s not the most affordable rod on the market.

Pros:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Durable carbon-bound rod
  • Stainless steel Fuji guides
  • Comfortable cork handle
  • Secure reel seats

Cons:

  • Not the most affordable

Final Verdict

The Fenwick HMG rod is the most reliable choice if you want a rod that generations have loved and used before you.

5. Eagle Claw PK555SP – Best Telescopic Option

Eagle Claw PK555SP

Frequent travelers always struggle with finding the right rod for them. When both the money and space are tight, you’re not showered with choices. This is where the affordable Eagle Claw PK555S telescopic rod comes into play.

Of course, since it’s a telescopic rod, it’s made up of 4 pieces. This construction makes it a no-brainer if you don’t have much storage space. The blank is made of fiberglass, which means it’s more durable than other telescopic rods. In addition, the choice of fiberglass makes the rod available at an affordable price.

The beginner-friendly rod has ceramic guides, so they’re lightweight yet strong enough to handle average fishing. Also, the EVA foam gives you a strong grip, which you need help with if you’re a beginner.

However, we have to point out that it doesn’t come in many options. You only get one or two sizes and medium power. So, if you’re looking for a rod with light or heavy powers, you won’t find what you want here.

Pros:

  • Most affordable
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Portable

Cons:

  • No versatility in options

Final Verdict

The Eagle Claw PK555SP rod is the best telescopic option because it’s portable, affordable, and beginner-friendly.

Read also some of the Best Spinning Reels for Bass in 2021

How to Pick a Spinning Rod

Whether you’re a beginner or professional, there are a few features that you should consider before buying a spinning rod, such as material, length, and power. Read more to know everything about them in detail.

Material

You can find spinning rods in different materials, and each one performs best in certain settings. The majority of rods are made of graphite, fiberglass, or a combination of both. A few rods can get innovative with their materials and involve other materials, but these materials are the most common.

Graphite rods stand out for being more lightweight and a bit stiffer, which makes them more sensitive to fish bites and strikes. However, you need to know that their brittle nature makes them break more easily than their counterparts.

On the other hand, fiberglass rods are heavier, sturdier, and more flexible than graphite ones. So, they’re the perfect choice if you’re going after larger, more aggressive fish, such as snappers, trouts, bass, and tarpons. Also, they’re more affordable, so beginners love them.

Of course, you have to keep the heaviness in mind. Also, their flexibility means that they’re not very sensitive, so you might not instantly feel the vibrations when a fish bites.

Composite rods try to balance the advantages of both types by combining the sensitivity of graphite with the sturdiness of fiberglass.

Length

A fishing rod’s length is one of the first things that your eyes should fall on while browsing for your next buy. Rods typically range from 4’ to 15’, but there are even longer rods.

The length of a rod dramatically affects its casting abilities. It also should match the type of fish you’re after.

In terms of casting distance, short rods cast short, while long rods cast far. So, shorter rods are the best for fishing in fresh, small bodies of water, and longer rods excel if you’re fishing in deep saltwater.

In addition, if you’re in the middle of fighting a fish, you can maneuver short rods better because there’s less bend.

Number of Pieces

People who have never fished before probably think that all rods are one-piece, but this is not true. Fishing rods come in different numbers of pieces because they serve different purposes.

One-piece rods are the standard. They’re reliable, durable, more sensitive, and just overall superior in terms of performance.

That being said, if you’re an angler on the go or travel a long distance to your fishing destinations, you might need to consider a multi-piece rod. The superiority of one-piece rods doesn’t change the fact that they’re harder to travel with.

On the other hand, multi-piece and collapsible rods can be taken apart or folded instead of being stored in one piece. This quality makes them a no-brainer to get if you’re tight on space or want a rod that you can travel with.

On average, multi-piece and collapsible rods are weaker than their one-piece counterparts. So, be careful with them. It’s better, of course, to get them from well-known brands that you trust to make good-quality rods.

Power

Rod power is essential to understand because it basically tells how much a rod can handle and how it performs under pressure. So, you should definitely check this feature out.

A rod’s power or weight refers to the amount of force needed to make it bend. As the name suggests, rod weight is classified in terms of heaviness, ranging from ultra-light to extra heavy. A lightweight rod bends easily, while a heavy rod is stiffer.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has helped you make a decision. Here’s a recap of our list of the best spinning rods.

The Ugly Stik Elite rod is the best because it combines affordability with a balanced construction. It’s also sensitive to fish activity and feels comfortable to hold. Not to mention that it comes in many versatile models.

Next, we have the Ugly Stik GX2 rod, which is a more affordable version of our top choice that still excels in how well it performs and how long it lasts. Finally, the St. Croix Premier rod is for anglers with very high standards who don’t mind paying more for getting so much more.

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