The best spinning rod
A spinning rod is the introduction to fishing for many anglers. These rods are easy to use, they offer great flexibility and, as you get more experienced, you'll find all the variety you need to fine-tune your choice to the type of fishing you like best. Spinning rods vary in their action, power, and other factors, all of which affect the way the rod feels and what styles of fishing it is best suited for.
Our buying guide will help you pick the right spinning rod for your skill level. We've included a few recommendations to help you get started. Our favorite, the St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod, is widely recognized as one of the finest rods on the market right now.
Considerations when choosing spinning rods
The four key aspects of a spinning rod are length, action, power and material.
Rod length varies from 4 feet 6 inches to 8 feet 6 inches. You should choose a length that is well suited to your style of fishing. In general, 6- and 7-foot rods are good all-rounders and the best for beginners.
Action goes from heavy (also called extra fast), to medium heavy (or fast), to medium (or moderate), and finally to light (or slow). A heavy rod is stiffer and bends from about halfway up. It's used for big baits, large fish, and difficult conditions -- in water with weeds or obstructions. As the action gets lighter, the rod bends closer to the tip, which is what you need for casting light baits. It also gives more sensitivity and thus better hook setting.
Power describes the rod's resistance to bending. It runs from ultra light -- a very flexible rod -- through light, medium, medium heavy, heavy, and ultra heavy -- a very stiff rod.
The balance of action and power makes for a vast selection of rod behaviors, allowing experienced anglers to make precise choices. Beginners usually benefit from medium to light options for both action and power.
Common rod materials include fiberglass, carbon fiber, or graphite. Fiberglass rods are the cheapest, but they're heavier than alternatives. Carbon fiber is lighter but not as durable, and many anglers don't like the feel. As a result, it's not commonly used for spinning rods. Fiberglass and graphite composite rods are popular, combining a lightweight feel with moderate cost. Graphite rods are light, very strong, and offer great sensitivity -- but they are more expensive to produce.
Manufacturers of quality spinning rods offer plenty of information to help you choose the right model. Recommended line strength will give you a good idea of the size of fish the rod is targeting. The same goes for lure weight. Some rods offer different length handles, which is largely a matter of personal choice.
Reel seats are all fairly similar. It's important that they lock positively so there's no chance of your reel becoming detached.
Line guides need to be smooth and durable, as some fishing line is quite abrasive. Aluminum oxide is common, some use stainless steel. A few have ceramic inserts -- titanium carbide or silicon carbide (SiC) -- which are considered by many anglers to be superior because of their low friction and high wear-resistance.
The cheapest spinning rods are made from fiberglass and start at around $20. They offer a low-cost option for the occasional angler. Composite rods are a step up in performance, running from around $35 to $70. Graphite rods are a popular choice among experienced anglers and typically cost from $90 and $200, depending on their length.
Q. Can I use a spinning rod for float fishing?
A. You can. Spinning rods offer great versatility and are easy to use, so you can try many different techniques. Eventually, you might want to buy a specialist float rod, which tends to be longer.
Q. Can I use a bait caster reel on a spinning rod?
A. It's physically possible, but not recommended. You should always pair rod and reel types together. Using a bait casting reel on a spinning rod is likely to lead to lots of backlash and tangles.
Spinning rods we recommend
Best of the best: St. Croix's Premier Spinning Rod
Our take: Beautifully made. Length, weight, and action alternatives to suit the most demanding angler.
What we like: Superb quality throughout with components chosen for strength and durability. Tremendous range of options. Very light, with superb sensitivity. Excellent cork handle.
What we dislike: Not much. Pricey. Rare instances of faulty reel seats.
Best bang for the buck: Entsport's E Series Sirius Spinning Rod
Our take: Budget model for the occasional angler or those just discovering the joys of fishing.
What we like: Versatile and lightweight, with a good range of actions. Secure reel seating. Well constructed for the price. Features a useful hook keeper. Rod bag provided.
What we dislike: Available in 7 feet only. Inconsistent quality means carbon can be fragile.
Choice 3: Ugly Stik's Elite Spinning Road
Our take: Excellent mid-range model for those taking their fishing beyond the beginner level.
What we like: Made by Shakespeare, a firm with vast experience. Good choice of sizes. Tough fiberglass and graphite construction. Comfortable cork handle. Comes with a seven-year warranty.
What we dislike: Braided line can score the guides. Occasional quality control issues.
Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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