Best Kayak Fishing Rods in 2021

A kayak would take you to places where a motor car or a big boat can’t go. Moreover, it doesn’t have a buzzing motor or gasoline smell to scare away the fish. These guarantees would place you in a fishing haven. However, all this doesn’t mean much without the right fishing rod.

That’s why we rounded up the best kayak fishing rods, in addition to our tried and true tips for selecting the right one.

The 7 Best Fishing Rods for Kayakers

 

St Croix Mojo Inshore Spinning Rods

The St. Croix rod is made from graphite, so it’s light enough that you can cast with it for hours on end. It’s also durable and sturdy with a mid-action response. It’s responsive and sensitive, so it’s a wild card for various types of fish.

This spinning rod has a split-grip firm handle made from cork. It gives the St. Croix a distinctive appearance, and of course, gives you more control and comfort. If the fish is large and wiggly, this grip will certainly keep the fishing rod steady in your hands.

Fishing in salty water is known to spoil some of the best fishing rods, and in a few years, they become completely dysfunctional. This is not the case with the St. Croix, which is made for inshore saltwater fishing.

The tough aluminum oxide guides together with the corrosion-resistant frames make this rod the perfect companion in challenging kayak sea fishing. To back up this claim, this fishing rod comes with a 5-year warranty.

The St. Croix Mojo is 7’ long, and it weighs around 4.6 oz. The line weight capacity is approximately 8-17 lbs, thanks to its sturdy build. All-in-all, this fishing rod provides high quality at a good price.

Pros

  • Premium material and finishes
  • Corrosion-resistant parts
  • Versatile fishing rod
  • Comes at a fair price
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • It has only 8 guides, and an extra one would suit its 7’ span
  • Occasional issues in shipping, but the manufacturer often rectifies the situation

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

Ugly Stik is an iconic brand that often comes up with a practical model. These fishing rods are full-featured and offered at incredible prices. It’s easy to pair an outstanding Elite rod with a premium quality reel and stay within a reasonable budget.

The unique design of the Ugly Stick offers high stability at the grip while letting the clear tip move freely with the fish grappling with the line. The length of the rod is a bit short of 7’, which provides significant reach, and that’s definitely helpful while fishing from a kayak.

The length of the Elite rod doesn’t make it a weakling, and many anglers have caught 30-pound Salmon using this rig. It’s durable and responds well to all the action you put it through. Another unexpected feature for these rods is the lightweight, which is characteristic of pricey gear only.

Beginners and seasoned anglers alike appreciate this brand and this rod. You might want to try for yourself and see what all the buzz is about.

Pros

  • Long and far-reaching
  • Unique design with good aesthetics
  • Easy comfortable grip
  • High-strength flexible rod
  • Comes at an affordable price

Cons

  • The tip eye could be a bit vulnerable if a braided line is used frequently

Abu Garcia IKE Signature Spinning Rod

The IKE Signature series is a diligently designed line of spinning rods, that are powerful, versatile, durable, and budget-friendly. There are 15 different models in this fishing rod collection, each one of them created to suit a specific fishing scenario.

This spinning rod is special in its properties, performance, and even its color. It has a chameleon finish that changes color depending on where you place it. In a soft light, it would seem to be purple, but in brighter settings, it would be pure gold. Look again when the light changes, and you’ll see it turning into a deep blue or emerald green shade.

It’s easy to focus on the appearance of this rod, however, it has a lot more to brag about, besides its looks. This rod is quite sensitive and exhibits impressive action when that’s called for.

The IKE Signature is great for freshwater fishing. It’s a lightweight rod that you can use for a variety of purposes.

Pros

  • Outstanding appearance and finishes
  • Versatile usage
  • High flexibility and far reach
  • Durable and strong
  • Nice price

Cons

  • The guides might occasionally be misaligned

Daiwa Beefstick Conv Rod

This 7’ fishing rod is exceptionally sturdy with its carbon fiberglass blanks and stainless steel reel base. It also comes with stainless steel guides, which makes it the ideal choice if you’re heading out to the sea.

It’s not limited to salt waters though, as it’s quite versatile. The Daiwa Beefstick can easily be used for casting or spinning. It’s also a dependable fishing companion whether you’re on the surf, on a boat, or on a kayak.

It’s a total catch in terms of price, but it’s not exactly a beginner’s best option. It’s a tad heavier than its peers, so maybe the fishing pros would make better use of it.

Pros

  • Eye-catching design
  • Sturdy materials
  • Fair price
  • Corrosion resistance

Cons

  • It’s a heavy rod, so would need some muscle to carry it

Falcon Rods Coastal Spinning Rod

The Falcon Rods are a pure breed, and their hefty prices show their premium standing clearly! These rods will last for years, and they’ll perform after a decade the way they did when they were brand new.

Medium fast action rods like this one can handle pretty much anything that swims in the bay. It’s a lightweight rod, and it comes in several convenient lengths. The 7’ is quite popular with anglers, but we occasionally see folks who’d go for the 8’. The former is a Jack-of-all-trades though, and that’s why we prefer it.

The Falcon rods are known for their flexibility, and that sometimes puts off some fishermen who are more used to rigid rods. However, flexible rods open up a wide range of possibilities regarding the types of fish you can catch.

This rod comes with a generous cork handle, so even when splashed with water, your grip on the rod wouldn’t falter. The blanks are made from graphite for optimal performance. It has Fuji reel seats and guides, which goes with the high quality of the Falcon.

Pros

  • Premium build and good design
  • Sturdy rod with a long lifespan
  • Highly flexible with a quick response
  • Natural cork handle for a steady grip

Cons

  • It’s a pricey rod

Okuma Nomad Inshore Graphite Travel Rod


Okuma is famous for its travel rods, and the Inshore line retains all the benefits of a portable rod, plus a few more perks. This 7’ rod is made from highly durable graphite covered with a carbon layer for extra strength.

It splits into three pieces but looks and performs as a seamless rod, thanks to the unique European spigot ferrule type of connection. The beauty of its design doesn’t end here. It’s among the best looking rods you can get, besides having a split-butt rear grip, Zirconium inserts, and a double-toned reel seat made from anodized aluminum.

This luxurious rod comes in a waterproof padded case, and it contains two tip options: a heavy one and a lightweight one. This offers you a range of action from medium-low to medium-high. In essence, this is getting the benefits of two rods, but traveling with only one.

Pros

  • 3-part travel system
  • Made from durable materials
  • Elegant design
  • Versatile usage
  • Comes with a carrying case

Cons

  • The handle could be a bit longer than it’s wide for a more steady grip

Hurricane Redbone Inshore Casting Rod

The 7’6” Hurricane Redbone is a beauty you’d probably love at first sight. It has stylish looks, feels comfortable even after long hours of fishing, and it’s built to the highest standards known to anglers.

It’s a medium-heavy casting rod created for inshore adventures. The top-quality materials making up the Hurricane set it up for saltwater fishing with no concern at all for corrosion. It’s highly durable and would serve you well for years to come.

Pros

  • Stylish design
  • Sturdy materials
  • Long lifespan
  • Corrosive resistant

Cons

  • It goes out of stock quickly, and so it’s a bit hard to find

How to Choose the Right Rod for Kayak Fishing

Normally, anglers have three or four rods. That’s not the same way people buy scarves in different colors. It’s more like the necessity of having winter and summer clothes, in addition to daywear and beachwear. None of these items can replace another.

There’s a perfect usage for every type of fishing rod, and the following points should assist you in the selection process.

Specify Your Favorite Fishing Location

Kayakers often go to one of six fishing destinations:

  • Open water fishing
  • Sea fishing
  • Bay fishing
  • Freshwater lake fishing
  • Saltwater lake fishing
  • River fishing

The type of kayak you’d use in the open or sea waters is different from the ones you’d take to a lake. Furthermore, the type of fish you expect to catch in each one of these fishing destinations is often unique to that place.

It’s not a surprise then to expect that you’d need different fishing gear for each fishing location. Oftentimes, you’d use short fast action rods as you head out to the sea. Then, in the calmer waters of the lake, a sow-action long rod would be an optimal choice.

Select a Fish Type

This goes in accordance with the previous point. The kind of fish you hope to catch specifies the type of rod you’d bring along.

Some anglers dedicate their whole arsenal to various rods for catching big fish. This is often a sort of competition, and every fisherman wants to be photographed with the giant fish. On the flip side of the coin, some small fish are rare and elusive, and you can only catch them with a slow-action long rod.

Thus, the type of fish would tell you which fishing rod to choose.

Choose the Suitable Size, Weight, and Material

Even after specifying the kind of fish you’d like to catch, or where you often go fishing, you’d still face a wide variety of options.

As you go shopping, you’ll notice right away that every type of fishing rod comes in several materials. The basic materials are:

  • Graphite
  • Carbon
  • Fiberglass
  • Composite

They vary in price, weight, durability, and ultimately, in their overall quality. They also have different appearances, so there’s a bit of style personalization as well.

Carbon fiber tops the list in its general performance, but it’s quite expensive, and more of a professional angler’s gadget. Beginners and seasonal anglers are better off with graphite rods, which show a good deal of flexibility, sensitivity, besides being budget-friendly.

Get the Rod with the Action Profile that Matches Your Usage

Rod action is simply the response of the rod to the movement and wiggling of your catch. It’s the amount of flexibility inherent in the rod, and how far the tip would move from its static point. The weight of the lure, blanks, and fish, naturally pull the rod downwards, but some recover faster than others.

Fishing rods are divided into three main categories:

  • Fast action rods
  • Medium action rods
  • Slow action rods

Fast action rods are perfect for the large heavy fish that tug and pull the line. The high flexibility and responsive reaction of the rods keep the line from being too strained and eventually breaking.

On the other hand, slow action rods are more suitable for small fish. These stealthy little guys can get away with what they bite off the lure if you’re not sensitive enough to their maneuver. A rigid slow action rod lets you detect the slightest movement under the water.

Finally, we come to medium action rods. You might’ve guessed already that they’re good for medium-sized fish. A rod that’s both responsive and firm definitely helps kayaking anglers in handling a host of fish types.

Aim for a Convenient Length

Several factors should be considered to select the right rod length, like the available storage space you have, your sitting or standing fishing style, and the destination you often go to fish.

The kind of fish you’re hoping to catch is also an important factor to keep in mind. Big fish could easily break a long fishing rod, so we keep these to the small and medium-sized varieties. However, a short one would take weight and wiggle without much suffering.

Where you fish will also dictate the best rod length for these specific waters. A river is not the same as a saltwater lake. And they’re both nothing like the sea. There’s a bit of trial and error that you’d have to do in that regard, but eventually, you’ll discover what works best.

Select the Type of Rod that Feels Comfortable

The best fishing rod wouldn’t be worth much if it fatigues your arms. Little details matter, like the grip size, material, smoothness of the rod action, and of course, the weight of the rod.

The experiences of other anglers would be great in other aspects of the selection process, but this one you need to figure out on your own. To avoid shelling out a lot of cash in a fishing rod that doesn’t feel quite right; you can check out the gear of fellow fishermen.

Tips for Having the Best Kayak Fishing Adventures

It’s always the little things that matter, be that in personal relationships, business, or kayak fishing! And to make sure that you get the best time ever, here are a few tried and true tips:

  1. Safety always comes first, so make sure you have the essential knowledge and safety gear.
  2. People fall off their kayaks all the time. And if the current is powerful, then the kayak would drift off very quickly. To avoid any inconvenient situations like that, putting on a coast guard approved life jacket or PFD is always wise.
  3. A stable kayak is a must when you go fishing. This is not a recreational vessel wherein you’d paddle peacefully on calm waters, so get the right kayak for your purpose.
  4. A sit-on-top-kayak is preferred by many kayakers to the sit-inside ones. It offers more water visibility, range of motion, and some say easier fishing. It also has more storage room.
  5. Make sure all the racks, storage boxes, and fishing gadgets are reachable without much trouble. When you catch the fish, you wouldn’t have the luxury of leaning far and out to get what you need.
  6. Fishing needs traveling light. However, that should not mean skipping the essentials. You need to hydrate, eat, and generally maintain your energy. You also need heavy clothes and a waterproof jacket.
  7. Use a waterproof bag to carry your affairs. A soggy meal or wet clothes are useless. Moreover, this bag would also contain your communication devices, ID, and similar stuff that shouldn’t get near the water at all.
  8. Get all the sun protection that you need. While a tan is always lovely, sunburns or a sunstroke aren’t. Sunblock and a breathable hat are absolutely necessary.
  9. Research the marine life of the fishing spot you’re heading for. Get to know all the possible types that you can catch in that area, and match that with your fishing gear.
  10. It’s best to paddle in circles than covering more distance ahead. This should give you better coverage, and keeps you from needing to paddle back a long distance.

FAQs

We often receive inquiries about the best rod to purchase and its various attributes. Here are some of the most common questions and our replies to them.

What is the best length rod for kayak fishing?

Whether you favor a sit-on-top or a sit-inside kayak, a long rod would serve you well. Still, it shouldn’t be too long to the point that it becomes a liability.

After all, paddling and steering a kayak already take up a good chunk of the angler’s focus. So a practical, steady, responsive rod is what fishermen should aim for. Often, a 7’ rod balances far reach with control.

What is the best rod for kayak fishing?

All the rods listed here are perfect for kayak fishing. However, the Abu Garcia IKE Signature Spinning Rod has always ranked high among anglers. It’s an all-around top quality rod, it’s sensitive, durable, versatile, and it comes at a great price.

If you travel to faraway places, and have a bit more cash to shell out on a new rod, then the Okuma Nomad Inshore Graphite Travel Rod should be on your wishlist. It’s a premium quality rod that splits into 3 parts, has a heavy and a light tip, and comes in a padded box

Where should a kayak rod holder be placed?

Rod holders can be placed front or back and on both sides of the kayaker. You can install flush-mounted rod holders, or place your holders on gear tracks with suitable adapters. The best location for installing the rod holders is the spot where the rod is easily accessible, doesn’t rub into the kayak body, and isn’t in the way of paddling or moving.

What are the best rod guides?

The best guide is the one that suits the purpose of the rod. For example, a light fast-action rod, shouldn’t have a heavy guide with a long period. That would tamper with the dynamics of the rod, or even rob it of its best features.

The guide should also be resistant to abrasion, corrosion, and fracture. That’s because kayak fishing is a tough activity, and the gear used should be up to speed with its harsh requirements.

To that end, the Honbay guides are among the finest in the market. They’re made from nickel-plated steel, not too heavy, and they’re quite resistive to corrosion.

In Conclusion

Kayak fishing is an ancient sport that’s been around for more than 4000 years. The Inuits and other old civilizations used the fishing rods in pretty much the same ways that we do today. It’s not surprising then that an activity that ingrained in humanity’s DNA is that popular.

We’re all constantly looking for the finest gear. And in this article, we covered all the essentials of selecting the best kayak fishing rod. We hope it helps you in picking the right one for your fishing adventures!

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Ryan Stoltz

Ryan Stoltz

Avid kayaker and lover of the outdoors. Having been kayaking for over 7 years, I love sharing my experiences and learnings along the way. Currently kayaking in upstate New York and always open to new adventures!

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