TOP 9 Best Carp Fishing Rods and Reels Reviewed 2021


If you’ve ever hooked into a big carp, you’ll already know that you are going to need a powerful rod and reel that are up to the job.

Carp have some serious fight in them.

Today I want to help you choose the best carp fishing rods and reels.

In this article, we are going to look at rods, reels and combinations. We’ll also talk about the things you need to look for in both.

Let’s get to it.

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TOP 3 Best Carp Fishing Rods of 2021

Daiwa Maddragon Carp Rod

This rod has plenty of power right where you need it. If you are casting or catching constantly you will want something that is comfortable to hold.

This rod has you covered.

The sensitive carbon blank will transmit bites direct to your fingertips, making even the most subtle hard to miss. This rod is dynamic, and you can use it to catch other species too. The rod’s action isn’t too heavy so you can cast out light baits, but also still be able to fish on the bottom with heavier weights.

There’s more…

Daiwa have made sure that the reel will stay fixed in position, even when you are really putting your back into a cast. The half-hooded reel seat screws down, keeping everything nice and secure.

The partial EVA shrink tube handle gives excellent comfort in the areas that you need it, and also reduces weight.

Pros

  • It’s a dynamic rod, and will suit a variety of fishing styles.
  • Larger rods generally cast further, at 12 feet, you will be able to reach even the longest of ranges.

Cons

  • The rod is a large 2 piece, this may present you with transport issues depending on logistics.

Takeaway

This rod is a great all-rounder. It will handle big fish with ease and is purpose built to be one of the best carp fishing rods in 2021.

Daiwa Legalis Tele Fishing Rod

Ok so you want to travel and easy storage?

Let me give you the solution.

Daiwa are a truly premium brand and are extremely popular in the European carp fishing scene. They build quality products and if durability is what you are looking for then this is the rod for you.

What are its features?

Well first off it is telescopic. It’s so small that you can leave it in the trunk permanently and be ready to fish whenever you arrive. If you have a long walk to your spot, this rod would easily stow tucked into the straps on your fishing backpack.

I love the versatility of this rod. It’s great. Telescopic rods can sometimes be a little limiting in what they can do.

This rod is different.

You’ll be able to cast weights, all the way from 1oz all the way up to 4oz. That’s a huge range and pretty much allows you to fish how you want. Light float? Check. Heavy bottom weight? Check.

The blank of the rod features a parabolic ‘through’ action meaning that the entire length of the rod cushions against the pull of the fish. It also means that the entire rod length bends when you cast, aiding in distance.

Pros

  • A really versatile and portable rod, that offers excellent value for money.
  • It is strong enough to cope with most situations.

Cons

  • Telescopic rods often wear at the joints over time. Daiwa are a quality brand however so the rod should, in theory, be pretty durable.

Takeaway

As a portable catching solution this is one of my favorites. It’s not often you find a rod that can be used for almost everything regardless of your style of fishing. This is an excellent choice.

Daiwa Black Widow Tele Carp Fishing Rod

Did I say Daiwa were great?

This rod is lightweight but offers superior casting distance. You are slightly more limited in what you can do due to a smaller weight range, but I like that it is obviously purpose-built.

What makes it so good? Read on…

This rod is designed for big fish. Which is good, as you are dealing with carp. It just sings ‘strength’. The slim carbon blank hides the power inside. The entire rod represents a strong ‘backbone’ that gives you the power to pull even the biggest fish clear of obstructions and snags.

The line guides are constructed from aluminum oxide, offering superior corrosion resistance. The dual leg mounting only adds to the durability.

Pros

  • A quality rod from a quality and well-known brand.
  • Great strength and pulling power, both in the cast and in the catch.

Cons

  • This rod is far more suitable for casting big baits and heavier weights so if you want to fish light, consider another of our options.

Takeaway

If you want to ‘bully’ the fish with unrivaled power then this could be the rod for you. It’s sleek and looks like it means business.

TOP 3 Best Carp Fishing Reels of 2021

Okuma Ceymar Baitfeeder Reel

The rod isn’t the only thing that needs some ‘firepower’. If your rod is the chassis, the reel is your engine.

You want an engine that works, right?

For the money, you’ll get a hell of a lot of reel with this offering. It looks and feels solid. A chunky handle makes winding in super easy. With a fearsome rate of retrieve, you’ll have a fish up on the bank in no time.

I really like the bait feeding system. This allows you, at the flick of a switch, to disengage the spool. The fish can swim with the bait in its mouth without any resistance… Until it is too late. Just flick the switch and the fish is hooked.

Is bigger better?

Yes, it is a bit bigger, but that’s a good thing. You are going to be catching big fish. With a big reel you get lots of line capacity, so you’ll be able to cast a bait into orbit. I wouldn’t pair it with a really small rod. It is much better suited to power casting.

Pros

  • A powerful reel purpose designed to pull in large species.
  • Excellent line capacity.

Cons

  • The reel isn’t all that light, so you might want to take a break every now and then.

Takeaway

Beefing up your tackle comes at a slight cost. For big fish you need big ideas. For the money this reel represents excellent value.

Penn Battle II & III Fishing Reel

Penn have often led the way when it comes to reels. With a name like ‘battle’ it promises big things.

Here’s how it delivers.

This reel is silky smooth. Both in the cast and the retrieve. I really like the front drag. It enables you to change the pressure on the fish without ever having to change the orientation of the rod.

An anti-reverse bearing prevents you from getting tangles, or losing fish, by winding the wrong way. Whilst we are speaking of line, one super clever feature is the calibrated line markers on the disc of the spool.

You can quickly and easily check how much line you have left. So, if you are into a monster, you can judge how well you are doing in your battle.

Pros

  • This is a really eye-catching reel; it looks and feels of really good quality.
  • It is heavy duty and perfectly suited for catching big carp.

Cons

  • I have to be honest, there isn’t a great deal to dislike about this reel.

Takeaway

Go for a 3000 or 4000 sized reel and you’ll have a decent ‘engine’ for your rod. This reel is a serious performer that offers everything you would want.

Shimano Stradic Ci4 Reel

Shimano have been producing gear systems for decades. This is definitely something you will need in a reliable reel. This beauty will pull in over three feet of line for every turn of the handle. That’s incredible.

For the money, I would consider it one of the best carp fishing reels in 2021.

Wait, but don’t all reels have gears?

They do, but they commonly fail if overworked or pulled. With this reel it is unlikely to happen. With a max drag of 20lbs this reel will take anything you throw at, or with, it.

This reel looks like a sportscar and gives performance to match. The casting performance is phenomenal. Shimano’s X-ship patented technology allows line to pay out smoothly and quickly during the cast, and gives an equally refined performance when reeling in.

This is only improved by the durable and substantial winding handle.

So, its heavy duty, is it heavy in the hand?

No, Shimano have employed several conceptual ideas so this reel is as light as possible without sacrificing performance.

Pros

  • A superior retrieval rate and ultimate castability makes this a top performer.
  • The reel feels really light, even when under load.

Cons

  • I would have liked to have fit a little more line on the spool.

Takeaway

This reel would be ideal when paired with a mid-lightweight rod. It has the pulling power and ability to deal with heavy things, both weights and fish. A great all-rounder.

TOP 3 Best Carp Fishing Rod & Reel Combos of 2021

Penn Battle Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

I’ve already talked about the Penn battle reel and how awesome it is. If you want the optimum performance why not pair it with a custom-designed rod?

What do I mean by custom-designed?

By using this as a combo you are fishing with it exactly as the manufacturer intended. They will have used the Battle Rod as their ‘test bench’ to assess and tweak the reels performance, so you’ll know that you are using the best rod and reel for carp fishing.

The larger rods will be too heavy for carp. But go for the 4000 size and you’ll find something which is on the stronger side. Perfect for those big fish.

The thing I liked most about this rod is that it comes in a handy carry tube, you can even leave the reel attached, making it a really easy and portable solution.

But it won’t be for everyone

This rod is seriously heavy duty. If you want to fish light baits, delicately presented then you will need to consider your options.

Pros

  • A perfectly paired rod and reel combo.
  • For big fish the rod provides plenty of ‘muscle’.

Cons

  • There’s nothing delicate about this rod. You will need to fish large baits and weights to get the most of it.

Takeaway

If specimens are your aim then you won’t go wrong with this choice. For something light and versatile, perhaps consider another pairing.

Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Speaking of lighter rod and reel combos take a look at this…

Shakespeare are world leaders in producing fishing tackle that is affordable and works.

And by ‘works’ I mean, ‘catches fish’.

What I really like about this rod is that it is compact. It’s great if you are on the move and trying to find the fish. The medium heavy combo will allow you to cast a fair distance, but have the necessary finesse to be slightly more delicate when needed.

As with our above choices if you choose a pairing you will be ensuring great performance. And with Shakespeare this is often a really great price point.

The reel is as good as any on our list in terms of performance. It has a slightly slower retrieval rate, but this is in no way a deal-breaker. The best bit is that if the fish are turned off bait you can hunt other species with a lure or two, making it a really dynamic.

Pros

  • The Shakespeare Ugly Stik is world-renowned as a powerful fish fighter.
  • It isn’t too large, so is relatively portable.

Cons

  • The rod is more geared for spinning, so might be slightly more limiting in how you use it.

Takeaway

Although Ugly Stiks are generally used for game fish, it represents everything you would need. The ability to cast moderate weights a long way, and to pull in bigger species. It’s well worth considering.

KastKing Centron Spinning Reel and Rod Combo

What’s better than a rod and reel combo that catches fish?

A combo that looks good too! This is a beautiful setup. The blue and black rod looks perfect with the reel in similar colors. The 7’6” rod with a 4000 reel represents a great compromise between power and weight saving.

That can’t be it?

No of course not. The rod is relatively lightweight and the extended EVA ‘fighting butt’ is comfortable to hold and functional when fighting bigger fish.

But performance doesn’t stop at the rod.

The reel is smooth in action with a good retrieve rate. A graphite frame and aluminum spool offer corrosion resistance and also makes this entire set up lightweight. It features a triple disc drag felt system so you can fight the fish on your terms.

Pros

  • For the money this setup offers really great value and is a one-stop-shop for success.
  • It is small enough to be portable.

Cons

  • Stainless steel guides can often be less durable than other materials.

Takeaway

If you are just starting out, or are on a limited budget, this rod and reel combo would be ideal.

Buying Guide to Carp Fishing Rods & Reels

Ok, in theory, any rod and reel will work to catch a carp. But you want to have the best possible chance of success.

Let’s take a look at factors that go into the best fishing rods for carp fishing, and of course, reels.

angler with rod and reel fishing carps in lake

Carp Fishing Rods

As I’m sure you are aware, carp are generally not small fish. Even a moderately sized carp is powerful. As a result, the first thing you will need to consider is rod casting weight.

Why use casting weight instead of length?

Rod weight is basically a measure of how much power you have in the rod. Both for casting and for hauling in fish. The ideal weight for a carp fishing rod will be somewhere in the region of 3lb.

Some smaller shorter rods are thicker and therefore have a higher weight rating, and some longer rods are thinner and really whippy with a lower weight rating. By measuring a casting weight, you can be reasonably assured that the rod will be able to handle an appropriate style of fishing.

Another area to consider is handle length. Remember when carp fishing you may need to cast your bait a long way. This will require a two-handed cast. If the rod handle is too short, you won’t be able to achieve this. In particular look for rods that have either a fighting butt, or a ‘shrinking’ section, allowing you to get maximum leverage on your cast.

Finally, consider reel seats. Carp fishing places great force on the reel, both in casting and when playing fish. You want the reel to stay exactly where it should, without being loosened during a fight. Screw-in reel seats are ideal.

fisherman carp fishing on a sunny morning

Carp Fishing Reels

What goes into the best carp fishing reels?

Again, think of the stresses and strains that are going to be placed on them.

Bigger spools are better. This is for two reasons:

First, you need enough line to cast a good distance to reach the fish, and perhaps more importantly accommodate the long runs that carp can make during a fight.

You’ll need to choose your line wisely too! Too thick and you rob yourself of distance. Too thin and you’ll be snapped off more often than not. If you aren’t sure of what line to use, head over and check out my guide.

Second, bigger spools ensure a nice lay of line during the retrieve. If it goes on easily, it will come off easily, increasing casting distance.

But it’s not all about distance.

As we’ve said, carp are powerful fighters. They have big tails and lots of energy. You are going to need a reel where you can alter the drag in a split second to account for this. I much prefer front facing reel drags. You can let line out and free or strengthen your spool without having to move your hand to an unnatural position.

Finally, you really want a carp fishing reel with a fast rate of retrieve. As a happy medium I would suggest 5.1:1 at least. Carp are more than capable of swimming towards you, if they do so at speed, with an inadequate retrieval rate, you will end up with slack line, a sure-fire way to lose a fish.

You can reduce the rate of lost fish slightly with a good hook, barbs, in particular, can be useful. If you are unsure of which hooks to use, I’ve got a handy guide just here.

two men fishing on lake

FAQ

Do you need a Baitrunner for carp fishing?

Do you want the simple answer?

In that case, no. Baitrunners are a great feature as they allow carp to take the bait without feeling the pull of the spool. But they aren’t mandatory.

If the fish is going to swim with your bait in its mouth, you will hook it regardless of if you have bait runner. It offers a marginal advantage, but that’s about it.

Any downsides?

I often find that fish will swallow the bait when using a baitrunner setup. This leads to me playing dentist on the bank. If you have ever deep hooked a fish, you’ll know that fishing pliers are the only solution.

What is the best carp reel?

The best carp reel will allow you to cast to the distance you require, retrieve the line quickly and give you enough power and control to net a fish.

If I had to commit to one from my list, it would have to be the Penn Battle. It offered everything I look for, both power and castability.

What is the best rod for carp fishing?

As with the reel, a carp fishing rod will give you the control to present your bait how you would like, excellent bite detection and enough power to fight the fish. From my list above I’d go for the Daiwa Maddragon.

I know it’s big…

But it also allows me to fish in a range of styles and ticks every box that I’ve just talked about.

What is the best budget carp rod?

If you are looking for cost effectiveness, go for a combo deal.

Why do I say this?

Normally combo deals are perfectly balanced. It might be more expensive than a single rod, or reel alone. But when you break it down you are getting more bang for your buck, and a setup that you know works.

If you’ve maxed out your budget on an expensive reel and are looking for a cheaper rod option to compensate, you won’t be getting the best out of your reel.

Summary

Well, you have plenty of options to choose from. Carp rods and reels aren’t necessarily specific, but you will need them to satisfy a set list of criteria to be considered ‘good’.

Hopefully, as you’ll have seen in our list of the best carp fishing rods and reels, you will need pulling power and the ability to cast as a bare minimum.

What do you look for in a carp rod and reel? Why not let me know in the comments below?

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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