Pick Your Fish Stick! The 12 Best Kayak Fishing Rods Reviewed 2021


I think it’s fair to say that in order to be successful at fishing – you need a decent rod.

But there is, quite frankly, a mind-bending choice available on the market, and even experienced anglers can struggle when choosing the perfect setup.

And this is especially true when it comes to kayak fishing – or any small boat for that matter – including float tubes.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best kayak fishing rods available, and try to point you in the right direction at the very least.

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The 12 Best Fishing Rods for Kayak Fishing in 2021

St Croix Mojo Yak Spinning Fishing Rod

Based out of Wisconsin since 1977, St Croix is a premium fishing rod manufacturer that can stake a claim at building the best fishing gear in the world.

They’re definitely up there, and this spinning rod from their Mojo range is a good example – especially as it’s been designed for kayak fishing.

With an advanced graphite construction, it’s durable and lightweight, with a split-grip handle and choice of action depending on how you fish.

A premium Fuji DPS reel seat is also included, and the integrated poly curve technology ensures you have a smoother experience, increased strength, and greater sensitivity to the very tip.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Strong aluminum-oxide rings.
  • Kigan hook-keeper.
  • Kayak angler input into the design.
  • Super lightweight.

Cons

  • On the more expensive side.

Takeaway

Another great spinning rod to add to an already impressive line of quality St Croix gear, this gets my vote as one of the best kayak fishing rods out there – because that’s what it’s been designed for – by kayak anglers, for kayak anglers.

And don’t forget to wear a quality fishing PFD when you’re out there, too.

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Rod

Available in a choice of sizes, as well as being available as one or two-piece rods, the GX2 from Ugly Stik is a versatile package that just lends itself to kayak fishing.

Well-balanced, it’s been made from a combination of graphite and fiberglass, ensuring you get a lightweight yet strong fishing rod that’s capable of reeling in some serious critters.

Stainless steel guides are super-tough, and the clear-tip design improves durability.

Users suggest the six-foot option is ideal for kayak use, and the EVA foam handle offers plenty of comfort and control.

Pros

  • Excellent price point.
  • Strong and durable construction.
  • Choice of size options.
  • Very highly rated.

Cons

  • More experienced anglers might want to look elsewhere.

Takeaway

A great rod for multiple fishing scenarios and ideal for beginners, the GX2 from Ugly Stik is immensely popular for kayaking. It’s also very portable, so try it with one of these inflatable fishing kayaks if you really want to travel light.

Fenwick Eagle Spinning Fishing Rod

Founded in 1952 in Seattle, Fenwick was the first company to make an all-graphite fishing rod in 1973.

Their Eagle model continues that time-honored quality, a rod that has been designed to target a wide variety of species, making it suitable for all kinds of kayak fishing.

The cork handle conforms to the users hands, and the ergonomic, minimal reel seat keeps the bulk out of the profile, at the same time providing a sensitive feel even if you just get a nibble.

Stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts are highly durable, and provide the best possible casting performance by limiting friction.

A classic rod backed with 70-odd years of know-how, this is a great option for kayaking and inshore spinning.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Great price point.
  • Choice of sizes.
  • Premium grips.
  • Lightweight and sensitive.

Cons

  • You might need to replace some guides with use.

Takeaway

Backed with a knowledgeable and extensive fishing tradition, this Fenwick Eagle is a sure-fire bet to get you catching just about anything you want to from your kayak. And when you do, you’re going to need a pair of quality fishing pliers to help you finish the job.

KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rods

One of the best fishing brands operating today, KastKing might not have been around a long time, but they have quickly risen to become a go-to choice for quality budget-friendly tackle and gear.

Their Perigee II range offers a quite simply stunning selection of rod types and sizes, which means you can pick the perfect one for kayak fishing.

And for that, I’d lean towards the 7.1, medium-fast spin rod, a one-piece stick that is highly versatile for kayak and inshore fishing.

Made with Toray 24-ton carbon matrix blanks, these rods have power, strength and accuracy, and it’s packed with premium features to keep any angler happy.

Pros

  • Outstanding price point for what you get.
  • Fuji O-ring line guides.
  • Ergonomic graphite reel seat.
  • Versatile technology.
  • Attractive aesthetic.
  • Very highly rated.

Cons

  • The choices can be a bit overwhelming – make sure you’re getting the right model.

Takeaway

A hugely popular rod range that has you covered for just about any fishing situation and scenario – so long as you choose the right set up in the first place.

And for more of KastKing’s affordable quality, check out this review on the best saltwater fishing pliers – perfect if you’re fishing harsher environments.

Okuma Fishing Tackle Nomad Travel Rod

The Japanese happen to make some of the best fishing gear in the world, and this Nomad inshore travel-friendly rod from Okuma is a prime example.

This particular model is at that kayak fishing sweet spot of seven feet in length, made from premium-quality graphite for a lightweight yet durable rod that’s capable of handling a variety of species and environments.

Perfectly designed for on-the-go fishing, it comes with two tip sections for a choice of actions while keeping your luggage to a minimum.

As such, it could well be the only rod you need for when you’re out on your kayak.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Tough and durable design.
  • Waterproof, padded case included.
  • One-piece rod performance.
  • Premium comfort cork handle.

Cons

  • A little on the pricey side.

Takeaway

An extremely well-designed and made fishing rod that is ideal in a variety of situations, but particularly when it comes to kayak fishing.

It’s also very easy on the eye, too, a bit like these great fishing jackets, which are highly recommended for keeping you protected if the weather takes a turn.

Ugly Stik Inshore Select Spinning Fishing Rod

Here we have another entry from Ugly Stik, who are, of course, a subsidiary of Shakespeare in the fishing world.

The two companies make some of the most affordable and accessible rods around, and the Inshore Select is one such option, highly recommended by experienced kayak anglers and rookies alike.

Made with added graphite to create a lighter, more durable rod with smaller blanks, it’s a very effective one-piece option with stainless steel guides to provide maximum durability and eliminate insert pop outs.

Choose the seven-foot medium action, and you should be landing some whoppers into your kayak in no time.

Pros

  • Highly rated.
  • Affordable quality.
  • Comfort cork grip.
  • Strong and durable.

Cons

  • The guides aren’t the best.

Takeaway

This is a badass rod that could well be all you ever need for kayak fishing. If it’s only one rod you’re after, you could do a lot worse than this one, and it’s recommended by popular kayak fishing YouTubers – so that’s a solid plus point, too.

Abu Garcia Pro Max Rod and Reel Combo

The Swedish fishing stalwarts offer this Pro Max rod and reel combo, that offers excellent, all-round performance in a lightweight setup.

The rod is made from 24-ton graphite for a balanced responsiveness and sensitivity – even if you’re just getting a nibble, while the reel offers a Power Disk system that ensures a smooth drag throughout the entire range.

In fact, it’s been engineered for silky-smoothness throughout, with seven stainless ball bearings and one roller bearing, and a MagTrax brake system for precise, long-range casting of crankbait and other high-resistance loads.

One of the best kayak fishing rod and reel combos out there.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Premium build quality.
  • Choice of action.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • Probably not the best for beginners.

Takeaway

An excellent baitcasting rod and reel setup that offers premium performance and durability for versatile fishing. Just don’t forget to wear a pair of good quality fishing gloves to protect your hands when you’re out there.

KastKing Blackhawk II Telescopic Fishing Rods

The famed Blackhawk II from KastKing is one of the best telescopic rods on the market – and you can follow that link for even more.

As such, it lends itself to kayak fishing, especially considering the extensive choice of lengths and actions that you can configure to your style and kayak.

It features a 24-ton carbon matrix blank and solid tip section for unbeatable performance and surprising sensitivity for a telescopic rod.

Leave your rig and reel setup and get yourself out onto the water in double quick time with the Blackhawk II – and you might not go back to your one-piece for a while.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • EVA handles.
  • Very highly rated.
  • Super-fast assembly.
  • Great price point.

Cons

  • Telescopic rods aren’t for everyone.
  • Not as durable as a one or two-piece travel rod.

Takeaway

I added KastKing to this article on the best kayak fishing brands, because while they might not make kayaks, they certainly make some great stuff to use in them, and the Blackhawk II is no exception.

I highly recommend this option for beginners – or for anyone who is looking for a good backup rod you can use when you sneak away from your weekend business trip.

St. Croix Mojo Inshore Spinning Fishing Rod

A return to premium fishing rod company St. Croix now with another Mojo option – an inshore graphite spinner that has been beautifully designed and built.

Made with superior-quality SCII carbon, it’s both lightweight and durable, with a balanced, sensitive action through to the tip.

Hard aluminum-oxide guides with corrosion-resistant black frames add to the durability and ensure it’s ideal for use in saltwater conditions, and it has a choice of spinning and casting models with compatible Fuji reel seat with black hood.

The handle is a split-grip design that’s made with premium cork, and nicely finishes a stylish and practical fish stick from St. Croix.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality.
  • Good choice of sizes and actions.
  • Lightweight and durable.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • Expensive.

Takeaway

A very attractive and well-made piece of gear from the Wisconsin rod experts, this is the kind of fishing rod that turns heads and catches fish at the same time. And the extensive choice in the range ensures you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.

Shimano Solara Freshwater Spinning Rod

Shimano are one of the most famous names in the world of fishing (and cycling) for their cutting-edge engineering skills utilized in manufacturing some of the best rod and reel combos for kayak fishing.

The Solara is a 6.6 foot spinning rod that is very budget-friendly and marketed at beginners to the sport.

Made with a reinforced Aeroglass blank, it offers excellent sensitivity, with aluminum-oxide guides that provide a smooth line flow on all your casts and retrievals.

And with comfortable cork handles and solid graphite reel seat, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck in this little package right here.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Outstanding price point.
  • Great size for kayak fishing.
  • Compact and portable.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • More power and action choices would have been nice.

Takeaway

This kind of rod proves you don’t have to spend megabucks to land impressive catches. The Japanese company continues to impress with outstanding build quality, and you should check out this review of the best carp rods and reels for more from Shimano.

Berkley Lightning Spinning Rod

Berkley Lightning Spinning Rod

Another world-class fishing company, Berkley brings us this excellent, all-purpose spinner that’s highly versatile.

Multiple 24-ton graphite blanks offer ideal sensitivity for lightning-fast hook setting (hence the rod’s name) and yet it’s durable enough to last for many kayak outings to come.

The stainless steel guides feature aluminum-oxide inserts for anti-corrosion and smooth line casting and retrieval, while the double-locking reel seat provides a solid foundation to keep your reel secure throughout the day.

And a good choice of well-balanced actions and lengths ensures that this is a top-quality all-rounder that won’t let you down.

Pros

  • Great price point.
  • Name to trust.
  • Rubberized cork handle.
  • Ideal for a beginner.
  • Good for crank baits.

Cons

  • Eyelets are not the most durable.

Takeaway

Altogether a terrific little rod for the price, this makes a great gear option for new kayak fishers, or if you don’t want to spend a fortune.

And you might also need a good fishing multi-tool for when you’re kayaking – so check out that link for more quality Berkley products, among others.

Daiwa Presso UL Spin Rod

We finish with another world-class Japanese fishing brand – Daiwa – who will need little introduction to those in the know.

This is their Presso UL spinning rod, an ultralight option that has been made with premium materials, and can be broken down into four pieces for easy transportation.

It’s ideal for kayak fishing, with excellent balance and sensitivity to the tip, while still providing the power you need to land an impressive catch.

Lightweight, split-grip cork handles offer comfort and control, and the Minima reel seat with machine clamp nut and woven graphite insert offers extra security no matter the reel or the conditions.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Hook keeper.
  • Micro pitch blank taping.
  • Highly portable.
  • Travel bag included.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Four-piece rods are not for everyone.

Takeaway

With an extensive and world-famous back catalog of premium fishing equipment, Daiwa are at the top of their game with these products, and this is a great kayak fishing rod that you can take just about anywhere.

How to Choose the Best Rod for Kayak Fishing

There’s plenty to consider when it comes to choosing the right fishing rod, and perhaps even more so if you’re fishing from a kayak.

Let’s take a look at some top tips to help you out in our buyer’s guide below.

red inflatable fishing kayak on the autumn river and fishing rod

What Makes a Good Kayak Fishing Rod?

An alternative question might be – is a kayak fishing rod any different from a “normal” rod.

The answer is – no, not really.

While there are rods specially designed for kayak fishing (they will usually have a shorter butt/handle section) for the most part, a good kayak fishing rod is just a good fishing rod that’s the right size and type for the kind of fishing you want to do.

And rods that claim to be specifically for kayaking might not be as well-balanced as a result of their unique design and length.

The length has to be right, especially if you’re chasing a fish that’s going to fight.

If your rod is too long and the kayak starts moving towards the fish after a bite, then there’s a good chance the slimy devil will toss a lure right out as the rod can’t keep up with his movement.

In a nutshell, get the length, action, and power right (along with a decent reel) and you should be good to go for kayak fishing.

Let’s take a closer look at what constitutes the best fishing rod for kayaks.

man holding fishing rod and fishing from a kayak on the lake

Length

As you’re going to be short on space, you’re going to want a shorter rod. It’s a no-brainer, really.

Even if your kayak has enough room for standing casts, at some point you’re still going to be sitting down, and if the handle section of the rod is too long it’s going to be uncomfortable.

You want to limit the amount of times a rod is catching on your person, or getting snagged in some way.

Look for rods that have shorter butt sections to avoid this. A good range is rods that are around six to seven and a half feet in length, with seven feet being the sweet spot for accuracy in a kayak.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have one of the best stand-up kayaks for fishing and are always angling from a seated position, then I would lean towards using a six-foot rod.

Of course, you can always follow that link and treat yourself to a premium kayak you can enjoy standing casts and retrievals in.

Regardless, feel free to experiment with rod length, as what works for me might not work for you.

Some kayak anglers like to go even smaller, as an individual’s physical size might also dictate how big your rod needs to be when on board a smaller craft.

Power and Action

Often the subject of much debate, it’s important to understand at least the basics of a rod’s power and action.

For kayak fishing, you’re probably going to want somewhere around a medium-light for inshore, and then a medium to a medium-heavy if you’re offshore.

Which might also mean you should be rocking one of these awesome fishing kayaks for the ocean.

Either way, it would take a lot of time and effort to explain the intricacies of rod power and action, so I’m going to let the informative video below do it for me.

In the end, it just really depends on the type and size of fish you’re hunting, and the size and weight of the lures you’re using to catch them.

Which leads us nicely onto…

Type of Fishing/Species

It’s important to identify the type of fishing you’re going to be doing and the species that you’re most likely fishing for when choosing a rod set up.

Baitcasting, spinning, fly-fishing, inshore and offshore (just as some examples) will all use different types of rods and techniques.

Explaining this would take a lifetime, suffice to say you should research the who, what, why, and where of fishing to ensure you get the best kayak fishing rod and reel combo for a successful day on the water.

But as another example to get you started, check out this article on the best rods and reels for catfish.

Salt or Freshwater?

Wherever you’re fishing, you’re going to need to make sure that the gear you choose is up to the challenges of the environment.

This is especially true when it comes to saltwater, as it poses the significant threat of corroding all your equipment, including rods, reels, and tackle.

If you are fishing in such conditions, make sure your rod is up to it – and has been treated with anti-corrosion technology for saltwater fishing.

Check out this review for more of the best saltwater fishing rods, and head on over to this article if you’re in the market for the best tackle bags for saltwater, too.

Having said all that, there’s still a strong chance saltwater will ruin everything eventually, anyway…

angler fishing from the kayak in the river

Telescopic and Travel Rods

As space on board a kayak is at a premium, it’s well worth considering a telescopic or travel-friendly rod to use as your main weapon of choice in such limited quarters.

Both options can also be extremely cost-effective, and versatile enough to be used and taken anywhere.

Telescopic rods are ideal for anyone who might be a kayaker first and an angler second, and you can throw them in with your kayak at the last minute for a spot of fishing while on your trip.

And good quality travel rods regularly offer one-piece performance in the convenience and practicality of a portable pole, which makes them a sound choice for the kayak angler.

Cost

One of the cardinal rules of kayak fishing gear and equipment is to try and keep things as cheap as possible.

By all means, spend top dollar on one of these premium pedal fishing kayaks – but that’s because you’re not likely to lose them, and they’ll last a lifetime.

But there’s a fair to strong chance that just about everything else will sink to the bottom of wherever you’re fishing at some point – especially if you’re on the water regularly.

So, experienced kayak anglers will tell you to save your premium rods for when you’re on the shore or bank, and look for good kayak fishing rods that you wouldn’t mind parting with should the inevitable occur.

That’s why there’s a nice balance of prices in the review above – with nothing that’s going to break the bank too much.

Summary

There are so many rods out there to choose from, that your head is likely to be spinning as much as your lure.

I hope this review has at least helped in some way to finding the best kayak fishing rod for your needs.

Let me know which one you’ve gone for and why.

Until next time, happy kayaking, and happy fishing!

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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