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.
The Best Fishing Rods for Kayak Fishing – At-a-Glance
Before we get stuck into the reviews, here’s a brief summary of what we’ll be looking for, including our top three kayak fishing rods.
When in the market for a rod for kayak fishing, you should bear in mind the following factors:
Power and action.
We’ll explore each point in more detail in the buyer’s guide that follows the reviews, but for now, here’s our top three.
The Mojo kayak spinning rod has to take the top spot, and St Croix needs no introduction when it comes to producing world-class fishing gear.
Given the fact that it’s been specifically designed for kayak fishing, with premium materials and features, ensures its place as one of the best rods for the sport you can buy.
Following close behind is the Ugly Stik GX2 spinning rod, which is a versatile, well-balanced offering from Shakespeare.
Aside from its obvious quality, the affordable price point will make it a very enticing prospect for kayak anglers – as you should never really go kayak fishing with your most expensive, prized rods.
The third spot in our top three is taken by the Fenwick Eagle spinning rod. Another highly versatile option that is suitable for hunting a variety of species in multiple conditions, developed with Fenwick’s trademark quality and expertise.
Do you agree with our choices? Read on for a complete review of these rods and many more.
Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.
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. And it’s also available as a casting rod, too.
Name to trust.
Strong aluminum-oxide rings.
Kayak angler input into the design.
On the more expensive side.
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.
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.
Excellent price point.
Strong and durable construction.
Choice of size options.
Very highly rated.
More experienced anglers might want to look elsewhere.
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.
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.
Name to trust.
Great price point.
Choice of sizes.
Lightweight and sensitive.
You might need to replace some guides with use.
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.
Designed to be ultralight, highly portable, and very sensitive, the Phenix M1 inshore casting fishing rod just lends itself to kayak angling.
But don’t let the weight fool you, as this is still capable of handling some serious critters. Made from a single blank, constructed from carbon-fiber, and featuring nanotube technology for added strength and durability.
Featuring double-footed Fuji O-ring guides, a low profile reel seat that’s perfect for kayak fishing, and a custom, high-density EVA handle with split grip, this is a quality choice for inshore kayak anglers.
Super light but strong construction.
Low profile reel seat.
Extra fast action.
Reinforced, single blank.
On the expensive side.
Made with premium materials, this is a lightweight inshore fishing rod that is well-balanced and reinforced to not compromise on strength. Phenix rods are a favorite among kayak anglers, so check out the M1 to see why.
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.
Name to trust.
Tough and durable design.
Waterproof, padded case included.
One-piece rod performance.
Premium comfort cork handle.
A little on the pricey side.
Can be difficult to obtain.
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.
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.
Comfort cork grip.
Strong and durable.
The guides aren’t the best.
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.
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.
Name to trust.
Premium build quality.
Choice of action.
Probably not the best for beginners.
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.
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.
Name to trust.
Outstanding price point.
Great size for kayak fishing.
Compact and portable.
More power and action choices would have been nice.
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.
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.
Great price point.
Name to trust.
Rubberized cork handle.
Ideal for a beginner.
Good for crank baits.
Eyelets are not the most durable.
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.
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.
Name to trust.
Micro pitch blank taping.
Travel bag included.
Four-piece rods are not for everyone.
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.
Let’s take a look at some top tips to help you out in our buyer’s guide below.
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 your 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, and you can watch the video below for some extra kayak rod selection tips.
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.
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.
Having said all that, there’s still a strong chance saltwater will ruin everything eventually, anyway…
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.
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.
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!
Stuart is passionate about travel, kayaking, camping and the great outdoors in general. He's not quite as enthusiastic about angling as his father was, but out of the two of them, he's yet to hook his ear lobe while fly-fishing, which he sees as an absolute win.