TOP 10 Best Saltwater Fishing Rods Reviewed 2020 + Buying Guide & FAQs


If you are anything like me, you’ll love looking at different rods. There are so many to choose from, some might say too much choice?

But don’t worry, I’m going to help you.

In this article, I’ll run through some of the best saltwater rods of 2020 and give you some tips on what you might need to consider.

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.

TOP 10 Best Saltwater Fishing Rods of 2020

Bast Offshore Boat Fishing Rod

One of the advantages to heading offshore is that you are in with a chance of catching really big fish. But you are going to need a good boat fishing rod with enough firepower to perform the task.

Well, here it is.

The black and gold finish on this rod is exquisite. But it isn’t just good looks that go into the best deep-sea fishing rods

With a maximum test curve of 50 pounds there are few species that you won’t be able to haul in with this beast. Speaking of curves, this rod has a ‘through’ action meaning the weight of the fish is spread evenly along the length of the rod.

A heavy-duty line might be too much for a normal rod to cope with. This rod features a tip roller, ensuring silky smooth lowering of your bait, and of course reeling in a whopper too! An EVA foam grip completes the setup making the rod comfortable to hold and use.

The eyes are manufactured from aircraft-grade alloys to ensure durability and corrosion resistance.

Reward: The best budget boat fishing rod for beginners

Pros

  • For the money a really great performer.
  • I love the way that this rod looks.

Cons

  • The rod is one piece, this isn’t a big deal but could make transportation difficult if you are struggling for space.

Takeaway

If you are just looking to get into boat fishing for big species this is a perfect entry-level rod. It won’t break the bank, but will definitely catch fish!

Fiblink Saltwater Offshore Fishing Rod

Whilst we are on the subject of firepower, take a look at this.

This boat rod is another solid offering with a few extra features.

What are these features?

Well, why have one roller at the tip when you can have the rod covered in them? This is a layer of complexity that will perform well provided it is well maintained.

As with my above suggestion a curve of 50lbs will let you fight pretty much any fish. A feature I really like is the two-piece EVA foam handle, which is perfectly positioned to give you maximum leverage when you need it the most.

Saltwater can be corrosive, however, the aluminum butt cap and reel seat are pretty much maintenance free meaning that with a simple rinse after each session you can keep the rod in perfect condition.

And there’s more on offer.

If you want to target slightly smaller species you don’t have to go too heavy. There are two-piece versions available with a lighter and faster action. The choice is yours.

Reward: Best multi roller boat fishing rod

Pros

  • A really low-priced rod offering great value.
  • The rod is really eye-catching and performs well.

Cons

  • The multiple rollers might not be for everyone. With lighter lines or braid you might struggle and they will require a bit of upkeep to keep them at their best.

Takeaway

Another rod that performs well in excess of its price point. Fiblink are a budget brand that offer a huge range of versatile rods, and you can have confidence in this one.

Penn Squall Level Wind Reel & Rod Combo

Now we are onto the serious stuff.

Penn don’t make gear for the faint-hearted. And you’ll pay a little extra for the privilege. But that said it is worth it. This is one of the best deep sea fishing rods.

Why?

Chances are this is the only boat rod you will ever need. It oozes quality through and through. The tubular glass blank is practically unbreakable and there is very little that can go wrong with it. It is light, responsive and capable of taming even the biggest monsters of the deep.

And wait until you hear this.

You get much more than just a rod; it comes included with a reel which is of equal quality. Constructed of marine grade bronze alloy and graphite, it is light and powerful. The benefit of a paired combo is that they are designed together, so are perfectly balanced. This is exactly what you need in the best rod and reel for sea fishing.

The nice features in this reel include a really chunky power handle and a level wind to ensure that your line goes on in a really uniform manner, increasing spooling capacity.

This is truly an absolutely rock-solid setup. If you’ve got deep pockets this would be a superb choice.

Reward: One of the best saltwater fishing rod and reel combo deals I’ve seen

Pros

  • Quality absolutely guaranteed, it won’t let you down.
  • For the money actually a really great value package as you are getting one of the best rod and reel combos available.

Cons

  • The only downside I can really see is the price, it might not be entry-level, but what you are paying for is quality.

Takeaway

If you are looking to make a big investment on a rod and reel that you can use on a boat then you won’t find better. Powerful, responsive and reliable. I can’t say it any simpler than that.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger Casting Rod

Boats may not be your thing, but you still might want to catch big fish from the shore.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

Shakespeare are the go-to brand for the angler who wants quality without blowing the entire budget. And this rod is a perfect example of that. You had better be aiming for big fish, because you are going to need to put on a big bait and weight to get the most out of this rod.

The rod is constructed from graphite and fiberglass, both well known for their flexible qualities. The action of the blank is geared slightly towards the tip, giving a little extra distance to your casts.

When should it be used?

The ideal situation would be fishing static dead baits, however, if you like a workout it can also be used for casting very large lures a considerable distance.

Reward: Best heavy-duty surf casting rod

Pros

  • The high-quality fiberglass blank will pitch a bait a very long way.
  • If you are on a budget this rod offers a nice mix of cost-effectiveness and quality.

Cons

  • It isn’t a true all-rounder, if you are looking for something delicate then you might find better solutions elsewhere.

Takeaway

Shakespeare are a solid and affordable brand. This rod performs just as well as similar rods located in a higher price bracket. It would be ideal for those just getting into specimen hunting.

Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite Rods

If you are looking for a great all-around casting rod then you’ve found it.

Okuma offer two basic things in their rods. Comfort and functionality.

What more could you ask for?

The graphite composite blanks give strength to the rod, but also offer significant weight saving. You’ll be able to cast a fair chunk of bait out into the waves, but the sensitivity doesn’t suffer as a result. You’ll be able to feel the smallest of bites transmitted through the rod.

Anything else?

Yup. Versatility in our fishing is something that we all strive for, fortunately, this rod is available in several different actions and lengths, meaning that whatever species you are going for, or whatever style you prefer to fish you should be able to find something worthwhile at a relatively low cost.

The cork grip gives the rod a really traditional look, which I like. And the stainless reel seat is really easy to maintain, reducing corrosion and prolonging the life of your rod.

Reward: The best saltwater fishing rod for beginners

Pros

  • The lightweight blank offers really great bite sensitivity.
  • I like the traditional look and feel of this rod. It is basic, yet effective.

Cons

  • All-round rods sometimes tend to be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. If you need something more specialized then this rod might be slightly too heavy.

Takeaway

Overall a really solid performer. You’ll be able to get beyond the third breaker without too much difficulty, whether you are lobbing out a heavy lure, or a big old bait.

Penn Prevail II Surf Casting Fishing Rod

You’ll have gathered from my previous review that I am huge fan of Penn. This rod looks the business and has the performance to match.

Want to know why it’s so good. Read on…

This rod is laden with premium features. One of which is the graphite reel seat. As you’ll already know, saltwater can really damage fishing tackle over time. Graphite is practically immune to the effects of saltwater, meaning if you look after it, this rod should last a long time.

The Penn dura guides are specially formulated to allow the line to slip through really easily. This will allow an easy retrieve, regardless of the size of the fish. And also allow you to get the biggest possible distance from your casts.

And there’s more.

If you are holding a rod all day then you want it to be comfortable. Penn have included user-friendly Winn grips as standard, giving a nice feel in the hand and also aiding in your casting technique.

Reward: Perhaps the best surfcasting rod of 2020

Pros

  • Lightweight, multi-purpose design for all eventualities.
  • This rod is made using quality materials and is built to last.

Cons

  • It might be possible that you like this rod too much!

Takeaway

Utter quality and a joy to use, that’s my overriding feeling with regards to this rod. If you want to treat yourself, or somebody else to a decent Surfcaster this could be the rod for you.

Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Fishing Rod

You’ve already seen the Shakespeare Ugly Stick Surfcaster. Well, the same quality is reflected in this spinning rod. Big lures catch big fish, and you need something that can provide the necessary muscle to reach them.

How strong is it?

Well, you’ll be able to cast out any lure that weighs under 8oz, is that good enough? The beauty of this rod is that due to its heavy-duty action it can in fact double up as a baitcasting rod too.

What are its features?

A heavy-duty rod requires a heavy-duty reel. With the substantial aluminum reel seat, you’ll be able to attach and hold any reel that is up to the task. Whilst the blank is on the heavy side, it is still light and responsive enough not to feel too cumbersome.

The blank is manufactured from powerful 3M Resin. More than capable of smashing out finger mullet and other big baits, and equally capable of smashing into larger fish.

Reward: The best heavy-duty spinning rod

Pros

  • Quality as standard with Shakespeare products.
  • This rod is really versatile and can be used in other disciplines as well as lure fishing.

Cons

  • Due to the heavy nature of the rod, it is not really for lighter lures.

Takeaway

For the money, this is a superb rod that can fulfill a variety of roles. It shouldn’t let you down and for an early investment represents an ideal choice.

Tica UGSA Series Surf Spinning Fishing Rod

If casting lures are your thing, then this rod is for you. It offers versatility all based around lure fishing.

How so?

Often anglers have to decide between light and heavy lure fishing. This rod will do it all.

The TC3 graphite body has a surprising amount of flex. This is a good thing as it will allow you to flick our lighter lures and work some action into your jigs and poppers. You can tell it’s a dedicated lure rod, as it features a sliding hook keeper, allowing you to clip up your lure and stay mobile whilst you hunt the fish.

The rod favors the traditional style with a cork handle. But things tend to become traditional because they work well. The cork handle provides decent grip, even when wet.

Is it versatile to use in a variety of situations?

The answer is a resounding yes! There are several different varieties of this rod available. If you want to stick to pure lure fishing go right ahead, or alternatively opt for a medium/heavy rod and be able to do some light baitcasting if the fish are hunkered down.

Reward: The best salt water spinning rod, hands down

Pros

  • Lightweight with a fast and bendy action.
  • A high-quality blank means that it can cope with a variety of situations.

Cons

  • The cork handle is just a little on the thin side.

Takeaway

For a dedicated spinning rod for saltwater, this is a winner. Depending on your preference it may actually double up if you want to diversify and try float fishing or bottom fishing.

Okuma Rockaway Carbon Saltwater Fishing Rod

Heavy duty rods are not the be-all and end-all. Fast and flexible can be just what you need in your lures in order to ensure a strike.

Enter the Okuma Rockaway.

This rod is best suited to casting up to 1.5oz. You may feel that limits you, however, big fish still take small lures all the time. Besides which, with the pull of the tide and a lightweight rod such as this, even smaller fish will feel like monsters, which is part of the fun.

Tell us about its features.

Well first of all this rod is seriously beautiful looking. The 24-ton carbon rod blank is sleek with a crisscross pattern. The Black EVA butt section completes the look. The rounded butt cap is perfectly placed to get maximum distance when casting.

The rings come with optional zirconium inserts, so when you can easily adapt the rod to be used for braid, which is super effective when lure fishing. The rod handle is of the shrunken style, reducing weight and adding an extra form factor.

Reward: Best lightweight lure fishing rod

Pros

  • Simply stunning in design and looks.
  • A fast-action blank makes this rod ideal for whipping out light lures and smaller baits.

Cons

  • For bigger fish you are going to have a fight on your hands, it isn’t suitable for casting really heavy weights.

Takeaway

For the lure fisherman who wants the occasional dabble in light bottom fishing this could be a wonderful choice. Okuma produce quality, and provided you don’t demand too much of it, this rod could be one of the best ocean fishing rods you will see.

Berrypro Striper Fishing Rod

Ignore the fact that this rod says ‘striper’ on it. After all the fish can’t read. What it does offer is a great all-round experience.

Want to know why?

This rod is super sensitive, which is just what you need when fishing, a missed bite is a missed opportunity and can lead to deep hooking.

If you have ever deep hooked a fish, you might want to look at a decent pair of fishing pliers, feel free to check out my handy saltwater fishing plier guide here.

For inshore fish you won’t find a better rod at this price point.

Great features include a lockable reel seat, if you are casting constantly (and you will be) the reel should stay exactly where you want it.

Let’s keep it going…

One really cool feature that is often only found in more expensive rods are the ceramic lined rings. They reduce friction on the line, allowing you to cast farther.

This rod is designed with precision, so the guides all line up perfectly. This means that aside from the tip ring, the line is pretty much in direct contact with your hands. It’s perfect for beach and bay fishing!

This fast action and lightweight rod are perfect for fishermen who want to move around and actively hunt the fish.

Reward: The mid-range lure fishing rod for saltwater

Pros

  • Lightweight with a quick and nimble action, I love it.
  • The ceramic rings really work and add a fair distance to your usual casting range.

Cons

  • Whilst the rings are lined, the body of the eyelets is made from stainless steel. Unless you care for it properly, they may corrode over time.

Takeaway

Well, wow. This rod is really decent. If you are new to the sport, this rod is a good way to start strong. It will allow you to get out there and catching with minimal effort.

Buyers Guide – How to Choose the Best?

Buying a good saltwater fishing rod can be daunting. Unless you have lots of money it is kind of a one-shot deal, so it’s got to be right.

Read on to find out what I look for when considering buying a new saltwater fishing rod.

boat fishing rod and reel for saltwater fishing

Consider Saltwater Rod Material

Nowadays you are spoiled for choice when it comes to rod material. Composites have come a long way. As long as you can find a rod that has a decent blank that is lightweight and performs then you needn’t worry.

What are some to watch?

I really like tubular glass or graphite; both are really strong and offer lightweight performance. They are practically indestructible too!

When it comes to handles the choice is yours. Cork handles are the most traditional, the downside is that unless they are dried and cleaned after a session they can degrade over time.

A handy alternative is EVA foam. It is bulletproof and normally really comfortable to hold and fish with. Unlike cork, it doesn’t really degrade and is easy to maintain.

fisherman fishing at the ocean

Considering Rod Style

Boat Rods

What you intend to do with the rod will have a huge bearing on what to look for.

Let me explain.

Boat rods are a little different for a few reasons. First, you tend to catch much bigger fish when boat fishing. As a result, the blanks tend to be much less whippy, as you need all the strength you can get, especially when battling big fish like grouper.

The second reason they are stiffer is because they are significantly shorter.

What’s the reason for this?

Well, a long rod on a boat would be cumbersome and unwieldy. Further to this, there is no reason to cast. Essentially when boat fishing you drop the line over the side and rely on the reel to do the work.

In boat rods look for things that ensure a smooth pay-out and retrieve of the line. This can include lined rings or even rollers.

Want to see boat rod in action? Swing over here and have a watch.

Surf Rods

For surf casters you want something slightly longer. You will have to hammer out potentially huge baits into the surf, but need enough sensitivity to allow you to feel the bites.

Therefore, a subtle blend of stiffness with a bit of flex is the order of the day. Even the stiffest rods will tend to flex if you put your back into a decent cast.

Watch the video below to learn how to get the maximum distance.

How heavy should I look to cast?

With surf rods aim for something with an average casting weight of 5oz. that’s plenty heavy enough to hold the bottom. If you want to go lighter then 3oz make a great choice. For the real specimen hunters amongst you 8oz casting weights will ensure that you will only attract bigger fish.

Spinning Rods

At the other end of the scale we have spinning rods. Lures don’t normally weigh a great deal, and as a result the best saltwater spinning rods will need to be slightly lighter.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, lure fishing involves a fair bit of moving around. If your rod is too heavy then you will quickly become fatigued.

Second, you are going to have to rely on the ‘whip’ of the rod to ensure you can achieve a significant casting distance. As a final point, it is worth noting that bendy rods permit you to impart a little bit of life into your lure which could be the difference between a fish being interested or not.

If you want to see what fishing with ultra-light spinning gear looks like, check out this video.

FAQ

What is the best rod for saltwater fishing?

That is indeed a tough question.

Let’s think about it.

I’d look for something that would enable me to fish in a variety of styles, venues and doesn’t break the bank. If you put me on the spot I’d be well tempted to say the Tica UGSA Series Surf Spinning Fishing Rod. It pretty much would allow you to do everything from bottom fishing to casting out lures. I also love the Penn spinning rod.

By having the option of switching up your style mid-session you increase the chances of catching. It’s that simple.

What’s the difference between freshwater and saltwater fishing rods?

To be completely honest there aren’t that many differences and I know anglers who use carp rods for sea fishing and vice versa.

But there are some subtle differences.

You’ll tend to find saltwater fishing rods are slightly more powerful as they need to be able to cast further, and there is always the option of catching much bigger fish.

They tend to be a bit heavier duty too. The emphasis is placed on rough and ready durability, so they lack some of the refinement of freshwater rods, which are used in less harsh conditions.

Can I use a saltwater rod in freshwater?

You can! In fact, it is quite common to see freshwater fishermen utilize the heavy-duty nature of saltwater rods to great effect. This is particularly true when fishing for big catfish.

How big?

Well don’t take my word for it, check this video out and see for yourself…

How to take care of saltwater fishing rods?

Saltwater rods are designed to be pretty hardy, however like all good investments you should take care of them.

It doesn’t take much.

When you finish your session give them a quick rinse with cold freshwater. If your rod has a cork handle also make sure it is well dried before putting it away for next time. This video guide will show you how easy it is.

What size fishing rod should I use?

That all depends on where you are fishing. But I want to make it easy for you.

Here’s a very rough guide.

For boat fishing aim for a rod that is somewhere in the region of 5-6 feet

When it comes to surf rods, generally longer is better. I find that 10-11 feet usually does everything that I want it to.

For spinning rod length doesn’t matter so much as action. You can go all the way down to 8 feet if you wanted to, or up to 12. As long as it casts well and gives you enough room to maneuver you are good to go.

If the size is important to you, or you are looking for a shorter rod, you may even want to consider either a travel rod or even perhaps a telescopic fishing rod.

What is the best all-around fishing rod?

Boat rods probably won’t fit the bill for a decent all-rounder, as they aren’t meant for casting. Heavy spin rods or light surf rods are pretty interchangeable.

Pick a rod based on the style of fishing you are most likely to do regularly and use its extra flexibility to experiment when the bites dry up.

Summary

One of the best things about saltwater fishing is the fact that you can mix up your styles. The best saltwater fishing rods of 2020 should enable you to catch the species you want, when you want and where you want.

It’s that simple.

Have you tried any of my suggestions? Whether it’s rods or even tackle bags, let me know how it went 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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