You need to choose a fishing rod that’s not only right for where you’ll be fishing but is appropriate for the type of fish you’re after. You wouldn’t use a mousetrap to hunt bears — don’t use a trolling rod for fly fishing.

There are eight types of fishing rods: spinning, casting, fly fishing, ultralight, telescoping, trolling, surf and ice fishing rods. Each type serves a different purpose. To have the best experience, you need to use the right rod.

Shop this article: Penn Fierce III Spinning ComboSt. Croix Premier Casting Rod and Fenwick Aetos Fly Rod

Spinning rods

A spinning rod is one of the most versatile types of fishing rods. It’s suitable for beginners and features a reel that’s positioned to provide stability and give you a comfortable grip with your dominant hand. The rod is available in a wide variety of lengths, actions and powers, making it highly adaptable. You can use it on a lake, in a river or on a boat. On the downside, it isn’t the best for heavy lines.

Best spinning rod

best Penn Fierce III Spinning Combo

Penn Fierce III Spinning Combo

This heavy-duty spinning combo is suitable for a variety of anglers. It is made of graphite and features stainless steel guides to increase durability. The finger grooves in the ethylene-vinyl acetate, or EVA, grips provide the extra traction needed to win those epic battles.

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Casting rods

A casting rod lets you cast further with greater accuracy. It can handle heavier lines, so it’s fine for larger species and fishing in areas with thick vegetation. Depending on the reel — spincast or baitcast — this rod can be for beginners or advanced anglers. A spincast reel is the simplest to operate, so it’s suitable for a child, but the baitcast reel requires a bit of skill to get the most out of it.

Best casting rod

best St. Croix Premier Casting Rod

St. Croix Premier Casting Rod

St. Croix is a legendary name in fishing gear. This rod has a combination of strength and sensitivity. It has a premium-grade cork handle and a flex coat slow-cure finish for exceptional durability.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon

Fly fishing rods

Fly fishing stands apart from all other fishing methods. It requires the greatest amount of skill and is reserved for a special breed of anglers. The average rod is 9 feet, but it’s possible to get one as long as 14 feet. The best strategy is to match the rod to the target species and conditions — longer rods tend to cover more water, while shorter rods are better for fighters.

Best fly fishing rod

best Fenwick Aetos Fly Rod

Fenwick Aetos Fly Rod

This fly fishing rod is beginner-friendly. It offers a versatile, forgiving performance coupled with an affordable price. The graphite material is stronger and lighter than carbon, while the AAA-grade cork provides optimal control.

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Ultralight rods

If you’re going on a backpacking trip or you just prefer to target smaller species, then an ultralight rod is for you. These rods are the top choice when packing space is at a premium. As you might imagine, ultralight rods are typically shorter, lighter and less durable than other types of fishing rods. When you use an ultralight rod, you’ll have to work harder to land even smaller fish, such as smallmouth and trout.

Best ultralight rod

best Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod

Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod

This rod is designed for anglers of all ages. It’s a graphite composite rod that works well for light and ultralight actions. The full cork handles offer maximum comfort and gripping power.

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Telescoping fishing rods

Even more so than an ultralight rod, a telescoping rod is designed to be compact and portable. As the name suggests, it collapses into itself like a telescope. If hassle-free packing and transport are the priorities and performance is secondary, a telescoping rod is the way to go. While it’s a versatile tool that’s great for times when you must hike into a campsite, the casting ability isn’t usually that impressive.

Best telescoping fishing rod

best Magreel Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel

Magreel Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel

This carbon fiber collapsible fishing rod is perfect for the beginner. It is corrosion-resistant and comes with everything you need to get started on a new hobby: a telescoping rod, a reel, a carrier bag, fishing line and a tackle filled with fishing lures and accessories.

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Trolling rods

A trolling rod is another rod with a very specific purpose. This type of rod is mounted in a rod holder on a boat. As the boat moves slowly through the water, the bait or lure follows behind at a distance of anywhere between 20 and 150 feet. A trolling rod is stiffer and has a large reel to accommodate a lot of line. Beginners to pros can enjoy this type of fishing, which is usually done in big lakes or the ocean. However, it’s possible to troll in ponds too.

Best trolling rod

best Okuma Convector Trolling Combo

Okuma Convector Trolling Combo

Okuma might not be as big a name as Shimano or Penn, but the company has been around since the mid-’80s and produces quality rods at an affordable price. This model was specifically developed for kokanee and walleye trolling.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Surf fishing rods

When you anticipate a battle, a surf rod is what you need. These models have the rugged build necessary to endure a long fight with a large fish out on the ocean. Additionally, a surf rod is specifically designed to withstand the corrosion that typically occurs from exposure to salt water. While all skill levels can enjoy surf fishing, younger anglers may need help casting and using a surf rod.

Best surf fishing rod

best Battalion II Surf Spinning Rod

Penn Battalion II Surf Spinning Rod

Available in 9-, 10-, 11- and 12-foot options, this top-quality surf rod is built to perform. The actions, balance and durability make it an exceptional rod, and the tacky rubber shrink tube handles ensure you have a secure grip, whether wet or dry.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Ice fishing rods

Ice fishing rods are rather unique because no casting is involved. You also may have extremely limited space within an ice shelter, so the rod is noticeably shorter than other options. While ideal for their intended purpose and suitable for anglers of all ages and skill levels, these rods are very limited in scope. An ice fishing rod is meant to drop vertically and operate at close distances, which makes it unsuitable for other methods of fishing.

Best ice fishing rod

best 13 Fishing Tickle Stick Ice Fishing Rod

13 Fishing Tickle Stick Ice Fishing Rod

13 Fishing is an innovative company that solves typical rod problems with creative flair. For instance, this model has a flat tip that lets the angler more easily detect ascending and descending strikes. It also adds a rigidity that helps ensure more consistent hook sets.

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