Trout fishing is a fun, challenging, and very popular style of fishing. The best trout fishing rods have certain characteristics that are unique to this species. We’ll explain the main components of fishing rod and also give our picks for the very best trout rods on the market.
What to look for in a Trout rod
Here are the key components of a trout fishing rod that you should consider before making a purchase:
- Rod length
- Rod power and action
- Casting rods vs spinning rods
- Rod materials
- Handle material
Let’s take a closer look at each of those…
Trout rod power and action
Rods with a fast action and light to medium light power are also preferred for areas with smaller trout species, while large rivers with larger trout like rainbows and large browns should opt for a medium power rod while maintaining the fast action.
Let’s take a look at specific parts of a rod’s design such as power and action as well as other features and components that are important.
Casting Rods vs Spinning Rods
There are two main types of trout fishing rods: spinning rods and casting (or baitcasting) rods. The main difference is in the reel.
Spinning rod setups are the best and predominant rod and reel type for fishing trout, and excel at using lure presentations such as tiny spinners, bucktail spinners, small crankbaits, spoons, or a simple hook and worm setup, which are primarily the types of presentations suited to trout fishing.
Spinning reels really excel at casting light weight lure presentations, baitcasters struggle to cast lighter lures accurately. Due to a spinning spool as the line pays out, you can’t cast light lures far unlike a spinning setup where the line simply unravels from the spool, allowing for very long casting distances with light lures.
Spinning rods are typically designed with fewer but larger guides allowing for more bend and flex, this allows for great casting distance and softens the impact of hooksets and fish pulls. Spinning rods are also great using all forms of line, but really excel with monofilament lines when combined with the more flexible rod actions.
Related article: The Best Lures for Catching Trout
Baitcasting setups are great for lures like spinnerbaits, Medium to heavy jigs, swimbaits, topwater, larger soft plastics and larger crankbaits as well. One added addition to baitcasters is the ability to get very high gear ratios for high speed cranking, this is great for topwater baits, fast jigging, or spinnerbait presentations where you can burn lures quickly, or keep lures above vegetation close to the surface.
Baitcasters also typically have better drag functions and work great when fishing for larger fish or fishing larger lures, due to it being easy to retrieve heavy lures vs a spinning setup.
Want to catch more trout? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Trout Fishing.
Why we prefer spinning rods for trout fishing
Much of Trout fishing is done with smaller presentations. Small spinners, spoons, worms and sometimes even crankbaits. Due to the very light nature of the tackle used and the average fishing conditions for trout, spinning reels are clearly the winner between the two.
Baitcasters would struggle or outright fail at attempting to effectively and accurately cast these ultralight lures. The only application I could see using baitcasters for trout fishing would be if you are trolling areas like the Great Lakes.
Small rods really shine when fishing small streams and creeks, being able to make small flicking casts without getting your rod caught on brush and snagging up on everything around you, Shorter rods are ideal for these these bodies of water the trout targeted are small to mid size and don’t necessarily require the extra length of a longer rod.
An overall good rod length is around 6 or 7 feet.
Longer rods are better when you need to cast farther. Look for a rod in the 7-foot range if you’re fishing in wider rivers or in areas where forest and brush aren’t an issue.
If you’re fishing in tight cover areas like forest or areas with thick underbrush and closed in surroundings and smaller streams and creeks, a smaller rod may be better suited to these conditions. In those situations we recommend something in the 6 foot range.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need to transport the rod. Many rods have an option for one or two pieces. Some people prefer a one-piece because it’s more sensitive, but I think most people wouldn’t notice the difference. Two-piece rods are easier to fit in a trunk or the back of an SUV.
The Action of a rod determines the amount of flex in the rod when it’s under a load of weight like a fish, action can give hard and fast hooksets to softer hooksets with the same power rod depending on that action. Take into consideration things like species, and fishing areas, try to factor in all requirements you can think of to dial in the best rod options for you.
Fast action: Bends mostly in the top 1/3rd of the rod or less with a strong backbone in the other 2/3rds of the rod, great for powerful hooksets.
Moderate/Medium: Bends in the top half of the rod and is in the middle of the road between fast and slow actions. In my opinion, Medium action rods are the sweet spot for the best trout fishing rods.
Slow action: Bends evenly throughout the rod to the handle and is typically used in crankbait rods, or rods where heavy and hard shock hooksets aren’t necessary or detrimental.
There are many different powers to choose from when it comes to a fishing rod. The powers typically go from ultra-light for things like panfish to heavy for fish like musky or saltwater species. There are many power rated rods between these two and different species and lure presentations work better with certain power rods. Typically, light or ultra light rods work best for trout fishing.
Most rods are made from two different types of materials, Fiberglass, or the most commonly used material today, Graphite. Both types are great at doing different things. Fiberglass has much more bend and give and can almost be described as “whippy.” They are generally used for crankbait fishing or in situations where a lighter hookset is valued.
Graphite is incredibly strong, sensitive and durable while still maintaining good action characteristics. Graphite really shines with rod actions such as the fast or moderate action, while fiberglass is more suited to slow action rods due to its characteristics. Both will work great for trout fishing.
Line guides are also incredibly important and can be found in a wide variety of materials. Some are suited better for braided lines, while all are suited well for monofilament or fluorocarbon lines. Materials like alconite, stainless steel, aluminum and others are all great choices and provide great casting distance and smooth retrieval.
Rod handle materials boils down to angler preference. There are two types of material used in the construction of rods primarily, Cork or EVA. Cork is great when it comes to wet conditions and is my overall preference. Cork will repel water better than EVA which has a tendency to simply soak it all up, but EVA definitely has more comfort than Cork does.
In the regularly occurring fishing conditions we face as anglers, cork seems to fit my needs better than EVA, while other anglers appreciate the comfort that EVA provides, decide what you value most out of the differences between the two and go from there. One type isn’t better than the other in this regard, a good idea would be to simply try both, and base your future purchases on your preference
The best rods for catching trout
Lew’s Mach 2 Spinning Rod
The Lew’s Mach 2 spinning rod has become our go-to trout fishing rod. It casts effortlessly and it perfectly balanced, especially when paired with the Mach 2 reel. The handle is super comfortable and it’s designed so that your hand is in contact with the blank (main part of the rod) so you’ll feel every nibble. The 6′ length is long enough to cast far, but not too long where your hitting tree branches.
|Line weight||4-14 lbs|
|Lure weight||1/8 – 1/2 oz|
St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod
St. Croix is well known around the fishing world for creating some of the highest quality rods on the market, and have been doing so for years with a vast array of rod designs to choose from. The St. Croix Triumph is no exception, let’s take a look at some of its features. The Triumph is built using premium quality SCII graphite blanks, all of which feature 2 coats of flex coat slow cure finish, for added protection and durability.
Other features are Hard Aluminum oxide guides with black frame to help keep overall rod weight minimal while giving great castability and a smooth retrieve, FUJI DPS reel seat with frosted silver hoods, and a grade A quality cork handle and rod butt, all these materials and components give a rod that is extremely sensitive, and giving outstanding strength. Another thing what St. Croix is known for, is their customer service and warranties with all rods covered under a 5-year warranty.
|Line weight||6-12 lbs|
|Lure weight||1/4 – 5/8 oz|
|Rod weight||4.4 oz|
Okuma Celilo Ultra Light
The Celilo by Okuma is another great option for a trout spinning rod and was specifically designed for that role. Made to be ultra light in action, the rod comes in four different models to choose from and featuring a high quality graphite blank, that’s ultra sensitive yet still strong enough to handle large trout, aluminum oxide guide inserts, top grade cork handles and reel butt, and stainless steel hooded reel seats for excellent corrosion resistance.
This rod is one of the best out there for fishing trout and has shorter lengths starting at 4.5 feet all the way up to 7.5 feet, giving you multiple options, whether your fishing wider or larger sized rivers, to small deep woods streams where casting may be tight due to trees and brush.
Made in the USA!
|Line weight||1-4 lbs|
|Lure weight||1/32 – 3/16|
|Rod weight||3.2 oz|
Fenwick HMG Spinning Rod
Fenwick HMG rods have been around for decades and are well known among anglers of all types of species for having outstanding quality, they were originally made from fiberglass, but now they offer them in Carbon as well. They are super strong, very rigid, while still being extremely sensitive. Featuring an excellent tip and backbone.
The HMG also features Fuji line guides and a AAA corked handle that is actually combined with EVA foam to give a hybrid and unique handle design. And the price quite honestly is very hard to beat. Featuring lengths from 6’ to 7’6” and fast to moderate fast actions, and ultra light to medium heavy power, they have all of their bases covered.
|Line weight||8-14 lbs|
|Lure weight||1/4 – 3/4 oz|
Shimano Solora Casting Rod
Shimano is another quality brand that has been making rods for a long time. The Solora is a budget-friendly option that is perfect for the casual fisherman. It has a cork handle that’s typically only found on more expensive rods. The rod itself and guides aren’t made from the same quality materials as other rods on this list, but for a fraction of the price you really can’t go wrong. Give this rod a shot, you won’t be disappointed!
|Line weight||6-14 lbs|
|Lure weight||1/8 – 1/2 oz|
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Rod
The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 is probably the best value rod on this list. I’ve been using an Ugly Stiks since I was a kid and they’ve never disappointed.
This rod is advertised as “strong and sensitive” and that’s no lie. It’s sensitive enough to feel the lightest nibble, but strong enough to fight the biggest trout. Plus, It costs less than most other trout rods.
|Line weight||6-15 lbs|
|Lure weight||1/8 – 5/8|
Trout fishing like any species specific fishing have certain types of equipment that are suited for the task at hand, rods being one of utmost importance. Take into consideration your local fishing spots and the region you fish in, as well as the species of trout and pick the best fit for you.
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Hello! My name is Tim and I’ve been fishing for over 30 years. I’ve learned a lot about fishing during that time and I love sharing that knowledge with others. I’m also a member of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). Thanks for checking out the site!