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Buying Fishing Rods for the Family

Are you in the market for new fishing rods?

Most rods are reliable; it just comes down to which brand you want to purchase. This page is about family fishing - not the pros.

Stick Rod and Reel

Have any of you used the "stick fishing pole" like the one above? I smile every time I see this picture because it brings back fond memories... Okay, back to the subject at hand.

Do you need advise on fishing rods? If you are in the market to buy a spinning rod in the near future, you may want to read this so you can make an educated decision.

Spinning rods are versatile compared to bait casting rods, and are used by all ages and all skill levels. Beginners can learn in a few minutes, yet these rods are sophisticated enough for someone who is highly skilled in the sport. Spinning rods can lure and land all but the largest fish in various situations which make them very popular.

Spinning rods can be purchased in various sizes and could catch anything from a small bluegill up to large blue marlin, depending on what you purchased.

Anglers can use spinning rods for trolling, and bottom-fishing in a pinch - but are perfect for casting lures or bait. Spinning rods were developed to replace more difficult bait casting rigs which can easily develop line tangles or "bird nests."

Spinning rods are so versatile that they can be used for the three major types of fishing. "Trolling" is when you pull a lure behind a boat at a specific speed, "still fishing" or "vertical jigging" is when you fish off the bottom or higher up usually on a boat, and "casting" if of course using lures and live bait. If you rig a spinning rod with a bobber and a weight you can even cast a tiny fly.

On the negative side, spinning rods and reels tend to twist fishing line when used for trolling or vertical jigging. You'll encounter kinks and tangles and may have to re-spool more frequently if you prefer fishing in this manner. Make sure you have extra spools of fishing line that fit your reel in the tackle box.

When we are trolling, we have purchased trolling (conventional) rod and reels just for this type of fishing and are well worth the money.

Fishing rods and reels come in so many price ranges and categories, it's hard to just list all of the equipment that's out there. The best store to go in and browse (in my honest opinion) is Cabelas. They have EVERYTHING.

For now, I'm NOT going to get into salt water fishing, just fresh water; and only spinning rods not bait casting rods. If you hear someone referring to "swim-bait fishing" - they are talking about using a type of plastic bait that is designed to specifically imitate bait fish.

The different brand names that we are suggesting are our opinions only. We are not paid to say that "XYZ is the best," nor would we.

The price point I am starting with is the rods that are the best at the lowest price and then I'm listing the highest rated rods and reels for each category. Ready?

What To Look For In A Spinning Fishing Rod

All rods come in different styles and lengths depending on what you're going to use it for. How often and where will you fish? What type of fish are you targeting? Panfish? Walleye? Musky? Pike? Believe me, there is a rod and thousands of other items for each one of these species of fish.

A good all-around length to look for is 5.5 to 6.5 feet and capable of casting 1/4 oz to 1/2 oz sized bait and lures.

If you are looking for graphite, look for a high modulus model (IM8 or IM10). What's the difference? The higher number means more rod strength, stiffness and accurate casting ability.

I find that cork handles are more sensitive to fish nibbling and softly biting on the bait or lure. Do rod blanks run through the handle? If so, this ensures extra sensitivity and split grip handles (that show part of the blank) have even more sensitivity. If this is important to you should purchase a single piece rod compared to a rod that you can break down into pieces.

The line guides that run from the reel to the tip of the pole should be made out of stainless steel or another material that doesn't rust.

"Action" refers to the rods bending force (curve) and how fast it returns back to the neutral position. The action may be slow, medium, fast or a combination; say medium-fast. Fast action rods flex more in the tip area. Slow action rods bend more towards the butt of the rod (near the handle).

Fishing Rods

Shakespeare Ugly Stick

Best Inexpensive Fishing Rods

If you were asked what you thought was the best inexpensive rod for casual fishing out there what would you say? The first one that I'm going to mention under this category is the Shakespeare Ugly Stik (left). It is very popular and has been for the last 30+ years or so.

This company was founded in 1897 so they know what they are doing. Kids and adults alike love this durable rod and I agree with them. It is VIRTUALLY UNBREAKABLE, and comes with a 7 year warranty. They do carry a variety of Ugly Stiks; from freshwater to deep sea fishing in salt water.

Grandpa/ma's, Dad's and Mom's -- spend the extra money to purchase this rod for your (grand) child; they'll still have it years later.

Another rod that is a bargain for the price and has the same level of strength is the Berkley Lightning Rod. It has received a lot of attention lately due to an upgrade which is footed titanium guides and this rod is made entirely of graphite. It is lightweight and sensitive, but not as durable as the Ugly Stick.

Berkley has another fishing rod out on the market in this price range and it is the Berkley Cherrywood Casting Rod, a great choice for beginners. You get a graphite composition rod with 20x tougher and 55% lighter than traditional aluminum oxide guides and a cork grip.

If you like fishing at night for catfish (or any other night time fish) I am going to suggest a reasonably and unique rod just for these fishing trips. It is the Berkley Glowstik, an E-glass fiberglass fishing rod that has a built in LED light system that charges the rod and it glows in the dark for up to ten hours. It's a two piece rod and great fun for the kids (or BIG kids).

Cabela's Whuppin' Stik has a 7' fishing rod in this category and is completely fiberglass. I believe it works like the Ugly Stik and the price is lower. This makes it strong but overall it is a bit heavier and less sensitive rod because it is made in two pieces.

A rod make in one piece is much more sensitive then a two piece rod (I have both).

Ninety-Two percent of customers polled stated they would recommend this rod to a friend.

Eagle Claw is well known for their hooks and tackle. You must check out their Eagle Claw Water Rod. It is strong enough to land a large catfish and you can fish the large rivers with this rod. It is a strong rod and very durable and well worth owning.

Another rod worth mentioning is the DAIWA Spinmatic Rod. Daiwa is very innovative and can also make it's unique products while keeping the prices down.

I want to mention that you should take a peek at the "x-treme guide system," which are designed to increase strength, and hook potential - which means less fish will get away. This rod is make of high performance graphite and a high grade cork handle. This is designed so you can FEEL EVERY NIBBLE and has the strength to pull in a large fish. Gotta love it.

More Fishing Links:

 Fishing Tackle    Trolling Fish  Best Fish Recipes

Fishing for Bluegills   Bluegill Recipes  Crappie Recipes 

Walleye Fishing   Walleye Recipes

Fishing Reels


This section is for those that want a step up from the fishing rods that I have listed above, but not digging too deep into your pockets.

The first fishing rod that we love in this category is the The first fishing rod that we love in this category is the St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod. We use this for pan fish and are fond of the high sensitivity and fast action that it provides for the price. We use this for pan fish and are fond of the high sensitivity and fast action that it provides for the price.

As we speak, I had to send one of our rods back. I set the hook and there was a walleye on the other end. Needless to say the rod snapped and the fish was just a keeper at 20 inches in length. I will let you know how the warranty/customer service is with St. Croix. Update: Excellent customer service, as always.

Okuma Guide Select Rod has received great reviews. It has great power for the price and made entirely out of IM-8 graphite and molded cork handles.


Shimano Crucial Rod is a lightweight and incredibly sensitive fishing rod. One key feature is this rod's split-reel seat, which exposes part of the blank (actual rod) to your finger allowing MORE sensitivity. The lightness does take away from its strength, so this rod is best suited for panfish and waters that are free from snags.

Shimano Cumara Rod is incredibly light and flexible. But what anglers are really noticing is the custom-carbon split reel seat and the split handle. This particular design (although light) provides a comfortable grip that sends crystal clear signals when something is nibbling on your line. It does have a EVA handle and is not as sensitive as cork, but more durable.

The St. Croix Legend Xtreme Rod is something else. Super sensitive and light - it's the angler's dream rod.

Another awesome rod is the G loomis Bronzeback. Many have stated that these ares the best rods ever made for lightweight lures. It boasts a extra-sensitive tip, so you will feel the tiniest bites, and the rod itself is very strong due to the GLX graphite. It also features a high-grade cork handle and split-reel seat.

A brightly colored E21 Carrot Stix fishing rod is gaining popularity. It utilizes a new bio-fiber made from carrots (hence the name) so the strength of the rod is equally distributed.  It is available at Cabela's.

This rod is designed with the best in both graphite and fiberglass and eliminates the downfalls of each; making it durable and very sensitive. It sports a new "velvet handle" that is more sensitive, says anglers, than foam or cork and considered the new wave in fishing gear.

If you travel often, travel rods can be broken down into four pieces and are stored in easy carrying travel cases. Travel fishing rods are frequently sold with switchable handles to accommodate spinning or fly reels, simplifying tackle transportation. Some say that the versatility of these rods may slightly decrease the performance. Who's to say, try it for yourself.

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