Ultimate Guide To The Best Fishing Rod Brands (For Saltwater and Freshwater)
Apart from our fishing reel, the fishing rods we use are one of the most critical pieces of fishing gear we own. I've been able to slowly wrestle fish back to shore with a burnt out reel, and I've used cheap make-shift lures, but a broken rod has always been the end of my fishing trip.
Part of becoming a better angler is to constantly consider performance issues. What areas can you find better performance? Cheap rods can work if you're just targeting bluegill, but they tend to wave around like overcooked noodles, and that greatly affects your ability to catch any other species of fish that requires more backbone out of your fishing rod.
The Best Fishing Rod Brands
In this article I’m going to cover the best fishing rod brands, not specific products. That is because each of us require a specific rod for a specific purpose. And by knowing which brands are the best, you can quickly narrow down your search and go straight to where you need to go to find your new fishing rod.
The brands that I've chosen for this article are all excellent fishing rod manufacturers. Often times you’ll find that their products can be somewhat similar. But when you’re talking about the best about anything, that is often the case.
The following fishing rod brand reviews will cover the reputation that each brand has built over the years, the quality of the fishing rods each brand produces and a few bits of extra information that I feel would be important to you.
Best Fishing Rod Brands For Freshwater
These first few sections are dedicated to individual brands that I feel specialize in freshwater rods. All of these brands also make excellent saltwater rods, but when it comes to looking for the best fishing rod for bass, catfish, and other freshwater species, these are the brands you want to check out first.
G. Loomis is a brand that is well known for manufacturing high quality fishing rods that are most competitive in the high-end range. What I’ve found is that many of their less expensive $150 rods can be matched in quality and functionality by $75 and $100 rods from other brands. With that said, if you’re looking for a high end specialized fishing rod, then G. Loomis is the first brand to consider.
A Brand Focused on Quality
Consider the mindset that this company has; G. Loomis focuses on using only the best materials available and all of their rods are made in the United States. Since they're made in the United States, they tend to cost more than comparable rods. But like I mentioned earlier, once you start using their $200 to $300 fishing rods, you’ll appreciate the dedication to the use of high quality materials.
G. Loomis Innovation and Customer Service
One disappointment I have with G. Loomis is that the company doesn't offer a lot when it comes to innovative ideas or customer service. The company's rods tend to be traditional, and they've already thought about eliminating the only warranty they have. When you're spending $300 on a rod, you should expect some kind of warranty. But with that said, I’ve had enough experience with G. Loomis to know that I won’t ever need to use a warranty.
With that being said, a lot of anglers absolutely swear that G. Loomis rods are the most comfortable rods they've ever owned. They're well balanced fishing rods and their handles are made in a way that almost makes it feel like you're grasping at clouds.
What You Should Know About G. Loomis
Even though G. Loomis doesn't really offer anything new in terms of technology, the company specializes in using high quality materials. The company puts those materials into the hands of expert rod makers who are dead serious about their craft. From fly fishing, which they are well known for, to casting and spinning rods, they’ve got it covered.
Here’s an excellent article by The Columbian you can read to learn all about the man Gary Loomis. It’s a great read.
If you want to try a G. Loomis rod, I can assure that you won't be disappointed. You can take a look at G. Loomis rods here, or click on any of the images above.
Dobyns is a great company to buy from regardless of your budget. They have high-end rods, but they also have some more reasonably priced budget friendly rods that the average consumer can afford to buy on a whim.
A Plethora of Rods To Choose From
Dobyns rods come in a ton of different variants, and there are several series of rods to choose from. The most popular are the Fury series and the Xtreme series. The list of products that Dobyns has is so widely varied, I recommend that you do a little research before choosing a Dobyns rod. You'll want to know exactly what you're looking for in terms of power and sensitivity.
In general, most Dobyns rods do very well when it comes to finesse fishing. Wacky worms, drop shots, and other lure rigs that require you to make very precise movements are great to use with Dobyns rods.
Top Notch Materials
The materials that Dobyns uses to make their rods are only surpassed by a few very high-end companies. A $150 Dobyns can easily compete with most G. Loomis rods that cost $100 more.
However, they don't tend to have handles that can compete with luxury-class rods. The handles feel a lot better than anything you'll find at Walmart, but they aren't on par with the handles on G. Loomis rods and other high-end rods.
The Dobyns Rods Warranty
One really good benefit that you get from buying a Dobyns rod is that all Dobyns rods are covered by a very extensive warranty. As long as you keep your receipt, Dobyns will replace your rod for an entire year.
However, they won't replace your rod if you abuse it. You're protected from premature breakage, manufacturer defects, and material failures. That's more than what most other high-end companies offer, and it should give you a little peace of mind when you go to spend your hard-earned money on a new Dobyns rod. Just don't slam your new rod in the car door.
What You Should Know About Dobyns
Dobyns excels at producing a ton of options to choose from when selecting a new fishing rod. And even better, they offer quality rods that the average angler can afford. In my experience, some of my favorite bass fishing rods have been made by Dobyns, so that is typically what I think of when I hear their name.
I can’t recommend these rods enough. You can check them out here, or click on any of the images above.
Even if you haven't tried to get into high-end rods, there's a high probability that you’ve seen or used an Abu Garcia rod. The Black Max combo is one of Abu Garcia's most popular combo models, and it only costs about $70 at Walmart and other online stores. However, don’t be misled; The Abu Garcia company is not soley based around discounted rod and reel combos.
Manufacturer of Top Notch Bass Fishing Rods
Abu Garcia rods tend to be favored by bass fishermen, and the Vendetta series is the most popular outside of the combos that you can find in department stores. They can maneuver crankbaits, frogs, drop-shot rigs, and most other bass rigs with ease. And they're known for lasting a really long time despite being less expensive than most of the other rods I've talked about. I personally recommend getting a casting rod from Abu Garcia. They tend to be the best rods they offer.
Abu Garcia Warranty
In addition, you can expect to enjoy a fairly decent warranty, and the company always seems to stand by their products. This allows you to focus on fishing and not be pre-occupied whether or not your rod is going to last.
What You Should Know About Abu Garcia
Abu Garcia is a brand that produces excellent fishing reels that fall well within the budget of most anglers. If you’re a bass fisherman, then Abu Garcia is definitely a company to pay attention to and begin your search for a new rod.
You can check out Abu Garcia rods here, or click on the image above.
If you’re a fan of G. Loomis rods, then you’ll love Lamiglas. That’s because the same Gary Loomis who started G. Loomis also introduced and designed graphite rods for Lamiglas years earlier.
Lamiglas is a company that offers a lot of bang for your buck. Their rods aren't overly expensive, and they're made with a lot of attention to detail. In fact, most of their rods cost less than $150 dollars, and they can compete with some of the best G. Loomis rods. They do have some very high end models which boast more features which available if that's what you're looking for, though.
The Best Rod For Steelhead
If you’ve read any of my other articles, then you’ll already know that my go to steelhead rod is a Lamiglas rod. But Lamiglas also makes rods that are great for walleye, crappie, pike, and many other freshwater species.
Multiple Rod Configurations
The designs used for Lamiglas rods are pretty varied. You can get a lot of traditional options that utilize cork and natural color schemes, but you can also get quite a few more modern options that utilize newer materials and more advanced parts.
The warranty is a little sub-par, and some fishermen claim that Lamiglas doesn't cover enough forms of damage. Luckily, that's a very minor issue since the rods are tough, and you are unlikely to ever need the warranty anyways.
What You Should Know About Lamiglas
Overall, Lamiglas is a good company to buy from if you want a lot of options to choose from, and you don't have an unlimited amount of cash to spend. This is especially true if you are a salmon or steelhead angler and drift fishing is your specialty.
The rods they make are absolutely beautiful, and Lamiglas pays a lot of attention to the tiny details of each rod they make. You can check out the line of Lamiglas fishing rods right here, or click on any of the images above.
Best Fishing Rod Brands For Saltwater
Just like in the section above, all of the following manufacturers make both freshwater and saltwater rods. But my opinion is that these next few brands shine the most with their saltwater rods.
Okuma is a global superpower when it comes to fishing. Their rods can be found all across the world, and they are extremely popular with saltwater fishermen.
A Solid Saltwater Rod
Okuma rods come in many different variants, but they tend to be a bit beefier since the company likes to focus on saltwater fishing. If you choose to go with Okuma, stick to one of the beefy rods that they specialize in. Go with another brand if you want a lighter rod.
Designed To Resist Corrosion
Okuma's saltwater rods are designed to withstand the extremely corrosive nature of saltwater, and they tend to be a little slower than rods from other companies. That can be a good thing or bad thing. It depends on what you prefer.
What You Need To Know About Okuma Rods
There are a couple negative sides to buying an Okuma rod, though. While they have a lot of models available, almost all of them are fairly modern, and some are downright gimmicky. It can also be difficult to contact them if something goes wrong with your rod. They're a massive company, and they operate on a global scale.
Fortunately, the Okuma rods aren't weak. So, you probably won't have to worry about that. You an take a look at Okuma saltwater rods right here, or just click on any of the images above.
St. Croix is probably one of the first brands that most fishermen think of when they think of higher end saltwater fishing rods. St. Croix rods aren't the most luxurious rods available, but they’re pretty dang close. If you do decide to go with a St. Croix rod, expect to pay more for it compared to other brands on this list. But with the expense comes quality.
Made To Outsmart Fish
St. Croix rods tend to be fairly elegant. The company doesn't really focus on making broomstick-style rods. So, don't get a St. Croix if you want to try to rip fish out of the water like a madman.
St. Croix rods are best for slower and more methodical fishing styles. You should expect to outsmart fish rather than brutally overpower them with a St. Croix. That doesn't mean they're delicate rods, though. There are plenty of stories of fishermen using the same St. Croix rods for 25 years or more. St. Croix rods are built to last.
St. Croix Warranty
St. Croix also offers a pretty stellar warranty, and they’re known for having a very satisfactory customer service system.
What You Should Know About The St. Croix Brand
If you’re willing to spend a little more now in order to have a rod that will last you many years to come, then St. Croix is the brand for you.
If all of that makes you want to try a St. Croix, but you can't afford an Avid or another expensive model, you can pick up a Premier model for a lot less. They're not as flashy, but they get the job done. You can check out St. Croix fishing rods here, or click on any of the images above.
Daiwa is a company that I personally love. Their reels are high-quality and inexpensive, and their rods generally follow the same pattern of quality and affordability. If you take care to avoid a few of the really cheap rods that Daiwa has made, which is fairly simple to do, you’ll be fine.
Affordability and Quality
Most of Daiwa's fishing rods are between $50 and $120, and they'll serve you well for a number of years. So, you won't have to spend your day explaining a massive investment to your wife like you would with a St. Croix. They aren't cheap, though. Daiwa really makes their lower budget work for them, and they put out really high-quality products.
I recommend buying a Daiwa if you're on a budget, but you still want a really useful rod. Their rods aren't flashy, but they make up for that with their high performance capabilities.
The Daiwa Warranty
I don’t recommend relying on a warranty with Daiwa's rods, though. Some products aren't covered, and it can be difficult to get a Daiwa rod replaced since the company isn't based in the United States.
What You Should Know About Daiwa
Daiwa is a brand of fishing rods that creates an affordable product that does not sacrifice quality or craftsmanship to remain affordable. Daiwa offers a range of products from very inexpensive to mid range. So its a great fit for anglers who don’t have the massive budget that a G. Loomis customer might have.
You can check out the line of Daiwa saltwater reels right here. Or simply click on any of the images above.
You can easily buy an inexpensive rod at Walmart and catch fish. There’s no arguing that. However, that cheap rod will probably break after a year or two, and within a few years, you'll probably end up spending more money on rods from cheap companies than you would if you just bought a rod from a high-end brand in the first place.
The companies I listed above are all respected in the fishing community, and you can't go wrong with any of them. Your own personal preference and budget should be the ultimate defining factors when you make your choice.
Don’t ever buy more fishing rod than you can afford. Among these fishing rod brands, there is a wide range of rods to choose from, from very budget friendly all the way up to extreme high end.