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5 Best STEELHEAD Fishing Rods (Reviews for 2021)

(Top Pick) 

Lamiglas X-11 Cork – Salmon & Steelhead Fishing Rod 

Lamiglas x-11 Salmon/Steelhead Rod
  • Ultra sensitive to feel those almost imperceptible steelhead strikes.
  • Great mix of strength, sensitivity and affordability
  • Versatile rod that I use for both steelhead and salmon fishing.
Lasso Brag

Ranging from 8’ 6” all the way up to 10’ 6” this  steelhead rod is not only powerful but sleek and elegant simultaneously.  This is the steelhead rod that I personally own and use here in Oregon steelhead waters. 

best steelhead spinning rods

Here I’ve created a roundup post of the five best steelhead fishing rods available now on the market. These are the 5 top steelhead rods I’d have in my arsenal if only allowed to choose 5:

For those of you that want the finer points of each steelhead rod, keep on reading for in-depth reviews of each of our top five steelhead rods.

Related:

The Best Steelhead Spinning Rods

From Russia, to California, the Great Lakes, and beyond, the sport of steelhead fishing is in full swing and growing fast.  

If you’ve never fished for steelhead…it’s a little technical, somewhat challenging, and whole lot of fun!

Introduction

Challenging because steelhead can be extremely elusive and tend to congregate in somewhat difficult to reach areas. Areas where you’ll need a longer rod explicitly designed with steelhead in mind.

Unusual because they start their lives as rainbow trout in freshwater streams and lakes and travel from where they hatch all the way to the ocean where they can feed, grow, and flourish under saltwater conditions — as steelhead.

 Once they’ve matured into adulthood they begin the arduous journey back into fresh water upstream to about where they hatched to spawn and continue the life cycle. With such migratory patterns, it isn’t always easy to find them, but that’s half the fun of steelhead fishing.

A Note About Steelhead Rods

Steelhead rods are naturally designed to be longer so you can drift your baits into these oversized sea-run rainbows. This method reduces the current drag on your line so you’ll feel confident and in control.

Anytime you fish a seam in the middle of the river you’ll need added accuracy which makes these steelhead rods ideal because they are the perfect blend of balance and lightweight design to give you that added precision.

Lastly, you need rigidity to put up a good fight, but also a fair amount of sensitivity to make sure you feel those 20-pounders begin to nibble.

Steelhead Fishing Rod Reviews

1. G.Loomis IMX Steelhead Side Drift Spinning Rod 

Starting the list strong with the G.Loomis IMX Steelhead Side Drift Spinning Rod was a bold and intentional choice. G.Loomis makes some of the best steelhead fishing rods on the market. So good in fact that they made this list twice. The IMX rod, in particular, is far from the cheapest steelhead rod money can buy, but its rigid, lightweight frame and added sensitivity makes it downright surgical on the water.

The best salmon steelhead spinning rods provide the perfect blend of lure/line control, and sensitivity so that you can detect even the subtlest of bites and still pack enough durability and power to withstand the fight of an average steelhead which is about 8 pounds all the way up to the 50-pound monsters out there. It may come as a surprise to no one that the G.Loomis IMX steelhead rod passes all those tests.

The G.Loomis IMX is extremely versatile and comes in several styles ranging from 8’ 8” to 9’ 8” so you can match up the best salmon steelhead rod and reel combo to the season, water conditions, and size of steelhead your chasing. For its size, the IMX fishes surprisingly light making it a great all-day rod that won’t wear you down or let you down when you need it most.

Finally, the IMX Steelhead Side Drift Rod lives up to its name because it side drifts with stunning precision and accuracy. Once you’ve got your boat positioned just right at the top of a good looking run, you can let the rod do its work by allowing your line to drift enticingly alongside the boat. That natural drift puts your bait in prime position for steelhead to strike. Then all you’ve gotta do is reel them in.

The G.Loomis IMX Steelhead Side Drift Spinning Rod stands tall when it comes to finding the best steelhead rod on the market. The price tag is undoubtedly heftier than many on this list but what you gain in quality and performance is well worth the investment. I have no doubt it will become your favorite reel after just one day on the water.

 

2. UglyStik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod (Salmon/Steelhead) 

Bearing true to its name, the UglyStik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod is grotesquely… underpriced. It has many of the features and feel of a high-end salmon steelhead rod without the added cost.

With a range of 8’6” to 9” in length the UglyStik Elite has plenty of flex but just enough backbone to put up a strong fight. It’s one piece stainless steel guides and graphite construction gives the steelhead rod a deadly combination of sensitivity and sturdiness that makes it sensitive enough for detecting perch, perfect for reeling in steelhead, and hardy enough to pull in king salmon.

When used side-by-side with other rods in its price range it was quickly apparent that it could outperform with its fast action sensitive tip which makes hookups quick and straightforward. It bodes well side drifting but was exceptional at landing 18-25 pound steelhead from the river bank also. It paired really well with the Shimano 4000 spinning reel and has plenty of bend with it’s rating only being 10-20 pound test. You’ve gotta pick the right line so it doesn’t snap and you end up blaming the pole because cheap line equals more break offs no matter how great the rod.

One thing that is consistently echoed about this rod is its superior design. Just about everyone who has one is so impressed because it can take years of abuse. Sure, it will end up with a fair amount of blemishes and marring after a few outings, but the UglyStik Elite seems practically indestructible. Which for the price is pretty exceptional.

3. Lamiglas X-11 Cork – Salmon & Steelhead Fishing Rod 

Steelhead fisherman rave on and on about the Lamiglas X-11 Cork – Salmon & Steelhead Fishing Rod. After one spin on the water, you can tell this steelhead rod means business. Ranging from 8’ 6” all the way up to 10’ 6” this tall salmon steelhead rod is not only powerful but sleek and elegant simultaneously.

The Lamiglas X-11 sports a frame comprised of graphite, fiberglass, and composite to yield just enough sensitivity to feel the slightest hits while packing loads of fighting power. It’s comfortable cork handles, buttery smooth ceramic guides, and high-quality reel seat make it an exceptionally comfortable rod. The cork grips, in particular, are especially handy. They straight up feel good in your hands and are compliant even when the rod gets wet and sandy.

As far as steelhead rods go, the X-11 is innovative, passes all flex and balance tests, and holds its own next to rods 4X the price. You’ll love the steelhead rod for drifting slip bobbers, back bouncing roe, and back trolling plugs. With the right reel, it will cast like a dream, and it’s top-notch construction makes it sensitive enough for the classic “tap, tap, tap” that steelhead bite with and enough backbone to draw them in. 

All in all, the Lamiglas X-11 packs plenty of fighting power and is one of the best salmon steelhead spinning rods available in stores.  And the best part is — they won’t break your budget. The price is right, making it perfect for weekend warriors looking for an upgrade. 

4. KastKing Krome Salmon/Steelhead Fishing Rod 

The KastKing Krome Steelhead Fishing Rod is without a doubt a rod for those serious steelhead and salmon anglers that don’t settle for inferior equipment. Ranging from 7’6” all the way to the massive 12’ Pro Troller this steelhead rod is the perfect combination of strength and sensitivity. Its lightweight, durable frame will withstand years of abuse and it is arm surprisingly light for those long days out on the water.

The KastKing Krome is arguably the best steelhead rod in its price range because it’s made of the finest materials from handle to rod tip. It sports a carbon design that’s reinforced with true Kevlar fabric which provides added resistance for those especially hard fighting fish. Diehard anglers typically buy 3, 4, or even 5 of these rods because the craftsmanship and attention to detail on the KastKing Krome is simply unreal.

Beyond the superior construction and enhanced control, there’s one feature of this rod everyone seems to be talking about: it’s beauty. I don’t say that lightly either. As far as fishing rods go this is a great looking rod. The blend of carbon fiber, the sleek finish,combined with its innovative design simply makes this steelhead rod eye-catching. Don’t be surprised if people compliment you on it and it has an added bonus of cleaning up nicely at the end of a busy day on the water.

All in all, the superb construction with its kevlar wrap is pure brilliance and the versatility of this rod makes it a true pleasure to fish with. Not only is it great for steelhead but also works wonder on stripers, bass, and more. The Krome series is a beast of a rod that is fantastic at trolling at a solid price point.

5. G.Loomis E6X Steelhead Drift Spinning Rod 

No list of the best steelhead fishing rods is complete without the G.Loomis E6X Steelhead Drift Spinning Rod. To put it plainly, using this rod will make you a better angler. While it’s a little less expensive than the G.Loomis IMX, it still packs legendary performance. 

Ask anyone who owns one and they’ll tell you the E6X is an all-around great rod that works well in every season, and its range allows you to cover a wide variety of water conditions and fishing applications.

The G.Loomis E6X steelhead rod is designed with a lightweight frame and full cork handles to give a comfortable and confident grip that allows anglers to fish for days with minimal fatigue. But don’t let that lightweight frame fool you, it packs plenty of power. Beyond power, it’s second to none when it comes to accuracy and precision. The E6X sports moderate to fast-action that gives you added control so you can drift easily and detect every nibble.

A side benefit is that it’s easy to maintain control with this rod because of the added leverage and tip speed which give a faster hook set. That faster hook set and added accuracy make it exceptional at catching medium king salmon and steelheads. In the end, you can’t go wrong with investing in a G.Loomis E6X Steelhead Drift Spinning Rod.

Final Thoughts

To be clear, you can’t go wrong with any of the steelhead rods on this list. Each one is capable of achieving excellent trolling spreads while still remaining manageable and powerful. Each one brings its own set of unique features and capabilities. And in the end, all are capable of reeling in loads of steelhead fish. ​

But when asked to pick just one, I’ve picked the Lamiglas X-11 Cork – Salmon & Steelhead Fishing Rod as the best steelhead rod. It’s what I use, and I highly recommend it.

(Top Pick) 

Lamiglas X-11 Cork – Salmon & Steelhead Fishing Rod 

Ranging from 8’ 6” all the way up to 10’ 6” this  steelhead rod is not only powerful but sleek and elegant simultaneously.  This is the steelhead rod that I personally own and use here in Oregon steelhead waters. 

Lamiglas x-11 Salmon/Steelhead Rod
  • Ultra sensitive to feel those almost imperceptible steelhead strikes.
  • Great mix of strength, sensitivity and affordability
  • Versatile rod that I use for both steelhead and salmon fishing.
Lasso Brag

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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