8 Best Kayak Fishing Rods: Yak Angler Approved Rods

Whether you’re new to fishing or you’re an experienced angler with an eye on kayak-specific rigs, we got you covered with our comprehensive guide to the best kayak fishing rods. Don’t let the idea of a boat complicate your angling habits. The right gear will bring you closer to that trophy catch or, in the very least, dinner. After reading seemingly endless customer reviews, consulting with seasoned kayak fishermen, and doing a couple of trials, we are more than satisfied with our final picks.

Best Budget Choice

#5 Ugly Stik GX2 Combo

4.5/5

Best Pick

#1 Shimano Trevala

4.5/5

Best Premium Choice

#2 St.croix Mojo Inshore

4.5/5

Kayak Fishing Rod Reviews

 

1. Shimano Trevela (Top Pick)

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4.5/5

Features

  • Action: Moderate fast
  • Power: Medium-light to medium-heavy
  • Length: 6 feet 3 inches
  • Material: C4S graphite

The Trevala S Series rods are engineered to work with nearly any shallow butterfly jig configuration. However, anglers also say they also make excellent trolling setups.

The Shimano Trevela’s proprietary CS4 blank lowers the weight of the rod, enabling anglers to play off the movements and behaviors of their targets. Of course, the material’s unmatched sensitivity also lets anglers capitalize on every little nibble at the end of their lines.

The pole is 6 feet 3 inches long and just one piece. It has a medium-fast action that can be paired with 30- to 40-pound braid and 3-ounce lures. Despite its low weight, it offers plenty of power. You can jig well in both shallow and deep water.

>>What Customers Think<<

The Trevala’s Alconite-lined Fuji guides reduce line friction, successfully preventing snags and frays. Meanwhile, the Fuji reel seat keep prevents the reel from wobbling during fights. The pole’s split EVA grips make this one of the few rods we are comfortable handling in moist, slimy environments.

Customers say that the Trevala casting rod is well-suited for rock fishing, jigging, and even occasional trolling. The pole’s small diameter and lean weight make it a natural extension of the body. The Trevala will definitely keep you comfortable for extended fishing sessions. Just be sure to find a reel that’s small enough to squeeze inside the Fuji reel seat. Given the rod’s high price point, a rod leash might also be a good investment.

What We Like

  • Lightweight CS4 construction offers plenty of power and responsiveness
  • Split EVA handles give you control over heavy lures
  • Fuji reel seats prevent wobbling
  • Covered by a limited lifetime warranty

What We Didn’t Like

  • Reel seat isn’t a good fit for larger reels
  • A bit pricey

 

2. St Croix Mojo Inshore (Premium Pick)

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4.5/5

Features

  • Action: Fast
  • Power: Medium-light to medium-heavy
  • Length: 7feet to 7 feet 6 inches
  • Material: Premium SCII carbon

The St. Croix Mojo is a lightweight and highly responsive spinning rod that’s perfect for inshore saltwater fishing.  Mojo Inshore Casting Rods are an excellent upgrade for anglers who want to do more than bait and hook random targets. The premium SCII graphite blank serves as the foundation for this lightweight yet durable rod. Your line will have no trouble winding through the aluminum oxide guides.

>>What Customers Think<<

The split-grip cork handle offers an air of sophistication and plenty of slip-resistance in wet conditions. Customers seem utterly pleased with St. Croix’s smooth-operating inshore casting rod. Anglers said they had no trouble whipping their lines from the cockpit of their kayaks. While the Mojo isn’t a bargain-rate fishing rod, it’s also not the most expensive model on the market. What’s more, it is one of the only rods that anglers trust when fighting back against large freshwater targets.

What We Like

  • Covered by a 5-year warranty
  • Classic cork handle
  • Premium graphite blank with aluminum oxide guides
  • Fuji reel seat with a black hood

What We Didn’t Like

  • Pricey

 

3. Falcon Coastal Casting Rod (Best Coastal Casting Rod)

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4/5

Features

  • Action: Medium
  • Power: Medium-light to medium-heavy
  • Length: 6 feet 6 inches to 9 feet
  • Material: Graphite

Falcon’s coastal casting rod offers anglers premium inshore fishing experiences. The super-sensitive graphite blank lets anglers know as soon as they have a nibble. Fuji guides and an exposed blank Fuji reel seat give this rod a substantial backbone. Meanwhile, the rod’s double Flex Coat finish holds up great in otherwise unforgiving saltwater environments.

Customers say that this rod is an excellent option for kayak-based distance casting. The medium action rod is strong enough to fight back against the most ferocious species, including reds, trouts, and snooks.

>>What Customers Think<<

This pole is available in a variety of models, starting with the 6-foot-6-inch Wade Fisher and maxing out with the 8-foot Outtasight. All models have split cork handles, which serve as reliable grips in turbulent saltwater environments. While customers seem exceptionally pleased with these mid-range casting rods, there have been a few reports of manufacturing defects, though not the type that would interrupt performance.

What We Like

  • Double flex coat finish holds up well to saltwater
  • 100% graphite blank other excellent feedback
  • Fuji reel seat locks in reel
  • Developed with input from top inshore captains

What We Didn’t Like

  • Epoxy defects

 

4. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Spinning Reel Combo (Best Combo)

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4/5

Features

  • Action: Moderate to fast
  • Power: Ultra-light to medium-heavy
  • Length: 4 feet 8 inches to 7 feet
  • Weight: Graphite and fiberglass
  • Material:

If rod and reel pairing isn’t your forte, be sure to check out this remarkable rod and spinning reel combo byShakespeare. The blank is made from a mixture of graphite and fiberglass. The composites make it lightweight, durable, and ultra-sensitive. Meanwhile, split EVA grips give anglers the reprieve they need on extended fishing/paddling excursions. The Ugly Tuff guides help lines move along without interruption.

>>What Customes Think<<

The reel is made from glass-filled nylon and aluminum. The reel’s trio of ball bearings and its one-way clutch do a great job of preventing line reversals and subsequent bird nests. It can be paired with approximately 110 yards of 4- to 10-pound mono and your choice of 1/8 to ½ ounce lures.

What We Like

  • A virtually unbreakable spinning reel
  • Split EVA handles are perfect for all-day tournaments
  • Graphite/fiberglass blank holds up well to repeated abuse
  • Clear fiberglass tip

What We Didn’t Like

  • Difficult for long-distance casting

 

5. Ugly Stick Elite Spinning Fishing Rod (Budget Pick)

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3.5/5

Features

  • Action: Ultra light to medium-heavy
  • Power: Moderate
  • Length: 4 feet 6 inches to 7 feet 6 inches
  • Material: Graphite and fiberglass

When it comes to kayak fishing, the Ugly Stik Elite is one of our favorite budget spinning rod setups for kayak fishing. First off, the graphite construction gives you ample sensitivity without adding extra weight to your cockpit. Of course, the cork handle and stainless steel guides are unexpected and well-appreciated highlights on such an inexpensive setup. The pole also breaks into two pieces, with all the guides on the top blank. This makes for fuss-free packing, which is perfect for boats with limited storage.

For those who don’t know, Ugly Stik is a mainstay in the budget fishing industry. Still, their rods are known for being rugged and responsive. The company’s standard 7-year warranty is enough to warrant the purchase of this premium spinning rod.

>>What Customers Think<<

We recommend this rod to beginner kayak fishermen who are shopping under the constraints of a limited budget. It holds up well so long you aren’t trolling super heavy species. The rod is light and resilient enough to make it through rugged outdoor adventures.

What We Like

  • Exposed blank reel seats
  • Split cork grip with etched logo
  • Covered by a 7-year warranty
  • Competes with high-end rods for a fraction of the cost

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not to be rigged with braided line
  • Stainless steel guides may warp under pressure

 

6. Okuma Nomad Spinning Fishing Rod (Best Dual Action Rod)

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3.5/5

Features

  • Action: Moderate
  • Power: Light to Medium-heavy
  • Length: 6 feet 6 inches to 7 feet
  • Material: Graphite with carbon wrap

Okuma set out to make a rod that any traveler or boater can appreciate, and we’re eating it up. The Nomad Travel Rod boasts a durable and highly responsive graphite and carbon blank that breaks into three easy to travel with sections. Since each rod comes with two top actions, this may be the most space-saving rod concept on the market.

Portability aside, this is also an outstanding fishing tool. For one, the European spigot ferrules make this rod feel like a one-piece pole. There are even non-slip grips above each ferrule, making this any easy pole to piece together on the water. EVA foam fore and rear grips ensure that this pole isn’t going to get slippery when it’s wet.

>>What Customes Think<<

The rod’s aluminum reel seat and tightening rings are also well-made. Meanwhile, zirconium guide liners ensure that your line never succumbs to friction. While the rod flexes well under pressure, it can also be cast into the wind without succumbing to the pressure. Our only complaint is that the ferrule connections sometimes stick, making breakdowns a bit frustrating.

Customers say the Okuma is perfect for boat and beach casting. With such a versatile action, anglers can easily change targets.

What We Like

  • Three sections break down easily for storage and travel
  • Comes with two different tips with varying actions
  • Super smooth zirconium guide inserts
  • EVA butt and grip

What We Didn’t Like

  • Ferrule connections can be stubborn

 

7. Fenwick Travel Spinning Rod (Best Lightweight Rod)

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3.5/5

Features

  • Action: Fast
  • Power: Medium-light to medium
  • Length: 7 feet
  • Material: Carbon-bound graphite

This three-piece spinning rod is the perfect piece for a kayak with limited cockpit space. First off, the detachable segments and included storage bag make this pole one of our favorites in terms of portability. Meanwhile, the carbon-bound blank gives the rod a precise action and plenty of fighting power. When paired with a reliable rod leash, you can be sure that the one-piece cork grip will keep you from losing your rod and reel combo.

>>What Customers Think<<

Unfortunately, the rod has super small guides. The eye of the first guide is so small that it can cause a line to freeze up in the middle of a cast. Still, the stainless steel and Alconite guides perform well when paired up with 6- to 12-pound lines.

What We Like

  • Includes a canvas case with a hard plastic liner
  • Reel seat with positive lock system
  • Carbon thread exterior offers extra strength to graphite blank
  • Stainless steel guides with Alconite inserts

What We Didn’t Like

  • Small top guide causes friction and freeze-ups

 

8. High Altitude Lightweight Portable Telescopic Fishing Pole (Best portable Option)

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3.5/5

Features

  • Action: Medium to medium-heavy
  • Power: Light
  • Length: 16 inches to 5 feet 6 inches
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Material: 24 Ton Toray carbon fiber & M6 graphite

High Altitude’s telescopic spinning rod is the perfect size for kayaks with limited cargo space. This 5-foot-6-inch rod consists of five durable blanks that can be retracted to become an ultra-compact 16-inch bundle. The pole even comes with a travel case, enabling you to keep all your fishing gear in one small package. The bag features six backpack mount points. Meanwhile, its hard rod tube and padded reel pouch protect its most vulnerable parts from being damaged in transit.

Despite the pole’s small size, it is perfectly suitable for catching trout, bass, bluegill, and other large panfish. The 24-ton Toray carbon fiber and M6 graphite construction offer the perfect blend of strength and sensitivity.

>>What Customers Think<<

Unlike other bargain-rate telescopic poles, the High Altitude is loaded up with performance-enhancing extras. The onboard hook keeper enables anglers to stash their gear when they are paddling between destinations. Meanwhile, the rod’s removal butt cover enables anglers to remove dirt that has accumulated inside the telescoping sections. Of course, the aluminum reel seat is engineered to put up with plenty of abuse. With just five blanks and durable binding reel nuts, the High Altitude is less likely to succumb to the pressure of a big fish.

If you’re unsure about telescopic fishing rods, be sure to check out this video, which covers the differences between telescopic and classic fishing rods.

Customers were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the pole and case. However, some mentioned that the rod was stiffer than expected. Still, most anglers were pleased with this pole’s portability and resilience. Many customers were also pleased to see that 5% of the proceeds from the High Altitude Poles are donated to youth fishing initiatives.

What We Like

  • Just five telescoping blanks for maximum durability
  • Hook keeper makes it safer to travel between fishing spots
  • Less than 17 inches when fully retracted
  • Removable butt cap for removing dirt from telescoping sections
  • Durable aluminum reel seat

What We Didn’t Like

  • A bit rigid

 

How to Choose the Best Fishing Rod for a Kayak

Find out what you need to consider to select the best fishing rod for kayak fishing.

Where are you Fishing?

First off, you need to consider where you’ll be fishing. Due to the size of the fish in extensive waterways, it is usually best to use a more powerful rod in these locations. Meanwhile, modest rods are perfectly suitable for small ponds and streams. Six- to 7-foot rods that are rated for 15- to 20-pound lines are perfect for offshore ocean fishing. Meanwhile, shorter rods with 6 to 12-pound line are a better fit for lightweight baits and targets.

Rod Action

Rod action refers to the area in which a blank bends under the weight of a catch. Action ratings include slow, moderate, and fast. A rod with an extra fast action will only bend at the tip. Meanwhile, half the blank bends on rods with slow actions.

Rod Power

Meanwhile,rod power is the amount of pressure that is needed to bend the rod at its action rating. Power ratings include ultra-light, light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, and heavy. For the most part, rods with heavy power ratings are ideal for the largest species, thickest lines, and heaviest lures.

Length

While there are no rules regarding kayak fishing pole sizes, you should choose one that’s roughly half the length of your kayak. If you want to make the most of your space on the water, consider purchasing a rod that breaks into two or three pieces. Telescopic rods are also a good option for kayaking. Short rods are preferable for kayak fishing because they enable you to make more accurate casts, pitches, and recoveries.

Material

Fishing poles center around two pivotal pieces: blanks and guides. Blanks are usually made out of fiberglass, graphite, or composite. Graphite is favored for its unmatched sensitivity and rigidity. With that said, graphite rods are highly susceptible to breakage. However, fiberglass reigns in terms of durability, which can be especially important during offshore angling expeditions. Some rods also use a blend, or composite, of materials. For example, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod boasts a graphite blank with a fiberglass tip. Meanwhile, others, including the Okuma Nomad Spinning Fishing Rod, are reinforced with carbon wraps.

How it Pairs with the Reel

A reliable reel seat will help you to couple your reel and rod. A reliable marriage makes for a more secure platform. Most reel seats boast a pair of durable collars. These can be screwed down to prevent the reel from wobbling. These materials should screw in tight to create an unmovable bond between the two otherwise separate components.

best kayak fishing rod

What Features Make a Rod Good for Kayaking?

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of fishing rods, it’s time to consider what makes a rod well-suited for kayak fishing.

Lightweight Design

With limited space and a concrete weight limit, lightweight rods are your best options. You might not be able to make accurate long-distance casts with the featherweight poles, but that doesn’t matter much when you’re floating over your targets!

Fits in Rod Holder or Crate

Make sure that your rod is compatible with your holders or your tackle crates. Most holders are advertised as universal. However, the large, padded butts of some fishing poles don’t always fit. As such, be sure to choose a rod with the correct butt diameter.

Portable

In recent years, telescopic rods have become increasingly popular with boaters and travelers. However, conventional two- and three-piece rods are also great options for anglers on the go. Meanwhile, relatively stubby, lightweight rods are also good options for kayak fishing.

Good Grip

While fishing rod handles are often taken for granted, these elements can impact anglers’ success rates. Fishing rod grips are usually made from EVA, cork, or Hypalon. They can be whole or split. Full grips are ideal for heavy baits. They also are easier to fit into universal rod holders, and therefore the better option for trolling setups. With that said, split grips tend to be lighter and more sensitive. Most anglers consider grip choice a matter of personal preference.

FAQs

 

What is the best length rod for kayak fishing?

The ideal rod length for kayak fishing is between 6 ½ and 8 feet. Longer rods will give you more casting power, but there’s usually a limit to how much bulk you want to bring into a cockpit. Short rods help paddlers maximize the accuracy of their short-distance casts and retrieves, and are almost always the best options for offshore angling excursions.

Where should a kayak rod holder be placed?

Another critical consideration is where to rig your rod holder. Flush-mount rod holders, which are part of the kayak body, tend to be directly behind the seats of a kayak. If you’re mounting an aftermarket holder, be sure to place it out of the way of your paddles.

How do you secure your fishing rod in case a fish bites?

A reliable rod leash will keep you from losing your hard-earned equipment. One end of a rod leash should be wrapped around the bottom of your rod, and the other should be tethered to one of the flush-mount rod holders on your kayak. Here is a video on how to make a DIY kayak rod leash.

 

Final Thoughts

Do you have a favorite kayak fishing rod? If so, we would love to hear about it! Our favorite has to be the Shimano Trevela, which is gives us plenty of casting power and accuracy on the water. With that said, the Falcon Coastal Fishing Rod is our go-to option for trolling coastal estuaries, beaches, and docks. Of course, the High Altitude Telescoping Rod is a great option for paddlers with limited cockpit space. Drop your questions, comments, and concerns in the section below, and we’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as possible!

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