5 Best Beginner Fishing Rods 2020 – Top Budget Models Reviewed

When getting into fishing for the first time it can be a bit much in terms of what rods and fishing gear you can choose from. Heck you have Spinning Rods, bait casting rods and then you have to think about the power of the rods. In this guide we have selected the best fishing starter rods to get you hooked in. We have also selected some rods and reels combos to help get you out there quicker!

We took time to assess the market and came up with the five of the best fishing rod brands for your fishing experience. Before presenting the products, however, we will go through the factors that will help you identify the best beginner fishing rods based on your needs below the reviews.

Best Budget Choice

#2 Ugly Stik GX2 Combo


Best Pick

Penn Fierce III

#1 Penn Fierce III Combo


Best Premium Choice

#3 Pen Battle II Combo


The Top Introductory Fishing Rods go as follows:

  1. PENN Fierce III Live Liner Spinning Combo  (Best Quality Pick)
  2. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod and Reel Combo  (Best Budget Reel/Rod Combo)
  3. Pen Battle II Rod and Reel Combo  (Best Beach Option)
  4. Sougayilang Fishing Rod Combo (Best Telescopic Option)
  5. PLUSINNO Rod and Reel Combos  (Most Value)

What makes a Good Beginner fishing rod?

There isn’t really such as thing as a labeled beginner fishing pole. It’s a subjective term that should be worded differently. Instead, you should first decide what type of fishing you will be doing and decide from there what your budget is and what you want to fish for. The fishing rod and reel combos that we recommend above all have different uses that they are relatively easy for beginners to get into. Just keep in mind that basic setups are not always best for beginners. This is because as you get more into the sport you will want to start advancing and learning new techniques. Fishing with these new techniques will require a more advanced reel and rod combo. If fishing is something that you can see yourself doing fairly regularly get a decent set up like the Pisicifun Carbon X Serpent Spinning Rod Combo that you can grow into and have as part of your arsenal for a long time.

What kind of Fishing rod should I buy?

As a general guide where are some suggestions of setups you should use in certain instances.

  • If you were fishing for lake-dwelling species such as Bass, perch or smaller pike species you would get a Light to Light-Medium Action Rod, with a spinning reel with rear drag for medium to lighter fish species.
  • If you were fishing for heavier lake-dwelling species like Muskie, Pike you would use a medium action rod with a baitcasting reel.
  • If you were Offshore fishing for Bigger species of fish like rays, sharks, striped bass you would get a medium- heavy Action rod with the later for bigger fish. This would be coupled with a spinning reel that has a front drag system for those bigger fish.
  • Giant Fish like Marlin, larger shark species or tuna would require specialized offshore fishing rods and reels.

best beginner fishing rod

What type of Reel should you get?

Our big fishing reel guide on the different types of fishing reels. Goes super in-depth about this but as a general guideline we recommend:

Spincasting Reels: Spincast reels are very simple reels that are made for beginners and kids alike. They are meant for small to medium-sized fish. While these are the most inexpensive reels out there, they will also be replaced relatively quickly as you increase your fishing skill.

Spinning Reel: These are the most common types of reels that are the most versatile for most types of environments. These can take on most fish species up to 25 pounds usually.

Baitcasting Reels: If you are looking to catch some behemoths in the lake baitcasting rods are your best bet. These are usually the reels of preference for more advanced fishermen because they are the best types to have for heavier lures.

Surf Fishing Reels: These are kind of like a hybrid of spinning reels but more focused on beach use. They typically have a longer range than typical spinning reels and are more durable to conditions.

Fly Fishing Reels: Flyfishing reels look like an entirely different beast than what we’ve seen here. They are designed for quick retrieval because of the nature of fly fishing. Fish species usually targeted are trout or salmon. Flyfishing is a more difficult technique to learn as a beginner.

Offshore Reels: Offshore Reels are used for those big 20 to 50-pound fish that you can find in the ocean. These can be found on many fishing charter boats as their use is dependant on being above deeper water.

How do you know what size fishing rod to get?

A fishing rod will have a length varying between 2 and 20 feet, which means that the length you choose will depend on your needs. If you are looking to do fly fishing, then a long pole is ideal for you your fishing experience. If you are dealing with short lures for ice fishing, however, go for a short pole that is often characterized by fighting fish such as bass and pike.

Rod construction material

While fishing rods were initially made of bamboo, today’s manufacturers have upgraded to the use of fiberglass and graphite. Carbon fiberglass rods are more reliable as compared to the graphite types since they are not only highly flexible but also cheap, tough, and durable. On the other hand, graphite fishing rods are more weightless sensitive, and stiffer, but are also much easier to break. Most of the above brands that we have reviewed use either or. For beginners typically you are going for smaller fish so a cheaper graphite rod would do just fine.

Action of the rod

This refers to how easily the pole can flex every time a force is applied to it. This further defines the ability of the rod to bend and determines how far it can go. The fast action fishing rods are used to catch large species of fish since the entire top third of the rod bends. Moreover, such actions allow you to fight the fish easily that mostly feature a stiff backbone. Medium action fishing rods allow the bending of the top half and are mostly a favorite of the beginners. A slow action fishing pole is perfect for catching small fish since it will be from the lower third.


This refers to the level of pressure needed to bend the fishing rod while in action. A fishing rod is often described as ultra-light, light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy, and extra-heavy with respect to its power. The lighter  rods need less bending power while the heavy types require more pressure to bend. We go a bit more into this below when we explain what types of rods are good for what types of fish.

What to Avoid

Try to avoid cheaper fishing rods from gas stations, kids shops or those Disney character themed rods meant for children. While these companies mean well these fishing rods will not be good for much, hence their rather cheap price tag. Thankfully you don’t have to spend too much on a rod to get something of quality. Our selections are a prime example of this.

Whats the Difference Between Expensive Fishing Rods and Cheaper Ones?

The first difference that you would find out soon if you compared the two together is the “feel” of the rod. That is when you are jigging the bait you get a better feel for how sensitive the rod is meaning you can feel the bites better and react accordingly. Another smaller difference is quality materials that are used although truthfully lots of fisherman are just as happy handling a mid range $30 – $65 rod as they would handling a $100 plus rod. A lot of this does come down to personal preference though. In my opinion I like to throw the money down and get a rod that can grow with me, such as the Ugly Stick GX2. Fishing Rods that can grow with you will be of a lot more use as time carrys on. This is because you do not outgrow them and have to throw them away, but instead you have another option available for the rod power desired. As you get more experienced  with fishing chances are your fishing artillary will grow too.

What Type of Fish are you Fishing For?

The type of fishing rod and fishing gear you pick is also highly dependent on what type of fish you are trying to catch. The most important things to keep in mind is the capabilities of the rod, especially if you are looking for a certain type of fish. an Ultra Light Rod will most likely snap if you are trying to reel in that 15 pound pike. While a heavy action rod will not have as much sensativity if you are targeting smaller dish species like blue gill. Below is a handy little chart that I made abou the type of fishing that can help you out with this descision.

muskie pike

Small Fish (Blue Gill, SunFish, Perch, Some Types of Crappie)

  • Requires Slow action rod with ultra – light to light Power

Medium Fish (Bass, Smaller Pike, Trout)

  • Requires a light – Medium Action Rod with light to medium power.

Larger Fish (Bigger Bass, Salmon, Pike, Muskie)

  • Requires Medium – Medium Heavy Action with Medium to Heavy Power

Ocean Fish for Off Shore Fishing

  • Heavy Action Rod with Heavy to Extra Heavy Power
  • These Rods are generally more specialized and beyond the scope of this article


Types of fishing rods

When looking to acquire the best fishing rod for beginners, you have to decide the type that you need. The common types include:

Bait-casting rods

Baitcasting Rods and reels are specially designed for experienced fishermen since they can be used to catch a wide variety of fish and are available in a wide array of options. Such types are the standard rods for fishing bass, trout and pike.

Trolling rods

These types of rods are ideal when you are dragging a lure behind a trolling boat or fishing kayak with the aim of enticing the nearby fish to bite and then be caught. Every trolling reel should come with three general features and these include:

– A line braking system located on the reel handle
– A release lever
– A line out alarm

Such rods provide maximum versatility and flexibility to catch fish easily. You should know, however, that fish trolling is illegal in some states. As such, be sure to check the local fishing rules and regulations to be on the safe side of the law.

Spinning rods

The spinning rods are designed with a fixed below just below the rod and the weight of the bait is supposed to cause the spinning line to be drawn. They are the perfect choice for beginners since they are simpler to use and offer top-level versatility. You can use these reels to cast artificial or live bait too.

Fly fishing rods

Fly fishing rods are normally weightless and long. Their length usually varies between 6 and 14 feet. They allow you to cast a fly that is then tied to something like fur to mimic the appearance of an insect. Once you cast your fly fishing bait into  The flexibility of these rods enables you to catch fish that leap out of the water.

Beginner Fishing Rod Reviews


Below are the Best Fishing Rods for Beginners. I have included both rods and reel and rod combos in these reviews. This is because as you gain more experience you may like a certain brand of rod paired with a certain type of reel. Still, if you are just starting out and want the affordable and most ready fishing packages a rod and reel combo will be your best bet to start off with.


1.  PENN Fierce III Live Liner Spinning Combo (Best Quality Option)

Penn Fierce III

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  • Techno-Balanced graphite rotor
  • 4 +1 Stainless Steel bearing system
  • 5:6:1 or 6:2:1 Gear Ratio
  • Anti-reverse
  • graphite composite rod

Sometimes the looker of the bunch also happens to be the best option. The Penn Fierce III Live Liner Spinning Combo is a rod-reel combination that is a bit more pricy but a rod that will last you for a long time. While I realize that this article is about beginner fishing rods, I have often found that starting off with a good quality rod that will last you years and years is a great way to start your fishing. Especially if it’s a hobby you can see yourself doing for years and years.

 The Penn Fierce III is also a great rod and reel combo that can be used in variety of different environments like lakes, bays and ocean fishing. Some customers even state that it is one of the best saltwater spinning reels that they have tried.

>>What Customers Think<<

Another great thing about this combo is that it comes in a variety of different reel and rod sizes. The reels range from 4,000, 6,000 and 8,000 while the rods 7′, 9′ and 10′ with Medium, Medium Heavy and Heavy power range.  Safe to say this is an ideal rod reel combo to use for bigger game fish such as pike, trout and big mouth bass in lakes and stripped bass, salmon, mahi, rock bass to name a few ocean fish.


  • Great for Bigger Fish
  • Very highly regarded by customers
  • One of the better looking rod -reel combos
  • Can be used in salt and freshwater environments
  • This is a combo that can last you a long time


  • May be a bit more expensive then what you want to spend



2. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod and Reel Combo (Best Budget Reel/Rod Combo)

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  • Graphite and Fiberglass Construction
  • Eva Grips
  • 3 Ball Bearings and one way clutch with Anti-reverse beating
  • 1 Piece rod

This light 1 piece-spinning rod and reel combo will simply up your fishing game. It features 3 ball bearings alongside a one-way clutch instant anti-reverse bearing to ensure that all your gears feel smooth. This will also allow you to set the hook instantly. This combo is a bit more on the pricey side but is a great combo that you can grow with. That is, you can have this rod in your arsenal when you get more experienced and it would not look out of place one bit.

The Ugly Stik construction features a machined double anodized aluminum spool that further comes with an oversized bail wire to increase its durability. The Ugly Stick rods and reels combo also comes with compression bail springs that are aimed at improving the spinning reel’s life span. You will also appreciate the soft touch handle knobs that deliver extra comfort when in use.

>>What Customers Think<<

A lot of the reviewers were very impressed with the quality of both the rod and reel. As it is with combos one is usually of a better caliber than the other, but with the Ugly Stik GX2 this simply was not the case. The main complaints about this combo is that it is not packed very well for shipping but few are actually directed towards the performance of this product. Overall this is a great pick for those who want a quality fishing rod that you can keep for years and years.


  • This Ugly Stik GX2 rod is highly durable and sturdy, which means that you will enjoy its services for a long time.
  • It is highly sensitive, implying that it can offer all-round use despite the type of fish being caught.
  • Offers the best value for your money.


  • This spinning rod is a little heavy; you can’t cast it for long without getting tired.
  • Complaints about the packaging of the fishing rod


3. Pen Battle II Rod and Reel Combo (Best Beach Option)


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  • 6.2:1 Gear Ratio
  • Carbon Fiber Drag System
  • Comes in a variety of different sizes and actions
  • Both 1 and 2 Piece available
  • Max Drag 15 Lbs

The Penn Battle II is a great rod and reel combo to do some offshore fishing with if you live by the ocean. It’s a great bang for your buck type of rod/reel combo for those offshore fisherman who wants to get started with some coastal fishing experience. In terms of choice there are many different kinds of models to choose from from the 2000 – 6’6 Medium Light Series to the 6000 – 9’ Medium Heavy Series for bigger fish like sharks and rays. It comes in both 1 piece form medium – Heavy fishing rod varieties. Below is a video of how the rod fairs against a Bullnose Ray.

The overall impression of this rod and reel combo was positive. Many people including the gentleman in the above video have stated positive experiences catching various offshore species such as rays, sharks and striped bass. A lot of reviewers tested this combo out on beached off of coastal waters. Some of the more negative qualities about this combo were the fact that more then a few reviewers stated that it was not packaged very well and in some instances some pieces broke on delivery. A few other odd cases stated that the rod broke while they were in the middle of a fish battle.

Despite a few of these negative reviews, the Penn Battle II seems to be a solid rod that can hold up when the manufacturing of the rod is done right. Few of the complaints were also directed at the reel its self.


  • Comes in Many Different Varieties
  • Good Introductory Rod/reel for Offshore Fishing
  • Lots of compliments about the reel


  • Shipping Packaging can be poor on Delivery
  • Some Complaints about the quality of the rod



4. Sougayilang Fishing Rod Combo (Best Telescopic Option)

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Have you been looking for a fishing rod and reel that can be comfortably used in both salty water and freshwater? If you have, this might be the best brand in the market since it even comes with a fishing carrier bag for convenient travels. It is sold with a spare spool, 110 yards of fishing line, 3 fishing lures, and 12 other fishing accessories. The hooded reel seats are made of stainless steel so the rod is always bright and resistant to corrosion in seawater. This strong pole is widely considered to be the best fishing rod and reel combo for beginners because of the accessories included and it’s versatillity. It is also one of the best cheap rods you can get that gives you an affordable price with decent craftmanship used.It further features sealed waterproof and dust proof bearings that complement the zinc material gear for longevity.

>>What Customers Think<<

Many customers commented on how smooth the spinning reel is, especially when using it for the first time. Lots of customers were impressed with how the telescopic rod held up as well, especially when fighting medium sized fish! As with the Plussino there were some customers who complained about the rod breaking after only a few uses. This seems to be a somewhat common theme with telescopic fishing rods where most of them hold up well but a few of them may be not up to manufacturing standards.



  • The line roller features a new design specially made to minimize line twist and fatigue that would otherwise lead to a breakage.
  • It comes with left/right interchangeable aluminum handles that boost your handling strength and make the rod lightweight for easier usage.
  • It comes with an exquisitely made fishing carrier bag that is made from a durable material and double zippers for item security.


  • This rod doesn’t seem to handle snags and great tension well. This means that its use might be limited in large lakes/rivers.

5. PLUSINNO Rod and Reel Combos (Most Value)

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  • 6 Different Lures
  • 4 different sinker weights
  • Fishing Line
  • Everything you need in one purchase

Are you looking to purchase an entire rod and reel combo kit? If you are, you need search no further since PLUSINNO Spinning Combos Full KIT is designed specifically for you. It comes with a fishing rod, a fishing  spinning reel, a fishing line, 6 fishing lures, 6 fishing hooks, 4 sinkers, a fishing bag, and other amazing fishing accessories. This allows you to hit the lake instantly. What’s more is that you can easily stow it away because of its telescopic make. Easy storage is definitely the name of the game for this rod.

It offers just the perfect elasticity to help you increase your catch and enjoy the adventure. Its construction features a mix of high-density carbon fiber and fiberglass that make it hard and durable for beginner fisherman. It’s medium power allows you to catch fish species that are a bit bigger and give you more fight.

>>What Customers Think<<

The spinning reel seats are hooded and made of stainless steel, which means that they are resistant to the corrosion caused by seawater. Most users love the fact that the telescopic fishing rod is made with a closed length design that makes it highly portable and convenient to use. The extended handle works alongside the medium power to deliver a great action.

Overall a lot of customers were delighted to see how this rod held up when fighting fish such as bass tagged the line. Some even have pictures in the reviews. Theres seems to be some quality control issues though as some customers complain about the rod snapping even before getting to use it.


  • Designed with an EVA fore grip that ensures maximum comfort during use.
  • It has an instant anti-reverse power drive gear equipped for maximum strength.
  • The spinning reel is made from deep aluminum for durability.
  • Despite its compact body, it has a large spool and large line capacity to enhance your fishing efficiency.
  • Great starter rod to get you fishing instantly


  • Some users are worried that the plastic body makes it a lower quality product.
  • Quality Control for this product could be better




Final Thoughts

Finding the best fishing rod for beginners might be a real hassle. This is often attributable to the fact that you will be dealing with multiple brands of fishing gear and finding one that best meets your needs might be challenging. What’s more, you will have to consider factors such as the rod length, action, power, and construction material. Luckily, we have reviewed the top 5  rods for beginners in the market.

Out of the 5, Picifun is our overall winner. It is available at a super friendly price considering its great status when compared to its competitors. It is also highly durable, lightweight, and flexible, which means that it will allow you to have a fantastic time catching fish.

This, however, does not rule out the other four best fishing rod for beginners. They are also amazing choices that are worth considering since they have multiple unique features to offer.

4 thoughts on “5 Best Beginner Fishing Rods 2020 – Top Budget Models Reviewed”


    Please help! For fathers day I’m looking to purchase 1 rod for my hubby of 37 years, our 6 sons our 8 grandsons. Unfortunately I have no experience and not a lot of funds to work with.

    1. If you are looking for a rod that has everything included including reel and some starter tackle the Sougayilang (our top pick) is a great rod to choose!

    1. Shorter Rods:
      – Better for short distance casting
      – Ideal for close combat (IE fish is close to you in the water)
      – Good for fighting fish because of less bend in the rod

      Longer Rods:
      – For longer casts
      – Fishing in deeper water in big lakes or oceans

      If you have a specific fish species that you want to catch in mind then get a rod based on that criteria. An example of this would be for a small mouth bass, a shorter rod would be ideal because it is a fighting fish and you will be casting in closer quarters.

      Hope this helped 🙂

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