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Best Kayak Fishing Rods

Whether you’re an experienced angler with an appetite for kayak fishing or a beginner looking to try out a spot of kayak fishing, you will need a top-quality kayak fishing rod.

Man Kayak Fishing at Sunrise

To be successful at fishing, you need a few things: knowledge, luck, and a good fishing rod. While we may not be able to help you with your luck, we can certainly build up your knowledge of kayak fishing rods.

There are not many better feelings than heading into the great outdoors for a day of fishing. However, before you head out, you will need the proper gear. This is true if you’re fishing, hiking, or climbing.

kayak fishing washington

Without the correct equipment, each task can become very difficult and the last thing you want is to sit at the shore’s bank for 8 or so hours and not catch anything. If this has happened to you, then it may be time to go shopping for a new fishing rod.

Top 5 Rods for Kayak Fishing

  1. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod
  2. St. Croix Rods Mojo Yak Casting Rod
  3. Fenwick HMG Spinning Fishing Rod
  4. KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rods
  5. Okuma NOMAD Travel Spinning Rod

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod

We begin with not only one of the best kayak fishing rods but one of the best rods with a reel.

ugly stik fishing rod

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Spinning Reel Combo combines graphite and fiberglass in its design which results in a very durable, yet sensitive lightweight rod.

When you’re out for the day, a fishing rod can take its toll on your hands. Holding a rod can cause muscle fatigue and hand strain.

To remedy this, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik fishing rod sports split EVA grips to give your hands comfort for hours on end, especially when you’ll be paddling in your kayak as well.

person holding catfish caught on ugly stik

We love the Ugly Tuff guides included in this rod which help you move along the lines without any interruption. Another aspect we loved about this rod is its strong aluminum and fiberglass-filled construction which should last many years.

It features a one-way clutch and 3 ball bearings to provide better protection against corrosion and prevent line reversals for a smoother experience. With 5, 6, or 7 lengths, your fishing game will improve dramatically with this rod.


  • Durable – A aluminum and fiberglass frame is very strong for long-lasting use
  • Split EVA handles – Ideal for multi-day excursions to limit any stress and fatigue in your hands
  • One-piece stainless steel Ugly Tuff guide – Eliminates insert pop-outs for a smoother and easier experience


  • Quite difficult for long-distance casting – Better suited for short distance casting but it’s available in 3 different lengths

St. Croix Rods Mojo Yak Casting Rod

This is for the serious angler who requires high-performance and value.

st croix mojo kayak rod

The St. Croix Rods Mojo Yak Rod may be advertised for the more experienced fishing enthusiast but this is an ideal choice for anyone looking to start their fishing journey.

It is a highly sensitive and lightweight rod that is comfortable and easy to use. Along with its superb durability, you should get many years of fishing out of it.

st croix mojo kayak fishing rod

St. Croix is regarded as one of the best premium fishing rod manufacturers in the world so you know you would be getting a top-quality piece of gear.

This rod has been specifically designed for kayak fishing offering everything you need to get out on the water as soon as possible.

This Mojo Yak casting rod sports an advanced graphite construction which is very durable and lightweight in the hands.

man on kayak using st croix mojo rod

A split-grip handle will limit fatigue in your palms, fingers, and arms as you hold it for long periods. We love the choice of action depending on the way you fish so you can cater it to your needs.


  • From a highly reputable brand – You’ll be safe in the knowledge that you will get a top-quality rod and great customer service
  • Very lightweight – Perfect for long days of fishing and easy to carry
  • Very strong aluminum-oxide rings – Very durable and reliable construction for long-lasting use


  • Expensive – One of the more expensive kayak rods on the market

Fenwick HMG Spinning Fishing Rod

Some fishing rods can be cumbersome and very uncomfortable to use. Thankfully, there is no such problem with the Fenwick HMG Spinning Fishing Rod.

fenwick spinning kayak rod

This supremely lightweight rod is the perfect addition for inflatable kayaks or more compact kayaks with little storage space.

Finding a rod that has great portability as well as ease of use is vital and the Fenwick HMG rod offers just this. Its design is made up of multiple segments that become detached resulting in a highly portable rod that doesn’t take up much space.

fenwick kayak rod

Included is a storage bag for even easier transport and storage. Although compact and lightweight, this rod has a lot of fighting power thanks to its carbon-bound blank which also provides a more accurate action.

You should never lose your rod-and-reel combo with this Fenwick model when combined with a reliable rod leash and one-piece cork grip.

fenwick kayak fishing rod


  • Retractable – Very conveniently detaches in segments for easy storage that doesn’t take up much space
  • Reel seat includes a positive lock system – Provides added security for your entire rod
  • Carbon thread exterior – Extremely long-lasting and durable so you can be safe in the knowledge that this rod should be your trusted companion for years to come


  • Top-guide tends to cause freeze-ups – The compact top-guide can cause friction and impede your catch rate and experience

KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rods

There is no surprise that KastKing makes an appearance on our list as they are one of the best fishing brands in the world today.

kastking perigree kayak fishing rod

This company is one of the go-to choices for top-quality and budget-friendly fishing equipment and the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rods are just another in a long line of excellent gear.

There is an outstanding selection of rod types and sizes with the Perigee II range so choosing the ideal one for kayak fishing won’t be a problem. The 7.1 medium-fast spin rod is probably the best option as it’s highly versatile for a kayak as well as inshore fishing.

closeup of kastking perigree kayak rod

As with all the rods in this range, this is constructed with Toray 24-ton carbon matrix KastFlex blank technology to provide more power, strength, and accuracy when casting.

This Perigee II fishing rod is packed with premium features such as the world-renowned O-Ring line guides for precise casting and high-density EVA grips that will feel smooth in your hands as you hold the rod.

kayak fishing rod kastking perigree

This rod has been made with a KastKing PTS (Power Transition System) so you can get the smoothest fishing experience you’ve ever had.


  • Ergonomic graphite reel seat – Securely holds the reel to the rod for added strength when tackling larger fish
  • Versatile technology – Provides more power, strength, and accuracy when casting
  • Fuji O-Ring line guides – Highly durable and helps improve the guide of your rod for more precise casting


  • Many choices to choose from – Although this should be a positive, it can become overwhelming and easy to choose the wrong rod for your needs

Okuma NOMAD Travel Spinning Rod

If you’re looking for a dual-action fishing rod, the Okuma Nomad Spinning Rod is one of the best on the market.

okuma nomad kayak fishing rod

This is highly responsive and sports a very durable carbon and graphite blank which retracts into three sections for easy storage. You will be able to save a lot of space with this rod!

We were very impressed by the non-slip grips this rod boasts. These ensure the rod securely stays in your hand while you’re fishing, especially when fighting off larger, stronger fish.

The grips are also made from EVA foam so the pole doesn’t become too slippery when it’s wet.

okuma nomad kayak fishing rod

Rods become worn over time and this is something that is unavoidable. However, the length of time your rod lasts can alter dramatically due to its design and materials.

The Okuma Nomad Spinning Rod is made with zirconium guide liners, aluminum tightening rings, and a sturdy reel seat to ensure any friction doesn’t cause too much wear and tear on the rod’s line.


  • EVA grip – Along with an EVA butt, this rod is comfortable to hold and won’t become slippery when covered in water
  • Two different tips – These offer different actions to suit your style of fishing
  • Breaks down into 3 sections – Easy to pack and store this rod when not in use or when traveling to various locations


  • Stubborn ferrule connections – Can cause rods to become a little stuck when trying to break down into sections

Best Kayak Fishing Rod Buying Guide

A lot of careful consideration needs to go into choosing a kayak fishing rod. There are various aspects you need to consider such as weight, size, and many more.

To help you understand what makes a great kayak fishing rod, we have included some of the key features to look out for below.


When fishing, the power of the rod is important when resisting the force of the fish you are trying to catch. You need to consider the spring back of a rod.

This is how much the rod moves back suddenly when the force of the fish is released.

Higher powered rods tend to have a higher tensile strength resulting in the lure jumping forward before beginning to drag again. With low-power rods, you need to move the whole rod because they aren’t as responsive to the force.

As some rods snap under high pressure, it’s important to know that a low-power rod would spring back much slower as opposed to a more sudden, jerky movement with a high-power model.

Action vs Power

This is the fishing rod’s curvature when under some sort of force. Fast action tips only bend within the first third length of the fishing rod when under pressure. In contrast, a slow action model will usually bend the whole length of the rod.

It wouldn’t be possible to catch a largemouth bass fish with a slow-action rod as these fish are very powerful and can snap it.

This is why the sensitivity of the kayak fishing rod and its reel is also tied to the action. It’s recommended that you start with a medium-action fishing rod.

Rod Length

There are a few different lengths to take into consideration when looking for kayak fishing rods. One is the rod length.

This is probably the most crucial aspect of a rod. Kayak fishing rods tend to be slightly shorter than other regular rods as they usually need to be maneuvered more.

Kayak fishing is quite different from other forms of fishing. For a start, you are usually sitting pretty low in the water which can be challenging.

For this, you will need a rod that is long enough to move out past your kayak’s bow for when a fish swims under your kayak.

On the other hand, it needs to be short enough to place in your kayak when you need to remove the fish. Longer kayak fishing rods are generally more problematic but you can choose retractable models which break down for easy storage and portability.

Another length to consider is the rear grip length. This is regularly referred to as the “butt”.

This is the length of the rod below or behind the reel or rod handle. It is advised you opt for a fishing rod with a shorter rear grip because longer grips can get in the way, especially when in the small confines of a kayak.

You also need to keep your arms held higher at all times with long rear grips which can lead to fatigue, muscle stress, and exhaustion.

The Test

This generally refers to the weight capacity of the rod’s fishing line and the recommended line test rating that you should be using. This is instead of focusing on the rod’s rating.

The load capacity of a kayak fishing rod usually depends on the combination of the line test and the drag settings of the rod’s reel.

You won’t find any industry-standard test ratings with fishing rods so you should research what the best is for your specific needs and choose a suitable rod from there.

Rod Material

Most fishing rods are made from two materials. These are fiberglass and graphite. Graphite is generally more sensitive and not as rigid while fiberglass offers the polar opposite as these models are typically less sensitive and far more flexible.

If you’re using crankbaits, fiberglass is the preferred choice while graphite is better for live bait or jigging. Most top-quality rods are made with fiberglass and graphite layers which increases their durability, strength, and lifespan.

Budget, lower-quality rods are typically made from just fiberglass which is strong but not as durable.

You’ll find that most budget rods will use more resin to seal certain parts for the rod while higher-quality rods will use more material to build up their strength.


Are telescopic and travel rods better for kayak fishing?

Space on board a kayak, or small boat, is quite limited. This is why it’s worth considering a telescopic or travel rod. Both models can be very cost-effective and ideal for use in a limited space.

A bonus of using these rods is how versatile they are so you can use and take them just about anywhere.

If you’re a kayak fisher, first and foremost, and an angler on occasions, a telescopic rod is best for you as you can easily store them in your kayak at the last moment.

Top-quality travel rods usually offer one-piece performance in the practicality of a portable hole. This makes them another ideal choice for kayak anglers.

Does it make a difference if I fish in freshwater or saltwater?

The short answer is yes. Wherever you fish, you need to consider the gear you are using and whether it can stand up to different environments.

Saltwater threatens to corrode your equipment quite quickly so you will require a rod that is treated with anti-corrosion technology.

Saltwater will have a detrimental effect on your fishing gear over time, whatever happens, but choosing the right gear now will make it last longer.

Final Thoughts

That’s pretty much all you need to know when it comes down to choosing the right kayak fishing rod.

There are several things to consider like size, action, and power, but it mostly comes down to personal preference and what works best for each individual angler.

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