Ask any professional kayak angler about their secret of success, and they’ll tell you: “arm yourself with the best gear.” And when we talk about essential gear, fishing rods come first in our minds.
Sitting on your confined deck, you need a rod that’s long enough to handle long casts, yet short enough to fit in your kayak without a problem. Since your kayak is human-powered, you don’t want to add more weight to your rig. Hence, they’re mostly light and maneuverable.
Don’t worry; we’re not trying to confuse you about your destined pole’s shape and features. We compiled and reviewed the best kayak fishing rods you can find on the market, so buckle up and let’s go!
|Ugly Stik Elite
|From 4’6” to 7’6”
|Graphite & fiberglass
From ultralight to medium-heavy
|From 8’6” to 9’
|From ultralight to heavy
Kastking Blackhawk II
|Graphite & fiberglass
Cadence Spinning Rod
Plusinno Fishing Combo
|Graphite & fiberglass
The 6 Best Kayak Fishing Rods in 2021
1. Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod – Best Overall
Ugly Stik Elite offers a series of 16 models that differ in lengths and strengths. We’re talking about top-rated rods here. The lengths range from 4 feet 6 inches to 7 feet 6 inches and the strengths from ultralight to medium-heavy. The series includes every preference an angler could have.
The 7-foot model is the best choice for kayak fishing as it provides enough length without hindering movement. The model comes in two pieces, which gives you the space to paddle freely and organize your yak before setting up your rod. With a medium power, you can reel in any type of fish from middle-sized bass to snappers and jacks.
This bad boy is made of a fiberglass and graphite composite. You can simply jump on it or close your car truck on its tip, and it won’t suffer any damage. For fishermen who are hard on the gear, Ugly Stik Elite promises them an indestructible blank. On top of that, the moderate-fast action renders the pole sensitive to the lightest nibbles.
Thanks to its cork handle, the grip is light and comfortable, so it won’t strain your wrist even if you go on long-range trips. The reel seat accommodates a spinning reel, which can load an 8-17 pound line.
One thing that didn’t receive much praise was the rod’s guides. Users complain that although the eyelets are made of stainless steel, some models have soft guides that can be heavily grooved and eventually snap the line.
- Multiple buying options
- High sensitivity
- Legendary durability
- Suitable for heavy usage
- Comfortable handles
- Complaints about some models having soft eyelets
- Some two-piece rods don’t come in the same length
- Quality control issues
If you want to combine the feel, balance, sensitivity, and quality, opt for the because Ugly Stik Elite as it deserves every penny. This rod has got just the right length and weight to be used on a kayak.
2. Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Rod – Best Value for the Money
When you hold a Piscifun Sword, it’ll feel like an expensive rod, yet it doesn’t cost more than 50 bucks. The rod is available in 5 sizes that differ in power and action to cover the needs of all kayak anglers.
The ultralight slow-action 8-foot 6-inch model is suitable for tiny baitfish like sunfish and small trout. For novice anglers who are after bigger trout and panfish, there are two light medium-action models with a length of 9 feet.
Moving on to the medium-action 9-foot rod, this one is capable of hooking bass and carp, thanks to its medium strength. Lastly, the 9-foot heavy fast-action model is the best fit for saltwater fishermen looking for trophy fish like salmon, striper, and sharks.
Since Piscifun Sword is designed for fly fishing, its casting abilities are second to none. The fact that it comes with different actions render it suitable for both professionals and newbies. Anglers with experience under their belt can go for faster models to gain the benefit of longer casts while beginners can opt for slower ones, as they’re a lot more forgiving.
The 4-piece design is super compact, and you won’t face any problem traveling with it or folding it in your kayak. We like that the cork grips add to its casting ability, and the ceramic stripping guides provide a silky smooth path for the line. The blank is made of sensitive IM7 graphite and is rated for line weights that range from 4-9 pounds.
One last advice would be to take extra care with the tip as it’s not as strong as the rest of the blank.
- For beginners and pros
- Accurate alignment of guides
- Lightweight and sensitive
- Accurate long casts
- Compact 4-piece design
- Strong build
- Weak rod tip
- Not suitable for short casts
- Complaints about loose connections
Piscifun Sword has all that it takes to be the best kayak fishing rod. It surprisingly delivers top-notch quality and high-end features at a great price. Although its length may be a bit long for a kayak, it only aids in nailing long and accurate casts while sitting on the deck.
3. KastKing Blackhawk II – Best Travel Fishing Rod
It’s not every day that you’d find a light traveling buddy like Blackhawk II. Owing to its six-piece telescopic design, you can easily fit it in your luggage and set out on long trips with no worries. Not to mention that it takes up little room on your kayak so it won’t add to the agonizing mess on board.
Although it’s collapsible, it does feel like a one-piece rod when you’re using it, with no cracking or snapping sounds. That’s because it’s constructed with a 24-ton carbon matrix blank and a fiberglass tip, which guarantees excellent performance.
It extends to 7 feet 6 inches, which is an appropriate length for a kayak fishing pole. The multiple floating guides feed the line smoothly, and the seat keeps the reel attached firmly with no wobbles. It’s worth mentioning that the company provides different models to accommodate both spinning and baitcasting reels.
The rod has fast action and medium-high strength, so it’s capable of hooking largemouth bass while still being sensitive enough to feel the tiny pulls of small pickerel. Its line rating is 10-17 pounds, which allows you to cast spinners, jigs, or mini plugs.
This travel buddy proves to be of multi-purpose use as well. It’s suitable for saltwater and freshwater fishing, and if you ever step out of your kayak, you can fish with it from the surf as well.
Unfortunately, this compact design has got its drawbacks. The rod demands extra care as it’s difficult to keep the blank intact if you’re going to keep folding it many times. Also, some users have reported that its guides can get misaligned, which causes line twists.
- Easy to store and transport
- Attractive design
- Works in both fresh and saltwater
- High-quality build
- Reasonable price
- Different models for spinning and baitcasting reels
- Should be handled with care
- It’s tough to line up the guides after extending the rod
- Handles are longer than needed
The collapsable design of Blackhawk II is what makes it stand out from the crowd. Anglers who travel a distance to reach their anchored kayaks or go on long trips far from their home would benefit the most from this rod.
4. Cadence Spinning Rod – Best Lightweight Rod
Users have been showering Cadence with positive reviews for so long. The 7-foot rod shines in being one of the lightest kayak fishing rods. You can hold it for hours and hours and won’t ever feel strain on your wrist as it weighs only 3.8 pounds.
This fast-action pole shows a bit of bend at the tip, which provides tons of sensitivity. The top-class carbon fiber blank enhances its lightness and balance and provides enough backbone to haul decent-sized fish.
It may cost around 50 bucks, yet it definitely acts as a $120 rod. It’s equipped with stainless steel guides to minimize friction and further enhance the sensitivity by transferring the line’s vibrations to the handles.
Speaking of the handles, the company offers two handle configurations, both made of cork and EVA foam at the same time. The split-grip design amplifies the rod’s sensitivity while the full-grip one lets the pole sit more comfortably in a holder.
The rod is of medium power and can reel in freshwater creatures like bass and walleye as well as saltwater redfish and flounder. You can set it up with a spinning reel that holds 6 to 12-pound lines. Its fuji seat may be adjustable, but many users complained about it being a bit loose, so it doesn’t hold the reel firmly.
Finally, Cadence overcame the dark chronicles of delivered broken products by pre-packaging the rod in a padded hard tube so that your stick arrives safe and sound.
- Extremely lightweight
- Unmatched sensitivity
- Unbeatable durability
- Great packaging
- Good value for the price
- Complaints about loose reel seats
- Few reports of breakage
- Has a spinning reel mount only
Generally, anglers won’t want to add more weight to their kayaks, so they appreciate a nice and lightweight rod on board. The rod is the perfect combination of durability and spot-on balance. What makes it better is that it’s a great bang for the bucks.
5. PLUSINNO Fishing Combo – Best Kayak Fishing Combo
Matching the right reel with your rod can be quite a headache, so when we find an affordable and high-quality offer like that of Plusinno, we like to give it our attention. This combo includes a telescopic rod, a reel, fishing line, some bonus lures, and hooks.
The blank is wrapped in a carbon fiber veil, which contributes to its lightness and superior sensitivity to the subtlest fish bites. It collapses to under 2 feet long and extends to 8.86 feet. With its full length, you will be able to chase any creature even if it sneaks underneath your kayak or makes a run for it.
The rod is capable of playing any small to medium-sized fish, thanks to its medium power. It’s purely designed for novices, so they won’t face any problems casting with its EVA foam grips. To provide you with the performance you deserve, its aluminum oxide guides protect your line from heating up and works for years without suffering from groves or scratches.
The use of anti-corrosion stainless steel in the reel seat enhances its quality and protects it against saltwater. The supplied reel may not be of high quality as the rod, yet it has an instant anti-reverse system and a gear ratio of 5.2:1, which plays along with the rod’s power. It has a large line capacity and can load a 2-6 pound line.
- Portable telescopic design
- Comes with a reel and a carrying case
- Durable backbone
- Excellent customer service
- Perfect for beginners
- Blank is quite stiff
- Complaints about the reel’s quality
- Needs extra care when extending and retracting
If you’re getting started on your fishing journey and have nothing except your kayak, this comprehensive fishing kit is ideal. The pole is collapsible, and the whole package is light, so you can easily fit it in your backpack or your yak’s internal hatch.
6. Kalex Telescopic (XT2) Spinning Rod – Budget Choice
As a kayak angler, you’re probably drowning in the expenses of fishing tackles. We like to take away some of your concerns and present you with one of the cheapest kayak fishing rods on the market.
Kalex XT2 promises a combination of strength and sensitivity, owing to its graphite and fiberglass composite blank. It has well-balanced moderate action, so it tends to bend in the middle, opening the door to a wide range of fishing techniques.
It comes with a telescopic design that shrinks down to 21 inches when folded. This is a ridiculously compact length for a rod, so it can be stored neatly in your kayak before you set up your gear to fish. The full length of the pole is 7 feet, which is also perfect for fishing from a kayak.
Its stainless steel guides are enhanced with aluminum oxide inserts for smooth casting and minimized line friction. Moreover, it’s equipped with a comfortable EVA rear grip and an aluminum seat that tightly secures the reel.
With its medium strength, you can land anything from trout to large river cats and bass. Also, for extra protection, it comes with a plastic cap to cover its tip when it’s not in use.
- Compact length
- Sturdy design
- Very responsive
- Eyelets tend to be nonaligned upon casting
- Bad customer service
- Flimsy for ocean fishing
- The handle is a bit long
If you’re not stashing enough money in your savings account, you can still set up your kayak with a robust, sensitive, and all-around great fishing rod. Kalex XT2 comes with an affordable price and a compact design to suit all anglers out there.
How to Pick a Kayak Fishing Rod
You may get the wrong idea that the only important aspect of a kayak fishing rod is its length. However, there are many other features to keep in mind. Before pulling the trigger, make sure you understand what you can get from a fishing pole.
The chief factor that decides your rod’s length is the length of your craft. The typical length of a fishing yak would be 12-14 feet. Your rod should be long enough to pass the bow and the stern. That’s to prevent the line from getting caught should a fish run for its life under your yak and to the other side. Thus, the minimum length of your rod should be nothing less than 7 feet.
Also, standing isn’t always an option, so you need a pole that’s long enough to extend casts while sitting in the center of the deck. However, limit the length to something under 10 feet to be able to maneuver it from such a limited space.
2. Multi-piece or Telescopic
This is a matter of storage and transportation, yet it’s still crucial on a kayak. Multi-piece rods can be cut into more than one segment, while telescopic ones fold into themselves to reduce their size. Since their collapsed sizes are so small, you can fit them in your car trunk or even in your backpack while traveling.
When you’re still paddling or searching for a good fishing spot, a multi-piece or telescopic rod saves you the hassle of dealing with a full-sized one on deck.
3. Rear Grip
A kayak rod’s handle is a special case. While surf anglers prefer longer grips, they may not be ideal in the limited space of a kayak. Long grips require the angler to hold his arms high to prevent the rod’s butt from hitting the seat bottom. Naturally, this isn’t the most comfortable position for someone who is fishing while sitting.
Generally, you’ll find handles made of cork or EVA foam. Cork grips are lighter, warmer and they transmit the vibrations better. On the other hand, foam handles are more durable and can’t be easily damaged by rod holders like the ones made of cork.
Typically, fishing blanks are constructed with fiberglass or graphite, or a combination of both. Experienced anglers who are willing to pay more always go for graphite ones since they deliver the real feel of fish nibbling at the end of the line. They’re stiffer so they can be used for jigging or working live baits.
On the contrary, fiberglass is at the lower end of the price spectrum. It may not be as sensitive as graphite, but it’s way more flexible and sturdier. Hence, it’s a common choice for novices who want to learn on a tough pole.
Composite rods, as you may have guessed, are the best since they combine the durability of fiberglass and the epic sensitivity of graphite.
The rod’s power refers to how much pressure or weight it takes to bend the blank. It ranges from ultralight to heavy and should be determined by the type of species you’re targeting.
Use ultralight or light rods if you plan to fish for small trout and panfish. Heavy-power rods take the fun of fishing for small creatures out of the game as they’re less sensitive. Hence, they should be reserved for big-game fish like bass and salmon.
An excellent all-around power is the medium one. This provides you with the strength to land anything from walleye and pickerel to bass and pike without compromising the sensitivity.
In general, don’t overestimate the power your rod needs. It won’t do you any good to go after small catches with a heavy rod as it means losing the sensitivity you can get on a lighter one.
A rod’s action is its ability to bend under pressure. It’s a means of measuring the sensitivity of the pole. A fast-action rod is stiffer, so it bends only at the tip. This allows it to pick up on the subtle vibrations of the sneakiest fish.
Medium-action rods tend to bend at the center; therefore, they’re suitable for all kinds of jigging techniques. If you choose a slow-action pole, you’ll have an extremely flexible rod that can bend throughout its entire length, but don’t expect much in terms of sensitivity.
7. Reel Seat
This is where your reel sits on your rod. Logically, you should make sure that it fits with the type of your reel, and that it’ll hold on your reel tightly without any wiggles.
Some lower-end rods have seats made of metal-alloy as they’re cheaper. However, the best you can aim for is a corrosion-resistant graphite seat to endure the continuous exposure to water, debris, and salt in case you’re fishing in saltwater.
8. Line Rating
Don’t overlook this feature. Line weights are written on the side of the pole or included in the manufacturer’s product description. Make sure that it accommodates the lines you’re going to use. Since kayak fishing doesn’t tolerate heavy tasks, look for rods that can work with line tests that lie between 2 and 20 pounds.
Guides are the eyelets your line flow through in order to be kept in control. Their number is important as the more the guides, the better the quality of your rod. Nevertheless, don’t ignore the material of which they’re made. Opt for stainless steel guides as they have the least liability to bend or rust.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the Difference Between Spinning and Casting Rods?
They differ in the shape of seats, size of guides, and the overall performance. As their names indicate, casting rods match with baitcasting reels while spinning rods match with spinning reels. Also, casting rods tend to have smaller guides and fit more in the hands of experienced anglers.
Does a Kayak Fishing Rod Differ From a Regular Fishing Rod?
In a sense, yes. Since fishing from a kayak isn’t like fishing from the surf or big vessels, kayak rods tend to be a bit shorter than the regular ones. If not, they need to be telescopic or have the ability to be folded into two or three segments so they can fit in a kayak.
That was quite a journey, wasn’t it? We’re sure we’ve gone over everything, but a quick recap won’t hurt.
We genuinely believe that the Ugly Stik Elite series contains the best kayak fishing rods nowadays. These are heavy-duty rods that can last a lifetime. They’ve got everything right from the lengths to the sensitivity and finally to the power that can haul all kinds of species.
Piscifun Sword is an interesting choice for beginners and pros as well. Its compact 4-piece design and lightweight won’t disappoint you when you’re casting it from your yak.
We always like to leave a budget-friendly option on the stage, so our last recommendation would be Kalex XT2. Whether you’d like to use it as a primary or a backup rod, we’re sure it’ll be your best buddy on every kayak trip.