Best Rod and Reel Combos for Northern Pike Fishing in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Buying a rod and reel combo saves you from the hassle of having to pair both parts. This is such a relief, especially when you’re fishing for northern pike because they’re challenging enough already. 

Northern pike is usually found in freshwater but they make an appearance in brackish water as well. Accordingly, the best thing to do is get a rod and reel combo that can be used in saltwater as well as freshwater.

In this article, you’ll find the best models on the market as well as a short buying guide, including everything you need to know about this product before buying one. Are you ready to meet what you’ll deem to be the best rod and reel combo for northern pike fishing? 

Comparison Table:

Combo

Weight Length Gear Ratio Power Action 
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX21.5 lbs.7 feet 5.2:1Medium heavy 

Fast, Moderate, Moderate fast

​PENN Squall Level Wind

2 lbs.6 feet 6 in. 4.9:1Medium heavy 

Moderate fast

PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Combo

1.2 lbs.7.87 feet 5.2:1Medium 

Fast 

Pflueger President

1 lbs.7 feet 5.2:1Medium 

Slow 

Zebco Dock Demon

0.5 lbs. 30 in. 4.3:1Medium Moderate 

The 5 Best Rod and Reel Combos For Northern Pike Fishing in 2020

1. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 – Best Overall 

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

Since you’re going to fish for the feisty northern pike, you need a rod that withstands fights and ends up winning. With Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2, you’re going to enjoy durability and excellent performance.  

For starters, the rod is made of graphite and fiberglass, which means that it combines the strength of glass and lightness of graphite as it comes at 1.5 pounds only. If you usually go on long fishing trips, you’ll appreciate its lightness as well as the lightweight EVA grips that provide optimum comfort for extended hours. 

For added durability, the rod comes in a one-piece design that some people claim that it is more sensitive and casts better. The thing I love the most about this design is that it ensures that the rod will never separate when fighting fish. 

The 7-foot rod is also ideal for catching pike as it handles heavier line than shorter rods. It also allows you to cast further with less effort. What’s more, you can rest assured that you’ll feel the slightest of bites on the other end of the rod, thanks to its clear tip. 

Besides, it handles the 6-pound test, so you needn’t worry about the rod breaking if you catch heavy fish. 

The power options range from ultralight to medium heavy, but for northern pike fishing, I recommend you get medium heavy power. Such a power option is ideal for fighting pike because it’s flexible, so you won’t have your line ripped. It’s also powerful, so it can handle fights.  

You don’t have to worry about compromising performance if you pick a certain action type as all of them are equally good. The action options of Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 are fast, moderate and moderate fast. 

Now, let’s inspect the reel, which is as good as the rod. Made of the rust and corrosion-resistant anodized aluminum, it’s strong and durable. However, I don’t recommend using this combo in saltwater if you want it to last for years. 

Thanks to the 3+1 bearings, you’ll enjoy smooth reeling with no grinding at all. As for the gear ratio, some might claim that the 5.2:1 gear ratio is slow. Indeed, it won’t be ideal with fast-moving lures, but if you use large lures and slow-trolling, you’ll find that such gear ratio is suitable, especially for pike fishing in winter and early spring. 

Pros:

  • Relatively lightweight 
  • Medium-heavy power option is ideal for northern pike fishing
  • Comfortable and lightweight EVA grips
  • Combines the strength of glass and lightness of graphite
  • Sensitive tip rod delivers the slightest bites
  • 6-pound test rating makes it ideal for catching pike

Cons:

  • Gear ratio is a bit slow 
  • Not suitable for saltwater
  • Not travel-friendly one-piece construction 

Bottom Line 

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 is an excellent rod and reel combo for northern pike fishing because of many factors. Among these factors is its medium power option, fast, moderate and moderate fast action options as well as its ability to handle feisty fish with its 6-pound test. 

2. PENN Squall Level Wind – Runner-Up 

PENN Squall Level Wind

PENN Squall Level Wind is an ideal choice for those looking for a combo for northern pike fishing, but would also love to catch other big fish from the ocean. Unlike Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2, you can use this baby in saltwater with no consequences. 

The fact that the rod has an ultrasensitive tubular glass blank speaks volumes about how durable it is. Moreover, it’s made of one-piece construction, so you needn’t worry about it separating when you’re fighting tough fish. However,this also means that it’s not travel-friendly.  

Even though PENN Squall Level Wind is the heaviest model on the list, it’s still relatively light at 2 pounds only. As for its length, it comes at 6 feet 6 inches, so you will be able to cast for long distances with next to no effort. 

Since the power and action options are crucial when looking for a rod and reel combo for northern pike fishing, I recommend you go with the model that comes with medium heavy power and moderate fast action because it’s the most suitable one for this purpose. 

As a manifestation, the medium heavy rod is the best power option to deal with such predators, and the moderate fast action will allow you to pull the fish quickly before they escape. 

No, let’s discuss the reel for a bit. It’s side plate and frame are made of graphite, which means that it is very lightweight, so you can use it for hours without getting tired. 

Moreover, the reel enjoys a smooth retrieval thanks to the line guide that moves back and forth to eliminate -or at least reduce- build-ups. What’s more, its line weight ranges from 20 to 30 pounds, so you shouldn’t worry about it getting broken when you catch massive fish. 

Like Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2, it has 3 corrosion-resistant ball bearings made of stainless steel as well as an anti-reverse ball bearing that prevents the rotor from reversing. 

We’re glad to tell you that the HT 100 carbon fiber drag system provides powerful drag without compromising smoothness. The 15-pound drag system might look a bit low, but it holds 320 yards of 15-pound mono test. In other words, it allows you to let the pike swim a bit until it gets tired. 

As for the gear ratio, we would have loved it if it was a bit more than 4.9:1. However, it still retrieves 28 inches per turn, so you will always get your lure back quickly. 

Pros:

  • Moderate fast action and medium heavy power options are ideal for northern pike fishing 
  • Can be used to catch large fish in freshwater and saltwater
  • The ultrasensitive rod transmits the slightest bite 
  • Lightweight reel with a graphite frame
  • One-piece construction 

Cons:

  • Gear ratio and drag system could be improved 
  • Not travel-friendly one-piece construction 
  • Very expensive 

Bottom Line  

​PENN Squall Level Wind is one of the excellent rod and reel combos for northern pike fishing because of its medium heavy power option and moderate fast action option. You’ll also enjoy its 15-pound drag system that allows pike to swim a bit until they get tired so you can easily catch them. 

3. PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Combo – Most Portable Option

PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic

PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Combo is the best portable option, thanks to its telescopic rod that folds into itself. This feature allows anglers to fit the rods in tight places since their collapsed size ranges between 18 to 26 inches. 

Moreover, you can safely put the combo in your backpack and travel with it wherever you want without worrying about it getting broken. 

Similar to PENN Squall Level Wind, this is a versatile combo as it allows anglers to fish for pike, bass, and other big fish. Plus, it’s ideal for experts and beginners alike, thanks to its impressive features and reasonable price. 

The lightweight PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Combo -that weighs 1.2 pounds only- features a sensitive rod as it comes with a blank made of carbon fiber and fiberglass. This way, you can rest assured that you’ll feel every bit on the other end of the rod.

However, there have been some complaints claiming that unless you keep a good eye on your line, you might not notice some of the light bites. 

Feisty fish like pike fall victim to its medium power and fast action options, as they set the hook incredibly well. Moreover, its 7.87-foot long rod allows for long-distance casting without exerting much effort. 

Its reel is as good as the rod, given that it features an aluminum spool as well as anti-corrosion stainless steel hooded reel seats, allowing you to use the combo in saltwater. The thing I don’t like about the reel is that it has a plastic casing, making it a bit prone to break. 

Plus, it features the common 5.2:1 gear ratio, which makes it excellent if you’ll use slow-moving lures. Moreover, its large line capacity allows the pike to run until they are tired out. If you’re looking for smooth retrieval (and who isn’t, right?), you’ll appreciate its 12 ball bearings. 

Pros:

  • Portable telescopic rod  
  • A versatile combo for various big fish in freshwater and saltwater
  • Excellent 5.2:1 ratio for slow-moving lures
  • Best value for money 

Cons:

  • The reel has a plastic casing 

Bottom Line 

This is an excellent portable rod and reel combo for travelers as well as beginners who don’t want to pay much. Plus, its suitable power and action options will easily let you catch any kind of feisty fish, including our beloved pike.  

4. Pflueger President – Best Model for Fly Fishing 

Pflueger President

Recently, fly fishing for northern pike has become more and more popular because employing finesse lures and techniques when catching big fish adds the fun factor. If this is what you want, there is no better option than Pflueger President. 

This combo features a lightweight -1 pound- graphite rod that is very sensitive to bites. This feature comes in handy when fishing for pike, provided that you are patient enough not to instantly react to bites so as not to have a bad hook set.

Even though it’s true that moderate fast to fast-action option rods are excellent for catching northern pike, slow rods are also suitable for this purpose. However, be ready to deal with more challenging hook sets. 

Besides, this rod’s medium power means that it’s powerful and flexible enough, so it won’t rip your line. This combination of power and action options provide this rod with an impressive snapping action. 

What’s more, you’ll feel pretty comfortable using the rod as it features a split cork handle for a better hand position. Long-distance casting enthusiasts will love the 7-foot long rod that allows for effortless casting as well.  

You can use this combo in saltwater or freshwater alike because it features corrosion-resistant stainless steel guides on the rod. Moreover, it enjoys a hook keeper, so the line won’t get tangled. 

Anglers enjoy the smooth reeling of this combo, thanks to the existence of 10 ball bearings that result in an effortless retrieve. What’s more, the ball bearings are made of stainless steel, meaning that they resist corrosive elements present in water. 

Pflueger President features a spool made of anodized aluminum, making it durable. Also, the ability to directly tie the braid on to the spool is such a time-saver! 

Moreover, the Slow Oscillation Gearing system used with the reel allows you to lay lines in such a way that minimizes line twists. Its two to six-pound line weight offers good casting range and excellent precision in placing your lure close to the weed beds. 

Like Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2, the 5.2:1 gear ratio is excellent for northern pike fishing, especially if you’ll fish for pike in winter or early spring. 

The combo comes in a one-piece construction, which is a double-edged weapon. In other words, coming in a one-piece design means that it won’t split while you’re fighting tough fish. However, it also means that it won’t be as easy to travel with as you might wish. 

Some people claim that the graphite blank is weak, so there’s a chance you might lose your catch. Plus, it’s pretty expensive, so it’s not for those on a tight budget. 

Pros:

  • Suitable for the fly fishing technique 
  • Comes with a comfortable split cork handle
  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel guides 
  • The 10 ball bearings provide effortless retrieve 

Cons:

  • Cannot withstand pressure
  • Second most expensive option on the list
  • The one-piece construction means that the combo is not travel-friendly 

Bottom Line 

The slow action option and medium power option of Pflueger President make it one of the most excellent combos for finesse fishing for northern pike. However, it’s expensive for those who are low on money. 

5. Zebco Dock Demon – Budget-Friendly 

Zebco Dock Demon

If you’re on a tight budget, Zebco Dock Demon is your best choice. Its low price also makes it the best model to get for your children who might not know how to handle the combo as appropriately as it should be treated. This way, you can rest assured that you won’t cry a river if your kid damages it quickly. 

Since Zebco Dock Demon’s rod is of higher quality than its reel, the combo is not recommended for expert anglers. However, it’s ideal for beginners who need to learn more about spinning rods. It’s also the most lightweight option among the models on the list coming at 0.5 pounds only. 

Moreover, if you’re looking for a rod and reel combo that suits right and left-handed people, Zebco Dock Demon has your back with its left and right-hand retrieve. Also, say goodbye to wrist fatigue because this combo features EVA grip handles on the rod and reel. 

Such handles don’t only ensure that you stay comfortable even after using the rod for a long time, but also provide excellent control when dealing with feisty fish like pike. 

Speaking of the rod, it’s made of Z-glass with a solid core. The glass blanks are not only durable but also allow you to employ any casting style. 

Zebco Dock Demon features medium and moderate power and action options, respectively. Such options are suitable for catching northern pike, given that the best power option to catch pike is either medium or medium heavy, and the best action option is moderate fast or fast. 

Such rod and reel combo is the best one for fishing off the dock because it features a 30-inch rod, making catching fish in tight places a piece of cake.  

This combo features a lightweight graphite spool, which is not the best material for a spool since it’s likely to get deformed as the line tightens down on the reel through use. Moreover, it features one ball bearing, so don’t expect a smooth reeling performance. 

However, you’ll enjoy its QuickSet anti-reverse because it prevents the handle from turning backward as well as lets you quickly hook fish when it bites. 

The 4.3:1 gear ratio could be improved, but it still allows you to get back 18 inches of line per turn, which is not bad, given that the combo is mainly made for children and beginners. 

Besides, like flueger President, the line weight ranges from two to six pounds, meaning that it offers a good casting range and a precise placement of the lures. Plus, it’s pre-spooled with a 6-pound line with a capacity up to 135 yards. 

Pros:

  • Lightweight 
  • EVA grip handle
  • Budget-friendly 
  • Suitable for left and right-handed customers 
  • Travel and kid-friendly 
  • The 30-inch length is perfect for fishing in tight places 

Cons:

  • Gear ratio could be improved 
  • The quality of the reel is not as good as that of the rod 
  • Not suitable for expert anglers 

Bottom Line 

Zebco Dock Demon is one of the best rod and reel combos for northern pike fishing for kids and beginners because of its low price. This way, your heart won’t get broken if the combo gets damaged because of being mishandled. Moreover, its power and action option are excellent for catching pike.  

How To Pick the Best Rod and Reel Combo For Northern Pike Fishing

Picking the right equipment for catching such feisty fish has a significant impact on the result. For example, you have to choose a sturdy rod with a medium or medium heavy power option because this improves the hooking capability.  

As for the action option, the best one to go for is the fast option because it helps you pick pike (that tend to eat and run) out of the water quickly. However, if you’ll use the fly fishing technique, you can go for the ultralight action option.

Rod Length

Unless you want to gamble on landing your catch, go for longer rods. They help you cast for long distances with less effort, and they handle heavier lines than shorter rods do. Moreover, they work great with curly-tailed soft baits, jerkbaits, and flies that are perfect for catching northern pike. So, a rod between seven to nine feet is the best one to get. 

Rod Action 

If you use an extra fast or a fast rod, the power to hook and land pike will be much less than that with a slower rod. Since pike is feisty and tends to run quickly, pulling one second early can make or break your fishing trip. For this reason, the best action options to go for are fast or extra fast. 

Rod Power

The rod power dictates how much pressure the rod needs in order to bend. The heavier the rod, the more power it needs to bend. For pike fishing, a medium heavy rod is your ideal choice. Why exactly? Because pike are predators, so they need a strong rod for better hooking capability. Besides, it’s flexible and sturdy, so you can rest assured that you won’t rip your line while landing pike.  

Reel Material 

Most reels are made of aluminum or graphite. Many anglers find that machined aluminum is more durable than graphite, so try to stick to the former type. It’s worth mentioning that the most crucial part to check is the spool. So, if the spool is the only part made of machined aluminum, and the outside is made of graphite or plastic, the reel would still perform just fine.

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio indicates how many times the spool turns for each turn of the handle. If you use large lures, you better go with slower gear ratios; whereas, faster ones are better for moving lures quickly through the water column.

In case you’re confused, I recommend you go with fast gear ratios because they will help you get your lures back to the boat effortlessly and in no time. 

Ball Bearings 

Ball bearings’ importance is that they help the moving parts inside the fishing reel to move smoothly without grinding against one another. The more ball bearings, the smoother the reel.  

But what’s more important to check other than the number of ball bearings is their quality. The most common material is stainless steel, and fancier models are made of ceramic. 

To ensure that debris stays out of the reel, you better get shielded ball bearings. There are even better ones that are double-shielded for more protection. 

Line Capacity

It comes as no surprise that northern pike goes on runs, so the more line you have on your spool, the more successful you’ll be. These tough fish are pretty heavy, so getting a twenty-pound test line will be perfect. 

Spinning Vs. Casting Rod

As you can see, this is the last aspect to consider before buying a rod and reel combo for northern pike fishing because, simply, it doesn’t make much difference. Choosing a spinning or a baitcaster rod mainly depends on your preference. 

In case you’re still getting introduced to the fishing experience, I will further help you by telling you the advantages of each type. 

A spinning reel is easier to cast, so I recommend it for beginners. It’s also cheaper than a baitcaster reel, and it allows you to change the side of the handle. 

If you need to have more control over the cast distance and accuracy, go for a baitcaster reel. It’s also lighter and generates more drag for its size compared to a spinning reel. 

Final Thoughts 

After reviewing the best rod and reel combos for northern pike fishing, I hope you are no longer confused. However, I will recommend some of the above models just in case you need more help. 

If you’re looking for a comfortable, durable, and budget-friendly combo, go for Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2. Its medium power option, as well as its various suitable action options make it one of the best combos on the list. Moreover, the sensitive clear tip rod allows anglers to feel the slightest bites, ensuring that you won’t miss any possible catch. However, it’s not made to be used in saltwater. 

In case you need a rod and reel combo that you can use in freshwater and saltwater alike, go for PENN Squall Level Wind. It’s also pretty versatile that you can use it to catch other big fish, not just pike. It features moderate fast action and medium-heavy power options, making it ideal for northern pike fishing. What’s more, you’ll feel the slightest bites, thanks to its ultrasensitive rod. All of these incredible features come at a high price, though. 

If you’re looking for a travel-friendly option, PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Combo is your best choice thanks to its telescopic rod. It’s also versatile and has an excellent gear ratio for slow-moving lures. Moreover, it offers the best value for money.