Best Saltwater Fishing Rods in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Saltwater fishing is, in our humble opinion, more fun and interesting than freshwater fishing. The possibilities of species in bays, estuaries, seas, and oceans are endless. Nothing can beat the variety of sizes and colors of what you can catch in saltwater.

Since saltwater fishing is such a big deal, you need some high-quality tackle to get the job done. Also, you don’t want to just use your freshwater rods for this.

So, after doing our own research, we introduce to you our list of the best saltwater fishing rods.

List of the Best Saltwater Rods:

  1. Daiwa Tatula – Best Baitcasting Rod for Saltwater Fishing
  2. Penn Carnage II – Best Saltwater Rod for Jigging
  3. SHIMANO TREVALA – Best Spinning Rod for Saltwater Fishing
  4. PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo – Best Combo for Saltwater Fishing
  5. Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod – Best Budget Choice for Saltwater Fishing

Top Picks:

Rod

Power

Length

Daiwa Tatula

Medium-heavy/medium/heavy

6’10”/7’0”/7’2”

Penn Carnage II

Heavy/medium-heavy/medium6’0”/6’4”/6’6”

SHIMANO TREVALA

Extra-heavy/extra extra heavy/heavy/medium/medium-heavy/light/medium-light

5’8”/6’0”/6’6”/7’0”

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Medium5.91/6.89/7.87/8.86

Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod

Medium-heavy/medium/medium-light/heavy

5’6″/6’0”/6’6″/7’0”/7’6″

The 5 Best Saltwater Fishing Rods in 2020

1. Daiwa Tatula – Best Baitcasting Rod for Saltwater Fishing

Daiwa Tatula

Baitcasting rods are for those who have been fishing for a while and need something worth the hype and able to stand its ground in saltwater. We picked the Daiwa Tatula to save you from wasting your time looking. Rest assured, you’ll be protected by its 5-year warranty.

Our top baitcasting choice is made with Daiwa’s 45-degree bias construction that prevents blank twisting for better strength, sensitivity and hook setting power. Daiwa’s exclusive SVF (Super Volume Fiber) graphite technology adds flexibility and strength to the rod.

Thankfully, The Fuji Alconite ring guides prevent any line fraying. Also, the Daiwa custom reel seat and machined aluminum reel clamp nut secure your reel in place no matter how tough your fight gets. The grips are split and of EVA foam for maximum comfort, security, and sensitivity.

Thanks to the material used for the blank and the high-quality accessories, the Daiwa Tatula has an attractive design.

Our rod comes in different size options that work well for saltwater and freshwater fishing. It comes in 6’10”,7’0”, and 7’2”. Furthermore, it comes in different power options to match your different medium-heavy, medium, and heavy needs.

It comes only in a one-piece construction, which is a downside for people looking for a portable option.

Pros:

  • Different size and power options
  • Attractive design
  • SVF graphite technology
  • Fuji Alconite ring guides
  • Daiwa custom reel seat and machined aluminum reel clamp nut
  • Split EVA grips
  • 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • Only one-piece construction

Bottom Line

Thanks to its excellent design, premium materials, and variety in sizes and powers, the Daiwa Tatula is our favorite baitcasting rod.

2. Penn Carnage II – Best Saltwater Rod for Jigging

Penn Carnage II

Not every fishing rod works for saltwater, and not every saltwater fishing rod works for jigging. Jigging rods tend to be shorter, more powerful, lightweight, sensitive, comfortable, and moderate-fast in action. 

All these qualities are why we picked the Penn Carnage II, which is backed by a 5-year warranty.

Our jigging rod is built with SLS3 blank construction, which utilizes both graphite on the inside and composite materials on the outside. This special construction resulted in a rod that is thin, lightweight, balanced, and powerful enough to carry the big fish you catch with jigging.

Since it is meant to be used with braided lines with ratings from 30 to 200 lbs, the Penn Carnage II comes with high-quality corrosion-resistant Fuji K guides with alconite inserts. Also, it has Pac Bay aluminum reel seats for maximum durability and stability.

This jigging rod has a lot of backbone, thanks to its aluminum gimbal. Also, our rod has non-slip rubber shrink grips with a slip design for your comfort and balance.

The Penn Carnage II comes in jigging-centered sizes, such as 6’0”, 6’4”, and 6’6”. Since jigging rods lie within the short-to-medium area, this rod is definitely perfect for jigging.

Our jigging pick proves again and again that it can handle the largest fish by having power options of medium-heavy, medium, and heavy. Since you don’t want a rod that is too flexible or stiff for jigging, our rod comes in moderate-fast action.

Finally, the Penn Carnage II comes in a one-piece construction, so rest assured that it has the sensitivity and strength needed for saltwater jigging.

If there is one thing we could change about this rod, it would be adding more action options, in case you want to use it for other fishing techniques.

Pros:

  • Fuji K guides with alconite inserts
  • SLS3 blank construction
  • Pac Bay aluminum reel seats
  • Aluminum gimbal
  • Different size and power options
  • 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • Needed more versatility in actions

Bottom Line

The Penn Carnage II is, without a doubt, the best saltwater fishing rod for jigging, thanks to being powerful, lightweight, and sensitive.

3. SHIMANO TREVALA – Best Spinning Rod for Saltwater Fishing

Shimano Trevala

SHIMANO does it again with an excellent spinning rod that won’t disappoint you in saltwater.

Thanks to its high carbon butt section being fused together with a TC4 tip, the SHIMANO TREVALA is stunningly lightweight and sensitive. This rod will be the easiest to carry around, and it will help you detect all bites and movements.

In addition, the Fuji Aluminum Oxide guides, which are diamond-polished for an ultra-smooth finish, add more durability to the rod by preventing line wear, thanks to being corrosion-resistant and having great heat dissipation. You can definitely use this rod for saltwater without worrying.

Moreover, the split EVA grips will keep you comfortable and give you a secure hold even when wet. Keep in mind that this type of handle works well for offshore fishing.

The SHIMANO TREVALA offers a size variety ranging from small to medium, as it comes in 5’8”, 6’0”, 6’6”, and 7’0”.

Our rod meets everyone’s needs when it comes to power options, as it comes in extra-heavy, extra extra heavy, heavy, medium, medium-heavy, light, and medium-light. There isn’t another saltwater rod out there that is more saltwater-focused in its powers than this one.

What about actions? It comes in moderate and moderate-fast actions, so it only bends near the top and at the top half. However, some people may find it a bit slow for its actions.

Finally, it comes in a one-piece construction.

Pros:

  • Fuji Aluminum Oxide guides
  • Split EVA grips
  • Lightweight
  • Sensitive
  • Different size, action, and power options

Cons:

  • Action may be slower than desired sometimes

Bottom Line

If you want a lightweight, sensitive, and versatile spinning rod for saltwater, we highly recommend the SHIMANO TREVALA.

4. PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo – Best Combo for Saltwater Fishing

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Some people want even more portability than what a two-piece rod can give them, and this is where a telescopic rod like this one comes in. The PLUSINNO telescopic rod collapses to under 2 feet, and it comes with its own saltwater-friendly HA 3000 reel. It is also beginner-friendly.

Our rod is made from a high-density carbon fiber coupled with fiberglass that is more than enough to handle the harsh environmental factors that wreak havoc on low-quality rods. In addition, the corrosion-resistant stainless steel hooded reel seat is ready for saltwater.

Furthermore, the aluminum oxide guide inserts make the rod even more lightweight and durable. Of course, an amazing rod like this one has to include the Eva foregrip, which keeps you comfortable and in control all day.

The PLUSINNO telescopic rod offers an excellent selection of sizes that range from small to large, since it comes in 5.91, 6.89, 7.87, and 8.86. Moreover, it comes in medium power, so it can meet as much of your fishing needs as possible.

One thing you have to note about this rod and reel combo is that they are more geared towards beginners who need a good place to start from. So, if you’re a professional angler, you might have to look elsewhere.

Pros:

  • Different size options
  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel hooded reel seat
  • Maximum portability
  • Aluminum oxide guide inserts
  • Eva foregrip

Cons:

  • Targeted at beginners more than professionals

Bottom Line

Thanks to its anti-corrosion materials, variety in size, and unmatched portability, the PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo is the best combo for saltwater fishing.

5. Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod – Best Budget Choice for Saltwater Fishing

Ugly Stik GX2 Castibg Rod

Just because you want to fish in saltwater, doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to get a decent saltwater rod. The Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod establishes itself as one of the best saltwater rods on the market at an affordable price with a 7-year warranty.

Thanks to the Ugly Tech Construction, our budget pick is made of both graphite and fiberglass to get the best of both worlds. It is strong, sensitive, and balanced. The graphite used gives the rod a glossy black finish that makes it look more attractive than any other affordable competitor.

In addition, the Ugly Stik Clear Tip gives you the high sensitivity needed for saltwater fishing. We must mention the Ugly Tuff one-piece stainless steel guides that significantly reduce the rod’s weight and increase its durability. The EVA handles are comfortable and lightweight.

You know a rod is worth your time when it comes in all sizes. Our Ugly Stik GX2 comes in 5’6″, 6’0”, 6’6″, 7′, and 7’6″. It caters to all your saltwater power needs, as well as it comes in medium, medium-light, medium-heavy, and heavy.

Unlike many budget choices, the Ugly Stik GX2 comes in one-piece and two-piece options. So, what’s the catch? The two-piece option isn’t the sturdiest, and we don’t recommend using it for saltwater fishing.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Ugly Stik Clear Tip
  • Ugly Tech Construction
  • Ugly Tuff Guides
  • Different size and power options
  • Comes in one-piece and two-piece options

Cons:

  • The two-piece option isn’t sturdy

Bottom Line

The Ugly Stik GX2 is the best saltwater fishing rod at a budget, as it is comfortable, strong, and attractive-looking. 

How to Pick a Saltwater Fishing Rod

1. Material

The first thing you need to pay attention to when getting a saltwater rod is what it’s made of. You’ll find that your options are mainly graphite, fiberglass, or both.

Graphite rods are pretty light to carry, so they’re not a nuisance to use for prolonged periods of time. Thanks to their low weight, they are also highly sensitive to movements and bites. You’ll feel everything with a graphite rod.

Their downsides are price and durability. Graphite rods can be very pricey, which won’t work for you if you’re on a budget. Also, they’re not the most durable kind of rods, and that means you’ll have to take care of them to last longer.

On the other hand, fiberglass rods are much easier on your wallet. Furthermore, they are as tough as nails, which is highly needed since you’ll expose them to the sun, sand, and saltwater. In addition, they bend from top to bottom when under pressure so that they don’t snap.

Their cons are weight and sensitivity. Fiberglass rods can be bulky and heavy, so they’re not favored by people who fish for long days. Moreover, they don’t have much sensitivity, so they are not the best kind of rods for beginners who can’t detect bites by themselves.

2. Length

A rod’s length is another aspect that affects your fishing experience more than you think.

You can find rods with lengths ranging from four to nine or even fourteen feet. We categorize these lengths into short, medium, and large. Short rods are within the four-to-five feet area. Medium rods lie within five to seven feet. Large rods are anything from eight feet and above.

Each length is targeted for certain needs. Short rods work great for short casts and close combat. Long rods are preferred for long casts and saltwater fishing. Medium rods are great all-around options; most people who can’t decide go for the 7-feet length.

3. Power

If you don’t consider a rod’s power before getting it, you have nobody else to blame when things don’t go right.

A rod’s power or weight refers to how much pressure or weight it takes to push the rod to bend. You’ll find power options ranging from ultralight to ultra-heavy. These powers reflect how light or heavy your rod will be for you, as well.

Lighter, or less powerful rods work well for small fish, lures, and lines. They also tend to be more sensitive. Heavier, or more powerful rods work for large fish, lines, and lures. Any situation that needs a stiff rod needs a more powerful rod.

4. Action

We can’t stress enough how essential rod actions are when choosing your saltwater fishing rod.

Action refers to how much and where a rod bends when under pressure. Actions are categorized in terms of slow, moderate, and fast. Slow rods bend at the lower third of the rod, moderate rods bend at the top half, and fast rods bend at the top third.

The flexibility of slow rods is desired in soft presentations, catching soft-mouthed species, and better casting distance. On the other hand, fast rods, which are naturally stiffer, provide more accuracy, better hook setting, heavier baits, and higher sensitivity.

5. Portability

A rod’s portability is affected by two things: weight and number of pieces. Rod’s weight has already been discussed above in material and power, but what about the number of pieces? Rods can come in one-piece, two-piece, or multi-piece constructions.

One-piece rods are strong and sturdy; they always feel superior in quality, and they last a lot longer. In addition, one-piece rods are highly sensitive, thanks to the whole blank being intact. However, they are the hardest to store or carry around when traveling.

Two-piece and multi-piece rods are a dream to store in small spaces or carry around when traveling long distances, which makes them the most convenient options. Yet, they won’t give you the durability or sensitivity a one-piece rod can give you.

Other portable options are telescopic rods that are made of sections that collapse into each other for easier storage and portability.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What’s the Difference Between Freshwater and Saltwater Fishing Rods?

Freshwater rods can be ultralight or light since freshwater species aren’t the heaviest. You also have the freedom to use less durable materials and types because they won’t have to deal with environmental adversaries. 

Saltwater fishing rods are built to withstand prolonged exposure to the sun, sand, and saltwater, which would cause corrosion to any other rod. In addition, they tend to be thicker and heavier to carry heavier saltwater species.

Can I Use a Saltwater Rod in Freshwater?

Yes, you can. Since saltwater fishing rods are much heavier than freshwater ones, they can definitely handle the lighter freshwater species. They are more versatile than freshwater rods because you can use them in more than one setting.

However, many people find saltwater rods unnecessarily bulky for freshwater fishing.

What is the Best Saltwater Rod and Reel Combo?

The PLUSINNO Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel Combo is the best saltwater combo. 

It is made of anti-corrosion materials, so you won’t have to worry about it from saltwater. Moreover, it comes in an excellent variety of sizes. Telescopic rods also have unmatched portability. Besides, its medium power means you can use it for almost anything.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that saltwater fishing is more rewarding and challenging than freshwater fishing. However, you can only enjoy it with equipment that can handle saltwater, whether in materials or performance. So, let’s go through the highlights of our list one more time.

Our choice for the best baitcasting rod is the Daiwa Tatula Saltwater because it looks good, offers different size and power options, and is backed by a 5-year warranty.

Next in line, we have the Penn Carnage II as our pick for jigging, since it is short, lightweight, and powerful. It is also backed by a 5-year warranty.

The SHIMANO TREVALA is our favorite saltwater spinning rod, thanks to its versatility and sensitivity.

Finally, we have the best budget choice you can find, which is the Ugly Stik GX2. It looks nice, feels comfortable, and fights like a monster. Also, it is backed by a 7-year warranty.