Best All-Around Fishing Rods Reviews
Choosing a Good All-Around Fishing Rod
Choosing a fishing rod can be difficult for anyone. Whether you're someone who has never cast a line before, or you're a professional angler, there is a wide range of options available for any particular niche. In order to narrow your selection in the fastest and easiest way possible, we suggest learning the basics about different types of fishing rods first, mainly so that you have an idea about the aspects/parts of a fishing rod and how they can be different depending on the rod itself.
Then, try and think of when and where you will be fishing, how often, who (if anyone) you will be fishing with, etc. Thinking ahead about these practical considerations can save you lots of time and money in the long run, as this will help define what sort of fishing you be having fun with.
If you're sure about the exact species of fish you want to pursue, what type of casting you prefer, where/when/how often you will be fishing, then it's probably a good idea to start off with a good all-around fishing rod that you can use in many different situations. From here, you can add to your repertoire either in the form of more advanced tackle, different and improved fishing rods, gadgets and accessories, etc. But for now, let's focus on the fundamental aspects of choosing the best all-around fishing rod for your particular needs and budget.
Our Picks for the Best All-Around Fishing Rods
- Spinning (1)
- Spinning (2)
- Low cost
- 2-piece design allows for easy storage and transportation
- Aeroglass construction rod blank
- Aluminum-oxide guides
- Fast Action
- Medium Power
- Available in 7 feet
- Design and materials are good, but higher quality is available at higher costs
- Two-piece design lends itself to lower sensitivity, as well as lower durability if interface becomes damaged
- A little heavy
Simply put, the Shimano Solora 2-piece spinning rod is an excellent value all-around fishing rod. The convenient design allows for easy storage and convenient transportation, and you will have a hard time finding something of the same quality at a lower price.
The materials used in this good all-around fishing rod aren't anything fancy, but are still solid. The aeroglass rod blank will hold up well, but it's definitely not as light as carbon fiber. The use graphite components for the reel seat, which is nice, and the aluminum oxide guides are fairly standard for low-mid range fishing rods.
What really makes this a good all-around fishing rod are the length, flex, and power. This rod comes in multiple lengths, but in this case, 7 feet will be ideal. The medium power and fast action of this rod really maximize the versatility, which makes it a great universal rod to own.
Overall, this is one of the best all-around fishing rods, especially when you factor in the cost. It's one of the cheaper rods out there, so you will have a hard time finding anything of similar quality at the same price point. Additionally, you can feel a little more confident in this rod, as it comes from a very reliable fishing rod brand.
- Reasonable price point
- Ugly Stik Clear Tip
- Ugly Tech Construction
- Ugly Tuff Guides
- Medium action
- Heavy power
- Available in 7 feet
- One piece is good for performance and durability, bad for storage and transportation.
- A little more expensive due to higher quality materials.
- Not ideal for lighter line (e.g. under 6lbs), very small fish, or very small lures.
The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 spinning rod is one of the best all-around fishing rods available. While completely different manufacturers, you can consider this an upgraded version of the Shimano Solora spinning rod, where the components in the Ugly Stik GX2 are manufactured with higher quality materials and sophisticated designs.
This fishing rod comes with lots of proprietary enhancements that have become loved by many customers. For example, the Ugly Stik Clear Tip provides extra strength in high stress areas along the rod while still maintaining excellent sensitivity, the Ugly Tech Construction combines graphite with fiberglass to optimize sensitivity and balance, and the Ugly Tuff Guides are known for solid durability.
The main downsides to this rod are the higher cost, and while the one-piece design facilitates performance and durability, this may not be preferred by those who prioritize easy storage and transportation.
Overall, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 is an excellent all-around fishing rod that is good for beginners or experienced anglers alike. The design of the rod combined with the higher quality components give this rod a little more overall strength, so compared to the lower-end Shimano Solora, it could be a better option for fish closer to 20 lbs. Therefore, if you're looking for the best all-around fishing rod and don't mind spending a moderate price, then we definitely recommend the GX2.
- Great value
- Hybrid design
- SS304 Guides
- Fast Action
- Medium Power
- Available in 7 feet
- Baitcasting rod makes it a bad choice for beginners
- Some customers have noticed it appears susceptible to damage at the tip
The Berkeley Cherrywood HD baitcasting rod is a great all-around fishing rod, but only for those who are familiar with the baitcasting technique, or are at least committed to learning. You won't be able to mount a spinning reel on this rod, as the design for casting rods are much different (e.g. reel seat is on top of rod, not below).
This baitcasting rod comes in at a decent price point, one that isn't the cheapest, but slightly above that. The hybrid design allows for maximum sensitivity while still providing a through-handle construction. The SS304 guides are supposedly 20x tougher and 55% lighter than the traditional aluminum oxide guides, and we personally like th ecork handle over EVA foam as well.
These high quality features combined with the specs (fast action, medium power, 7 feet length) make it a great choice for baitcasters who want a good all-around fishing rod without spending much money at all. It's ideal for line in the range of 6-14lbs, which makes it ideal in many different situations. Therefore, we highly recommend the Berkley Cherrywood HD baitcasting rod as one of the best all-around fishing rods, assuming you already to know how to use a baitcasting reel, or are committed to learning!
Criteria for a Good All-Around Fishing Rod
While we are trying to keep this article as objective as possible, there is a always a little bit of personal opinion involved, so to be clear, when we discuss the best all-around fishing rods, we are paying closest attention to the following:
Can the rod be used in many different situations? Can it handle different reels easily? While it is unlikely to have many specialized features, does it eliminate any particular form of fishing altogether?
Technically, this doesn't need to be a huge consideration, but if you go with a popular brand that is known to be reliable, chances are you will have more selection to choose from and you can feel a little more confident about the quality of the fishing rod even if you don't have much experience.
While not a physical feature of the rod as well, we always look for good value in any fishing equipment. Therefore, we think it's reasonable to incorporate cost into the all-around model, hopefully allowing you to see some options that are truly the best of all worlds.
So what are the physical features that we look for when choosing the best all-around fishing rod?
Features of the Best All-Around Fishing Rods
In our opinion, a spinning rod provides a good starting point for selecting the best all-around fishing rod. These fishing rods are designed to hold a spinning reel, which is one of the most versatile, popular, and easy-to-use reels available.
Now if we focus on spinning rods, we have already significantly narrowed our selection . At this point, it's worth knowing a little about the design of the rod itself and how different characteristics will affect its performance and overall function.
One additional point: We don't include fly fishing rods here because they are in a niche of their own. For more info on fly fishing and the better rods for that, don't hesitate to check out our reviews of the best fly fishing rods.
Fishing Rod Action, Power, and Length Explained
Check out FLW's Kyle Wood's discussion about the differences between rod action and power, and how they affect the performance of the rod. This short video is extremely informative and can go a long way helping you select the best all-around fishing rod. There are also detailed descriptions of fishing rod action, power, and length below the video.
Fishing Rod Action
The action of fishing rod is basically a way of describing where along its length it will bend during the cast as well as setting the hook on a fish. A fast-action rod will bend mostly around the tip of the rod, a medium-action rod will bend near the midsection, and a slow-action rod will experience bending throughout the entire length. Fast-action rods are often better for casting heavier lures, and are known to be much more common and versatile in general, while slow action rods are often used in species-specific situations. In terms of setting the hook, fast-action rods are ideal for quick hooksets and are preferred by many anglers, whereas slow-action rods will bend more during the hookset, making it less "crisp".
For a good all-around fishing rod, we would choose something with medium to fast action. This creates a balance between casting distance, casting accuracy, and effectiveness when setting the hook, so it will be tough to find yourself in a situation where the medium- or fast-action rod is a terrible choice. In fact, medium action rods are preferred for some of the most versatile lures as well, such as crankbaits and some spinnerbaits. Jigs and other spinnerbaits will benefit more from faster action, whereas live bait can often be used with slower-action rods, but nevertheless, a medium- to fast-action rod should be more than capable of catching fish in the vast majority of situations.
Fishing Rod Power
A lot of people get confused between fishing rod action and fishing rod power. Power refers to the amount of force it takes to bend the rod, whereas action is more indicative of where along the length the rod flexes.
Fishing rod power is categorized by ultra-light, light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy, extra-heavy, and ultra-heavy. Light rods will flex way more easily than heavy rods, and therefore they will behave quite differently in terms of performance as well as what other gear you pair the rod with.
Lighter fishing rods should be used with lighter line and lures, whereas the opposite is true for heavier rods. For example, an ultra-light rod would be ideal for lines in the 1-4lb test range and 1/64-1/16oz lures, whereas a medium action rod would be better for 4-12lb test line and 1/8-3/8oz lures.
Water conditions can also affect your fishing rod selection, but of course, this may be extremely variable and unknown prior to buying a new fishing rod. Given that heavy fishing rods are more resistant to bending and hold stronger line, this can make them ideal choices for areas with heavy cover where you expect the lure or hooked fish to be pulled through weeds, other vegetation, stumps, rocks, etc. If the water conditions are clean and open, then a lighter rod could be more ideal depending on what you're fishing for.
Overall, when looking for the best all-around fishing rod, we would go with something that has medium power, as this offers the best of both worlds, the most common range for line weight, and remember, you don't have to stick exactly tot he line weight specified on the rod. Of course, the further outside of that range you go, the less optimal the entire system, but you can stil easily get away with a line that's a couple pounds outside the designated weight range for that particular fishing rod.
For more discussion from the general fishing community about fishing rod action and power, the practical differences between them, and what different anglers prefer.
Fishing Rod Length
The length of a fishing rod can vary quite a bit, even in one particular niche like a spinning rod. Length is more of a personal preference thing than action or power, but there are still some implicit differences between the two.
A shorter rod can provide a bit more accuracy on shorter casts and is also good for casting in tighter spaces. If you're fishing for smaller fish in small spaces, especially if you're jigging and want extra sensitivity, then a shorter rod could be a nice option. On the other hand, longer rods can cast longer distances and pick up more line on the hookset, the latter of which offers a bit more forgiveness especially when fighting the fish.
For a good all-around fishing rod, we would choose a length somewhere between 7-9 feet, which offers a balance between the two extremes. Additionally, much longer rods won't really offer much benefit to beginner anglers because the benefits will depends largely on developed technique.