16 best fishing rods for beginners

Best fishing rods, reels and combos for beginners

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How would you like to start landing some awesome catches or even take a fish home to eat, all caught with your new rod and reel set up?

I know when I started fishing I caught the bug and couldn’t wait to start angling.

Or perhaps you’re looking for the best fishing rod for beginners as a present for a friend or loved one? Someone who wants to start this new exciting hobby and get outdoors.

It can be difficult to navigate all the options of a sport that is worth almost $4billion in the U.S. alone!

The US Fishing Equipment Market Reels in Nearly $4 Billion, Says NPD


That’s why I’ve spent over two weeks of research and writing put together this guide to help you select the best option available online out there at the moment.

Table of Contents

Top mid-range beginner fishing rod: Goture Surf fishing rod

Top mid-range beginner fishing reel: Abu Garcia Pro Max

Top mid-range fishing rod & reel combo: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Gx2 Combo

The best fishing rods for beginners – full guide & top picks

The best fishing rod for beginners catching a silver fish

5 Best beginner fishing rods in detail

1. Goture Surf Spinning Fishing Rod 

The Goture Surf Spinning rod is a 4-piece graphite rod that is perfect for surf fishing on the coast.

  • It comes in sizes of 9-12 feet to provide the most leverage possible.
  • Along with the size, they also come in two different weights: medium and heavy.
  • The medium specifically is very versatile and can be used in many different situations. 
  • This is also a very light rod despite the length. It is made from carbon fiber blanks to provide a ton of strength and lightweight attributes.
  • There is also a 1-year warranty on your purchase, so if anything does happen, you are probably covered. 
  • The handle is designed to be ergonomic and fit your hand well.
  • My biggest pet peeve is when a high-quality rod has a horrible grip. There is a butt on the end to provide some leverage, and the handle is grooved and provides a lot for your hands to cling onto. This helps maintain grip when it is raining or there are weather features present. 

Overall, the Goture Surf Spinning rod is one of the best overall fishing rods for beginners because it comes in at a reasonable price that correlates with good quality. 

2. Daiwa Megaforce Tele Spin, Telescopic Allround Fishing Rod

Daiwa is one of the biggest brands in the fishing space, so when buying one of its products, you know you are in for a quality experience. Although Daiwa is most known for its innovations in the reel industry, this company makes some excellent rods. I think Daiwa is super underrated in this space. 

The Megaforce Tele Spin is a versatile, telescopic rod that is fantastic for traveling and fishing in compact areas. A telescopic rod does not come apart to compact rather fold into itself. This keeps everything in one piece so there can be nothing missing. 

  • This rod is made to fit spinning reels and comes in four size options.
  • The options range from 7-12 feet, and they all pack down to less than three feet.
  • This is a huge perk for those who drive around or are flying to a certain fishing spot.
  • Even if I am just hiking into a fishing spot, these can easily be stored in my backpack without being damaged. 

This is a slightly more expensive rod as compared to other telescopic options, but the quality is far better than some more generic offerings. This rod will not break the bank, but having a slightly better quality rod will help it last longer and make that investment pay off. 

3. Daiwa Ninja X Tele Carp, Telescopic Carp Fishing Rod

Another telescopic option made by Daiwa is the Ninja X. This is a rod specifically made for carp fishing as the length and weight both help this style of fishing.

  • The options are 9 or 12 feet, which are pretty standard for carp fishing.
  • Although Daiwa is a mainstay in the casting industry, this telescopic rod for carp is a unique twist that still brings the brand’s quality to the forefront. 
  • The rod is made of carbon blanks and a nice cork handle.
  • Just because a rod is telescopic does not mean that it is of cheap or poor quality. This is a stigma that Daiwa hopes to break.
  • This is a great travel rod because it can be compact without sacrificing the important strength you need to handle a big carp. 

This is an affordable rod that will last a long time. Due to the quality and reputation Daiwa offers, this can be a mainstay in your arsenal.

Especially if you travel around a lot when fishing, you want something that works for you. Going with a telescopic rod rather than a multi-part one can add some convenience. 

4. BERRYPRO Spinning Rod

One of the more budget options offered is the BERRYPRO spinning rod. This is for panfish and bass anglers as the length are much shorter and the weight accounts for this style of fishing.

  • This rod comes in sizes of 6-7.5 feet, which is a target zone for smaller fish. 
  • This rod is a 2-piece, so traveling with it is very easy. When you do not have to worry about four different pieces, it is easier to get going. A 2-piece travel rod is also a bit better than some telescopic options as you do not sacrifice as much strength and leverage. 
  • It is also really sensitive, so fishing out those smaller bites does not come at too much of a struggle. As a bass angler myself, I need something sensitive and strong, which are both supplied by the BERRYPRO.  
  • This is one of the more affordable options on your list today.

Although cheap does not equal good, this one is a great value for the price. Although you will probably grow out of this rod in due time, it will be a mainstay in your arsenal at the beginner stage. 

5. Piscifun Traveller Spinning Fishing Rod

The final great fishing rod for beginners is the Piscifun Traveller Spinning Fishing Rod. This is for the ultimate explorer as it compacts down super small without sacrificing too much strength and performance.

  • This rod is made of four parts and even comes with a protective travel case.
  • There are no longer broken tips because of tight packing situations with this case. In many cases, the travel case alone will cost some money, but it is included in the price. 
  • Again, this is a rod for sport fish like bass, crappie, and smaller fish as the height and weight dictate.
  • They range from 6-7.5 feet and are medium weight to provide enough backbone without compromising sensitivity. 
  • One key feature is the oxidized coat on the guides that match up with the bracket. This is not unique technology, but it improves the longevity of the rod as the line will make much less of an impact on the lines as it would without the coating. 

Piscifun is a pretty big online brand that is popular with online shoppers. This is one of those mass-produced brands that create a quality product. Brands of this kind can keep costs low and keep customers happy all in one swoop. 

5 Best beginner fishing reels in detail

1. Cadence Spinning Reel-Elate 

The Cadence Spinning Reel-Elate is a great option that can be widely found and is very affordable. With a graphite body and plenty of strength, this reel can get the job done. 

  • It comes in sizes ranging from 1000-4000, so you can specify your reel to the size of fish being targeted.
  • There is also a 10+1 ball bearing system to provide the most smooth action possible. This is a nice perk because advanced ball-bearing systems usually have a heftier price tag. 
  • This is a braid-forward spinning reel. Although you can use any line you would like, the spool and gear system is engineered to work well with braided line. Keep that in mind to maximize the performance of the Cadence reel. 
  • Plus, the price is very affordable. When looking for a beginner rod, I want something cheap and reliable.

The Cadence spinning reel can stay in your arsenal for a time after you move from the “beginner” stage and find higher-quality products. Especially if you are just getting into the hobby but still want to invest in some gear, this is a good one to go with. 

2. KastKing Valiant Eagle Gold Spinning Reel

KastKing is a brand that has recently shot into popularity thanks to availability online, low prices, and pretty good performance. All of those come together to make a great beginner reel.

  • This also comes in 1000-4000 style sizing, but 2000 or 3000 is good for beginners who want something versatile. 
  • Another point worth mentioning is the gear ratio. Gear ratios refer to how fast the line can be picked up and spooled as you crank the reel.
  • This reel has a quick 6.2:1 gear ratio, which is a nice perk for a reel of this price. This allows you to get more line in quickly between casts and fish to the boat faster. 
  • Another key feature is the design and color scheme. To some, this might not matter at all, but there are many anglers out there who want a slick-looking reel.
  • Black and gold dominate the palette and provide a really clean look.

Although appearance may not be the biggest factor you consider when making a purchase, who it looks like should be talked about.  

3. Abu Garcia Pro Max & Max Pro Spinning Fishing Reels

One of my favorite traditional fishing brands is Abu Garcia. Along with Quantum, Lews, and Shimano, Abu Garcia is partially dominating the space, especially in the West. When going with an Abu Garcia product, you are working with a tried and true brand that has a great reputation in the industry. 

  • More specifically, the Pro Max & Max Pro offering is one of the best beginner reels under the Abu Garcia umbrella.
  • It is very affordable and carries with it a well-built design.
  • It is made from aluminum and graphite with aluminum bearings to keep the reel strong and light. 
  • There are a couple of different gear ratios offered with 5.2:1 being the standard. This is nothing too special, but it is good for the price point.
  • The max drag sits around 14 pounds depending on the model, so you can handle small and rather big fish alike. 

Overall, the Abu Garcia Pro Max & Max Pro spinning reel is perfect for beginners because it has steady performance, an affordable price, and great quality. All of this being backed up by a monster brand creates a great consumer experience. 

4. PENN Fierce III Reel, Red, Black, 4000

Another American fishing company that leaders the charge is Penn. Although Penn is known to many as a saltwater-forward brand, the Fierce III can be used in freshwater and saltwater.

  • This is a versatile reel that comes in at the higher end of price for beginners. If you want something that will last a bit longer, this is a great one to pick. 
  • The Fierce III is very smooth and provides a comfortable fit on your spinning rod.
  • It is made from aluminum to keep it light while utilizing stainless steel bearings to provide strength and performance.
  • There are also adjustments you can make to give the reel an ambidextrous quality. So, you do not have to worry about the hand of the reel. 

When you go with a brand like Penn, there is a certain customer service and experience standard that is kept in most cases.

If there are any issues with the reel, there are many cases of the issue being resolved quickly and ethically. Although this has nothing to do with the actual reel, it is nice to feel covered in case something goes wrong. 

5. RUNCL Spinning Reel Titan II, Fishing Reel

The final reel for beginners listed is the RUNCL Titan II. This is a versatile line as there are 2000-6000 sized reels. So, if you like the 2000 for one species, you can upgrade to a bigger size to do some other tactics. 

  • Similar to how some spinning reels are designed to use braid, the engineering of the RUNCL spinning reel is for monofilament.
  • When using this reel, you will have fewer tangles and line situations that can derail a fishing trip. 
  • This reel also has what they call “Silky, Smooth Construction.” There are 9+1 bearings to provide seamless cranking no matter the lure size or line used.
  • When looking at spinning reels, there is also a No Clearance Transmission Mechanism to provide great strength and efficiency.
  • Overall, the RUNCL is packed full of unique technology that makes it worth the investment. Especially for this moderate price, you are getting good value in the purchase. 

Although this option is not from a mainstream brand, it still packs a punch in value and performance. A ton of positive reviews rave about it being lightweight, durable, and well worth the price. 

6 Best fishing rod combos for beginners in detail

1. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod Combo

If you are looking for a budget combo by a top brand, the Ugly Stik GX2 combo is calling your name. Ugly Stik is highly regarded in the fishing industry, and when paired with the proper spinning reel, you are in for a treat. The Ugly Stik was one of my first rods ever, and I still have it to this day.

  • Made by Shakespeare, the Ugly Stik is a rod known to be super strong when bending down.
  • Especially at the cheap price point, the quality you are getting is astounding.
  • This is the type of beginner combo that will be in your arsenal long after you have ascended the ranks into the top brands and products. 
  • Ugly Stik is known for its ability to bend like crazy and not break. There are old commercials you can watch that put the Ugly Stik rod bent over into an oval. When you pair this with a quality spinning reel, you are in for a treat. 
  • The reel sizes are unique to Shakespeare and range from a 20 to a 50. Rod sizes come in either one, two, or three pieces and range from 4’6” to 7’.

Overall, going with my top pick for rod and reel combo provides great strength and performance without having to spend a lot of money. 

2. KastKing Centron Spinning Reel – Fishing Rod Combos, Toray IM6 Graphite

We previously mentioned KastKing in the reel section, but going with the full combo is the way to go. The Centron Spinning combo is a 2-piece setup that is rated quite highly.

  • The rod is made of graphite blanks to provide strength while keeping it light. When you can break it down into multiple pieces, traveling with it becomes very easy. 
  • The reel is either 2000, 3000, 4000, or 5000 in size. The bigger the reel, the bigger the rod. So, they both match up well.
  • For example, the combo with the 4000 size reel comes with a 7’6” medium-heavy rod. These match up super well and provide an excellent opportunity to catch fish. 
  • Some of the key features also include split rear handles, a 5.2:1 gear ratio for the reel, and much more.
  • Not only would this investment be in a decent brand, but it is also supplying you with quality products. 

The Centron model for both the rod and the reel is of good quality for an affordable price. When you pair the rod and reel together, you are getting a quality combo for an extremely low price. Low prices may scare some buyers away, but the quality is double the price. 

3. PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combos Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod with Reel

The perfect travel combo is the PLUSINNO telescopic combo as it condenses down nicely and is of good quality. This is a versatile rod that can handle just about any fishing opportunity you throw at it, saltwater or freshwater.

  • This is a spinning setup that compacts down into a super small package. This makes throwing the entire setup in your bag and traveling around as easy as it gets. It can even fit on a carry-on for a flight with ease. 
  • The size of the rod ranges from 6-9 feet and is strong enough for small-medium fish.
  • If you are hitting the surf, this rod will struggle.
  • If you are targeting smaller species in calmer conditions, this is a great setup.
  • The reel has a 5.2:1 gear ratio, which is pretty standard, but nice.
  • Overall, these two aspects combine to make a good combo for catching fish on the road. 

One cool feature of the rod is the carrying case that comes along with it. Traveling with rods like this becomes tricky because it does not take much for a tip or eyelet to pop off. When you have the case with it, you are protected. 

4. Sougayilang Fishing Rod Combo

Another travel combo that compacts down in a great way is the Sougayilang telescopic combo. This is a spinning reel paired with a telescopic spinning rod that is good for a majority of fishing situations.

  • The rod comes in sizes of 6, 7, or 8 feet. So, this is a bit limited if you are going for carp or a large saltwater species. Other than that, you are covered. 
  • This is another option that comes with a carrying case if you get the biggest package.
  • They even throw in a few hooks and lures to help kickstart your fishing journey. All of this provides a great value for what the product is. 
  • The rod is made of carbon fiber, which is very light and strong.
  • The reel uses 13+1 bearings, which are strong and smooth.
  • The overall performance of the setup is quite nice when compared to the price.

All too often, telescopic rods are cheaply made and do not have much backbone. Especially with the two larger sizes, you can handle serious fish even though it is compact. If you need a complete setup for less than $100 that can be brought on the road with you, the Sougayilang combo is a great option. 

5. PENN Fierce III Combo

Next up is the Penn Fierce III Combo. Penn has previously appeared on my list, and the reputation holds up with the Fierce III Combo.

  • For a mid-range price, you can get a solid spinning combo that will last a long time.
  • The reel sizes range from 2000-5000 and the rod generally sits around 7-feet.
  • This is a versatile setup that can be used in a multitude of situations. 
  • The rod is a 1-piece, so traveling with it does become difficult. If you need something that can compact down, this is not the combo for you.
  • If you are fishing from a boat or just have more room, the Fierce III is an excellent option.
  • As long as you have that extra room, you are good to go.
  • Plus, having a 1-piece provides a strong backbone with the issues that multi-piece rods sometimes have. 

Some of the technology included in this setup brings a better user experience than some competitors. Everything from the tip to the grips is engineered to keep your comfort and the rod’s performance in mind.

This is made of graphite blanks, which are both light and strong. For the reel, it has Techno-Balanced rotors for smoothness in reeling your fish in. 

6. Magreel Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Finally, we round out the list of the best combos for beginners with the Magreel Telescopic rod and reel combo set. This is an all-inclusive package as just about anything you need to fish is included. 

  • The telescopic rod is of good quality and packs up very small.
  • If you buy the full package, it comes with a carrying case that will protect it during travel.
  • Keeping your rod safe is the hardest part, so Magreel hooks you up with protection. 
  • Also included in that full kit are hooks, lures, grubs, line, and a tackle storage box. Although this is a small portion of the package, it adds value to your stay. 
  • Now, to the combo. The rod is 6-9 feet long depending on the option you choose, but it telescopes down very small.
  • The reel is a basic spinning reel that can get the job done.

If you are traveling a lot and need something to leave in your car or travel bag, the Magreel combo can get it done. 

Selecting the best fishing rods for beginners – buying guide

Starting out fishing as a beginner can be a bit daunting. 

The sport has become highly specialized and technology-driven. There are new rod, reel, and bait and lure innovations coming out every year to get anglers closer to their prize catch.

All this can overwhelm the newbie to the sport. 

THat’s why we’ve put together the most thorough guide to buying your first fishing rod as a beginner – to help you select the right rod for your needs, size, water, and species you want to target.

Let’s start off by looking at rod types.

Beginner fishing rod styles – picking the right type

Different types of best fishing pole for beginners in an infographic

Baitcasting fishing rods

Best for: Fishing for predators in tight spots with baits or lures. For the advanced beginner.

Materials: Usually fiberglass and/or other composites, e.g. graphite.

Length: Usually between 5-7ft.

The best beginner bait casting rod

Baitcasting rods are designed to do what they say – effectively and accurately cast out bait or lures with great accuracy.

Unlike their spinning rod cousin, bait casters use a different reel and also have the eyes of the rod pole facing upwards.

The eyes on the rod are smaller, to get greater distance and accuracy when casting. 

For example, if you are trying to target a predatory species that lurk within weeds before striking their prey, with a bait caster rod you can accurately target the spot just on top or next to that area of weed to lure them out to strike your bait. 

By making the rod stiffer near the handle and flimsier towards the tip, the fisherman can use the rod to cast overhand, underhand, or sidearm. 

The appearance of a casting rod is typically lengthy and thin. 

This serves many purposes, such as providing sensitivity and applying a practical hook set. 

When using a casting rod, the fishing tactic will most likely require you to feel a bite or feel the structure you are fishing around.

Often, the fish will bite the bait only for a few seconds before dropping it. 

This means there is sometimes only a second or so window for you to set the hook effectively. 

When setting the hook, a casting rod should have enough backbone to prove enough tension to set the hook through the fish’s mouth while providing just enough give that you do not pull the hook out of the fish’s mouth.

Baitcasting rods and reels can be a little more difficult for the beginner to grasp than something like a spinning rod.

Telescoping fishing rods

Best for: Beginners, travelers, space and convenience-conscious.

Materials: Usually cheaper materials like fiberglass.

Length: Varied: 5ft-12ft.

The best beginner telescopic rod

Telescoping rods are perfect for the traveling angler. Or if you cycle to your favorite fishing spot, you can just chuck the rod in your backpack and be on your way. 

These rods act like telescopes – they are designed to extend to a full-size fishing rod, and then also be collapsed right down into a much smaller, compact size – often less than a foot long, which makes them a great space-saver. 

We’ve included some of these in our review above because they are fantastic beginner rods, and they often come with a reel attached plus some tackle too. 

The downsides of telescope rods are that if you don’t look after them and clean them, the telescoping action can become sticky and difficult to operate. 

You must also take care when extending and collapsing the rod.

If you jam the rod open too aggressively, you risk locking the sections together making it difficult to close again. 

If you look after your telescoping rod well through, they are a fantastic compact alternative to carrying large fishing poles around with you.

Hyper Lightweight fishing rods

Best for: Specific fishing, targeting small species. Those willing to spend more.

Materials: Often composite to make them lighter

Length: 4-6ft.

The best beginner lightweight fishing rod (1)

These rods are often specialty rods designed for particular species of fish. 

They are lightweight because the lures used on them are very small – much smaller than typical spinning lures for example. 

Anglers using these rods are targeting species that feed on smaller prey, so a smaller lure is needed to catch them.

If you were to take an ultra-lightweight rod and try to use a regular spinning lure on it, it would be too large and heavy to effectively operate the rod.

But, because they are so lightweight, you really feel the fight even from small fish, so they are quite exciting to fish with.

The higher-quality models are also built very strongly, to help to target larger fish of certain species.

These rods are often used in rivers or lakes for catching smaller fish like trout or crappie.

Surf or beach casting fishing rods

Best for: Beach fishing, long casts.

Materials: Fibreglass, composites.

Length: 8-12ft

The best beginner surf fishing rod

If you’re standing on the beach fishing, you need to be able to cast a long distance to get out into the surf. 

Surf or beach casting rods are usually within the medium to heavy range. 

The reels they use are larger too, to give more line to the cast distance, and also use a heavier line too. 

When surf fishing you might be targeting larger species like bass or rays which can be a lot heavier and put up a big fight.

The rod needs to be able to handle this, which is why the rod, reel, line, and tackle tend to be larger with surf fishing rods.

Spinning fishing rods

Best for: Fishing with spinning lures or plastic jigs. Good all-round rods.

Materials: Fiberglass and or composite like graphite.

Length: Typically 6-8ft.

The best beginner spinning fishing rod

Spinning rods are probably the most popular go-to for beginners. 

They can serve multiple purposes, and I’ve used spinning rods with lures, live bait, dead bait, feathers, and floats in the past. 

While the seasoned fisherman might scorn me for saying that, for beginners, I think that it is fine to utilize your first spinning rod in this way.

The great thing about spinning rods is you can really vary the size and type of lure you are using in one session.

For example, if fishing for seabass in whitewater off coastal rocks, you can switch between a deep-dive lure, a shallow-lure, or even a surface hopper to explore all the possible depth ranges that bass might be feeding at. 

Spinning rods for beginners are usually made from fiberglass which is a highly durable material. 

If you are looking to spend a little more than just the straightforward basic beginner spinning rod, you could upgrade to a composite rod that mixes fiberglass and graphite, making the rod lighter weight and more responsive while not losing out on strength.

Trolling fishing rod

Best for: Fishing off a boat when moving. Jigging at depth.

Materials: Fiberglass or graphite composite.

Length: 8ft-11ft

The best beginner trolling fishing rod

What is a trolling rod?

When I started out fishing, I’d not heard of this type of fishing rod.

Some confuse a trolling rod for a spinning rod but they fit different purposes and have slightly different designs. 

Trolling is a type of fishing that requires a lot of movement. 

When trolling fishing you’re either hanging the rod and line off the back of a moving boat or off the side of a stationary boat. 

And you’re creating the movement by raising and lowering your rod or dragging through the water, side to side.

This makes the bait or lure looks highly appealing to passing fish and triggers a strike response from them. 

This type of fishing is often done at much greater depths than spinning, for example. 

The rods tend to be stronger and have a slower action – meaning they bend further toward the reel rather than the tip of the rod – allowing the lure to have a more natural presentation in the water while moving. 

If you’re targeting big fish that fight a lot, trolling rods are the best option and provide the strength you need.

Fly fishing rod

Best for: Fly fishing. Typically requires more advanced skills.

Materials: Graphite, bamboo (traditionally), or fiberglass (less popular).

Length: 6ft – 12ft depending on the space around you.

The best beginner fly fishing rod

Fly fishing rods tend to be a little longer, lighter, and slimmer than other rod types like spinning rods or beach casters. 

I remember practicing casting my dad’s fly fishing rod in our backyard, trying to get the hang of the difference in feel and balance. 

The rod itself (or ‘blank’, as they are technically known) has much smaller line guides or ‘eyes’ on it than other rod types. 

The handle is often cork material, giving fly rods a classic feel to them, and you’ll find the reel much lower down the other end of the rod itself – below where you typically grip it while casting.

I remember my dad telling me that this weight distribution created by the reel being lower is what helps you balance your cast and get the right rhythm of casting. 

Fly rods use tiny feathers and flies as lures, and it is the weight of the line shooting out from each cast that provides the real distance in a fly rod’s cast, rather than the fly or lure itself.

Most beginners don’t start on fly fishing because it is a more complex entry to the sport of fishing as a whole. 

The gear and the conditions and the environment you’re targeting can be quite specific. 

Ice fishing rod

Best for: Fishing through holes in the ice!

Materials: Fiberglass, graphite, composite.

Length: ~28-30inches

The best beginner ice fishing rod

Built like mountain ponies, ice fishing rods are short and strong. 

They are designed to withstand the extreme temperatures you are in when ice fishing. 

Ice fishing rods are similar in style to spinning rods but don’t have the length that traditional spinners do. 

Ice anglers typically select these rods to be lightweight or ultra-lightweight to be able to feel the slower-moving fish in the icy cold water.

Unless you live near frozen rivers or lakes, it’s unlikely you’ll ever need one of these, let alone as a beginner. 

Choosing the right rod action, power and length for fishing novices

Let’s start with rod length. 

I’ve always found that a good size for an all-rounder beginner rod is a 7ft spinning rod. 

This gives you a decent length to help cast the distances needed but also isn’t too long to become difficult to use, store and transport.

You don’t want your rod becoming a barrier to having fun while fishing after all. 

Longer rods mean further casting distance to reach those spots beyond the waves or the other side of a river or pond. But as the rod gets longer, its more difficult to cast with pin point accuracy because the length becomes cumbersome.

Shorter rods give you greater accuracy, to target specific structures or spots where predators might be waiting to strike. However, you’ll sacrifice distance because the shorter length does not give you the leverage to cast a further distance, and you can’t use as large a weight or lure either.

Now let’s talk about rod action. 

Fishing rod action

Action is the ability for the rod to bend and flex, but specifically where the rod actually bends.  

If it’s very flexible at the tip then it has a fast action. 

Slow action means that the rod bends at a point nearer the base of the fishing rod itself. 

Fast action is good for targeting small fish, fish that might be difficult to sense their bites on the bait or lure. 

Live bait is also often used with fast action rods so that the bait can swim more freely and naturally in the water. 

What does power mean in a fishing rod?

Power is the measurement of how much force you need to actually make the rod flex and bend over. 

If it’s a light power it’s very bendy, and a heavy power means it’s difficult to bend. 

You’ll want a heavier power rod if you are targeting larger fish, but a fast action tip so that you can sense bites but also set the hook effectively when you do get a bite. 

So what should beginners get? 

As the Buddha apparently once said, find the middle way.

A medium power rod, with a moderate-fast action, should be good for a beginner. 

When you start out fishing, I’d recommend trying and testing a bunch of baits and lures, in different environments, like ponds, lakes, rivers, and the ocean. 

Having a rod that is a happy mid-way in terms of power and action, and the right length at about 7ft means you can try your hand at fishing in multiple styles and see what you like more. 

It means you won’t be bringing completely unsuitable fishing gear to a particular environment, after having the right gear for the right type of fishing the last time you went out. 

This is how I started out fishing and it worked really well for me. 

The best fishing rod material for newbies

Most beginner rods are made from fiberglass, which is a great material. 

If you want to know what fiberglass is, here’s a handy explanation.

It’s basically plastic strengthened with glass fibers.

This makes it nice and flexible but strong for fighting those monster fish you’ll be catching as a begging reaction – I’m sure beginners always land on their first trip! Beginner’s luck!

You can purchase rods with graphite in the blank (rod pole) which makes it a little lighter and just as strong, but you’ll be paying a little more for these. 

I started out with fiberglass rods and it’s suited me really well. 

I’ve caught rays, mackerel, bass, dogfish, all sorts on a fiberglass rod.

Choosing the right fishing reels for new starters

Just like rods, reels come in many shapes and sizes too.

Baitcasting fishing reels

Baitcasting fishing reels match with baitcasting fishing rods. 

The reel is designed so that it faces upwards, like the line guides on a baitcasting rod. 

Baitcasting reels are more difficult to use as a beginner, requiring practice and technique to master them. 

But they provide a great deal of accuracy when targeting specific narrow spots of water where predators lie. 

Spinning fishing reels 

Probably one of the most common and easily recognized reels.

These are nicknamed ‘egg-beaters’ due to their appearance and how you wind the handle when retrieving the line.

They come with an arm that you lift when casting so that the line can run off the spool easily to get distance from your cast. 

You then put the arm down and begin winding when you tee the line in. 

Fly fishing reels

These look like large and slim wheels on the side of the fly fishing rod. 

They come in varied sizes and ‘weights’ which aligns with the weight of the line and the type and size of fish you are targeting. 

Bigger fish, bigger line, bigger fly reel. 

Trolling fishing reels

Given you’re usually out on a moving boat and targeting larger predatory fish with a trolling reel, they are typically large robust reels.

They resemble baitcasting reels with a cylindrical shape to them, much larger handles and have features that alert you to fishing having struck your bait swimming out at sea. 

Trolling reels are the kind that marlin fishermen use, to give you an idea of the range of their use. 

Spincast fishing reels

Spincast reels are designed with ease in mind. 

A popular option for beginners, they provide accuracy in casting but minimize the complexity you’d encounter with a bait caster, or the potential tangles you can suffer with a spinning reel.

They have a simple button mechanism that you press with your thumb to release the line as you cast. 

The reel and line itself are housed on a self-contained shell, which is what helps avoid tangles.

Balancing your fishing rod and reel

Finding the right balance for a beginner fishing rod is pretty simple.

It basically means you haven’t matched a huge reel to a small rod, or a huge rod to a small reel.

You want to find a rod and a reel that go together well. 

If you’ve got a lightweight rod, go for a smaller reel that holds nothing more than an 8lb line. 

And if you’ve got a heavier rod, you can move up to somewhere in the ranges of 10-16lb line or more, depending on the fish you’re targeting. 

The great thing about beginner fishing rods is that you can buy combos that come ready-matched with the right size reel. 

Or just check on the rod to see what gauge line the rod is suited for – this will help you select the right reel for your rod. 

And if you’re trying to understand what all the numbers mean, like 210/8lb, for example, the first number relates to the line capacity of the reel, in yards. 

The second number is the weight of the line it can handle.

Picking the best rod and reel combo

As mentioned, to address the novice market, fishing brands have created combo packages that provide a full set up of rod-and-reel that are already suited to each other, and well balanced. 

This makes choosing a rod and reel easy for a beginner, and it’s where I started my fishing journey.

That’s why I’ve included some of these options in this article, to suggest some appealing selections that would act as a great fishing rod and reel for a beginner.

The best beginner fishing gear for a good price

Finally, you’ll want to keep an eye on the price. 

You don’t want to go too cheap, because the rod and reel will just start to crumble after a good bit of use. 

The guides on the rod are often the first things to go, or the reel gears fail or become sticky if not maintained well. 

So as a beginner, if you want something that’s going to reliably catch you fish, you want invest a little more than the cheapest basic.

The best fishing rods for beginners – summary

There we have it. In my quest to find some new fishing rods, I’ve identified what I feel are the best rod and reel options for a beginner.

I even purchased and live-tested some options to give you a real-life close-up of the top products that caught my eye, and some genuine user research to help you make a better decision.

Hopefully, you’re closer to getting the best rod for you as a beginner, and are keen to get out fishing! Or you’ve found the perfect gift for someone else.