Best Spinning Rods of 2020

spinning rods with different lures

Spinning rods are the most commonly used fishing rod available. When paired with a spinning reel, they offer one of the easiest ways to get started fishing. This makes them the go to option for beginners and is how almost every angler out there learnt to fish. But spinning rods aren’t just for the novice. They excel in certain techniques and many avid anglers wouldn’t be caught on the water without one.

Our Top Picks

Here are our top picks for the best spinning rod of 2020.

#1 KastKing Crixus (Best Overall)

#2 St Croix MOJO Inshore (Best Inshore Fishing Rod)

#3 Ugly Stik Elite (Best Durability)

#4 KastKing Perigee II (Best Versatility)

#5 Berkeley Big Game (Best Value)

Overview of Spinning Rods

Spinning rods are specifically designed for housing spinning type reels. These reels are connected to the reel seat and hang below the rod.

The line guides also hang below the rod and are held at a further distance from the rod compared to casting rods. Spinning rod guides are also larger and progressively get smaller as you move towards the tip of the rod.

Benefits

  • Easy of Use – Spinning rod combos are much easier to cast compared to baitcasting setups. This has more to do with the mechanics of the reel than the rod. They are the best choice for beginners.
  • Lighter Lines & Lures – The design of spinning reels also make them more suitable for casting light gear. They usually have more flex, allowing the rod to load up during the cast and flick the bait or lure further.
  • Sensitivity – Usually more sensitivity compared to casting rods. The guides face down so they are always in contact with the line. You can also easily hold your finger against the line to feel any light bites.

Trade Offs

  • Lower Accuracy – The line guides are larger and held further away from the rod. This allows the line more room to move during the cast which will reduce accuracy. Spinning rods will be less ideal for areas of heavy cover or if you need precise casts.
  • Can struggle with heavier tests – As we mentioned, spinning rods must be used with spinning reels. Heavier tests tend to be more stiff and have more memory. This causes them to jump off the spool sometimes causing annoying tangles. Can also reduce casting distance.

How to compare spinning rods

There are lots of different rod manufacturers out there and all rods aren’t created equal. They can be made with a whole range of materials. Even when made of the same material, there can be vast differences in performance based on its quality and manufacturing process. Here are some of the key factors you need to consider when comparing spinning rods.

Construction

Fishing rods can be made using different materials and usually fall into one of three categories. 

The first of these are fibreglass rods.They are very durable and will be a bit more reliable on water. However, this comes at the cost of a heavier, bulkier build. Fibreglass is also very flexible which can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the style of fishing. It can act as a great shock absorber when the fish strikes or surges, but are going to be less sensitive.

The second material used to make rods are carbon or graphite based materials. They are usually much lighter but more prone to breaking. Graphite is also quite rigid and gives the rod a stiffer backbone compared to fibreglass. This is going to improve the sensitivity of the rod.

Other rods are known as composites, combining both fibreglass and graphite into their construction. These rods try to give you the best of both worlds, offering a durable and sensitive rod.

Guides

The line guides of your rod are a source of friction, which is never a good thing in fishing. It reduces your casting distance and generates heat which kills your line. The material of their construction is important to how the rod performs.

The most basic type of guide will be constructed of stainless steel. They are usually cheaper and are less fragile. However, they are prone to long term wear and tear from extra friction.

More commonly the guide will incorporate a ceramic ring into its design. These can be made using material such as aluminium oxide or zirconium. They are lightweight and durable, offering a smooth surface for your line to travel through. They don’t add too much cost and are going to give you a better cast.

Handle

The best handle for you is going to depend a lot on your personal preference. The most common types you will find are either EVA foam or cork. One is not necessarily better than the other but I personally love the feel of a good cork handle. Either way you just want to make sure it’s a high quality material that’s going to last.

Handles come in different styles too. If you like getting both hands on the rod to cast, a longer one piece handle will be your best option. Split grips have become more popular over the years which expose part of the rod blank. They bring down the overall weight and give a more balanced rod.

Our picks for best spinning rods

KastKing Crixus (Best Overall)

The Crixus rod from KastKing is an excellent all round performing rod at a good price. It has a multi-layer graphite construction making it a great lightweight sensitive rod. The guides are made using stainless steel with zirconium rings which are going to give you a smooth cast with minimal friction.

The main handle material is made from a polymer, giving it a similar feel to what you’d expect for a golf club. It is quite comfortable and a bit different from the typical cork or EVA foam handles many rods have. The handle has a split grip design too which makes it even more lightweight. The rod is also constructed in two pieces so you can pull it apart for easy transport and storage.

The KastKing Crixus is available in a total of 20 different power, action and length combos meaning no matter what technique you’re using you can probably find a rod to match. Lengths range from 5’6” to 7’6”, power from light to heavy and action from moderate/fast to fast. 

The KastKing Crixus is a great choice for anglers who want a solid performing rod at an affordable price no matter what their application is.

Pros

  • Great all round performer
  • Lightweight design
  • Sensitive
  • Zirconium guides for improved casting
  • Huge range of power, action and length combos

Cons

  • Only comes in split grip
  • More fragile than a fibreglass rod

St Croix MOJO Inshore (Runner Up)

Now if you’re willing to spend a little more for a better performing rod, the St Croix MOJO Inshore is a great option. These rods are hand made using high quality SCII graphite which is strong and lightweight. It features aluminium oxide guides that use 316 stainless steel frames for added corrosion resistance. The only reason it didn’t take our number one spot is because it’s going to cost a bit more.

It features a split grip handle made using high quality cork to give a light and balanced rod. However, the St Croix MOJO rod also only comes in a single piece, so if you’re looking for a two piece to fit in your trunk this isn’t the rod for you.

The MOJO Inshore has a great range of powers from medium/light to heavy. However, your choice of lengths will be limited to between 7’ and 7’6” and only fast action.

The St Croix MOJO Inshore is going to be suited for the angler who is willing to pay a little more for that extra edge in performance.

Pros

  • Superior quality handmade rod
  • Great Sensitivity
  • Aluminium guides for longer casts
  • Lightweight design

Cons

  • More expensive
  • No two piece option so can be more difficult to transport
  • Limited length and action range

Ugly Stik Elite (Best Durability)

UglyStik rods have a reputation for their legendary toughness and their Elite series is no exception. It is a composite rod made from both fibreglass and graphite. The fibreglass gives the blank that durable construction while the graphite gives it that extra sensitivity and helps bring the weight down.

The guides are single piece stainless steel so you don’t have to worry about any ceramic rings breaking or popping out. However, it won’t cast as smooth as the ceramic guide designs. The Ugly Stik Elite has a full length cork handle which is great if you like getting a firm grip with both hands during the cast.

This spinning rod comes in a great range of lengths from 4’6” to 7’6” with both one and two piece options available. It has a good range of powers too, from ultralight to medium/heavy which match well with lighter lines and lures. However, for action you will be limited to moderate/fast action though. 

The Ugly Stik Elite is suited to the angler looking for that robust rod that isn’t going to let them down on the water. Well suited for smaller fish species you would expect fishing inshore.

Pros

  • Incorporates fibreglass for extra durability
  • Single piece steel guides less prone to breakages
  • Well suited for lighter lines and lures
  • One and two piece options available

Cons

  • Heavier design
  • Doesn’t cast as smooth as rods with ceramic guide

KastKing Perigee II (Best Versatility)

If you’re looking for a more versatile fishing rod that’s going to be suitable for a wider range of techniques, the KastKing Perigee II is the way to go. What makes this rod the most versatile spinning rod is its two piece twin-tip option. Essentially you get two different rod tips that are exchangeable letting you change from one power to another. A super cool idea in my opinion.

It is a multilayer carbon fibre construction to give a lightweight and sensitive rod. The Perigee II also has Fuji O-ring guides which are made from aluminium oxide to let that line glide smoothly during the cast and retrieval. This spinning rod comes with a split grip EVA foam handle for a lightweight design.

As with their Crixus rod, KastKing’s Perigee II has a wide range of lengths, powers and actions. So there’s a rod available for most fishing techniques out there.

The KastKing Perigee II is for the angler who wants a versatile fishing rod that will perform well with a range of techniques. Ideal if you want to change your setup once you’re on the water.

Pros

  • Two rods for the price of one!
  • Lightweight design
  • Sensitive
  • Aluminium oxide guides for smooth casting
  • Great range of lengths, powers and actions

Cons

  • More fragile than a fibreglass rod

Berkley Big Game (Best Value)

If you have a tighter budget, the Berkley Big Game is a good option. It has a complete fibreglass construction so you know it’s going to be a solid durable rod. The Big Game also has stainless steel guide frames with titanium oxide inserts for smooth casting. It’s a rod that’s going to be well suited for any saltwater fishing where you are targeting bigger fish.

However, as with any fibreglass rod, you can expect the Big Game to be a bit heavier and less sensitive. So for techniques where you need a good feel for the lure, you are better off choosing a graphite or composite rod.

The Berkley Big Game comes in two different models. One at 7’ with medium power and the other at 8’ with medium/heavy power. Both models have moderate/fast action. Go with the 7’ inch model if you’re fishing inshore or from a boat. The 8’ is going to be better suited near the surf where you need some extra casting distance.

The Berkley Big Game is best suited for the angler who has a tighter budget and wants to catch larger saltwater species.

Pros

  • Durable fibreglass construction
  • Titanium oxide guides for improved casting
  • Great for targeting large saltwater species
  • Great value

Cons

  • Poorer sensitivity
  • Heavier build
  • Limited range of lengths, power and action

How to choose the right spinning rod

Length

The benefits of a longer rod is that it’s going to allow you to cast much further. The additional length gives you more leverage on the cast to get your line out further. So if you want to cover more water or cast to deeper waters, a longer rod can be a good option. The extra leverage is also going to give you a stronger hookset.

Shorter length rods are going to excel more at casting accuracy. So if you want that extra precision when fishing near docks or fallen trees, a shorter rod might be a good option. Smaller rods are also just going to be easy to manage when fishing near overhanging trees or on a kayak. They are also easier to carry and transport.

What’s considered a long or short rod is really going to depend on the person and their style of fishing. However, a rough middle ground is the 6-7ft range. So if you are wanting a more versatile rod with a balance of casting distance or accuracy, this middle range may be suitable. This is a good place to start for beginners or less experienced anglers.

Power

The power is the amount of force required to bend the rod and is sometimes called weight. It is given on a scale of ultra-light to heavy with many ratings in between. Lighter rods need less force to bend while a heavier rod will be more rigid.

The power should be matched to the line and lure weight you plan on using. These values will also be specified by the manufacturer. Using too heavy of a line or lure outside the specs can cause some major damage to your rod.

Pairing too light of a line or lure to your rod isnt going to cause damage but you will notice poorer performance. Lighter lures are going to be much harder to cast and reduce your distance. Lighter lines are going to be more susceptible to snapping especially when setting the hook or when the fish surges.

Action

The action of the rod refers to where the bend in the rod occurs. This is rated on a scale from extra fast to slow. Slower rods are going to bend throughout most of the rod whereas faster rods will usually bend only in the upper third.

Slower action rods will excel in casting lighter lines and lures. More of the rod will load up to give your lure that extra momentum for a long cast. They also act as shock absorbers. When a fish strikes or surges, more of the rod will bend to dampen the force. This is great when fishing treble hooks so help keep the fish pinned.

Fast action rods are going to be better suited for heavier lures and baits. They require a little extra backbone in the rod to get behind them for a good cast. Faster action rods are also going to be more sensitive. Less bend means less shock absorbance, so you can feel even the lightest touches of your lure.

Hooksets also vary between the two. Slow action gives a slower, softer hookset while faster action gives faster, harder hooksets.

Takeaway

Spinning rods are quite versatile and should be in every anglers arsenal. We recommend the KastKing Crixus as the best overall spinning rod. If you are looking for something more specific like extra durability or value, one of the other rods will make a great addition to your fishing gear.