Best Saltwater Fishing Rods in 2018: A Buyer’s Guide ( In-Depth Reviews )

man fishing on sea

Any fishing experience is really fun but there is nothing like chucking a lure out into the great blue ocean and waiting to see what you pull back up.

Unlike fishing in ponds or rivers, which usually harbor only a half dozen gamefish at most, the ocean is a different kettle of fish. Dozens of species are lurking over every reef and under every pier, not to mention that many of them are huge.

But to have a good chance of landing the best haul, you need a rod suited for saltwater angling.

There are as many ways to fish in saltwater as there are fish in the sea. Above all, you need to select a rod that suites the type of fishing you prefer.

Anglers who prefer to head out into the open water will benefit from different features and characteristics than one who puts around shallow reefs and flats.

In this article we:

  1. We break down best saltwater rods for variety of fishing situations
  2. Then we explain what featured and specifications you need to pay attention to when choosing a saltwater rod

The Top Saltwater Rods of 2018: Outdoor Empire Reviews

These are our top recommendations for saltwater rods in 2018:

  1. Best saltwater rod and reel combo: Take Penn Squall Lever Drag
  2. Best inshore rod: Take Penn Rampage
  3. Best offshore rod: Take Fiblink Offshore Boat Rod
  4. Best pier rod: Take Okuma SCT


*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:

ProductPenn Squall Lever Drag Combo
Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo

Penn Rampage Boat Casting
Penn Rampage Boat Casting

Fiblink Offshore Boat Rod
Fiblink Offshore Boat Rod

Okuma SCT Inshore Rod
Okuma SCT Inshore Rod

Rod Length7'7'6'8' 6"
Rod Weight(not specified by manufacturer)(not specified by manufacturer)29 oz9.6 oz
Line Weight15-25 lbs12-20 lbs30-50 lbs20-40 lbs
PowerMediumMediumExtra HeavyExtra Heavy
No. of Pieces1121
CostCheck Price

Check Price

Check Price

Check Price


Best Rod-and-Reel Combo For The Money

Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo

If you are new to saltwater fishing, it is ideal to start with a rod-and-reel combo rather than trying to select a rod and reel separately. This helps newcomers avoid mismatching poles and reels, and just start fishing.

Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo

The Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo is a great option for those who want to try out saltwater angling without having to worry about matching a rod and reel correctly.

Available in two lengths and two power ratings, you can use one of these rods to catch a variety of species. They are ideal for inshore rather than offshore angling.

Notable Features

  • One-piece, tubular glass blank with a solid tip for improved strength
  • Reel features a graphite frame and an aluminum spool
  • Lever drag system allows you to make adjustments on the fly and better battle large fish
  • Features heavy-duty Dura-Drag washers
  • Graphite construction provides great sensitivity



Best Rod for Inshore Anglers

Penn Rampage Boat Casting

Inshore anglers typically work shallower water and target slightly smaller species than their offshore counterparts, and this influences the characteristics of the rods they use.

Penn Rampage Boat Casting

Penn is one of the leading manufacturers of saltwater rods so it’s not surprising to see they’ve made our list twice. The Penn Rampage Boat Casting provides all of the things you need in an inshore rod at a very reasonable price.

Notable Features

  • 1-piece tubular glass blank with a solid, reinforced tip makes it easier to lift big fish from the water
  • Triangular EVA grips provide the comfort you need for those long days on the water
  • Stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts
  • Heavy-duty graphite reel seat
  • Available in sizes ranging from 5’6” to 7’6”



Best Rod for Offshore Anglers

Fiblink Saltwater Offshore 2-Piece Conventional Boat Rod

If you head out to the deep ocean, you’ll probably be trolling or vertically jigging more than casting. So casting distance isn’t as critical for offshore anglers as it is for those fishing closer to the shore. Instead, offshore anglers need rods that are great for playing fish.

Fiblink Offshore Boat Rod

The Fiblink Offshore Boat Rod is a great option for anglers who prefer to fish in the deeper waters far from the shore. They provide both the strength and sensitivity to help you detect light bites and wrestle giant fish.

Notable Features

  • Two-piece, solid glass construction provides enough durability and strength to last through years of abuse
  • Some models feature corrosion-proof, stainless steel guides, while others feature roller guides
  • EVA foam grips provide a comfortable grip without compromising sensitivity
  • Designed for either 30- to 50-pound-test line or 50- to 80-pound-test line
  • Great looking finish with fluorescent tip for added visibility in low light



Best Saltwater Pier Rod

Okuma SCT Inshore Rod

Fishing from a pier lets you access fairly deep water without the need for a boat. However, it requires you to adapt your techniques to the unique circumstances involved in fishing in what are often crowded locations.

Okuma SCT Inshore Rod

Okuma SCT Inshore Rods are perfect for catching a limit while working your favorite pier. Lightweight yet sturdy, they are comfortable to use and handle. They’re long enough to let you cast great distances when you have the space to do so.

Notable Features

  • Constructed from extremely lightweight, 24-ton carbon rod blanks for incredible sensitivity
  • Made with Fuji Alconite guide inserts so you can fish with braided line if you like
  • Split EVA grips provide great comfort while saving a bit of weight in the process
  • Available in 8’ and 8’6” lengths and power ratings ranging from medium-heavy to extra-heavy
  • Trigger grip provides improved leverage for hoisting fish from the water



What Makes a Good Saltwater Rod?

rods in line



Choose a rod with the proper power for your purposes.

Power is the amount of force or weight it takes to make a rod bend. It is typically characterized as:

  • ultralight
  • light
  • medium-light
  • medium
  • medium-heavy
  • heavy

If you are after a huge yellowfin or blacktip sharks, you want a heavy rod because it can haul these big beasts in.

In contrast, it is an overkill for those trying to catch snappers and bonefish – you’d want something in the medium-light to medium power range.



Action is the amount of the rod that flexes when loaded.

  • Fast and extra-fast action rods only flex at the tip.
  • Slow action rods (sometimes called parabolic rods) flex along most of their length.

Slower actions usually provide better casting distance and they help reduce the odds of you yanking the lure out of a fish’s mouth too quickly on the hookset.

On the other hand, fast-action rods allow you to cast with much greater accuracy and can help experienced anglers set the hook in large fish.



rods of different lengths

When all other things are equal, longer rods enable you to cast farther than short poles do. So you want to use the longest rod that you are comfortable with when casting distance is important.

By contrast, if you spend a lot of time fishing from crowded piers or using jigging spoons, a shorter rod is more useful.


Rod Style

Choose a style that suits your skill and experience level.

In most cases, experienced anglers will get better results from baitcasting rigs than they will with spinning setups because baitcasting rods:

  • cast farther
  • hold much more line
  • ideal for the heavy tackle than spinning rigs
  • have superior drag systems than spinning rigs

However, baitcasting combos are much harder to cast and use than spinning gear which can be frustrating for novices.



Select a fishing stick built from materials that excel for your fishing purpose. There are two primary materials used to construct most rods:

  1. fiberglass
  2. graphite

Fiberglass rods are cheaper, tougher and better for battling big fish. On the other hand, graphite rods typically offer better sensitivity that allows you to detect even the lightest bites.

Several manufacturers also make composite rods which combine the best characteristics of fiberglass and graphite. However, you have to pay dearly for this type of performance. Casual anglers can just choose between fiberglass and graphite.

Nevertheless, there are a few things you’d want in just about any saltwater rod. For example, you’ll want a durable fishing stick that will last a long time after being exposed to salt, sun, and sand.


Final Thoughts

Many anglers who are new to saltwater angling become a bit overwhelmed when selecting a rod but this doesn’t have to be the case. Simply consider the criteria listed above and check out the rods we recommended.

Are there any other characteristics of saltwater rods you like to consider before making your purchase? Let us know in the comments below.


If you want to learn more about fishing rods in general, check our “Choosing The Best Fishing Rod In 2018“.

Ben Team
Ben is a lifelong environmental educator, former ISA-certified arborist and avid angler who writes about the natural world. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his beautiful wife and spoiled rotten Rottweiler. You can read more of Ben’s writing at



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