Last updated: 06.07.2017. Added images and improved readability.
If you want to learn more about fishing rods in general, check our “Choosing The Best Fishing Rod In 2017“.
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.
What Makes a Good Saltwater Rod?
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, for example, will benefit from different features and characteristics than one who puts around shallow reefs and flats.
Important Choosing Factors
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:
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.
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.
Pick a rod with an action that suits your purposes.
Use a rod with a length that suits your purposes. 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.
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:
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.
Outdoor Empire Recommendations
No single saltwater rod excels in all situations so it is important to consider the primary ways in which you plan to fish.
For example, someone who fishes primarily from piers will appreciate very different things in a rod that someone who catches in the open water from the back of a boat.
|Product|| || || ||
|Rod Weight||(not specified by manufacturer)||(not specified by manufacturer)||29 oz||7.2 oz|
|Line Weight||15-25 lbs||12-20 lbs||30-50 lbs||12-25 lbs|
|Power||Medium||Medium||Extra Heavy||Medium Heavy|
|No. of Pieces||1||1||2||1|
Best Rod-and-Reel 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.
- 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 for Inshore Anglers
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.
- 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 for Offshore Anglers
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 Saltwater Offshore 2-Piece Conventional 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.
- 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 Rods
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.
- 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
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.