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:
- We break down best saltwater rods for variety of fishing situations
- Then we explain what featured and specifications you need to pay attention to when choosing a saltwater rod
The 7 Top Saltwater Rods of 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for saltwater rods in 2020:
- Best spinning: Take the St. Croix Mojo
- Best baitcasting: Take the Daiwa Tatula Saltwater
- Best rod and reel combo: Take the Penn Squall Lever Drag
- Best inshore: Take the Penn Rampage
- Best deep sea: Take the Okiaya Composit 80-130 lbs Big Game
- Best for pier fishing: Take the Shakespeare 1-Piece Heavy Action Ugly Stik Bigwater
- Best jigging: Take the Penn Carnage II Jigging Rod
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
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|Rod Weight||(not specified by manufacturer)||(not specified by manufacturer)||29 oz||(not specified by manufacturer)|
|Line Weight||15-25 lbs||12-20 lbs||30-50 lbs||30 - 80 lbs|
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|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Saltwater Spinning Rod: St. Croix Mojo
Whether you’re chasing bonefish, tarpon or redfish, you’ll need a good rod to catch fish on the flats. It must not only provide excellent casting range, but it should have a fast action tip to make flawless presentations and rock-solid hooksets easy.
But the St. Croix Mojo Inshore Spinning Rod has you covered and will make it easy to catch more fish.
Made from premium-quality SCII graphite, the Mojo Inshore Spinning Rod is a rugged rod that’s built to last and provides all the backbone you need, yet it is still sensitive enough that you won’t miss delicate nibbles from skittish fish.
It’s made with Batson Forecast® hard aluminum-oxide guides with 316 stainless-steel frames, which will last much longer and resist rust better than the 304 frames included with many other inshore spinning rods.
The Mojo Inshore Spinning Rod is available in both 7-foot and 7-foot-6-inch-long versions, depending on whether you prefer a rod that’ll provide greater casting distance or maneuverability.
2. Best Overall Saltwater Baitcasting Rod: Daiwa Tatula Saltwater
Introducing one of the best fishing rods on the market. Featuring the Daiwa Super Volume Fiber graphite technology for strength and exceptional flexibility, this rod will take your fishing to the next level.
Finished with Fuji Alconite ring guides, a machined aluminum reel clamp, custom Daiwa reel seat, and a micro-pitch clear finish, this rod is not only capable of catching big fish, but also comfortable to use.
- Extremely strong Daiwa Super Volume Fiber graphite construction
- 25-inch EVA handle ensures a good grip when fighting big fish
- Superior accessories including Alconite ring guides, machine aluminum reel clamp, and custom reel seat
- Difficult to transport
- Action may be too fast for some users
- The tip is reported to be delicate and prone to breaking
Every Angler knows that the difference between success and failure is often defined by the quality of your gear, and nothing is more important than the rod you choose. The Tatula will get the job done, tackling big fish with ease and comfort.
3. Best Saltwater 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.
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
4. Best Inshore Fishing Rod: 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 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”
5. Best Deep Sea Fishing Rod: Okiaya Composit 80-130 lbs Big Game
Every deep-sea angler dreams of landing a trophy, but doing that requires heavy-duty gear that is up to the task. This is a big-game rod designed with strength in mind. It is built from aircraft-grade alloy composites that wrap around the shaft for additional strength.
Reinforced stainless-steel rollers provide a robust platform for the extra-heavy lines needed for this type of fishing (up to 130 pound test). The one-piece design adds to its reliability as you will not need to worry about having a weak point mid-shaft.
- Heavy power and fast action necessary for targeting big trophies
- Rated for a line as heavy as 130 pound test
- Durable construction capable of handling even the biggest trophies
- Not compatible with all reels
- Roller guides can sometimes move out of alignment
Deep-sea anglers will appreciate the way this rod is built — especially the focus on strength. After all, when it comes down to it, nothing else matters if your rod breaks before the fish is landed.
6. Best Saltwater Pier Rod: Shakespeare 1-Piece Heavy Action Ugly Stik Bigwater
Finding gear that can withstand the abuses and challenges of big water is a constant struggle for deep-sea anglers. This is why Shakespeare has developed the Ugly Stik Bigwater rod.
It was designed with durability, versatility and sensitivity in mind, and it was all accomplished while maintaining a reasonable price. The rod features a Howald-process construction with an inner graphite spiral covered in fiberglass, increasing hoop strength and maintaining tip sensitivity.
Stainless-steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts are well suited for handling heavy braided line. The through-handle blank improves balance and further adds to its ability to detect even small bites. Plus, it is covered by a 5-year warranty.
- One-piece design for increased strength and leverage
- Fuji double-footed, stainless-steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts allow use with braided line
- Graphite reel seats with stainless-steel hoods
- One of the most sensitive tips on any rod this size
- The size makes transportation a bit more difficult
- Heavier than some other options
Anglers looking for a quality, reliable rod with the power to reel in big deep-water trophies without breaking the bank will get everything they are looking for in the Ugly Stik Bigwater.
7. Best Saltwater Jigging Rod: Penn Carnage II Jigging Rod
Penn makes another appearance in our review, but this time it is with the Carnage II Jigging Rod. Perfect for catching grouper, tuna and other big fish in deep water, the Carnage II is easily one of the best jigging rods on the market.
It not only provides the kind of power you need, but it is built to withstand the rigors of saltwater fishing for years to come.
Measuring 6-feet-and-4-inches long, this medium-heavy rod features Sls3 blank construction to provide the kind of power you need to drag big fish to the surface (if you fish on a crowded boat, you may want to opt for the 6-foot-long, heavy-power version instead).
It also features plenty of high-end components, including Fuji K guides with alconite inserts, a Pack Bay aluminum reel seat and an aluminum gimbal. It also comes with a non-slip foregrip so that you can impart better leverage on the line.
What Makes a Good Saltwater Rod?
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.
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.
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.
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 2019“.