The 11 Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combos

Video best fishing rod and reel combo for the money

What to Look for in a Fishing Rod and Reel Combo


You can get a solid combo for as low as $25, which gets you everything you need to start fishing except for the bait. But as the price of combos increases, you benefit from higher-end materials that can make the combo lighter, more durable, and more sensitive. Higher-end rod-and-reel combos also include proprietary tech to fend off line tangles and assure fluid reel action.

Experience Level

The way a rod performs mainly comes down to who’s using it—if you’re a beginning angler using a super-expensive combo, chances are that all high-end features like a more nuanced feel (which lets you detect the faintest of nibbles) might be lost on you. So beginners can take comfort in buying an intro-level combo that will help them get acquainted with the sport’s nuances and help them understand what they like about fishing. Then, as you gain experience and better understand your preferences in reel setup and you’ve honed in on your fish species and optimal fishing locations, you can look for a combo that’ll complement those newly defined “must-haves.”

Types of Fish

The rod action—the location where the rod bends when pressure is applied—should align with the type of fish you’re targeting. Fast action, which bends at the top, is solid for noticing small bites and combating aggressive fish, while slow action (bending at the bottom) is great for smaller, less aggressive prey. If your target species is fast, go with a medium-action rod, which allows you to cast your bait further and handle different bait configurations. The rod action also works with a rod’s power, which is how much force is required to bend a rod.

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Power is dictated by the material of the rod and breaks out into: ultralight (smaller fish), light (which provides more control over aggressive fish without sapping the feel of an ultralight), medium-light (often described as the sweet spot in power options), medium (strong enough to handle bigger fish), medium-heavy (for inshore fishing and surf casting for larger fish), and heavy (the strongest for more massive species of fresh- and saltwater prey).

Length also comes into play—shorter rods are easier to control and work well with aggressive fish, while experts tend to gravitate toward longer rods for their enhanced cast rate and the versatility of handling all types of fish. When looking at the reels, ensure that the line weight of the reel (measured in pounds) aligns with the average weight of your target species. Finally, be sure your setup can handle the environment you’re fishing in; some rods are versatile enough to handle both salt- and freshwater, but they can also be designed to handle the specific circumstances of fishing in an ocean, lake, or river.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Borchelt has been testing, rating, and reviewing outdoor and travel products for decades. When considering products for potential inclusion, versatility was critical, as were the materials used (for both durability and lightness), reel construction tech, anti-tangle features, and the overall sensitivity of each rod. Both professional reviews and verified customer feedback were also taken into account.