Tech & Gear Accessories The 11 Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combos of 2023 By Nathan Borchelt Nathan Borchelt LinkedIn American University Nathan Borchelt has been working in the travel industry for more than 15 years as a writer, photographer, editor, and product manager. He covers everything from trail cameras to ski equipment. TripSavvy's editorial guidelines Updated on 10/03/22 Share Pin Email We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission. Chloe Jeong / TripSavvy TripSavvy's Picks With choices between medium and medium-heavy power, the Plusinno Elite Hunter proves versatile enough to handle different fishing environments and plenty of fish species. It has a nonslip EVA and cork handle, minimal friction, ample line vibration, and a CNC-machined aluminum spool that works with many types of lines. But if you’re just starting, go with the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spincast Combo, which uses an easy-to-operate single-button reel, has a graphite and fiberglass rod for strength and sensitivity, and features Clear Tip design. Buying a rod-and-reel combo takes a lot of the guesswork out of getting a solid angling kit; rather than sourcing a rod and finding a compatible reel, it offers a one-shop solution that typically affords a better price than if you assembled your own setup. But combos still have various characteristics—reel setup, length, power, action, and left- versus right-hand compatibility—that let you find one that fits your fishing style and target fish species. Some offer an all-in-one solution, versatile enough to handle a handful of fishing scenarios, while others are ideal for beginners, kids, spincast enthusiasts, or fly fishing. These are the best rod-and-reel combos. The Rundown Best Overall: Plusinno Elite Hunter Fishing Rod at Amazon Jump to Review Best Budget: Zebco Spinning Reel & Fishing Rod Combo at Amazon Jump to Review Best Splurge: Eat My Tackle Blue Marlin Spinning Rod and Reel Combo at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Beginners: Ugly Stik Reel and Fishing Rod Combo at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Kids: Kid Casters Tangle-Free Combo Spincast Reel at Amazon Jump to Review Best Spincast: Abu Garcia Max Pro Spincast Combo Reel at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Fly Fishing: Orvis Clearwater Fly Outfit at Amazon Jump to Review Best Baitcasting: Shakespeare Agility Baitcast Combo Reel at Amazon Jump to Review Best Spinning: Daiwa Crossfire LT Spinning Combo Reel at Amazon Jump to Review Best Ultralight: Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning Combo at Amazon Jump to Review Table of contents Expand Our Picks What to Look For FAQ Why Trust TripSavvy Best Overall Plusinno Elite Hunter Fishing Rod Amazon View On Amazon What We Like Versatile without sacrificing performance Can handle all conditions and most fish species What We Don't Like Some may yearn for a shorter rod, which can provide a bit of finesse Constructed with IM6 carbon matrix tech in its blank, the seven-foot Plusinno Elite Hunter delivers incredible performance, sensitivity, and power, with a nonslip EVA and cork handle for assured feel and control. The stainless steel guides come with ceramic inserts to make line passage smooth and durable by minimizing the friction without sapping line vibrations, while the tip avoids line twisting, so you never have to struggle with your setup—you just fish. And the travel-friendly two-piece rod uses a “spigot ferrule” construction that gives you the same feel and power as a one-piece combo. The reel seat fits comfortably, with a smooth-action handle and a solid CNC-machined aluminum spool that accommodates any type of line. Price at time of publish: $59 Rod Lengths: 7 feet | Rod Power: Medium, medium-heavy | Reel Gear Ratio: 6.5:1 Best Budget Zebco Dock Demon Spinning Reel & Fishing Rod Combo Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart What We Like Offers many key features for an inexpensive rod Simple, single-button reel What We Don't Like Reel is only configured for right-hand retrieval Made for first-timers looking to dip into fishing without over-committing on a high-cost combo, the Zebco Dock Demon Spincast Combo comes with a solid 30-inch fiberglass rod that’s super durable and rigid enough to perform. It handles lines rated between 2 and 6 pounds, so it’s ideal for small-to-medium-sized fish, but the power and action are targeted at the mid-range, so you can quickly level up your fishing skills. The all-metal gears move smoothly, and a single-button reel is simplicity personified, with a QuickSet Anti-Reverse tech to keep line movement clean. Price at time of publish: $17 Rod Lengths: 2 feet, 6 inches | Rod Power: Medium | Reel Gear Ratio: 2.6:1 Best Splurge Eat My Tackle Blue Marlin Tournament Edition Spinning Rod and Reel Combo Amazon View On Amazon What We Like Plenty versatile and ready to combat giant fish One of the best saltwater combos available Big line capacity What We Don't Like Expensive Explicitly tailored for saltwater and larger sport fish If cost is no option, go with the Blue Marlin Tournament Edition from Eat My Tackle. This three-piece swing tip tournament rod includes a bent or a straight butt for better positioning on heavier fish. Built to handle the demands of the open sea, high-carbon blanks cut down on weight, with a Span Wrap construction that minimizes side loads and twists, along with nine shielded stainless steel ball bearings and hardened, tempered stainless steel internal components. The max drag rates to 155 pounds, with a robust line capacity (1,025 yards of 80-pound mono or 1,740 yards of 200-pound braid). The reel also employs a two-speed system to let you retrieve the line quickly in the high speed and a lower gear when the fighting gets close. Price at time of publish: $350 Rod Lengths: 5 feet, 5 inches | Rod Power: Heavy | Reel Gear Ratio: Two-speed: 2.2:1 and 1.3:1 Best for Beginners Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart What We Like Plenty versatile and ready to go right out of the box The GX2 will help conquer any potential roadblocks for the beginner, and it will only perform better as your skills improve. What We Don't Like There are less expensive models available if you’re not ready to commit to the sport fully It may not be the least expensive combo, but the Ugly Stik GX2 Spincast will resonate with beginner anglers willing to spend a bit more to avoid some of the pitfalls common to lower-priced models. The spincast reel is simple, with a single-button deploy that comes pre-spooled with a clear line. The polished, durable stainless steel front cone’s metal gears work smoothly, and an anti-reverse feature makes it easy to cast and reel in your catch. But you’ll really love all the proprietary tech—a use of graphite and fiberglass for strength and feel, one-piece stainless steel guides that eliminates insert pop-outs, and the straightforward tip design built for strength and sensitivity—that work in unison to make fishing easier and more enjoyable. And if that price has you second-guessing, know that the rod includes a seven-year warranty. Price at time of publish: $60 Rod Lengths: 5 and 6 feet | Rod Power: Light, medium | Reel Gear Ratio: 3.0:1 or 3.5:1 Best for Kids Kid Casters Tangle-Free Combo Spincast Reel Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart What We Like Easy to use and nearly foolproof The Tangle-Free Combo lives up to its name, and it comes in six colors What We Don't Like Once they get into the sport, they’ll likely want to upgrade Rather than feeding the line through a conventional sequence of guides, the inexpensive and easy-to-use Tangle-Free Combo from Kid Casters funnels the line through the center of the 34-inch shaft, drastically cutting down on line tangles to make casting and reeling smooth and worry-free. It comes pre-spooled with a 6-pound line and includes a plastic casting plug, rattle bobber, and a pre-tied snap swivel—everything a young angler needs to dive into the sport. Price at time of publish: $25 Rod Lengths: 2 feet, 10 inches | Rod Power: Light | Reel Gear Ratio: 3.3:1 Best Spincast Abu Garcia Max Pro Spincast Combo Reel Abu Garcia View On Amazon View On Abugarcia.com View On Academy.com What We Like Affordable The Max PRO Spincast Combo provides a one-stop solution for spincasting, with smooth line control and the right touch of control, power, and feel What We Don't Like The medium power rating hits the sweet spot; if you’re looking to land bigger fish, you need a different combo Rated to work with lines rated from 6 to 12 pounds, the Abu Garcia PRO Spincast Combo comes with the brand’s “QuadCam Pickup System” and a four-bearing reel to make casting and retrieval a dream. The multi-disc drag system provides smooth and consistent action, and the easy spool feature comes equipped with a pre-spooled premium monofilament line. High-density EVA lines the handle for an assured grip, and the stainless steel guides have titanium oxide inserts to cut down on line friction. Price at time of publish: $90 Rod Lengths: 6 feet | Rod Power: Medium | Reel Gear Ratio: 3.6:1 The 11 Best Ice Fishing Rods of 2023 Best for Fly Fishing Orvis Clearwater Fly Outfit Backcountry View On Amazon View On Backcountry.com View On Basspro.com What We Like Everything you need to hit the river, including a carrying case 25-year warranty What We Don't Like Expensive Recently overhauled by Orvis’s Vermont-based rod designers, the Clearwater combo comes with a purpose-built profile and action to handle medium-action small streams as well as medium-fast freshwater and fast-action big game. The kit includes the rod, an Orvis fly reel, a fly line and backing, and a semi-hard zippered case. The blank is black chrome with white accents, and the reel seats are constructed of full black nickel aluminum that’s both durable and striking to behold. Composite tips add durability, and a chrome snake and stripping guide with a ceramic insert assures smooth line control. Price at time of publish: $298 Rod Lengths: 8 feet, 6 inches; 9 foot; 10 foot | Rod Power: Medium-fast | Reel Gear Ratio: Size IV cassette (3 - 8 weight) TripSavvy / Nathan Allen. Best Baitcasting Shakespeare Agility Baitcast Combo Reel Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart What We Like Sleek in appearance and light in the hands Internal bearings provide smooth line interaction What We Don't Like Only positioned for right-handed anglers One-piece construction isn't travel-friendly The one-piece Agility Baitcast Combo from Shakespeare utilizes a low-profile reel with a 2+1 bearing system and base drive along with pinion gears to deliver a smooth feel and long-lasting durability. The adjustable magnetic cast control lets you fire the line out confidently, and a hybrid tech grip makes the handle comfortable and easy to manipulate. The rod features a lightweight graphite composite construction and works with the ported aluminum spool to help shave the ounces and provide sensitivity. Price at time of publish: $60 Rod Lengths: 6 feet, 6 inches | Rod Power: Medium | Reel Gear Ratio: 6.2:1 Best Spinning Daiwa Crossfire LT Spinning Combo Reel Amazon View On Amazon View On Scheels.com What We Like The Crossfire LT manages to be both light and strong, greatly enhancing the overall feel, hook-set function, and pull What We Don't Like Classical aesthetic may not resonate with all anglers Daiwa’s Crossfire LT Spinning Combo combines bite-detecting sensitivity and strength in its all-graphite rod. In the reel, the brand’s Digigear provides a digitally engineered design that uses pinion gears and an ultra-tough drive system optimized for speed, power, durability, and smoothness, while the compact body design makes the rod light, responsive, and tough. It also gets the little details right, with easy-to-grip cork handles and various rod lengths to handle different fish species. Price at time of publish: $50 Rod Lengths: 6 feet; 6 feet, 6 inches; 7 feet | Rod Power: Medium | Reel Gear Ratio: 5.2: or 5.3:1 Best Ultralight Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning Combo Bass Pro Shop View On Amazon View On Dick's View On Basspro.com What We Like Excellent balance of strength and sensitivity Instant anti-reverse tech helps avoid tangles What We Don't Like Some customers reported the last eyelet missing when delivered Built with a multi-modulus graphite blank construction, the Lightning Rod Spinning Combo from Berkley ranks as one of the most lightweight options on the market, delivering a perfect balance of strength and sensitivity. A 7+1 bearing system encased in the ported aluminum spool assures confident casting and reel-ins, with instant anti-reverse tech to keep the line from tangling or going astray. At the base, an aluminum handle has EVA knobs to provide grip even when fighting a stubborn fish, and the reel can be configured for right or left-handers. Price at time of publish: $80 Rod Lengths: 5 feet, 6 inches; 6 feet, 6 inches; 7 feet | Rod Power: Light, medium light, medium | Reel Gear Ratio: 5.2:1, 5.0:1 Best for Saltwater Daiwa BG Saltwater Combo Bass Pro View On Amazon View On Basspro.com What We Like Built specifically for the demands of saltwater fishing Excellent array of power and gear ratio options to help dial setup to your target fish What We Don't Like One-piece construction is less travel-friendly Ready to handle inshore, offshore, and surf fishing, the Daiwa BG Saltwater Combo comes with a one-piece graphite rod blank and a HardBodyZ aluminum reel body and side cover that’ll stand up to the punishing demands—and the big fish—of saltwater fishing. A 6+1 bearing system works with the Twist Buster II line twist reduction system to make casting and reeling almost intuitive and drastically improves the performance of both fluorocarbon and mono lines. Cut-proof aluminum oxide guides reinforce smooth, tangle-free line manipulation, and traditional cork handles work well even if things get wet. Price at time of publish: $140 Rod Lengths: 7 feet | Rod Power: Medium light, medium, medium heavy | Reel Gear Ratio: 5.6:1, 5.7:1 What to Look for in a Fishing Rod and Reel Combo Price 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. 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. Frequently Asked Questions How do I choose the best rod and reel combo for me? First, look for rods that will work in the target environment you’ll be fishing; rods are typically categorized as either freshwater, fly fishing, or saltwater. Then think about your setup: Do you want a spinning reel, a conventional set-up, or a baitcasting setup? That’ll help narrow the options. Then take into account the size and level of aggression of your target fish species, which will help refine your options further by selecting the power and action applicable to your target species. What are the benefits of buying a combo versus buying rods and reels separately? In many ways, it eliminates the guesswork of assuring that a solo reel will be compatible with a solo rod, which can overwhelm beginner anglers. But even the more experienced can benefit from both the simplicity of a combo and the often-lower cost when compared to buying the rod and reel separately. Can I use one rod and reel combo for multiple types of fishing and fish species? In some cases, yes. A handful of combos hit the sweet spot and can be used for angling in fresh or saltwater, with a medium to medium-light action that can handle mid-sized fish and smaller species. But there are trade-offs; for example, a rod with a medium-heavy action can technically land smaller fish, but they might not be sensitive enough for you to detect anything other than the most aggressive strike. And inversely, a rod geared for small fish won’t work to land larger species. Fly fishing rod-and-reel combos are also very sport-specific. 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. The 9 Best Bass Fishing Rods of 2023 Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Share Pin Email Tell us why! Submit Continue to 5 of 11 below. Continue to 9 of 11 below.