The 7 Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combos of 2021

Use these all-in-one fishing rods to improve your fishing game

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Best for Kids: PLUSINNO Kids Fishing Rod and Reel Combo at Amazon

"Perfectly sized for smaller hands."

Best Lightweight: Pflueger President Spinning Rod and Reel Combo at cabelas.com

"Made of lightweight anti-corrosive graphite, this reel can accommodate 1/8 to 1/2-ounce lures."

Best Spinning: Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod Combo at basspro.com

"Famous in fishing circles for its strength and durability."

Best Spincast: Zebco 33 Fish Pistol Spincast Combo at tackledirect.com

"Makes for more accurate casting and improved line retrieval."

Best Baitcasting: Lew’s American Hero Baitcasting Rod and Reel Combo at tackledirect.com

"Made from multilayer IM6 graphite for added structural strength and sensitivity."

Best for Ice Fishing: Shakespeare Glacier Ice Fishing Spinning Combo at Amazon

"Treated with Cold Gear lube so it can operate smoothly in the lowest of temperatures"

Best Saltwater: Penn Warfare Star Drag at basspro.com

"Optimized for offshore saltwater fishing, the Star Drag proves to be versatile option."

In some areas of the gear world, combo products typically mean you’re getting two average items that each have their own points of failure, which can drastically shorten the product’s life. This is thankfully not the case with fishing rod-and-reel combos, which take some of the guessing game out of assembling your own fishing rig. According to Dan Chimelak, co-owner of Lakeside Fishing Shop in St. Claire Shores, Michigan, getting a combo helps take the guesswork out of setting up your rig. "If the reel and rod aren't well balanced, it won't be comfortable to use and it's harder to detect bites," Chimelak said. What’s more, these combos are tailer suited to a variety of specific angling conditions, everything from fishing in offshore saltwater to fly fishing to ice fishing. And in the unlikely event either the rod or reel does fail, it’s easy to swap in a replacement without shelling out a bunch of cash.

Here are the best fishing rod-and-reel combos available.

Best for Kids: PLUSINNO Kids Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Telescoping rod

  • Comes with full kit

What We Don't Like
  • Very basic

  • Less durable construction

The PLUSINNO Kids Fishing Rod and Reel Combo includes a telescopic rod and an easy-to-master spincast reel. At 3’9” in length and 1.2 pounds in weight, the rod is perfectly sized for smaller hands, while the foldable design makes it easy to transport and store. The combo also includes fishing line and an impressive set of lures, including crankbaits, float bobbers, jig heads and soft lures. A variety of sinkers, swivels and stoppers completes your child’s first fishing set. A handy tackle box can be added to your purchase for a small extra fee.  

Rod Length: 3 ft. 9 in. | Weight: 1.2 lbs. | Type: Spin

Best Lightweight: Pflueger President Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Pflueger President Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Courtesy of Cabelas

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Smooth

  • Easy to use

What We Don't Like
  • Less durable construction

Pflueger's President Spinning Rod and Reel Combo is perfect for fishermen who are constantly on the go. Made of lightweight anti-corrosive graphite, this reel can accommodate 4- to 17-pound test line and 1/8 to 1/2-ounce lures. The included spinning wheel has nine stainless steel ball bearings, one anti-reverse bearing, and a speedy 5:1:1 gear ratio, so it's easy to cast out bait and reel in anything you catch. The soft handle is compatible with right or left-handed use.

Rod Length: 5 ft. 2 in., 6 ft., 6 ft. 6 in., 7 ft. | Weight: Varies | Type: Spinning | Power Rating: Light, medium, medium heavy

Best Spinning: Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod Combo

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod Combo
Amazon
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Smooth casting

What We Don't Like
  • Not good for big fish

For casual spinning excursions, you can’t go wrong with the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod Combo. With excellent value, the combo comes in seven different models, ranging from an ultralight set-up with a 4’8” rod to a medium heavy combo with a seven-foot rod. Whichever you choose, your purchase includes a two-piece Ugly Stik GX2 spinning rod, famous in fishing circles for its strength and durability. The rod’s graphite and fiberglass construction also help to give it superior balance and sensitivity.

The stainless steel guides are compatible with all fishing lines (including braid), while the EVA foam grips ensure your hands don’t slip while reeling in your catch. The included spinning reel features a double anodized aluminum spool and compression bail springs, both of which increase its lifespan. Two or three ball bearings (depending on which reel size you choose) make for smooth line retrieval; while an additional anti-reverse bearing allows the hook to set instantly. Soft-touch knobs on the handle protect your hands from blisters and calluses.

Rod Length: 4 ft. 6 in., 6 ft., 6 ft. 6 in. | Weight: Varies | Type: Spinning | Power Rating: Ultra light and medium

Best Spincast: Zebco 33 Fish Pistol Spincast Combo

Zebco 33 Fish Pistol Spincast Combo

 Courtesy of Tackle Direct

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Smooth casting

What We Don't Like
  • Not good for big fish

Spincast combos are ideal for beginners on a budget, and the Zebco 33 Fish Pistol Spincast Combo is a classic from one of fishing’s most popular brands. It includes a 5’6” medium light action rod, made of durable Z-glass. The pistol grip is designed for straightforward one-handed casting, while the two-piece construction makes for convenient transport and storage. The reel features a lightweight graphite frame and a metal handle with comfortable rubber knobs.

An updated line management system makes for more accurate casting and improved line retrieval, aided by a ball bearing drive. The anti-reverse function allows you to strike without losing tension on the line, while the 3.6:1 gear ratio is perfect for high resistance lures. Other reel highlights include the changeable right or left-hand retrieve; the in-built hook holder and the fact that it comes pre-spooled with 100 yards of 10-pound Cajun line.

Rod Length: 3 ft. 9 in. | Weight: 1.2 lbs. | Type: Spin

Best Baitcasting: Lew’s American Hero Baitcasting Rod and Reel Combo

Lew’s American Hero Baitcasting Rod and Reel Combo

 Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Durable

  • Accurate casting

What We Don't Like
  • Not good for beginners

Experienced anglers looking for increased casting accuracy should consider the Lew’s American Hero Baitcasting Rod and Reel Combo. It includes a 6’10” medium heavy one-piece rod made from multilayer IM6 graphite for added structural strength and sensitivity. The rod also boasts stainless steel guides, EVA foam split-grips and the brand’s patented No Foul hook keeper. The baitcasting reel features a graphite composite frame and side plates, an anodized aluminum spool and a solid brass main gear and crankshaft.

Weighing just 7.2 ounces, the reel has a 7.1:1 gear ratio for super fast line retrieval. Four corrosion-resistant ball bearings add smoothness, while the zero-reverse clutch bearing eliminates back play to give you the best possible chance of landing your fish. The drag system is fully adjustable, providing up to 15 pounds of drag power. The custom paddle knobs on the aluminium handle are designed for comfort throughout long days at the lake or river.

Rod Length: 6 ft. 10 in. | Weight: 7.2 oz. | Type: Baitcasting

Best for Ice Fishing: Shakespeare Glacier Ice Fishing Spinning Combo

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • Reel seat doesn't lock

There's more to the Shakespeare Glacier Ice Fishing Combo than its impressively affordable price tag. The 30-inch medium rod is perfect for icy conditions because it's made from durable fiberglass. It also features a 15 degree tilted orientation and an extended stem to give you more clearance and control. The included spinning reel has stainless steel inserts and guides for easy retrieval, however, reviewers noted that this fishing rod doesn't come with an anti-reverse bearing. It's treated with Cold Gear lube so it can operate smoothly in the lowest of temperatures, and the EVA handle has graphite sliding rings for a comfortable grip.

Rod Length: 2 ft., 2 ft. 2 in., 2 ft. 6 in. | Type: Spin | Power Rating: Ultra light, light, medium

Best Saltwater: Penn Warfare Star Drag

PENN Warfare Star Drag Conventional Rod and Reel Combo

Courtesy of Bass Pro Shops

Optimized for offshore saltwater fishing, the Penn Warfare Star Drag rod-and-reel combo proves to be a versatile option for a variety of sport fishing, with a one-piece tubular glass blank with a solid glass tip that provides both flex and strength when you’re reeling in your prize. Stainless steel guides assure a tangle-free line, and aluminum oxide inserts add durability and additional support for combative prey. A heavy-duty graphite reel seat and a triangular EVA foregrip layers in comfort and control, while the lightweight reel delivers heavy-duty power with a machined brass main and pinion gear, along with HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers.

Positioned for right-handed anglers, the one-piece Warfare Star Dog comes in either medium or medium-heavy powers. The model with the solid glass tip has a line rating between 15 and 25 pounds, but if you’re after larger prey, go with the Warfare Star Drag model without that tip, upping your line rating to 80 pounds.

Rod Length: 6 ft. 6 in. | Type: Casting | Power Rating: Medium heavy

Final Verdict

The light and easy-to-transport Shakespeare Ugly Stix GX2 Fishing Reel and Rod Combo (view at Bass Pro Shops) wins high marks for its versatility, with up to seven different models to appeal to all types of fishing. Its graphite and fiberglass construction provides strength and durability without sacrificing any balance or sensitivity, and the combo works with all types of fishing lines. But if you’re a travel-focused angler, go with the Pflueger President Spinning Rod and Reel Combo (view at Cabelas), which is constructed of lightweight graphite, and can accommodate a 4- to 17-pound line. The reel has nine stainless steel ball bearings and a speedy 5:1:1 gear ratio for reliable casting and retrieval, even when the line is under great strain.

What to Look for in a Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Sport

First, you need to decide what type of fishing you primarily want to do. Some rod and reel combos are designed specifically for certain types of fishing, like fly fishing or ice fishing, so you'll want to know where and how you'll be fishing before you start shopping.

Level

Fishing rod and reel combos tend to be designed for beginners, who are keen to get out on the water as quickly and easily as possible. If you’re a more advanced fisher, you might want to shop for your rod and reel independently, but it's worth taking a look at the combos available. With all the options out there, you may just find all the advanced features you're looking for with one purchase.

Cost

Rod and reel combos tend to be cost-efficient in general, but that doesn't mean they are all super cheap. If you're just starting out, there are some budget-friendly options to get you up and running quickly, but once you are more advanced it's probably worth it to spend a little more for durability and the exact features you know you want.

FAQs

What's the difference between sizes?

Rod size is less about length and more about “power rating,” which indicates the strength of the rod as it relates to the weight of the fish you aim to catch. On average, a medium-light rod will accommodate most fishing scenarios, including medium-sized fresh and saltwater fish. But if you’re going for game fish like pike or larger saltwater fish, level up to medium-heavy or heavy power.

What’s the difference between a conventional reel and a spinning reel?

Conventional reels, which typically house the fishing line inside the body of the reel itself, is used for most types of conventional fishing, including bait and trolling, with line weights that can range from 10 to 130 pounds.

Spinning reels, meanwhile, can be used for practically any type of fishing, including salt and fresh water, and typically support lower-weight lines by parsing the rod-and-reel into general groupings like 2 to 8 pounds, 8 to 15, or 15 to 30. For smaller species, as well as for fly fishing, spincast reels are the way to go.

How should you clean your rod and reel?

Saltwater is the bane of almost everything due to the corrosive nature of the salt, and that especially rings true for rods and reels. But even freshwater fishing should be followed with a quick clean. Whenever you return from your outing, be sure to rinse the rod and reel with a gentle flow of freshwater—never immerse the reel or put it under high pressure as it will damage the gearing system. Then wipe everything down with a clean cloth, including drying the line to avoid condensation inside the reel itself.

Was this page helpful?
Continue to 5 of 7 below.