Best Trout Fishing Rods: The Ultimate Guide

April 7, 2020

Our editors at Finn’s Fishing Tips independently research, test, and recommend the best products to help you make purchase decisions. You can learn more about our review process here. We sometimes get a commission through purchases made via our links.

Welcome to our best trout fishing rods buying guide! Here you will find our reviews and selections of the best trout fishing rods for all trout fishing enthusiasts. From lake trout to rainbow trout, we’ve got you covered. These rods also work especially well for kokanee salmon. We’ve reviewed trout fishing rods that cost under $30 as well as rods that cost over $300! Whether you’re going after a huge lake trout or small cutthroat, we’ve got the best trout fishing rods for you. These rods work great for casting bobbers with baitspinning lures in streams, and pretty much any other common trout rig!

We’ve spent significant time researching and reviewing the best trout fishing rod options and have put together the following buying guide. We take into consideration many aspects of a great trout fishing rod: the price, overall fit and finish durability, and ease of use.

If you’re also looking for a matching trout fishing reel, be sure to check out our buying guide on that too.

There’s a quick summary of our winners for the best trout fishing rods below. Scroll further down for more in-depth reviews of the best trout fishing rods.

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…

Overall Winner

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod

Features

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod is our winner for overall best trout fishing rod. And it honestly was a pretty easy choice. The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod is jam-packed with all the necessary features for trout fishing, and starts at under $50. Ugly Stik has been making quality rods for years, and the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod shoes their top expertise and craftsmanship.

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod comes in many sizes from the ultra light 4’6” to the medium light 7’6”. We suggest going with the 6’ and above rods even for small fish, as the longer length gives you more control. They also give you the assurance that if you hook into a monster, you’ll stand a chance.

Components

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod is built out of spun graphite for increased sensitivity while maintaining lightness and strength. The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod’s cork handle is etched with the brand’s logo, and fits comfortably in many different hand sizes.

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod has stainless steel guides that provide durable response and eliminate insert pop outs. The Ugly Stik tip design also helps with sensing the smallest of bites and disturbances. The reel seats are made out of stainless steel as well for protection against corrosion.

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod comes with Ugly Stik’s 7 year warranty, which is an added bonus as well.

Specifications

The many different models of the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod have varying specifications. We’ll cover the 6’6” and 7’ since they make the most sense for trout fishing. The 6’6” comes in both single and double piece versions, and is rated at 6 to 14 lb test line. The 7’ also comes in both single and double piece versions, and is also rated at 6 to 14 lb test line. The 6’6” weighs 7.2 oz while the 7’7” weighs 8 oz.

Pros

  • Best combination of features and durability for the price.
  • 7 year Ugly Stik warranty.

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than the most economical options.

Reasoning

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod is a great spinning rod for trout fisherman looking to have it all. Add that to it’s 7 year warranty, and you’ll rest easy knowing that if anything happens to it you can get it replaced for free. It’s our overall winner for best trout fishing rod in 2020.


Most Economical

OKUMA Celilo UltraLight Trout Rod

Features

If someone told you they just bought a $26 trout fishing rod, you’d probably think they we’re using a wooden stick (which would be funny, but stupid). Luckily you’d be wrong – they’re using the OKUMA Celilo UltraLight Trout Rod.

The OKUMA Celilo UltraLight Trout Rod is crafted from the highest quality graphite and comes in two pieces for portability. The graphite allows for great sensitivity when hunting skittish trout. The guide inserts are made from aluminum oxide that is resistant to oxidation and rust. The hooded reel seats are made from stainless steel, which also prevents rusting and corrosion.

Components

The OKUMA Celilo UltraLight Trout Rod was built with the input of trout professionals from around the world. The foregrip and rear grip are both made from high quality cork. The cork stays comfortable in your hand even after long fishing sessions. 

The OKUMA Celilo UltraLight Trout Rod is also great for travel, as it only weighs 3.2 oz. It also breaks down into two pieces that fit in the smallest travel bags. Even though it costs less than many dinners out, the use of quality components will keep the OKUMA Celilo UltraLight Trout Rod fighting trout for many years.

Specifications

The five different models of the OKUMA Celilo UltraLight Trout Rod have varying specifications. We’ll cover the 60 and 66 since they make the most sense for trout fishing. The 60 comes in both single and double piece versions, and is rated at 4 to 6 lb test line. The 66  also comes in both single and double piece versions, and is also rated at 4 to 6 lb test line. Both the 60 and the 66 weigh close to 3 oz.

Pros

  • It only costs $26!
  • It has everything you need to start trout fishing.

Cons

  • No extra features.
  • Not as durable as other options.
  • No warranty.

Reasoning

The OKUMA Celilo UltraLight Trout Rod has everything you need to start trout fishing, and it costs less than a dinner out! The 60 and 66 sizes are the most appropriate for trout fishing and come with everything you need to get started. The OKUMA Celilo UltraLight Trout Rod is a great option for trout fishermen on a budget. It’s a great rod for trout, salmon, and Dolly Varden.


High-End Winner

St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod

Features

The St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod is our choice for a high-end trout fishing rod. It’s perfect for anglers who need high performance and are willing to spend more to get it. The St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod is at home in trout tournaments as well as casual trout fishing with your friends. It really can do it all!

The St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod also comes with a 5 year warranty backed by St Croix’s world-class warranty service.

Components

The St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod features a premium SCII graphite construction. The rod has mid modulus graphite fiber with a higher strain rate than other more common fibers. It’s St Croix’s most popular rod material due to its durability and sensitivity. 

The St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod also features a handmade premium-grade cork handle. This ensures you maintain a good grip while fighting even the most aggressive trout. The Fui DPS reel seat has a frosted silver hood made out of aluminum oxide. It’s also coated with two coats of flex-coat slow cure finish to prevent corrosion and rust.

Specifications

There are 6 different models of  St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod that have varying specifications. We’ll cover the medium/fast and light/fast since they make the most sense for trout fishing. The medium/fast comes in both single and double piece versions, and is rated at 6 to 8 lb test line. The light fast also comes in both single and double piece versions, and is rated at 4 to 6 lb test line. Both the medium/fast and light/fast weigh approximately 2.1 oz.

Pros

  • Super light frame with strong components.
  • Premium-grade cork.

Cons

  • Price.

Reasoning

If budget isn’t a big issue for you, we highly recommend the St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod. It has all the features that a professional trout fisherman requires, and will perform at the highest levels under pressure. It’s great for other small species of fish too, such as Bluegill.


Balanced Winner

Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod

The Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod is our balanced winner for best trout fishing rods. It has many features of a premium trout fishing rod, but isn’t as expensive as the St Croix Triumph. The Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod only comes in one size: 6’6” that breaks down into two peices. The Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod is designed in the United States then built with high density graphite fiber. 

Lamiglass began as a blank manufacturer of fiberglass rod designs, but later evolved into a premier rod company. They feature technique specific fishing rods, with many innovations in graphite, fiberglass and composites. The X11 is perfect for casting small spinners for trout, or float fishing for rainbow trout with bobbers and bait.

Features

Components

The Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod comes with premium lightweight guides. The guides are stainless steel zero-insert guides that will withstand the highest pressure trout battles. They’re also extremely sensitive and will pick up even the slightest bites. 

The Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod is finished in a glossy merlot finish that pairs excellently with many reel colors. It also comes with a 1 warranty against any manufacturing defects or complications. The Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod is perfect for small, energetic fish like rainbow trout or cutthroat trout.

Specifications

There is only one model for the The Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod that’s 6’6” long. The Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod also breaks down into two pieces for easy traveling. It can handle 4 to 8 lb test line with lures ranging from 1/16 to 3/8 oz. The action on the rod is listed and moderate to fast – which is perfect for trout. 

Pros

  • Great price from a renowned fishing rod brand.

Cons

  • More expensive than some of the budget options.

Reasoning

The Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod is an awesome choice for the experienced trout fisherman looking for something a little more than the rod they learned to fish on. The Lamiglass X11 Ultralight Trout Rod performs well in all categories, and brings the Lamiglass heritage to the forefront of trout fishing. A great choice!


Alternative Economy Winner

Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Rod

Features

The Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Rod is another last-minute addition we felt we had to include on our list. Berkley is a time trusted brand that has been making quality trout fishing rods for decades. The Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Rod comes in both seven and eight feet designs which are great for medium to large trout.

The Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Rod has an ergonomic cork handle that allows the fisherman to fish for many hours without getting tired or uncomfortable. While we recommend pairing the Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Rod with a Berkely reel, it’s stainless steel rod seat fits most small spinning reels.

Components

The Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Rod is built out of a 24-ton multi-modulus carbon composite blank that gives the rod strength and flexibility. Like many of its competitors, it also has stainless steelhead guides with aluminum oxide inserts to prevent slippage while reeling. 

The stainless steel guides are also corrosion resistant which makes the rod durable against both fresh water and saltwater applications.

Specifications

There are two versions of the Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Rod, one that is seven feet long and one that is eight feet long. Both break into two pieces for easy traveling and storage. 

Pros

  • A solid choice for economic trout fishermen.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have as many features as more expensive models.
  • The black colorway is boring.

Reasoning

The Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Rod is another great choice for fishermen who want to get a trout rod for under $50. It’s also a good choice for fishermen who plan on fishing for medium to large trout, as the larger eight-foot version can tackle bigger fish. 


Final Thoughts

We wanted to highlight a few overarching features we looked for when picking these rods for our top trout fishing rods. And before you go, you should also check out our guide on how to fish for all types of trout!

Lightweight to Ultra Lightweight Design

Trout are ferocious fighters, but often don’t grow bigger than three to five pounds. This means you need a very light rod to have fun catching them. If you use too big of a rod, you’ll tire the fish out too fast. This removes the sporting aspect of fishing! The rods we selected in this guide max out at 6 to 8 pound test which is perfect for small, feisty fish (like cutthroat trout or Arctic Grayling) and works well when fishing with jerkbaits.

Comfortable Cork Grip

The comfortability of the cork grip on a rod is very important for trout fishing. Many trout fisherman hunt trout by casting, which can be very uncomfortable if the grip doesn’t fit your hand. Having a well-designed cork grip alleviates the pressure put on your hand from casting, and allows trout fisherman to fish for a very long time.

Sensitive Graphite Construction

Another important feature of an excellent trout rod is its ability to sense even the slightest disturbance on the line. It could be a small fish taking a bite! This means that a good trout rod needs to be made out of the most sensitive graphite. The guides on the rod must also be designed with sensitivity in mind.

You’d hate to lose out on catching a trout because you didn’t feel it take your bait! This can be especially true when fishing for winter trout with spinners.

Happy Hunting!

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