Best Baitcasting Rods: A Review & Buyer Guide

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Baitcasting rods (and reels) are designed to give the angler precision casts over longer distances, with enough backbone to battle larger fish. 

The reel sits above the rod, allowing you to control the outgoing line with your thumb or a forefinger trigger.

The reel position also keeps the pressure of your line against the rod, lessening the chance of busted line-guides while fighting for the big boys. 

It also reduces line friction when coming off the reel, which equates to longer, smoother casts.

You can recognize a baitcasting rod from other styles by the “trigger” or finger-rest which sits just below the reel seat.

If you’ve ever watched a pro bass tournament, or a bass fishing show, the pros were likely using baitcasting rods and reels.

Correct baitcasting technique is quite different than that of a traditional spin rod. It can require a bit of a learning curve, and probably isn’t the best rod to hand someone on their first fishing trip. 

However, once you have the technique down, most anglers will tell you that they’ll never go back to spinning gear.

In the category of “baitcasting rods”, the angler will find a vast, and often overwhelming number of options and ratings. 

So, let us save you a few hours of eyestrain, and narrow the field to those rods that get you the best bang for your buck, shall we?

Best Baitcasting Rod: Quick Guide

Sure, you can spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a custom-built, hand-crafted baitcasting rod made with the latest space-age polymers and loaded with bells and whistles.

If your goal is bragging rights, this might be the way to go. 

However, if your goal is to catch big fish, and lots of them, there’s no reason to mortgage the house to gear yourself up. 

There are any number of perfectly respectable baitcasting rods in the “less than $100.00” market that will keep you hauling in fish from dusk ‘till dawn.

Let’s take a look at some of the best options on the market today…

Abu Garcia VENGC66-5 Abu Garcia Vengeance Casting Rod, 6'6' - Medium
Abu Garcia VENGC66-5 Abu Garcia Vengeance Casting Rod, 6'6" - Medium
24 Ton Graphite Construction For A Lightweight And Balanced Design; 24 Ton Graphite Construction For A Lightweight And Balanced Design
Berkley Cherrywood HD Casting, 7-Feet
Berkley Cherrywood HD Casting, 7-Feet
Cork handle design for added comfort and grip
SHIMANO FXC 2 Piece Casting Rod
SHIMANO FXC 2 Piece Casting Rod
Medium Power Fast Action; 6 Pound Test 15 Yards; 2 Piece; Durable Aeroglass Blank Construction
Ugly Stik USCA662MH Casting Rod , Black , 6'6' - Medium Heavy - 2Pc
Ugly Stik USCA662MH Casting Rod , Black , 6'6" - Medium Heavy - 2Pc
Durable, lightweight fishing rod offers a balanced feel for lighter weight; Virtually indestructible blank construction with a combination of graphite and fiberglass
Rippin Lips Supercat Rod Medium Light Casting Rod (2 Piece), Red, 7'6'
Rippin Lips Supercat Rod Medium Light Casting Rod (2 Piece), Red, 7'6"
2 piece rod; Supercat glass blanks; Split grip design for bump casting; High quality components

Last update on 2022-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What to Look for in the Best Baitcasting Rod

So, what makes the best baitcasting rod for the money, and how do you pick the one that’s right for your fishing needs?

When shopping for baitcasting rods, keep in mind that this category of rods is specifically designed to provide the angler with improved casting control and distance. 

So, it’s important to not just grab the first rod off the rack but to consider a variety of factors that will equal the best baitcasting rod for you.

Your three major considerations are:

  • Rod Length
  • Action
  • Power

ROD LENGTH

If you’re aiming at large fast-moving water like rivers, you want a longer rod for line management (mending) coupled with enough strength to handle fighting fish with the current on their side. 

Rod lengths for this type of baitcasting typically range from 9’0 to 12’0. Likewise, if you’re floating or trolling in a lake, a longer rod is often necessary to handle the extra weight required for getting baits to depth. 

The average trolling rod should be between 7’6 to 10’6.

When fishing smaller waters, like ponds, and small lakes, where you’re stationary on the bank or a dock, you can drop down to a small to medium length rod 5’6 to 7’0 that will more than handle your casting distance while lessening your chances of snagging up in brush and overhanging tree limbs.

ACTION

Action refers to the total bend in the tip and upper section of your fishing rod when you start your forward cast. The more your rod “deflects” or bends during the apex of the cast, the slower the rated action.

Fast Action refers to a relatively stiff rod, which only bends at the tip. This type of action packs a lot of power, giving you superior casting distance, with a trade-off in accuracy.

Fast action rods are very sensitive, detecting the faintest of bites, and allowing fast and hard hook sets.

Medium Action Rods are also stiff, but a little more flexible, bending through the entire top half of the rod. 

These are versatile, multi-purpose rods, suitable for a wide variety of casting and fishing situations.

Medium action baitcasting rods are typically the easiest for beginners to use.

By comparison, Slow Action Rods are the most flexible and bend down the rod’s length, leading to the nickname of “noodle rods.” 

Slow action rods are your best bet for precision casting and delicate presentations, especially when using live bait.

The slower hook set lets your fish get the hook further back in its mouth, increasing the chance of a successful set.

POWER

Fishing rods are ranked on a general system of power, including:

  • Ultra-Light
  • Light
  • Medium
  • Medium-Heavy
  • Heavy

Your choice of power level is entirely dependent on the style and species of fishing that you’re aiming for,

Smaller fish species, especially those within a shorter casting range, are best caught on an ultra-light or lightweight baitcasting.

Conversely, if you’re casting for larger fish, you’ll need a rod that’s stiffer and less flexible, like a medium-heavy or heavyweight variety.

A good general rule of thumb is Lighter rods – less power – smaller fish, heavier rods – more power – bigger fish.

Also Read: Best Bank Fishing Rod Holders

Top 7 All Around Baitcasting Rods for the Money

There are many baitcasting rod options on the market today that one list couldn’t hope to adequately cover them all. 

The best I can do, based on a half-century of fishing on waters from the Pacific Northwest, to the Caribbean, to West Africa, is to narrow the field to the best all around baitcasting rods that I’ve personally used or have read about from sources I trust.

Here they are:

Abu Garcia “Vengeance”

Abu Garcia is a long-respected name in the angling world, and for good reason…

Way back in 1921, on the Mörrum River in Svängsta Sweden, Carl August Borgström of the world-renowned Halda watchmaking factory, founded a company that specialized in pocket watches, telephone timers, and taxi meters… AB Urfabriken (ABU).

Gifted with the Swiss eye for precision and quality, when the business began to wane during WWII, Carl redirected his mastery to the development and production of precision fishing rods and reels.

Granted the title “Purveyor To The Royal Swedish Court,” (a distinction bestowed upon a very select group of the best craftsmen) Abu Garcia lives up to its history with this stylishly, lightweight, baitcaster of unparalleled design.

The Vengeance, lightweight and supremely balanced, is a versatile, adaptable baitcasting rod that can cover a variety of fishing situations and remains comfortable at the end of long days on the water. 

With superior loading, distance, and precision casting ability, you’ll feel even the tiniest nibbles and know when to set the hook.

A great multi-purpose rod for beginners on a budget, the vengeance can still hold its own with rods that far exceed its price.

And, with its hefty backbone and fighting strength, the Vengeance makes for a lethal bass fishing baitcaster, as well.

  • Lengths: 6’6” – 7’6”
  • Action/Power: Fast Medium, Fast Medium-Heavy
  • 1 piece
  • Rating: 4 of 5

Pros:

  • Texas-rigged hook-keeper
  • High-density EVA grips
  • Ergonomically enhanced design

Cons:

  • Users report a tendency to break under excessive stress

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Berkley Cherrywood HD Casting Rod

Berkley is another well-known and trusted name in the sport-fishing world and the Berkley Cherrywood HD baitcasting rod is a prime example of their best work.

Hybrid crafted and featuring a cast-comfy cork handle and ultra-light sensitivity, this baby is one of the best freshwater baitcasting rods on the market.

Ideal for bass fishing, catfish fishing, and kayak fishing, it offers a level of sensitivity that lets you feel every little bump while having the muscle to bring in a variety of fish.

  • Lengths: 5.6” – 7.0”
  • Action/Power: Fast Medium-Light, Fast Medium, Fast Medium-Heavy
  • 1 or 2-piece
  • Rating: 4 of 5

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Highly sensitive to bites
  • Superior power
  • Manufacturer lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Some plastic components
  • Rod can snap if over-weighted

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

SHIMANO FXC Casting Rod

“I aim to make Shimano’s products the best in Kansai, then the best in Japan, and finally the best in the world.”~ Shozaburo Shimano, 1921

Shimano is another well-known and trusted name in the angling world, and the FXC, built on an aero glass blank (a great combination of lightweight, agility, and sturdiness) maintains that standard as an affordable and versatile rod for anglers of all ages and skill levels.

The Shimano FXC default size is 6 ft. 6 inches but is available in lengths up to 7 feet as well. The power of the rod, of course, varies with length.

Boasting a graphite reel seat for maximum stability, the FXC comes standard with reinforced aluminum oxide guides, offering greater resistance to damage and corrosion.

With its medium-heavy power, this rod is not only great for casting, but also has the muscle to catch decent-sized fish too.

The backbone of this rod is a little stiffer than is typical and does give away some of the sensitivity for easier movement.

An EVA grip offers a comfy, ergonomic design, and will stand the test of time without excessive wear and tear.

For the price, this is one of the best baitcasting rods you can hope to find.

  • Lengths: 6’6” – 7’6”
  • Action/Power: Fast Medium-Heavy
  • 2 Piece
  • Rating: 4.2 of 5

Pros:

  • ​​​​Great value for money.
  • ​​​​​​​Comfortable to use.

Cons:

  • ​​Difficult to distinguish minor fish bites from the natural movement of the tip.
  • Some anglers report that it’s too heavy for a long day of fishing

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

KastKing Perigee II

The KastKing Perigee II baitcasting rod provides impeccable performance to keep your time on the water both successful and fun.

With a high-end look and feel, and a budget price tag, it’s easy to see why this is the most popular rod in the KastKing line-up.

Twin-tips make this fantastic value as each pole is basically two for the price of one, offering a medium-light power with a medium tip, as well as a medium power with a medium-heavy tip. 

A two’fer that makes it one of the most versatile baitcasting options you’ll find anywhere.

The heavy-duty reel seat and EVA grips provide durability and comfort which will enhance your fishing experience. 

And because it’s made from carbon fiber, the rod is also quite affordably priced. In fact, the manufacturer is currently enabling you to get a twin-tip at the price of one.

  • Lengths: 6’7″ – 7’4″
  • Action/Power: Fast Ultra-Light, to Slow Heavy
  • 2-piece, twin tip
  • ·Rating: 4.5 of 5

Pros

  • Ultra-smooth casting
  • Lightweight
  • Fuji O-ring line guides
  • Hook holder
  • Travel-ready
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • None

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Piscifun Torrent II Baitcasting Rod

With a combination of high-rated gear and irresistible prices, Piscifun is quickly gaining a rep as a heavy hitter in the fishing industry. The Torrent II is a fine example.

This is a great rod for both saltwater and freshwater angling, and an excellent choice for both those new to baitcasting as well as those grizzled veterans looking for a dependable back-up rod.

The amazingly sensitive fast-action tip delivers great casting distance and accuracy, lets you feel even the faintest of nibbles, but also has the stiffness to successfully set that hook.

  • Length: 6’9”, 7’0”
  • Action/Power: Fast Medium
  • 2 Piece
  • ·Rating: 4.6 of 5

Pros

  • Extremely sensitive
  • Lightweight
  • High-quality guides

Cons

  • No warranty or customer service

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod

Shakespeare’s Ugly Stick name is legendary. Since their introduction in 1976, the UglyStik has garnered a nearly cult-like following among serious anglers.

The medium-heavy, yet still extraordinarily sensitive, GX2 is no exception.

This stick is tough enough to handle those bucket-mouths, while still giving you a clear warning at the lightest of nibbles.

The brushed matte finish is pretty, too! 😉

  • Lengths: 5’6″, 6′, 6’6″, 7′ & 7’6″
  • Action/Power: Fast Medium
  • 1 or 2-piece
  • 4.8 of 5

Pros:

  • Lightweight and highly sensitive.
  • Patented “Ugly Tuff” guides
  • Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) grips
  • 7 years manufacturer warranty

Cons:

None

The GX2 is virtually unbreakable and will give you equal performance as rods that cost three times as much.

Whether you’re new to baitcasting, or an old pro, it’s hard to go wrong with an UglyStik.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Rippin’ Lips Medium-Light Super Cat Rod

Built in Iowa and designed by the undisputed master of catfishing, John Jamison, this rod has been a favorite of big cat anglers for years.

Balancing superb quality with an affordable price tag, the Super Cat is available in a variety of weights, including heavy, medium-heavy, and medium.

Sensitive enough to signal the most finicky nibble, while still strong enough to take the battle through the weeds, from hookset to net, on channels, blues, or flatheads, the Rippin’ Lips can handle whatever you hook.

It really stands its ground as one of the best all-around baitcasting rods on the market.

The S-Glass blank, being lighter than the more common E-Glass makes for an incredibly sensitive ice-fishing rod, as well.

  • Lengths: 7’6
  • Action/Power: Fast Medium-Heavy
  • 1 Piece
  • Rating: 4.8 of 5

Pros

  • Highly sensitive
  • Glow in the dark tip for night fishing
  • Chrome-plated stainless-steel guides for low-friction durability
  • Epoxy-coated EVA foam split-grip handle for balance, strength, and comfort

Cons

  • Can get heavy after prolonged use
  • 1 piece – doesn’t break down for storage

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Bottom Line

From my own experience and personal taste, the overall best baitcasting rod on this list has got to be the UglyStik GX2 by Shakespeare. 

While I own several of the listed rods and have fished with many others, the UglyStik has been my go-to baitcaster for many years. It never fails me.

The combination of durability, flexibility, and sensitivity is on par with much more expensive rods. If I could have only one baitcasting rod, this would be the one!

Finding the right baitcasting rod, one that feels good in your hand, gets the job done, and doesn’t empty your bank account can be a daunting task (believe me, I know!)

Hopefully, this list has helped you make the right decision for your next purchase, one that will provide you with many long and happy days on the water.

Further Reading: Best Salmon Steelhead Rods

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Sean Ward

Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’m based in the UK yet I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.

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