Best Trout Rods | Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

This is our review for the Best Trout Rods in 2021

Fishing for trout is different from going out after bass or other game fish. While bass are known for charging in and aggressively gobbling up your bait, trout are a bit more wary. When they do bite, they often take the bait tentatively, barely tugging at all. 

That’s why trout fishing rods are different from bass fishing rods. 

The best trout fishing rods are lightweight, sensitive, and have a fast-action tip that allows you to set the hook quickly and firmly on light-biting trout. Whether you’re fishing for stocked rainbow trout in your local lake, or pursuing wild brook trout in a mountain stream, you need to know that you have the best trout rod for the job. 

We tested some of the best trout fishing rods on the market, and these are the ones that stood apart from the pack. There are fishing rods here to match every trout fishing situation, and any angler’s experience level and budget. 

Best Rods for Trout Reviewed

St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod — Best Overall

St. Croix has been one of the most trusted names in the fishing rod business for decades. Their Triumph series of spinning rods are a great example of the level of quality you can expect from a St. Croix rod, and this model in particular is perfect for trout fishing and an easy pick for the best trout rod. 

You can get St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rods in several weights and sizes. We tested the light/fast action model which has just the right balance of strength and sensitivity for trout fishing. This is a 6′ one-piece rod with premium SCII Carbon construction. 

The main thing that makes the Triumph the best trout rod overall is its sensitivity. Thanks to its high-end carbon construction and one-piece design, you can feel the lightest bites, and sense every pebble on the stream bed as your bait tumbles downstream. The contoured cork handle also hives you a firm, comfortable grip. 

The light/fast model is just about right for catching tout weighing up to 5 pounds. If you’re out after steelhead or salmon, you may prefer to size up to the medium/fast model. The ultra-light/moderate action version of the St.Croix Triumph Spinning Rod is also great for pursuing smaller trout in streams and ponds. 

I’ve heard some customers complain that they’ve had these rods break prematurely. In most cases, the issue stems from using the wrong rod in the wrong situation. Don’t use a light trout fishing rod for muskie fishing, and you should be okay!

Pros:

  • Light/fast action perfect for trout.
  • Super-sensitive one-piece design.
  • Lightweight yet durable SCII Carbon construction.
  • Trusted brand.
  • 5-year St. Croix warranty.

Cons: 

  • Some users have noted rod breakage.

Okuma Celilo Ultra Light Trout Rod — Best on a Budget

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better budget-friendly trout fishing rod than the Okuma Celilo. This is an ultra-light 5’6″ rod that’s perfect fo pursuing smaller trout in streams and ponds. It’s made with graphite composite blanks, which give you pretty good sensitivity, and has aluminum oxide guide inserts, stainless steel hooded reel seats and cork grips. 

This is a two-piece rod, which can be a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, you do lose a bit of sensitivity, but being able to break it down makes the Okuma Celilo Trout Rod ideal for traveling. 

The rod’s small size makes it great for fishing in tight spaces, and it works best when paired with an ultra-light reel and spooled with 2- to 4-pound test line. The Okuma Celilo rod is great for tossing tiny jigs and spinners for trout, and would also make an excellent panfish rod. 

The action is something to be aware of. The Okima Celilo Ultra Light trout Rod has moderate action, which means that the rod tip is more flexible than that of a fast-action rod. Ultimately, this is a matter of personal preference, but if you’re accustomed to a fast-action rod tip, this might seem a bit “whippy.”

Overall, this is probably the best trout rod one can get for less than $40. It’s surprisingly durable and well-made for its price point, and makes a great starter trout fishing rod, or a backup rod for fishing on the road. 

Pros: 

  • Budget friendly.
  • Quality graphite construction.
  • Strong for an ultra-light rod.
  • Good for fishing in tight quarters.
  • Travel-friendly.

Cons: 

  • Two-piece construction loses a bit of sensitivity.
  • Moderate action makes the rod tip a bit “whippy.”

The Moonshine Rod Co. Rambler Ultralight — Best Premium Trout Rod

At a glance, it’s clear that the craftsmanship on the Ramble Ultralight Fishing Rod from the Moonshine Rod Co. is on another level. This is a spinning rod that takes some of its design cues from fly-fishing rods, including American Tackle micro-guides, Fuji reel seats, copper anodized winding checks and beautiful hand-dyed wood inserts. 

But as great as the Rambler is to look at, it’s also a dream to fish with. The high-quality graphite blanks offer outstanding sensitivity despite the two-piece design, and the exposed section of blank between the cork grips offers even more sensitivity. 

The Moonshine Rod Co. Rambler Ultralight Trout/Panfish Rod measures 6′ and has a fast-action rod tip. That gives you the ability to make quick, sure hooksets without pulling the bait out of the fish’s mouths. This rod is ideal for 2 to 6-pound line and lures weighing 1/32 to 3/16 oz.

The Rambler also comes with a handy hard canvas rod case that protects the rod while you’re on the road. It’s great for traveling, and it’s a trusty fishing companion in a wide range of situations. It’s an amazingly durable rod too, and comes with The Moonshine Rod Co.’s lifetime manufacturer’s warranty. 

Pros: 

  • Outstanding craftsmanship/construction.
  • Ultra-sensitive performance graphite.
  • Fast-action rod tip.
  • Protective carrying case included. 
  • Lifetime warranty. 

Cons: 

  • Expensive.

Ugly Stik GX2 Ultralight — Best Trout Rod and Reel Combo

First and foremost, Ugly Stik fishing rods are known for strength, and the GXT Ultralight model is no exception. Despite being very lightweight and sensitive, this thing is just about indestructible. 

The Ugly Stik GX2 is made from a composite of fiberglass and graphite, which along with its clear tip design is the key to its great balance of strength and sensitivity. No action is specified with this rod, but the tip could best be described as medium-fast action. It has a decent amount of bend, but the rod also has solid backbone for good hook sets. 

At just 4’8″, the Ugly Stik GX2 Ultralight fishing rod is the shortest rod on our list. While you might lose a bit of casting distance as a result of that, this rod’s short stature makes it perfect for fishing on small streams where overhanging trees require precision casts.

The GX2 is a one-piece rod that handles fish up to about 3 pounds with ease. It comes paired with a Shakespeare anodized aluminum fishing reel, making this a great trout rod and reel combo at an affordable price. It has strong, comfortable EVA grips and is also available in heavier sizes. 

Pros:

  • Includes rod and reel for one low price.
  • Extremely strong and durable.
  • Short rod great for fishing in tight quarters.
  • Small enough to travel easily. 
  • Versatile and great for all skill levels.

Cons: 

  • Reel not as high quality as the rod.

Fenwick Eagle Spinning Rod

Fenwick Eagle Spinning Rods are great all-around choices for trout fishing in a wide range of situations. This rod offers superior sensitivity thanks to its high performance graphite construction. Its moderate action gives you plenty of backbone for solid hooksets, with a flexible tip for imparting subtle motion to your bait. 

The Eagle is a handsome rod too, with quality cork grips and stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts. The grips fit the hand nicely, and the quality guides do a good job protecting light line from abrasion. 

Fenwick makes their Eagle series of spinning rods in several lengths and weights.The 5’6″ ultralight (two-piece) and 5′ light (one-piece) rods are both among the best trout rods available, depending on your preference. I personally go with the ultralight model for casting small trout lures, but the slightly heavier light rod is a bit more versatile. 

I’ve heard some users complain that these rods are too easy to break, but it’s worth noting that graphite rods—especially in the light and ultralight categories—don’t have the strength of heavier fiberglass rods. You can’t overburden the rod, or it will break. That being said, it should hold up well under its intended conditions. 

Pros: 

  • Excellent sensitivity.
  • Quality graphite blank.
  • Comfortable cork grips.
  • Versatile and available in multiple sizes.
  • 5 year limited warranty.

Cons: 

  • Some users have experienced rod breakage.

G. Loomis Classic Series Trout & Panfish Spinning Rod

Known for making excellent fly rods and spinning rods alike, G. Loomis is one of the best trout rod manufacturers in the business. Their Classic Series Trout & Panfish Spinning Rods are outstanding options for anyone willing to pay extra for quality. 

The G. Loomis Trout & Panfish Rod utilizes Fiber Blend technology, with rod blanks made using graphite, fiberglass and carbon fibers for the ideal blend of strength and sensitivity. These rods are available in 14 various length/weight combinations, but we’ve found that the ultralight/fast version is especially well suited to trout fishing. It’s a 6’6″ one-piece rod that handles 2 to 6-pound line well. 

The Ultralight Trout & Panfish Spinning Rod allows you to cast small, light offerings with ease, whether you’re drifting unweighted egg presentations for stream trout, or casting marabou jigs at your favorite stocked trout pond.

These rods are versatile enough to fish for all small game fish, and also give you enough power in the event that a much larger fish takes the bait. The fast-action rod tip enables finesse fishing techniques, and the rod’s multi-taper design reduces potential breakpoints.

G. Loomis Classic Series rods are also well-appointed, with features like single-foot Alconite Fuji guides and cork and foam grips. Each rod is handcrafted in the USA.

Pros: 

  • Highly sensitive rod.
  • Fast-action tip.
  • Versatility to adapt to any situation. 
  • Superior strength and break resistance. 
  • Proprietary “Fiber Blend” blank construction. 
  • Handmade in the USA.

Cons:

  • Expensive.

Lamiglass X-11 Ultralight

The X-11 Ultralight from Lamiglass is one of the most well-rounded overall trout spinning rods we tested. While Lamiglass offers several rods in its X-11 series, there is only one ultralight model—a 7″, two-piece rod with moderately fast action tip—and it’s prefect for trout fishing. 

This is one of the longer rods on our roundup, and the length of the Lamiglass X-11 Ultralight gives it the ability to make long casts with small lures on light line. It’s great for float fishing with bait under a bobber, or tossing small trout spinners. One downside of the length is that it can be awkward to use in tight spaces. 

The moderately fast action of this rod offers a little more bend than most rods, but in practice it works very well for battling trout. And although Lamiglass is generally known for making fiberglass rods, this one is made of graphite, which makes it lighter and more sensitive. 

The Lamiglass X-11 Ultralight Rod has a handsome maroon finish, comfortable real cork grips, and ultra-lightweight zero-insert guides that help with sensitivity while protecting your line from abrasion when you’re fighting your catch. Overall, it’s an excellent choice for experienced trout fishermen and novice anglers alike. 

Pros: 

  • Great for long casts with small lures. 
  • Sensitive graphite blank. 
  • Light, agile rod for finesse fishing. 
  • Great quality at an affordable price.

Cons: 

  • Hard to fish in tight quarters because of its length. 
  • Only comes with 1-year limited warranty.

Daiwa Ultralight Spinmatic

Diawa is known for making quality, budget friendly fishing rods, so don’t let the Ultralight Spinmatic’s low price tag fool you into thinking it’s just a cheap piece of junk. It’s a well-made and almost shockingly sensitive rod that makes it one of the best choices for trout fishing. 

The Diawa Ultralight Spinmatic is a lightweight 6″ rod with a two-piece design. It has high-performance graphite blanks, and the fact that it breaks down into two pieces doesn’t seem to diminish this rod’s sensitivity in the least. If a fish so much as looks at your bait, you’ll feel it. It is quite a thin rod, so use caution to avoid breaking it. 

This rod has a lot of great features that would suggest a much more expensive piece of equipment than it actually is. It has low-friction aluminum oxide guides and a genuine Fuji reel seat that will accommodate practically any compatible ultralight spinning reel. Pair it with Diawa’s QR Ultralight Spinning reel for the best trout rod and reel combo. 

The Diawa Ultralight Spinmatic also has a natural cork handle and a handy hook keeper. Its fast-action tip gives to a lot of control over your bait and the ability to set the hook quickly on light-biting trout. 

Pros: 

  • Budget friendly.
  • Very sensitive rod top. 
  • Fast action great for solid hookset and bringing lures to life. 
  • Lightweight, high-performance graphite. 
  • Two-piece design great for travel. 

Cons:

  • Thin rod can break under too much pressure. 

Cadence CR7 Medium-Light Spinning Rod

The Cadence CR7 Medium-Light Spinning Rod is a versatile choice for anglers who want to pursue a range of game fish. If you’re equally likely to go out after bass, walleye or trout and want one rod to catch them all, this is a great option. 

In terms of price, Cadence spinning rods are typically mid-range, but their CR7 Series includes some pretty cool high-end features, like SiC guides with durable stainless steel frames, and a comfortable Fuji reel seat with cork/EVA grips. The 40-ton graphite blank is wrapped in carbon veil to enhance durability.

A medium-light rod with extra-fast action, the Cadence CR7 Spinning Rod is the heaviest rod on our list, as well as the least flexible. It’s a great choice if you’re going after bigger trout. It works best when paired with a medium-light spinning reel and spooled with 4 to 8-pound monofilament. 

A lot of the CR7’s construction is all about strength, and there is a bit of a trade-off when it comes to sensitivity. This might not be the most sensitive rod on our list, but it still gives you pretty good feel, and the high-modulus graphite won’t break when a heavy fish takes the bait. 

Pros: 

  • Affordable.
  • Great rod for larger trout and other game fish. 
  • Extremely tough and durable. 
  • Great construction, with high-end features at budget-friendly price. 

Cons: 

  • Lacks sensitivity compared to some trout rods. 
  • Not the best for small trout and panfish. 

Berkley Lightning Trout Rod

Berkley is a fishing brand best known for being the makers of Trilene fishing line and the PowerBait line of soft plastic lures. But their forays into making fishing hardware have been, for the most part, successful ones, and the Berkley Lightning Trout Rod is a worthy addition to the “budget friendly” category of trout rods. 

At 8′ the Berkley Lightning Trout Rod is the longest rod that made our list, and this great length coupled with its stiff backbone make it adept at handling larger trout and making long casts. The action isn’t specified, but it certainly feels like a fast-action rod. 

The rod has 24 ton, multi-modulus graphite blank construction, which gives it solid strength as well as sensitivity. The cork grips have a comfortable design that fits in one’s hands nicely. 

Really, if there’s a strike against this rod, it’s that its design is pretty basic and no-frills, with as simple black finish that gives it away as a budget rod. But it’s well-made and should provide years of use. There have been some complaints about the very thin portion of the rod between the first and third guide breaking easily. 

Pros: 

  • Good balance of strength and sensitivity. 
  • Budget-friendly. 
  • Good for long casts. 
  • Able to handle larger game fish. 

Cons: 

  • Basic design. 
  • Potential breakage issues. 

Best Trout Rod — FAQ

best trout rod

Trout are notoriously picky fish, and known for being light biters, which makes choosing the best trout rod all the more important. Any of the aforementioned rods can be great for catching trout, but these frequently asked questions might make the choice easier, depending on your needs.

What’s Are the Best Trout Rods Made Out Of?

Most of the best trout rods are made of graphite. Graphite is lightweight and sensitive rod material, as opposed to fiberglass rods, which are typically stronger and more heavy-duty, but less sensitive. Some trout rods have hybrid construction that includes both graphite and fiberglass, which gives you a good balance of sensitivity and strength. 

Why is Rod Sensitivity Important?

The sensitivity of a trout rod is important for two reason. First, it allows you to feel what’s going on at the end of your line. Second, it allows a quicker hookset when your feel a bite. A more sensitive rod will transfer the impact of setting the hook from your hands to the hook more quickly. 

What is the Ideal Length for the Best Trout Rod?

Rod length is partly a matter of personal preference, but there are definitely pros and cons to shorter vs. longer trout rods. The best trout rod length is generally between 5 and 6 feet. Longer rods may allow longer casts, while short rods are easier to fish with in tight situations, such as a trout stream with trees growing along the bank. It really depends on your needs. 

What is the Ideal Weight and Action for the Best Trout Rod? 

Many of the best trout rods are ultralight fishing rods with fast action. Ultralight rods are better designed to cast small baits on light line, and the fast-action rod tip helps make the rod more sensitive. The action of a rod refers to how bendable it is; a fast-action rod doesn’t bend as far down the blank as a moderate-action rod, which would be more flexible.

Best Trout Rod Recap

Our Pick

Wrapping Up

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our top 10 best trout rods. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! For more resources check out our other rod reviews before buying your next fishing rod. Until next time, Happy Fishing!