The 5 best kayak fishing rods & complete buying guide

Fisherwoman on inflatable boat with fishing tackle
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Do you enjoy fishing? What about kayaking? It makes it more fun, right? I mean, let’s be honest here – the two activities will make a ridiculously great pair! It’s something like bacon and eggs – it just goes together! Anyone who loves the water will appreciate the perfect balance of fishing and kayaking. Imagine the exhilaration of paddling and catching your first fish.

Yet we do not want you to have that excitement replaced with frustration. That is why we created this comparison guide to help you choose the best kayak fishing rod for your situation. Though any pole will let you fish, a kayak-specific rod ensures you get more catch with less frustration.

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

Reviewing the best rods for kayak fishing

Paddling Kayak Fishermen

St. Croix Rods Mojo Yak Casting Rod

If you are just starting out in kayak fishing, this is a great choice for you. The short butt design will allow you to cast without getting hooked on your shirt or PFD. The quality of the rod is not an afterthought either; the rod features good Winn grips, Kiegan double hook keeper, and a premium Fuji real seat. They all add to the overall quality of the rod.

Due to having a short butt, the rod is ideal for fishing on heavy covers as it gives more accurate casts. Also, it does a great job when jigging and skipping baits under docks. 

The length is another great feature that makes the Mojo yak rod work well for kayak fishing. It is only 7 feet long with medium power and fast action that works well in sensing the subtle bites.

The sensitivity of the rod is further enhanced by the IPC engineering technology used to construct the rod. Instead of having the bevel point spread out like in other rods, the Mojo yak has uniform beveled blanks. As a result, you get a stronger tackle that casts smoothly.

Finally, the rod is made of graphite material that makes it lightweight. Furthermore, the handle is a split grip design which reduces the weight and makes one-handed fishing easy.

Pros
  • Short rear grip make it easy to maneuver while sitting
  • Short and precise casts
  • Premium quality rod
  • 5-year warranty
  • Excellent customer support
Cons
  • Hard to make long casts due to short butt
  • Short butt makes it a little bit unbalanced
  • Hard to fight big catch as it is unbalanced

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Rod

Ugly Stick GX2 is a trusted fishing pole that has been in the industry for more than four decades. The pole is designed for both experienced and inexperienced fishermen due to its strength and balance properties. It is made of fiberglass and graphite that ensure for strength as well as sensitivity. Its clear tip reduces the chances of missing subtle bites from fish.

Well-constructed with durable plastic material, the pole is perfect for both saltwater and freshwater. This makes it a great buy for anglers who want to fish all year round. Equipped with EVA handles, the pole offers a firm grip that reduces wrist fatigue and doesn’t slip off in wet conditions. The pole comes with a single-piece stainless steel tuff guide that minimizes line slipping. It can be used for all types of fishing lines and is ideal for beginners.

Furthermore, the tackle is available in different sizes, actions, and power to meet various angler’s needs. You can go for a 6-feet rod for the smooth and accurate cast or 7-feet for long-distance fishing. Lastly, the Ugly Stik GX2 is backed with a 7-year warranty that shows confidence in its quality. 

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Durable construction
  • Strong yet balanced and sensitive
  • Ergonomic EVA handle
  • Stress-free transport and storage due to its two-piece construction
Cons
  • Though stainless steel guides are acceptable, they might not be the best in terms of durability and quality
  • Shorter ones are somehow stiffer

Ugly Stik Inshore Select Spinning Fishing Rod

This is a great rod for inshore fishing. It’s flexible enough to catch small-sized fish, but its graphite material can handle heavier fish too. Its lightweight and delicate design makes it easy to use and more subtle than its predecessors. Its lightness makes the fishing rod suitable for a wide range of coastal fishing techniques.

I also love its elegance as the logo-etched cork handles add some touch of style. This does not compromise quality, as the handles are durable and provide a comfortable and non-slip hold even under wet conditions.  

Built with durability in mind, the rod is made of highest quality components such as a stainless steel cushion hooded reel seat, hardened aluminum-framed guides that won’t corrode and Ugly Stik Xtreme handle with EVA grip; hence it will serve you for years.

Another great feature is the Ugly tuff stainless steel guides that eliminate insert pop-ups. Finally, the rod is 7-feet, thus versatile enough for fishing in open and vegetative waters. 

Pros
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Lighter
  • Durable construction
  • Stylish
  • Work well with both artificial lures and live baits
  • Non-slip hold under wet conditions
Cons
  • It can break if used on huge fish

KastKing Blackhawk II Telescopic Fishing Rod

When it comes to a kayak rod suitable for travels, KastKing Blackhawk II fast action pole takes the lead. The rod comes as a six-piece allowing you to pack it down nicely in a backpack while on the go. However, this doesn’t compromise its quality as you get great performance, unmatched durability, and sensitivity of a one-piece pole. There is a full-length power transition between the pieces due to snug-fit ferrules. 

The robustness and performance are further enhanced by comfortable EVA grip, solid glass tip, graphite reel seats, and 24-ton carbon matrix blank. That not all; KastKing Blackhawk II has several floating line stainless steel guides that give a reliable and smooth taper with improved casting experience. This also eliminates dead or flat spots in the rod blank. 

I also love the convenience of the rod, as it can be left when fully rigged. As long as you have space to keep it set, you can store the pole with lines running through the guide and the reel attached.  This saves a lot of time, as you only need to open the bail and extend to its working length of 6-feet 6-inch, and you will be set to fish without re-rigging. 

Lastly, you get to assemble the rod fast as it extends easily, starting with the tip section. Just lengthen each section as you align the guides until all six pieces are in place. 

Pros
  • Improved line performance due to multiple floating lines
  • No dead and flat spots in the blanks
  • Premium construction
  • Full-length power transitioning by a snug-fit ferrule
  • Six-piece making it best for travels
Cons
  • After some use, the line guides may start to rotate, making it necessary to keep readjusting them as you fish
  • If sand gets to the rod, it might be a challenge to expand or collapse the rod

KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod

Enjoy your time in waters with a perigee II rod built with premium components to serve you longer. The pole features lightweight carbon fiber blanks, high-density EVA grips, premium Fuji O-rings guides, ergonomic robust reel seats, a sat-T keeper hook holder, and a stylish finish with a classy touch.  

I also love the various sizes of the rod that give you the liberty to pick one that fits your fishing needs. An amazing one for kayaking is 6-feet 7-inch length with medium power and fast action that provides smooth casting. Whether trout, catfish, salmon, walleye, or bass you are after, the rod delivers exceptional performance in both salt and freshwater fishing. 

Though it is a 2-piece rod, the experience is the same as that of a 1-piece rod due to the KasKing Power Transition System (PTS) that transmits power smoothly along with the blanks.  However, the 1-piece rod is available if that is your preference. 

And yes, all the great features came at friendly prices suitable for mid-budget beginners and seasoned anglers. The fact that KastKing has won the ICAST award tells how reliable their tackle is. Besides, you get a 1-year warranty to cover any unforeseen issues in the waters.

Pros
  • Value for money
  • Lightweight
  • Interchangeable rod tips
  • Sturdy
  • Premium components
Cons
  • With time, eyelets may fall apart
  • Risk of tip snapping off

Our Top Choice

When it comes to performance and affordability, the KastKing Perigee II is sure to give you a fantastic experience in the waters. The rod features premium construction for impressive strength and sensitivity, which can be seen from its ability as one of few rods that are capable of hunting almost all fish species in both salt and freshwater conditions.

Even with the 2-piece rods, you get the power of 1-piece due to the KastKing PTS finest technology that transmits power smoothly between the blanks. Though we recommend 6-feet 7-inch for kayaking, you get to choose from 29 available sizes that feature different strengths and actions for your preferred technique. 

Buying Guide: What to Consider When Choosing a Rod for Kayak Fishing

Spinning rod parts

With all the choices out there, choosing a fishing rod for kayak fishing can seem like quite an overwhelming task. There are many factors to consider when finding the best fishing rod for you personally.

In fact, if you try and buy a rod without doing any research, it is extremely likely that you will end up with something you are not satisfied with. We are about to take some of the guesswork out of buying a new kayak fishing rod by focusing on the different parts of a fishing rod.

Rod Length

When kayaking, you need a rod that gives you the highest level of maneuverability. Therefore, a little bit shorter poles would be the best. Nonetheless, you should be in a position to extend the rod past the kayak’s bow to avoid getting the lines tangled on the yak if your catch swims beneath. Any rod that is 6-8 feet will work best, but we recommended an all-around length of 7 feet.

You should also check that the rear grip (butt) is not too long to take more space in your kayak’s little room. Besides, it causes the pole to sit higher when kept in contact with the kayak seat bottom. This forces you to hold your arms higher which is quite inconvenient when kayaking.

Rod Power and Action

Kayaking fishing is a sport with many different aspects to consider. One of the most important choices you need to make in planning your next kayak trip is how powerful and fast-actioned your fishing rod should be.

Fast actions with medium power rods are the ideal options for kayak fishing as they offer much needed versatility. Powerful rods are stiffer and therefore less responsive, making them good for bigger fish. Note that when kayak fishing, the target should be on the medium and smaller catch as most yaks don’t hold much weight. This is why you do not need a rod with much power. Also, a fast action rod is more sensitive, which is good for kayaking as you will easily notice subtle bites.

Rod Materials

Fiberglass – Fiberglass is the heaviest material option. It is hard to break and it’s more flexible than graphite. They are also heavy, making them not so good for kayak fishing. A plus for fiberglass rods is that they are budget-friendly.

Graphite – Graphite is stiffer than fiberglass and breaks easier. Its stiffness makes it more sensitive, letting anglers detect fish nibbles. They are the best choice for kayak fishing, though, at a cost. You will detect very subtle bites, making it easier to land more catch. 

Composite – Composite is a combination of fiberglass and graphite. It gets its flexibility from the fiberglass in it and its sensitivity from the graphite.

Bamboo – Bamboo is used to make fly rods and is heavier than composite rods. People like its slow action.

Rod Handle

As a matter of preference, you should check the design and the rod’s handle materials. EVA foam and cork and the most commonly used materials.

  • EVA foam is soft, lightweight, and durable, making them a preference to many anglers. 
  • Cork is warm to the touch, attractive, and still lightweight but may not last longer than the foam ones. 

When it comes to design, the handle can be continuous or split.

The continuous handle is the traditional type that consists of a full grip that gives a better experience for two-handed use. As a result, the handle design is best for heavier rods that might not be ideal for kayak-fishing.

A split handle has some middle part of the grip exposed. I love the design as it gives the rod a more elegant look besides being lighter. If you prefer one-arm fishing, the split handles work best as it is lightweight and balanced. As well, the exposed section of the poles gives you much control when reeling in a catch. 

Rod Guides

Guides are part of the rod where your line runs through for casting and retrieval. They are made of different materials, with silicon carbide being the best option due to reduced heat and friction. However, they are highly priced, making aluminum oxide and stainless steel guide rods the best alternative for those on budget. 

Single-footed style guides are best for kayak fishing as they are more sensitive and lightweight, unlike double-footed ones. Also, the more the number of leaders, the better the quality of the rod. 

Rod Reel Seat

Several types of Rod Reel Seats
Source: Mudhole

The reel seat is the part of a fishing rod where you attach and hold the fishing reel. The reel seat can be made of many different materials, such as aluminum or wood.

It may sound like “cosmetic” fishing rod assembly details, but ensuring the reel seat is properly tightened to your favorite pole can make a big difference in how well you catch fish. A loose or wobbly reel might shake when reeling which could potentially mess up that perfect cast! It’s worth taking time to ensure this joint and it’ll pay off with more successful catches.

Rod Warranty

Rod fishing is an exciting pastime enjoyed by thousands. However, the equipment can fail and a broken rod due to a manufacturer defect is disappointing. To avoid this circumstance, it is best to select a rod from a reputable company that offers a warranty. Rods from the companies with guarantees are more than likely made of high-quality materials in order to secure their customer’s loyalty.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Size Of Rod For Kayak Fishing?


A rod between 6 and 8 feet works well for kayak fishing. However, the optimal one varies depending on whether you are fishing in the open, where casting distance is essential, or towards the heavy cover where accuracy is key. When you are not sure, a 7-feet rod is the better option as it presents more versatility.

Nonetheless, if fishing around heavy cover or docks, a rod between 6 and 61/2 feet is the best option. Shorter rods present more accuracy in getting your lure or bait strategically undercover without the chance of the line getting hung up in the branches or the roots.

Conversely, if you intend to fish in grass flats or open waters, 7-8 feet long would be ideal. Such a longer rod gives you a longer casting distance to cover more area as fast as you can. 

How Much To Spend On A Kayak Fishing Rod?


Rods are one of the delicate fishing tackles that call for careful handling. The rods can easily snap or their eyelets damaged if you fish in areas with a heavy cover or under low-hanging trees. You might even lose the rods overboard, or it just gets pulled out of their holders. 

For these reasons, you might find yourself replacing the poles frequently. The point is, why spend a fortune in a tackle that is highly likely to get damaged or lost? 

Always buy a kayak fishing rod within your budget as long as it does the work well. Provided the pole meets your needs based on the buyer’s guide, the cheaper, the better. A good one can cost you between $50 and $150.

How Heavy Should My Rod Be For Kayak Fishing?


A lighter rod between 2-5 ounces is a good option for kayak fishing as it is comfortable to hold and easier to cast without carrying unnecessary weight on your vessel. The weight is affected by the length and materials of the rod. 

Graphite material is lighter compared to fiberglass; hence, the preferred option for kayak fishing. For the size, the longer the rod, the heavier it is.  A 6-8feet fishing rod, which is ideal for kayak-angling, weights between 2 and 5 ounces without the reel.

Which Is More Important For Kayak Fishing, A Reel, Or Rod?


Both the reel and the rod are important tackles in kayak fishing. However, you need to pay more attention to the kind of fishing reel you purchase when buying them. The reel is one tackle that dictates whether you get a good or bad experience when fishing.  

Due to their construction that entails more moving parts, a poor quality spool can disappoint you as it can easily fail. Besides, it can be affected by saltwater, leading to corrosion. Always check that the reel features high build quality with non-corrosive material construction. 

Kayak Fishing: How To Secure Rods In Rod Holder?


You don’t want to risk losing your fishing rod when you’re out on the water, so make sure it’s securely in its holder. Watch this video to learn how to avoid losing fishing rods while kayak fishing.

Kayak fishing sight casting: How not to spook fish when putting paddle down to grab rod?


Have you ever spotted a fish, only to spook it as you put your kayak paddle down to grab the rod?

You are not alone!

As an angler, such things happen, the only solution is finding a way of putting down the paddle without making much noise.

One effective way is adding silencing foam at strategic points of your kayak. This is especially in places where your paddles make regular contact when being put down. You can purchase a large sheet of silencing foam then cut pieces that fit specifically on strategic points. However, there are brands such as Jackson kayak that sell tailor-made pads for specific vessels. Get them online or at your nearest kayak stores. 

Though, if you love standing up when kayak-fishing, the time you take to put the paddle down and pick the rod can be enough to lose sight of your catch. An effective way is to use a belt with a taco paddle clip so that you can pop your paddle on it and grab the rod quickly. It makes the process faster and keeps you from worrying about putting the paddle down without spooking the fish.

For more insights on stand-up kayak fishing, watch the following video:

Ally Mash
Ally Mash
Ally is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience through blogging. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty.

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