Angler’s Gear is dedicated to bringing you the absolute best in gear, techniques and tips to make your day on the water successful. We have covered many different pieces of gear for you, but it is time to consider one of the two most important pieces of gear you will need – the rod.
More specifically, Angler’s Gear wants to cover the ultralight spinning rod – the standard rod when going for wily trout in streams and rivers. An ultralight rod is absolutely necessary as the trout will spook if anything heavier is presented to them.
Many anglers will have ultralight gear as a supplement to some of their other, more standard gear. It is the rare angler who will use nothing but ultralight gear. The trout angler, however, is going to use nothing but.
Why bother with ultralight gear?
Everyone likes to produce fish at the end of the day. However, there are a select few, likely you and your fellow Angler’s Gear enthusiasts, who want a challenge for the day. This is where the experience of an ultralight rod comes in and makes all the difference.
There is something about the drag squealing and the rod bending in an almost complete ‘U’ shape that makes ultralight fishing extra special. Hard fighting fish, like the trout, are more than just a challenge. It is incredibly fun and exciting.
Speaking of trout, trout that are in highly pressured waters will often not come to many lure presentations. Like we said above, trout are spooky on the best of days. A light line may be all that separates you from an empty creel from your day on the water.
One last thing to consider. Excepting fly fishing, which we have covered extensively elsewhere, ultralight tackle is the only gear that will cast lures that weigh next to nothing. When the panfish and trout are biting but nothing else will work – smaller is better. Presenting the smaller requires the smaller gear – ultralight rods and reels to the rescue.
Shopping for Ultralight Rods
For the ultralight enthusiast, the underhand spinning reel is the standard. Baitcasting reels often do not come small enough to meet the ultralight needs, and spincast reels do not offer the smooth drag and line capacity of the spinning reel.
Additionally, the casting rods and gear available will not have the sensitivity and whiplike nature of the spinning rod.
It is easy to go out to a local store, pick out an ultralight rod and reel combination, spool up with a choice of line and hit the water. Angler’s Gear does not recommend this for a few reasons:
- The rod and reel quality are going to be sub-par.
- You will likely want to upgrade to a better quality at some point.
- There are better options on the market and at better deals.
Weight and action of the ultralight
Most anglers may not be 100 percent aware of these two factors, and that is not an issue 99 percent of the time. Ultralight gear has these two factors built into the rod from the start. All ultralight rods are fast action. The weight, normally light, medium and heavy, will be ultralight.
Here is a bit more information on the two terms:
- Weight – the overall stiffness of the rod and its bendability
- Action – the location up the rod where the bend occurs
Slow action rods will bend at the handle. A fast action rod bends at the top 1/3 of the blank. Ultralight rods in particular are exceptionally fast, and bend very close to the tip of the rod.
It is understandable if these two pieces of information create a mild, or serious, panic when rod shopping. Never worry. Angler’s Gear has you covered 100 percent. These rods will all be of the same two characteristics – certainly not stiff and extremely fast action.
So, all of this information should provide for you the necessary background before getting to our top rods. We have listed them from least to most expensive. It is up to you to make the final decision on which you feel is the best bet for you and your specific needs.
1. Shakespeare Micro Ultralight Spinning Rod
It is perfectly fine to be a trout angler on a budget. After all, not everyone can afford a hand crafted, split bamboo rod with hand tied dry flies imported from England. There are some for whom a simple rod, a can of corn or a lure and a trout stream are all that is necessary to have a good time.
The Shakespeare company has been around a good long while and produces quality gear (Ugly Stik, anyone?) that will not send you to the poor house or the couch when the wife discovers how much you spent on that split bamboo fly rod.
The Micro Spinning rod is nothing fancy. It does not offer some of the finest graphite, top of the line guides and imported cork handles. What it does offer is high quality graphite, a solid reel seat, well designed cork handles, awesome sensitivity and a backbone to fight trout, panfish and anything else that is tempted by a presentation.
The Micro Spinning line offers rods up to 7 ½ foot, and this is great when you want to sling a spinner to the next county over and fight a tough brown or brookie. Most people are much happier with the 4 ½ to 5 feet models for when the streams are small, the overhangs are multiple and the trout are hungry.
2. OKUMA Celilo Ultralight Graphite Trout Rod
OKUMA came onto the scene fairly recently and has notched itself firmly in the mid-priced tackle range for the distinguished angler. The solid graphite blank has excellent feel for the smallest nibble but is backed with a handle and rod seat that will fight even the best of trout. The guides are corrosion-resistant and perfect for braided lines (use with a tippet) and allows for free flowing lines for long casts or short and delicate ones. All rod handles in this particular line are made from real cork, providing a look and feel of some of the top commercially available rods.
3. Berkley Lightning Trout Rod
Berkley was a sleeper company in the fishing industry that exploded onto the scene with their GULP line of lures and baits. Since that time, people have taken a much more careful look at Berkley ever since and have realized their rods are some of the best made.
The Lightning Trout rod is a solid two-piece construction and will take a variety of lures from light spinners to heavy sinking twitch baits.
This specific rod was built for the trout angler and tested thoroughly with Berkley’s products at the same time. The guides are stainless steel, and the rod is built on a super strong carbon blank.
Find this rod in 6 ½ or 7 feet long. This is perfect for those who would fish with bait and on big water.
We at Angler’s Gear really like this rod for a few reasons. It comes in a variety of lengths from 4 ½ to 6 ½ foot – making it ideal for small streams, big waters or both. It is also a great price, and many of us have at least two of variable lengths for our trout trips. Regardless of the length you want, the OKUMA Celilo will bring you years of faithful service and fine trout.
4. Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod
We mention Ugly Stik briefly above. Now we are going to talk about them, and why they are such good rods to use.
Old advertisements would have people bend these rods completely over with the tip all but touching the butt. We do not recommend you do this, but this does give you an idea of the quality and backbone the Ugly Stik can provide. It may have something to do with the fiberglass and graphite construction, the history of technology behind the rod or the years anglers have spent on the water using these rods.
This is one of the most versatile lines of rods in all of fishing. The Ugly Stik can go from an ultralight trout rod to a steller saltwater rod and everything in between. Of course, you will get that Clear Tip top that lets you and everyone else know you are throwing an Ugly Stik.
The Ugly Stik will throw lures of all sorts, but the ultralight line will work a lure as light as 1/32 oz. up to about ½ oz.
5. Cadence Lux Spinning
Cadence Fishing offers good products with reasonable prices. This company makes a trout rod that works. The 5 ½ feet model in fast action is the cream when streamside for trout.
The three big factors in the rod: length, action and power mean you can put your lure where you want it with relative ease on any size stream with small ones being one of the best.
The moderate-fast action has backbone for big fish in small streams but will still allow you to cast with very light lines. There is considerable flex along the backbone, and this takes some of the stress off of your line and into the rod.
This is a powerful rod and will take some bigger fish with a bit of finesse. Those who like a real challenge with a big fish on light line – this may be your solution.
Excellent guides, premium handle and perfect length – what is not to love with this rod?
6. Fenwick Eagle Spinning Rod
This particular rod is as versatile as they come and also offer a great range of sizes. The 5 ½ feet rod is incredibly light and yet will land trout with ease.
The handle is burled cork, a solid graphite blank and is built for a full day of fishing. The chromium-plated inserts and stainless steel guides help give the light weight and balance to the rod.
If this is not enough of a reason to own one, Fenwicks has a five year warranty on their Eagle line of rods. The company’s reputation for quality equipment means that you will have no need for that warranty with good care of the rod.
7. Fenwick Elite Tech Spinning
You will see Fenwick make a few appearances on this list and is pretty clear why. They are not the most expensive of the options we have listed, but the quality ranks high enough to warrant being on the list.
This particular model has all of the features you want when fighting a trout in tight cover since the rod can easily muscle even the most difficult fish out and into the net. In fact, if you fancy going after larger fish than trout, do not be worried. This rod will handle them for you with ease and grace.
The Fenwick lines also cast like a dream. You will find hitting those tight spots easy with this particular rod. Those pesky largemouth that stick to deep cover? Not an issue with this rod. You can reach them and pull them out.
Basically, if it bites, you can get it into the net or boat without worry. The titanium guides have plenty of flex and give, just like you would expect.
The handles are split, high-end cork and quite comfortable for long days on the water. The two parts form together so there is no visible rod seat on the back and makes for a very professional touch that many rods lack.
8. KastKing Perigee II Rod
You can, if you would like and do not mind sleeping outside, spend a few hundred dollars on an ultralight rod from G Loomis or other fine rod manufacturers. However, this is not necessary. Remember what we have said in the past: The fish is not concerned with what rod you are using.
If you are concerned, the KastKing is a good compromise between the outside and the couch. The Perigee line covers rods all the way to saltwater and has plenty of backbone in them to support that. The guides are the Fuji O-Ring, top on the market, EVA grips and a graphite reel seat make this rod an all around winner.
The 4 ½ foot is very popular, but if Angler’s Gear had the opportunity to choose, we would go with the 5 ½ or 6 foot model. It works better when you are presented with water that can go from wide to thin in a matter of a few feet.
KastKing Perigee II is more than the other models by a few dollars, but the quality of the rod will make up for it when you pick it up.
9. St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod
St. Croix rods are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but they are high quality and will stand up with some of the best on the market. The company is continually updating and upgrading, so if you are keen on a quality rod that is a bit out of the normal range – this may be the one to consider.
The Premier is fast action but has the sensitivity you want in an ultralight rig. It is everything you would expect in a quality rod: balanced, strong, supple and not heavy. Trout, panfish, walleye or bass, there is a strong chance your line will go before the rod ever will.
The guides are aluminum oxide, and this means quality. This rod ranks up there with some of the other expensive rods on the list, and frankly, two of these is as good as one of the more expensive.
As you can imagine, cork runs the length of the exceptionally long handle for even those with exceptionally large hands. If you are a split handle person, it may behoove you to look elsewhere, although a bit of time may make you a believer.
Is this rod as good as the G. Loomis? That is going to be a matter of taste ultimately. We will get to the G. Loomis next, and you can decide.
10. Loomis Classic Trout Panfish Spinning Rod
Win the lottery. Score big in the stock market. Get the urge to spend serious money on serious fishing equipment because you are going to guide.
If one of these things happens, you want G. Loomis. This is one of the best of the best when it comes to rods and rod making, commanding a premium price for premium materials.
The Trout and Panfish rod may make you wince when you see the cost until you put one into your hands and cast it the first time.
- Loomis has its own proprietary blanks and is designed for two pound monofilament for trout and panfish each day without failure. This rod will handle them and then some. The only thing that may break is your bank account, temporarily, as G. Loomis is worth the investment in the long run.
The cork handle is not as much a handle as it is a piece of art. The guides are the exact top quality you would want, and the G. Loomis company does not cut corners anywhere with their products. End of story.
This is a moderate action piece and if you can swing it, the absolute pinnacle of trout spinning rods for this year, last year and probably the next five to ten years. If you want a fast action for bigger fish, then you can find another rod, but the G. Loomis is more than capable of handling them.
We want to know what you think of our list. Did we exclude a rod you like? What do you think of our top choices? Let us know in the comment section. We’de love to see you on the water.
p.s. If you are into trout rods, you might want to check our barbless trout hooks review
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SeaKnight is a brand of fishing products founded in 1983. On their Facebook page, they comment that they started as a small workshop and now are a modern company. They can be found on Amazon and social media.
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