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Best Rod For Trout Fishing – 40 hours of research, asking experts and testing!

Once you hook a feisty trout for the first time, you’ll never want anything else. The thrill catching a big steelhead, or a strong brown trout gets us excited every single time.  After more than 40 hours of research, interviewing experts, evaluating nearly every trout fishing rod available, running two successful surveys with over 1033 responses from experienced trout anglers all over the world, and testing four trout fishing rods ourselves for 8 sessions, we’ve found that the Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod (fly fishing) and the St Croix Trout Series (spinning) are the best rods for trout fishing.

Both rods have the best reviews, great quality and design and fit in a price range that make them suitable for beginner and advanced trout anglers.

Winner: Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod
Redington Fly Fishing Rod 590-4 Classic Trout...
Runner up: Temple Fork Signature II Series
Temple Fork Outfitters Professional Series...
Winner: St Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod
St. Croix Rods Trout Series Spinning Rod
Runner up: Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod, Multi, One Size...
Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing
Spinning
Spinning
$109.09
$149.99
Price not available
$39.61
Winner: Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod
Redington Fly Fishing Rod 590-4 Classic Trout...
Fly Fishing
$109.09
Runner up: Temple Fork Signature II Series
Temple Fork Outfitters Professional Series...
Fly Fishing
$149.99
Winner: St Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod
St. Croix Rods Trout Series Spinning Rod
Spinning
Price not available
Runner up: Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod, Multi, One Size...
Spinning
$39.61

Best rod for trout fishing

Who is this review for?

This review is for beginner and advanced anglers that are interested in purchasing the best tackle for trout fishing. And how do you know when a tackle product is the best? When you have the research to back up your claim. And that is exactly what the King of the Catch review team is all about.

Why you should trust us

We spoke with several experienced trout fishing anglers on the subject of selecting the best rod for trout fishing, product managers at Bass Pro Shop & Cabela’s and surveyed over 1033 trout anglers from the Facebook group Worldwide Trout Anglers with over 32.000 members.

We also asked the opinions from experienced fly fishers from the North American Fly Fishing Forum and Fly Fishing UK, and we combed through subreddits like /r/flyfishing/ and r/troutfishing/ to find community favorites that held up well over time.

In addition, we invested more than 40 hours in researching, evaluating, and testing the best trout fishing rods available to find the top ones.

How we picked?

Before we selected our top picks, we needed to know a what criteria is important for trout anglers when choosing their favorite rod. Only with the correct feedback could our team decide which trout fishing rods would make the cut to be tested for this review. For this we asked the help from experienced trout anglers from the Facebook group Worldwide Trout Anglers with the surveys.

Survey 1: What is your favorite fishing method to catch trout and why?

best trout rods
Figure 1: Survey 1 results from Worldwide Trout Anglers.

The response was overwhelming, and the survey got feedback from 854 trout angling fanatics. The choice between spin fishing (44%) and fly fishing (37%) was a close one. Almost all trout anglers agreed that (ultra)light fishing tackle is the way to go. It is more exciting and gives a higher thrill and better workout when hooking the fish.

The anglers that preferred fishing with a spinner reel and rod do so because the casting technique is much easier to master compared to fly fishing and the tackle gear is convenient.

For that reason, it is also the most favorite method amongst beginners. The anglers that voted for fly fishing prefer the patience game that comes with catching some trout with a fly. They also mentioned that there is no feeling like the thrill of a surface breaching trout grabbing a floating fly.

The remaining 19% was mostly focused on types of bait combined with a steady fishing pole, centerpin or baitcaster, including fishing with worms, live bait and Powerbait for trout.

Now that we know that trout anglers mostly prefer spin and fly fishing (combined 81%), it was time to find out which rods are most popular in each category. In order to do so, we needed to find out what trout anglers look for in a good rod.

Survey 2: What to look for in a good rod for trout fishing? 

best rods for trout fishing
Figure 2: Survey 2 results from Worldwide Trout Anglers.

For the second survey the response was lower (179) in comparison with the first one, but results showed that trout anglers focus on two criteria when buying a trout rod. The length and the type of action, with the type of action of a rod (slow, medium or fast) being a trout anglers first priority.

To our surprise the price of the product had little impact on the buying decision of a trout angler.

So, what did we learn from these surveys? We learned that trout anglers prefer spin and/or fly fishing rods and that the length and action of the rod is the their number one buying criteria.

With this information we contacted the sales representatives of Pure Fishing, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops and asked them to recommend to us 4 trout fishing rods (2 for each category) that would match the conclusion of our surveys.

Quick overview of the best rods for trout fishing:

  1. Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod
  2. Temple Fork Outfitters Signature II Series Fly Rod
  3. St Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod
  4. Ugly Stik GX Spinning Rod

How did we test?

The King of the Catch Review Team used a seven-criteria matrix for evaluating each reel and matching rod:

  1. Durability: Which stayed most functional during the test period?
  2. User-friendliness: Can a beginner use it without getting in trouble?
  3. Materials: How is the overall quality?
  4. Looks: Because the eyes also want something!
  5. Design: Old Vs. New features
  6. Value: Comparing price, features and performance
  7. Reviews: What did other fishing experts have to say

Scores were added up after each testing period. In this article you will see the winner, the runner-up and other recommendations regarding other fishing tackle that we have used in the past or that are recommended by other anglers which we respect and trust.

Best fly fishing rods for trout

Winner: Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod

Sale
Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod
286 Reviews
Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod
This rod has performed beyond our expectations. Overall, if you're into dry fly fishing in small creeks and streams at shorter distances, then this is the best rod you'll get at this price point. Just make sure to select the length and weight you're most comfortable with, and you'll be good to go.

 

What is the final score? The Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod scored a 9 out of 10!

What Did We Like?

If you’re looking for perfection when searching for the best fly fishing rod to catch trout, then the Redington Classic Trout is where your search ends. Redington has many rods available on the market, but the Classic Trout beats them all when it comes to trout fishing. We’ve used this rod for several years and bought the latest models for this review. We are sure that nothing comes close to it.

It’s available in multiple sizes and weights, from 7’6″ 2WT to 9’0″ 6WT. After trying the rod out in different locations, we can say for sure that this one is best suited for small to mid-sized rivers and streams. It’s not a long-distance rod with a lot of power, but under a distance of 50 feet, there’s nothing that can match its performance.

Since it has a moderately fast action with a heady combination of quick loading and mix-flex, it provides smooth casts in distances shorter than 50 feet. And the moment you hook a trout, the rod bends over to protect the tippet and reduces breakoffs.

All this lets you actually feel every movement as each tug and pull gets channeled through the rod. Add to that the silver detailing and brown blank coupled with the reel seat made of rosewood, and you’ve got a rod that pays homage to the great fishing equipment of yore.

Overall, if you’re into dry fly fishing in small creeks and streams at shorter distances, then this is the best rod you’ll get at this price point. Just make sure to select the length and weight you’re most comfortable with, and you’ll be good to go.

Flaws But No Dealbreakers

When we’re talking about this rod, it’s wise to mention that the shorter rods (the 3WT and 4WT especially) in the series are more true to line weight and can cast very accurately. These rods can hold their own against moderate winds and provide outstanding balance with a light click pawl reel.

Sadly, the same cannot be said about the longer rods, especially the 9’ 5WT, which turned out to be a lighter 4WT rod upon deflection testing. This translates to deep bending even when you’ve hooked an average-sized trout, which can get overwhelming for new anglers.

At the same time, the heavier rods are harder to cast and can get deflected easily. And we have a gripe about the cork on the 5WT, which we found to develop significant voids even on minimal usage. The cork on the 3WT is definitely of better quality.

That said, the above aren’t significant drawbacks that should prevent you from getting this rod.

What Reel Goes With It?

Sale
Redington Zero Fly Reel
61 Reviews
Redington Zero Fly Reel
The finish and color are excellent, while at around 3 ounces, the weight is light as a feather. We paired it with a 7'6 3WT Classic Trout Fly rod from the same brand, and the experience was nothing short of exhilarating

We recommend the Redington Zero Fly Reel, which looks as good as it performs. The finish and color are excellent, while at around 3 ounces, the weight is light as a feather. We spooled it using a yellow Rio floating line with orange backing, and it looked beautiful on the water.

But we did notice one thing: the reel is definitely loud. It’s not anything that you won’t expect in a fishing reel, but rest assured that everyone in the vicinity will take notice when you’re stripping off or reeling in. In case you’re a bit self-conscious, this might feel like drawing unwanted attention.

We paired the Redington Zero Fly Reel with a 7’6″ 3WT Classic Trout Fly rod from the same brand, and the experience was nothing short of exhilarating. At the end of the day, if you prefer a click-drag reel, then go with this one for a great experience.

Note: If you are interested in finding a good fly reel that fits your budget our reviews for fly reels under $100 and under $200 will help you out tremendously. Our team did a lot of research and testing to make sure we provide expert  feedback for your next purchase. 

Runner up: Temple Fork Outfitters Signature II Series Fly Rod

Signature II Series from Temple Fork Outfitters
73 Reviews
Signature II Series from Temple Fork Outfitters
If you're looking to fish in smaller streams and rivers, then go for either the 8' 4WT or 7'6 3WT variants. We used it to catch 4-inch to 7-inch Brooks and Browns of about 18 inches and faced no issues. An excellent rod for trout fishing that's sure to be a valuable piece of equipment.

 

What is the final score? The Signature II Series scored a 8,8 out of 10!

What Did We Like?

While the Redington Classic Fly Rod is the clear winner in this category, it’s closely tailed by the rod we’re going to talk about right now. A durable choice in its own right, this is another piece of fishing equipment you’d be proud to have in your arsenal.

The Signature II Series from Temple Fork Outfitters is a medium-fast action rod that works with both saltwater and freshwater. Made using upgraded components such as an anodized aluminum reel seat and AA-grade cork, this is a rod that offers outstanding performance.

We were amazed to learn that the design has been inspired by Lefty Kreh, a legend who needs no introduction to those who’re into fly-fishing. If you’re looking to fish in smaller streams and rivers, then go for either the 8′ 4WT or 7’6″ 3WT variants.

Both rods are enough to give more expensive competitors a run for their money and cast accurately and smoothly. They also load well (though we found that the 3WT loads similar to a 4WT, and we had to overline for proper casting).

The affordable pricing and well-thought-out design make this series suitable for beginners and experts who are a bit rusty due to lack of practice. We used it to catch 4-inch to 7-inch Brooks and Browns of about 18 inches and faced no issues. An excellent rod for trout fishing that’s sure to be a valuable piece of equipment.

Flaws But No Dealbreakers

If you’re going by looks and features alone, this is undoubtedly a rod that any angler would love to use. However, some beginners might find it a hassle to fly fish on a slower rod such as this one. Learning on a faster rod can prove to be more beneficial in the long run.

So, if you’re a fan of speed, then you can upgrade and go for a rod with better speed, such as the Professional Lefty Kreh.

What Reel Goes With It?

Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel
179 Reviews
Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel
If you're fishing in freshwater and like affordable options in terms of reels, this one won't let you down. The reel has a durable die-cast frame with an open architecture that provides excellent drag performance and smooth casting.

We used it with the Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel, and the result was wonderful if you consider the affordable pricing. Both beginners and experienced anglers will find this combo to be ideal for hooking trout.

The reel has a durable die-cast frame with an open architecture that provides excellent drag performance and smooth casting. The only trouble is that it doesn’t do that well in sub-zero temperatures. There’s also a clicking noise when reeling in, but that’s not too much of a bother in our opinion.

All in all, if you’re fishing in freshwater and like affordable options in terms of reels, this one won’t let you down.

Best Spinning Rods For Trout

Winner: St Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod

St Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod
251 Reviews
St Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod
We particularly like the rod's balance, which is in part due to the optimized weight and construction. It has superb sensitivity and can cast really well in any trout pond of your choice. The lightweight construction helps you to enjoy the fight while you're bringing in the catch.

What is the final score? The St Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod scored a 8,9 out of 10!

What Did We Like?

After taking a close look at two fly rods, now we’ll turn our attention to a spinning rod that’s well worth the money.

For those who like spinning rods to be lightweight and sensitive, the St. Croix Trout Series is a good option. This rod uses a dynamic blend of high-strain graphite and modern design to deliver the optimum fishing experience.

We particularly like the rod’s balance, which is in part due to the optimized weight and construction. It has superb sensitivity and can cast really well in any trout pond of your choice. The lightweight construction helps you to enjoy the fight while you’re bringing in the catch.

While we mostly used it for catching trout that’s under a pound, we’re sure you’ll get some exhilarating action when catching larger fish. And if you’re looking to fish in larger waters, then the series has a 7′ rod that you can use.

Despite being highly sensitive and light, it offers adequate control and a strong backbone that’s useful for reeling in heavier catch. You can easily feel the lure bouncing off the water’s bottom and even the subtle difference between a strike and a glancing off. We also enjoyed the reel seat, balance, and muted colors of the series.

Now, the eyelets: it has relatively good ones, but the front eyelets are rather small and can freeze up quickly. So, if you’re one of those anglers who don’t like to deal with tiny eyelets, this model might not easily catch your fancy.

Finally, a bit about the warranty, which is a massive five years for these rods. Coupled with high quality and sensitive and robust casting, it certainly justifies the unit’s rather steep price tag.

Flaws But No Dealbreakers

The one thing we noticed about this rod is that its handle is absurdly small, so much so that you might think it’s made for a child! That said, even if you have larger hands, you can use it without significant problems. You’re reminded of it only when you pick it up: it seems almost kid-sized.

What Reel Goes With It?

Pflueger President XT
65 Reviews
Pflueger President XT
It has a carbon fiber handle, which can take more pressure than aluminum and weighs significantly less. The handle knob uses a rubber cork for all-weather gripping power.

We paired it with a 6-pound braid and Pflueger President XT spinning reel, and the results were as light and smooth as can be expected. The reel has extreme balance and comfort that comes from having an aluminum shaft and pinion gear.

It has a carbon fiber handle, which can take more pressure than aluminum and weighs significantly less. The handle knob uses a rubber cork for all-weather gripping power.

Next, we took a look at the bearing system and were impressed to find that it’s made from corrosion-free stainless steel ball bearings. It also incorporates an instant anti-reverse, along with a sealed drag that prevents grit and water from getting into the reel. Plus, it doesn’t need any backing as the braid-ready spool allows for direct tying.

Runner up: Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod

Ugly Stick Gx2 Spinning Rod
2,669 Reviews
Ugly Stick Gx2 Spinning Rod
Being a medium action 7' rod, it allows you to cast far and reach into the deeper recesses of the water. Since this one is a two-piece rod, you can easily disassemble it and carry it in your car.

What is the final score? The Ugly Stick Gx2 Spinning Rod scored a 8,4 out of 10!

What Did We Like?

An upgrade to the classic version of Ugly Stik, the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod is a cost-effective option that provides much of the strength and balance of the original. In our humble opinion, the combination of fiberglass and graphite is a masterstroke that takes its usability up several notches.

Being a medium action 7′ rod, it allows you to cast far and reach into the deeper recesses of the water. This means you get access to the deep-water fish that don’t usually come up to the surface levels near the shores. Plus, the moment you get a bite and pull, the rod bends in the top half, allowing you to pull the catch right back.

Now, let’s take a look at the lure weight guidelines for this rod, which we were surprised to learn don’t exist! Upon closer inspection, however, we understood that the reason for this is that it can handle any weight lures with ease. We’ve used everything from 3-ounce catfish wire rigs to 3/16 ounce Texas rigs with it, and the performance was impeccable.

Another aspect that caught our eye was the portability factor. Since this one is a two-piece rod, you can easily disassemble it and carry it in your car. This can come especially handy when you’re fishing in waters far from where you live. On top of that, the two-piece construction doesn’t take away from its reliability.

Before we wrap it up, we’d like to tell you a bit about the comfort factor, which is extremely important when you’re sitting for hours waiting for the fish to bite. The Ugly Stik GX2 comes with padded handles that ensure your hands don’t get tired. And the seven-year warranty is simply the icing on the cake.

Flaws But No Dealbreakers

The only flaw that we can mention is that it’s a rather heavy unit, and it can become tough to walk topwater lures with it for long periods. That way, you’re risking tiring your arm and letting go of the catch when it starts to tug and fight.

What Reel Goes With It?

Pflueger President PRESSP20X
2,331 Reviews
Pflueger President PRESSP20X
A great reel and the cheapest price range. Perfect for beginners and for those who seek an extra spinning reel for their tackle box

To ensure that the reel doesn’t add to the rod’s weight, we recommend the ultra-lightweight Pflueger President PRESSP20X spinning reel. Its light graphite body hides a corrosion-free stainless steel shaft and nine steel ball bearings, along with an anti-reverse ball bearing.

The double anodized aluminum spool is entirely braid-ready, and the smooth multi-disc drag along with aluminum bail wire is a bonus. Plus, it easily converts to right or left hand retrieve as per your requirements. Overall, an ideal choice for anglers who want to catch themselves some trout.

Conclusion

So, now that you have our top recommendations for the best rods for trout fishing, we’re sure you’re just about ready to bait the hook. If you’re into fly fishing in smaller waters, then the Redington Classic Trout Fly Rod can be your best, long-term companion.

However, for those who prefer spinning rods, you can give the St Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod a try. And if you don’t have the budget to go for the winners, then the runners-up on our list will also provide adequate performance.

 

 

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