Best trout fishing rods

The 7 Best Trout Fishing Rods (2021 Buyer’s Guide)

PUBLISHED 04 JULY 2021

by Bill Laney

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Trout fishing has become increasingly popular in recent years, due to the fact that many lakes and ponds are regularly stocked with rainbow trout. Combined with the preexisting populations of brown, brook, and cutthroat trout, there are currently more great trout fishing opportunities than ever before. 

But if you want to take advantage of all these great trout fishing opportunities, it’s essential to use the best trout fishing rod for the job. Trout tend to be more shy and finicky than other fish, which calls for the use of finesse tactics powered by a lightweight trout rod. 

Our editorial team spent two months testing the best trout fishing rods currently available on the market, and for this review we chose the 7 best trout fishing rods, which are covered in full detail below.

We’ll also give you recommendations on what each of these trout rods is ideally suited for, to help you choose the best trout fishing rod for your purposes.

What is the best trout fishing rod in 2021?

ModelImagePriceLengthPowerLure weight (oz)Line weight (lb)Verdict
St Croix Premier Spinning Rod7'0"Ultralight1/32 - 1/162 - 6Best trout fishing rod overall
Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod6'6"Light1/16 - 3/84 - 10Best budget option
Okuma Celilo Ultralight Trout Rod6'6"Ultralight1/32 - 3/82 - 6Best ultralight trout rod
G. Loomis Classic Ultralight Trout Rod6'0"Ultralight1/32 - 1/81 - 4Best high end option
Pflueger Monarch Spin Combo5'6"Ultralight1/16 - 3/82 - 8Best rod and reel combo
St Croix Trout Spinning Rod7'0"Light1/16 - 1/44 - 8Best for lake fishing
Kastking Perigee II Ultralight Trout Rod4'6"Ultralight1/32 - 1/81 - 4Best for stream fishing

The table above compares the most important specs of the 7 best trout fishing rods.

In addition to covering their specifications, we also added our recommendation on what each of these trout rods is ideally suited for.

Now let’s dive deeper into the details, and look at each of the best rods for trout fishing more closely.

1. St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod

St. Croix is famous for making several of the best trout fishing rods in the world, and the Premier spinning rod is one of its flagship lineups. Based on its overall high quality performance, combined with its versatility and ease of use, we recommend the Premier spinning rod as the best spinning rod for trout, as well as the best trout fishing rod overall.

Unlike many other models on the market, the St. Croix Premier spinning rod is not only designed in the USA, but also handcrafted at their facilities in Park Falls, Wisconsin. It comes with a highly fine tuned taper, resulting in incredibly smooth fishing rod action. In addition to the smooth rod action, the SCII graphite blank combines exceptional levels of sensitivity with strength, which makes it ideal for trout fishing.

Trout fishing often requires using lightweight rods for finesse spinning applications, but at the same time you need sufficient rod power to set the hook and fight these hard fighting fish that can grow to sizes north of 5 pounds. The St. Croix Premier ultralight trout rod achieves this balance perfectly, which is why it’s our top choice for trout fishing.

Recommended St. Croix Premier specs for trout fishing:

  • Length: 6’0” to 7’0”
  • Rod power: Ultra light
  • Rod action: Fast 
  • Lure rating: 1/32 to 1/16 oz
  • Line rating: 2 to 6 lb

While the Premier spinning lineup comes in many different sizes, we recommend the 7 foot ultralight trout rod (Model number: PS70ULF2). The specs of this model are perfect for the majority of trout fishing applications in lakes, ponds, and rivers.

However, if you’re going to fish in smaller streams, you may want to choose one of the shorter versions of the Premier (which goes all the way down to 4’6”). Shorter lengths are better suited for spinning underneath overhanging trees and bushes.

Features:

  • SCII graphite blank
  • Kigan hook-keeper
  • Fuji reel seat
  • Premium-grade cork handle
  • Hand built in USA

2. Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod

The Shakespeare Micro spinning series combines a high quality fishing performance with very affordable prices, which is why we selected it as the best budget trout rod.

Shakespeare is famous for producing composite fishing rod blanks that combine the lightness of graphite with the power and flexibility of fiberglass. The Micro spinning series was specially designed for lightweight fishing, and performs at a very high level for finesse applications, while still offering plenty of strength and power for catching big trout.

Recommended Shakespeare Micro specs for trout fishing:

  • Length: 6’6” to 7’0”
  • Rod power: Light
  • Rod action: Fast 
  • Lure rating: 1/16 to 3/8 oz
  • Line rating: 4 to 10 lb

The Shakespeare Micro trout rod is a little heavier than other fishing rods on this list, which is due to its composite blank construction. So if you want to go full finesse with an ultralight trout rod, the Micro trout rod is probably not an ideal choice. But for most standard trout fishing applications, the Shakespeare Micro spinning series delivers a great performance at an unbeatable price.

The composite fishing rod blank also results in higher durability compared to pure graphite spinning rods, which tend to be more brittle and therefore break more easily under excessive strain. 

Features:

  • Graphite/fiberglass composite rod blank
  • Stainless steel guides
  • Reel seat with cushioned hoods

See also: What are good rigs for trout?

3. Okuma Celilo Ultralight Trout Rod

The Okuma Celilo Ultralight Trout Rod has become increasingly popular among trout anglers, and for very good reason. Almost the entire Okuma Celilo Ultralight Trout Rod lineup is built with ultra lightweight rod power blanks (with just a couple of exceptions that have a light power blank). So it’s plain to see that the Celilo Ultralight Trout Rods were specifically designed for lightweight fishing, making them ideal candidates for the title of best trout fishing rod.

Because of its advantages, we’ve chosen the Okuma Celilo Ultralight Trout Rod as the best ultralight trout rod. It also comes at a highly competitive price (retailing well under 50 dollars), making it extremely high value for money.

Personally, I love using the Celilo Ultralight Trout Rod to cast small spoons and spinners to target trout that are far away from the shore in lakes and ponds. The ability to reach these trout can make a big difference in heavily pressured fisheries. 

Unlike the Premier, the Okuma Celilo Ultralight Trout Rod comes with a moderate action taper, which can take a little getting used to, since it tends to feel a little ‘too soft’ if you’re used to fast action fishing rods. But once you get used to the moderate action, it helps to load up the rod blank optimally during the casting process, enabling the Celilo Ultralight Trout Rod to cast small lures and rigs over long distances. 

Recommended Okuma Celilo specs for trout fishing:

  • Length: 6’0” to 7’0”
  • Rod power: Ultra light
  • Rod action: Moderate 
  • Lure rating: 1/32 to 3/8 oz
  • Line rating: 2 to 6 lb

In the case of the Celilo Ultralight Trout Rod, pretty much the whole lineup is great for trout fishing, so no matter which one you choose, you’ll be happy with its performance for catching trout. If you plan to fish in small streams, you may want to choose one of the shorter options around 5 feet, while the longer ones above 6 eet are better for lake and river fishing.

Features:

  • Highly sensitive graphite composite fishing rod blank
  • Stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts
  • Hooded reel seats
  • Stainless steel hook keeper

4. G. Loomis Classic Trout & Panfish Spinning Rod

G. Loomis is known for its high end fishing rods that exceed all expectations, and the Classic Trout spinning lineup is the result of their rod building expertise applied to an ultralight trout rod. And just like the St. Croix Premier, the Classic Trout is handcrafted in the USA (at the G. Loomis facilities in Woodland, Washington).

Due to its exceptional quality, we chose the Classic Trout spinning lineup as the best high end trout rod, and if budget is not a consideration for you, then this is one of the very best trout fishing rods you can hope to get.

Most of the fishing rods in the Classic spinning lineup are ultralight trout rods. This means you can choose almost any of the options from this lineup for trout fishing, and will be happy with the result. 

Recommended G. Loomis Classic specs for trout fishing:

  • Length: 6’0” to 7’0”
  • Rod power: Ultra light
  • Rod action: Moderate to Fast 
  • Lure rating: 1/32 to 1/8 oz
  • Line rating: 1 to 4 lb

Personally, I’ve found the sensitivity of the Classic to be nothing short of amazing. I like to use micro jigs and the smallest crankbaits I can get my hands on for trout, and most other spinning rods don’t have enough sensitivity for fishing these extremely small lures effectively. But the Classic does a great job of letting me feel every little vibration during the retrieve.

Features:

  • Mid modulus graphite blank
  • Fiber meshing technology creates stronger blank
  • Multi taper design
  • Hand built in USA

5. Pflueger Monarch Spin Combo

While there are many spinning rod and reel combos on the market, very few of them are sensitive enough to be well suited for trout fishing. The Pflueger Monarch Spin Combo is the exception to this, and provides a very high quality ultralight trout rod that comes in a combo with a high quality spinning reel, which is why we chose it as the best trout rod and reel combo

If you’re looking to get a good trout rod and reel at the same time, then buying a high quality combo is the perfect choice. The great thing about the Monarch spin combo is that it comes with a highly sensitive mid-modulus graphite blank, as well as a 2000 size spinning reel ideally suited for trout fishing. 

The 2000 size reel works well with 2 to 8 lb test line, and has enough line capacity in order to cast further than smaller reels. While 1000 reels can be great for trout fishing in small streams, they don’t do well when it comes to casting far enough in lakes. 

Recommended Pflueger Monarch specs for trout fishing:

  • Length: 5’6” to 7’0”
  • Rod power: Ultra light
  • Rod action: Moderate
  • Lure rating: 1/16 to 3/8 oz
  • Line rating: 2 to 8 lb

In addition to providing a high quality performance, this spinning rod and reel combo also comes at a very competitive price, which makes it an excellent choice for a beginner looking to try out trout fishing for the first time without breaking the bank.

Features:

  • Mid-modulus IM6 graphite blank
  • Split handle with cork grips
  • 2000 size reel with graphite body and rotor
  • 5 ball bearings

6. St. Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod

If you’re fishing for trout in lakes, you’ll need a rod that’s a little longer and has extra power, in order to cast bigger weights and rigs over longer distances. The St. Croix Trout spinning rod is ideal for this, which is why we chose it as the best trout rod for lake fishing.

The finishing on the St. Croix Trout is just as good on any high end fly rod, and it throws extremely small lures farther than most other models, plus it has insane levels of sensitivity when used with lightweight lines. The great thing is that even a slightly heavier model comes with enough sensitivity to detect subtle trout bites.

Recommended St. Croix Trout Series specs for trout fishing:

  • Length: 7’0”
  • Rod power: Light
  • Rod action: Extra Fast
  • Lure rating: 1/16 to 1/4 oz
  • Line rating: 4 to 8 lb

If you’re trout fishing in lakes or ponds, the 7 foot option is great, because it allows you to cast further, and gives you better line control than a shorter trout rod. The light power spinning rod blank also allows you to use slightly heavier weights for your rigs, and achieve greater casting distance from shore. 

Features:

  • Great blend of super high modulus and mid modulus graphite
  • Fortified resin strengthening technology makes the blank stronger
  • Sea Guide line guides
  • Split handle with premium cork grips

See also: Rigging for trout in lakes (3 rigs you need to know)

7. Kastking Perigee II Spinning Rod

The Kastking Perigee II is an ultralight trout rod that works extremely well for stream fishing, as it comes in shorter sizes all the way down to 4’6”, and casts well with extremely lightweight lines down to 1 lb test. Because of these advantages, we chose it as the best trout rod for stream fishing.

In fact, the Kastking Perigee II handles extremely lightweight lines and lures almost as well as the G. Loomis Classic ultralight trout rod, but comes at a much lower cost. It’s built with high quality Toray 24 ton carbon graphite, resulting in an impressive degree of sensitivity, which is exactly what you need when using an ultralight trout rod for fishing in streams or creeks.

Since the Perigee II comes in a wide variety of sizes and rod powers, it’s important to choose the right one for trout fishing.

Recommended Kastking Perigee II specs for trout fishing:

  • Length: 4’6” to 5’6”
  • Rod power: Ultralight to Light
  • Rod action: Moderate to Moderate Fast
  • Lure rating: 1/32 to 1/8 oz
  • Line rating: 1 to 4 lb

Similar to most other ultralight trout rods, the Perigee II comes with a moderate action taper, which helps to cast lightweight lures farther (compared to a fast action taper). The moderate action also gives the rod more flex while you’re fighting a fish, thus helping to absorb some of the head shakes and jumps that trout make after being hooked.

Features:

  • 24-ton graphite blank
  • Stainless steel guides with ceramic inserts
  • Split type handle with EVA grips

See also: How should you rig for trout in streams and rivers

What should you look for in a good trout fishing rod?

Now let’s take a look at the most important qualities you should look for when deciding to buy a trout rod. Overall, there can be no doubt that a lightweight spinning rod is the ideal choice for this type of fishing, but let’s tease that statement further apart by looking at the key specs of a good trout rod: length, power (weight), action, lure rating and line rating.

See also: Ultimate guide to spinning for trout

Trout fishing rod length

The ideal all around rod length for trout fishing is 6 to 7 feet. A rod in this length range will perform well for the majority of trout fishing scenarios, including spinning with lures or fishing with bait rigs in lakes, ponds, and rivers, and it can even be used for some trolling applications. 

Having said that, you should consider shorter rods (between 4’6” and 5’6”) if you’re planning to go trout fishing in streams and creeks. The shorter length enables you to cast effectively underneath overhanging trees and bushes, and it also helps to improve the accuracy of your casts (which is essential if you want to target very specific trout fishing locations in small creeks).

Also, if you’re planning to go trout fishing in lakes or ponds, a longer trout rod between 7 and 8 feet can be a good choice, since the extra length helps to increase casting distance. The ability to cast far enough to reach good trout fishing spots can provide a big advantage when fishing from shore in highly pressured fisheries. A longer rod also helps to absorb the energy of a hard fighting fish, which can be an important factor if you hook a big fish on a lightweight rod. 

See also: Night fishing for trout (how-to guide)

Rod power for trout

The ideal rod power for trout is ultra light, since that allows you to cast well with small lures and rigs, and this rod weight also performs well with lightweight lines of 1 or 2 lb test. Trout thrive in clear water, and if you fish for them in streams and rivers you may find yourself fishing in water that’s crystal clear.

Add to this the fact that trout have keen eyesight, and tend to be line shy in waters where they experience a lot of angling pressure, and you’ll understand why the ability to use extremely lightweight line is important in order to trigger bites from finicky trout.

However, if you’re trout fishing in stained water, or if you notice the trout aren’t line shy, you can upsize your rod to a light power, since that will give you more backbone when fighting a big trout. Indeed, if you know there’s a good chance of hooking trophy size trout, you can even upsize to a medium power rod with slightly stronger line.

But always keep in mind that the heavier your tackle is, the more likely it is that you’ll spook some of the fish, so choose wisely in order to achieve the ideal balance between stealth and strength.

See also: What hook sizes should you use for trout?

Rod action for trout

The ideal rod action for trout fishing is moderate to fast. If you’re using an ultralight trout rod then moderate rod action is the ideal option for two reasons:

  • Firstly, it helps to load up the load blank more effectively while casting small lures and rigs, resulting in greater casting distance.
  • Secondly, a moderate action rod has more flex than a fast action one, which helps to absorb the energy of a hard fighting fish (extremely helpful if you hook a big trout on a light rod).

The main exception to this are St. Croix rods, which are hand built and therefore have an action taper that is so smooth that their fast action rods perform exceptionally well with lightweight tackle, while also having enough bend to fight big fish. 

See also: What fishing line to use for trout?

Lure rating

The ideal lure rating for trout is 1/32 to 1/4 oz. Most trout lures and rigs fall into this weight range, so make sure to get a rod that performs well with these small lures. In fact, if you’re planning to use micro jigs or extremely small swimbaits, you may end up throwing 1/64 oz lures for trout, which you just can’t do with a rod that has a 1/2 oz lure rating.

See also: Ultimate guide to catching trout from shore

Line rating

The ideal rod line rating for trout is 2 to 6 lb test. This is the ideal all around line strength to use for trout, but in a few cases you may want to go down to 1 lb test when fishing for finicky trout in very clear water, or up to 8 lb test if you expect to hook trophy size trout.

See also: Tips on how to catch trout with a carolina rig

Final remarks

This wraps up our review of the best fishing rod for trout. All of the models covered in this review are high quality products, so no matter which one you choose, we’re confident you’ll have a great experience with it. Tight lines, and see you on the water!

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