Best Rod and Reel Combos – 2019 Complete Round-up

When it comes to finding a great rod and reel combination, balance is key. These all-in-one products are a tempting purchase for any angler, especially beginners, who need a convenient package deal. When it comes to combos, there are some picks that stand out among the rest— this article will walk you through those.

What Size of Rod and Reel Do I Need?

The size of rod and reel that you should choose will depend on several different aspects of angling including your technique, the fish you want to target, etc.. 

In general, if you’re a beginning angler, you may feel more comfortable with a shorter, lighter rod. They are easier to control and can handle smaller panfish typically found in freshwater bodies of water. More advanced anglers who target larger species of fish probably want a heavier, longer rod and reel combo that can achieve long casts and have a strong enough backbone to handle tough-fighting fish.

Characteristics of Our Favorite Combos

When it comes to a great fishing rod combo, there are several qualities you should be looking for as a buyer. When you’re browsing for your next combo, keep the following in mind:

Well-Crafted Designs

Arguably, the most important aspect of a great combo is the design and the materials it is crafted with. All exceptional combos will be created with high-quality materials put together in a way that increases ease of use. Your combo should be well-balanced and shouldn’t cause fatigue throughout a long day of fishing. 

Durable  

An excellent rod and reel combo should last for years, not months. Durability will be shown through the materials used in construction and quality control. Always ensure that your rod/reel feel well-crafted before buying.

Special Features

Though it’s not essential, it’s nice for a combo to have some special features to increase the ease of use of the product. A high-quality drag system is a must, but having features like level wind or other thoughtful design elements like ergonomic handles can make all the difference on a fishing trip.

Quick Take | Best Rod and Reel Combos

Just looking for the top three best rod and reel combos? Here they are:

  1. KastKing Sharky III
  2. PENN Squall Level Wind Reel & Rod
  3. Daiwa Mini System in Hard Carry Case

Review of the Best Rod and Reel Combos  

The sheer number of rod and reel combos in the angling world is overwhelming. To take some of the work out of the buying process, we’ve put together a list of our favorites. 

Best Overall:
KastKing Sharky III

KastKing Sharky III Spinning Combos,6ft 6in, M Power-M Fast,2000 Reel

PROS

  • Great Value for the Price
  • Comfortable to Use All Day
  • Exceptional Sensitivity for Small Bites
  • Can Be Used in Saltwater and Freshwater
  • Versatile, Can Be Used for Different Fishing Techniques

CONS

  • Some Issues With Braided Line
  • Reel Outshines the Rod in Quality
  • Guide Design Could Be Improved

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who purchased KastKing’s Sharky III were impressed with the company’s commitment to affordability. Buyers were satisfied with the overall quality of the rod and reel, though some said the reel outperformed the rod. Users were excited by its versatility and ability to be used for several different saltwater angling techniques.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The KastKing Sharky III earns the top spot on our favorites because of its overall quality and consistency. The combo stands up to the KastKing standards, with a super-powerful drag system offering up to 35 pounds of pressure, and it comes at a totally accessible price point, too.

Who Will Use This Most

This particular combo is advertised in KastKing’s saltwater line of angling tools. As buyers had mentioned, the combo allows for a great deal of versatility in technique, so whether you prefer casting from the shore or boat fishing, the Sharky III is just as effective.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The most prominent issue with this combo has to do with the rod’s line guides. Several anglers who purchased the product believed that the rod could really benefit from a larger first line guide. There have also been issues reported with braided line snagging, which limits the rod’s ability to pull in larger species of fish.

Bottom Line

Overall, the KastKing Sharky III is a great, versatile pick for saltwater anglers seeking a new combo. It wins major points for its powerful drag system and overall value, and with some minor line guide improvements, this could be the perfect saltwater combo.

Penn Squall 30 Level Wind Fishing Rod and Trolling Reel Combo, 6.5 Feet

PROS

  • Smooth Retrieval
  • Sizable Line Capacity
  • Made With High-Quality Materials
  • Can Be Used in Salt and Freshwater
  • Powerful Enough to Reel in Large Fish

CONS

  • Rod is Pretty Stiff
  • Uncomfortable Handle Design
  • The Drag System Isn’t Easy to Adjust

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers of the Penn Squall Level Wind Combo were, for the most part, very happy with its performance as a saltwater powerhouse. Many anglers commented on its ability to pull in large fish with ease and complimented its sizable line capacity. The main annoyance was associated with the handle design.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Squall combo stands out among other combos for its power and durability. The value of the rod/reel shines through in its thoughtfully-crafted design and materials used in construction. Anglers don’t have to worry about this rod snapping in the fight with a trophy fish.

Who Will Use This Most

This combo from Penn is a great option for saltwater anglers who need a fairly lightweight rod to bring onto the boat. With the combination of an advanced drag system and a powerful backbone, both the rod and reel are suitable for pulling in large ocean fish like tuna.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the major issues that buyers complained about was the uncomfortable handle design. The handle comes with a cap on the bottom that can be removed, or in some cases, falls off. When this happens, it can easily scratch the user. The rod could benefit from a handle that is more ergonomically-designed.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Squall line from Penn is a reliable choice for any saltwater angler looking to step up their fishing game. From the sizable line capacity to durable rod construction, this is a combo that can pack a punch in a fight with a large fish.

Daiwa Mini System Minispin Ultralight Spinning Reel and Rod Combo in Hard Carry Case

PROS

  • Great for Travel
  • Very Lightweight
  • Nicely Balanced
  • Good Value for the Price
  • Easy on the Wrists and Hands

CONS

  • Not Versatile
  • Some Issues With the Anti-Reverse
  • Difficult to Get Back in the Case After Removing

What Recent Buyers Report

The buyers of this combo from Daiwa were excited about its abilities as a travel rod. Reviewers praised its ultralight size and the fact that it was comfortable to use all day long. Although most were okay with the length, some complained that it was too small to be versatile.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Mini System makes it on our list as the best budget pick because it is a great all-in-one combination for anglers who don’t want to break the bank for a fun fishing experience. We love that it has the qualities of an expensive rod and is also super-transportable.

Who Will Use This Most

This is the perfect rod for avid travelers and hikers. It’s teeny-tiny, so it can easily fit into a small backpack or suitcase. This would also be a good option as a backup for freshwater anglers who want a “just-in-case” combo to stick into their fishing gear if disaster strikes with a primary rod.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The main complaint from users had to do with the issues with the anti-reverse. If those quality-control issues could be fixed, the rod would be greatly improved overall. It’s also a bit too small to be versatile, so if Daiwa could manage a couple more inches, the rod could handle a variety of techniques a little better.

Bottom Line

For anglers who spend a good amount of time hiking to their favorite fishing spots, this Daiwa Mini System might be the perfect combo. With the features and abilities of a regular-sized rod, this compact combo is small but mighty.

Best for Catfish and Ice Fishing:
UglyStik GX2

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Spinning Reel Combo

PROS

  • Smooth Casting
  • Powerful Drag System
  • Fairly Sensitive to Shy Fish
  • Rod Provides Great Action
  • Very Strong Rod Construction

CONS

  • No Reverse Toggle
  • The Reel is Mediocre
  • The Reel Needs to Be Oiled Before Use

What Recent Buyers Report

This particular combo from UglyStik is a very popular product among anglers and the consensus is clear: The rod is great, the reel is mediocre. Users praise the UglyStik construction, writing that it’s exceptionally durable and sensitive, but the combo lacks quality when it comes to the reel.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This combo makes it on our list mainly for the quality of the UglyStik rods. We love the durability and consistency that the blanks offer, as they are virtually indestructible. The rod provides a great amount of power and ability to pull in big fish one after another.

Who Will Use This Most

We recommend this combo to anglers who prefer catfishing or ice fishing above other angling activities. This is because this combo is offered in a range of lengths and actions that would provide excellent performance in these particular angling scenarios, coupled with the power pull in large fish.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The major issue with this combo is the fact that the rod really outshines the reel. The reel included in this combination is pretty middle-of-the-line quality, but it could be greatly improved with a higher gear ratio, a more powerful drag, etc..

Bottom Line

For the most part, this combo is a very easy recommendation for a wide range of anglers. It’s powerful, reliable, and if anything, very consistent. Although the reel performance could use some improvements, this is not a combo to be overlooked as a great product.

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combos Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod with Reel Combo Sea Saltwater Freshwater Kit Fishing Rod Kit

PROS

  • Cool, Sleek Design
  • Sensitive and Flexible
  • Good Value for the Price Point
  • The Drag System is Easily Adjustable
  • Includes a Carrying Case and Starter Kit

CONS

  • No Line Alignment Markings
  • Line Guides are Prone to Line Tangles
  • The Reel Seat is a Little Small to Accommodate Replacement Reels

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers of this telescopic rod and reel from Plusinno were overall happy with the convenience and ease of use of this combo. Those who purchased commented on the sleek construction, which includes a rose gold finish and complimented the special features. Some complaints were made regarding the size of the reel seat.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Plusinno Combination earned a spot on our list because of its thoughtfully-crafted design. The rod was created for effective usability and it includes all the special features needed to achieve that. Along with an effective drag system, we also appreciate the 12+1 ball bearing design.

Who Will Use This Most

Like most telescopic rods, this product would be a desirable pick for travelers. This combo is also a great length for bass fishing, specifically. It is very lightweight and additionally can break down to a convenient-carrying size. This particular listing comes with a rod bag included, which is a major plus. We’d also recommend this setup to beginners, as it’s very easy to use.

What Could Be Improved and Why

There are several minor design adjustments would positively affect this combo. One improvement would be an inclusion of alignment marks on the rod blanks. The combo could also benefit from a line guide adjustment, as some purchasers complained that the current design is prone to the occasional line twist and tangle.

Bottom Line

Overall, this telescopic rod is a solid choice for any angler looking for an easily transportable rod for bass fishing. It is crafted with durable materials, a reliable drag system, and is a great size to throw in a hiking pack for your next bass fishing trip.

Daiwa D-Wave Saltwater Spinning Combo (2 Piece)

PROS

  • Corrosion-Resistant
  • Long Casts for Surfcasting
  • Excellent Value for the Price
  • Smooth Casting and Retrieval
  • Strong Carbon Fiber Rod Blanks

CONS

  • Not Super Versatile
  • The Reel is a Little Noisy
  • Could Have Better Balance

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who went for the Daiwa D-Wave were very happy with the value of this combo, which comes at a price that beginners and anglers on a budget can feel comfortable with. Some reviewers praised its smooth casting ability, while others thought the reel could be improved.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The D-Wave earned a spot on our list for several different reasons. Mainly, we recognize this combo because it provides a great amount of overall strength and reliability. We’re also impressed with the long, smooth casts that are achievable, a great quality for surfcasting.

Who Will Use This Most

This combo from Daiwa is best-suited for surfcasting, or fishing from the surf of an ocean. For anglers who love sticking their toes in the sand and getting right into the thick of the ocean, this combo would provide the casting ability needed to pull in some beautiful catches.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Some buyers of the D-Wave had complaints about the rod outshining the reel. The main issue that came up was that the reel tended to get a little noisy after time. The combo could also be balanced a little better.

Bottom Line

Overall, the D-Wave Combo from Daiwa is a great, consistent choice for those anglers who prefer surfcasting over other forms of saltwater angling. Although this isn’t the most versatile choice, it handles its primary function well and provides a great amount of strength and pulling power.

Best for Surf Fishing:
PENN Battle II

PENN Battle II Combo

PROS

  • Super Sensitive
  • Smooth Reel Operation
  • Holds Up Well to Saltwater
  • Strong and Sturdy Backbone
  • Comfortable to Use All Day Long

CONS

  • A Little Heavy
  • Doesn’t Provide Super-Long Casting
  • Rod Action is Stiffer Than Advertised

What Recent Buyers Report

Saltwater anglers who purchased the Battle II from Penn were overall satisfied with its performance on the water. Buyers were more excited by the reel in this combo than the rod, which some said doesn’t provide the casting distance that they would have hoped for.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We are pretty big fans of the reel on this combo, which is why it earns a spot on our list. When it comes to ocean fishing, having a smooth operating reel with a powerful drag system is an absolute must and the Penn Battle II Reel holds up to these standards.

Who Will Use This Most

The Penn Battle II combo is a great option for any saltwater angler, whether they prefer surfcasting or offshore fishing. Some users say they prefer to use this combo from docks or piers because the action provided by the rod is a great fit for it.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The main complaint from users that Penn should take into consideration is that the rod isn’t of the same high-quality standard that the reel adheres to. Unfortunately, some buyers claim that they were unable to achieve the casting distance required to be successful with this rod.

Bottom Line

Although this combo doesn’t include the highest-quality rod, it’s the reel that really shines and makes this a great purchase. With a thoughtfully-crafted drag system and technical features that make it smooth and steady, this is a worthy purchase just for the reel.

Best Fly Fishing Combo:
NetAngler Fly Fishing Combo

NetAngler Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combo 4-Piece Fly Fishing Rod 5wt Aluminum Fly Reel 28 Pieces Flies Kit with Free Rod Tip,Backing,and Cloth Carry Bag

PROS

  • Smooth Casting
  • Great Beginner’s Setup
  • Includes an Extra Rod Tip
  • Great Value for What You Get
  • Rod’s Action is Perfect for Fly Fishing

CONS

  • Durability Issues
  • The Pre-Loaded Line is Bad Quality
  • Uncomfortable on the Hands and Wrists

What Recent Buyers Report

The majority of those who purchased this fly fishing rod and gear kit from NetAngler were excited by the all-inclusive setup. Because this kit comes with everything you need to begin fly fishing, it’s a good option for a gift. Some users raised concerns about the durability of the rod, which isn’t the highest-quality.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We enjoy this fly rod combo and kit because it’s the perfect place to start for anglers who want to dip their toes into the world of fly fishing. The great setup comes with all the fly fishing essentials, so beginners don’t need to hesitate to jump right into the activity.

Who Will Use This Most

We’d recommend this pick to beginners who are new to the angling world. Because of the very reasonable price for all the gear, it’s not a huge commitment if you’re not a fan. The rod is easy to set up and the reel comes with a pre-spooled line so there isn’t much to worry about preparation-wise.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The rod in this combo could definitely use some improvements to make it stronger. A complaint that arose was that with a little bit of wear and tear, the rod’s backbone won’t hold. If the company could incorporate some structural enhancements, the rod could be greatly improved.

Bottom Line

This starter kit is a great choice for newbies to the angling world who are ready to jump into fly fishing. Although there are some quality issues with the rod itself, overall, the set up is pretty solid. It offers smooth casting, great sensitivity, and the setup process is super easy.

Best Baitcaster Combo:
Shakespeare Ugly Stik

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Baitcast Combo

PROS

  • Great Action
  • Super Strong and Durable
  • Simple but Effective Design
  • Well-Thought-Out Reel Seats
  • Created With a Graphite Composite

CONS

  • Heavy, Hard on the Wrists
  • Cork Handles Tend to Get Sweaty
  • Guide Design Needs Improvement

What Recent Buyers Report

UglyStik is a very well-known brand among anglers of all skill levels. The majority of buyers of this rod were happy to see this rod has the quality they’ve known and loved. Buyers appreciated the strength of UglyStik construction and the simplicity of the design, but were unhappy with the line guides on the rod blanks.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Like the buyers, we trust UglyStik’s consistent, high-quality construction. The UglyStik Combo earns a spot on this list because of its strength and thoughtful design. Although it is very simple, both the rod and reel are obviously well-crafted and perform well.

Who Will Use This Most

The UglyStik Combo would be a reliable choice for anglers who are new to the world of fishing. It’s not too expensive, and most importantly, the quality is still top-of-the-line. Of course, seasoned anglers also love these rods, too! This is a great pick for anyone.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One complaint that is common with UglyStik rods are issues with the line guides. Although they are labeled as “UglyTuff” stainless steel line guides, many who purchased this combo say that they can’t handle braided line well and can easily break down over time. Some users prefer to replace them with different line guides.

Bottom Line

UglyStik is a well-loved brand for several reasons, but for one main reason: they make great products at a great price. This UglyStik combo is a consistent tool that can help you pull in fish of all sizes. If the line guides really bother you, consider replacing them with something more durable.

Types of Rod and Reel Combos

Although all combos will include a rod and a reel, there are several product variations within those categories. Depending on your angling preferences, you’ll most likely be choosing between the following popular categories:

Spinning Combos  

Spinning rods and reels are on the more popular end of angling tools thanks to their ease of use and effectiveness. Spinning reels hang below the rod and only take one simple motion to achieve great casting. This makes them an attractive choice to beginner and intermediate anglers. 

Casting Combos 

Baitcasting is an advanced technique that requires a casting rod and reel. Unlike a spinning reel, a casting reel sits on top of the rod. The casting technique involves more manual operation, which means it has more of a learning curve associated with it. But if an angler can master the technique, it can provide much more control and accuracy than a spinning rod.

Trolling Combos 

A trolling rod and reel combo is made to be used while fishing from a boat. The angler targets their catch by moving the watercraft slowly, allowing the bait to hang beneath the boat. Trolling rods and reels tend to be a little larger and heavier duty than a traditional combo.

Benefits of Investing in a Great Model

Purchasing a brand new combo can be daunting; spending a good amount of money is a huge commitment. Rather than going for the cheapest combo on the market, think about the pros of purchasing a new combo that is a little more high-quality . 

Quality

In general, rods that cost a little more tend to be more thoughtfully made. Cheaper rods will often include plastic parts that can break easily, which is no fun to deal with. Quality will shine through in the materials used and the look and feel of the rod. 

Durability

There’s little more frustrating than having a rod snap on you after the first use. This situation is much more likely with cheaper rods. If you splurge on a rod that is a little higher in quality, you’ll spend less time and money in the long run. 

Ease of Use

 As mentioned above, quality-made rods tend to be more thoughtfully-crafted. This usually results in special features that can make the angling process a lot more fun and comfortable. 

Conclusion

The best rod and reel combos are ones that provide control, accuracy, and comfort throughout an angling excursion. This purchase is an investment in your angling career, so don’t hesitate to do more research to find the best combo for you. Happy fishing!