Best Salmon Rods of 2021 – Buyer’s Guide Review

| Last Updated June 13, 2021

Several kinds of fish fall under the salmon species  and they’re all fun to catch and tasty to eat. If you’re new to salmon fishing or just want to treat yourself to a new rod, it’s a good idea to find one that is specifically designed for targeting the species.


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This article will give you some tips and tricks for catching this popular fish. 

Comparison of the Best Salmon Rods

  • Super sensitive
  • Best overall salmon rod on our list
  • Nice range of lengths to choose from
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  • Elegant, clean design
  • Ergonomically designed handles
  • Two-piece design is easy to travel with
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  • Rod and reel combination
  • Super durable construction
  • Best budget pick on our list
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  • Very durable
  • Best spinning rod on our favorites
  • Great selection of lengths and actions for salmon fishing
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  • Nice additional features
  • Best fly fishing rod on our list
  • A versatile range of rod lengths and actions
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How to Choose a Rod for Salmon Fishing  

Rods for salmon fishing should have some particular qualities in common that make them effective in targeting the species. When you head to your local sporting goods store or browse online, pay attention to the following:


A great salmon rod should sit between seven and ten feet in length. While your preference may differ depending on which technique you’re using, as a general rule, the longer the rod, the farther casting you can achieve. 

Weight and Balance

For most anglers, the lighter a rod is, the more comfortable it is on the hands and wrists. Lighter rods are also easier to travel with. Even if getting a lightweight rod isn’t possible, it is important that it is well balanced. It should feel evenly weighted in your hand, allowing for casting control and overall comfort.


Most mainstream fishing rods are made with graphite, fiberglass, or a combination of the two. Graphite is known for its sensitivity, while fiberglass gets praise for its strength. The easiest solution is to go for a composite, as it offers the best of both worlds. 

Review of the Best Salmon Rods

We’ve researched some of the best salmon rods on the market in terms of budget, usability, and quality. Here are some favorites that we came across:

Best Overall:
OKUMA Celilo Graphite Salmon/Steelhead Spinning Rods

Okuma Celilo Graphite Salmon/Steelhead Spinning Rods, CE-S-862Ma


  • Durable Construction
  • Super-Duper Sensitive
  • Easy and Smooth Casting
  • Made With High-Quality Materials
  • Very Lightweight and Easy to Transport


  • A Little Tough to Balance Correctly
  • Reel Seat Design Could Use Improvements
  • Cork Handle Can Get Sweaty During All-Day Use

What Recent Buyers Report

The majority of anglers that went for the Okuma Celilo rod had positive experiences when fishing for salmon. The main praise of this product is that it is super-lightweight and sensitive to the slightest of bites. Because it is so light, some users found it a little hard to balance with a proper reel. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This rod earns the top spot on our list for several reasons— firstly, the weight of the rod is incredible for sensitivity and it makes it a great product to travel with. Secondly, the quality of the materials used in the construction of this rod are top-of-the-line. It also doesn’t hurt that the lengths offer great casting ability.

Who Will Use This Most

This reel is a great choice for anglers who travel frequently, hike, or backpack to their favorite salmon fishing spots. The super lightweight design makes it easy to throw in a rod holder and head up the mountain. It’s also a good spinning rod for beginners, as it’s easy to use and not too expensive. 

What Could Be Improved and Why

Some users complained about the design of the reel seat, commenting that it is quite awkward and can get in the way. An improvement to that aspect would make the rod a little more comfortable for all-day use. A foam handle may also be an improvement, but that really depends on an angler’s preference. 

Bottom Line

The Okuma Celilo line of rods earns the top position on our list of favorites for good reason, it’s a great rod! The quality construction offers durability, ease of use, and great casting ability, which can’t be beaten when you’re up against salmon. Although there are some minor complaints from users, this rod is definitely not to be overlooked. 

X-11 Cork - Salmon & Steelhead Fishing Rod

Lamiglas LX106HC X-11 Series Rod, Black, LX106HC / 10'6' / Mod Fast / 15-30


  • Great Action
  • Very Sensitive
  • Graphite Blanks Offer Sensitivity
  • Versatile, Great for a Variety of Fishing Techniques
  • Large Range of Lengths and Actions to Select From


  • Line Guides Could Be Improved
  • Might Need to Be Oiled Before Use
  • Actions May Be Lighter Than Advertised

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who purchased the X-11 Salmon Rods praised the tool’s versatility and ability to be used for several different fishing techniques with ease. They were happy with the sensitivity and action, though some said the action was lighter than advertised. The main complaint surfaced with the design of the line guides.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The X-11 rods made it on our list because of their overall performance. The simplicity of this rod is beneficial to many anglers and it offers some great casting ability, along with quality construction. The full graphite blanks allow for the sensitivity needed to detect the slightest bites that can result in the perfect fish in your boat. 

Who Will Use This Most

Even though this particular line of rods was created for fishing salmon and steelheads, this rod is fairly versatile and can be used to target a wide range of fish species. This would be a good choice for freshwater anglers who need a rod that can handle a variety of fishing techniques. 

What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the issues that buyers reported with this rod is the design of the line guides, which was a minor annoyance for some and a bigger problem for others. Some said that the first line guide was way too small for their preference. This could be improved by a simple design alteration.

Bottom Line

The X-11 rods from Lamiglas are another great option for anglers looking to target salmon. Overall, this rod is simple, but effective. While it doesn’t have many special features and the line guide design could be improved, the base-line qualities are to be admired. 

Best for the Money:
Okuma Classic Pro GLT Dipsy Diver Rod

Okuma Salmon Trolling Rod/Reel Combo (7-Feet 2-Piece Rod Magda 20 Line Counter)


  • Sturdy Backbone
  • High-Quality Reel
  • Simple and Effective
  • Great for Pulling in Big Fish
  • Very Good Value for the Price


  • Not Very Versatile
  • Rod is a Little Stiff
  • Line Counter Has Some Issues

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers of this Okuma rod and reel combination had compliments to give to the rod’s sturdiness and effectiveness in pulling in large catches. They appreciated the value for the low price, but some had issues with the line counter, which they said wasn’t accurate or easily got stuck. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

We made a place for this Okuma rod and reel combo on our list because of its great value for anglers on a budget. Okuma is a trusted brand with high-quality standards and though the price of this combo is low, it still holds up to the company’s expectations.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a trolling rod and reel combination, so it is made for anglers with a boat to troll from. That means it’s not the most versatile for anglers who like switching between a bank and a boat, but it’s a good option for those who prefer offshore fishing. 

What Could Be Improved and Why

Two things that could use improvement are the line counter and the stiffness of the rod. The main complaint from users was about the line counter, whether it be defective or inaccurate. Also, the rod blanks are made from fiberglass, which is durable and strong, but also can cause the rod to be overly stiff. 

Bottom Line

In conclusion, we’d say that this Okuma salmon rod and reel combination is an incredible value for its low price point. With quality construction and durable materials, the rod is well-equipped to bring in big fish after fish while out on the water. 

Best Spinning Rod:
UglyStik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod (Salmon/Steelhead)

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Medium - 2pc


  • Simple Design
  • Really Good Action
  • Very Strong and Durable
  • Nicely-Designed Reel Seats
  • Graphite Composite Construction


  • A Little Heavy
  • Cork Handles Aren’t for Everyone
  • Guides Don’t Handle Braided Line Well

What Recent Buyers Report

UglyStik is a trusted brand among many anglers and the majority of buyers of this rod validated their reputation with this purchase. Those who made the purchase appreciate the strength of UglyStik construction and the simplicity of the design. The major complaint that arises with this brand has to do with the line guides.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Like many anglers, we also trust UglyStik’s construction and quality. We chose to put this particular rod on the list because of its strength and thoughtful design. Although it doesn't have a lot of frills, it is obviously well-crafted and sturdy, a great choice for salmon fishing.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a great choice for anglers who are new to the world of salmon fishing. It’s not expensive enough to break the bank, and the quality is still top-of-the-line, so it would be a reliable choice for a newbie. Of course, seasoned anglers also love these rods, too! 

What Could Be Improved and Why

One complaint that you see over and over again with UglyStik rods are issues with the poor line guides. They use “UglyTuff” stainless steel line guides, but many buyers say that they are not durable enough to handle braided line and can easily break down over time. Some users prefer to replace them with different line guides.

Bottom Line

UglyStik is a popular brand for a reason; they make great products at a great price. This spinning rod from the company is a reliable product that can help you pull in big and small salmon alike. If the line guides are a huge issue for you, replacing them with something more durable might make this your perfect rod. 

Best Fly Rod:
Piscifun Sword Graphite Fly Fishing Rod 4 Piece 9ft

Piscifun Graphite Fly Fishing Rod 4 Piece 8'6'- IM7 Carbon Fiber Blank - Accurate Placement - Ingenious Design - Chromed Guide and Durable Rod Tube 4wt


  • Well-Balanced
  • Smooth, Long Casts
  • Lightweight and Sensitive
  • Comes with a Convenient Carrying Tube
  • 4-Piece Design is Super Easy to Travel With


  • Aligning Dots are Off-Center
  • Rod Tips Could Be More Durable
  • Line Guides Could Be Slightly Larger
  • List Element
  • List Element

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers who have used the Piscifun Fly Fishing Rod had positive things to say about this rod’s balance and lightweight construction. People were satisfied with its smooth casting abilities but wished that the rod tips were more durable. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Piscifun Sword Rod earned a place on our favorites list because it is a high-quality rod that comes at a fairly low price. Fly fishing can be a little inaccessible to some because of the price of the gear associated with the technique and this particular rod is a great option for those on a budget. 

Who Will Use This Most

This is a fly fishing rod meant for hunting salmon. As mentioned above, we’d probably recommend this rig for anglers who are new to the sport of fly fishing who don’t want to break the bank in the process of trying it out or for anglers on a budget, in general.

What Could Be Improved and Why

There are some durability issues with the rod tip. This could be due to the four-piece construction, but also could be caused by the actual material that makes up the blanks. Nevertheless, this rod could definitely benefit from some structural enhancements to the rod tip. 

Bottom Line

Although this may not be the highest quality fly fishing rod on the market, it does its job well and comes at a very reasonable price. If you’re new to the world of fly fishing and want something to try out or need a backup rod, this might be the pick for you.

Best Rod and Reel Combo:
UglyStik Big Water Trolling Conventional Fishing Combo

Ugly Stik Bigwater Trolling Combo


  • Easy to Use
  • Strong Rod Blanks
  • Durable Construction
  • Powerful Drag System
  • Great Quality for the Price


  • Heavy
  • Not Versatile
  • The Reel Needs to Be Oiled Before Use

What Recent Buyers Report

As mentioned in the review above, UglyStik is a popular company in the angling world and users have high expectations for their products. Buyers were fairly satisfied with this powerful rod/reel combo from UglyStik, mainly praising its ability to pull in really big fish.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We love UglyStik, too! This combo made it on our list because it is super heavy-duty, a great option for fishing the toughest waters for the toughest fish. It holds up to UglyStik’s commitment to durability and strength, while staying fairly sensitive. 

Who Will Use This Most

This is a trolling reel, which means it loses some points for versatility, but this isn’t an issue if you have a boat that you plan to fish from. This is a good choice for anglers who need something that is pretty heavy-duty.  

What Could Be Improved and Why

One complaint that came up a few times from buyers is that the reel doesn’t come with a suitable amount of oil, so you may need to take it apart yourself and lube it up before use. This is a little annoying and would be a super easy improvement for UglyStik to make.

Bottom Line

Overall, this UglyStik combo is another really good rod/reel combination for anglers hunting salmon and steelheads. The construction is reliable and super durable, and there’s definitely no need to worry about your rod snapping with this product. 

Aspects to Consider Before Buying  

Now that you have a list of salmon rods to consider, it’s important to walk through some aspects that should still be mulled over. Before making your choice, think about the following:

Your Fishing Technique

You should definitely know what fishing style you’ll be practicing before purchasing a rod. Casting, spinning, fly fishing, etc. all have specified rods that work best for them. You wouldn’t want to buy a casting rod only to figure out that you should have bought a spinning rod. 


Although this might not be the first thing you think about, portability is an important aspect of a fishing rod, especially if you’re an avid hiker or backpacker. If you travel quite often to fish, you should consider getting a rod that is two pieces so it can break down into a smaller size, or perhaps purchase a telescopic rod

Your Budget

If you can’t afford to purchase a higher quality rod right at this moment, maybe wait and save up a bit before opting for the cheaper options. A great salmon rod is definitely a product worth investing in, and the higher quality rods will end up lasting much longer than a cheap alternative. 

Types of Salmon Rods  

There are a few different types of salmon rods that can do the trick for most anglers. They include:

Spinning Rods

Spinning salmon rods are rods built to accommodate spinning reels. The reel hangs below the rod and they tend to be lighter than other styles of fishing rods. This type of rod is very popular in the angling world, especially among beginner and intermediate anglers as they are super easy to use and very effective. 

Casting Rods

Casting rods are built to accommodate a baitcasting reel, which sits on top of the rod. This style of rod is usually reserved for the more advanced angler as the technique of baitcasting can be really tough to learn. This technique requires more manual operation. 

Fly Fishing Rods 

Fly rods are made for the technique of fly fishing. They are longer and more flexible than traditional fishing rods and the reel sits lower on the rod. Fly rods are very fun to use, but require quite a bit of skill to operate. 


When it comes to salmon rods, quality is key. If you choose a rod from our list or even if you decide to go down a different route, knowing the attributes a great salmon rod should have will lead you on a path to success. Happy fishing! 

People Also Ask

Salmon fishing can be a complicated process— Here are some questions that may come up:

What Weight Fly Rod for Salmon?

A good weight for a fly rod will fall between an eight and a nine weight. They allow you to throw heavier baits and handle a fight with a large fish. 

What Size Rod is Best for King Salmon?

King salmon is a large fish within the species, which requires quite a bit of strength to overpower. A good rod size for this fish would be between 9 wt and 11 wt. 

Can Any Rod Be Used for Salmon?

You can use nearly any rod for salmon, but some rods will perform better than others. The best bet would be to go for a spinning, fly rod, or a casting rod. 

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.