7 Best Rod and Reel Combos + Buying Guide

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Having a good rod and reel combo is absolutely essential to being a successful angler, no matter what type of fish species you’re targeting. The right type of rod and reel will give you the best possible advantage for using the best possible lures, as well as landing any fish you do catch. If you’re looking for a new rod and reel combo, there are several factors you should take into consideration before making a purchase. 

With so many different brands, makes and models to choose from, it’s easy to be somewhat overwhelmed by the immense number of options that are currently on the market. When it comes to finding the overall best rod and reel combos for any type of fishing trip, there are several factors you’ll want to consider. 

We’ve researched most of the best brands in the fishing industry and compared their products with other top competitors to compile this article and list our picks for the 7 best rod and reel combos available this season. 

If you want to pick your rods and reels separately then please read our guide of the best spinning reels and best spinning rods.

7 Best Rod and Reel Combos

1. Penn Battle III Spinning Combo (Best Overall Rod and Reel Combo) 

Penn Battle III Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo , Black/Gold , 2500 Reel Size - 7' - Medium...
  • Full Metal Body and Sideplates
  • CNC Gear Technology
  • HT-100 Carbon Fiber Drag Washers

Penn has been at the top of the fishing industry for many decades and their products are known to be top notch. When it comes to finding a solid rod and reel combo that you can use to fish in virtually any type of environment, the Penn Battle III Spinning Combo is truly hard to beat. This rod and reel combo is designed with corrosion-resistant material that helps ensure you won’t damage the rod and reel by fishing in saltwater environments. 

The Battle III is also versatile enough to serve as a great rod and reel for freshwater fishing as well. You can purchase this combo with rod options that include a 6’6” length model all the way up to a 10’ version, which is more suitable for surf fishing and making extremely long casts. Penn also offers the Battle III rods in a one, two or three-piece model so you can select the one that’s right for you. 

The reel is just as flexible as it comes in a variety of sizes. These include a small 1000 size spinning reel and larger sizes in increments all the way up to a large 8000 size version that is ideal for going after bigger fish. In addition to these options, you also have the ability to select the exact rod power. 

The Penn Battle III rods are all either moderate, fast, or moderate-fast action rods, which makes them even more appealing as a good all-around fishing rod and reel combo for whatever species you want to catch. This combo is also priced at a level that most anglers can afford, making it a clear-cut favorite for anglers of all skill levels. 

Pros

  • Suitable for Saltwater – corrosion resistant material of construction
  • Flexible model sizes – 1000 to 8000
  • Flexible rod power and action
  • Made in USA

Cons

  • Nil

2. Shimano Caius Baitcasting Rod and Reel Combo (Best Baitcasting Rod and Reel Combo)

SHIMANO Rod & Reel Caius Casting Fishing Combo Freshwater, CIS150HGB w/6'10" MH 2pc
  • Reel: Super Free Spool eliminates friction on the spool shaft during the cast. A ball bearing...
  • Reel: VBS Brakes - uses centrifugal force rather than magnets to control the cast. When turned on,...
  • Rod: Aluminum oxide guides applicable for Monofilament, Fluorocarbon, and Braided lines

There’s little argument among anglers that Shimano is one of the best rod and reel manufacturers in the business. This is because the brand has been producing exceptional products for decades now and their customer service is also good. If you’re looking for a great baitcasting rod and reel combo that will function well in freshwater fishing environments, it’s tough to find one better than the Shimano Caius Baitcasting Combo. 

The Caius rods come in a 6’10” or 7’ version, which is ideal for bass fishing and going after virtually any other medium-sized species that you might find in any freshwater lake or river. These rods are medium-heavy power, which makes them a good choice for using a wide assortment of lures that include spinnerbaits, jigs, topwater lures, crankbaits and many more. 

The reel is just what you should expect from Shimano as it offers outstanding smoothness with a compact, lightweight low profile feel. The Caius baitcaster is built with a Super Free Spool, which gives you the ability to cast farther and retrieve your lure with a buttery-smooth feel. The reel is also designed with a 6-pin Variable Braking System that helps cut down on the potential that you might backlash your reel when using a variety of weights and lures. 

This one doesn’t have quite the amount of line capacity as others, but for the price, it’s certainly not a disappointment. The Shimano Caius is an outstanding baitcasting rod and reel combo that is lightweight and easy to use. 

Pros

  • 6 pin variable braking system eliminates backlash
  • Features Shimano’s superior technology

Cons

  • Lower line capacity than other options

3. Pflueger President Spinning Combo (Best Freshwater Rod and Reel Combo)

Pflueger President Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo (All Models & Sizes)
  • 10 Bearing System - Corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings
  • Braid Ready Spool - Allows braid to be tied directly to spool
  • Aluminum Handle - Aircraft grade aluminum, extreme durability

Pflueger is a brand that’s been around for nearly 150 years. They’re well-known among avid anglers as a company that designs and makes smooth reels that are more than durable enough to go after any type of freshwater fish you want to catch. Pflueger prides itself on making products that are highly dependable and the brand is constantly working to develop superior fishing rods and reels using new technology and proven methods. 

The Pflueger President Spinning Combo is an obvious choice for the best freshwater rod and reel combo as it is reasonably-priced and offers nearly anything you could want in a good spinning reel setup. It’s incredibly versatile and made to target fish by giving you a high sensitivity level. 

The President’s rod can be purchased in a wide variety of lengths that include sizes as short as 4’8” all the way up to 7’ long. Depending on what type of fish you typically like to catch, you can select a rod that’s just the right length. 

You’ll also be able to choose between light, medium, and ultralight power, which is ideal for freshwater fishing for small to medium-sized fish. These rods are also one or two-piece models that are made of IM-8 material, which delivers exceptional sensitivity, as well as strength.  

The Pflueger President Spinning Combo’s reel is likely its greatest asset. The reel sizes range from a 20, 25, 30 and 40 size model, which equates to these sizes being between 2000 and 4000. These reels feature a corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearing system with 10 bearings for added smoothness in both casting and retrieval. 

Pros

  • Proven model with years of historic performance
  • Extremely high performance with 10 ball bearings
  • Available in sizes from 2000 to 4000

Cons

  • Largest size reel is 4000 which might not be sufficient for some large saltwater species

4. Penn Conflict II Combo (Best Inshore Fishing Rod and Reel Combo)

PENN Conflict II Combo (1-Piece)
  • Saltwater spinning reel and fishing rod Combo delivers powerful performance ideal for inshore...
  • Rigid Resin RR30 body and rotor provide leverage without adding Excess bulk to your rod
  • Ht-100 carbon fiber drag System provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness

Penn is known for making rod and reel combos that are perfect for saltwater fishing. The Penn Conflict II Combo is our top choice when it comes to the best inshore fishing rod and reel combo you’ll find right now. These combos offer quite a bit of features that are all made to give you an extremely durable and functional surf combo that will allow you to catch anything from a flounder or even a bull redfish. 

The Conflict II Combo’s rod is 8’ long, which is ideal for inshore fishing. If you’re looking for a rod that’s longer or shorter, you’ll have to find a different option as Penn only makes these with an 8’ version. You do have the option to choose between a light, medium and medium-light power with these rods, which is great for catching flounder, mackerel, redfish and anything else you find in the inlets and along the coast. 

The Conflict II’s reel comes in a 2500, 3000, 4000 and 5000 model. These reels are designed with a front drag that has a maximum drag weight of 12 to 20 pounds. The CNC Gear technology and 7+1 sealed stainless steel ball bearing system give this one plenty of smoothness. The reels are also made with HT-100 Carbon Fiber drag washers to give you plenty of strength while still offering a smooth drag. 

The one thing about the Penn Conflict II that some anglers might be turned away by is the price. This one is a bit more expensive than some of the others that are also popular, but if you’re a serious saltwater angler who spends quite a bit of time pounding the banks and fishing around the coast, the Penn Conflict II Combo is a worthy investment that will perform better than most other options. 

Pros

  • Extremely durable surf rod and reel combo for inshore fishing
  • Smooth retrieve with 7+1 stainless ball bearings

Cons

  • More expensive than alternatives

5. Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo (Best Offshore Rod and Reel Combo) 

ON SALE $12.70 OFF
Penn SQL50LD3050C66 Squall Lever Drag (6-Feet 6-Inches)
  • Lightweight graphite frame and sideplates
  • Forged and machined aluminum spool with line capacity rings
  • Stainless-steel main and pinion gears

It’s certainly not our intention to load our list of the best rod and reel combos up with so many Penn products, but we would be remiss if we chose another option as our best offshore rod and reel combo. The Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo is a solid rod and reel that’s tough as nails and smooth as any other on the market. 

The Squall combo’s rods are available in lengths that include 6’, 6’6, and 7’ options. You can also select the right power that is ideal for the type of offshore fish you’re looking to catch as the options include medium, medium-heavy, and heavy power rods. As you might expect, these rods are all made of tubular fiberglass for optimal durability. 

The Squall’s reel options include a 30, 40, 50 and 60 size reels that are all made to be both lightweight and perfectly capable of dealing with powerful, hard-pulling fish. These reels are designed with Dura-Drag washers, which eliminate drag hesitation, making them ideal for tackling monster offshore species like tuna, grouper, cobia and others that are known for making the drag scream on most reels. 

The price is affordable compared to most of the premium quality conventional rod and reel combos you’ll find in the fishing industry today. The Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo is a do-it-all workhorse that you can use for trolling or bottom fishing. 

Pros

  • Workhouse design for trolling or bottom fishing
  • Can handle larger offshore fish species

Cons

  • Fiberglass rods can be relatively heavy

6. Daiwa BG Surf Combo (Best Surf Fishing Rod and Reel Combo)

Daiwa BG4000/802M BG Saltwater Pre-Mounted Spinning Combo, 8' Length, 2Piece Rod, 7 Bearings, Medium...
  • Product Type: Fishing Equipment
  • Package Weight - 0.839 kilograms
  • Country of Origin: China

Daiwa is a favorite brand for many saltwater anglers because they produce rods and reels that are reasonably-priced and made for certain experience and performance levels. The Daiwa BG Surf Combo is our favorite when it comes to the best surf fishing rod and reel combo. The BG Surf Combo is affordable enough for any serious surf fishing angler, but it offers a performance that you might expect to find in a more expensive option. 

Daiwa makes these rod and reel combos with a rod ranging in length from 7’ all the way up to 10’ long. If you’re looking for a one-piece rod that’s longer than 7’, you’ll have to find another option since Daiwa’s 8’, 9’, and 10’ version of the BG Surf Combo are all two-piece models. The rods are made with a carbon graphite blank material that allows you to get plenty of flexibility and power in your casts. 

The BG Surf reel is made with a 6+1 shielded ball bearing system, as well as a Digigear Ultra-Smooth retrieve for easy casting and reeling in your bait. The reel is made with an aircraft aluminum body that’s more than durable enough to land the largest saltwater species found along most shorelines. This reel also offers an aluminum spool and Twist Buster II line management system to ensure that you won’t have to deal with twists in the line as you reel in. 

The Daiwa BG Surf Combo comes with a comfortable EVA handle and more than enough line capacity depending on whether you want to use mono or braid. This combo is great for beginners, but can also function well for experienced surf anglers as well. 

Pros

  • Large range of rod lengths up to 10 feet long
  • Suitable for surf and saltwater with an aircraft aluminum body
  • Comfortable EVA handle

Cons

  • Surf fishing specific

7. Lew’s Laser Lite Speed Spin Combo (Best Ultralight Rod and Reel Combo) 

Lew's Fishing Laser Lite Speed Spin IM6 combo LLS7556L-1 Combos
  • Made in the U. S. A.
  • Four quality ball bearing system
  • Rugged, lightweight graphite body and skeletal rotor design

Lew’s is one of the top rod and reel manufactures in the fishing industry when it comes to freshwater fishing products. They are mostly known for producing exceptional baitcasting reels, but many anglers are thoroughly impressed with the company’s ultralight rod and reel combo. 

The Lew’s Laser Lite Speed Spin Combo is our top choice for ultralight combos as it offers an unprecedented amount of smoothness in both casting and retrieval that lets you get great distance with even the smallest lures. 

The Laser Lite rod is sold in 5’, 5’5”, 6’, 6’6”, and 7’ options that are all light or ultralight power. These rods are made using a super sensitive IM-6 light action graphite material that’s ideal for trout fishing, panfish and any other small species you want to target in freshwater lakes and rivers. 

The reel is the best part of this package as it is made to the same exceptional standards that Lew’s products are known for. The reel is designed based on a lightweight graphite skeletal body and 4-bearing graphite rotor that eliminates much of the excess weight you normally get with premium-quality reels. 

The rod and reel are both visually appealing with their sleek silver finish and blue accents. This rod is not only one that will out-perform many competing brands’ products. It’s also sold at a very reasonable price and is incredibly fun to fish with. 

Pros

  • Ultralight specs suited for trout and panfish
  • High standard of construction
  • Appealing visual design

Cons

  • Not suitable for larger fish species
  • Not available in heavy rod options
  • Designed for freshwater

Rod and Reel Combo Buyer’s Guide 

When it comes to purchasing a new rod and reel combo, there are a few factors you want to consider before you get started. Take these points into consideration and you’ll be able to select the rod and reel combo that will best suit your needs. 

Getting the Right Length

Choosing rod length is more than just buying the one that’s easier to transport or cast with. You should think about the type of fish you want to catch and consider whether the rod will offer enough durability to accomplish the task at hand. When looking at one, two, or three-piece rods, you should understand that a rod will be easier to carry from point A to B if you can break it down into pieces, but this also will limit its overall strength when fighting large fish. 

Understanding Rod Power and Action 

The difference between a rod’s power and action is something that confuses nearly every beginner or novice angler. A rod’s power refers to how much pressure it takes to bend the rod. A heavy rod is much harder to bend while a light rod is easier to flex. A good rule of thumb when it comes to rod power is to remember that a heavier rod is best for heavier fish. 

A rod’s action is much different, as it refers to the specific section of the blank where the rod will bend the most. A slow action rod will bend throughout the entire blank while a fast action rod will bend more toward the upper third of the rod. 

Slow action rods are better for short casts and smaller fish while a fast action rod is better for getting the most casting distance. These fast action rods are also well-suited for catching larger-sized fish as you have greater ability to control the fish when it’s in deep water. 

Which Rod Material is Best?

When it comes to the different types of rod materials you can choose from, each one offers its own advantages and disadvantages. For beginners, it’s usually best to stick with a fiberglass rod because they are more affordable and easier to control vs graphite. The downside to a fiberglass rod is the decreased sensitivity and the fact that they typically outweigh the much lighter graphite rods. 

Avid anglers usually opt for a graphite rod because it allows them to get much more sensitivity, which allows you to feel a fish bite more easily. They are not quite as strong and are more expensive, so be aware of your limitations with a graphite blank. 

The ideal choice for most anglers is a rod that’s made with a graphite and fiberglass blend. This obviously provides you with the best of both worlds as you’ll have plenty of sensitivity while also getting enough durability to handle any species of fish you want to catch. 

Last update on 2021-11-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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Donny Karr

Donny Karr is an avid outdoorsman and writer whose work has been featured in magazines and websites for nearly a decade. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the southeastern United States, as well as trout fishing in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. He enjoys keeping up with the latest news and gear items in the fishing industry and is always looking forward to his next outdoor adventure. Donny has written for Georgia Outdoor News, The Outdoor Trip, Man Can Outdoors, Global Fishing Reports, and Bassmaster.