Best Salmon Fishing Rods

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Choosing a good salmon rod can be a difficult task. With the massive amount of rods there are in the market today, it’s no wonder people get confused and frustrated trying to find the best salmon fishing rod.

Thankfully, we’re here today with our list of the best salmon poles for you to choose from.

But hold up, before we dive right in, let us explain how we chose the correct rod and what we should be looking for in a good salmon rod.

The 11 Best Salmon Fishing Rods

1. KastKing Krome Salmon/Steelhead Fishing Rod

KastKing Krome Salmon/Steelhead Fishing Rod

KastKing is a relatively new player in the market which some of you might not have heard about. They are a Chinese company that focuses on producing top quality products.

The KastKing Krome is one of those products which combines strength with extreme sensitivity, something all fishermen can appreciate.

It boasts a 2-piece design and comes in 15 different casting as well as spinning models with many different ratings. Their longest model is a troll casting 12’0” medium-fast action rod with a line rating of 20-50lbs. Their longer models (10’6” and 12’) feature a high visibility ‘strike-tip’ which helps fishermen spot early strikes even in low light conditions.

The rod blank is made of Toray IM8 high carbon (the good stuff that is strong and sensitive) as well as silica resin wrappings for added strength and sensitivity.

Fuji guides and reel seats also ensure that corrosion does not set in and your reels will always sit securely no matter how tough the fishes are. You should never have to worry about component failure.

Something special about this rod is that it features carbon fiber handles. This is great for a few reasons, like the ease of cleaning and ease of use with a rod holder.

Pros
  • Full carbon construct for increased sensitivity
  • Many different variations and options to choose from
  • High visibility orange tip for longer models
  • Winner of Fish Alaska Magazine Editors Choice Award
  • Kevlar and nano resin wraps prevents rod from corrosion
  • 2 pieces for easier transportation
  • Looks great!
Cons
  • Carbon makes rods more brittle at the cost of higher sensitivity
  • Carbon fiber handles make the rod more slippery

2. Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod (Salmon/Steelhead)

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Fishing Rod (Salmon/Steelhead)

Ugly Stik has been around for a long time producing some of the best-entry level rods that are not just strong, but almost indestructible. They are essentially makers of one of the most durable rods in the market today.

The Elite series is no different from the usual rods that they usually make, strong, durable, and most importantly, almost indestructible (not kidding these things are incredibly durable).

It features, Ugly Stik Clear Tip design which gives the tip extra strength and added sensitivity, Ugly Tech Construction which combines fiberglass and graphite to create a strong and sensitive rod, and lastly Ugly Tuff one-piece stainless steel guides which are durable and corrosion-resistant.

The Elite (USESSP902MH) measures in at 9’ with a medium-heavy power and breaks into 2 pieces for ease of transportation. It also has a line rating of 10-20lbs with a medium-fast action. It also boasts 8 stainless steel guides as well as cork handles which ensure the best grip for any fisherman.

The Elite is not a special rod, to be honest, but that’s why we love it so much. It’s a simple and indestructible rod, which you never need to worry about.

Pros
  • Strong, durable, almost indestructible
  • Clear tip design prevents breaking
  • Stainless steel guides prevent corrosion
  • 9’ makes casting almost anything a breeze
  • 10-20lb rating ensures that setting the hook won’t be an issue
  • Great for beginners looking to buy a first rod
Cons
  • Tends to lack sensitivity compared to full carbon rods
  • Quality control issues seem rampant i.e bent guides and blanks etc.

3. Daiwa Acculite Salmon/Steelhead Spinning Rod

Daiwa Acculite Salmon/Steelhead Spinning Rod

Daiwa is a Japanese company that has been producing some of the best salmon and steelhead products for the fishing industry for years. It’s no surprise that a rod from them made this list today!

The Daiwa Acculite spinning rod is one of our favorites because it is a highly versatile rod. It features an IM-6 graphite carbon blank which makes it incredibly sensitive, enabling you to feel every small bump and bite. The cut-proof aluminum oxide guides help prevent corrosion while still ensuring smooth line movement through the entire rod. Rated at 8-20lbs, the rod can handle lures from 1/2 to 1 1/2oz lures which is quite an insane weight range. With a 2 piece construction, transporting it is easy!

It also features stainless steel reel seats and a hook keeper which makes for a strong and convenient rod! Natural cork grips also help to ensure that the rod never slips out of your hand. The Acculite also comes in 15 different models which are similar but cater to different needs.

Pros
  • Full carbon construct for increased sensitivity
  • 2 piece construction for portability
  • Aluminum oxide guides prevent corrosion
  • 8-20lb line rating, making it a very versatile rod
  • Stainless steel reel seats with hook keeper
  • Many models to choose from
Cons
  • Full carbon blank makes rod brittle, making it more susceptible to breaks
  • Cork handles tend to disintegrate after prolonged use

4. Okuma Celilo Graphite Salmon/Steelhead Spinning Rod

Okuma Celilo Graphite Salmon/Steelhead Spinning Rod for Salmon

Okuma is a Taiwanese company that has decades of experience. It strives to create the best fishing experience through quality products. Their range of products is usually for the intermediate to advanced fisherman.

One of our favorites in this series is the Okuma Celilo, with their full carbon graphite blanks, sensitivity is the name of their game. They are well-built tools that are not only affordable but also a very versatile series of rods that will fit almost any application you need them for, making it perfect for both beginners and advanced fishermen.

The Celilo series of rods come in quite a few options as well, from ultra-light (2-6lbs) to heavy (12-25lbs). It also features quite a few ‘must-haves’ for salmon rods, which include aluminum oxide guide inserts, stainless steel hooded reel seats, cork grips and a stainless steel hook keeper.

The Celilo series is recommended for beginner fishermen who want a good value for money fishing rod while not sacrificing quality.

Pros
  • Full carbon construct for increased sensitivity
  • 2 piece construction for portability
  • Aluminum oxide guides prevent corrosion
  • 8-20lb line rating, making it a very versatile rod
  • Stainless steel reel seats with hook keeper
  • Many models to choose from
Cons
  • Full carbon blank makes rod brittle, making it more susceptible to breaks
  • Cork handles tend to disintegrate after prolonged use

5. Berkley Buzz Ramsey Air Series Trolling Rod

Berkley Buzz Ramsey Air Series Trolling Rod for Salmons

Berkley is a company that probably needs no introduction, their products have been used by fishermen for a long time because they don’t scrimp on quality.

The Buzz Ramsey Air Series Trolling Rods are no exception. The first casting rod in this article, features a proprietary complex matrix composite construction which combines durability with strength.

Its double footed guides are titanium nitride coated zirconia inserts which boast extra durability when paired with braided lines. It also sports an exposed blank through reel seat with the iconic bait trigger design, with a rubberized shrink wrapped handle that will stand up to most rod holder abuse.

The Buzz Ramsey Air Series comes in both 1 and 2 piece options with line ratings of 8-12lbs to 20-65lbs! They also come in length options of 7’9” to 10’6”. However, this series focuses on rods that are medium to extra heavy, you might need to look at other options (like the ones mentioned above) if you’re looking for a lighter rated rod.

Pros
  • Composite construction for added strength and durability
  • Titanium nitride coated zirconia inserts help to give the guides longevity against the braided line
  • Rubberized shrink wrapped handle for added grip
  • Many options to choose from
  • Good intermediate rod
Cons
  • Heavier rated rods in this series can feel tip heavy

6. Kalex XR5 Rod – Spinning & Casting

Kalex XR5 Rod

The Kalex XR5 series boasts a very light weighted rod with both spinning and casting models. It features an extremely lightweight design that is built around a graphite blank (24-Ton high modulus) for enhanced casting accuracy and sensitivity.

The XR5 series also has stainless steel guides with titanium oxide inserts which helps to keep corrosion at bay if you intend to fish in saltwater while keeping line friction to a minimum. Its high-density EVA split grip handles enhance comfort while shedding unneeded excess weight.

The rods in this series are also surprisingly light for the price point and come in many options, which ensures that there’s a match for you. The shorter option i.e 6’6” MH, seems to be a little stiffer and might take a while to get used to, but once you’ve gotten used to it, casting is going to be a breeze!

To add, the XR5 series comes in both 1 and 2 piece models, making it even more versatile for fishermen who are looking for unparalleled sensitivity. 1 piece carbon fiber rods are known to be extremely sensitive and flexes very well due to the single-piece construction.

Pros
  • Full carbon construct for increased sensitivity
  • Stainless steel guides with titanium oxide inserts reduce line friction and increase corrosion resistance
  • Very lightweight
  • Comes in many options (Casting and spinning)
  • Comes in 1 piece or 2 piece options
  • Eva split grip makes for a comfortable fishing experience
Cons
  • Shorter rods in this series seem a little stiff
  • 1 piece designs are difficult to transport

7. Shimano Clarus 9’0 H Freshwater Salmon Steelhead Casting Rod

 Shimano Clarus 9’0

Shimano is probably the most well known Japanese company that produces some of the best fishing products in the world. The Shimano Clarus series is no exception, it is a well-built rod that is specially built for hunting salmon and steelhead alike.

Its 30 ton IM-8 graphite blanks combine strength with extreme durability, ensuring an excellent and worry-free fight with any fish! It’s grade A cork handles also do an amazing job at giving you the best possible grip, making sure that no matter the size of the fish, your rod is going to stay securely in your hands.

The 9’0 heavy casting model is meant for baitcasting only and is a very good rod, however, it might be more suited for trolling or jigging due to its extended butt length. It has a moderate tip action with a line poundage of 15-40lbs and with a lure rating of 1-6oz, which makes this rod very versatile. The 2 piece configuration also ensures ease of transportation.

Pros
  • Full carbon construct for increased sensitivity
  • Enhanced 30 ton IM-8 graphite blank for increased strength and durability
  • Best cork handles
  • 15-40lb line and -6oz lure rating makes it very versatile
Cons
  • More suited for trolling or jigging only
  • Wide range of line and lure rating reduces sensitivity

Related: Interested in baitcasting fishing? Check our article about best lines for baitcasters!


8. Cadence CR5 Spinning/Casting Rod

Cadence CR5

Cadence is a lesser-known brand that has been gaining traction recently, much like KastKing! Most of the products are good and also at a great price-point which makes them a good company to buy your first rod from. They also have a good selection so there’s definitely something for everyone.

The CR5 is one of the best beginner rods out there we’ve seen in a while, it is a product that is the culmination of passion and research. This series of rods are constructed with a 30-ton carbon matrix graphite blank which makes the rod very lightweight, sensitive, and durable.

Premium cork and EVA handles ensure a good grip on the rod in any scenario. The SiC guides with stainless steel frame help to reduce line friction especially with braided line.

What’s great about this rod is that it feels premium for the price point and can be used for both fresh and saltwater applications. High quality, durable, light, and sensitive, what more can you ask for in a budget rod?

Pros
  • Full carbon construct for increased sensitivity
  • Very light
  • Multiple options available
  • Cork and EVA handles
  • Feels premium for the price
Cons
  • Length can be quite short (Longest option is 7’0”)
  • Ultra-lightweight making it prone to cracks and breaks

9. Tica HLHB Alaska Salmon Steelhead Fishing Rod Series

Tica HLHB Alaska Salmon Steelhead Fishing Rod

Tica is originally a Taiwanese company that has been around for quite some time providing fishing products that are well built and very functional for a great price!

The Tica HLHB series is a relatively long series of rods, starting from 7’9” to 14’ in length. It is constructed of a high modulus flexible graphite making it very impact-resistant, ensuring that sudden bites from bigger fishes don’t snap your rod in half when fishing. It is also extremely light for its length.

It also features Fuji Hardloy ring guides which reduces braided line resistance while providing extra strength to the rod. This series also comes in a full range of models, making it a suitable selection for both boat and inland fishing.

The full cork handles with extra-long butt length ensures the best leverage and grip possible for any fish on the other end of the line.

Pros
  • Full carbon construct for increased sensitivity
  • Light for its length
  • Full cork handles
  • Graphite trigger for casting models
  • Extremely comfortable fishing experience due to longer butt length
  • Comes in 2 and 3 piece options for extreme portability
Cons
  • Fuji Hardloy guides tend to rust after some usage

10. Rigged & Ready Smuggler 7 – 7 Piece Travel Fishing Rod

Rigged & Ready Smuggler 7

Rigged and ready is an interesting company that takes the portability approach with most of its products. It’s a company that started out in England and is slowly gaining popularity with its rods all over the world.

The Smuggler 7 is a whopping 7 piece spinning rod that comes with an extra tip. The 2 configurations are regular and fast action, its base length coming in at 7’8” with the fast tip and 8’6 with the regular tip. The rod itself can be packed up into an ultra-portable package measuring a tiny 42cm and comes with an extremely durable Cordura case that can be hand-carried onto planes.

What’s more special about this rod is that the main body of the rod is made of premium quality nano-carbon whilst both tips are made with a strong and solid fiberglass material. It also has a graphite reel seat, with EVA handles.

Pros
  • Extremely portable 7 piece design
  • Extra tips with different strength
  • Cordura case
  • Strong break resistant tips
  • Quality material
Cons
  • Multiple joints and fiberglass reduce sensitivity
  • Only spinning model

11. Pflueger President Spinning Combo

Pflueger President Spinning Combo

The last series of rods in this article comes from a well-known company that originates from the USA called Pflueger.

The Pflueger President series is a spinning rod and reel combo that makes a great addition to any fisherman’s arsenal. The rod is made of an IM-8 blank which makes it extremely sensitive with stainless steel guides that offer corrosion-resistance.

The President spinning reel features a braid ready spool with a 10 bearing system that has stainless steel ball bearings which are also corrosion-resistant. Its sealed drag system ensures that the reel is always smooth and lubricated with an anti-reverse system.

This combo is also great for beginners who aren’t sure what they should be purchasing. For salmon and steelhead, we’d recommend going for the 40 Medium 7’ option.

Pros
  • Most beginner-friendly
  • Many options available
  • Comes with a decent reel
  • Full carbon construct increasing sensitivity
Cons
  • Most options come with 1 piece rod which is less portable than a 2 piece rod
  • Options can be quite short

Best Salmon Fishing Rod Buying Guide

Length

The length of a good salmon (or steelhead) rod should be no longer than 10ft. This is because the longer your rod gets, the more cumbersome it will be to handle it.

A good rule of thumb is to get a rod that is just slightly longer (about 1ft) in length than your height. This length makes the rod more versatile as you would then be able to use it both on boats and land. Can you imagine using an 11ft or longer rod on a boat and how cumbersome that would be?

Application

Knowing how you intend to fish is also an important factor in choosing a good salmon steelhead rod. Because, boat rods and rods that are meant for inland fishing have slight differences in terms of length and line poundage.

That said, you could also get a rod that is slightly in between that you could use for both purposes.

Strength

We all know a big salmon is what all salmon fishermen are after. Both salmon and steelhead are relatively large and strong predatory fish.

When choosing a rod, we need to know that it can handle the feel of a smaller fish bite as well as the fight of a much larger fish.

Both salmon and steelhead have relatively tough jaws, therefore it is important to have a slightly stiffer rod so that we can set hooks easier.

trout fishing with fly reel

What kind of rod do you use for salmon fishing?

Most fishermen tend to go with a slightly longer 7-10 ft rod paired with a 20-30lb line. This is on the presumption that you are hunting for slightly larger fish like chinook for example, which tend to get rather large.

A longer rod will enable you to cast further distances and a slightly stronger line will ensure that you land the fish. Of course, this also is dependent on the skill and preference of the fisherman.

Generally, salmon rods tend to be rather stiff with a medium to fast action to handle the strength of a large salmon whilst still being able to impart the correct action on the lure you intend to use.

What we recommend – 9ft Medium-heavy carbon rod with a fast action tip paired with a 20lb braided line.

What is the best salmon rod?

Truth is, there is no ‘best salmon rod’. The best rod is always the one that catches the fish.

However, the best salmon rods we’ve used always have a few defining characteristics, lightweight, easy to use, comfortable, and lastly, sensitive.

Usually, well-known rod manufacturers have a certain ‘formula’ when it comes to creating the best salmon or steelhead rods. These rods usually come with a premium price tag that throws most fishermen off, which is why we’ve written this article to hopefully help you choose something more within your budget whilst still being an excellent choice.

How long should a salmon rod be?

Like what we mentioned above, most salmon or steelhead rods tend to be within the 7-10ft range. However, this does depend on the application as well as the preference of the fisherman.

For example, a shorter rod might be easier and more comfortable choice to go with on a boat, whilst a longer rod would be easier to handle on land as compared to a boat.

Our general rule of thumb is to have a rod that is roughly 1ft longer than your height if you are unsure.

Of course, this is just a rule of thumb and you can go with a longer or shorter rod of your preference. The most important rule is that the rod is comfortable for you!

Conclusion

Choosing a rod is usually not an easy task, and we get that! But don’t worry, always remember to be patient and do your research and you’ll find a rod that fits you.

Sometimes even the best rods don’t catch fish, what’s more important is that you have fun choosing the rod and have even more fun testing out its capabilities. Fishing truly is a journey to be enjoyed!

Thanks for reading this article. We hope that we’ve given you some helpful insights to help you buy your next rod!

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