The 4 Best Rods for Trout Fishing

Published on 05/11/2023 · 7 min readWith trout season just around the corner, check out Fishing Expert Rachel R.'s top four trout rods that will have you getting bites on (almost) every cast!
Rachel Hannan, Fishing Expert
By Fishing Expert Rachel Hannan

Photo by Hunter Brumels

Picking out a new trout fishing rod can feel really daunting. Most trout anglers want the best bang for their buck, and why wouldn't they? Not everyone wants to or is able bust out their wallet to spend $300 on a rod (not including a reel). And here's a secret: just because something costs a lot doesn't always mean it's worth it. The best trout rod is the one that serves your specific needs.

Lots of options will "work" for most fish, and yes, that Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod will serve you fine. But let’s talk about some options that will treat you right, are high quality, and are worth the investment for any angler.

Do I need a specific rod for trout fishing?

Trout are fairly particular fish, with really good eyesight. Targeting them can much trickier than targeting bass. They tend to require a more finesse fishing approach with smaller sized tackle that needs to be presented directly in front of a fish's mouth. This is a big reason why fly fishing anglers love fishing for trout. That being said they're just as fun to catch on conventional fishing poles using small spoons or rooster tails! If you are in a clear water, shallow stream, you aren't going to want to take a longer rod like an 8-foot heavy action rod with you. Trout rods these days are smaller, lighter, but still have the strength of the bigger rods. This allows you to pack lighter, use lightweight line, but still hook and land those PBs, or personal best, that any trout angler will be after.

Best Rods for Under $100

1. Pflueger President Spinning Combo

I want to start off with a rod that is going to be a curveball for an ultralight trout-rod gear guide. It will be the only one like it and although it's not an ultralight, it is worth picking up. The President Spinning Combo is an awesome spinning rod. It is light, sensitive, durable, and very affordable. This is a two-piece rod so it easily breaks down for hiking, loading in your vehicle, and just packing around in general. It comes in various lengths, but my favorite is 6'5".

The split-grip cork handle adds more sensitivity to the rod, is very comfortable in the hand, and is super easy to cast. The reel that comes on this rod may be considered an "old model", but don't let that fool you! This is still, hands down, one of the best reels you can buy, without spending an arm and a leg. It is super smooth, with 10 bearing systems, a graphite body, and get this, it is even sealed. So if you happen to drop your rod in the water, fresh or salt, your reel will be nice and safe.

I have caught many fish with this particular combo, and it is always my go-to for anyone who wants the BEST rod for under $100.

2. Temple Fork Outfitters Trout-Panfish Rod

Next on my list is the Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) Trout-Panfish Rod. Now TFO may be low on the radar for us conventional fisherpeople, but let me tell you that you don't want to sleep on this company. They have been killing it in the fly-fishing world and are bringing their A-game to conventional fishing.

TFO designed this rod to be ultralight yet durable. Lightweight stainless-steel guides add strength but reduce weight, so you won't have added bulkiness to the rod. A custom skeleton reel seat allows your hand to touch the rod while holding it, adding to the sensitivity of the rod so you can feel even the smallest of bites.

This rod comes with a lifetime warranty, so if something happens, TFO has you covered. It’s perfect for clear high-mountain streams or even the lake, and makes all-day fishing and packing a piece of cake. This rod is only 3.6oz in the 7' model and 3.4oz in the 6'6'" model. It comes in both one and two pieces, so you get to choose which best fits your needs.

Best Rods for Over $100

3. Dobyns Sierra Trout and Panfish Series

Coming in hot, as of 2021, are the Dobyns Sierra Trout and Panfish Series rods. This company is really just blowing a lot of rods out of the water. This particular series has 12 models, ranging from 6'2" to 7'9"-length rods, that are great for avid anglers as well as beginners.

Dobyns noticed that a lot of trout fishers didn't have many options, and honestly, we really didn't—and boy did they rise to the challenge! With a dozen models to choose from, it almost feels like you are getting a custom rod without the specially-made price.

This rod, while more expensive than the other rods listed so far, is well worth the investment since you can fish with it for many years. The rods are made from high-modulus graphite rod blanks for a good, strong rod, Sea Guides XO guides, Fuji reel seat, Kevlar wrapping, Portugal cork with a split grip, and a solid carbon-tip section. All of these key features make this rod strong, but light.

These rods come in both one and two pieces. You can fish all day with this rod and not get sore, which puts them high on my radar this year.

4. St. Croix Trout Series

St. Croix has been making some updates to their Trout Series. In 2022, they released 12 updated models in different lengths and power. They have really been adding strength and durability while reducing the weight, making for a lightweight rod ranging from a mere 2.1oz to 3.6oz, depending on the model.

St. Croix adds some key features that really set them apart from the other rods, including SCII carbon fiber and SCVI reinforcements that give the rod strength and flex. This means that you can hook up to that five-pound trout without breaking your rod. The fortified resin system and two coats of flex-coat slow cure really add to the rod’s durability, without adding bulk to its weight.

New to the Trout Series are Sea Guide reel seats and stainless-steel guide rings. St. Croix really has added all the right pieces to make a light, durable rod. It’s also backed by a five-year warranty and is handcrafted in Fresnillo, Mexico. While this particular rod isn't currently in our circulation of inventory, we can totally help you snag this beautiful rod.

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide was helpful to you as I think these are some of the best trout fishing rods available. With trout season around the corner, I know that I'm not the only person wondering which rod to add to my arsenal, along with some lures and some fresh bait that will drive the rainbow trout crazy.

My Top Picks

Best ForModelPricePowerLength
Best Rod Under $100Pflueger President Spinning Combo$89.99Medium6'6"
Best Ultralight/Trout-Specific Rod Under $100Temple Fork Outfitters Trout-Panfish Rod$89.95Ultralight6'6" - 7"
Highest Quality Rod Over $100Dobyns Sierra Trout and Panfish Series$169.99Ultralight6'2" - 7'9"
Most Versatile/Most Size OptionsSt. Croix Trout Series$115.00Ultralight4'10" - 7"

If you pick any one of these rods listed above, just know that you will be getting great quality, lightweight, durable rods, no matter which rod you choose. Look for the key items that stand out to you, such as a one-piece rod, a two-piece rod, cork grip, fast action, slow action, and medium action. Tight lines!

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