Welcome to our Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combo for Beginners reviews!
Fish can easily outsmart you if you don’t have the right fishing gear. But, selecting the right equipment can be a bit daunting, especially for new anglers. So, I tested over 30 fishing combos on the market to find the 10 Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combos for Beginners.
I always suggest beginners to avoid spending a ton of money to get started. But that doesn’t mean you need to pick some cheap or flimsy gear. Most of the combos that made it to our top 10 list are affordable, without compromising on quality.
If you are in a hurry: Ugly Stik GX2 is the Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combo for Beginners.
- Ugly StikGX2 spinning rod
- 3 ball bearings plus one-way clutch instant anti-reverse bearing for...
- Machined double anodized aluminum spool with oversized bail wire for...
Last update on 2024-02-20 / Paid links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Now, let us move to our in-depth reviews.
Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combo for Beginners Reviews
Here is our list of the 10 Best Beginner Fishing Rods and Reels…
- Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Combo – Best Overall
- Plusinno Spinning Combo – Alternative/ Runner-Up
- Penn Fierce IV Spinning Combo – Premium Option
- FishOaky Spinning Fishing Combo – Budget Pick
- Wild Water Starter Fly Rod Combo – For Fly Fishing
- Okuma Tundra Spinning Combo – For Surf Fishing
- Penn Battle III Spinning Combo – For Saltwater
- Abu Garcia Max X Combo – For Baitcasting
- KastKing Centron Spinning Combo – Lightweight
- ShinePick Spinning Fishing Kit – Full Starter Kit
1. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Combo
The GX2 combo improves upon the original Ugly Stick spinning rod. So while you enjoy the heritage of the original Ugly Stik, you get an even better performance and reliability.
The Ugly Stik GX2 combo is available in several sizes. I suggest beginners pick the 6-foot 2 pc medium rod with 30 size reel. You will find this setup easy to use and maneuver yet versatile enough for most freshwater fish.
The sensitive and lightweight rod is made using graphite and fiberglass. You also get stainless steel guides on the rod for smoothness and durability. The EVA handle makes it comfortable to use the rod even over a long period. It gives you an excellent grip even in wet conditions.
The 4-bearing reel is very smooth and quiet. The anti-reverse bearing comes in handy when you’re handling larger fish. The powerful drag helps you win the fishing battles. The spool is aluminum but the rotor sub-assembly is plastic.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 is a durable, yet budget combo. It gives you a level of performance you would not expect from that price point. Best of all, it is easy to maintain, and cleaning it is a breeze.
2. Plusinno Spinning Combo
The Plusinno is another excellent choice for beginners. It has a fantastic market reputation. Just check any online marketplace and you will find hundreds of positive reviews. Yet it is so affordable that you will be hard-pressed to find a better spinning combo at this price.
It all comes neatly packed in a compact carrier bag. Inside this case, you will find a spinning rod, reel, hooks, lures, and fishing line. The full kit is carefully designed for new anglers, so they don’t need to worry about buying any other gear separately.
The fast-action rod is built with fiberglass and high-density carbon fiber. It is quite flexible, so you do not have to worry about the fish winning the fight. The corrosion-resistant reel seat is made with stainless steel. So you can use this reel and rod even in saltwater.
Plussino is a fantastic option if you are looking for a new spinning combo to get started. You get a lightweight and durable combo that you can use for a long time without getting tired. But the power drive gear gives you enough strength and control to land even a big fish with ease.
3. Penn Fierce IV Spinning Combo
I suggest new or novice fishermen avoid spending a ton of money when getting started. So most combos I have tested are under $100 while some are even under $50. Penn Fierce IV is the only premium option on our list. But I can say from all my experience that it’s great value.
The 7-foot rod is quite versatile due to its medium power and extra-fast action. Its graphite composite construction strikes the right balance between strength and sensitivity. You can feel even the subtlest of bites which helps you catch more fish than other rods.
The size 3000 fishing reel comes with 5 bearings and a 6.2:1 gear ratio. The front drag system with HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers provides a maximum drag of 15 pounds. I used this setup during my saltwater fishing trip to the Gulf Coast in Texas. It had enough backbone to pull in almost every other coastal species including red drums.
One standout feature of the reel is the live liner function. It allows the bait to swim naturally until a fish takes the bait, at which point you can switch to your normal drag to fight the fish. You will find it extremely handy when using live bait like crabs, shrimps, or mullets.
4. FishOaky Spinning Fishing Combo
FishOaky is a high-quality yet affordable option for beginners. The full fishing combo comes with a ton of gear including a rod, reel, line, fishing lures, hooks, and a lure box. You will love the range of lures, including artificial, octopus-shaped, and fluorescent baits.
I like that this FishOaky combo can hold its own even in challenging conditions. The carbon fiber and fiberglass construction makes the rod strong and durable. The reel is made using quality materials and machining.
The telescopic 5.9 ft rod is easy to pack and fits neatly into the carry case that comes with it. It has a corrosion-resistant hooded reel seat so you can use it in saltwater. The stainless steel guides with ceramic inserts make casting smoother and help you throw longer casts.
The spinning reel features an S-curve oscillation system that makes winding very easy. A large spool offers enough line capacity for most freshwater and smaller saltwater species. I love that FishOaky Rod and Reel Combo has everything you need for your first fishing trip. You don’t need to spend either time or money shopping for the gear separately.
5. Wild Water Starter Fly Rod Combo
Wild Water Starter Fly Rod Combo has everything you need to get started with fly fishing. You get a 5/6 weight fly rod, reel, floating line, flies, and an extra monofilament leader. You also get a line nipper, retractable zinger, knot-tying tool, and a fly box. It is a very convenient kit to have even if you have some experience.
I like that the 9-foot, four-piece rod is easy to disassemble, store, and transport. It is quite lightweight, coming in at only 5.7 ounces. Yet it is strong, sturdy, flexible, and durable. All thanks to the graphite composite material. You can easily pull in trout, small bass, and panfish, among others, without fear that it will break.
A diecast aluminum construction makes the fly reel lightweight. It features a disc drag system that you can adjust as you wish. It also has a quick-release spool that will make your fishing more fun. The large arbor reel comes pre-spooled with a weight forward size 5 fly line. Quite a nice touch, if I may say so.
The combo includes an instruction manual to help beginners get started. It contains useful tips on how to assemble and care for your equipment.
6. Okuma Tundra Spinning Combo
Okuma Tundra Spinning Combo comes with a 10ft medium-heavy surf fishing rod. Its fiberglass construction offers the durability needed to endure the wear and tear of the sandy beach environment. Thanks to the EVA foam fore and rear grips, I found it easy and comfortable to use even for long hours.
The large 80-size spinning reel can hold 260 yards of 25 lb test. I find the capacity enough for most surf and bay fishing scenarios. The reel came pre-spooled with a 25 lb mono, but I took it off and replaced it with a 20 lb braid. Monofilament lines have memory which increases the risk of forming birds’ nests.
I recently fished both the Chesapeake Bay and the ocean surf to test out the Okuma Tundra. I was throwing 3-4 oz bucktails and sinkers and the long rod helped me cast as far as 50 yards. There is only one ball bearing in the reel, but the casting and retrieving were smooth and balanced.
I won’t suggest you buy Okuma Tundra for catching 5-ft long game fish. But it is an excellent rod for catching species like flounder, pompano, or bluefish. You really can’t find a better surf fishing rod and reel for the price. I’ve already gotten my money out of it fishing the surf during my 5-day trip.
7. Penn Battle III Spinning Combo
Penn has a solid market reputation for saltwater fishing gear. It’s been on the market for over 75 years. So if you plan to fish in the saltwater, then the Penn Battle III is the ideal combo for you. It is the newer model in the Battle series that improves on the earlier Penn Battle II combo.
The rod is available in different lengths from 6’6″ to 10′. But I suggest beginners pick the 7-foot rod. You may find a longer rod difficult to handle when you are just getting started. Plus, the 2 pc graphite composite rod is compact and lightweight so you can pack and carry it with ease.
You also get a 4000-size spinning reel with a 6.2:1 gear ratio and an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system. The reel uses a full metal body and side plate for durability and 5+1 stainless steel bearings for smoothness. The reel has line capacity markings that let you know exactly how much of the line is off the spool. It is a nice feature for anglers who don’t yet have much experience.
You can use this Penn Battle III combo to catch small to medium-sized saltwater fish without any hassle. I have used it to land several striped bass, snapper, flounder, bluefish, and salmon over the last few trips.
8. Abu Garcia Max X Baitcast Combo
Abu Garcia is well known for the quality of their products. Their baitcasting gear is some of the best you can get on the market. Max X is the new and improved version of the extremely popular Black Max combo.
I love that the rod comes in three different sizes and power options. If you prefer bigger fish, go for the 7′ medium-heavy rod. But if you are still learning how to fish, then start with the 6’6″ medium power. What you get in the package is a 2 pc baitcasting rod and a casting reel pre-spooled with a 10lb test line.
Out of the box, you will find the rod is very light and sensitive due to the 24-ton graphite construction. The reel uses a one-piece graphite frame and graphite side plates. Four stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing make it smooth. You also get the power disc drag system that delivers up to 15 lbs of drag power.
Abu Garcia Max X is an excellent baitcasting combo for beginners. The full setup feels quite lightweight and well-balanced in hand. You can go for hours without feeling any strain due to the weight. Yet it is strong enough to help you land the fish with ease.
9. KastKing Centron Spinning Combo
With the KastKing Centron Spinning Combo, you get quality and durability. The rod uses a high-modulus carbon fiber graphite construction. The spinning reel comes with a graphite frame and an aluminum spool.
You have the option of different weights and sizes. You can pick one as per your skill level or the type of fishing you are going for. All the reels come with 9+1 Maxi-Dur ball bearings and a triple disc felt drag system. But you will get either a 4.5:1 or 5.2:1 gear ratio depending on the size you choose.
If you hope to catch fish like trout, crappie, panfish, or bluegill, go for the 6′ medium rod with a compact 2000-size reel. For smallmouths, largemouths, and walleyes, go for the 7′ rod with a 3000-size reel. The 8′ heavy rod with the large 5000-size reel is ideal for catching salmon, catfish, and steelheads.
KastKing has paid a lot of attention to the ease of use while designing this Centron combo. So it is an excellent option for beginners as well as anglers with some experience.
10. ShinePick Spinning Fishing Kit
ShinePick fishing kit comes with a rod, reel, line, lures, hooks, connectors, and a carrier bag. The rod is strong and sensitive as it is built with a carbon fiber composite. It feels quite light and well-balanced in hand. The ergonomic handle is comfortable, which means you can cast for longer.
The DS3000 spinning reel comes with precision-matched gears and a powerful 5.2:1 gear ratio. The 13+1 bearings make it very smooth. You will love the instant stop anti-reverse bearing when you hook a big fish.
The large anodized aluminum offers enough line capacity to load 125 yards of 20 lb mono line. Combined with a quality front drag, you don’t need to worry about powerful runs when you catch fish.
The full fishing kit is quite compact and lightweight. Yet it is strong and durable enough for saltwater use. It is great for beginners as you get everything you need. You can fit it into your vehicle, backpack, or boat. The carrier bag is especially helpful in such cases.
Types of Fishing Rods for Beginners
Spinning or casting rods work well for almost any type of fishing. But if you are fishing in icy water, you need a smaller rod about two feet in length. Specialty surf rods are excellent for fishing from a beach or a pier.
I hope you realize each type of rod is designed with specific techniques and conditions in mind. So the rod you need to buy depends on the kind of fishing you will be doing and the conditions. But I know there are as many options out there as the fish you aim to catch. Let me walk you through the different types of rods and their suitability for beginners.
I find spinning rods to be the most beginner-friendly as they are more forgiving than other rods. They’re affordable, easiest to use, and allow beginners to throw long accurate casts. The reel sits below the rod, so casting and managing line are relatively easier as well.
Spinning rods are also more versatile than most other type of rods. You can use them to target most small to medium-sized freshwater and saltwater species. Most telescopic rods are collapsible spinning rods.
Spincasting rods have a lot of similarities with spinning rods. But there are almost zero tangles and bird’s nests, so they are even easier to manage. Plus it is fun using the push button to release the line.
I love recommending the Zebco 33 Spincast Combo to beginners due to its affordability and simplicity. You can use it to catch many freshwater species like panfish and catfish.
Baitcasting poles come with a learning curve due to their revolving spool design. Casting a lure using a revolving spool is a bit more challenging. But once you master it, you get better casting distance, accuracy, and control.
Even though I like the accuracy and control, I don’t suggest baitcasting gear to beginners. But if you still want one, you can check out the only option on our list – Abu Garcia Max X Combo. You can use it to catch many larger freshwater species like bass, pike, and muskellunge.
Fly Fishing Rods
Fly fishing uses quite a unique technique where you need to use the line weight to cast an almost weightless fly. So the learning curve with fly rods is much steeper than with baitcasting or spinning rods.
While fly fishing is fun once you have mastered it, I don’t suggest any new fisherman start with a fly rod. That’s why we only have one option on our list – Wild Water Starter Fly Rod Combo. It is a great option not just for beginners, but even for experienced anglers.
Imagine dropping your lure or bait directly under your boat and then quickly lifting it up and letting it fall again in a sharp, jerking motion. This technique is known as jigging.
You’ll often see jigging rods described as having “fast” or “extra-fast” action. What this means is that the rod bends primarily at the tip or in the upper third of the blank. It allows you to impart that rapid, enticing movement to your lure or bait.
I suggest pairing a jigging rod with a reel that has a high line retrieval rate. Also, consider using a braid instead of monofilament. Braided lines don’t stretch as much, so you’ll have more control over your jig’s movement.
Ice Fishing Rods
While ice fishing, you don’t cast like other techniques, but just lower your bait or lure through a hole into the icy water. My preferred setup is placing a small jig or baited hook under a bobber and suspending it at the target depth.
Ice fishing requires you to feel even the subtle bites and nibbles in extremely cold conditions. So I suggest choosing a highly sensitive rod so you can feel even the slight nibbles. That’s why most ice fishing rods on the market are short (around 2ft-3ft long), strong, and sensitive.
How to Choose the Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
It is usual for experienced anglers to buy the gear separately. Some beginners also try to do the same. But as a novice, you may end up buying items you do not need or do not match with the rest of your fishing gear. So it makes more sense for a beginner to buy a combo as you get everything you need.
You don’t need to guess or worry about matching gear. It is even more cost-effective and convenient. They are so popular, that most top brands and manufacturers offer some kind of a combo to help beginners get started.
But you must still pick one among the many options on the market. So understanding different terms such as rod length, power, action, etc., can help you choose the right fishing rod and reel as per your specific needs.
Type of Fish
First, you must consider the type of fish you intend to catch before buying your first combo. Different species have distinct behaviors so anglers pick gear accordingly to up their chances of success.
But as an experienced angler who has helped many beginners, I suggest starting with an all-around choice. So look for a moderate action and medium power rod paired with a matching reel. This setup will let you target common freshwater species such as bass, trout, and panfish. The moderate action provides enough sensitivity and medium power gives you sufficient backbone.
Materials & Construction
I always ask beginners to carefully look at the materials and construction as they play an important role in the performance and durability of a rod.
Fiberglass rods are known for their durability. You will find it tough to break a fiberglass rod even if you try. They are also quite affordable. But they are less sensitive than graphite rods.
Graphite (or carbon fiber) rods are lightweight and sensitive. They offer the best performance but are also highly-priced. Graphite rods are popular among seasoned anglers due to their lightweight and sensitivity.
But for novice anglers looking for all-around options on a budget, I recommend composite rods. They use a blend of both fiberglass and graphite to offer a balance between sensitivity and durability.
I suggest most beginners choose a fishing rod in the 6′ to 7′ range. It gives you versatility yet it is easy enough to handle.
But here are some of my general guidelines you can use to pick a rod as per your specific style or conditions.
- Shorter rods (5′ to 6′) are ideal for fishing in tight spots or heavy cover as they provide better control and accuracy. But you can’t cast farther with short rods.
- Medium rods (6′ to 7’6″) are good all-around options for freshwater fishing. You can use them to fish from river banks, ramps, or small boats.
- Longer rods (7’6″ to 9″) help you cast farther. So you can use them for fishing in wide or open bodies such as big rivers or lakes. But beginners will find them difficult to handle or maneuver.
Rods over 9′ are ideal for surf fishing or targeting really large species. Again, I don’t recommend you start with such a specialized rod. You will find it easier to start with a short or medium rod and move up as you gain more experience.
Rod Power and Action
Power (or weight rating) refers to the amount of force required to bend the rod. It determines the rod’s strength and its ability to handle fish of different fish. You can usually find it denoted on the rod blank as ultralight, light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy, or extra-heavy.
Rod action describes how the rod flexes and where along the blank the rod bends. Again, you can normally find the action rating of a rod mentioned on its blank. It is categorized as slow, moderate, moderate-fast, fast, or extra-fast.
Many novice anglers prefer slow action rods as they are easiest to use. But due to low sensitivity, it can impact your ability to detect bites and you may end up without landing any fish. So I suggest you pick a medium-power rod with moderate or moderate-fact action to get started. It balances the sensitivity and strength to let you fight and land fish.
The reel body or frame houses all the internal parts. It comes in different materials such as plastic, graphite, aluminum, and stainless steel. But I suggest you pick one made with aluminum or graphite.
Graphite reels are lightweight yet sturdy. Aluminum reels are strong but slightly heavier. Both are corrosion-resistant. Look for a reel that balances the weight, durability, and price.
Selecting the right reel size depends on factors such as target species, and your fishing technique.
I suggest you start with a spinning reel in the 2000-3000 size range. You will find it lightweight enough for easy handling yet it will give you ample line capacity for panfish, trout, or small bass.
If you are planning to target small saltwater fish then you can pick a medium reel in the 4000-5000 range. But I will suggest you not pick any bigger size than this as those are ideal for targeting larger gamefish. You will find it hard to maneuver heavier reels and manage the line.
Ball bearings reduce friction between moving parts inside the reel. So you must check the ball bearings if you want a smooth, quiet, and vibration-free reel.
Generally, the more the bearings, the smoother a reel. But quality is equally important. A reel with fewer high-quality ball bearings may outperform one with several lower-grade ones. So look for one with at least four to six stainless-steel bearings.
The drag is critical as it allows you to control the resistance when you’re trying to tire the fish. So you must pick a reel with a smooth yet powerful drag system that can handle the fish you are planning to catch.
The two major types are rear and front drag systems. I suggest choosing reels equipped with front drag systems as they are easier to manage. You will also find it easy to make adjustments quickly while battling fish.
Most first-time anglers buy a rod and reel looking at just specs, brand, and price. They are often not aware of or choose to overlook the balance between them. But a poorly balanced setup can negatively impact your fishing experience. Whereas a well-balanced setup will reduce fatigue, improve your casting, and give you better control.
That’s why I recommend you pick a combo pre-matched by a reputed brand. But if you choose to buy your gear separately, then you can check the balance yourself.
- Step 1: Hold the fully assembled setup by the rod handle.
- Step 2: Adjust your grip until you find a comfortable position.
- Step 3: Check if it feels tip-heavy or butt-heavy. A balanced setup is slightly heavier toward the butt.
- Step 4: If it is heavier toward the tip, then try a heavier reel.
Many first-time buyers overlook the warranty but it can be a lifesaver – especially for beginners. So, I always suggest buying fishing gear that comes with a manufacturer’s warranty.
Most reputable brands tend to provide warranties ranging from one to five years. It not only gives you peace of mind but also helps you save money in case of a defect.
Like most things, high-end fishing gear is better than the lower-priced one. But with all my years of fishing and guiding experience, I can tell you don’t need to break the bank to get started. There are quality options available even at lower price points. You can pick any combo from our top 10 list and you will get reliable performance for an affordable price.
Most reputed and well-known brands offer reliable gear for novice anglers in the $50 to $100 price range. So you can get a decent set of equipment for developing your skills.
If you have some experience, then maybe you can look at mid-range combos ranging from $100 to $200. You will get upgraded gear with some more features and improved performance.
Ugly Stik GX2 is the Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combo for Beginners as per our reviews. It is affordable, durable, and easy to use, making it ideal for new anglers. But all the combos that made it to our final list are great. I have field-tested each one of them for hours so you can trust them to get the job done.
Plusinno is another great option that you can consider. But if you are looking for a full starter kit then you can go for FishOaky. Penn Fierce IV is a bit higher priced than the rest but it offers excellent value. It is the latest version in the Fierce line and improves on the extremely popular Penn Fierce III.
Wild Water is an excellent choice if you are looking for a fly fishing combo. Okuma Tundra comes with one of the top surf fishing rods. Penn Battle III is a great option for saltwater fishing or if you are looking to catch big fish.
Abu Garcia Max X is a top-rated yet affordable baitcasting option. But beginners find baitcasting rods a bit harder to cast than spinning rods. If you are looking for comfort, KastKing Centron comes with a lightweight rod. It is one of the easiest-to-use options on our list.
I hope you like our pick of the Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combo for Beginners. Feel free to contact us if you need more help picking the right combo as per your specific needs. Also, let me know if you have any questions regarding our selection or testing methodology. I am happy to answer all the questions that we get.