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9 Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combo Buyers Choice

Written by James Schulz

Fishing is an enjoyable sport, but if you’ve never fished before, you might get intimidated by the amount of fishing gear you have to keep in mind.

After all, there’s not just one type of fishing reel and fishing rod that you use.

For example, you need to familiarize yourself with the many fishing reels available, such as spinning reels and baitcasting reels, among others.

Plus, there’s also the fishing rod. Anglers need to know the differences between spinning rods, baitcasting rods, and fly fishing rods.

That’s not to mention all the materials, properties, characteristics, and sizes you must consider.

Fishing might be ultimately enjoyable – but it sure is complex.

If you’re a complete beginner, the best thing to do would be to choose rod and reel combos to reduce the complexity of your buying decisions.

This comprehensive review will discuss the best fishing rod and reel combo you can buy for your specific needs to have a great reference when choosing your fishing gear.

At a Glance

9 Best Fishing Rod and Reel You Should Pick From

1) Best Overall: Abu Garcia MLF Baitcast Combo

Abu Garcia MLF Baitcast Combo.jpg

Abu Garcia is one of the tried and tested brands, and they reveal exactly why with the dynamic duo that they present with the Abu Garcia MLF Baitcast Combo.

Key Features

  • Length: 7′
  • Rod Material: 24-ton graphite
  • Power: Medium
  • Action: Moderate Fast
  • Reel Bearings: 4 + 1
  • Reel Gear Ratio: 6.4:1

Pros

  • Made for comfort
  • Highly cost-effective
  • Specialized rod handle grips
  • Dynamic look and style

Cons

  • The rod can be a bit fragile
  • Reel can suffer from brake problems

The Abu Garcia MLF baitcasting setup is our top pick for the best fishing rod and reel combo because it balances functionality, aesthetics, and price.

The most fantastic aspect is its price.

At more or less a hundred dollars, anglers can get access to a reliable piece of workhorse combo that’s particularly suited for bass fishing.

If you’re planning to take this best fishing rod and reel combo out for a spin, take it to fish some striped bass and see what it’s all about.

Of course, its construction doesn’t disappoint.

The rod is made with 24-ton carbon, making it light yet firm.

The fishing pole also features a great paint job that will stand out among other anglers while remaining protective of the inner material.

Best of all, bass anglers will love the rod’s split-type EVA handle is made with Abu Gracia’s polymer Dri-Tac grips.

This creates a good grip that can stay reliable even during inclement weather.

But the baitcasting reel is also a great feature of this rod.

With a one-piece graphite frame for sturdiness, graphite side plates, and a machined aluminum spool, this rod is sure to be sturdy yet not add too much weight to the rod.

It also has 4 + 1 stainless steel bearings, a MagTrak brake system ideal for baitcasting applications, dependable MagTrax brakes, and a PowerDisk adjustable disc drag with just the right amount of grip.

However, cons include a fragile rod tip that can easily break off, mainly because it’s only made of 20-ton carbon. Moreover, the reel brakes are also one of the trouble areas of this combo.

2) Second Best: PENN Warfare Star Drag Conventional Rod and Reel Combo

PENN Warfare Star Drag Conventional Rod and Reel Combo

Penn has long been known as a maker of high-quality, dependable rods, and they exemplify their expertise with the PENN Warfare Star Drag Conventional Rod and Reel Combo.

Key Features

  • Length: 7′
  • Material: Fiberglass blank
  • Power: Medium
  • Action: xx
  • Reel Bearings: xx
  • Reel Gear Ratio: 5.1:1

Pros

  • Tough and hardy blank
  • Competent reel setup
  • Able to handle large gamefish
  • Ideal for trolling or bottom fishing

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can rust if not maintained properly

If you want a heavy, workhorse rod ideal for trolling or battling monster fishes in the deep seas, then the Penn Warfare Star Drag Combo is for you.

The rod is made of a highly durable tubular fiberglass blank, with a responsive fiberglass tip that will battle the biggest catch.

It’s also strong enough for deep-sea fishing, bottom fishing, trolling, or even surf fishing.

This saltwater rod also features excellent components.

It comes with stainless steel guides fortified by aluminum oxide inserts to resist friction, making this rod ready for braided lines.

Its reel seat is made of high-performing graphite that perfectly fits its combo reel to keep it safe and secure.

Lastly, it also features an especially-made triangular foregrip for easier fishing maneuvers.

While the rod is high quality and inevitably heavy-duty, the reel also won’t back down.

The reel is made with a lightweight yet sturdy casing and a side plate of graphite.

It also features a machined aluminum spool, precision-machined brass and pinions, and especially-made carbon fiber drag washers.

This results in stellar, rugged performance ideal for when you want to triumph over big fish.

However, it does come at a price. For close to two hundred dollars, anglers who aren’t into fishing for the big games should look somewhere else for their combo.

The reel can also be damaged easily if you don’t properly take care of smaller components, like metal screws.

3) Best Fly Fishing Combo: Orvis Encounter Complete Fly Outfit

Orvis Encounter Complete Fly Outfit

Even among some anglers, you either love or hate fly fishing. Fortunately, if you’re using the Orvis Encounter Outfit, your decision will be helped along with the combo’s stellar performance.

Key Features

  • Length: 9′
  • Material: Graphite
  • Power: xx
  • Action: Medium
  • Reel Bearings:
  • Reel Gear Ratio: 5.1:1

Pros

  • Versatile startup combo
  • Excellent fly fishing reel quality
  • Very cost-effective yet high-quality
  • Comes with a sleek and sturdy rod tube
  • Reliable performance despite its segmentation

Cons

  • Not specialized in some fly fishing techniques

Whatever kind of freshwater fishing you do in fast-flowing streams or slow rivers, the Orvis Encounter is sure to serve whatever fly fishing technique you might use.

The rod is made of lightweight graphite and is very thin and light. It also has an impressive rod length at 9 feet, and typical of a fly fishing rod, this one can also be taken down into four pieces.

You might be alarmed over the size and width of this rod, but don’t worry – it’s made to be extremely sturdy, and the joinings won’t even budge.

Because of its thin width and high-quality building material also has a very responsive, medium-action tip.

The rod also features a contoured and comfortable cork grip for your convenience.

Lastly, it even comes with its professional-looking rod carrying tube.

These factors create a portable yet highly sensitive rod that can still wrestle with salmon and bigger bass.

Of course, the second half of this rod and reel combo is also an excellent addition to the setup.

Encased with lightweight yet sturdy graphite, the flywheel has a solid construction and very reliable bearings for better ease of use.

These create a highly versatile setup that you can use to fly fish anything, anywhere, at any level of difficulty.

However, some fly fishers might prefer something more specialized to their specific techniques in the trade.

With these rod and reel combos, being versatile and highly functional is the game.

4) Best Basics: Pflueger President and Bass Pro Shops Graphite Series Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Pflueger President and Bass Pro Shops Graphite Series Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

The Pflueger President has long been known as one of the fan favorites for spinning reels and paired together with Bass Pro Shop’s Granite Series rod; there’s nothing that this simple setup can’t do.

Key Features

  • Length: 6’6″
  • Material: IM-8 graphite
  • Power:  Medium
  • Action: xx
  • Reel Bearings: 9 + 1

Pros

  • Tested spinning reel
  • Cheap yet functional
  • A responsive and sensitive rod

Cons

  • Rod doesn’t have the same quality as the reel

The rod itself is made with IM-8 graphite. This means it’s made using very light material, but it can still create a decent strength for casting or fighting.

Moreover, the Bass Pro Shops rod also features excellent components.

For one, it has stainless steel guides and aluminum oxide inserts for added functionality when fishing with a braided line.

The rod also features graphite reel seats, and contoured cork handles to keep your hands happy as you feel the day away.

With decent line capacity and a versatile application for any kind of lure fishing technique, the Pfuelger President has stood by the test of time to be one of the most beginner-friendly, functional reels around.

The reel is made of all-metal construction: the main shaft, shields, and all of the reel’s other components are metal for increased durability.

Plus, the reel features nine stainless steel ball bearings plus an anti-reverse.

The higher the bearings, the smoother the action is going to be – with nine bearings and one anti-reverse, this reel moves like butter.

Overall, if you pair this kind of reel to an excellent rod such as Bass Pro Shops, you know that you’re getting the maximum value for your buck.

Although, like many items on the list here, the rod is the first one to break off in case of an emergency.

5) Best for Big Fish: Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Pflueger President and Bass Pro Shops Graphite Series Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Another one for your chance to bag that shot at glory, the Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Rod and Reel Combo is a highly functional rod and reel combo that can lead you to victory.

Key Features

  • Length: 7′
  • Material: Graphite and fiberglass
  • Power: Medium
  • Action: xx
  • Reel Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
  • Reel Size: ‎5000

Pros

  • Very cost-effective
  • Quality components
  • Sensitive and responsive
  • High rod power

Cons

  • Only 2-bearing reel
  • Not intended for saltwater use
  • Reel steel screws start to rust

Ugly Stik has always been known to make super durable rods for very accessible prices, and they bring that ideal once again with this Ugly Stik rod and reel combination.

Made of high-quality graphite and fiberglass, the Bigwater Spinning Rod is a highly powerful number, capable of wrestling big river game and deep-sea catch alike.

Typical of Ugly Stik, it provides a strong backbone while maintaining a responsive tip thanks to its Clear Tip design.

Plus, the rod’s components are also made to be tough.

This rod sports Ugly Tuff guide construction stainless steel guides made to meld into the rod to reduce chances of corrosion.

The principles are also made of one-piece, rolled-out stainless steel without any inserts, so it’s still smooth without having the risk of inserts popping out.

It also sports full EVA grips for unyielding comfort, fishing freshwater, or in the sea.

Ugly Stik’s Bigwater Spinning Reel is also an impressive offering.

With a complete graphite chassis and an aluminum spool, this 5000-size reel has got what it takes to tough it out, whether deep sea trolling or surf fishing.

This reel also employs instant anti-reverse for your fishing convenience, with oversized EVA knobs to keep you comfortable yet functional throughout your big day of fishing.

Best of all, it comes at a very accessible price.

At more or less $60, this rod and reel combo will bring you all the value that your money can get from a big fish setup.

Nevertheless, it does compromise quite a bit with the build quality of the reel.

For something that’s supposed to function for freshwater and saltwater fishing, you need to maintain and clean the revolution thoroughly because it will quickly rust.

Plus, this reel’s 2-bearing system can still be improved by a lot when it comes to performance smoothness.

6) Most Budget-friendly Combo: Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Ultra-light fishing is fun, functional, and cheap with the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod and Reel Combo.

Key Features

  • Length: 4’8″
  • Material: Graphite and fiberglass
  • Power: Ultra Light
  • Reel Gear Ratio: 5.2:1

Pros

  • Very cost-effective
  • Durable reel construction
  • Ugly Tuff guide construction
  • Highly sensitive yet durable blank

Cons

  • Reel has no wheel switch
  • Rod might be damaged during shipping

The Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod and Reel Combo is another Ugly Stik rod and reel combo for you to enjoy, but this time bringing this brand’s signature rigid construction to ultralight spinning rods.

Ugly Stik’s brand promises super-tough composite rods – and they don’t disappoint with this offering.

The GX2 spinning rod is made with their signature graphite and fiberglass combo, yielding a rod with plenty of backbone.

Made to have ultra-light power, this rod is also incredibly sensitive, and the added Clear Tip design on the rod tip makes it very responsive for small fish.

Its components are also excellent.

The rod is made with Ugly Tuff guides – durable stainless steel melded into the blank to create a durable one-piece guide design that lets the fishing line flow smoothly without the risk of inserts popping out.

The handles are also firm, made of full-size EVA for a sure grip and enduring comfort.

Ugly Stik calls this rod’s reel one of the “toughest in the market,” There might be some truth in that.

The GX2 reel is made to be strong indeed, with a three-bearing system and one instant anti-reverse for a smoother cast and retrieve.

It also features a double-anodized aluminum spool and an oversized bail wire for convenience.

This rod and reel combo will have what it takes, whether you’re boat fishing, skipping lures, or casting heavier lures.

One curious thing about this reel is that it doesn’t have any anti-reverse switch, so you’ll have to rely on its instant anti-reverse kicking in.

The rod might be durable in the water, but nicks and small bumps can easily damage this ultralight rod during shipping.

7) Best Baitcasting Combo: Lews American Hero Baitcast Combos

Lews American Hero Baitcast Combos

If you want to be ready for a laid-back, baitcasting adventure, the Lews American Hero Baitcast Combo series is ready right out of the box for you.

Key Features

  • Length: 7′
  • Material: IM6 graphite
  • Power: Medium-heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Reel Gear Ratio: 6.4:1

Pros

  • Premium-quality construction
  • Exposed blank reel seat design
  • Lightweight and sensitive, but strong
  • Adjustable magnetic cast control system

Cons

  • Not for beginners

If you’re looking for premium quality at an affordable price, you can find it in this functional baitcasting rod and reel combo.

This set comes with a rod made of IM-6 graphite, which means that it has layers of high-modulus graphite that give the rod its power.

Plus, at more or less a hundred dollars, it also sports premium components that just improve your fishing experience.

For one, it has solid guides with smooth, gunsmoke stainless steel inserts. While it may not be as challenging as Ugly Stik’s one-piece roled-out guides, it does come very close.

The rod also has a cushioned skeletal graphite reel seat that allows your gripping fingers to touch the blank directly for a more sensitive feel.

It also features a functional split-grip handle made with firm EVA foam for comfort while doing bait fishing techniques.

Lew’s patented No Foul hook keeper keeps your line safe from tangles when you’re not using it.

The reel is also made with some high-quality stuff.

It’s a smooth, 5-bearing double-shielded stainless steel system to ensure reliable reel action while being tough as nails.

The reel also features Lew’s own adjustable magnetic cast control system, Rulon drag system, solid brass components, and bowed aluminum reel handle for better ergonomics.

The reel’s gear ratio is also higher than beginner spinning rods.

However, beginning users won’t readily appreciate its features and distinct advantages.

Experienced anglers will be able to use this baitcasting combo well, but beginners may have to take some time to learn it.

8) Best Ice Fishing Combo: Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo

Ice fishing can be somewhat specialized, but you’ve got everything you need in the Ugly Stik Shakespeare GX2 Ice Fishing combo.

Key Features

  • Length: 30″
  • Material: Graphite plus fiberglass hybrid
  • Power: Medium heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Reel Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Reel Size: 500

Pros

  • Very cost-effective
  • High-quality components
  • Sensitive tip for deep jigging
  • Tough and durable no matter the weather

Cons

  • Only one ball bearing reel system

There’s no better deal in ice fishing combos than the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo.

Made with the signature strength that Ugly Stik prides itself in, this medium-heavy rod has a composite of fiberglass and graphite construction.

This creates the necessary strength for the rod to pull in even some heavy fish while having just the appropriate length for an excellent ice fishing rod.

The Clear Tip design also has great action and flexibility and a very responsive feel that will serve ice fishers well when dangling their bait.

The components are also of typical Ugly Stik quality.

It features one-piece Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides and a comfortable handle that won’t compromise your grip in the cold weather.

Its Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel partner is also a great addition to the combo.

The reel features a lightweight yet strong body, courtesy of its graphite construction.

It also has a well-made, cold-forged aluminum spool that will withstand whatever inclement weather you decide to fish in.

But, this quality design and functionality comes at a mere 30 dollars – quite a great steal for the amount of fishing you can do with this sturdy rod.

Though, the reel only has a one-bearing construction. While this is certainly decent enough for the price of this combo, it can also be much improved.

You might want to replace the reel once the bearing has worn out.

9) Most Portable Combo: Plusinno Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod with Reel

Plusinno Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod with ReelPlusinno Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod with Reel

If you want something that you can bring around without worrying about the significant and frankly annoying space that a long rod consumes, the Plussino Telescopic set is there to the rescue.

Key Features

  • Length: 8.86′
  • Material: Carbon fiber and fiberglass composite
  • Power: Medium
  • Action: xx
  • Reel Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Reel Size: xx

Pros

  • Telescopic portability
  • It comes with a kit bag
  • It comes in a complete set
  • Great for beginners and recreational fishers

Cons

  • Very top-heavy
  • Low-quality construction

If you want a simple rod that you can bring around everywhere, these telescopic graphite rods from Plusinno might be what you’re looking for.

This telescopic rod compresses to a much shorter size when you want to store it, and it even comes with a backpack with the rest of its fishing kit for better portability.

At the price it’s being offered, this reliable, complete fishing kit is something you can bring around with you anywhere without worrying about accidentally losing it.

However, it’s not the best rod or reel quality.

The top-heavy rod blank and components aren’t the best quality, although it’s sturdy and sensitive enough for everyday fishing.

For example, it’s not corrosion-resistant, so you need plenty of maintenance if you want to use it on saltwater fishing.

This is a rod that’s only suitable for beginners or if you want a cheap travel rod that you wouldn’t put through the wringer.

If you’re looking for better quality, or if you’re looking for something that will fight trophy fish, this is not a safe choice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to choose a rod and reel combo?

There are many different rod and reel combos, and you need to choose the one most suited for your needs. Thus, you first need to consider what kind of fishing you'd like to do and then decide on the level of quality you're willing to pay for.

What's the best rod and reel combo?

The best rod and reel combo should combine have the best rod and reel quality available for their offering price. In this case, the Abu Garcia MLF Baitcast Combo suits this category perfectly well.

What's the top rod and reel combo for ice fishing?

The Ugly Stik Shakespeare GX2 Ice Fishing combo has all the properties you'd want for the best fishing rod you need to have with you when ice fishing, all at a very accessible price.

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