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The Best Fishing Rod and Reel

Updated Dec 11, 2022
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You could easily spend thousands on a fishing rod and reel, but most casual fishers (and even some experts) would be happier with something more versatile and less expensive. After interviewing experts and spending over 80 hours testing spinning rods and reels, we’ve determined that pairing the Ugly Stik GX2 rod with the Daiwa BG spinning reel makes the best all-around fishing outfit without breaking the bank. This combo compares favorably to outfits costing twice as much.

Ugly Stik GX2, does-it-all rod

Ugly Stik GX2

Does-it-all rod
This rod is known for its strength, durability, and versatility. It’s strong enough to handle salmon and other saltwater fish, but sensitive enough for trout.
We recommend
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel, well-built and affordable

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Well-built and affordable
In the Daiwa, you get a reel with build quality and durability comparable to those of models costing $200 or more.
We recommend
Shimano Saguaro, same price, less sturdy

Shimano Saguaro

Same price, less sturdy
This rod is a dependable workhorse, especially when casting heavier lures, but it may be too stiff for bait and bottom fishing.
Another good choice
Ugly Stik Elite, good for lure fishing

Ugly Stik Elite

Good for lure fishing
The Elite is a bit stiffer than the GX2 and typically costs $10 more, so it’s a great buy for lure fishers. But the GX2 is more versatile and cheaper.
A better upgrade

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