No freshwater pole, or group of poles, can be perfect for everyone. The best choice closely matches an owner's ability, technique and the fish he's pursuing. Freshwater poles are classified as spinning, baitcasting, spincasting, fly and ice fishing, depending on use. Spinning rods are the most versatile and they're easier for beginners to master. Always evaluate a rod's length, weight, action, materials, construction and grip before making a buying decision.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik
The Ugly Stik is as good as it gets for an entry-level rod. As the sole survivor of Field & Stream magazine's break test, its graphite core and fiberglass construction withstood a 55-pound load. My Fishing Guide calls Ugly Stik one of the best and 100 combined reviewers at Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops give it high average scores. While heavier and less sensitive than pure graphite and exotic composite rods, its durability, overall performance and seven-year warranty make it an excellent value.
Okuma Guide Select
Okuma's Guide Select straddles the fence between bargain and high-end rods. Tackle Tour considers it a best value and Cali Fishing doesn't think you can do better for the money. There are also glowing reviews at Troutlet, including a user who landed a 22-pound Northern pike. With its pure graphite shaft and quality cork grip, the Guide Select delivers great sensitivity at an affordable price. Surprisingly strong yet lightweight, this rod comes with Okuma's limited lifetime warranty.
At the upper end of freshwater rod prices is the exceptionally sensitive, flexible and comfortable Cumara. It's hardly cheap but you'll pay a lot more to beat its performance. It's the top dog on Tackle Reviewer's Christmas list, a Tackle Tour best value winner and "as good or better" than rods costing twice as much, according to ABQ Sportfishing. The Cumara's lightweight graphite shaft has a carbon reel seat but its foam grip is a step below cork. Shimano stands behind the Cumara with a limited lifetime warranty.
If you do a lot of night fishing, you might consider adding a GlowStik to your collection. This unique rod has a perfect five-star rating at Bass Pro Shops, and Cabela's customers rate it a 4.8. Berkley's bargain-priced GlowStik lacks Ugly Stik's graphite core but its E-glass, fiberglass shaft absorbs light during the day and glows for hours after dark. When the natural glow fades you can switch on an LED lighting system and Berkley's stainless steel guides make it easy to feel bites in the dark.
Article Written By Dan Eash
Dan Eash began writing professionally in 1989, with articles in LaHabra's "Daily Star Progress" and the "Fullerton College Magazine." Since then, he's created scripts for doctor and dentist offices and published manuals, help files and a training video. His freelance efforts also include a book. Eash has a Fullerton College Associate of Arts in music/recording production and a Nova Institute multimedia production certificate.