How To Pick The Best Saltwater Rods

How To Pick The Best Saltwater Rods

When it comes to choosing the next rod for your arsenal, you have thousands of options. The selection process can be overwhelming, but there are a few necessary features that you need to understand before you make your selection.

Types of Saltwater Rods

Before you make your rod selection, you need to have an idea of what type of fishing you’ll be doing.

Surf Rods

Surf rods are the long rods you see lined along coastal beaches. They’re generally between 10 and 14 feet long. The added length is helpful in casting bait and lures past the breakers in the ocean.

Surf rods are going to be found with heavy or medium action and need to be equipped with extremely large spinning reels. They’re sensitive, but also powerful enough to handle any sort of fish you may hook up to in the ocean.

Surf fishing is an absolute blast and a great way to be introduced to the world of saltwater fishing.

Offshore Rods

how to clean your fishing gear

Offshore rods are short and mighty. They’re generally found between 6 and 8 feet long with large diameters. These are used to handle marlin, tuna, swordfish and grouper.

Everything about these rods is powerful. The guides, tips and handles are all created to withstand any sort of move a fish might pull. Some guides even have small rollers in them to make sure that the added friction doesn’t cause the line to snap.

These rods are most often paired with trolling or baitcasting reels.

Dock Rods


Dock rods are going to be your most versatile saltwater rod. You can fish these in the flats, the mangroves and off any sort of pier. They have slower action that allows anglers a bit more rigidity and flexibility in their fishing.

Dock rods are only around 6 to 8 feet long which makes casting a bit more difficult. You won’t be able to cast as far with these rods and accuracy is slightly tougher to master. If you are looking to do some basic saltwater fishing off of piers or bridges, use a dock rod. 


Once you know the type of fishing you’ll be doing, you need to determine how much sensitivity and power you’re going to need. Manufacturers pack these features into what is called the “action”.


If you’re going to be fishing with heavy baits and targeting larger fish, you’ll want faster action. A light action rod doesn’t need much pressure for it to bend and it will bend all the way to the rod handle. You’ll achieve solid hooksets and use the full power of the rod.


A medium action rod is great if you want to cast far distances, use live bait and smaller lures. This rod doesn’t have as much power as a fast action and is great for fish like Mackerel. These are better to use in shallower water. Medium action rods are a bit more sensitive and can easily handle light tackle.


Heavy action is found on ultralight rods. These are great for smaller saltwater fish. You’ll receive the ultimate sensitivity, but not as much power. Ultralight tackle always leads to entertaining fights with any sort of fish you catch.


The next step in purchasing a saltwater rod is deciding what type of material you would like it to be made with.


Fiberglass is going to be your most common choice when it comes to saltwater rods. It’s extremely strong, is known to last and can handle almost any type of fish you throw its way. This rod can easily withstand the saltwater and has no risk of corroding.

The only downside of fiberglass is that it’s going to be heavy. The extra weight can make it difficult to determine whether or not you’re getting a bite. There are days when the fish are barely touching your bait and a fiberglass rod isn’t always going to be sensitive enough to pick up on the nibbles.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with fiberglass and saltwater. It’s worked for years, so there’s no need to doubt it now!


What fiberglass lacks in sensitivity, graphite rods make up for and then some. Most ultralight setups are made out of graphite. You feel every move the fish makes in graphite rods resulting in a much more entertaining fight.

If you know you’ll be targeting lighter fish and want to improve your fighting skills, graphite rods are a great choice. It’s important to remember to be careful with them. These rods are brittle and can snap if the fish puts too much wear and tear on these rods.

Also, you need to be careful in how you store them. They can nick and crack if handled without care. The more nicks and cracks that are put into the rod, the more of a chance it has of breaking.


Composite is the new kid on the block when it comes to rod material. They’re created with the best features of fiberglass and graphite in mind. Manufacturer’s pack the power and durability that fiberglass has and the sensitivity of graphite rods all into one.

You can find ultralight composite rods as well as deep sea composite rods equipped to handle 150 pound test. They’re going to be more pricey than fiberglass or graphite rods, but the peace of mind is always worth the money.

It’s smart to hop on the composite rod bandwagon. They’re well worth the money and awesome rods for saltwater.


Once you have your rod selected, you’ll need to pair it with a reel that matches with the size, design and power of the rod.

The first thing to understand are the numbers listed on the reel. If it says 10/150 it means that it is equipped for 150 yards of 10 pound test. These numbers obviously vary based on what reel you purchase.

Next, you need to understand the different types of reels.


Spinning reels are the most basic and common reels available. They’re easy to use, fairly durable and affordable. Plus, they can cast a long distance and are great to use when surf and dock fishing. These are best paired with lighter lures.

You’ll mount these reels below the rod and can be found in right and left handed options.


These reels are mounted above the rods. They’re great for accurate casts, heavy line and can be used for inshore and offshore fishing. If you’re casting heavier baits and predicting large fish, baitcasting reels are the option for you.

They’re prepared to handle large fights and cast long distances!


Conventional reels are trolling or offshore reels. They’re extremely durable, heavy and are prepared to fight with massive fish. Plus, these reels are equipped with clicker alarms that alert anglers if anything takes their bait.

These are necessary if you’re targeting fish like marlin, grouper, tuna and swordfish.

Rod Care

The final thing to remember with any of your rod and reel arsenal is that you need to clean it and care for it. These setups take a lot of abuse and without the proper cleaning, you will go through more gear than your bank account would like.

Check out this article to learn more about how to properly care for your saltwater gear.

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