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Best Ultralight Fishing Rods (for ALL Anglers)

Mark Armstrong
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If Mother Nature ever took up fishing, we bet she’d choose ultralight.

Glide with the breeze, feel the river’s heartbeat, and embrace the delicate dance of light tackle fishing.

Whether you’re pursuing panfish in serene lakes or finesse fishing in tricky spots, the best ultralight rods are your ticket to success.

Want to cut to the chase? The best one is the G. Loomis Trout Series rod because it’s tough and has a high level of sensitivity to catch even the most skittish fish.

Quick Look: Ultralight Fishing Rods

Top 9 Best Ultralight Spinning Rods

1: G. Loomis Trout Series Ultralight Spinning Rod (best overall)

G.Loomis Trout Series Spinning RodPin
  • Length: 5 ft. 8 in.
  • Line weight: 2 to 6 pounds
  • Materials: Carbon fiber blend with cork handle and Alconite guides
  • Pieces: 2

The G. Loomis Trout Series is an ultralight spinning rod that’s designed specifically for trout fishing. This is one of the most sensitive rods out there. But it doesn’t come cheap.

Featuring tough carbon fiber construction and a lightweight cork handle, this is a quality fishing rod. It also has Fuji single-foot Alconite guides to prevent line snagging.

This moderate fast action rod is designed to work best with four-pound line and small lures.

This can be an ideal choice for fishing for trout and panfish in small streams and backcountry creeks. It also has a decent casting distance, letting you get your lures to the fish hiding on the other side.


  • Incredibly sensitive
  • Great for trout fishing
  • Allows for longer casts


  • Expensive

2: St. Croix Premier (best for small bodies of water)

St. Croix PremierPin
  • Length: 5 ft. 6 in.
  • Line weight: 2 to 6 pounds
  • Materials: SCII carbon with aluminum-oxide guides and cork handle
  • Pieces: 1

The St. Croix Premier is an ultralight fishing rod with a highly sensitive tip to detect even the most subtle bites. However, it’s not the most durable and may not be the best choice for large fish.

This is a one-piece rod that can be more difficult to transport than two-piece rods but it’s relatively short. This makes it a great option for targeting panfish and bass in smaller bodies of water, such as ponds and creeks.

This fishing rod features a carbon blank, Fuji DPS reel seat, and tough aluminum-oxide guides. Another great feature of this American-made ultralight rod is the Kigan hook-keeper. This can help to protect your rod from damage by securing the hook during transportation.


  • Made in the USA
  • Kigan hook-keeper
  • Very sensitive tip


  • Not the most durable

3: Okuma Celilo Ultralight Fishing Rod (best for surf fishing)

Okuma Celilo Ultralight Fishing Rod Pin
  • Length: 6 ft. 6 in.
  • Line weight: 2 to 6 pounds
  • Materials: graphite with aluminum-oxide guides and cork handle
  • Pieces: 1

The Okuma Celilo is a durable ultralight rod that’s a good choice if you’re after versatility. This can be an ideal ultralight fishing rod for surf fishing, for example for panfish. But it can also be used for freshwater fishing.

The Okuma Celilo features a durable graphite blank with strong aluminum-oxide guides. However, the split grip cork handle is not the most comfortable to hold.

Another nice feature is the stainless steel hook keeper, which can let you keep your hook or lure secure during storage and transportation.


  • Sturdy, durable blank
  • Quality components
  • Versatile ultralight rod


  • Handle is not the most comfortable

4: St. Croix Triumph (best value ultralight rod)

  • Length: 5 ft.
  • Line weight: 2 to 6 pounds
  • Materials: carbon fiber with aluminum-oxide guides and cork handle
  • Pieces: 1

The St. Croix Triumph is similar in style to the St. Croix Premier but with a slightly lower price tag. This one is an ultralight fishing rod with a moderate action, rather than fast action, making it a great choice for fishing in small waters with crankbaits or other moving lures. 

The rod features carbon construction with a Fortified Resin System for added strength and durability, which can be useful when targeting bigger fish.

The contoured cork handle is easy and comfortable to hold, allowing for maximum grip and control. This ultralight one-piece rod is not as sensitive as some of the others, so you may not be able to sense light bites as easily.


  • Durable construction
  • Comfortable handle
  • Ideal for moving baits


  • Not as sensitive as others

5: Ugly Stik Elite (best budget rod)

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning RodPin
  • Length: 7 ft.
  • Line weight: 2 to 6 pounds
  • Materials: graphite and fiberglass with stainless steel guides and cork handle
  • Pieces: 2

The Ugly Stik Elite is a budget-friendly ultralight fishing rod that comes in two pieces for ease of use. This is a very tough and durable rod that can be great for beginners. But it’s not as light as some of the other more expensive rods.

This Ugly Stik Elite is a moderate fast action rod with Ugly Stik Clear Tip design for increased sensitivity. It features a lightweight cork handle with an exposed blank reel seat and Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides for corrosion resistance.

This is a good length to accommodate longer casts and it can be a good choice for targeting trout or panfish.


  • Very durable
  • Budget friendly
  • Great for beginners


  • Not as lightweight as some others

6: Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod

Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod
  • Length: 5 ft.
  • Line weight: 2 to 6 pounds
  • Materials: graphite composite with stainless steel guides and cork handle
  • Pieces: 1

The Shakespeare Micro is another budget-friendly rod that can be a good choice for new anglers or kids and anyone trying out fishing with ultralight gear. However, this is not for catching big fish. This can be best suited to fishing for small fish, such as bluegill or small trout.

This is one of the lowest-priced budget rods out there. It’s not the lightest of rods because of its composite graphite construction. But its short length can make it an ideal addition to your fishing gear, especially for kayak anglers.

This is a basic rod but it does the job. If you’re looking for an ultralight rod that’s going to stand the test of time, this is probably not it.


  • Budget ultralight rod
  • Great for kayak fishing
  • Ideal for beginners and kids


  • Not very durable

7: Temple Fork Outfitters Trout Panfish Ultralight Rod

Temple Fork Outfitters Trout Panfish Ultralight RodPin
  • Length: 6 ft.
  • Line weight: 2 to 6 pounds
  • Materials: carbon fiber with stainless steel guides and cork handle
  • Pieces: 1

The Temple Fork Outfitters Trout and Panfish rod is a quality fishing rod that’s built for targeting small panfish and trout. These rods come in a range of lengths to suit your fishing style. And some come in both one and two piece options.

The cork handle features a split grip and a reel seat designed to minimize weight. However, the style of the cork grip handle isn’t the most comfortable to hold.

This rod is sensitive enough to feel subtle bites from small or timid fish. It’s a fantastic rod for panfish and trout but it can also be a good bass fishing rod.

The stainless steel guides add durability and keep your line smooth, preventing tangles. 


  • Good sensitivity
  • Great for bass and trout
  • Variety of lengths available


  • Cork grips aren’t the most comfortable

8: KastKing Perigee II Ultralight Rod

KastKing Perigee II Fishing RodPin
  • Length: 6 ft.
  • Line weight: 2 to 6 pounds
  • Materials: carbon fiber with Fuji O Ring guides and EVA handle
  • Pieces: 2

The KastKing Perigee II is a moderate fast action two piece ultralight rod that’s made for durability and versatility, with an affordable price tag. It can be an ideal choice for both freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing, with corrosion-resistant components.

The EVA grips on the handle are comfortable and durable. And the carbon fiber blank is designed to offer a combination of strength and sensitivity.

This ultralight fishing rod is designed to be used for a variety of fish, including bass, walleye, and salmon. However, this rod is not as lightweight as some of the other rods on the list.


  • Versatile
  • Strong components
  • Affordable


  • Not as light as others

9: Ugly Stik GX2 Ultralight Fishing Rod

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning RodPin
  • Length: 5 ft.
  • Line weight: 2 to 6 pounds
  • Materials: graphite and fiberglass with stainless steel guides and EVA handle
  • Pieces: 2

The Ugly Stik GX2 is an affordable ultralight rod that comes in two pieces. It’s ideal for lures weighing between 1/32 and ¼ ounces.

It has a durable EVA handle with a split grip that’s comfortable to hold. The graphite and fiberglass construction adds strength but this tends to be heavier than carbon fiber rods.

This is a compact fishing rod that can be a good choice for targeting trout and small panfish in ponds, streams, and creeks. It can also be an ideal choice for kayak fishing, as it’s convenient to transport and store on deck.

Like other Ugly Stik rods, this one comes with a seven year warranty.


  • Ideal for kayak fishing
  • Durable
  • Stainless steel guides


  •  Heavier than more expensive ultralight rods

What Is An Ultralight Spinning Rod?

An ultralight spinning rod is pretty much as it sounds; it’s lightweight. But not only is the rod itself light, the rest of the gear that you would use with it is also lightweight, such as the line, reel and lures.

The rods will tend to be shorter in length than those used for surf fishing or offshore fishing. This means they can be more suitable for smaller bodies of water where casting distance is not a priority.

The shorter rods can give you more control and more accuracy over where you’re casting your bait, allowing for a more precise style of fishing.

Much like finesse fishing, where you’re trying to present your lure as irresistible food, ultralight fishing can rely on the presentation of the bait.

Why Use Ultralight Over Light Rods?

Fishing with ultralight rods can be useful for targeting smaller fish and can make your fishing trip a lot more fun and can even result in you catching a lot more fish.

With ultralight gear it can feel like you’re catching a much larger fish than you are, because of the way your rod setup will respond to minimal pressure, which can make for an exciting day.

This type of fishing can be ideal for targeting a range of species, including trout, bluegill, crappie and even bass. The ultralight gear can mean increased sensitivity so you can feel the bite of a small fish more easily.

Similar to finesse fishing, you would use light line and small, lightweight lures, which can be useful for catching fish in clear water or in heavily fished waters. The smaller lures can attract more fish because they can appear more like natural food, which can be less suspicious to the fish.

While you can use ultralight gear for fishing in saltwater, it may be more suited to freshwater fishing in streams, ponds, rivers and other small bodies of water.

Video: Ultralight Saltwater Fishing

This is because the shorter rods that are generally used for ultralight fishing may not be able to cast as far as you might require for ocean fishing, as they tend to be designed more precision casting. Oceans also tend to have larger or stronger fish and a larger area to swim in.

Features Of Ultralight Rods To Look Out For


The action of a rod is how and where it will bend when there’s pressure put on it. You’ll probably find that most ultralight rods will have a fast action rating, or moderate to fast action.

This means that the rod will be more likely to bend at the tip, which can mean improved sensitivity and can let you set a hook more quickly than if you were using a slower action rod.


The power of a fishing rod is generally how strong it is and how much weight it’s able to handle. For example, a heavy rod is designed for bigger fish and can take heavier line and lures.

For ultralight fishing you should aim to look for a rod that is rated as ultralight or light. This means that it will take less weight to make it bend, so that when you’re catching smaller fish they can feel more like big fish.

The lighter rating a rod has, the lighter the line it is usually able to take. The heavier rods are generally able to take heavier line because they are able to catch larger, heavier fish.

By using a line heavier than the recommended limit on your rod, it can result in your line breaking or can even cause your rod to snap if there’s enough force behind it.


You’ll usually find that most ultralight fishing rods will be under 7 feet in length because longer rods may sacrifice accuracy over casting distance, which could then affect your control over the rod for targeting smaller fish.

The body of water where you plan to fish may also affect the length of rod that you might need or prefer. For example, you might find that in smaller bodies of water where casting distance is not important, a shorter rod can be preferable, such as in creeks and streams or ponds.

You’ll find there are many rods dedicated to trout fishing in streams that are under 6 feet in length. These shorter rods can give you more of an accurate cast, as well as allow you to use finesse fishing techniques.

Construction Material Types

Ultralight rods are generally made from lightweight materials, such as graphite, carbon fiber and fiberglass. Sometimes you can get rods that are made with a combination of two or more of these materials.

Graphite can be a good choice of rod material and can be found on many ultralight rods because of its lightweight feel, durability and strength. It can also provide a good level of sensitivity for fishing rods.

You’ll also find lots of ultralight rods that feature carbon fiber blanks, or a carbon fiber blend. Carbon fiber rods can be more expensive because of the added performance you can get from this type of construction, as it’s very lightweight, strong and very sensitive.

Fiberglass rods can be less expensive because fiberglass can tend to be a little heavier than graphite, for example. These types of rods may not be as sensitive as other ultralight rods but they do tend to be strong and durable, and could be a good choice for beginners.

Line Types

Because the lures you will be using will generally be smaller and lighter, the line you will need should also be lighter. Ultralight fishing tends to call for thin, light line that can allow you more of a finesse style of fishing and let you detect the when a fish tries to take your bait.

Ultralight line can usually be considered anywhere from around 2 to 6 pounds. The type of line you will need will often be down to personal preference. Thin braided line can be favored by some anglers because of its high sensitivity.

Fluorocarbon can also be a good option to choose because of its invisibility under the water, meaning you can be less likely to scare away the fish you’re trying to catch.

However, you may prefer to combine the advantages of two types of line by using a fluorocarbon leader on a braided line, for example, which can work well even in clear water.

Monofilament line can also be used but can be less sensitive than braided line, which may not be ideal for ultralight fishing when sensitivity can be more important than stretch.

Number Of Guides

The guides or eyelets found on a fishing rod are there to help “guide” your line and can increase the sensitivity of your rod. The more you have on your rod, the better you should be able to cast.

When you’re looking at the guides on an ultralight rod, the material may be more important than with other types of rods because of the lighter line you will be using.

If the guides are not smooth or if they are susceptible to nicks or scratches, it could damage or even break your line.

Tips On How To Use An Ultralight Fishing Rod

Transporting Around

Ultralight rods can be easier to transport than standard ones, especially if they come in two pieces. This can also mean they may take up less storage space when you’re not using them.

You may also be able to get carry cases for two piece rods that can help you store and transport them safely. Or if you like a bit of DIY you could make your own, which could work for one piece rods.

Video: DIY Fishing Rod Carrier


Unlike when you’re fishing with heavier gear, ultralight gear requires a little more patience. You’re not so much wanting to fight the fish by reeling it in, it can be more about waiting for the right moment after the fish has worn himself out.

It can be a good idea to keep the tip of your rod pointing upwards after you’ve hooked the fish, as this can cause the fish to tire out faster. If you reel in your catch like you might with a heavier, slower action rod, you could risk breaking your line or rod and losing your fish.

While the drag system on your reel could come in handy if it’s set right, if you’re fishing for bass you may not need to use the drag at all and instead use your reeling skills, but this may take some time to master.

What Line To Use

You will likely discover you have a preference for a certain type of line. If you want a greater casting distance you might find that monofilament line can work well. Its added stretch might also reduce the chance of your line breaking under pressure but it may lack the sensitivity needed for your ultralight lure.

Braided line can work well for ultralight fishing because of its strength and reduced stretch. Its sensitivity can also improve your catch rate as it can let you feel the slightest of hits. However, it’s not as invisible as fluorocarbon, which may affect your fishing if the water is clear.

How To Cast

Casting an ultralight rod can sometimes be different than casting a standard rod, as it can be less about maximizing distance and more about where your bait will land.

There are a few casting techniques that are designed for more accurate casting, which can let you target your fish more precisely and let you get your bait exactly where you want it.

Video: Ultralight Spin Casting

The flip cast can be one method of casting that can be useful in small bodies of water, as it can let you target a specific area where the fish are hiding.


A lot of the ultralight fishing rods are designed for spinning reels, as spinning reels can be more suitable for the lighter line that ultralight rods require. Spinning reels are also better designed for handling​​​​ the small lures you’ll be using, compared to baitcasting reels.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ultralight Fishing Rods

How Far Can An Ultralight Rod Cast?

The distance you can cast will generally depend on the length of your rod and the weight of your lure.

Most ultralight rods won’t cast as far as heavier rods. Expect to cast in the region of 15 to 30 yards at best.

What’s The Heaviest Fish That Ultralight Rods Can Handle?

Generally, ultralight rods are made for smaller fish that are more likely to take smaller bait.

Fish around eight or nine pounds can be considered heavy for ultralight setups.

However, the record from 1992 was a 40-pound trout caught on a four-pound line.

Which Brands Are Known For Producing The Best Ultralight Fishing Rods?

St. Croix, Ugly Stik, and G. Loomis are some of the brands known for their high quality ultralight fishing rods.

How Does the Price Range Vary For Top-Rated Ultralight Fishing Rods?

The price range varies widely between brands and models of ultralight fishing rods.

This is because of the components used in the construction of the rods.

The lighter the materials, generally the more expensive the rod.

What Types Of Fish Are Best Targeted With Ultralight Fishing Rods?

Panfish, trout, walleye, bluegill, and often bass are some of the species that are best targeted using ultralight fishing gear.

Can I Use My Ultralight Fishing Rod In Both Freshwater And Saltwater?

Yes, as long as your ultralight fishing rod is designed to handle saltwater environments. Some ultralight fishing rods can be ideal for surf fishing for schooling fish.

Casting Off – Ultralight Fishing Rods Rounded Up:

The best ultralight rods have one thing in common: they’re highly sensitive. And if you want to combine the highest sensitivity with superior quality components, the best ultralight fishing rod is the G. Loomis Trout Series.

This is an excellent fishing rod for catching trout, panfish, and other finicky fish. It’s a decent length for casting and short enough for fishing in smaller backcountry areas.

Coming in at a close second is the St. Croix Premier. This ultralight fishing rod can be the ultimate game-changer for bass fishing in creeks and ponds. 

Remember to choose a suitable lure and line for your ultralight setup. And let us know how you get on.

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