Best Ultralight Fishing Rods

Whether you’re looking for a new ultralight spinning rod or you’re wondering what fishing techniques you might use one for, this guide will hopefully help you out.

Quick Look: Ultralight Fishing Rods

We have put together some useful information on why you might want to go ultralight on your next fishing outing. 

We will also give you some advice on the best rods to choose and the features you might want to look out for.

Best Ultralight Fishing Rods - SPinning rods available to buy on the market today

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 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.

Top Features To Look Out For

Action

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.

Power

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.

Length

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 One

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 

Techniques

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. 

Reels

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.

Top 7 Best Ultralight Spinning Rods

1: G.Loomis Trout Series Spinning Rod

G.Loomis Trout Series Spinning Rod
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    Length: 7 foot 6 inches
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    Line Weight: 2 to 6 pounds
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    Materials: carbon fiber blend with Alconite guides and cork handle
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    Pieces: 2

This G.Loomis Trout Series spinning rod is built specifically for trout fishing where you need a little bit of distance from your casts. It’s a two piece rod that has a high sensitivity level to let you feel even the slightest bite.

It is crafted with a carbon fiber blend blank to combine added strength with an ultralight feel. The handle features a mix of regular and composite cork to provide you with good grip whether you’re reeling in your catch or waiting for the bite.

The Fuji single foot Alconite guides are tough and should help to prevent lines snagging.

2: Shimano Tiralejo Surf Fishing Rod

Shimano Tiralejo Surf Fishing Rod
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    Length: 9 foot 6 inches
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    Line Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
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    Line Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
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    Pieces: 2

The Shimano Tiralejo is a lightweight 9 foot 6 inch spinning rod that can let you cast much greater distances than shorter rods can allow. It has a moderate fast action and good sensitivity, with the added power to reel in larger fish.

The seven guides, plus the tip, are crafted with stainless steel for durability and feature Alconite inserts to boost their strength and protect your line. The rod also features a durable shrink tube grip handle for added comfort.

3: G.Loomis Classic Trout Panfish Spinning Rod

G.Loomis Classic Trout Panfish Spinning Rod
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    Length: 5 foot 6 inches
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    Line Weight: 2 to 6 pounds
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    Materials: Carbon fiber blend with Alconite guides and cork/foam handle
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    Pieces: 1

This G.Loomis Classic Trout spinning rod has been designed specifically for trout fishing but can also be ideal for panfish, crappie and bluegill, among others. It features a strong carbon fiber blend blank to create an ultralight moderate action rod that benefits from a cork and foam handle.

The Fuji Alconite guides are designed to be strong and lightweight in order to help protect your line, which is useful when using very light line.

4: Fenwick Elite Tech River Runner Spinning Rod

Fenwick Elite Tech River Runner Spinning Rod
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    Length: 6 foot 9 inches
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    Line Weight: 2 to 6 pounds
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    Materials: Graphite with titanium guides and TAC/cork handle
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    Pieces: 2

The Fenwick Elite Tech is an ultralight spinning rod that is designed for crappie, trout, panfish and other freshwater species. At 6 foot 9 inches in length it can offer a decent casting distance. It is a fast action rod that is also sensitive for catching the smaller bites.

This graphite rod features nine titanium guides, including the tip, which can add another level of durability to the rod and can reduce the chance of the guides being damaged.

The cork handle is designed to help you maintain a good grip even when it’s wet and the hook keeper can help you store your hook safely when not in use.

For Those On A Budget:

5: St Croix Premier Spinning Rod

St Croix Premier Spinning Rod
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    Length: 7 foot
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    Line Weight: 6 to 12 pounds
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    Materials: Graphite with aluminum-oxide guides and cork handle
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    Pieces: 1

This St Croix rod features a graphite blank and is handcrafted in the USA. It is a 7 foot fast action rod that can allow for greater casting distances compared to some of the shorter rods but can still give you a good level of accuracy and sensitivity for fishing in smaller bodies of water.

It has a comfortable cork handle for easy gripping and it features a Kigan hook keeper to help stop your hook from damaging your rod during transportation or storage.

6: Shimano Stimula 2-Piece Spinning Rod

Shimano Stimula 2-Piece Spinning Rod
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    Length: 5 foot 6 inches
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    Line Weight: 2 to 6 pounds
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    Materials: Graphite composite with aluminum-oxide guides and cork handle
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    Pieces: 2

The Shimano Stimula is an ultralight spinning rod that comes in two pieces for more convenient storage and transportation. It’s built for more accurate casting rather than distance and can be ideal for freshwater fishing in rivers and streams.

It features a cork handle to provide grip and comfort and has an EVA foam rod butt for added durability. It is a fast action rod designed for increased sensitivity and it has the added benefit of a hook keeper, which can help to protect your line, rod and guides from friction caused by a loose hook.

> Full Stimula review

7: St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod

St Croix Triumph Spinning Rod
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    Length: 6 foot 6 inches
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    Line Weight: 4 to 8 pounds
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    Materials: Graphite with aluminum-oxide guides and cork handle
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    Pieces: 2

The St Croix Triumph is a lightweight, fast action spinning rod designed for streams and ponds and for catching trout, crappie, panfish and even bass.

It is a 6 foot 6 inch rod that comes in two pieces, which can make it easier to transport to and from your favorite fishing spot. The rod is handcrafted and made from light, durable graphite, which also gives it added sensitivity for catching smaller fish.

This rod could be a good choice if you’re just starting out, as the length can give you a good balance between casting distance and accuracy compared to some shorter rods.

Casting Off

Ultralight fishing rods can bring a new level of excitement to your standard fishing trip and can give you a renewed passion for fishing, especially if your other techniques haven’t been working for you.

It can potentially let you catch more fish and make the fish you do catch seem even bigger than they are. Remember to think about the body of water where you’re fishing, as this can help you to choose the best rod length and line type.

Do you have a favorite ultralight setup? Tell us about it. And don’t forget to let us know what you catch on your next trip. Share this with your fellow anglers to see if they can have more fun fishing with an ultralight rod. 

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