As well as explaining a bit of background and discussing where to use a spinning rod, we’re going to use this section to help you understand how to choose a rod from the huge array of rod brands out there. We’re also going to recommend a set of spinning rods to cater to the vast majority of fishing situations you might encounter, as well as naming some of the best spinning rods we know.
Spinning is a fantastic way to cover a lot of water. An angler fishing this way can fish miles of river or acres of lake in a day, changing position frequently (I very rarely cast twice in the same place). That means that whole lakes and river systems can be in a very short space of time. If there’s a taking fish out there, spinning is a great method of locating it.
- 1 Spinning versus baitcasting
- 2 How do you choose a spinning rod?
- 3 Different types of spinning rods
- 4 Recommended spinning rods
- 5 When would you need a lightweight spinning rod?
- 6 Best lightweight spinning rods
- 7 Best middleweight spinning rods
- 8 Best heavyweight spinning rod
- 9 About spinning
- 10 Where would you use a spinning rod?
Spinning versus baitcasting
If you’re shopping for rods, it won’t be long before you come across the terms ‘spinning rods’ and ‘casting rods’. At first glance the rods may look very similar, but look again and you’ll notice a slight but very important difference. The key is in the reel that’s used. For spinning, anglers use a fixed spool reel; for bait casting they use a conventional multiplier reel. Although spinning rods and casting rods will fit both types of reel, you’ll find that spinning rods work better with spinning reels and casting rods work better with conventional reels. This is all down to the action of the rod blank (the pole itself) and the spacing and design of the line guides. Spinning reels, by their very design, move the line in a fairly wide, spiral motion, whereas bait casting reels feed the line through the rings from a fairly static point. To compensate for the lateral movement created by a spinning reel, a spinning rod will have much larger rings – especially those nearer the real seat – and will invariably have rings positioned further away from the rod blank. This allows the spiralling line to move through the guides with less resistance, adding line speed and distance to your casting. There’s also sometimes a small ‘trigger’ beneath the reel seat on a casting rod, which enables the angler to control the rod position while winding a conventional reel. This is not required when using a spinning reel because the reel hangs underneath the rod, meaning that the rod balances naturally.
How do you choose a spinning rod?
With every type of fishing rod purchase, it’s best to start the buying process with a budget and/or brand in mind. Years of collective experience and hours spent in tackle shops have taught us that it’s too easy to get carried away and end up buying something you really shouldn’t have. Many anglers we know don’t treat themselves even to a new pair of jeans until the old ones literally fall to pieces, and yet they’re quite capable of blowing a week’s wages on a brand new rod they really didn’t need. Be warned!
As far as spinning rods are concerned, once you’ve settled on a budget (or decided to ignore our advice!), you’ll probably want to consider the following:
- What kind of lures will you be fishing?
- How much will they weigh?
- How big are the fish you’ll be catching?
- And what strength line or braid will you be using?
Spinning must be one of the most straightforward fishing methods – you’re basically tying something flashy (with a hook in) on the end of your line, throwing it out where you think the fish are hiding, then pulling it across in front of them, again and again, until one of them grabs it. Not exactly rocket science, bit definitely one of the fastest, most convenient and most exciting types of fishing there is. An admission: here at Drowning Worms HQ most of us are more lure fishermen than bait fishermen, as indeed you can probably tell from our posts. We love nothing more than grabbing a lure fishing rod, a box of spinners and plugs, and setting off for a long, meandering walk to see what we can catch. But before we can do that, we need to decide what rod to use. And that’s all dictated by the four factors above.
Different types of spinning rods
Although there are no official categories of spinning rod, for the sake of convenience we’re going to consider three rod types: lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight. We believe this is possible because, realistically, when fishing with lures, there are certain truths you can’t avoid. These are:
- Predatory fish tend to be large (they need to be if they’re going to eat the other fish).
- Predatory fish tend to be fast swimming and hard fighting, so you need to have a rod that can handle a good scrap.
- No matter what fish you’re trying to catch, there’s always a chance that a bigger, toothier predator than you were expecting is going to take a fancy to your lure.
These simple truths are a good thing because they cut down choice. There’s no point in buying a flimsy little rod for your spinning, as you’ll probably only break it. Instead, get yourself something that’s up the job. Yes, it can have a sensitive tip, and no you don’t have to fish with a telegraph pole. All we’re saying is you should make sure that, if and when that predator of a lifetime grabs your lure, you’re carrying a rod that’s going to help you land him (or her, as the case may well be!) without too many tears of despair.
Recommended spinning rods
We wrote this section to try to help you cut down the options slightly, because there are, quite simply, far too many spinning rods out there to choose from. The weight classes can be baffling: 5-to-10lb class, 10-to-20lb class, 20-to-30lb, 30-to-40, and so on… Do you need all of them? Of course not. This is just a symptom of different rod manufacturers catering to the requirements of hundreds of thousands of customers. While what we are suggesting won’t be the correct formula for everyone, it should cater to 90% of the spinning opportunities that most anglers will encounter. Buy yourself a lightweight, middle weight and heavy weight spinning rod and you’ll be laughing. Or just buy yourself a middle weight and remember to go easy on the small fish and take your time with the big ones!
When would you need a lightweight spinning rod?
If you intend to spin for trout, seatrout, largemouth or smallmouth bass, crappie, small pike, perch, walleye or similar, you’re going to need a lightweight spinning outfit. It can’t be too lightweight – many of these fish have a tendency to live near snags, and where a mid-sized predator can be found, bigger, badder predators often aren’t far away. So you’re looking for something sensitive, that’s good to cast but packs enough of a punch to subdue fish up to 10 or 15lbs. Depending on your reel preference – baitcaster or fixed spool reel – you may decide to opt for one of the specialist spinning models, or you may just go with a more generic casting rod, which, if the truth be known, in many cases can be used equally well with either reel. I imagine you’ll be using something like 12lb nylon or 20lb braid – any lighter and you’ll be risking breakages.
Best lightweight spinning rods
When it comes to lightweight spinning tackle, you are absolutely spoilt for choice – this is possibly the most popular and prolific fishing rod there is. But if we had to single a couple out, we couldn’t ignore the following:
Option 1: Shakespeare Two-Piece Ugly Stik Lite Spinning Rod
The Ugly Stik really does take some beating at the lower end of the price scale. They’re well made, very robust and are even nice to look at, especially if you opt for the ‘Lite’ version (shown here), which incorporates more carbon in its manufacture. Don’t let the price fool you, this is a very good budget rod that you’ll see in the hands of experts as well as newcomers. It’s inexpensive, has a great warranty and is proven on literally millions of fish!
Option 2: St. Croix Mojo Bass Series
If you know of St. Croix rods, you might be surprised by this price. We are too! Made in the USA, these rods have a reputation for being a pleasure to use – they’re great to cast, great to play fish on, and nice and light to carry. This is a baitcasting rod, which was designed specifically for use with a bait casting reel, with smaller fish in mind, like largemouth and smallmouth bass. Having said that, they’ll double up for saltwater species like Spanish mackerel and seatrout, and can manage large pike – albeit only just!
Best middleweight spinning rods
If you could only buy one spinning rod, or perhaps only one rod full stop, you could do a lot worse than to buy yourself a middleweight spinning outfit. This should be suitable for catching fish of, say, 10 to 30lbs, which means it will still land smaller fish (albeit perhaps a little too quickly!) but can still cope if you hook something of 40 or 50lbs or more. As far as species go, think salmon, trevally, stripers, big pike, red drum, small tarpon, big bonefish and the equivalent, and for line weight, you’ll probably want 15-to-20lb nylon or 30-to-40lb braid. While you could fish this rod with a bait caster, most people would use a fixed spool reel with this outfit.
Option 1: Abu-Garcia Veritas Series Spinning Rod (2-Piece)
We’ve heard such fantastic reviews of these Abu-Garcia rods that we just had to include them here, although admittedly we were torn between this two-piece ‘Veritas’ and the one-piece Vendetta Series. In the end the practicality of the 2-piece won the day (not to mention the looks – isn’t it gorgeous?!), but we’re pretty confident you’d be very happy with either. As one reviewer says: “best rod ever”! Abu Garcia are perhaps better known as a reel manufacturer, but these rods show that they make a mean spinning rod too.
Option 2: G Loomis Steelhead Fishing Rod
We’ve said before that G Loomis builds almost too many rods to count, and it’s difficult to pick a winner from their range – we reckon most anglers would be happy with any of them. This particular rod claims to be a salmon and steelhead rod, which is one of the reasons we chose it, but it’s equally at home in fresh and saltwater and can be used for stripers, red drum, barracuda, etc, just as easily as it can hammer the cold water species further north. This rod is a winner.
Option 3: St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod
Choosing between Abu Garcia, St Croix and G Loomis may not be easy, but don’t worry – whatever you choose you won’t go far wrong. The Premier Spinning Rod from St Croix is a great all-round rod. We’d use it for just about anything and, with the excellent customer service St Croix has become renowned for, you know the after-sale care will be second to none. Come to think of it, we might order one ourselves (and don’t you just love the way St Croix describes its products?). A lovely rod from a great brand.
Option 4: G. Loomis Escape Travel Spinning Rod
There are thousands of good rods out there and you really don’t need to spend this kind of cash on a spinning rod, but if you’ve won the lottery and have money to burn, get yourself a G Loomis Escape Travel rod. Rated between 10 and 17lbs, this is a gorgeous middleweight rod, which comes in four pieces, making it ideal for those overseas getaways. One to add to the Christmas list (although if it was our money, we’d still be getting the St Croix or the Abu-Garcia Vendetta above).
Best heavyweight spinning rod
If small fish bore you and you’re only happy casting at 50-pound cobia, giant redfish and 60-pound tarpon, you’ll need to pick up a heavyweight spinning rod. There aren’t many freshwater species that this rod will work for, other than king salmon, perhaps, so we would recommend you match it with a strong saltwater reel and no less than 30lb braid or 40lb nylon. Heavyweight rods like this are quite a specialised purchase and they’re not as plentiful as their lighter middleweight cousins.
Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Rod
We might sound like Shakespeare reps (we’re not, honest!) but once again you could do a lot worse than get yourself an Ugly Stik like this one. It’s an incredible rod – powerful and sensitive, yet unbelievably flexible. It’s not by accident that the Ugly Stik has been one of the world’s best selling rods for so many years – we have a number of them here at Drowning Worms HQ and we’d be happy using nothing but.
Spinning is the term that’s loosely given to all kinds of fishing for predatory fish with lures, excluding fly fishing, trolling, bait casting and jigging. The name is derived from a particular type of lure, which does actually spin when it passes through the water, although nowadays spinning can also be applied to fishing with non-spinning lures, like plugs, attractors and spoons. What qualifies a certain type of fishing as spinning, however, is not actually the action of the lure but the action of the angler. Spinning rods are casting rods. When spin fishing, the fisherman continually casts out the lure, then retrieves it again by winding the reel, only to cast it out again and repeat the process again ad again – the intention being that, when the lure moves through the water, predatory fish will see it, mistake it for prey and attack.
Where would you use a spinning rod?
Spinning rods can be used not only for spin fishing but also in almost all kinds of fishing. You can jig with them, troll with them, use a baitcaster with them (although you’re probably better off using a rod with a trigger), fish bait with them, go rock fishing with them – they are, by and large, an all-round utility rod and one that no angler should really be without. Personally I fished for years with one spinning rod, which I used for pike fishing, spinning for salmon, spinning for bass and seatrout in the estuaries and off the beach in Scotland, spinning for pollock while rock fishing in Ireland. It was a great, multi-purpose rod (made by the now obsolete rod maker, Bob Church & Co) and is one that I still use to this day.
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