Best Ultralight Fishing Rods [Updated 2021]
If you are in a hurry and just want to find out which is the best ultralight fishing rod, then we'd recommend the St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod as the best one.
Sometimes as an angler, you want to head out and just have some fun. This is where you would want to have the best ultralight fishing rod in your arsenal.
Using such rods, your hook would feel like it has caught the Kraken every time.
The reason behind this is straightforward. The design idea behind ultralight rods renders extreme sensitivity to it. You would be feeling the slightest tug even from small-sized bluegills, but still, the fight will be exhilarating.
Best Ultralight Fishing Rods
- St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod
- KastKing Calamus Ultralight Spinning Rod
- Cadence CR5 Spinning Rod
- UglyStik Elite Spinning Rod
- UglyStik GX2 Spinning Rod
- Shimano Stimula 2-Piece Spin Rod
Compare Top Products
Swipe Left On The Table To Scroll
ST. CROIX Premier
Our winner and your best bet in the ultralight rod section.
Better performance expected considering the price point it is available at.
Incredibly lightweight and fairly priced option offering great sensitivity.
A lot of value at a very low price.
Ugly Stik Elite
Lots of sensitivity due to the extra graphite percentage.
Ugly Stik GX2
Most pocket-friendly option but not meant for serious anglers.
Before We Begin
Ultra light fishing rods magnify your fight tenfold. If you and your angler buddies do a lot of back-country trekking, hiking etc. to find your next favorite fishing spot then you do realize how a heavy fishing pole can ruin your day. We aim to tire ourselves after a good day of fishing and not by carrying fishing gear around.
Luckily for us anglers, ultralight rods exist to make our lives easier. From being light as a feather to slim like a stick, they make it super easy for us to travel around with them. However, finding an ultra light spinning rod that does the job well is not a child's play. Even the most experienced anglers tend to struggle with so much information in hand.
We also understand your frustration with so many options around. If you’re here to find the best ultralight rods, then you need not look further. After comprehensive testing and the research, we have a list of best ultralight rods currently topping the charts in the market. Here are our prized picks.
It is evident from the comparison table above that St. Croix Premier emerged as the winner among the best ultralight fishing rod competitors. Scoring high across various parameters, it took home the 'Editor's Choice' award.
Let us try and understand in detail why did it stand out and how other rods fared.
UGLY STIK Elite Spinning Rod
Comes with a great soft cork handle that provides a comfortable grip all day long while fishing. Though the cork handle has a gap in between which has caused discomfort in a few cases. Being more lightweight than the GX2 model, they are definitely an upgrade.
Also, its size makes it easy to transport and carry around.
Made with 35% more graphite, the Ugly Stik Elite is notably tough, refined and sturdy. High-quality guides allow this rod to take a lot of hits and we will never have to worry about popping out of inserts. Claimed to be "virtually indestructible" by the company, it is almost impossible to believe when this rod impresses us with its sensitivity and flexibility.
But Ugly Stiks are not a made of graphite completely, rather they have a fiberglass-graphite hybrid composition. This has been done so as to keep the cost lower and also to make sure that the rod indeed shows "indestructible construction" with substance. Thus the result is a small performance hit.
Catch your favorite fishes like the jacks, snappers and sharks without worrying about the rod snapping into two. It can pull in large fishes comfortably and have been known to accommodate the likes of trouts below one pound and salmons weighing roughly around twenty-eight pounds.
The Ugly Stik not only casts well but is known to provide plenty of sensitivity at the tip and can detect a slight nibble too. Additionally, the signature 'Clear Tip' by Ugly Stik makes it even more sensitive despite the presence of a stiff and sturdy construction.
The reel seat might be a simply exposed blank and that can be a cause of concern to some but we also need to consider cushioned stainless steel hoods. They firmly keep the reel in place when it is required during the most crucial times. Ultralight to medium-heavy is the range of the rod action in this series.
However, the main problem area are the guides and a braided line. If you are someone who really prefers using braided line, then you might want to consider a different rod. This one is not for you. Moreover, a small reel seat causes frustration to the anglers when they realize the reel that they would absolutely love to use doesn't even fit.
Ugly Stik promises to give you an awesome feeling, making even Sparkling gourami feel like a Beluga.
Maintenance & Repair Cost
Since it is extremely durable, the manufacturers have literally termed this rod as "bomb-proof". A graphite-fiberglass construction makes it both strong and sensitive at the same time. And lastly, one-piece stainless steel guides (Ugly tuff) impart this rod the ability to resist corrosion.
Thus, this rod has been found to be very durable with an extremely rare occurrence of the rod breaking into two and that too due to mishandling. Hence, you can practically forget about the cost of maintenance and repair.
An extremely affordable rod that offers impressive performance for both amateurs as well as experienced anglers. Termed as an all-rounder by some, the price point is pretty savvy and it becomes really difficult to choose some other option given the features and its market reputation.
KASTKING Calamus Ultralight Spinning Rod
Kastking Calamus's USP is that it is a lightweight rod. Anglers just love the fact that the rod is so light. With the exception of the 4'6" rod, all other models are two-piece designs which make it extremely easy to carry around.
Some of our testers were uncomfortable with the lower handle when they used the rod for a long period.
Weighs approximately just three ounces despite such a robust construction. All the credit goes to its ultra-light IM7 blanks (micro-polished) which not only have a graphite core of high-density but are also reinforced by the second layer of carbon tape.
And this is not all, the Calamus further boasts a 2-piece SKSS reel seat which accompanies a split-type handle. The material used in the handle? Premium quality EVA.
Due to premium titanium and similar high-quality materials used in construction, we haven't heard any complaints about its longevity yet except a couple of cases of snapping tips while the rod was in use.
Available in a lot of lengths (4'6" to 7'), the KastKing Calamus Ultra-Light Weight Spinning Fishing Rod powers in the ultralight to medium-heavy range. Rated for 2-6lbs line weight, the rod also has a capacity for one-by-sixteen to one-by-four ounces of lure weight. Additionally, the sensitivity is commendable.
Modified spigot ferrules deliver exceptional performance. The guides (including tip) are made of premium V-Mark titanium frames and rings which help increase its sensitivity to an extent where it can detect even slight nibbles. Just a handful of users found it to be stiff for the action it is rated at.
Maintenance & Repair Cost
With no occurrences of damaged rods and KastKing's incredible 'Total Peace of Mind Warranty', these beauties are a force to reckon with and score really high in this area.
Being in the price range similar to Ugly Stik Elite, these two were bound for a head-on collision and the ratings above aren't different from each other. Overall, KastKing’s Calamus is a great and fairly-priced option.
ST. CROIX Premier Spinning Rod
Despite facing tough competition from the likes of the trusted Fenwick and other brands, St. Croix has been able to carve its own niche. Now we are not saying that Fenwick’s rods aren’t good–they are excellent to be precise–but St. Croix is getting better and better day by day.
With a superb quality cork furnishing the rod’s long handle, there is plenty of space for even a giant's hands to cast comfortably. The presence of premium cork handles, braided superline ready aluminum oxide eyelets, this rod is an angler's dream. And what about frequent travelers like me, you ask?
St. Croix series includes the finest four-piece travel rods which are something you will not find anywhere else in the market. Now if you are someone who prefers split handles, Fenwick should be your most preferred alternative.
This rod is everything you have been trying to find till now. Not only it is strong and well-balanced. It uses a high-end graphite manufacturing process. Fishing for bass, walleye, trout or any other similar ones? This rod is your go-to rod and will handle them all, no worries.
Despite being ultra-lightweight it packs in some serious strength. How long will it last? Your line will snap way before the Premier does.
Features a fast action, it is equally capable of providing the sensitivity you strive for. Moreover, it comes with a cushioned hookset for fish like crappie. The premium-quality aluminum oxide guides pamper our line like a newborn baby.
To top it all, a finely tuned fast action sensitivity is like the icing on the cake. Casting is expectedly outstanding, irrespective of the lure size.
Maintenance & Repair Cost
Standing out in all the departments above, it includes with it a very generous warranty, thus making it a killer deal.
If you have some extra bucks to spend, don't save them unnecessarily because this is arguably the best ultralight rod available. St. Croix doesn't find a competitor easily. Edging out premium competition like G. Loomis rods, with its fast action, these rods are available at half the price.
St. Croix Premier has been a provider of luxury fishing experience at prices which might seem a bit high at first but are worth it when you look back at the times you had problems with other cheap and popular alternatives.
SHIMANO Stimula 2-piece Spin Rod
The Stimula series is yet another great option available to you. The Stimula 2-piece spinning rod series has only one ultra light fishing pole with the length being 5’6”. The other one is a medium and is 7' long. The ultra light rod is a two-piece which makes it easy to travel with.
Unlike Shimano's FXS collection, this series comes with cork handles. With a fore and rear grip on the long handle for extra control, it fairs well in the comfort department. Consisting of a bright red blank and light-colored cork handle, it promises a unique look than most rods out there.
Though the Stimula rod series was created by Shimano to ensure durability, there have been some cases of the rod snapping into two pieces. The rod does win some points for flexibility and sensitivity but loses a lot more due to durability issues. One has to be fairly gentle with the rod and guides, else all hell would break loose.
The rod is capable enough to take on a variety of fish. It packs in fast-action, that too while being flexible. Composed of lightweight aluminum oxide guides and a hook keeper for convenience, expect this rod to perform really well. Shimano specifically introduced this rod for anglers who love to hook in fishes like smaller bass, panfish, and trouts.
A super-simple, no frills-type rod, it gets the job done at the end of the day. Although made for smaller fishes, there have been several instances where the rod held up pretty well under the weight of larger fishes. A heads-up though. Make sure to measure the reel you’d like to use as the reel seat is not large enough to accommodate all sizes.
Maintenance & Repair Cost
Expect some more bucks to be spent on the rod over time as durability is not one of the rod's strongest point despite the company specifically bringing out the series for the same.
It comes along at a particular price point which can be considered high by some and still fails to deliver on the durability aspect. Other than that it is an awesome buy considering the balance between flexibility and rod action.
If you are looking for a good light spinning rod or as a beginner your first one, this can be a good option but there are better options out there.
UGLY STIK GX2 Spinning Rod
With a modern and sleek design, the long handles are made up of EVA foam, which makes it lightweight and soft.
Made with good quality materials you can expect a fair performance in this area. The rod is a graphite-fiberglass combo, and comes with sensitivity, strength, and durability. Featuring stainless steel guides, the Ugly Stik GX2 eliminates insert pop-outs.
Since Ugly Stik is known for its durable rods, GX2 series lives up to this reputation. Although you would find it a little bit stiff, it isn't to the limit which can be a 'no-no' point for you. This rigidity is fairly important as you will be able to use this rod for a variety of fishing styles without having any fear whatsoever that the rod will break or crack.
The Ugly Stik GX2 spinning rod is available in several different lengths that are rated to be ultralight in power. Ranging from 4’6” to 7-foot, it allows tremendous versatility depending upon the fishing style of an angler.
Being better balanced than the ones before, this series has its own downsides, namely the thickness of the handles and inability of the stainless steel guides to work with all types of lines. Also sometimes the halves won't stay seated and you have to screw them back tightly.
Maintenance & Repair Cost
With the Ugly Stik series being known for its durability, the GX2 is no exception. You won't be harassed with constant demands of repair from the rod as it has been designed to serve you for a long time.
But some users have reported that the rod developed grooves with a braided line and thus needed regular repairs.
Comes at an extremely low price point which has made it supremely popular among the masses.
If you are only starting your fishing experience then it can be a pretty decent buy, but it is probably not the best option out there for serious anglers.
CADENCE CR5 Spinning Rod
Whether you are trying to catch a bass, a walleye, or a trout or whether you are going for those high-demand inshore lures, namely the redfish, flounder and spotted trout, this rod magnifies your freshwater catching ability. With two variants in handles, you can either choose the split grip or go with a full grip system.
The Cadence CR5 has been made with both cork and EVA to make it very functional and super comfortable. Apart from being very light in weight, it also comes in various length and sizes. Long hours of use has known to cause some discomfort though. Otherwise, it is a pretty comfortable one.
With the construction material consisting of 30-ton graphite which imparts durability and the stainless steel guides put in the ability to resist corrosion significantly. We were amazed by the fact that this rod has been with its owners for a relatively long time than most rods in this price range.
Needless to say, high-grade materials that have been used in the construction deliver royal quality and supreme fishing experience. Designed to provide multipurpose fishing functionality, the performance and durability are increased exponentially with easy to adjust Fuji reel seat and SiC guides.
You might see a bend when hauling a lure, but still, the rod has enough power to pull in nice fish. But the annoying fact is that the reel seat gets loose pretty often and the fore-grip on the handle can hamper the way the rod functions.
Maintenance & Repair Cost
A sturdy construction and durable designing minimize the cost of repair and maintenance. There have been no known issues yet with this rod which can be termed as a deal breaker.
Despite being from an unpopular brand, the performances of this rod have far exceeded the expectations of all the anglers.
Packing in features and value almost twice the price, you are guaranteed to have a pleasant experience with the Cadence CR5.
Buying Guide For Ultralight Fishing Rod
Before buying the best ultralight spinning rod, there are few things we need to consider. Knowing these features is crucial to not only ensure that we make an informed decision, but also to get the right rod in our hands.
Let’s quickly examine these factors:
Ultralight Fishing Rod Features Explained
Rod action means at which point there will be a bend in the rod when we try to catch a fish.
Fast action - remain stiff throughout most of their length and bend only at the tip.
Slow action - do not remain stiff throughout and the bend begins somewhere from the middle.
Ultra light rods are predominantly designed with fast or moderate action. They tend to provide a delicate, sensitive tip which bends quickly. As the load increases, one can feel the resistance to bend from the rod blank.
A fast action ultralight rod does go beyond the tip due to its bend, but not without providing enough control which can help us pull-in even a large fish. Whereas, a moderate-action ultra light fishing rod will bend well beyond the tip before the blank gets time to show its resistance.
Often we end up with a parabolic arc, thus helping us cushion our light line with a considerably heavy load from the fish. We do lose some control here but what we end up gaining is shock absorption.
Most ultralight rods are under or equal 7 feet in length, otherwise casting accuracy is compromised significantly. In general terms, longer rods tend to cast further but those casts might not be very accurate. On the other hand, shorter rods might be very accurate but the cast distance suffers. We need to find a balance.
Light action spinning rods are on the shorter end of the spectrum. The reel seats aren't able to hold much line. If you still need to cast long distances, a suitable option would be to look for rods around 7 feet in length, and simultaneously consider a bit stiff ultralights.
The comparatively stiffer backbone and long length would help you achieve your goal more efficiently.
The force required to bend a rod is what we are referring to while using the term, 'power'. A rod's action, when combined with its power, gives you a significant idea on how the rod will perform. Ultralight means that the blank’s power is ultra-light i.e. it will bend under modest loads.
Even if your rod is rated as fast-action, a lightweight fish will definitely attract our attention. And let nobody tell you that ultralight means “weak.” Nothing could be further away from the truth.
Friction tends to quickly destroy two, four, and six-pound test. Therefore, good guides become a necessity in ultralight rods. And don't ever think that since the fish we aim to catch with an ultralight are fairly lightweight, therefore they really can’t test our rod guides much.
Not a lot of friction and heat is needed to destroy even the heaviest lines with poor-quality guides. The best way to test guide quality is to saw the line we plan on using against a large guide. If the line breaks quickly, then under no circumstances go for that rod no matter how awesome other features are.
Choosing a handle is all about personal preference. What you might find comfortable might be a breaking point for others. In handles we generally come across two types of handles:
Cork - which tends to be warmer and more attractive but cannot withstand rough treatment.
EVA foam - which tends to be softer and cooler to touch, and is pretty tough even when treated roughly.
Line And Lure Weight
One should look for rods with line weight ratings between two and six pounds. The lure sizes should start from 1/64 of an ounce and can go up to 1/4 to 1/2 ounces.
Made from a variety of materials, like carbon fiber, graphite, and fiberglass, modern rods are a pretty good lot, unlike their earlier counterparts. Some manufacturers have gone a step ahead and offer hybrids which use more than one material. This gives us the best of both materials while eliminating the shortcomings of each.
Commonly used materials include:
Graphite - it is durable due to being strong and stiff. Further, it is ultralight and sensitive too.
Fiberglass - it is certainly stronger than graphite and less expensive but surely heavier and not as sensitive.
Carbon fiber - the best of both graphite and fiberglass, making it strong, stiff and yet lightweight. No material matches its performance but we get that at a higher price.
More eyelet count makes it very easy for us to cast and overpower. Moreover, it also increases the rod balance resulting in an evenly distributed load on the fishing rod.
So, finally we were able to explain what would be our preferred rod when it comes to ultralights and why we chose the St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod as our top choice among all. We really hope that choosing the best ultralight spinning rod should no more be a difficult and brain busting chore. Just remember to know the type of fish you aim at targeting.
In case you feel that we might have missed something, or if you have a question in mind, by all means do not hesitate and contact us as soon as possible. Till then, au revoir!