3 Best Casting Rods For Kayak Fishing

Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today we are going to take a look at my 3 best casting rods for kayak fishing in 2021. As I have mentioned in my most recent posts on the subject of baitcaster rods and reels, I have never really considered these for kayak use. Mainly because I have just found spinner rods and reels to fit all of my needs.

However, a friend of mine recently purchased one to use whilst we chase Mangrove Jack, which is a hard hitting and hard fighting fish that hides in the mangroves (hence the name). He kept losing the fish on his previous rig so did some research and found that baitcasters appeared to be more suitable for use in this instance.

I had always used my heavy boat reel for this purpose, but watching John cast and retrieve with ease with a light rig – and keep a good fish on the line – I thought it was about time I checked it all out. So let’s have a look at some options I have for a casting rod for the kayak…

My 3 recommended casting rods for kayak fishing

I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:

  Rod Price Get it
best casting rods for kayak - option 1 Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Fishing Rod $ CURRENT PRICE
best casting rods for kayak - option 2 SHIMANO Curado Casting Rod $$ CURRENT PRICE
best casting rods for kayak - option 3 St. Croix Rods LXC68MHF Legend Xtreme Carbon Casting Fishing Rod $$$ CURRENT PRICE

What should you be looking for?

In short, baitcaster setups are generally accepted as being more suitable for experienced fisherman due to their tendency to tangle (bird’s nest) on casting. However, as I mentioned above, after watching John use his there are some definite advantages to them as well including:

  1. More accurate when casting.
  2. Longer casting capabilities.
  3. Can handle heavier line and lure/sinker weight.
  4. Can handle much bigger fish for their size than spinners.

So, if these are requirements that you have when fishing from your kayak (or you have an interest in them), I will give you a quick run through below on what to think about when looking for a good rod option to match your baitcaster reel. Some of this will determine your purchase and the rest is just an outline in case you have some personal preferences. Let’s check it all out…

Note: Fishing rods that are used with baitcasters are not interchangeable with those used with spinning reels. This post is being written based on the assumption that you have a baitcaster reel at the ready. If not, then maybe check out my post covering baitcaster rod and reel combos for kayak fishing.

Location

I am starting with the location as it can definitely have an effect on the type of fishing rod that you could choose and will determine your answers to many of the variants I have listed below – especially when we are dealing with baitcasters.

We have already discussed that baitcaster reels and casting rods tend to be more accurate when casting and are also able to handle larger fish than spinners too so location will definitely have an influence on their use.

Some location considerations include:

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  • Holes: If there are any holes that you like to fish into then greater accuracy may be required.
  • Rocks and other obstacles: Will you want to cast into them or over them? Baitcaster rigs can generally cast a little further than spinners so again, this may be worth a look if longer casting is required.
  • Current: Is there a strong tidal current running? If so, larger line and tackle may be needed.
  • Wind: Windy waters are harder to cast in for obvious reasons.
  • Mangroves etc.: As discussed, casting here will require accuracy.

There is more to this but from a general point of view, if you are constantly fishing in an area where you either need accuracy or are chasing larger species then a baitcaster setup may serve you well. That said, I think that the lighter the setup you can get for a kayak the better, which in general may lead you to a casting rod on that advantage alone. We will discuss this in greater detail below…

Rods

best casting rods for kayak - baitcaster rod and reel

For those of you who are still on the fence, I have discussed spinning rods in more detail in my post on kayak fishing rods for closed waters. Below we will discuss the ins and outs of casting rods…

I haven’t actually mentioned this as yet but one major aspect of a casting rod is that the reel sits on top of the rod rather than underneath. This does mean that if you are looking to convert to one of the these from a spinner rod then, unless you already have one, you are also going to need a baitcaster reel as well. I will run through the details of these now…

Composition

In general, the only real difference between casting and spinning rods is that the reel is seated on the top instead of underneath. In terms of composition however, there is not a lot of difference. Both types these days are made from one of three main materials, Fiberglass, Graphite and Carbon Fibre with qualities as follows:

  • Fiberglass – Very strong and durable with very little maintenance required (rinse off after fishing is generally all that is needed).
  • Graphite – Graphite rods are generally more rigid with higher power ratings (see below) however tend to have greater sensitivity than their fiberglass cousins.
  • Glass Tip – Glass Tips orHybrid’ rods are made from a combination of graphite and fiberglass. These are designed to give the best of both worlds with extra strength of the graphite rod added to the sensitivity of the glass tip.
  • Carbon Fibre – This is a newer compound in fishing rods being more rigid than the fiberglass/ composite rods but also lighter. These types are becoming more and more popular for all levels of experience due to their toughness and versatility.

In the past, most tended to go for a fiberglass rod due to their durability, low maintenance requirements and favourable prices however the cost of a good carbon fibre rod has definitely reduced in recent times as well. Casting rods are also generally designed to be lighter in weight than their spinning cousins.

Length

When it comes to a kayak fishing rod, it is definitely not a case of the longer the better. Long rods can be used on a kayak for sure – in fact some prefer them if in the ocean or if they want to ‘jig’ a lure or cast a longer distance – however I always find them cumbersome and they can make it difficult to get a fish off the hook once you catch one. Shorter rods also provide for greater accuracy which can be helpful if you are fishing amongst trees, mangroves or other hazards.

So, depending on your location and casting requirements, I recommend that you can choose from the following lengths:

  • 5 – 6 foot – Use when dropping directly below the kayak or precision of casting is needed. Not great for longer casting but can generally handle heavier sinker weights etc.
  • 6 – 7 foot – These are a good middle of the road rod – especially if you only take the one or want to use it on a river bank as well. These allow for longer casting whilst maintaining accuracy.
  • 7 – 8 foot – You are getting to the absolute end of length suitability here but these can work well if you are going to be drifting or trolling with a lure or need that extra casting distance. You could also look at this length if you wanted to use it for surf fishing as well.

Power

There are plenty of technical terms for the power settings of a fishing rod but in simple language, I have always known the power rating as a measure of how ‘bendy’ it is. Light power rods bend with little force and heavy need a lot of pressure to bend. So, in short:

  • Light – very bendy – even whippy – will bend a lot with even the smallest fish. I like these in the kayak however for beginners it is easy to get the bottom confused with bites.
  • Medium – needs a bit more pressure to bend – In general, this is a good measure for a kayak fishing rod and my suggestion for all round use.
  • Heavy – takes a lot to make it bend – I would recommend these for a kayak in areas where the current is quite strong or you want to use particularly heavy sinkers etc.

There is also a measurement that some rods have in regards to what they call Action or Speed. This is determined by where the rod bends. Fast action bends from the top third whereas slow rods bend down towards the reel. For general use, I would go moderate or medium, unless to have a need to cast a long way or are chasing larger fish, then maybe edge towards a faster rod as they allow for heavier lures/rigs.

Handle/Grip

This has nothing to do with the art of catching fish rather than the comfort of it. Some common options include:

  • Hard foam – sort of like a very hard version of a pool noodle.
  • EVA – Soft Rubbery stuff.
  • Cork.
  • Rubber Shrink Tube – soft and extremely durable.

I like the Rubber shrink tube or EVA handles myself as they are comfortable and will last well in saltwater conditions. Cork is great if you want a light rod and a common choice for casting rods. I have also seen a few with golf club type grips made of super polymer rubber in my recent research too.

best casting rods for kayak - baitcaster rod and reel with lure

Split/one piece

When it comes to fishing rods, whether you have a full piece or a split piece (where the rod pulls apart into two or more pieces) is, in my opinion, a matter of circumstance… I have used both and if I am being brutally honest, I really don’t see enough of a difference when it comes to catching fish.

Ask yourself how you are going to transport the rod to your preferred fishing spot? If you are dragging it on your kayak and trolley or have a rod holder on your SUV etc., then a full piece will be fine. If you need to put it in the boot or back seat of the car, then go the two piece. And for those traveling, you may even want to look at a telescopic or 4 piece setups as an alternative option.

What do I use?

As mentioned above, I have not ventured into the world of baitcasters for the kayak as yet. I have however included below the specifications for the rod that John purchased (as part of a combo) as he has found it extremely effective for the kayak.

Here are its specs:

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Rod

  • Length: 6ft
  • Power: Medium/fast
  • Composition: Carbon Fiber
  • Handle: EVA

John’s feedback was that it the rod is light and very easy to use in kayak – especially in terms of accuracy. He actually stated that he finds the baitcaster setup easier to use in terms of casting and manoeuvrability – and he has only had one bird’s nest too.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following for beginners:

1. Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Fishing Rod

I have chosen this first option based on the fact that it is the best I have seen for the casual or budget minded fisher. The rod is simple in design whilst maintaining a lightweight build and extra tip strength. It is backed by a great number of reviews and is a good, solid and durable product with specifications as follows:

Rod

  • Length: 5.6 – 7.6ft (I would recommend sticking to anything under the 7ft mark if only using in a kayak)
  • Power: Medium – medium heavy options available
  • Composition: 1 piece graphite and fiberglass
  • Handle: Light weight EVA

Other advantages include:

  • Lightweight composition
  • Stainless steel guides
  • Clear tip designed for strength and sensitivity

Why have I chosen it?

This is a good little all round use rod for a great price. I like the lightweight design for a kayak with good anti-corrosion build for saltwater use. It will take a good range of line strength (up to 20lb) and should be able to handle both light and heavy sinker weight if the conditions require it.


2. SHIMANO Curado Casting Rod

This next option is a great one for those wanting to do a bit more fishing and are looking for some extra durability and smoothness of casting in their rods. Shimano is a well-known and trusted brand and is just a little more rounded than the first option above. Specifications include:

Rod

  • Length: 6ft 10in
  • Power: Not stated (I did find it listed as moderate/fast power elsewhere)
  • Composition: 1 piece hybrid high modulus UD Carbon construction with Nanoresi
  • Handle: Cork

Other advantages include:

  • Super lightweight composition
  • Fuji Alconite guides
  • Rubberized reel seat

Why have I chosen it?

This one is very close to the perfect casting rod for kayak fishing and the one I would choose here. I love the lightweight specifications and it would also handle most kayak conditions including where accuracy or some heavier weights are needed. It is maybe at the top-level length wise for a kayak however its weight should override this and it would not look out of place if using on the bank as well.


3. St. Croix Rods LXC68MHF Legend Xtreme Carbon Casting Fishing Rod

The third option I have chosen is a little more expensive but for the kayak fisherman with experience in using baitcasters, it is a well-known and trusted brand with the specifications to make it a great all round option. It has the ability to handle just about anything that you could catch in a kayak in both open and closed waters with extreme light weight durability via its carbon build and slim profile. Its specs include:

Rod

  • Length: 6ft 8in
  • Power: Medium/X-fast
  • Composition: 1 piece Super high-modulus SCVI carbon
  • Handle: Xtreme-Skin (rubber EVA)

Other advantages include:

  • Super lightweight (5.2oz)
  • IPC tooling for smoother actions, increased strength, and greater sensitivity
  • Fuji SK2 split reel seat
  • Kigan titanium hook-keeper

Why have I chosen it?

This rod is a great one for those who looking for a little quality over price or for those who like ultimate smoothness and durability. The specifications make it perfect for providing ultimate casting length and accuracy as well as the ability to carry most sinker or lure weights as well. It is extremely versatile and able to handle pretty much anything that can be thrown at it and would not look out of place for use on an ocean going vessel also.

 

Conclusion

And there it is – my 3 best casting rods for kayak fishing in 2021. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun

Paul

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