3 Best Spinning Rod and Reel Combos

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today, for those looking to get themselves setup for some angling fun, I have had a good look around and come up with my 3 best spinning rod and reel combos for general fishing in 2021. Fishing is a lot of fun and something that I enjoy doing as often as I can. That said, setting yourself up with a good rod and reel combo from the beginning can definitely give you a better chance of actually catching fish rather than just standing or sitting around aimlessly with nothing to show for it – although that is not a horrible way to spend the day either I will say – haha.

So, grab yourself a nice cold beverage and a snack and let’s see if we can get you started on the right track…

My 3 best spinning rod and reel combos for general 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:

 ComboPriceGet it
general rod and reel combos - option 1Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Spinning Reel Combo$CURRENT PRICE
general rod and reel combos - option 2Cadence CC5 Spinning Combo$$CURRENT PRICE
general rod and reel combos - option 3PENN Battle Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo$$CURRENT PRICE

What should you be looking for?

Now, when it comes to fishing – everyone has an opinion and what works for some will not work for others. So here all I have tried to do is outline a good combo suitable for a number of general fishing environments such as off a jetty, in a lake, river, estuary or fairly much anywhere else you are looking to wet a line.

Sure, there are specific rod and reel setups for certain areas such as in the surf or on a kayak however for those who don’t fish a lot, or are just starting out, then the options here can certainly fill a hole when the need arises. When I started fishing, I purchased a rod and reel combo to fish off of a jetty and love it – in fact I still use it today.

And if you are someone just looking for a decent fishing rod to use ‘whenever’, combos are a good option for a couple of reasons as well including:

  1. They are generally cheaper to purchase than buying a rod and reel separately.
  2. The rods and reels are matched for specification meaning they will work well together.

So, for the sake of those who like to do their research, I will give you a quick run through below on what to think about when looking for a good rod and reel combo for general use. 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 out below…

Location

I am starting with the location as it can definitely have an effect on the type of fishing rod and reel combos that you could choose and will determine your answers to many of the variants I have listed below. If you are going to be fishing in a particular waterway more often than others then take that into consideration as you read on. Otherwise, if you are planning to try a number of different areas, I will try and outline middle of the range options for you as well.

Some location considerations include:

  • Holes: If there are any holes that you like to fish into then that will reduce casting requirements.
  • Rocks and other obstacles: Will you want to cast into them our over them?
  • Current: Is there a strong tidal current running? If so, larger tackle may be needed.
  • Wind: Windy waters are harder to cast in for obvious reasons.
  • Mangroves etc.: Casting here will require accuracy.
  • Surf – That can mean longer casting and larger rod length.

There is more to this but from a general point of view, a middle of the range setup (as per my recommendations below) may work best here to account for most environmental factors listed above.

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general rod and reel combos -fishing on jetty

Rods

First we will look at the rod side of things…

Composition

In general, fishing rods 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.

Length

When it comes to a general fishing rod, it is definitely not a case of the longer the better. Long rods can be used general fishing for sure however can be quite cumbersome. 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 off a jetty or bank 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 fish every now and then or go to a number of different areas. These allow for longer casting whilst maintaining some accuracy.
  • 7 – 8 foot – You are getting to the end of length suitability here but these can work well if you need that extra casting distance. You could also look at this length if you wanted to use it for surf fishing as well.
  • 9 – 13 foot – Here we are definitely getting into the surf fishing or long casting lengths (such as for use in a larger river or lake). For general purposes I would avoid them unless you have these specific purposes.

In short, I would recommend anything around the 6 – 7ft range for general fishing.

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 only 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, then maybe edge towards a faster rod as they allow for heavier 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 (probably more relevant to estuary rods or for use in a kayak etc. but if you are planning one to use in both locations then something to think about).

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.

general rod and reel combos - father and son fishgeneral rod and reel combos - father and son fishinging

Reels

And now for the reels. Keeping in mind that the rod and reel are usually sold together so you don’t have a massive say in variation here are some things to consider…

Types

When it comes to general fishing there are two types of reels that come in combo form (and we are not looking at surf or boat reels here either):

  • Spinning Reel – Also known as ‘open face’ reels or ‘eggbeaters’, these reel types wind the line onto a front spool which is held on by a ‘bail’. Line is wound in via a handle on the side which is ratioed to bring the line in faster than the handle is turned.
  • Baitcaster – Often referred to as a spincast reel as well, these are upside down models where the reel sits on top of the rod. Functionality can vary from the simple beginner models where the cover or closed face keeps all of the essential parts of the reel protected to the more complicated ones where casting speed etc. can be adjusted dependent upon the environment. Harder to use but popular with friends of mine who find they can cast a bit more accurately with these.

In terms of a good general fishing combo that will work in a good number of environments, you could do a lot worse than the simple spinner reel (hence this post being about spinner rod and reels). They are easy to use without a lot of maintenance and can be purchased over a good number of line strength specification ranges as well.

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Composition

In general, spinning reels suitable for general use are made from a corrosion-resistant metal, carbon fiber and/or aluminum body with variations of the following:

  • Bearings – As with a car wheel, the spinning mechanisms inside a spinning fishing reel generally incorporate ball bearings for smoother operation. From my experience, most come with between 3 and 10 and I was always told that the more you can get for the price, the better.
  • Rotation – One advantage of a spinning fishing reel is the winding rotation. This is usually set anywhere for 3:1 up to 6 or 7:1 (often listed as 6.0:1 etc.) This simply means that for every time the user turns the handle a full rotation, the spool holding the line has actually turned 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 times meaning less winding for faster line retrieval.
  • Drag – The drag of a fishing reel is its ability to release a little bit of line when a fish strikes or is being pulled in. This is in place to reduce the chances of a bigger fish snapping the line as it fights. As with anything, the more you pay for a reel, the better the drag system should be however regardless, if the reel you are looking at doesn’t have a drag system on it – put it down.
  • Casing: This is the part of the reel that contains the springs, levers, gear cogs etc. that make much of the stuff above work. For a basic combo, avoid any reel that doesn’t have this all housed in a sealed, waterproof casing. These are low maintenance and the components will not rust.

Line capacity

In this section, we will actually discuss two elements: spool size and line capacity. This is because the size of the spool generally determines the strength of the line that you can load into it. The problem we face here is that manufacturers don’t use a common specification when it comes to their reel capacities.

There is however a simple way to work this all out which via the first number. You see a fishing reel may be rated as a ’20’ or a ‘2000’. If this is the case, the ‘2’ is the common denominator and what you match the line to (this is not an exact science but it works for me). So, then all you need to do is match the line kilogram/pound strength to the spool.

To make this easier, I have whipped up a little table below (I have not included all sizes here but you can see that generally, the lower suggested mono line weight matches the first number of the reel size):

Reel SizeSuggested MonoSuggested BraidSuggested Rod Length*
10 or 10001- 2 kg/2 – 4 lb4 – 8 lb6-7 ft (line rating 1-4kg)
20 or 20002- 3 kg/4 – 6 lb5 – 10 lb6-7 ft (line rating 2-5kg)
25 or 25002.5- 4 kg/5 – 8 lb5 – 12 lb6-7 ft (line rating 2-5kg)
40 or 40004- 6 kg/8 – 12 lb8 – 12 lb8-10 ft (line rating 3-10kg)
60 or 60006- 8 kg/12 – 16 lb12 – 30 lb8-10 ft (line rating 4-10kg)

At the end of the day, if there is a possibility of a big fish attaching itself to the end of your line, or the need to add a heavier sinker if the current is strong, I would recommend anything that starts with a 5 or 6. That said, I tend to think that on a 6 – 7 foot rod for general fishing, a 2000 – 4000 reel and light line will work very well.

Other Influences

There are some other areas to consider as well when looking at a good fishing reel. These don’t effect the outcomes as much as the above however they are worth considering:

  • Handle – Most are plastic but make sure it fits comfortably in your hand – some come with large handles which is definitely a matter of personal preference too.
  • Weight – Trust me, if you are fishing for any length of time, then the lighter the reel, the better.
  • Anti reverse switch – These are usually found in the underbelly of the reel and simply put, will stop the reel going backwards. Some like to reel in reverse to let line out slowly but don’t want this to happen with the rod is in a holder.
  • Line holder – This is the little tab on the side of the reel housing that holds the end of the fishing line if it is not rigged up. These are not often thought of when a reel is purchased but something that is really missed if it is not there.
  • Interchangeable winder – There are not many that don’t do this these days however this is the ability to swap the winder handle around to allow for left or right-handed use.
general rod and reel combos - couple fishing

What do I use?

So, as mentioned above I purchased my first rod and reel combo quite a few years ago. I would like to say I did a lot of research but not knowing much about it i just took the advice of the guy in the shop. It turns out he did seem to know what he was taking about as I have used this combo in just about every fishing environment there is (apart from deep sea fishing) and it has not skipped a beat.

Here are its specs:

Rod

  • Made from: Fiberglass
  • Length: 6.5ft
  • Power: Medium
  • Action: Moderate/fast
  • Composition: Two piece
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 3000
  • Bearings: 5 + 1
  • Ratio: 5.1:1
  • Composition: Stainless Steel, Aluminum and plastic handle
  • Drag: front of spool
  • Anti-reverse switch: – yes

The rod is short and easy to work with in and sensitive enough to feel it when the fish nibble at the bait. It can also handle a bit of heavier weight if the current gets a little strong as it tends to do at about 3 quarter tide in the estuary that we often fish in.

I generally use it with a lighter line but have loaded heavier braid on it from time to time as well. All in all, anything around the specifications above would suit for most environments.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following combos for general fishing use:

1. Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Spinning Reel Combo

I have chosen this first combo based on the fact that based on the information and reviews, it is the best I could find for those looking to get themselves a decent combo on a budget. There are different length options for the rod and the reel is good for those who want to fish a few locations without having to change equipment. It is a good, solid and durable product that is light to hold with specifications as follows:

Rod

  • Length: 4.8 – 7ft (I would recommend sticking to the 6 – 6.6ft range)
  • Power: Medium light to medium
  • Composition: 2 piece graphite/fiberglass build
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 2000 – 6000 (go the 3000 – 4000 I think here)
  • Bearings: 4
  • Ratio: 5.5:1
  • Composition: Aluminum
  • Drag: On front of spool – triple disk system
  • Anti reverse switch: yes
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Lightweight composition.
  • Stainless Steel Guides w/O-Rings
  • Sensitive clear tip

Why have I chosen it?

This is a good little all round use rod and reel combo for a good price. I like the lighter power rating which makes it great for beginners or those who wish to drift with live baits in a kayak as well. It will take a good range of line strength (4 – 8 lb) and should be able to handle both light and heavy sinker weight if the conditions require it.


2. Cadence CC5 Spinning Combo

This next option comprises of a 7ft rod made of ultra lightweight graphite and carbon composite build with a great reel size to make it a good combo for those who want a rod to use in more than one location. It is also a good one for someone wanting to do a little more fishing and hence wants something that will do the job with great durability and usability. It is also not as expensive as some of the other graphite/carbon fiber models on the market with specs including:

Rod

  • Length: 7 ft (you might be able to get 6’6″ models as well)
  • Power: Medium (fast action)
  • Composition: 2 piece graphite
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 2000- 4000 (I would stick to the 3000 or 4000 size myself)
  • Bearings: 8+1
  • Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Composition: Carbon composite
  • Drag: Carbon fiber – front of spool – max 19lb
  • Anti reverse switch: yes
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Lightweight stainless steel guides: 8 + Tip
  • Suitable for salt and freshwater

Why have I chosen it?

This one is very close to the perfect rod for general fishing and the one I would choose here. I like the rod specifications and as a combo it would handle most conditions including where some heavier weights are needed. And for those who venture a little further it would also handle some lighter ocean fishing exploits with ease as well.


3. PENN Battle Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

The third combo I have chosen is a little more expensive but for the enthusiastic fisherman, it is almost the perfect rod. It again comes in at that 7ft length however its reel quality and graphite blank make it well worth a look for those who wish to really get stuck into a few different environments. It would not look out of place in an ocean fishing environment as well. Its specs include:

Rod

  • Length: 7 – 10ft (get the 7ft as a good general option)
  • Power: Medium – Heavy (fast action)
  • Composition: 2 piece graphite
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 4000 (on 7ft rod option)
  • Bearings: 5+1
  • Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Composition: Aluminium
  • Drag: On front of spool – carbon fiber drag washers
  • Anti reverse switch: yes
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Braid ready reel stock with tailored rubber gasket
  • Full Metal Body and Side plates

Why have I chosen it?

This rod is a great one for those who looking for a little quality over price. The graphite build and specifications make it a very versatile rod for most conditions and needs with the ability to handle most applicable line strengths as well. Stick to the 7ft models unless you want to use the rod in surf locations more often than not. The reel size is a good size for general use and its lightweight design and specs make is a versatile option for all use types.

Conclusion

And there it is – my 3 best spinning rod and reel combos for general 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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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing hobbyists who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to fishing.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome fishing gear that will give you the best chance of catching a fish for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Paul

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