8 Best Saltwater Spinning Rods + Buying Guide


Updated on January 25, 2023 by
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The best saltwater spinning rods are made from corrosion-resistant materials like SiC guides and fiberglass blanks, with a non-slip cork grip, and a wide range of lengths, such as the Cadence CR5.

Saltwater fishing is a generalized term used for any technique of fishing in the ocean. And the casting on saltwater is quite different from freshwater.

When it comes to saltwater or surf fishing, there’s no shortcut or trick. A good saltwater spinning rod is a must to get on the right track.

Wondering what could be the best saltwater spinning rods for the money?

Well, a good-quality fishing rod can cost a little bit of money. In fact, you want to ensure that your rod is worth the price you pay, and it can meet the expectation. Saltwater spinning rods come in a variety of sizes. Meanwhile, if you are going after giant fish, you will need a larger rod than smaller fish. There is a big difference in the type of rod you will need whether you are targeting tuna or tarpon or marlin.

When determining what spinning reel to put on a fishing rod, the crucial aspect is to ensure the reel and rods are well balanced together.

ImageFeaturesScorePrice
Best Overall
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod

  • Strong, yet balanced graphite and fiberglass construction
  • Durable one-piece stainless steel guides
  • 7-year warranty
  • Comfortable EVA handle
9.4
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Best Value for Money
Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

  • Comfortable Cork Handle
  • Saltwater and Freshwater Ready
  • Stainless Steel Guides
  • Flexible with greater fiberglass content
9.1
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Best Premium Rod
St. Croix  Premier Spinning Rod

St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod

  • Premium SCII Carbon Construction
  • Premium Grade Cork Handle
  • 5-Year Warranty
  • Fuji DPS Reel Seat and Hook Keeper
8.8
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Saltwater vs Freshwater Spinning Rods

Saltwater fishing is different in the sense that it tends to be bigger than freshwater spots. At the same time, salt water is usually highly corrosive. Therefore, the best fishing gear or tools should be made from corrosive-resistant components.

Casting rod vs spinning rod, which one is better?

It’s an old debate issue for the angler. Well, spinning rods are beginner-friendly rods. It is most popular for its pretty straightforward mechanism.

On the other hand, Baitcasting rods are preferable for expert anglers. The reason behind it is they tend to perform superbly when one needs to cast accurately.

How We Rate Products

I thoroughly review all products to measure their performance, durability, and value for money. This is done through bench and field testing to check how the product performs. This testing results in an overall score that I give to all products. All metrics are scored out of 5.

Performance

The performance score is how well this product fulfills its primary purpose. Does it have all the features and optional extras you need to catch the target species? We also interview expert anglers on their experience to build a broader and more comprehensive view on the performance under multiple conditions.

  • Test 1: Confirm that the max drag meets the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Test 2: Test the maximum casting distance using a 1.0-ounce lure.
  • Test 3: Test the accuracy by casting 10 times into a 3 ft diameter circle at 30 yards.
  • Test 4: Check the versatility and the ability to handle multiple uses by field testing with 3 different lures and baits.

Durability

Durability refers to how long the product will continue functioning. I twist, bend, and break all the products to check their longevity. This score is for the materials of construction, the quality of the workmanship, and the servicing requirements. There are also bonus points for manufacturers’ warranty.

For products that we can’t test for long enough, we also consult with experts who have been using them for multiple decades to judge their longevity.

  • Test 5: Pull it apart to check the grease and oil levels, how difficult it is to maintain, and whether any sand or salt has deposited after use in saltwater.

Value for Money

The final aspect of the scoring system is the price or, more specifically, the value for money. Value for money is a comparison against the closest alternative products, both by the same manufacturer and other brands.

Overall Score

Finally, I average the three scores of performance, durability, and value for money to give the overall score of each product reviewed.

To see more details, please read the complete guide on how we test and evaluate fishing products.

1. Cadence Fishing Rods CR5

Best Jigging Rod
Cadence CR5 Spinning Rod
8.9/10Our Score
  • Cork and EVA Handle
  • Fuji Reel Seat
  • Stainless Steel Guides
  • Lightweight and Strong

 

  • The Rod Butt Can Be Too Long and Get in the Way

Key Features

  • SiC guides with durable stainless steel frame
  • Carbon fiber rod
  • Premium cork and EVA grip
  • ​Introducing the most versatile spinning rod which can be perfectly fit in trunk, car, and boat hatch!

Cadence fishing poles come with high-performance premium attributes at an unbeatable value. Ideal for game fish along with freshwater fish like walleye, bass, and trout or inshore species like speckled trout, redfish, and flounder with a rinse after fishing.

What I Like About It

All CR5 1-piece/ 2-piece fishing rods are designed with 30-ton graphite blank to offer more power, durability, lightweight, and sensitivity to other rods.

Apart from these, Stainless steel guides along with SiC inserts make it more durable as well as smooth to avoid line sticking and minimize friction while ensuring sensitivity by transferring vibrations from the fishing line to the rod.

What makes it so special from the rest of the others?

Cadence spinning rods are made from superior materials that bring sensitivity and strength without weight. In the meantime, rods come in two handle configurations; full grip and carbon split grip using cork, and EVA is engineered to deliver a reliable rod at a greater value than the rest of the competition.

What I Don’t Like

They should beef up the rod handles for both endurance and comfort when fishing a long day.

Pros

  • Portable Setting.
  • Ultra-High Quality.
  • Super Smooth Power.

Cons

  • Long handle.

2. Okuma Celilo Ultralight Review

Best for Trout
Okuma Celilo Trout Rod
8.8/10Our Score
  • Stainless Steel Reel Seat
  • Aluminum-Oxide Guides
  • Comfortable Cork Grip
  • Graphite Composite Blank
  • Shipping Can Be Poor
  • Very Long Below Reel Seat

Key Features

Throwing modesty out the window, they nailed the actions and developed the perfect trout, salmon, and bouncing bottom rods. Although stunning, you don’t have to take out the second mortgage to load your boat with them.

What I Like About It

Using the setup, you will feel like you have hooked the monster fish every time. 

This is because Okuma ultralight rods are engineered to be extremely sensitive. As a result, you can feel the tiniest nibble, and if it’s a smaller-sized fish like bluegill, the fight will be quite enjoyable.

The reel seats are fairly standard along with stainless steel hoods. Plus, you will get a hook keeper who is also stainless steel. Hence, the handle is made of tough yet very smooth cork grips, ensuring a lightweight but fine grip.

What I Don’t Like

The rod is quite stiff in the bottom half. 

Pros

  • Graphite Blank Construction.
  • Rear Cork Grips.
  • Tested for quality.

Cons

  • The handle is not satisfactory.

3. Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod

  • Solid Construction Yet Lightweight
  • Comfortable EVA Handle
  • Graphite and Fiberglass Combination
  • Stainless Steel Guides
  • The Handle Can Be Too Thin for Large Hands

Key Features

  • Graphite and fiberglass rod
  • One-piece stainless steel guides
  • Clear tip
  • If you want something eye-catching design yet strong, then this is it.

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod is the next generation of Ugly Stik® that blends the tradition and heritage of the original while ensuring the strength and durability the brand Ugly Sticks are known for.

What I Like About It

Strong, yet balanced fiberglass and graphite construction make it so unique from the rest of the others. In a word, Ugly Stik GX2 rods offer better balance for improved components, a lighter feel, and a stunning design for a more modern look.

Ugly Stik GX2 spinning rod review won’t be complete without mentioning its technical specification — this lightweight rod is designed as 2 piece construction.

The EVA material gives the feel that makes the new grip kind to your hands. As a result, now you can fish for long hours without any discomfort or getting inflammations.

The material is sturdy and makes the fishing gear even more durable. The best part is an Ugly Stik logo has been attached at the end of the rod. So you can easily identify the rod from your fishing arsenal.

What I Don’t Like

Good travel spinning rod but not fast enough action or too sensitive.

Pros

  • Lightweight EVA grips.
  • Balanced graphite construction.
  • Lighter feel.

Cons

  • Reel seats are a little bit flimsy.

4. St Croix Triumph Spinning Rods

  • SCIII Carbon material
  • Premium Cork Handle
  • Flex Coat Slow Cure Finish
  • 5 Year Warranty
  • Can Be Difficult to Set the Hook Due to the Extreme Flex

Key Features

  • SCII graphite
  • ​An outstanding choice for anglers who value high-performance without a high price tag!

The St. Croix story has developed over 70 years, and this long path has taken many different twists. In being equipped and designed for the moment opportunity strikes.

What I Like About It

St. Croix’s R&D department is one of the most advanced in the business. St. Croix has invested in composite materials and manufacturing techniques.

This awesome rod is made of Premium SCII Graphite. The Fuji DPS reel seat has frosted silver hoods. It is designed in Park Falls, and handcrafted in Fresnillo, Mexico.

What I Don’t Like

You have to keep in mind that its ultra-lite version is pretty flexible, which can be challenging on setting the hook when you got a lot of lines out. So it’s really meant for small creeks and ponds. On the other hand, it’s quite heavy.

Pros

  • Finely Tuned Actions.
  • Hook-Setting Power.
  • Impressive power.

Cons

  • The reel seat locks pretty easily.

5. Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

Best Value for Money
Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod
9.1/10Our Score
  • Comfortable Cork Grip
  • Graphite/Fiberglass Composite
  • Virtually Indestructible
  • Ugly Tuff Guides
  • Small Grip Above Reel Seat for Applying Pressure

Such a fun rod!

From larger rainbows to bookies, you will never miss a nibble. Offering extra strength and sensitivity when compared to the previous model, the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod from Shakespeare provides uncompromising performance for fishermen of all skill levels.

The thing that impressed us most is, that it can be used with almost all types of line for ideal versatility. The spinning rod’s Clear Tip design works fine to even the lightest nibbles.

What I Like About It

The Ugly Stik Elite rod is made with 35 percent graphite for lighter weight while offering the legendary toughness you have come to expect from Shakespeare Ugly Stik. Cork handles provides a firm yet smooth handhold for reliable hook sets and long hours of comfortable fishing.

Wait, there is much more!

One-piece stainless steel guides reduce insert pop-outs for convenience and ease of use, and it comes with blank style reel seats with ‘D’ stainless steel hoods to ensure the reel stays firmly in place. Backed by a company’s 7-year warranty, the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod ensures professional performance at a reasonable price.

What I Don’t Like

The notch eventually creates an abrasive surface and can destroy the fishing line at a furious pace.

Pros

  • Ugly Tech Construction.
  • Increased sensitivity.
  • Maximum durability.

Cons

  • Little Bit Heavy.

6. St Croix Premier Spinning Rods

Best Premium Rod
St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod
8.8/10Our Score
  • SCII Graphite Material
  • Premium Cork Handles
  • Fuji Reel Seat
  • Flex-Coat Slow Cure Finish
  • More Expensive

This black pearl rod is not only gorgeous but also sturdy and comes at a value-conscious price. The St. Croix Premier Spinning Rods are manufactured handcrafted in the US. With a St.Croix spinning rod in hand, you are totally part of a celebrated tradition.

The SCII blank includes mid-modulus graphite fiber and a higher strain rate for maximum sensitivity and power.

What I Like About It

First of all, let’s talk about the overall appearance. The Premier Series rod is designed with SCII graphite blanks and top-grade components.

Durable Batson aluminum-oxide guides along with double-plated frames span each blank. Plus, it provides rugged performance; Fuji TCS reel seats ensure a lightweight, comfortable base for the reel.

Premium grade, cork handles provides a comfortable grip as well as plenty of fighting leverage and in a nutshell, offer the perfect blend of value incredible, and performance.

What I Don’t Like

Honestly speaking, it’s an ultra-sensitive rod.

Pros

  • Value-conscious price.
  • SCII graphite blanks.
  • Comfortable grip.

Cons

  • A bit pricey.

7. Cadence CR7 Spinning Rod

Cadence CR7 Spinning Rod
8.5/10Our Score
  • Highly Versatile Rod
  • 1 Piece Design
  • Very Affordable
  • High Modulus Blanks
  • Extremely Sensitive Tip Can Give False Strikes
  • Complaints of the Reel Nut Sleeve Breaks

Key Features

  • Graphite rod
  • Stainless steel guides with SiC inserts
  • Fuji reel seat
  • Premium-grade cork and EVA handles
  • If you’re looking for something medium and fun, this is the answer.

These attributes, along with its functionality in multiple lengths, make the Cadence CR7 a great spinning rod – perfect for gamefish including freshwater fish like walleye, bass, and trout.

The Cadence spinning rod will exceed your expectations with the quality, features, and design you have come to appreciate.

What I Like About It

Before anything else, let’s talk about its overall appearance.

The CR7 is made up of 40-ton carbon, durable stainless steel frames, SiC guides with a comfortable Fuji seat and a finely blank wrapped to enhance the durability.

The CR7 series is available in 2 different handle configurations; full grip and carbon split grip using a premium cork named EVA. Besides, this is designed to deliver a premium rod at a significant value than the competition.

All Cadence items come with a 1-year warranty with the best-in-class customer service team to give your ownership experience as effortless as one of our reels.

Finally, Cadence rod offers top-grade premium traits at an unbeatable value. We could say this medium-fast won’t disappoint you.

What I Don’t Like

Some user complains that the sleeve on the reel nut easily broke off. 

Pros

  • Extra fast taper.
  • Premium materials.
  • SiC guides.

Cons

  • Extremely sensitive.

8. Tica HLHB Spinning Rod

TICA HLHB Series Salmon Steelhead Rod
8.4/10Our Score
  • High Modulus TC2 Graphite
  • Fuji Ring Guides
  • Comfortable Cork Handle
  • Light and Sensitive
  • A Bit Stiff
  • No Hook Keeper

​Whether you take the lake, cast from shore, or wade the rivers, Tica HLHB rod provides responsive performance make certain your success below every surface.

For saltwater casting, there are no better spinning rods than this HLHB, made up of TC2 graphite material. Meanwhile, they feature a sensitive blank with strength and action. Hence, these rods are lightweight, strong, and sensitive.

What I Like About It

Outfitted with superior quality Fuji ring guides, this Tica HLHB rod won’t allow the rod to heat due to abrasion between the fishing line and the guides, which can result in disturbing line breakage.

The hardy ring guides keep the line flat to ensure flawless line flow. In addition, the top grade APS graphite trigger seat ensures a secure attachment of the spinning reel to give problem-free retrieves and wobble-free performance.

What I Don’t Like

You have to buy the hook keeper separately, and we consider it quite a greater drawback for a spinning rod at this price tag.

Pros

  • Super-fast casting.
  • So smooth.
  • Very light.

Cons

  • A bit stiff.

Saltwater Spinning Rods Buyer’s Guide

Material of the Saltwater Spinning Rods

The first thing to consider while choosing the spinning rod is the material. It can be:

Graphite: Mostly popular for its lighter blanks, graphite is preferable in a smaller diameter. It is strong and light but lacks impact resistance so it will break more easily if you strike it against a hard object like the side of your boat. I prefer graphite rods for baitcasters when I will be casting a lot.

Fiberglass: It’s able to face the abuse on boats and windy seas and is a trusted all-around rod material. Meanwhile, it’s durable, strong, and flexible. I prefer fiberglass rods for heavy-duty boat rods where strength is important and I won’t be doing any casting – plus I can put it in a rod holder and not worry about the extra weight.

New-Generation Composite: A formulation of both graphite and fiberglass, New-generation composites are lightweight designed materials in spinning rods. In summary, it’s a combination of durability and toughness.

Castability of the Saltwater Spinning Rods

For casting accuracy, you need extra-fast action rods which provide more power and speed to pitch a lure. So make sure you are choosing the right one.

Corrosion Resistant Parts of the Saltwater Spinning Rods

As the saltwater can do a lot of damage to the material, ensure your guides on the rod are fully corrosion resistant as well as can hold up against saltwater.

Why is it important?

Rods that can’t handle salt water will eventually corrode and break or alter. 

Proper Rod Action

Most importantly, find the action which is right for the kind of casting you to do.

Rods Power

Image Source: fix.com

High-Quality Cork Grip

Make sure the rod you pick has a high-quality cork for your comfortable grip. It’s so important because this is the part you are going to hold in your hand most. I am a big fan of cork – it is extremely comfortable and non-slip, plus it just looks better.

Decision Time: Which Saltwater Spinning Rod Should I Pick?

Well, it depends on what type of fishing you want to do and what kind of fish you aim to target. Hence, with that determination, you can go for selecting a proper action, weight, and length to match your needs.

Wrapping Up

As we can see, different fishing rods are designed for different kinds of casting and spinning rods. Thus, It all depends on your need and personal preferences.

Considering all aspects of fishing rods discussed above will help you find the right saltwater spinning rod for you. However, the rod that impressed us most is the St Croix Premier Spinning Rod


Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing I prefer than heading down to my local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test. My favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. My dream is to catch a Black Marlin.