Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combo for Freshwater of 2019: Complete Reviews with Comparisons

By Sonnox | Fishing Reel Reviews

best fishing rod and reel combo for freshwater
Spread the love

Having the best fishing rod and reel combo for freshwater is key to enjoyable and successful fishing trips. A well-balanced rig will not just feel great in your hands but will also give you absolute control. This ultimately results in a smoother experience when you cast, fight fish, and retrieve them.

If you are in the market for one, you’re in luck. We will not just review five amazing fishing rod and reel combo but we will also provide you with a buyer’s guide along with a FAQ section so that you make a well-informed decision.

Comparison Chart

Ugly Stik Spinning Combo

Plusinno Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

PENN Squall Level Wind Reel and Rod Fishing Combo

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel and Rod Combo

Best Fishing Rod and Reel Combo for Freshwater: Brief Reviews

1. Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

Introduced in 1976, the Ugly Stik brand is well-known and considered to be a pioneer in fishing. The Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo has a sleek aesthetic that features silver and red accents on a shiny black finish.

Product Highlights

The Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo is ideal for finesse fishing using lighter weights. The reel is made of great quality and offers a smoother casting experience that has no issues such as backlashes and snarls. Its power and speed are also well-balanced, making it a highly versatile tool.

When it comes to the rod, this brand is known for making highly durable and at the same time quite flexible rods. As such, you can bend the rod with ease without the fear of it snapping and breaking. 

The Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo is quite pocket-friendly and the whole setup is an ideal starter kit. With the help of a good fishing line, you are all set to go. The monoline capacity of this product is 190/4, 140/6, and 110/8.

This spinning-reel-and-rod combo also comes with a fiberglass and graphite construction. The former gives it stiffness and toughness while the latter offers brilliant sensitivity.

What's to like about the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

The one thing that tops the list of what we liked about the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo is how strong it is. The manufacturer paid close attention to the construction. It is strong, versatile, and can bend quite easily. It is not too expensive either.

What's not to like about the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

What we feel the company should work on is the after-sales service. The company is not easy to get in touch with especially if you have any issue with the product. Even though the product does come with a warranty, it does not help much.

PROS

  • check
    Phenomenal rod construction
  • check
    Offers smooth operation
  • check
    Highly versatile
  • check
    Easy to use

CONS

  • Can jerk a little when in use
  • Disappointing after-sales service

2. PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod Kit

The PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod Kit is a durable and easy-to-use fishing rod and it has some impressive features. Let’s talk about some of them below. 

Product Highlights 

The PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod is a strong, sturdy, and smooth full fishing kit. The rod has a telescopic design which makes it one of the best fishing pole and reel combos for travel.

While the fishing reel and rod are known to suit freshwater, it also works great for saltwater fishing. The rod is made from a graphite construction and it gives it sensitivity whereas the fiberglass and the carbon fiber make it tough which is ideal to handle even a medium-sized saltwater fish.

Another special feature of this fishing rod we would like to shed some light on is the fact that it is collapsible to a small size, making it easy to carry around and store. All the components in this rod include anti-corrosive stainless-steel hooded reel seats, aluminum oxide guides, and an EVA handle grip for more comfortable handling.

The PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod Kit is also available in s complete fishing kit. This does not just come with the reel and rod setup but also comes with several necessary fishing accessories such as fishing hooks, lures, bag, and lines. This makes it a perfect kit for a beginner as it has everything you need to get started with fishing.

What's to like about the PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod Kit

Right off the bat, the telescopic rod being collapsible is a major plus point for the PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod Kit. This makes it easy to travel with and convenient to store. We also love the fact that the product comes with a one-year warranty.

What's not to like about the PLUSINNO Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod Kit

We found the rod to be slightly on the stiffer side and this could backfire when trying to catch certain fish. Also, the top segment tends to get stuck.  

PROS

  • check
    Durable
  • check
    Easy to carry around and store
  • check
    Quite lightweight and compact
  • check
    Budget-friendly
  • check
    Risk-free purchase
  • check
    Designed for both saltwater and freshwater fishing

CONS

  • Stiff rod  

3. Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Rod and Reel Combo  

The Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Rod and Reel Combo comes in a stunning color combination of red and black. It is packed with some cutting-edge features, which we will discuss below.

Product Highlights 

The Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Rod and Reel Combo is capable of delivering smooth drag and has extreme durability. It is also known for its supple sensitivity which is essential to tame some of the hard pulling gamefish.

The Abu Garcia Fishing Rod and Reel Combo combine a lightweight and smooth-operating reel with a highly responsive graphite rod. It is clear that it is a product engineered carefully since its reel comes with an ergonomic bent handle and recessed foot. Together, they offer comfort, especially during all-day fishing trips.

The fishing reel also comes with a MagTrax brake system, which exerts a consistent brake pressure to boost the cast’s accuracy and range. On the other hand, the Power Drag system will provide a smoother drag needed to tame hard-pulling fish. This drag complements the rod’s sensitivity absolutely perfectly, allowing you to perceive even the lightest of the lightest nibbles.  

To further intensify the sensitivity and to improve the line access, the rod comes with an extreme exposure reel seat. This is meant to bring the reel into close contact with the rod. This, along with the DuraGear brass gear and stainless-steel guides, lets the rod withstand years of tough use.  

What's to like about the Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

The Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Rod and Reel Combo comes with quite a few impressive features but the combination of the smooth-operating reel along with a responsive graphite rod is something that takes the cake. This rod will easily be able to withstand years of punishing use.

What's not to like about the Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

What we did not like about the Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Rod and Reel Combo is how it was shipped. It comes in a box that is twice the size of the product and this could possibly result in the fishing rod getting damaged. We believe that the company should use an appropriate size box for the rod.  

PROS

  • check
    Highly durable
  • check
    Made using premium materials
  • check
    Quite light in weight
  • check
    Superior responsiveness
  • check
    Smooth drag
  • check
    Great sensitivity

CONS

  • Needs better packaging

4. PENN Squall Level Wind Reel and Rod Fishing Combo

Lightweight, high-strength, and marine-grade, these are some of the words we use to describe the PENN Squall Level Wind Reel and Rod Fishing Combo. Let’s highlight some of its top features for you to understand why.  

Product Highlights

The PENN Squall Level Wind Reel and Rod Fishing Combo has a single-piece rod. We know what you are thinking; a single-piece rod may be difficult to travel around with. However, the important thing to keep in mind is that it is still one of the sturdiest rods on the market.

This rod has a total length of six feet and six inches and the makers have put this in the group of medium to heavy rods. What you also get along with this fishing rod is a level-wind reel. This, as well as the line guide, ensures that there is an equal distribution of the line when you are winding it.

Additionally, the fishing rod comes with two ball bearings made from high-quality stainless steel. It also features an anti-reverse bearing.  

The rod’s frame and side plates are made from high-quality and lightweight graphite. Furthermore, its main gear is made from a high-strength marine grade bronze alloy. It also has a one-piece tubular glass blank with solid tip.

What's to like about the PENN Squall Level Wind Reel and Rod Fishing Combo

Typically, a single-piece rod is something that not many people are not too interested in, but with the PENN Squall Level Wind Reel and Rod Fishing Combo, you certainly don’t seem to notice it too much. That is all thanks to how durable and strong the rod is. Likewise, the overall built and construction of the fishing rod is phenomenal.

What's not to like about the PENN Squall Level Wind Reel and Rod Fishing Combo

The one thing we did not like about the fishing rod is the handle. The design is something that manufacturers should have paid more attention to.

That is mainly because you may end up scratching yourself or the gear when you take out the pole from the holder. That said, the way you can get around this is by taking extra care when you use it.

PROS

  • check
    Single-piece rod design
  • check
    Quite durable
  • check
    Lightweight
  • check
    Solid tip

CONS

  • Poor handle design

5. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel and Rod Combo

If you are looking for a fishing rod and reel combo that works in freshwater and bodies of ice water, then the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel and Rod Combo is an ideal choice for you.

Product Highlights

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel and Rod Combo is a fantastic combination of excellent strength and easy-to-use design. It makes fishing simpler and more accessible without taking the fun out of the equation!

This combo pairs the ultra-durable Ugly Stik fishing rod along with the highly dependable fishing reel from Shakespeare. The fishing rod is modeled after the iconic Ugly Stik we reviewed above. It is durable and still quite balanced for a lighter feel.

The fishing rod is a two-piece rod and is crafted with a brilliant combination of fiberglass and graphite. Together, it makes the rod last for years even with tough use.

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel and Rod Combo will respond even to the lightest of nibbles and strikes while the EVA grips that are specially designed offer a comfortable and firm hold even for people with smaller hands. It also comes with stainless-steel one-piece Ugly Tuff guides that eliminate insert pop-out for easier use. There is also a size 30 reel that features a machined anodized aluminum spool along with one ball bearing to deliver smoother operation and near-instantaneous hook sets.

What's to like about the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel and Rod Combo

What we love most about the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel and Rod Combo is that in addition to being able to use in freshwater, it is great to use even in icy bodies of water. It is also more than suitable to use for average-sized species that most of us tend to fish. We also liked the rod’s handle as it is quite comfortable to use and easy to control.

What's not to like about the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel and Rod Combo

Unfortunately, the spinning reel only comes with one ball bearing. This does make using it a bit tough, but it still manages to do a fairly good job.  

PROS

  • check
    Flexible, strong, and sensitive rod
  • check
    Durable and tough construction
  • check
    Well balanced components and set up
  • check
    Great price and excellent value
  • check
    Ideal for beginners

CONS

  • More ideal for kids and young adults

Buyer's Guide

If you are a new angler, we understand how tough selecting a fishing rod and reel combo for freshwater can be. There are quite a few factors to consider when you are in the market for one.

As such, we will provide you with a detailed buyer’s guide which is guaranteed to help you understand it better. That way, it will help you select the perfect one for your needs and wants.

1. Line Capacity  

Line capacity or line rating refers to the normal breaking strength of a line that can be paired with a properly adjusted reel. For example, if your fishing rod states eight to 12 pounds, you may be able to fight fish with a reasonable drag without the rod breaking.

You should not be running a 50 pounds main line and a 30 pounds leader with an eight to 12 pounds rod. This doesn’t mean the weight of the fish you can catch as it is highly dependent on the strength of the fish, current, and other factors that will move the rod.

2. Bearings  

Bearing or ball bearings are ceramic or stainless-steel balls that will help reduce noise, vibration, and friction in the moving parts of the reel. The quality of the reel is extremely dependent on whether or not it comes with a bearing system.

The reel quality also depends on the amount and the quality of the ball bearings it has; the more the bearings, the higher the quality and smooth operation. That said, they will also become a bit pricier. It is also important to note that if you use your fishing rod in saltwater, you should make sure the bearings have a corrosion-resistant construction.  

3. Reel Body  

Every single fishing reel comes with a body. The material used to make it will help determine how expensive the fishing reel will be.

A good quality fishing reel will have a body made out of graphite or aluminum. However, if you are a novice angler and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a fishing reel, then you can opt for plastic ones. 

4. Handle  

The handle or the crank of a fishing reel is the part that allows the user to spool back the fishing line as they retrieve their catch and let out the line as they cast.

You will find that most anglers tend to prefer a fishing reel that comes with a movable handle. That is because this type of handle is easier to use and can be used in either left- or right-hand orientation.

5. Gear  

The gear is another vital component of the fishing reel. It is what connects the fishing reel's spool and the handle.  

6. Drag  

The drag or the drag system on the spinning reel is yet another important aspect you must consider. There are two types of drag systems available: rear and front drag.

Generally, the drag is responsible for applying pressure to a hooked fish and letting out the line during a fight. Without a high-quality and smooth drag, there is a high risk of a broken line and lost fish.   

Therefore, you must always ensure that the reel you buy has a non-constrictive and smooth drag. The line should pull out steadily without any hesitation no matter what tension you set the drag at.

7. Spool  

The spool is not only important for holding the line but also for casting distance and smoothness. A majority of the spools on the market are either anodized aluminum or graphite. While graphite is lighter in weight, aluminum spools offer great rigidity and strength under pressure.  

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Does Medium/Heavy Mean on a Fishing Rod?  

This basically refers to the power or the amount of pressure that an angler has to apply in order to make the rod bent. Heavy action rods will need more pressure to bend while light action rods need significantly lesser effort.  

2. What Does Line Rating Mean on a Fishing Rod?  

The line rating on a fishing rod allows you to understand the rod’s capability to curve without it reaching the lockout point. The ones sold in the USA or Europe market have a common rating system. These ratings will use two line ratings, which are low and high.  

3. What Is the Difference Between a Spinning Rod and a Casting Rod?  

Spinning rod and casting rod are two completely different fishing rods. The former bends from the force of a bite on the line.

On the other hand, casting rods bend over as the eyelets take an upward position when the fish pulls the lines. As such, casting rods are a better option for serious fishing in comparison to spinning rods.  

4. How Do I Know If My Rod Is Spinning or Casting?  

There are some obvious differences between spinning and casting rods. For starters, spinning rods tend to have a large spacing while casting rods have minimal spacing.

Additionally, spinning rods are easier to learn how to use while casting rods would require a bit of effort to learn. Lastly, spinning rods are not meant for heavyweight activities while their counterpart is.  

5. Do Longer Fishing Rods Cast Further?  

A longer rod will provide you with a longer cast, but there are other factors that come into play. If the power and action are the same, then a seven-foot rod will cast the same lure farther than a six-foot rod. If the lure is light, it is more manageable on a shorter rod than a longer one.  

Final Verdict

Having the best fishing rod and reel combo for freshwater for either your first or your next angling adventure will guarantee you to save your time and effort. Choosing any one of the five products reviewed will contribute greatly to your success. Additionally, with our detailed buyer’s guide and the handy FAQ section, we are certain you can make a better and informed decision.  

With that being said, between all the fishing reel and rod combos, our personal favorite is the Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Rod and Reel Combo. Right off the bat, you will realize that the rod has a highly impressive construction that will make it last for years. Furthermore, since it is lightweight, it is perfect for all-day fishing trips.

With all its impressive features, we are certain that choosing the Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Rod and Reel Combo is something you will not regret!

About the Author

Leave a Comment:

Leave a Comment: