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I still remember the first ever rod and reel combo I got as a kid while on a family vacation in upstate New York. I was so excited to test it out, I went straight down to the lake with it and I caught a few bluegills and one nice bass, which was a thrill. I still have that rod and reel today, and still fish with it. Not only does it hold sentimental value to me, but like most rod and reel combos, it’s versatile and practical. What more can you ask for?

It’s a common misconception that a rod and reel combo isn’t as good as rods and reels sold separately. That is the furthest thing from the truth. There are plenty of awesome options out there that will help you catch plenty of fish. Rod and reel combos are ideal for people who don’t want to or know how to perfectly match the best rods and reels, because you know your fishing gear is perfectly matched. Check out the list below for the best rod and reel combos.

Considerations when looking for the best rod and reel combo 

You don’t want to buy a rod and reel combo just to find out that it isn’t going to cut it for the type of fishing you plan to do. Your fishing equipment should be tailored to your fishing style. Rod and reel combos come in many different designs and sizes. There are saltwater combos, freshwater combos, and fly fishing combos. 

Most people are looking for a combo that can catch a wide variety of fish and be effective in various situations. While you won’t find a fishing rod and reel combo to catch every fish that swims, you can find fishing equipment combinations that cover a wide array of tactics. One of the fishing gear combos listed below will be appropriate for most common fishing situations.

Best Baitcasting Rod and Reel Combo: Abu Garcia MLF Baitcast Combo

Smooth and Well Constructed

A great bass fishing combo for anglers looking for a reliable setup.
Abu Garcia

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Having a solid baitcasting setup is crucial for bass anglers. You need a rod and reel you can trust to make a difficult cast and play a big fish. The Abu Garcia MLF baitcasting combo does just that. The fishing reel features a 1-piece graphite frame and stainless steel bearings. The PowerDisk drag system will help you control big fish when they make long runs and keep you in control. The 7-foot rod is available in 8- to 15-pound-test or 10-to 20-pound-test line classes, in right or left retrieve.

Best Spinning Rod and Reel: Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier 2 Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Lightweight and Versatile

A durable, lightweight spinning rod and reel for all kinds of fishing.
Bass Pro Shops

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A good medium weight spinning setup is appropriate for most lake, river, and stream fishing. This Bass Pro Shops combo features a lightweight aluminum reel with a smooth multi-disc drag. The rod is a 1-piece with a split handle grip design, and comes in sizes that accommodate 4- to 12-pound-test lines, making it good for panfish, trout, perch, bass, and more. 

Best Fly Rod and Reel: Orvis Encounter Complete Fly Outfit

High-Performance Combo

A perfect first rod and reel combo for someone just starting in fly fishing.
Orvis

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The Orvis Encounter rod and reel set is one of the best choices for people looking to get into fly fishing. But I also recommend it for the more experienced angler looking to add another trout setup to their arsenal. This fishing rod and reel is ideal for trout, bass, and panfish. It comes in a 5-weight size—perfect for trout—and in 8-weight for those looking to target bigger species like bass and pike. I like this fly fishing rod and reel to fish dry flies and streamers for trout, but also bring it on my smallmouth pursuits. This outfit includes the reel, rod, fly line, backing, and leader—everything you need to get started fly fishing!

Best Saltwater Rod and Reel: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Classic Combo

A durable, strong, and effective saltwater combo to last many seasons.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik

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I caught my first ever striped bass on an Ugly Stik, and have been using Ugly Stiks ever since. This Shakespeare saltwater spinning rod and reel combination will last you for years on the water. The fishing reel has a 2-bearing system and oversized handle knob. The rod is a graphite and glass construction with a sensitive touch to feel subtle bites, but has enough backbone to control big fish. The manufacturer’s 7-year warranty speaks to the trust and durability of this rod and reel combination.

Best Cheap Rod and Reel: Bass Pro Shops Megacast Rod And Reel Baitcast Combo

Affordable and Effective

A good baitcaster combo at a good price.
Bass Pro Shops

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You don’t have to spend a lot to get a good baitcasting combo. The Bass Pro Shops megacast rod and reel is an excellent option for those looking to get an affordable road and reel setup. The graphite reel has a 4-bearing system and up to 12 pounds of drag power. It comes in three different lengths and is super-sensitive while remaining strong enough to fight and handle fish. The combo is a great choice for the angler on a budget.

Fishing rod FAQ:

How do I choose a rod and reel combo?

There are a few main things to consider when choosing a fishing rod and reel. You want to start with broad questions and then get more specific. Are you fishing freshwater, saltwater, or fly fishing? What species are you planning to target? Are you looking for a spinning, conventional, or baitcasting setup? Once you answer some of these questions, it will be easier to choose a specific combo.

What should I look for in a rod and reel combo for beginners?

When shopping for beginners, there’s no reason to get fancy. You want a simple setup that will be easy to cast and effective at catching fish. I recommend a spinning rod and reel because it will be the easiest to cast. There’s no reason to buy fancy, expensive combos as most beginners will not understand the features that they are paying top dollar for. Keep it simple and find a spinning rod and reel for anglers just starting out. 

What makes a good rod and reel combo?

A good rod and reel combination is designed for the style of fishing you do, feels comfortable in your hand, and can effectively handle strong fish. Having the right setup for your style of fishing is the most critical aspect. If you show up to catch 20-pound bluefish with a small freshwater rod and reel, you won’t have a great day. It doesn’t have to be tailored precisely for one species or one technique, but make sure it can effectively get the job done. 

A last word on the best rod and reel combos

The best rod and reel combos take the guesswork out of matching a rod to a reel. The manufacturer does that for you, and the two are perfectly suited to each other. If you’re a beginning angler—or if you know how to fish with a spinning rod, but want to try fly fishing or baitcasting—there’s no better option than a combo to get started in fishing.

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