Best Ultralight Rods Roundup: Reel in Those Big Trophies

Being the best at something requires skill, but it also boils down to the quality of gear used in any activity. Fishers are no exception and will undoubtedly appreciate a good rod over a poor one. More accurate casts, better maneuverability, and increased sturdiness—these are things that fishers would expect from a good rod. While the market is filled with options, some are obviously better than others making it possible to find the best ultralight rods out there.

Throughout this read, we will take a look at the best rods the market has to offer. There are a lot of things to go through with each rod that anglers appreciate. Such include quality craftsmanship, a tough body, and a flexible rod. Some of the brands included bring tradition and familiarity along with them, while others bring innovation and novelty.

UglyStik Elite Spinning Rod

UglyStik is one of those brands that really brings tradition and quality to the table. It is not uncommon for anglers to use the UglyStik for decades, knowing well that they will only get quality and reliability with their purchase.

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Medium - 2pc

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Medium - 2pc
  • Elite spinning rod with 35% more graphite for exceptional strength and feel
  • Virtually indestructible blank construction with a combination of graphite and fiberglass
  • Clear Tip design delivers added responsiveness and strength
  • Cork handles provide comfort during lengthy fishing outings
  • 1-piece stainless steel Ugly Tuff guides eliminate insert pop-outs and can be used with all types of line

Distinct Attributes:

  • This product comes in one and two-piece designs with different levels of length and durability.
  • It has cork handles
  • Sizes vary from 4’6” to 7’6”, rated from ultralight to medium heavy
  • Clear tip design
  • Body is made using a mix of fiberglass and carbon fiber
  • Somewhere between fast and slow action, with an inclination towards moderate-fast

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Lightweight with a good grip
  • More comfortable maneuverability
  • Stainless steel guides prevent damages when used in salty bodies of water
  • Extra sensitive

Con:

  • Not as flexible as one would think

Summary of Features:

The UglyStik Elite Spinning Rod is an excellent choice for anglers of all kinds. The exceptional balance and versatility of this line of rod make it an all-around fishing companion. The designers opted to go for a mix of carbon fiber and fiberglass which is a blend that gives it a good mix of durability and flexibility. It is also lightweight and has a good grip, so more extended fishing sessions will go smoothly, eliminating any risk of sore muscles!

The choice of materials for the guides was stainless steel. This is interesting because it prevents the fishing line from being snapped under heavy pressure. Likewise, it won’t suffer from corrosion brought about by saltwater fishing and other environmental factors. Overall, stainless steel guides are somewhere between high-end and low-end quality since the best guides for fishing are those made of ceramic. That being said, these rods are not meant for very heavy-duty casting.

On the other hand, the cork handles are comfortable and blend nicely with the black carbon fiber body. The tip of this rod is made using 100% fiberglass, something that UglyStik calls Clear Tip technology. This makes the tip extra sensitive, making sure that the angler does not miss any bites. It also makes the tip flexible and robust, adding to the overall reliability of the product.

St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod

St. Croix is a name that has been around the fishing market for more than 70 years. In fact, the modern fishing rod would not be the same if it were not for Bob and Bill Johnson, the founders of this USA-based manufacturer, and the countless innovations they brought to this seemingly simple concept.
With high-end rods, extraordinary craftsmanship and, to be fair, often prices to match, St. Croix products will bring any angler a perfect balance of sturdiness and sensitivity. The Premier line of rods comes in a variety of power and action types, so it is easy for every enthusiast or amateur to find their ideal stick.

St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod, PS60ULF

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St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod, PS60ULF
  • Premium-quality SCII graphite
  • Outstanding strength, sensitivity and hook-setting power
  • Finely tuned actions and tapers for superior performance
  • Kigan Master Hand 3D guides featuring slim, strong aluminum-oxide rings with black frames
  • Designed and handcrafted in Park Falls, U.S.A.

Distinct Attributes:

  • Made using premium SCII graphite
  • Aluminum oxide guides
  • Cork handles for comfortable grip
  • Designed and manufactured in the USA

Pros:

  • Great hook-setting power
  • Good balance between power and sensitivity
  • A complete line of rods, with sizes and ratings suitable for any type of fishing activities
  • Great design
  • Easy to handle cork grips

Cons:

  • Aluminum oxide guides will suffer, in time, from corrosion
  • Two to three times the price of the UglyStik Spinning Rod

Summary of Features:

One can really tell that the quality brought by St. Croix rods is other-worldly. Their rods are crafted in Park Falls, USA, by master craftsmen, and it reflects on the overall durability and reliability of the rods. The main keyword here is legacy since they are the type of rod that can be passed down from one generation to another.
Using SCII graphite makes the rod lightweight without losing any of its strength. Also, the cork handles make it comfortable to use and easy to handle which are two essentials of any good rod. The product line comes in designs that vary, from single to two-piece and from ultra-light, moderate action, to medium-heavy, fast action.

Finely-tuned in terms of action and power, the ultra-light, fast-action rod is perfect for inshore and boat fishing in freshwater. In addition, the ideal amount of flex and sensitivity are obtained using a type of high-grade graphite which makes it ideal for inshore casting.
Further, the reel mounting system is solid, as is the rest of the rod. The choice of guides is a bit interesting since aluminum guides are most prone to corrosion. That being said, their execution is solid, and with proper maintenance, they won’t be much of an issue.

Shimano Stimula 2-Piece Spin Rod

While the UglyStick and the St. Croix product lines are amazing, they are undoubtedly in the medium and high ends of the spectrum. Keeping that in mind, it is essential for all anglers to be able to invest in a quality product.
The Shimano Stimula 2-Piece Spin Rod is a more budget-oriented choice but in a good way. With right materials and an impressive price-performance ratio, it is hard to overlook such a complete product when analyzing the market.

Shimano Stimula 2-Piece Spin Rod (5-Feet 6-Inch Ultralight)

Shimano Stimula 2-Piece Spin Rod (5-Feet 6-Inch Ultralight)
  • Graphite composite blank
  • Low profile aluminum oxide guides
  • Custom Shimano reel seat
  • Custom shaped cork handle
  • Multipurpose hook keeper

Distinct Attributes:

  • Fiberglass body
  • Lengths vary from 5’6” to seven feet
  • Cork handles
  • Aluminum guides
  • One-year limited guarantee

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Right mix of quality and versatility
  • Great for freshwater casting

Cons:

  • Two-piece
  • Not as sturdy as other rods

Summary of Features:

The Shimano Stimula 2-Piece Spin Rod is an excellent choice of product for amateurs and anglers who find themselves on a tight budget. The quality of the rod is not as high as we have seen with the UglyStik and the St. Croix lines, but that does not make it bad. From a bang-per-buck point of view, this is probably the best rod ever manufactured.
This aluminum, fiberglass beauty is a sturdy, reliable companion for freshwater fishing activities with friends, partners, and relatives. Nonetheless, inshore fishing is also possible with the 5’6” model. Likewise, for trout, bass and more, the line of products are perfect if the user is a beginner.

This product also comes with cork handles and an EVA butt cap which are perfect for extra stability in intense situations. With that in mind, the buyer must go over all of their needs and check which rod would fit his or her fishing style best.
All in all, the Shimano Stimula 2-Piece does have its faults. It is not a legacy-type rod, meaning that it won’t be passed down through generations, maybe it won’t even see more than two or three years of use. Hence, it is a great entry-level rod, perfect for both amateurs and enthusiasts on a budget. Nevertheless, the quality and the design are both on-point.

Okuma Celilo Graphite Lightweight Ultra Light Trout Rod

As an overview, the Okuma Fishing tackle company was founded in the late 1900’s. A newborn in the fishing industry, the Taiwan-based company has been established by Chang Liang-ren, soon after he found his passion for fishing. He then invested in a German research center since his beliefs dictated that technology was essential towards building a good product. Okuma has since grown to be one of the biggest manufacturers in the industry.
The Okuma Celilo Graphite Trout rod is a perfect example of a specifically designed rod for just one type of fish and lure or type of angler and activity.

Okuma CE-S-461UL-1 Celilo Graphite Lightweight Ultra Light Spinning Rod, Black Finish

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Okuma CE-S-461UL-1 Celilo Graphite Lightweight Ultra Light Spinning Rod, Black Finish
  • Made using the highest quality materials
  • Tested for reliability and quality
  • Used by professionals worldwide
  • Sensitive graphite composite blanks
  • Aluminum oxide guide inserts

Distinct Attributes:

  • Graphite composite blanks
  • Aluminum guide inserts
  • Cork handle

Pros:

  • Quality materials used in its design
  • Balanced and lightweight

Con:

  • Not very versatile

Summary of Features:

The Okuma Celilo Graphite Trout Spinning Rod is made using graphite, bringing a sensitive feel and overall low weight. In freshwater, fish rarely are of big proportions, so this is a perfect companion for inshore or boat fishing activities. Although brown graphite and aluminum oxide are not the highest-grade material, this entry-level rod is ideal for casting the first lines from the shore. Hence, this product is quite well-crafted, and the aesthetics have been given proper attention.
Overall, this line of rods is perfect for getting a quality product without breaking the bank. While lacking versatility, the right person will surely enjoy this trout fishing rod.

DAIWA Spinmatic Spinning Rod

Nowadays, it is hard to find an angler who has not heard of Daiwa before. That is because they already have a high number of products that have been talked about by the fishermen community. Likewise, with a vast experience to back them up, Daiwa has made a name for themselves as one of the top industry manufacturers.

Daiwa Spinmatic Spinning Rod, Ultra-Light, 7-Inch

Daiwa Spinmatic Spinning Rod, Ultra-Light, 7-Inch
  • High-performance graphite blanks
  • Cut Pro of, low-friction aluminum oxide guides
  • Quality Fuji reel seats securely hold any ultralight reel
  • Cork handles for a firm grip in any kind of fishing weather
  • Hook keeper

Distinct Attributes:

  • High-performance graphite blanks
  • Aluminum oxide guides
  • Fuji reel seats
  • Cork handles
  • Comes with hook keeper
  • Eight feet in length

Pros:

  • Good design, value, and balance.
  • It has low-friction guides.
  • It holds reels securely.
  • The product can be gripped firmly in any type of weather conditions.

Cons:

  • Entry-level product
  • Reel seats are not the best

Summary of Features:

The Daiwa series provides anglers everywhere with a good balance of quality and value. The Spinmatic series ultralight rod is perfect for fishing trouts in ponds, and even venturing towards small streams. Amazingly, the low-friction aluminum guides will keep the line intact even with more aggressive guides. The reel does not have the best quality, and these entry-level Fuji reels are known for being extremely unreliable.

Nonetheless, light freshwater casting should not require anything too durable since fish found there is not the Loch Ness Monster, not by a long shot. Thus, it is an overall good rod which can be perfect for beginning and mid-level anglers.

Best Ultralight Rods: The Top Three Picks

There is not enough to think about when it comes to the winners and losers of this list of fishing rods based on quality, performance and, why not, legacy. Below is the roundup of the top three winners, in order from best to good:

UglyStik Elite Spinning Rod

With versatility, quality and legacy on its side, the UglyStik Elite Spinning Rod line is a great example of an all-around reliable rod. The mix of fiberglass and carbon fiber make it lightweight, durable, flexible and sensitive, which are qualities that all dictate whether a rod is excellent or not. Even more, compared to the rest of the products, the UglyStik Elite seems to come at nothing but a fair price, which proves that it is one of the best investments a freshwater angler can make.

St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod

Second on the best ultralight rods roundup is the St. Croix Premier series because it really stands out in terms of craftsmanship. With handcrafted rods manufactured locally in the USA, it is hard to argue that St. Croix put a big emphasis on quality and reliability. Think of St. Croix as the Stradivarius of spinning rods.
The Premier series contains flexible and durable rods, but the main drawback is the somewhat higher price point. Nevertheless, an enthusiast or avid amateur would argue that it is an investment worth making, especially since a lot of their products come with lifetime warranties and can be passed down from father to son.

Shimano Stimula 2-Piece Spin Rod

Value is significant, and there is no better value choice out there than the Shimano Stimula 2-Piece Spin Rod. While St. Croix put a big emphasis on design, durability, and presentation, Shimano has manufactured a reliable, budget-friendly alternative for entry-level anglers and enthusiasts on a budget. Although such is the case, it is third on the list because it cannot stay at par with the durability levels of the two competitors.