Best Ultralight Fishing Rod: 2021’s Top 7 Picks

best ultralight fishing rod

Ultralight fishing rods are one of the most important rods in the fishing world as well as probably being the most popular.

In this article we will take a look at what types of fishing are best suited for ultralight spinning rods as well as species.

Equal top pick

St Croix Mojo Bass Glass

The rods work exceptionally well when combined with lipless crankbaits, square bill crankbaits and even chatterbaits

Equal top pick

Abu Garcia Ike Signature

Built with crankbait  presentations in mind, it features a construction based around precision and long range. 

We will also take a look at our top picks for best ultralight spinning rods on the market today.

The Best Ultralight Fishing Rods: Our Top Picks

Ultralight spinning rods are primarily used “as one would guess” for lighter fishing situations and species that aren’t very large. Trout, bluegills, perch, crappies, or other species around the world that are smaller in size.

Ultralight rods excel at fishing with small lure presentations for these species and fish in this size range where larger stiffer rods and baitcasters are completely unsuitable.

Farther casting, better lure actions and manipulations are all needed to effectively catch fish, and those ultra small lures like spinners, spoons, crankbaits and others require ultra light action rods to work effectively and give you great casting distance.

Okuma Celilo

● Multiple length options
● Aluminum oxide guides
● Stainless steel hooded reel seats

The Celilo by Okuma is a great Ultralight rod that was specifically designed for fishing for trout, but obviously can be used in any ultralight fishing application.

Made to be ultra light in action, the rod comes in four different models to choose from and features a high quality graphite blank, that’s ultra sensitive yet still strong enough to handle medium sized fish if encountered or hooked.

The rod also features aluminum oxide guide inserts, top grade cork handles and reel butt, and stainless steel hooded reel seats for excellent corrosion resistance and durability.

This rod is one of the best out there for catching smaller species of fish and has shorter lengths starting at 4.5 feet all the way up to 7.5 feet, giving you multiple options depending on your fishing situation, whether your fishing wider or larger sized rivers or lakes, to small deep woods streams where casting may be tight due to obstacles like trees and brush.

St. Croix Triumph

● Awesome warranty
● FUJI DPS reel seat
● 2 coats of flex coat for maximum durability

St. Croix is well known around the fishing world for creating some of the highest quality rods on the market, and have been doing so for years with a vast array of rod designs to choose from that cover essentially any fishing situation from panfish to catfish.

The St. Croix Triumph in the Ultralight models is one of the best on the market today, let’s take a look at some of its great features. The Triumph is built using premium quality SCII graphite blanks, the blank features 2 coats of flex coat slow cure finish for added protection and durability versus other brands that typically put one coat on and call it a day, its small things like these St. Croix does that help their rods really stand out.

Other features are Hard Aluminum oxide guides with black stainless double foot frames to help keep overall rod weight minimal while giving great castability and a smooth

retrieve, FUJI DPS reel seat with frosted silver hoods, and a grade A quality cork handle and rod butt, all these materials and components give a rod that is extremely sensitive, as well as outstanding flexibility and surprising strength for an ultralight rod.

Another thing that St. Croix is known for, is their customer service and warranties with all rods are covered under a 5-year warranty.

Fenwick HMG Ultralight Spinning Rod

● EVA/Cork handle hybrid
● Fuji line guides
● Medium Action

Fenwick HMG rods have been around for decades and are well known among anglers. Fenwick has multiple models of the HMG that are capable of fishing for most types of species out there and their rods are known for having outstanding quality, obviously for the sake of this article we are focusing on the Ultralight variant of the HMG.

These rods were originally made from fiberglass, but as most fishing rod companies these days the overwhelming trend is focused on graphite, which is better in the majority of fishing situations, so obviously now they offer them in Carbon as well.

They are super strong, very rigid, and are extremely sensitive allowing you to feel the slightest bite from smaller fishing like panfish. These rods also have an excellent tip and backbone and are the reason for these stellar attributes.

HMG also features Fuji line guides and a AAA corked handle that is actually combined with EVA foam to give a hybrid and unique handle design. And the price quite honestly is very hard to beat.

The ultralight variant of the HMG comes in at 7 feet in length, and has a medium action, giving you a bit more flex in the rod compared to other offerings that typically have fast actions, as well as being a 2 piece setup.

Daiwa Procyon

● One Piece Setup
● IM7 Blank
● Micro pitch tapering

The Procyon is a great offering from another company that is well known for delivering high quality products.

The Rod is made using an IM7 blank which has been a staple graphite blank that has been used for years throughout the fishing industry.

The rods have Minima reel seats for excellent ergonomics, micro pitch blank tapering, Split grip rod but made from high quality cork, the amazing Minima black ring guides, hook keeper, and probably one of the best features in a fishing rod, a 5 year limited warranty.

The Ultralight variant of this rod comes with a fast action and is 6 feet in length, it also is a one piece setup.

Shimano Stimula

● 2 piece design
● Fast action
● Composite graphite blank

The Stimula was designed by Shimano to give anglers an incredibly affordable rod that would last for years.

The rods use quality Aluminum Oxide Guides providing long lasting durability and decreased line wear, the use of aluminum also helps with corrosion issues essentially eliminating it.

Its also equipped with a durable graphite composite blank that offer incredibly flexible, strength and sensitivity for its price point.

This ultralight rod comes in at 5’6” with a fast action and a 2 piece design. Along with having a solid butt and handle made from high grade cork.

KastKing Perigree II

This is a great carbon fibre ultralight fishing rod for under $100.

Fuji O-Ring guides, a solid graphite reel seats, and high-density EVA grips on a high quality graphite blank make for a quality product.

You can choose from four rod lengths from 4.5 feet through to 6 feet and there are one and two-piece models in the line up in a range of power ratings and actions.

These rods have great sensitivity and excel at precision casting with light lures. Perfect for stream fishing for trout or targeting crappie and other panfish.

Ugly Stik Elite Ultralight Spinning Rod

This rod blends a range of sought-after features with a sub $100 price tag and a reputation for extreme toughness and durability.

It is a carbon fibre blank with a fibreglass clear tip and has a reputation for being almost indestructible while retaining good casting performance (both accuracy and distance) and sensitivity for bite detection.

The Ugly Stik comes as a two piece 6’6” in the ultralight sizing and has a two piece cork split grip with Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides.

It is easy to see why these rods have something of a cult following among some anglers.

best swimbait rods

Ultralight Fishing Rod Buying Guide:

Let’s take a look at specific parts of a rod’s design such as power and action as well as other features and components that are important when it comes to which one to buy.


The Action of a rod determines the amount of flex in the rod when it’s under a load of weight like a fish, action can give hard and fast hooksets to softer hooksets with the same power rod depending on that action.

Take into consideration things like species, and fishing areas, try to factor in all requirements you can think of to dial in the best rod options for you.

●  Fast action – bends mostly in the top 1/3rd of the rod or less with a strong backbone in the other 2/3rds of the rod, great for powerful hooksets.

●  Moderate/Medium action – bends in the top half of the rod and is in the middle of the road between fast and slow actions.

●  Slow action – bends evenly throughout the rod to the handle and is typically used in crankbait rods, or rods where heavy and hard shock hooksets aren’t necessary or detrimental.

Rod Power

There are many different powers to choose from when it comes to a fishing rod and the powers typically go from ultra-light for things like panfish and trout to XX heavy for fish like musky or saltwater species.

There are many power rated rods between these two and different species and lure presentations work better with certain power rods.

Rod Materials

Most rods are made from two different types of materials, Fiberglass, or the most commonly used material today, Graphite.

Both types are great at doing different things, Fiberglass has much more bend and give and can almost be described as “whippy” they are generally used for crankbait fishing or in situations where a lighter hookset is valued.

Graphite is incredibly strong, sensitive and durable while still maintaining good action characteristics.

Graphite really shines with rod actions such as the fast or moderate action, while fiberglass is more suited to slow action rods due to its characteristics.

Both will work great, but are definitely preferred in different situations ideally.

Line Guides

Line Guides are also Incredibly important and can be found in a wide variety of materials. Some are suited better for braided lines, while all are suited well for monofilament or Fluorocarbon lines.

Materials like alconite, stainless steel, aluminum and others are all great choices and provide great casting distance and smooth retrieval.

The Kind Of Species You Will Be Fishing For

It is important to think about what kind of species you are targeting when it comes to choosing an ultralight fishing rod. Crappie and other panfish don’t get much bigger than 4lb and don’t pull that hard anyway, so you can get away with a true ultralight rod and enoy the benefits of it brings in terms of sensitivity and feel.

For trout, it very much depends on where you fish. If you are fishing in streams and small rivers, then an ultralight makes sense. For targeting bigger trout upwards of 5lb, they can apply a fair bit of pressure. An ultralight rod still makes sense, but you might want to choose one with a bit more power.

For bass in rivers and ponds, it’s a similar story. Ultralight fishing is possible and an ultralight rod and reel combo will work fine, but if you are moving on to swimbaits for big bass – or other techniques that target larger fish or use larger lures – keep in mind you’ll have to change to a more suitable standard outfit.

Pairing with a reel

Balance is all important with ultralight rods when it comes to reel pairing. It goes without saying we are talking about spinning reels – all the rods here are spinning rods and casting rods aren’t really suitable for true ultralight fishing.

If you pair your ultralight spinning rod with a 3500 size spinning reel your outfit is going to feel completely lopsided. You need to be careful in choosing an ultralight spinning reel in the 500 through to 2500 size. And with 2500, be sure to choose a light model. I use a 2500 Shimano Stradic Ci4+ on my ultralight rod, but that’s because it is a super lightweight reel. Cheaper reels in this size won’t be suitable.


Ultralight rods like any rod type are a niche tool and made specifically for a certain size of fish.

These rods shouldn’t be used for medium to large species but can in some circumstances do the job if you accidentally catch a mid to large sized fish.

Every rod on this list is an excellent choice to use for fishing for fish like trout, panfish, or other small fish swimming anywhere.


  • Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He is a regular on fly fishing podcasts and appeared in the international fly fishing film Predator.

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