Ultralight fishing rods and reels are probably the most commonly used type of rod and reel used in fishing. It’s the average angler’s rod, and the most common type of fishing is done with these rods.
Tactics like using live bait and bobbers along with small lures that we used as kids are used with ultralight spinning rods and spinning reels. Let’s take a look at some of the best ultralight rod and reel combos on the market today, what ones we think are best in three important categories, along with answering some frequently asked questions in regards to ultralight rods and reels and ultralight fishing.
Best Ultralight Spinning Combo: Our Top Picks
Best Budget Ultralight Spinning Combo
South Bend Microlite Spinning Combo
It’s pretty hard to beat the price of this spinning combo, and or the price you can even pick up a few of them for any guests you may have in your boat, for your kids, or to just run multiple rods for live bait situations.
South Bend is also a household fishing brand name, and their products, while far from being top tier, are generally reliable for the price paid for them.
The Cadence CC5 is the best ultralight spinning combo on our list. It is jam-packed with high-quality components and features, and you get this high-quality ultralight spinning reel and spinning rod for well under 100 dollars.
The price alone is worth the buy, so if you’re serious about your ultralight fishing, this one is going to be the best ultralight spinning combo for your money.
Zebco Dock Demon
The fish that you will be targeting with an ultralight setup love using heavy cover as well as man-made structures like docks, piers, and swimming rafts.
The reason I pick the Zebco Dock Demon is that it’s specifically made to effectively fish in and around this really tight cover. To catch panfish like crappie and even trout, you don’t need to cast a mile away, and you typically don’t need a spinning combo that can either.
It’s small and compact, weighs next to nothing, and will pull crappies and other fish out of the brush and other covers like no-ones business. And more importantly, its short spinning rod design allows you to pitch jigs and other lures accurately in very precise fishing spots.
Best Ultralight Spinning Combo: Reviews
The Rod is constructed from IM6 mid-modulus graphite for great strength and sensitivity, and also features stainless steel guides for smooth retrieves and corrosion resistance.
The Reel on the monarch combo features 5 bearings, an interchangeable retrieve handle for both left and right-handed anglers, an aluminum bail, and a graphite body and rotor to keep the whole rod and reel setup very light and easy to handle.
- IM6 mid-modulus graphite rod
- Graphite bodied reel
- Stainless steel line guides
The Quantum Optix is a rod and reel combo that offers anglers a two-piece rod at 5 feet in length and is constructed of graphite and features an EVA foam split grip design for great comfort in any weather conditions and overall lighter weight.
The spinning reel for the Optix features all-metal gears for great reliability and a4 ball bearing system for smooth retrieval. A TRU balanced rotor, and brass pinion gear round the reel off to create a great ultra-light combo option.
- 4 ball bearing count
- Graphite constructed rod
- EVA split grip
The Okuma Safina rod and reel combo feature a comfortable neo-cork full-grip design, which is actually pretty impressive for the price of this rod.
Something different in terms of construction to many of the ultra-light rods on the market today is that this rod is made of fiberglass, making it incredibly flexible and great for species with soft mouths like crappie, and the rod also features dura-flow stainless steel guides for incredibly smooth casting and corrosion resistance.
The reel features a 1BB drive for smooth retrieves, a good drag system, and a machined two-tone anodized spool.
- Machined Spool
- Neo cork grip and handle
- Machined spool
While the Lew's Mr. crappie rod and reel combo are tailored towards crappie fishing, it will work for a wide range of species including other panfish and it will work especially well for trout as well.
The rod comes in at 5'2" and is a two-piece design. It also features stainless steel guides and inserts, durable EVA foam split grips, and a lightweight graphite reel seat, and the rod is made of a very light graphite blank.
The reel is constructed of a lightweight graphite body and rotor with dual bearing construction, chrome-plated spool, and drag knob, and is even pre-spooled with Lew's Mr crappie fishing line.
- Reel comes pre-spooled
- Great rod materials and construction
- Chrome-plated spool and drag knob
Great for game fish like panfish, and being a pretty unique design, the Zebco dock demon rod and reel combo is perfect for casting into really tight spots like in and around brush and docks.
The rod is a one-piece design that is only 30 inches in length, making it ideal for making short pitches around cover and docks. The rod blank is constructed of fiberglass and has great flex as well and improving accuracy for those shot underhand casts and has an EVA grip and handle as well as a twist-lock reel seat.
The spinning reel can be changed for either left or right-handed anglers, and the reel also features all-metal gearing and quick-set anti-reverse. Zebco even adds a one-year warranty against defects.
- one-year warranty
- all-metal gearing
- rod design that is perfect for tight casting
No fishing rod and reel combo would be complete without at least one Abu Garcia combination.
The 6' ultralight rod is constructed of RT3 graphite and features sea guides with titanium oxide line guides for superb durability as well as smooth and long-distance casting. EVA split grips are included with X-wraps for amazing grip in any weather condition.
Ultralight rod combos need an ultralight reel, and the reel featured in the Revo Elite combo is constructed using IM-C6 carbon graphite, making it incredibly light while maintaining a good level of durability.
The reel has a braid-ready aluminum spool, stainless steel main shaft and internals, and an ultra-smooth 7-ball bearing system which includes 6 HPCR bearings plus one roller bearing.
All these reel features are topped off with a very strong and very smooth carbon matrix drag system.
- Carbon graphite reel body
- X-wrapped grips
- TR3 carbon fiber rod
This rod and reel combo is full of quality materials and has a very well-thought-out design. Making it our top pick on this list.
The CC5 rod is a graphite rod made of from 24-ton graphite, giving you an incredibly durable and highly sensitive rod. It also features corrosion-resistant stainless steel guides & inserts, and a lightweight and comfortable EVA split-grip handle design.
The spinning reel doesn't skimp out on features either. it's constructed using a carbon composite frame and side plates to keep the whole combo very light in the hand, an oversized ergonomic EVA handle knob for great grip and comfort, and a reliable stainless steel main shaft and aluminum pinion gear for exceptionally smooth operation and long term reliability.
To top all this off, the reel comes with an 8-ball-bearing system and one bearing for the instant anti-reverse, making it the smoothest reel on the list. This is a great outfit for ultralight bass fishing.
- 24-ton graphite rod
- high-quality reel components
- 8 stainless steel ball bearing count
The south Bed Microlite is a two-piece fiberglass constructed rod with a graphite reel seat, chrome guides, and a premium cork handle.
The reel for the microlite features an aluminum spool for durability and well as being lightweight, and a 2-ball bearing system., with instant anti-reverse.
Overall the microlite is a great ultralight spinning rod and reel combo for panfish, it's very affordable in price and created by a company that has been in the fishing industry for a very long time.
- Fiberglass rod
- Chrome line guides
- Aluminum spool
The Shimano Sedona combo features a 6' ultralight rod with an RT3 graphite design for ultra sensitivity and durability and features sea guides with titanium oxide line guides for superb durability as well as smooth and long-distance casting. EVA split grips are included with X-wraps for amazing grip, and the rod features a minimalist reel seat.
The reel features a lightweight G3 body construction, and a super lightweight magnumlight rotor. On top of the reel features Hagane gears for the ultimate in reliability and smooth reel operation.
The Reel features a higher gear ratio and drag power over other reels in the same category on the market.
- RT3 Graphite rod
- G3 body construction
- Hagane gearing
The Ugly Stik GX2 is a great ultralight spinning rod and reel option for both novice and avid anglers. The rod is made of both carbon composite and fiberglass materials which offers both lightweight durability and sensitivity.
Along with the great selection of materials selected to construct the rod blank, It also features a lightweight and comfortable full-length grip made of EVA.
The Ugly Stik utilizes a Shakespeare reel that has a 3-ball bearing count made from stainless steel for smooth operation, along with a one-way anti-reverse clutch for solid hook sets.
- Spinning rod is made of a hybrid material
- EVA grips
- One-way anti-reverse clutch
Ultralight Gear Buying Guide:
Not sure what you need in an ultralight spinning rod? Let’s go through the parts of a rod and reel that all ultralight spinning rods will feature and how they affect performance.
What to Look For in an Ultralight Rod
Power is the strength of a spinning rod, and in this case, we only want one power of the rod, and that is Ultralight power. Ultralight rods are about as light as you can go in the fishing rod world and are niche rods specifically tailored to fishing for smaller species like panfish and trout.
In most cases, you are going to want to choose a rod with moderate to fast action. It won’t be hard to find an ultralight spinning rod with this action, as most rods on the market are created with this action in mind.
The Action of a rod determines the amount of flex in the rod when it’s under a weight load like a fish or even just your lure. Action can give hard and fast hooksets to softer hooksets with the same power rod, depending on that action.
Most rods in the ultralight spinning rod category are all created at similar lengths, this is due to the action and power of the rod. If the rod is too long, it will be too floppy without enough backbone, too short, and it will be very stiff without having the proper flex.
Exceptions to the average length of these rods can be made. For instance, the Zebco dock demon was specifically designed to be short, but the spinning rod’s blank design and construction will reflect its short length.
What to Look For in an Ultralight Spinning Reel
Since ultralight spinning combos have both a rod and reel, the job of finding a suitable reel is made simple by having one already included that works great with the rod it is paired with.
When choosing a combo with a great spinning reel, look for spinning reels with a large number of ball bearings for the ball bearing drive; bearings that are made from stainless steel are preferred, as an instant anti-reverse clutch, all-metal gears, a good drag like carbon fiber drag, and stainless steel components. It is always good to ensure that these smaller reels have enough line capacity.
These options will ensure the reel will withstand the test of time and the fight when you hook into larger game fish.
Ultralight Fishing FAQs
What Is Ultralight Fishing?
Ultralight fishing is when you target small fishing like bluegill, crappie, small trout, and other small species using an ultralight spinning rod. The use of the Ultralight spinning rod means that you are limited in the size of lures you can use.
Typically you are running a 6-pound test line or less, and your setup is best suited to light lures like small jigs, spinners, and crankbaits, as well as the standard traditional bobber style of live bait fishing.
What Species Can You Target?
Species typically targeted when fishing an ultralight would be bluegill, perch, crappie, sunfish, smaller trout like those found in small streams, tilapia, or any other fish that are of a similar size with light lures or live bait.
Quality ultralight rods are very sensitive, and anglers will be able to feel even the lightest bite from small fish like panfish, whereas when fishing with a medium action rod, you might struggle to feel these small bites.
Can You Land a Big Fish on Ultralight Gear?
You can land larger fish like bass or pike with an ultralight, but it typically is not an easy affair. These larger fish are usually caught by accident, and in many cases, due to light lures and light lines, the fish is lost due to the breaking of the fishing line due to the power of the fish, or the line is cut by sharp teeth.
If a large fish is caught, the only real option is to adjust your drag and try to play the fish out or fight the fish until it is exhausted; this can take a long time and depends on the line capacity, which is not high even with the best ultralight spinning reels.
In many cases, the fish may tangle you in branches or bury in the weeds, and without the power to pull them out or control them, your line will most likely break.
Final Thoughts on the Best Ultralight Fishing Combos
Fishing with an ultralight spinning combo is a fairly simple form of fishing, and there is no need to complicate things when it comes to setup. It is the style of freshwater fishing you most likely grew up with as a kid, and even for professional and avid anglers of larger sportfish, it’s nice to go back to ultralight fishing from time to time and break away from other forms of fishing.