Many a fishing trip has been rescued by having a telescopic rod as a back up.
When your favourite carbon fiber fishing rod breaks unexpectedly on the water or in the middle of the wilderness, a portable back-up saves the day.
And many a non-fishing trip has been livened up with the prospect of a quick session on the water – that’s just the kind of freedom telescopic fishing rods give you.
Plus the one little known advantage of these rods is not having to derig. Unlike with a standard rod, you can keep a telescopic fishing rod rigged with your lure or hook ready to case – a great time saver and another reason to have the best telescopic fishing rod for you in your arsenal. Coupled with a great ultralight spinning reel, these fishing rods cannot be beaten for versatility.
So to help you choose a trusty telescopic fishing rod from the many competing products, we put together this buyers’ guide to the best telescopic fishing rods of 2020.
For those who like us to cut straight to the chase, our winner here on quality was the Shimano STC. It casts better than some standard rods! Coupled with graphite blank, top quality guides and a decent carry case, this gave it the edge over other models, although it is a fair bit more costly.
However, it is very much horses for courses with these rods. While the Shimano suits someone that’s using the rod frequently almost instead of a conventional two or four piece rod, there are better options for occasional and emergency use.
The clear winner for this category – and for value – was the Eagle Claw. At 5’6” it’s a very small rod, but that means it packs down to a category-leading 13″, small enough to fit in a glove compartment.
And for versatility, our winner was the KastKing Blackhawk II, which comes in 14 different combinations of lengths and actions. That covers all types of fishing from trout, pan fish and crappies, right through to bass, walleye and stripers and into larger saltwater fish.
Five of the best collapsible fishing rods reviewed
We chose five quite different collapsible fishing rods for this review to make sure we have the best of what the category offers covered:
- Kastking Blackhawk II Telescopic Fishing Rod
- Sougayilang Telescopic Fishing Rod
- Hurricane MK-806MHSPT Mako Telescopic Rod
- Eagle Claw PK555SP Pack-It Telescopic Spinning Rod
- Shimano STC Spin, Travel Spinning Fishing Rod
We’ve summarised the features of these best collapsible fishing rods here
|Kastking Blackhawk II||Hurricane MK-806 MHSPT Mako||Eagle Claw Pack-It Telescopic Spinning Rod||Shimano STC Spin, Travel Fishing Rod||Sougayilang Telescopic Fishing Rod|
|Length||6.6’ to 8’||7’ – 8’||5.6’||6.9′ – 8.9′||5.9’ to 9.8’|
|Number of sections||Six||Six||Five||10 – 11||Six|
|Collapsed length||22’’ – 24’’||20”||13.7”||12” – 16″||16” – 26”|
|Features||Toray Carbon Matrix blank and solid glass tip section Available in 14 lengths and actions||Six section|
Suitable for salt water use. Comes with a decent case.
|Four section design with eight guides. Comes with hard travel case.||Carbon fiber/e-glass composite rod with stainless steel reel seat, one year warranty|
Our five best collapsible rods in more detail
The Kastking Blackhawk II is a favourite among serious anglers as the fishing rod is available in a range of power, namely medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy and comes in eight different lengths. That provides a degree of versatility that can’t be matched in this category. But is it any good?
A very hard to beat combination of versatility and price, the Sougayilang comes in five sizes and is renowned for its toughness and ability to handle a decent sized fish. This is the first choice backup fishing rod for many skilled anglers and when you consider the price it’s not hard to see why. Add in the one-year warranty and this is a safe bet at this price.
The Hurricane Mako has carved out a niche for making great telescopic fishing rods for saltwater anglers. The fibreglass blank and corrosion resistant guides provide good protection against the ocean’s forces and the pulling power of salt water fish.
What it lacks in versatility (it comes in one size only – 5’6’’) the Eagle Claw Pack-It more than makes up for it in quality. Fibreglass may be heavier than carbon fiber, but it is far tougher and weight is not a key issue for a collapsible fishing rod that’s used primarily for emergencies or short sessions. For the price of a few cups of coffee you get a high-quality, American designed fishing rod that performs brilliantly for what it is and comes with a one-year warranty. For a genuine travel/back-up fishing rod for freshwater fishing, this wins hands down.
The Shimano STC (short for Shimano Travel Concept) is unquestionably the best quality of the rods here. A carbon fiber blank, quality stainless steel guides from a company with a proven heritage in making fine rods for conventional and travel applications. The smallest model packs down to just 12″ – even shorter than the Eagle Claw. And thanks to the use of 10 sections (or 11 in the longer models) you aren’t compromising on overall length. And it terms of the feel, many anglers think it is hard to tell they are casting with a telescopic rod. The clear first choice for people who are going to fish with this rod a lot.
Why choose a telescopic rod over a standard rod
Check out this great video for an explanation of the benefits of using the telescopic fishing rods. To put it simply, it is all about versatility and giving you fishing opportunities you would’t otherwise have. Imagine you are on a business trip. You’d never bring a full length fishing rod with you, especially if you were travelling with your boss or colleagues. But a collapsible fishing pole packs down small enough to put in your roll-on luggage or even a small briefcase. So if you have some downtime between meetings and you are staying near a decent fishing spot, you can fish.
Similarly, if you are on a family trip and space in the car or in the overnight bags is tight, you might have to leave a full-sized rod behind. But a telescopic fishing rod takes next to no space and can fit right into a small bag. Throw in some tackle boxes and some lures and you can squeeze in some fishing between family activities.
our top choice (Shimano STC) packs down to as little as 12 inches and our best bargain choice (the Eagle Claw) is just 13 inches long when compressed. Even the shortest four piece fishing rods can’t compete with this.
Having a fishing rod that can fit in your glove box or backpack is pretty cool. Cooler still, though, is having one that you can keep in these spots fully rigged! That means minimal set up time – just pull it out and fish. As our Dad is fond of saying, you can’t catch a fish without your line in the water and these rods certainly maximise your effective fishing time.
Even the most costly model here comes in well under the price of even medium end conventional rods and the cheaper models are almost ridiculously cheap. That’s more money to spend on the right lures to catch fish! None of these rods are going to break the bank but they will give you more hours on the water and more chance to catch fish.
Durability and material
The majority of these rods are made from fibreglass, which is far tougher than carbon fiber/graphite and is truly hard to break. Fibreglass will withstand even heavy impacts and can be bent to significant angles before it fractures. The only downsides to fibreglass are weight and action.
Fibreglass rods are heavier than their graphite counterparts and when you add in metal ferrules for dividing the sections the weight of a collapsible fishing pole can begin to add up. They also tend to have a slower action, which is OK for fighting fish where there is no structure they can run into, but less than ideal when you really need to put the hurt on the fish early to turn his head away from snags or trees.
They also struggle when it comes to throwing light weight lures.
It really comes down to feel/action vs toughness. Carbon fiber rods offer better performance, but are more brittle. Fibreglass fishing rods are tough as nails, but won’t cast as far and won’t offer then same “feel”.
Other considerations when it comes to quality are the materials used for the guides and the reel seat. Along with the joining ferrules, these are the parts of the rod that are subject to the most wear and tear and corrosion.
For guides, ceramic guides are the best for minimising friction and maximising casting distance. These are comprised of a standard stainless steel guide with an inner ring of ceramic material. From a rust point of view, both are corrosion resistance but the ceramic insert, while it adds cost, allows the line to slide out through the guides more easily boosting casting distance.
For the reel seat, anodized aluminium is a popular choice for these rods and is perfectly acceptable. It won’t corrode and is relatively light. Some higher rods will have graphite or titanium reel seats, but at this price point you are looking at aluminium (better) and plastic (not as good).
Choosing the best telescopic rod
The first thing to consider is length. Both the compressed length and the assembled length. For longer casts and bigger fish, make sure you select a model that’s at least seven foot. For finesse style fishing in the freshwater, look at rods that are shorter than this.
Less sections is better than more. The more sections you have, the more ferrules between sections and the more things there are to go wrong. Having too many sections can also impact on the rod’s action as it won’t curve the way it is supposed to during casting.
However, there is a compromise to be struck here with length – the retracted length we mean. The fewer sections, the longer the rod will be when it is collapsed.
So you have to decide is it really critical for this rod to fit in glove box or in a small overnight bag? In that case, something like the Eagle Claw is a great option.
Or is this a rod that you’ll fishing with often? Do you require it to cast long distances and portability is a secondary consideration? Then something like the KastKing Blackhawk is a better choice.
The final thing to pay attention to here is the quality. Given all these blanks are good quality, we are really talking about components. Ceramic guides are better than stainless steel, stainless steel is better as a material for a reel seats than aluminium. The same applies for reel seats – the last thing you want is a reel seat that will corrode over time or is brittle so aluminium is key here.
Can you handle a big fish with these rods?
Yes, with the right skills and a reel with a decent drag, you should be able to handle even a decent size bass or walleye or something bigger with a collapsible fishing pole. They tend to be shorter than a conventional rod, so you can’t always play the angles as well to keep the fish out of structure. But these rods will get the job done without breaking if you are chasing pan fish, trout, bass and walleye. When you start targeting larger saltwater species, or freshwater fish that can really pull line such as muskie and pike, you are betting off with a normal rod.
Should I get a telescopic rod combo?
No. In our view it is better to focus on getting the right rod and then turning your mind to choosing the right spinning reel. Combos are often a way for manufacturers to slip an unpopular or obsolete reel that they want to get off their hands.
What maintenance do I need to do with a telescopic rod?
The same as for a normal rod – rinse in fresh water after use and dry before putting away – although we pay a bit more attention if you have used the rod in salt. There are more metal parts to a collapsible rod and that means more potential for corrosion. We usually spray metal surfaces with a rust preventer such as Clenzoil if we have used the rod in salt water. Spray it on the reel seat (if metal), the guides and the connecting ferrules between sections.
How easy are collapsible travel rods to assemble?
This is very straightforward. It is just a matter of sliding out each section in turn until there is a reasonably tight connection between sections. Make sure that all sections are fully extended before fishing and be careful to pull the too hard against each other or you risk getting them stuck making disassembly after you have finished fishing difficult. The other thing to keep an eye on is the alignment of the guides – make sure all the guides are aligned with each other when the rod is fully extended. You may have to twist one or two sections a little if there is any slight misalignment.
Should I get a collapsible rod?
Yep. To maximise your fishing time we reckon every serious angler should have one of these rods as both a travel rod and a backup rod. There is nothing worse than breaking a rod on a trip – particularly if it is a wilderness kayaking trip or other remote adventure – and not being able to fish at all because you don’t have a spare. And at the same time, having two of every rod in your arsenal is prohibitively expensive. The solution – one of these five telescopic travel rods.
With one of these great options you’ll be getting the best telescopic fishing rod for your needs, whatever the type of fishing you prefer, at a low to moderate cost. Choose one of these are you travel rod or backup rod and you’ll be on the way to maximising your fishing opportunities and catching more fish.