Best Spinning Rod Under $100
I spent a lot of time last year re-learning the sport of fishing. I grew up here in Michigan where I would fish about twice a year with my dad and grandfather. Of course, I used that they used, fished where they fished, and largely failed to land any fish at all.
These days I own about 8 of my own rods (not many by some counts), make my own lures, and am always on the hunt for the best deals. If you’re like me, you’d rather spend less than more on your gear. That’s why I’m going to help you find some of the best spinning rods that can be bought for less than $100.
I’m hoping this article will help you find a good spinning rod that won’t break the bank.
We’re going to start with 4 of the best spinning rods under $100. Then, later in the article, we’ll go into detail in the “buyer’s guide” section. I’ll also openly share my thoughts along the way.
Best Spinning Rods Under $100
Medium Power (1/4 - 1/2 oz lures)
6.2:1 ratio (high speed retrieve)
Rod and Reel Combo
I personally use this rod in my arsenal (though mine is the camo version) and I love it. In fact, this rod is my everyday go-to for all-around bass fishing.
At 7 feet, the rod is long enough to reach but short enough to carry around the river bank. Medium power is great for most things but you’ll want to avoid super heavy spinnerbaits or super light french spinners.
I’d argue that this is the best spinning combo under $100 that I’ve used. It’s great for high speed retrieves like keeping a french spinner running shallow to avoid rocks and weeds. Perfect for shallow bank fishing and river fishing.
I love the IM6 rod blank (graphite). It makes this rod is much more responsive and agile than most in its price range. You won’t find many graphite rods this cheap, honestly - most of them are fiberglass.
Ideal for fast retrieves and search baits like spinners and swimbaits in shallow water. Possibly the best fishing rod for the money.
4’ 8” - 7’ models
Ultralight - Medium Heavy
Tons of Options
Rod and Reel Combo
Of all the budget-priced spinning rod combos under $100, there are more options on rod power and length here than (I think) any other. In fact, the Ugly Stick GX2 was a gift to my father recently because it was the only rod within this price range that I could count on to deliver performance and value.
Pretty much no matter what you’re looking for, there’s an option here. From ultralight power up to medium-heavy power and lengths of 4’ 8”, 5’, 6’, 6.5’ and 7’.
I will say that, having had my hands on this rod, the medium-heavy is pretty darn big. The handle is long and the grip size is massive. This would be the wrong choice for someone with small hands or fishing in tight spaces (like fishing from the bank with bushes nearby) though some of the light or ultralight shorter rods might make sense there.
As a kid I always remember my dad revered his Ugly Stick rods as “the rod”. Even today with so many rods to choose from, he still loves his Ugly Sticks, so I guess that says something, eh?
Ideal for a trusted name making a wide assortment of rod lengths and powers all for under $100.
6’ 9” or 7’ models
Medium Light - Medium
1 Piece or 2 Piece Rod Blanks
Spinning Rod Only (No Reel)
While I haven’t yet gotten my hands on one of the Royale series rods, it’s one of the top contenders on my list for my next rod. When it comes to recommending a “do it all” spinning rod, I’d encourage you to strongly consider the 7’ Medium Power 2-Piece Royale Spinning Rod.
7’ is a great general length that will allow you to get long casts without being cumbersome. Medium power adds a great all-around balance to the rod as well and you’ve got the benefit of being able to break into two segments for travel and transport. Sweet!
It’s worth noting too that this rod can be bought as a casting variant as well, so if you prefer a baitcaster or spincaster there’s an option for you.
For the walleye anglers out there, or those who really like a strong fight, the medium-light power rod in single piece will have tons of tactile feel and play!
Ideal for giving an old spinning reel from your closet a second life on a new rod.
4’ 6” to 7’ models
Ultra Light - Medium Heavy
1 Piece or 2 Piece Rod Blanks
Spinning Rod Only (No Reel)
Okay before you shoot the messenger, let’s just talk through this!
The Berkley Cherrywood HD is definitely under $100, well under. In fact some of the biggest complaints about this “cheap” fishing rod are quality and durability related. That said, though at the price of the rod, you can afford to break one (or carry one as a cheap backup).
I use one of these rods on a baitcaster setup I bought just to test it out. I will say, I really do like it. It’s a M/MH rod with tons of spine and it really chucks lures! I mean the thing can practically rip a fish right off the bottom of the lake and into the boat in one pull.
That’s not to say you have to get a fast action heavy power rod, though. They’re available in all sorts of lengths and powers all the way down to ultralight.
Ideal spinning rod under $50 for new anglers testing the waters or carrying an inexpensive backup.
6’ 7” to 7’ 1” models
Medium Light - Medium Heavy
1 Piece or 2 Piece Rod Blanks
Twin-Tip Multi-Power Options
Let me just clear something up right out of the gate - yes, this rod has options to switch the rod tip for different power combos. That means you can swap from the Medium to the Medium Heavy on the fly without having two different rods.
This comes with the advantage that you may not need to carry as many rods when traveling which can keep bulk down. However, it means you’ll have to unstring and re-string your line through the line guides each time you switch so it’s not really an “on the fly” option.
For spinning rods you can get a twin tip ML/M or M/MH rod combo both in 2-piece rod blanks. I may actually order the M/MH for a trip to Canada next summer so I’ll let you know how it goes.
All of these rod blanks are made with Toray 24-ton carbon fiber so they should be light and responsive compared to something cheaper like the fiberglass Cherrywood HD we looked at earlier.
Ideal for traveling and switching rod power without having to carry tons of rods.
How to Pick the Best Spinning Rod Under $100
According to some, the power level is indeed “over 9,000” but for those of you heading out fishing, power means something completely different.
Understanding rod power for me is really just about learning what kind of lures you can throw with any given rod. A good way to think about rod power is to consider what weight of lure you’ll throw with the rod.
Light rods - 1/16 - 1/8 ounce lures and light biting fish
Medium rods - 1/4 - 3/4 ounce lures and a variety of applications
Heavy rods - 1/2 - 1 ounce lures and deep fishing or heavy trolling
Rod power, to me, coincides with feel. The lighter the rod, the better you’ll be able to feel little bites or bumps off of structure. Don’t go too light, though, because heavier lures will feel sluggish on a lightweight rod.
Rod action is all about gettin’ jiggy. That’s a lie - it’s all about how much of the rod bends when you load it up.
Fast action rods barely bend at all (most of the bend occurs near the tip) while slow action rods bend a ton (the bend travels most of the way back to the handle).
There are tons of reasons to use rods of different action types though I will just speak to my own experience. For general bassin’ I usually shore fish locally where I’m likely to target 8” - 20” largemouth and smallmouth bass. For me, I prefer medium to medium fast action rods which I mainly use with swimbaits, spinners, and spinnerbaits of various setups.
If you’re not sure, a true medium action rod is a great choice paired with a medium power rod like the Lew’s American Hero rod I reviewed earlier.
I’ve fished mostly on 6’ 6” and 7’ rods for the most part. That’s because all of my fishing is shallow water or shore fishing primarily for Walleye and Bass.
I love shorter rods for walking up the river banks which I have to do sometimes. These are great because they’re lightweight and don’t get caught on crap when you’re ducking under branches or stepping over logs. The last thing you want to do is get your rod tangled up and bend a line guide.
7’ rods are ideal for more open spaces. It’s amazing how much further you can cast a 7’ rod than a 6’ 6” rod, really! Depending on a few factors, you can easily get a dozen or more extra yards of cast distance.
Honestly I probably wouldn’t go over 7’ unless I was fishing for something pretty gnarly.
Rod and Reel Combos
In the reviews section I included a few combos and few rod only selections. Honestly, here are my thoughts on rod and reel combos.
Unless you really know what you’re looking for and can’t get it in a combo, just stick with a combo package. Buying a rod and reel together is usually much cheaper (especially if you’re a bargain hunter) than buying each separate.
Of course you might want to buy a rod if you have an old reel lying around or if you want a backup to swap a reel onto.
Once you have built up your own experiences and figured out exactly what you do and don’t like in terms of reel gear ratio, line weight, rod power, rod action, and other factors then you can hunt for something specific. At this point you’ll probably need to buy your rod and reel separate because often you just can’t find a combo package that has all the things you’re looking for.
Tip: Throw away the pre-spooled line if your reel comes with it. The stuff is usually junk and it's been spooled up so long it’s usually just kinked to hell.
One Piece vs Two Piece Rods
I’m not the world’s greatest fisherman, but if I was… I might care about one-piece vs two-piece rod performance. While I may not be good enough to tell the difference in performance, I can tell you there’s a practical difference.
Two piece rods are much easier to transport than one piece rods. Breaking down a 7’ rod makes it carry-able and packable while a single rod of that length will be difficult, expensive, or impossible to transport in many situations.
Even in the trunk of my car I like to break down my rods so I don’t have to put the backseat down and stick the rod through when I’m heading to the local fishing hole. I’d encourage you to think about the practicality of a 2-piece spinning rod.
Spinning reels vs Baitcasting Reels
Spinning reels, sometimes called “open face reels”, are simple to use, smooth to reel, and really quite effective for most applications. They lack a few key features compared to baitcasters, but they’re much simpler to use.
Baitcasting reels wind and un-spool inline with the rod and line guides. This means there’s substantially less twisting of the line which leads to longer, smoother casts and less line memory. Because of the way a baitcasting reel works it also allows much more precise distance and placement control with your cast by controlling the spool with thumb pressure.
That said, the major difference, in my mind, is ease of use. Baitcasters for those who are unpracticed can be an absolute nightmare. A single poor cast can lead to a total birds nest which wastes time, money, and always creates frustration.
While spinning reels may not be as precise as a great baitcasting reel, their ease of use makes them a superior choice for all but the most experienced and die-hard anglers who want to put in the time to master baitcasting reels.
Casey’s Tips for Spinning Rods
Which spinning reel size should I use?
For me, I typically am focusing on bass fishing up here in Michigan. For that I find a 2,000 series spinning reel is just right.
If you’re using a shorter rod like 6’ or less, then a 1,000 series reel could make sense.
Ultimately you can use any size combination you really want but some combos make more sense than others.
Of course, I’m far from a pro angler so I’d always encourage you to experiment and come up with your own ideas.
Is graphite/carbon really better than Fiberglass?
From my experiences I’ve found that a decent graphite rod is much better than a fiberglass rod.
My personal favorite rod right now is a medium power Lew’s rod with an IM6 graphite blank. It cost me about $50 (with the reel) and it’s so much more responsive than any of my cheap fiberglass rods.
Of course, price is usually a huge factor for me in buying a new rod/reel setup. For that reason, if the price is right, I’m usually more than happy to pick up a fiberglass rod. In the future, though, you can bet I’ll be looking for good deals on affordable graphite rods!
What are the best general lures to use with a spinning rod?
I know some of you may be just getting started (that was me not too long ago!) or maybe you don’t know much about fishing and you’re shopping for a gift.
If you want to get some lures to go with your spinning rod and you just don’t know where to start, let me make a couple recommendations. These are my all-time favorite general bass fishing baits for spinning rods.
French Spinners - Great for bass, trout, and pike fishing especially in shallow water or from shore. Prone to snagging weeds.
Spinnerbaits - Great for bass and pike. Mostly weedless and can run at any depth.
Swimbaits - Can be rigged truly weedless. My favorite for weedy areas so you can access otherwise un-fishable water. Match to the color of local bait fish.
At the end of the day, I’m no expert at fishing. All I can do is share with you what I’ve learned and what works for me.
I’ve had hands-on experience with most of the gear on this list (even the lures I recommended). Hopefully my candid thoughts will help you make the right choices.
Remember, if all else fails just go with an affordable 7’ long 2-piece spinning rod at medium power and medium action. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with that choice.
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