If you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more

Top 8 Best Panfish Rods in 2021

No luck catching delicious panfish? Instead of using a traditional fishing rod, a panfish rod can improve your catch rate a lot!

Reasons to look for a good panfish rod

Didn’t catch a panfish… again?

We know how frustrating it can be. Sure, a normal fishing rod might help you, but it’s nowhere near as efficient as a panfish rod! When it comes to panfishing, you have to pay attention to the rod and reel you’re using. If you use a combo that’s too big, it could end up taking the fun out of catching them.

On the other hand, if you use a combo that’s too small, it can end up breaking easily. This is why you need to pick the right panfish rod to make sure that you can enjoy catching panfish. But with so many panfish rods on the market, choosing the best one can be a bit of a challenge.

When looking for a panfish rod, you have to keep in mind that not all rods are the same. Each brand features rods with distinctive features, and even the same manufacturer produces different rods. But what exactly separates panfish rods from your typical fishing rod?

  • Length – On average, a panfish rod can reach up to 10 feet in length, though some come with even longer lengths depending on the needs of other users.
  • Material – Panfish rods vary in terms of the material used for their construction. Most rods feature graphite due to its durable yet lightweight property. However, you can also find panfish rods made of nylon and other materials.
  • Rod action – This is the speed at which the rod will return to its normal state after flexing. Basically, your choice of a rod should have a quick rod action so that it can keep the fish attached to the hook after reeling it in. Rod action comes in either slow, medium, and fast speeds depending on your preference.

Now that we have a bit of an overview regarding panfish rods, let’s now take a look at the best panfish rods on the market. To help you with your search, we’ve reviewed the 8 best panfish rods we found. Let’s have a look at each of them.

Best overall

St. Croix Rods Trout Series Spinning Rod

Recommended
98 %

St. Croix Rods Trout Series Spinning Rod

It’s a great rod for any kind of panfish fishing. Some users have also used it for saltwater fishing and to catch much bigger fish! Many customers swear by St. Croix rods and many have more than one St. Croix rod.

  • Ease of use:
  • Durability:
  • Looks:
  • Value for money:

If you are looking for an ultra-light fishing rod that is ultra-strong then look no further than the St. Croix Trout Series. This rod is suitable for panfish fishing as well as fishing for bigger fish. It is suitable for beginners and veterans.

This rod is a blend of SCVI and SCII graphite. The ultralight rod has great sensitivity and you can feel even the slightest of pulls. Did we mention that it is very flexible and extremely strong? And the customer service at St. Croix is very helpful and responds to any queries or issues you may have. The rod features a cork handle.

It has stainless steel guides with stainless steel rings. Moreover, it weighs 1.9oz. It can take line weights from 2-6 lbs and lure weights from 1/32 to 3/16 oz. The rod is available in a range of sizes from 4’10” to 7′. Priced anywhere from $110-$160, this is a rod that is true value for money. Another great feature about it is that it comes with a 5-year warranty.

Best premium

St. Croix Rods Legend Elite Panfish Fishing Rod

Recommended
95 %

St. Croix Rods Legend Elite Panfish Fishing Rod

Customers who bought the rod rave about how light the rod is. It is also easy to use and casting is effortless. And every customer commented on the sensitivity of the rod: “…you can even feel a crappie bite”! Happy customers have more than one rod from St. Croix and are very happy with them. Great for all kinds of panfish fishing.

  • Ease of use:
  • Durability:
  • Looks:
  • Value for money:

Here is a premium panfish fishing rod from the St. Croix stable. As with most St. Croix rods, this one is ultra-light and very strong. It is backed up with the superb St. Croix customer service team and a 15-year transferrable warranty. Suitable for those who have the money to pay for a premium product.

The rod has a split-grip cork handle for great grip while fishing. Additionally, it has Torzite rings in Titanium frames. It comes in 4 sizes from 5’6″ to 7′. The steep price ensures that only hardcore panfish enthusiasts who can afford to splurge will buy this. But it is worth every dime.

Best affordable

Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod

Recommended
75 %

Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod

Many customers found the rod to be “whippy” and not very accurate when casting. However, no complaints on the ability of the rod to respond to even bigger fish – the action is good.

  • Ease of use:
  • Durability:
  • Looks:
  • Value for money:

Though this rod is advertised as one for anglers of all ages and levels of experience, this is mainly an entry-level rod to be used by people who are just taking to panfish fishing. However, even experienced fishers have been amazed by the stability and utility of the rod. So do not let the very affordable price fool you — it is still a good rod. As one experienced angler said, “It is not how expensive your fishing rod is that matters, it is how you use it.” Suitable for those on a budget, but a good rod for anyone.

The rod comes in 6 sizes from 4.6′ to 7.6′. It is an ultra-light graphite composite rod with cork handles. The rod features stainless steel ring guides and inserts. This rod may not have the bells and whistles that the more expensive counterparts have, but it is great value for money nevertheless.

Best rod and reel combo

KastKing Crixus Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Recommended
90 %

KastKing Crixus Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Customers across the board are very happy with the rod. They love the combo. They love the accurate casting and smooth action. Almost all customers loved the combo and its price. One pain point seems to have been the right-handed/left-handed option. One customer seems to think he got the wrong combo. But, on the whole, customers felt this combo had the best value for their money. At around $93 and with the options offered, we certainly see why it’s a good deal.

  • Ease of use:
  • Durability:
  • Looks:
  • Value for money:

For all the previous three rods reviewed, you would have to buy the reel and line separately. However, the KastKing Crixus comes with a reel and line, definitely a great combo! Moreover, it gives the best value out of your money. It is worth a look for sure. It’s suitable for beginners and veterans alike.

The best thing about this combo offer is that it comes with left-handed and right-handed options. Also, it comes with options of medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy. The rods feature super-polymer golf-style handles for super grip even in very wet conditions. It has stainless steel guides with Zirconium oxide rings for long, smooth casts. For easy transport, the rod can be broken down into two pieces but promises one-piece action. An affordable combo.

Best lightweight

Okuma Celilo Graphite Lightweight Ultra Light Trout Rods

Recommended
90 %

Okuma Celilo Graphite Lightweight Ultra Light Trout Rods

Customers liked the look, weight, and action of the rod. Many commented positively on the sensitivity of the rod saying it was really sensitive even to small bites. All-in-all, it’s a great buy and worth the money you spend on it.

  • Ease of use:
  • Durability:
  • Ease of use:
  • Looks:

Here is a lightweight rod that is also quite affordable. Though advertised as a trout rod, you can use it to catch a wide variety of panfish. This 5’6″ rod is ultra-light and has great action. The USP of this rod is that it is very light in weight. It helps prevent hand fatigue.

The rod itself has cork grips like most other rods. It can be broken down into two pieces for easy transport. It features Aluminum oxide guide inserts. Moreover, it is ultra-light and has a very nice action. You can pair it with any reel and you are set to go. 

We would like to point out that Amazon has a warning and legal disclaimer regarding this rod. The disclaimer says the rod can expose you to harmful chemicals like lead or DINP, which could cause cancer or reproductive disorders. Thought we should put this out there. However, warnings aside, this rod seems to be a favorite with customers.

Best for ice fishing

St Croix Mojo Split-Grip Eva Handle Pike Ice Fishing Rod

Recommended
85 %

St Croix Mojo Split-Grip Eva Handle Pike Ice Fishing Rod

Diehard St. Croix fans swear by the build quality. With just $50, you get one of the best deals. Since its main use is for ice fishing, the rod is slightly smaller compared to others. However, it is still a good buy since you can also use it for other situations.

  • Ease of use:
  • Durability:
  • Looks:
  • Value for money:

The third St. Croix rod to feature in our list. This rod is more of a general-purpose rod and can be used in various situations. We think it is great for ice fishing. Coming from the St. Croix stable, this rod has good quality and is backed up by great customer service. This rod is best used for ice fishing.

The rod features a telescopic taper design. It’s smaller compared to other rods from this list. Additionally, it features a split-grip EVA handle. The solid-carbon blank features corrosion-resistant stainless steel line guides. As mentioned earlier, this is an ultra-light rod that can be used by different levels of anglers.

Best length

Cadence CR5-30 Ton Carbon Casting and Ultralight Fishing Rod

Recommended
85 %

Cadence CR5-30 Ton Carbon Casting and Ultralight Fishing Rod

Many happy customers like the build and sensitivity of the rod. Some even have caught fish much bigger than panfish too. One of the best things about it is that it’s also very versatile since they offer a lot of options.

  • Ease of use:
  • Durability:
  • Looks:
  • Value for money:

The Cadence rod is made of 30 ton Carbon and promises to be very strong. It comes as a two-piece rod so it is easy to transport. Not only that, the rods are very sensitive and have great action. The UP here is the length of the rod. If you’re looking for long rods, then this is one of the best options.

The blanks feature a cork and EVA handle. The rod has super smooth, non-corrosive stainless steel guides with SiC inserts. It’s perfect for almost any type of fishing. At about $53 it is a mid-range rod. Some of the Cadence rods have a split grip. Also, some of their rods are in two pieces, some are one-piece rods.

Best for trout

Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Rod

Recommended
89 %

Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Rod

Customers rave about the strength and sensitivity of the rod. They use it for trout fishing as well as fishing in general. Even if the rod is not the most durable from this list, it’s still considered a good option since it’s inexpensive.

  • Ease of use:
  • Durability:
  • Looks:
  • Value for money:

This Berkeley rod is 8′ in length and designed for trout fishing. If you prefer a shorter rod, they also offer a 7′ model. Priced at under $40, this is a good option for those who are on a tight budget. As the name suggests, this one is great for trout fishing.

The blank is created from a 24-ton carbon composite. This gives a light rod with superb strength and durability. It also promises great sensitivity. For smooth line delivery, the blank has stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts.

What to look for in a good panfish rod

As mentioned earlier, a good panfish rod should have good action, good sensitivity, good material build, and appropriate length.

Action

The action refers to the stiffness of the rod. It refers to the capability of the rod to come back to its original state after it is flexed while casting and reeling in your catch. Generally, a stiffer rod equals good action. Aim for rods with good action for accurate casting.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity refers to the response of the rod to any bites. You need to have a rod with good sensitivity to catch even the smallest of bites. A sensitive rod will telegraph a bite via the line to your hand. If you’re a beginner, this is the most important factor when choosing a fishing rod.

Material build

The other feature to look out for in a good panfish rod is how durable it is. Look for rods with a strong build. Rods can be made of wood, bamboo, composite materials, fiberglass, or graphite.

All materials have their strengths and weaknesses. However, the rods these days, especially the graphite ones, are much lighter and much stronger. The rods available now are also very sensitive to bite.

Make sure to select a lighter rod so you won’t get fatigued easily. One of the best materials is graphite. But this will still depend on where you’re planning to fish.

Appropriate length

Choose an appropriate rod length for a good fishing experience. A good panfish rod should be between 4′ to 6′. Keep the length of the rod in mind while shopping for a new rod. The length will affect your casting distance and accuracy.

The best way to narrow down your search when looking for fishing rods is to go for ultra-light rods between 4′ to 6′ with good action and good material build. However, keep in mind your fishing location and weather conditions as well.

FAQ

What is the best length for a panfish fishing rod?

There is no best length for a panfish fishing rod. The consensus is that it should be between 4′ and 6′. However, the length of the rod will also depend on your height. If you are short, trying to manipulate a long rod may be unwieldy. So keep these two thumb rules in mind: it should be between 4′ and 6′ and based on your height. Select a rod length accordingly.

How does the action of the rod affect panfish fishing?

The action of the rod affects how accurate the casting will be and how sensitive the tip of the rod is. Lighter and slower action allows lighter baits to be cast, while you should go for a heavier and faster action for heavier baits.

The action will also affect the accuracy and distance of your cast. Keep these factors in mind while selecting an appropriate panfish rod.

What is the best fishing line weight for panfish?

As a general rule of thumb, use a 2-4 lb monofilament fishing line for panfish. For heavier fish like bass, use an 8-12 lb monofilament fishing line.

Final verdict

The best panfish rod will depend not only on where you’re planning to fish but also on your preferences as well. Whichever it is, we included only the best of the best for this list. Keep in mind that buying expensive gear is not always good. It is not important how much you spent on your gear. What is important is what you can do with your gear. Enjoy your panfish adventures!

Become a member

Become a member of our large community for free. Our newsletter grant access to exlusive content, premium reviews, giveaway contests and much more.

By continuing, you accept the privacy policy.
Absolutely no spam. Unsubscribe any time!