8 Best Saltwater Rod & Reel Combos for the Money in 2022

June 24, 2021/Riley Draper Table of Contents

There’s nothing like saltwater fishing, especially if you’re able to get out on a boat and dredge up some real deep-sea monsters.

Saltwater fishing feels like the ultimate fishing experience in a lot of ways, it’s quiet, it’s challenging, and it’s a whole lot of fun. You’re going to want to find the best reel and rod combo before you head out there, though.

We took the time to do some deep diving and found 10 of the best saltwater rod and reel combos on the market right now so you don’t have to stress yourself out before your relaxing fishing trip!

In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:

Title

PENN Battle II 4000 Spinning Reel Combo

BEST OVERALL

Title

PENN Battle II 4000 Spinning Reel Combo

8 Best Saltwater Rod & Reel Combos for the Money – Overview

Here are the top 5 picks (keep scrolling for more details and picks 6-8).

Title

PENN Battle II 4000 Spinning Reel Combo

Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combos Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod with Reel Combo

Ugly Stik Carbon Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

BEST OVERALL

Title

PENN Battle II 4000 Spinning Reel Combo

Title

Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

LOWEST PRICE

Title

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combos Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod with Reel Combo

Title

Ugly Stik Carbon Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

1. PENN Battle II 4000 Spinning Reel Combo

This rod and spinning reel combo is perfect for massive saltwater fish. We mean the kind you only find deep in the ocean after making your way out from the shore a good bit. The gear ratio for this rod is a 6.2 to 1 so you’re getting an excellent reel every time you crack just a touch.

It makes it almost effortless to reel in your catches. The gears on this reel are incredibly well made. Bringing in the line after a successful cast is highly satisfying. Overall this rod is a joy to use, and small touches like that are exactly why.

The reel features a full metal body, side plate, and rotor. It’s incredibly durable, which is perfect for saltwater fishing. This isn’t the kind of reel and rod combo that will leave you high and dry in the middle of a fierce fishing session. The reel housing is tough.

You need that on a good fishing rod because of the incredible amounts of tension your line can produce when you’re trying to wear down a particularly frisky fish. There’s nothing more disappointing in the world than having your equipment fail you when you need it most.

The superline spool doesn’t need any backing. Out of the box, it’s ready to braid, and the convenient line capacity markings make it easy to set up and monitor while your line is out fishing.

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

PROS

  • Reeling in this pole is incredibly satisfying. There are five ball bearings lining the reel that make it an absolute dream to reel in
  • Easy to set up as soon as it leaves the box
  • One of the most solid and straightforward reel and rod combos

CONS

  • A little simple for the price

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2. Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

This tongue-in-cheek brand hides an exceptional secret. You’re going to love your big ugly stick once the two of you are acquainted. The Ugly Stik gets its name from how limited its looks are, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in function and reliability.

It’s a simple rod and reel that operate together to give you a durable and functional experience that’s fun without becoming overly complicated. Durability is the name of the game when it comes to the Ugly Stik. The rod can and will put up with a lot of punishment.

The rod is made from a combination of graphite and fiberglass. These two materials interact in a unique way that makes them perfect for fishing rod construction. All of the give that you want a rod to have without the risk of it exploding in half during your most tense battles with the saltwater monsters. 

You’re probably going to be holding onto this rod for hours at a time. There’s nothing worse than finding out the hard way that your fishing rod is a miserably uncomfortable tool to work with during your third or fourth hour of waiting for a bite.

The Ugly Stik is a comfortable stick with the inclusion of lightweight EVA grips. They’re like holding onto spongy air while you wait for things to go down. The spool is made from high-quality aluminum with a built-in one-way clutch so your line doesn’t start trying to mutiny when the crank hits the floor of your boat if you happen to drop it. 

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

PROS

  • Designed with a clear tip that gives you the edge in responsiveness and strength
  • The grip makes this perfect for lengthy fishing outings

CONS

  • This fishing rod isn’t an eyesore, but design-wise it’s pretty bland to look at

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3. Penn Fierce III Combo

This rod and reel combo is tech-savvy. The rotors are balanced with some neat tricks and the rod itself is made from a supple and powerful graphite composite. It’s like a futuristic tree branch that practically never cracks under pressure.

The reel on this combo has a full metal body as well as full metal side plates, so it’s built to really last, especially while it’s being pushed to its absolute limits. The bail wire along the reel is made from heavy-duty aluminum. Everything on the reel is built to last, and we really put it to the test. It’s easily one of the more sturdy reels we’ve had our hands on in a minute.

When you pair the sturdy body of the reel with the stainless steel ball bearings that make up its internals, you get an unparalleled reeling experience in one package. The rotor is “techno-balance” which is just a fancy way of saying it won’t rattle out of alignment when you’re trying to reel your line in.

The graphite composite rod doesn’t seem like much at first glance, but after some time with it, we can safely say that it’s putting in at least as much work as the reel. Both of them together create a memorable fishing experience that’s easy to recommend to you.

Full-metal body and sideplate; techno-balanced rotor for smooth retrievals

4+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings; instant anti-reverse bearing

Graphite composite blank

Stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts; EVA grips

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

PROS

  • The stainless steel guides add a little flair and functionality
  • EVA grips make this pole incredibly comfortable after long stints on the water
  • The anti-reverse bearing really puts in a lot of work

CONS

  • While the guides are nice, they’re prone to damage

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4. PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combos Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod with Reel Combo

If you feel like you’re being choked out by all of the tackle boxes and accessories and cumbersome rods all over the place in your boat, then this will help you save a little bit of space. Having a telescoping fishing rod is one of those quality-of-life improvements that you’ll have a hard time walking back once you’re used to it, so commit wisely. 

The rod is made from layers of carbon fiber and fiberglass. These rods are wonderful to look at and they’re functional as well. The high-density carbon fiber/fiberglass combo is hard for your run-of-the-mill fish to combat. You’re going to be using this rod for a while, so it’s great to find out that it’s comfortable and fun to use early on.

The material combo also keeps this rod incredibly elastic while maintaining the kind of rigid durability you’d expect from a saltwater rod. This fishing rod won’t soon lose to any of the sea creatures you bump into during your fishing trips.

The reel is sturdy and the designers took the time to shore up its defenses against the corrosive power of salt water. The reel seat is hooded and treated to prevent damage from the hungry salt of your surroundings. It’s more than just an incredibly durable addition to the team. The reel is full of functionality like an instant anti-reverse to keep you from ruining your carefully wound fishing wire and power drive gears to make reeling in big game a breeze. 

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

PROS

  • High-capacity spool
  • The hood of the reel is resistant to salty air-related corrosion

CONS

  • This rod tries to do a lot at once, so it can be a little overwhelming if you’re looking for something simple and familiar
  • The gear ratio is smaller than some of its competition, making it a little harder to reel in

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5. Ugly Stik Carbon Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

Now, this Ugly Stik is far from ugly. In fact, it’s one of the best-looking combos on this list. The red finish on the blank is reason enough to buy this combo, but since we’re reviewing the entire package, we should see how it all holds up under scrutiny. 

Other than the flashy exterior, the biggest selling point for this Ugly Stik is how light it is in comparison to other Ugly Stiks. This pole is their lightest ever, and that positions this combo pretty uniquely in the world of fishing rods. You’ll be able to cast further and sit for much longer since this pole weighs practically nothing.

You won’t really be wearing yourself down by wielding this pole. The lightweight aspect of this fishing pole comes from its solid graphite construction. The decision to go with a totally graphic body is a wise one. You’ll enjoy the pliability and strength of the pole while you’re out on the sea. It allows you to try for some of the hardest catches of your life.

The stainless steel that makes up the reel is designed to be the strongest part of the rod. If something wild happens and your pole somehow ends up breaking (though that seems unlikely if you’re not banging it around in your boat), your reel will survive no matter what.

It’s also seated on the rod with a Fuji reel seat. This offsets the reel enough to get it out of your way while you’re waiting for something to happen out there.

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

PROS

  • Absolutely beautiful chrome red blank
  • The reel is impressively sturdy
  • If you’re looking for something flashy, this is a good choice because it manages to show off while being an exceptional tool

CONS

  • Sometimes rough shipping will destroy the end of this pole

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6. Cadence CC5 Spinning Combo Lightweight Rod

This rod feels like a luxury rod at a fraction of the price. Cadence obviously spent a lot of time and research finding the perfect materials for this rod to elevate its look and feel. It’s not just that it looks nice, this rod feels nice as well.’ The blank is made from a 24-ton carbon composite.

This carbon composite is up there with graphite in terms of lightweight, durability, and flexibility. This rod is able to withstand some mighty tugs from some rather large fish, so you’re essentially never in danger of breaking your pole. 

The reel is made with a carbon composite frame and carbon composite side plates. This keeps it corrosion-resistant. Inside of the reel itself are an impressive 8 ball bearings along with 1 instant anti-reverse bearing. This makes the entire Cadence experience smooth and flawless.

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

PROS

  • An excellent budget option that doesn’t feel like it’s made from cheap material
  • Great for someone that’s looking for a well-rounded fishing experience

CONS

  • The reel is smooth and powerful, but it feels a little bulky and cumbersome related to other reels  on this list

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7. Okuma Tundra Surf Spinning Combo

This is a relatively simple rod for this list, but its simplicity and earnest design earn it a commanding position in the world of reel and rod combos. This rod is made from high-quality materials, it’s rigorously tested, and the multi-disc system in the reel makes it smooth as butter to reel in.

It’s not just a recreational fishing rod. There are plenty of pro fishers out there all around the world that bear the Okuma name. One of the reasons pros will reach for this rod when it’s go time is the multi-disk oiled felt drag system gives the line the perfect drag when you’re ready to cast off into the briny void. 

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

PROS

  • Simple and effective design that won’t overwhelm new fishermen
  • Ceramic guide inserts add a degree of customization to an otherwise plain fishing experience
  • A pair of EVA foam grips make this the perfect candidate for long trips

CONS

  • This is a 2-piece rod, which might be a deal-breaker for some folks

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8. Daiwa D-Wave Saltwater Spinning Combo

Saltwater rods and reels tend to focus on power and gear ratios. It’s all ball bearings and carbon fiber these days. This combo from Daiwa takes notes from all of the other combos out there, but with a focus on precision over power. That isn’t to say that this rod doesn’t have the gumption to grab any of your great catches, but it’s nice to know that there’s still room for finesse in the world of saltwater rods.

The graphite blank is going to be where most of the delicacy lies. The fully graphite body means that your rod is going to have a lot of give while being hard to break. This along with the shape of the rod give you a pretty intimate connection with the seawater through your fishing rod.

By utilizing the power of graphite, Daiwa’s D-wave rod combo really puts the action in your hands. You have full control over the line at all times with this rod, and you really feel it when you get to inspect it for the first time. This combo is also good for freshwater fishing.

By not leaning too hard into the saltwater conventions, this rod saves itself and makes for an excellent fishing companion no mater what body of water you find yourself dropping your bait into. 

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

PROS

  • The graphite blank is strong and sensitive to changes in the water, so you always know exactly what’s happening at the end of your line
  • The entire reel is corrosion resistant

CONS

  • By not leaning too far into one style of fishing or the other, this rod kind of strands its performance firmly in the middle of both.

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Our Winner

Title

PENN Battle II 4000 Spinning Reel Combo

BEST OVERALL

Title

PENN Battle II 4000 Spinning Reel Combo

The only thing that can improve the perfect fishing trip is the perfect fishing rod. If you’re on the lookout for a reel and rod set that will prepare you for any trip you take for the rest of your life, then you’re going to grab this rod from Penn.

The Penn Battle II is one of the best saltwater fishing rods for the price, and it comes ready to blow your expectations out of the water. The gear ratio inside of the reel makes this an easy rod to crank. If you let the gears do all the work for you, then you’ll be reeling in the big dogs in no time.

It feels practically effortless to get behind this crank, but we know that’s just their excellent design hiding in plain sight. The Penn Battle II is incredibly robust. It’s sturdy when you need it, and it’s the kind of fishing rod that never says die no matter what it’s facing down. If you want something powerful and reliable, then this is the rod you’re looking for. 

Bonus tip: Anybody that enjoys saltwater fishing will love this video full of saltwater fishing stories that feel larger than life!

See more: Best in Class Reviews, Fishing Gear Reviews & Guides

Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he’s not writing, he’s probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.

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