Top 7 Best Backpacking Fishing Poles of 2021 (Ranked and Reviewed)

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

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While hiking around the mountains, you often go past stunning rivers and lakes that are full of fish.

After considering all the options our top picks were…

It would be a huge shame not to try and catch them but at the same time, who wants to carry all that extra weight? Enter the world of backpacking fishing rods. 

The best backpacking fishing pole is light, packs up small, and is super portable.

They provide a means of catching fish without adding much extra weight to your pack and will slot in easily, instead of being awkward to carry. 

Backpacking fishing poles come in quite a few different types. Join us as we look at a range of them in this review so that you can find the best backpacking fishing rods for your needs.

The Best From The Review

Picking a fishing rod isn’t easy at the best of times. Here are our top three choices from the lineup, each one in its own category.

This is so you can have a variety to choose from depending on your needs.

Top Pick

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

This combo packs down small, is durable, casts well, and is really reliable. It also comes with a pretty good reel too, all for an amazing price.

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

The all-around best backpacking fishing pole is the Plusino Fishing Rod Combo.

This rod/reel combo packs down small, is durable, casts well, and is really reliable. It also comes with a pretty good reel too, all for an amazing price.

Best Value

Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager

The rod and reel are both pretty great and worth far more than they are priced. The rod is made of excellent materials, casts well, will last, and is loads of fun to fish with.

Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager

The best backpacking fishing pole if you’re on a budget is the Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager Spinning Travel Kit..

The rod and reel are both pretty great and worth far more than they are priced.

The rod is made of excellent materials, casts well, will last, and is loads of fun to fish with. And it comes neatly packed in a hard case so you can just pop a fishing kit into your backpack. 

Editor’s Choice

St. Croix Triumph Travel Spinning Rod

Even though this rod is almost 4 times more expensive than the others, it’s going to get the job done every day for a long time with nothing for me to worry about. Every part of the build is top quality and it’ll be a joy to use every time.

St. Croix Triumph Travel Spinning Rod

The best fishing pole for backpacking in my eyes in the St Croix Triumph.

I don’t like to mess around, and even though this rod is almost 4 times more expensive than the others, it’s going to get the job done every day for a long time with nothing for me to worry about.

Every part of the build is top quality and it’ll be a joy to use every time.

Our Best Backpacking Fishing Rods

Here are all the top reels we reviewed.

We’ve lined out our top picks for backpacking rods and pitted them against each other.

Each one’s a winner in its own right and they all have their different strengths…

Sougayilang Telescopic Fishing Rod And Reel Combo

The great thing about this backpacking combo is that you get a nice high density carbon fiber rod and a fishing rod reel in one kit.

Sougayilang Telescopic Fishing Rod And Reel Combo

The great thing about this backpacking combo is that you get everything you need to start fishing in one kit.

These rods also pack down tiny making for some great portability. 

Build

This telescopic fishing rod is made from a mixture of high-density carbon fiber and fiberglass.

This keeps the costs down while still giving you a quality fishing rod that casts well and stands up great to hard fighting fish.

The EVA foam grip is comfy on the fishing rod and the guides are pretty good too, but in rare cases, the inserts can pop out. 

Reel

The spinning reels that they come with aren’t the best but considering the affordable price, they’re pretty awesome value.

As well as the spinning reel you also get a carry case, line, and lures, an awesome addition to the fishing rod.

The only annoying thing is the fishing pole and reel don’t fit in the case when set up, so you can’t start fishing as soon as you get to the water, you’ll have to attach the spinning reel, thread the line and tie on the lure before casting it.

Specs

  • Type: Telescopic Spinning
  • Model: Only Brave Combo
  • Rod Power: Medium
  • Length: 7.87 ft
  • Action: Fast

Pros

  • Comes with a reel, case, line, and lures
  • Packs down very small for portability
  • Everything you need to start fishing in one purchase
  • The rod casts and performs well

Cons

  • The reel is not the best quality
  • Rod and reel when setup doesn’t fit in the carry case
  • The guides can break, but this is rare

FISHOAKY Fishing Rod And Reel Combo

The fishing rod is made from carbon fiber, one of the best and most durable materials. It’s of great quality for the price and will last, as long as you look after it.

FISHOAKY Fishing Rod And Reel Combo

This is another backpacking combo that has all the fishing gear you need to get started.

There is a fishing pole, spinning reel, lures, line, tackle box, and a backpacking case to fit them all into.

The line will need upgrading but the rest is pretty great considering the low price. 

Build

The fishing rod is made from carbon fiber, one of the best and most durable materials. It’s of great quality for the price and will last, as long as you look after it.

It has a stainless steel handle and is a great rod to fish with and casts very well. It is also one of the best fishing poles for beginners

Rod Sections

There are some issues with it though, the telescoping rod does feel a bit flimsy and the rod sections can collapse by themselves mid cast, which is very frustrating.

Imagine hooking a nice catch only to see your rod collapse and have your potential dinner get away, it’s not a nice thought.

Inserts

Also, the inserts of the guides on the rod can pop out easily, but this is rare. 

The rod/reel pairing balances nicely and the reel is pretty good. The drag and retrieve are smooth, and its made of great materials.

This is another backpacking combo that has all the fishing gear you need to get started.

There is a fishing pole, spinning reel, lures, line, tackle box, and a backpacking case to fit them all into.

The line will need upgrading but the rest is pretty great considering the low price. 

Specs

  • Type: Telescopic Spinning
  • Model: Combo
  • Rod Power: Medium
  • Length: 6.80ft
  • Action: Medium Fast

Pros

  • The fishing rod comes with a reel, fishing line, lures, and travel case.
  • You can buy a full travel fishing kit in a single purchase
  • It’s an easy to use fishing pole for beginners
  • The fishing pole packs down small for portability
  • The fishing pole is made from quality materials and is durable

Cons

  • The fishing line and lures in the travel kit aren’t the best
  • The guide inserts on the pole can pop out easily
  • The fishing pole sections can come loose and collapse by themselves
  • The fishing pole feels a bit flimsy

Eagle Claw PK56TS Rod And Reel Combo

The rod is made from fiberglass and packs down small. It’s super durable, casts well, is great to fish with, and lasts a long time.

Eagle Claw PK56TS Rod And Reel Combo

This is one of the spinning rod and reel combos on this list without all the bells and whistles.

It might be the best backpacking fishing rod in the review if you’re looking for a telescoping rod.

Build

The rod is made from fiberglass and packs down small. It’s super durable, comes with medium power, casts well, is great for casting and catching fish, and lasts a long time.

It’s also super light and packs neatly down for when you’re on the move. The only downside is that it collapses about every 20 casts, so be sure to tighten the rod from time to time. 

The spinning reels they make are okay. And for the price, an ok quality reel is what to expect. It’ll handle well thanks to the EVA foam grip and get the job done and you can upgrade the reel one day.

Specs

  • Type: Telescopic Spinning
  • Model: PK56TS
  • Rod Power: Medium
  • Length: 5’6
  • Action: Fast

Pros

  • Packs down small and is super affordable
  • Comes with an ok reel
  • The pole is pretty durable, lasts and cast well
  • Lightweight and easy to carry

Cons

  • The pole feels flimsy when you’re holding it
  • The pole sections collapse by themselves quite often
  • The reel is not the best quality
  • The bail arm can malfunction

Top Pick

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

This fishing rod/reel combo packs down small, is durable, casts well, and is really reliable. It also comes with a pretty good reel too, all for an amazing price.

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Quality

The rod and reel both surprise you in terms of their quality when they arrive.

Both feel sleek out of the box, and neither underperforms on the water. 

This telescopic fishing rod is one of the best backpacking fishing rods in the review.

It packs down very small for portability and is a joy to fish with, it’s the one to choose if you want a telescopic fishing pole.

Build

The rod is made from a mix of 24 ton carbon fiber and fiberglass that makes it hard and durable. The rod comes with stainless steel guides that are top quality, and the reel seat on the rod is made from stainless steel that only adds to the quality. 

Reel

The reel matches the rod excellently and is one smooth reel to fish with. The drag, retrieve, and overall quality are excellent.

If you get one of these rod and reel combos, the only downsides are the missing carry case, lures and line.

Specs

  • Type: Telescopic Spinning
  • Rod Power: Medium
  • Length: 6.89 ft
  • Action: Medium

Pros

  • The combo includes a good fishing reel
  • Great value for a pole and reel
  • The pole is durable and made of 24 ton carbon fiber
  • The performance of the pole is top-notch
  • The pole packs down very small and is easy to set up
  • Made from excellent materials for use in salt and freshwater

Cons

  • No carry case, line or lures included with the rod and reel

Wild Water Fly Fishing Travel Kit

The fly rod is an ideal weight and length for fishing for most species and it casts well.

Wild Water Fly Fishing Travel Kit

The one and only fly fishing rod in the review and luckily it’s a great one to fish with.

It’s not just a rod you get though, you also get a reel, flies, one fly box, line, leader, and a carry case.

I find the Wild Water Kit a great deal for such a great price! 

Quality

It has an ideal weight and rod length for fishing for most species and it handles casting well.

The rod has been compared in quality and castability to an Orvis rod worth $400.

Quite amazing. 

Build

The rod is made from IM8 graphite and has a slow action that is ideal for beginners learning to fly fish.

It packs down to 4 pieces for backpacking, is durable, light, and is the perfect rod for trout and bass fishing. 

Reel

The reel is smooth, has drag and fishes beautifully, especially when paired with the rod. It comes spooled with backing and fly line, ready to go on to the rod and start fishing as soon as it arrives.

It fits perfectly in the aluminum reel seat of the rod, but be sure to keep checking it as the reel can loosen.

The line on the reel is low quality and will need replacing to prevent it from affecting your casting.

In case you’re looking for rods for fly fishing. Check out this review for more portable fly rod options.

Specs

  • Type: Breakdown Fly
  • Pieces: 4
  • Weight: 5/6
  • Length: 9ft

Pros

  • Comes with everything you need to get started, reel, line, flys, carry case, and more.
  • Both the pole and reel are great quality
  • The pole loads very well and casts beautifully
  • Everything in the combo is made to a high standard

Cons

  • The reel seat can loosen and your reel will fall out if you don’t notice
  • The fly line included isn’t great and should be upgraded

Editor’s Choice

St. Croix Triumph Travel Spinning Rod

Even though this rod is almost 4 times more expensive than the others, it’s going to get the job done every day for a long time with nothing for me to worry about. Every part of the build is top quality and it’ll be a joy to use every time.

St. Croix Triumph Travel Spinning Rod

The St Croix Triumph fishing rods are one of the best in the review and they have a price tag to match.

If you want a serious rod for backpacking, this is the rod to pick. 

Rod Pieces

The telescoping rod packs down to 4 pieces for backpacking. The breakdown setup also means you can avoid the collapse that can happen.

Build

The rod is made from SCII graphite making it durable, light, and super sensitive. You won’t get tired fishing with this rod, and you’ll feel every bite too. 

Features

The quality isn’t just in the blank of the rod either, the Fuji reel seat, aluminum oxide guides, and cork handle are all top-notch, making it one great rod to fish with. 

The rod does come with a protective case but doesn’t include line, a reel, or any lures like the others.

Specs

  • Type: Breakdown Spinning
  • Pieces: 4
  • Rod Power: Medium
  • Length: 6’6”
  • Action: Fast

Pros

  • Comes with a carry case for extra protection
  • The pole is well made from great materials
  • Highest quality spinning pole in the review
  • Awesome strength, sensitivity, and hook-setting power
  • Made for experienced fishermen

Cons

  • No extras are included like a fishing line or reel
  • It’s an expensive pole compared to the others

Best Value

Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager

The rod and reel are both pretty great and worth far more than they are priced. The rod is made of excellent materials, casts well, will last, and is loads of fun to fish with.

Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager

The Okuma Voyager Spinning Travel Kit is one of the best when it comes to value.

This fishing rod offers amazing quality for such a low priced rod, and you get a reel, case, and a tackle box with it too.

Build

The rod is made from graphite composite, making it durable, strong, and sensitive. It’s a 6 piece rod and the 6ft rod length packs down very small for portability. The rod is capable of casting beautifully while fishing and can handle some big fish despite its small looks. 

Rod Pieces

The pieces can come apart mid cast and it’s worth checking them now and then, or you can secure them with some electrical tape if you plan on fishing for a while. 

Overall one of the best rod and reel combos for the money, the only actual negative is that their spinning reels are not the best, but it’s still pretty good considering the price.

Specs

  • Type: Breakdown Spinning
  • Model: VS-605-20
  • Pieces: 6
  • Rod Power: Medium
  • Length: 6ft
  • Action: Light

Pros

  • Comes with a tackle box, reel and carry case
  • Packs down very small and is easy to travel with
  • Quality spinning pole and spinning reel for the amazing price
  • The rod casts nicely and is great for fishing with

Cons

  • The rod can come apart mid cast
  • The reel isn’t the best quality

What Are Backpacking Fishing Poles?

2 Piece Rod On a Boat
2 Piece Rod On a Boat

Backpacking fishing poles are fishing rods that break down or collapse down to a very small size for easy transportation. Your best 7 weight fly rod might be great to always have with you but it might be a bit bulky and heavy to carry around.

They are usually fly fishing rods or spinning rods that come in 4-5 pieces or spinning rods that are telescopic. They are also usually rod and reel combos, so you won’t have to go around buying or handling separate pieces.

Being telescopic or in 4 pieces, they are only 2-3 feet long when stored and will slot perfectly on the side of your backpack.

Usually, a travel fishing rod such as these comes with a travel case too, ensuring your gear gets there safely. 

Why Own A Backpacking Fishing Pole? 

The best waters, where often the biggest fish lie, are usually the most remote.

Getting to these amazing, uncrowded fishing nirvana spots can take up to a few days of hiking, and the best rod to take with you is a backpacking fishing rod. 

Also, if you love to travel to fish and want to explore the world while fishing, the only rods that will fit in your check-in bags are backpacking fishing rods. So you’re going to have to own one. 

What’s The Difference Between A Telescopic & Breakdown Backpacking Fishing Pole? 

Breakdown Rod

A breakdown rod can be any type of rod, spinning or even a fly fishing rod.

The rod comes in 4-5 pieces, and once all parts are assembled, you end up with a full-length rod.

These rods are very easy to put together and take apart, simply slot the pieces into each other tightly to start fishing and when you’re done, just pull them apart gently. 

They are more reliable than telescopic fishing rods, and this is because telescopic fishing rods tend to come undone and move around a lot, whereas breakdown rods hold their structure better. 

Telescopic Rod

Also known as telescoping rods, these types of rods are already assembled.

Each piece of the rod sits inside the next to give its compact design.

To open these rods you simply pull the top until it reaches its full length and then twist each section to ensure it doesn’t collapse. 

To store these rods, twist the sections again and let the rod slowly collapse into itself.

Although they are simple to assemble, they can sometimes be a little unreliable and collapse without warning, far from ideal especially if it happens when you’re trying to land the catch of a lifetime.

TIP

A little tip is to constantly check their tightness and tighten them as needed before they collapse, thus avoiding any big fish stores that were lost instead of landed. 

What’s The Best Fishing Pole To Take Backpacking?

Fishing Rod Beside a Backpack
Fishing Rod Beside a Backpack

Choosing the right travel rod fishing is going to make or break your backpacking fishing experience.

No one wants to get all that way to new waters and end up having the wrong rod with them. It’ll drive you nuts, believe me, I’ve been there. 

We’ll discuss three types of rods in the review; fly rods, spinning rods, and telescopic rods (that are also used for spinning), and here is how to choose. 

Now the choice between fly and spinning is yours.

Spinning is a far more effective way to explore an area to see what fish and how many are there, but there is nothing quite like fly fishing.

Fly Or Spinning Rod? 

Fly fishing takes time to master but once you have the hang of it, it is a beautiful way to catch fish.

The connection you have with nature is quite amazing, and the experience is immersive, the more immersive, the better a fly fisherman you’ll be.

The tackle you need will also be a bit lighter overall, as flies don’t weigh anywhere near what a spinning lure does. 

Preference

I would always choose a fly rod, but spinning is the way to go if you’ve never fly fished before. Spinning gear is far more easy to use and more effective, so you’ll be able to cook some fresh fish on the campfire and enjoy your fishing time more. 

TIP

The choice between telescoping or breakdown spinning rods is simple in my eyes, always go for the breakdown, as there is far less to go wrong than with the former.

How To Choose The Best Backpacking Fishing Pole? 

There are a few choices to make first before we get into the details of what features your rod should have. The first are quite big choices. 

As I mentioned above, this is a personal choice.

I own both travel fly rod and spinning poles, so those options exist too.

If you haven’t fly fished, then stick to spinning for the reasons we already mentioned. 

Go For Middle Ground 

Once you have decided between fly or spinning, you want to pick a backpacking fishing rod that isn’t too light, too heavy, too stiff, too bendy, too long, or too short.

You want the middle ground all-around rod…

This means the rod will be super versatile and manage a lot of different fishing situations and species, and therefore you’ll only need to own one. 

Man Fishing at a River
Man Fishing at a River

Length, Power & Action of A Spinning Rod 

To find the ultimate middle ground, spinning rods should be 6-8ft in length, with a light or medium power, and a medium or fast action.

This combination creates a stiff and strong rod that catches larger fish while being soft enough for you to enjoy fighting small fish. 

The length and action ensures you’ll be casting as far as you might need to while also being sensitive enough to feel subtle bites. 

Weight & Length Of a Fly Rod

A fly rods weight determines how heavy and powerful it is. To find the middle ground, you’ll want to choose a 5/6 weight rod.

This will have enough power for you to cast a good distance and handle the pull of most freshwater and smaller saltwater species.

The length is chosen for you by the manufacturer and most 5/6 weight rods are around 9 feet long, the ideal length for a beginner. 

You can get shorter and lighter fly rods that are a lot more delicate to fish with and make catching small fish like bass, trout and crappie a lot of fun.

But you might find it harder casting with them. I travel with a 4wt fly rod that’s about 8.5 ft long, and I find this perfect for most freshwater situations, catching trout up to 14lbs with it. 

How Heavy Is The Rod?

When looking for a backpacking rod, the weight of the rod is going to have an impact in two ways. 

One is that you are going to be carrying this rod with you until you get to the angling grounds.

For some this might entail a 6 day camping hike around the mountains where any extra weight in your backpack is something to be avoided. You already have all your camping gear, and lugging around heavy rods just don’t make sense.

Now imagine you’ve hiked for eight hours, got to some fishy spots where your excitement is bursting, only to find your arm gets really tired from casting a heavy pole. Doesn’t sound too fun does it? 

TIP

My advice is to pick your top three fishing poles following the feature guidance above and then make your decision based on weight. This way you’ll have the lightest version of a rod that does everything you need it to do in terms of casting for, hooking, and fighting fish.

Conclusion

Let’s see a quick recap of the top three picks…

Top Pick

If you’re looking for a telescoping pole with quality that’s also affordable, then the Plusino combo is the one to go for.

You get a great rod that fishes well, is durable and packs down small, with a pretty good reel too. 

Top Value

If you’re backpacking on a budget, then look no further than the Okuma Voyager.

The rod is light, has a nice cork handle, is durable, good for casting, and fun to fish with.

You also get a pretty good reel, all for an incredible price. It’s also an ideal choice for beginners or someone just starting their fishing career. 

Editor’s Pick

If it was me, I’d pick the St Croix Triumph.

It’s the most expensive in the review but, to me, is also the best backpacking fishing rod around thanks to its quality.

When you stumble upon that fish of a lifetime out in the backcountry, this is the rod you’ll want to be holding.

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Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
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