Top 6 Best Ultralight Spinning Rods (2020 Review and Buying Guide)

Ultralight fishing is one of the most enjoyable (and challenging!) ways to fish.

It’s becoming more and more popular as anglers challenge themselves to catch bigger and bigger fish on light gear – or want to feel more enjoyment when catching smaller species.

To get the most fun out of ultralight fishing, you’ll need the buy the right rod to match.

Today, we are here to help in search of the best ultralight spinning rod for you. 

The Best From The Review

These are the top three reels from the lineup…

Top Pick

Ugly Stik Elite

An ideal ultralight set up with the perfect combination of length, power, and action for some awesome ultralight fishing.

Ugly Stik Elite

The all-round best ultralight spinning rod is the Ugly Stik Elite.

It’s incredibly affordable while being strong and sensitive.

It comes with the best combo of length, power, and action for any fishermen, whether tall or short, beginner or pro.

Plus with it’s Ugly Stik construction it’s going to last you for years to come.

Best Value

Sougayilang Trout Rod

Made for quality graphite, it casts well, is sensitive, and all the extras like stainless steel guides and stainless inserts.

Sougayilang Trout Rod

The best ultralight spinning rod if you’re looking for a bargain is the Sougayilang Trout Rod.

It does everything well and with a small price tag, but it’s not designed for over-reaching so don’t put too much pressure on it or it will snap.

G. Loomis Classic

An ideal setup for ultra light fishing with a solid length for casting quite far, fast action for great sensitivity

G. Loomis Classic

The best ultralight spinning rod for me is the G. Loomis Classic.

It’s the best performing rod in the review and comes with all the right specs to be an ultralight machine, but this isn’t what attracts me.

The thing about the G. Loomis that gets me is that this rod will take you places – from the flats of the Caribbean looking for bonefish to tackling large bass, this is the ultra-light for taking on species you probably shouldn’t. 

Our Best Ultralight Spinning Rods

Here are all the top rods we reviewed.

G.Loomis Classic Trout Panfish Spinning Rod

Editor’s Choice

G.Loomis Classic Trout Panfish Spinning Rod

An ideal setup for ultra light fishing with a solid length for casting quite far, fast action for great sensitivity

G.Loomis Classic Trout Panfish Spinning Rod

Loomis rods are a favorite amongst anglers, as the fishing rods they produce are some of the best in the world.

They take design and production to another level in their rod-making and the result is consistently excellent. 

Build

The G.Loomis Classic Trout Panfish Spinning Rod is made from a high-quality graphite blank that is exceptionally strong while being ultra light.

It can handle being used in both fresh and saltwater so you can expand your ultralight fishing experiences to include species like bonefish as well as panfish. 

Guides, Reel Seat, Handle

The rods also come with excellent guides, a comfy cork handle, and an exceptionally reliable reel seat.

And still, there’s more – the rod is actually designed to protect light lines, making sure it can handle a big fish on the hook. 

Length and Sensitivity

The model chosen below is an ideal setup for ultra light fishing with a solid length for casting quite far, fast action for great sensitivity, and of course an ultra light power rating.

This rod will take you where you need to go, saltwater, freshwater, you name it. 

It is an expensive rod, like all G. Loomis rods, but the quality and performance are worth every penny.

Specs

  • Model: SR6010-2 GL3
  • Power Rating: Ultralight
  • Length: 7’0”
  • Line: 2-6 lbs
  • Lure Weight: 1/32-3/16 oz
  • Action: Fast

Pros

  • Exceptionally well-made and can handle big fish
  • You can use the rod in both fresh and saltwater
  • The rod series has a ton of options to match your ultralight needs
  • The rod casts like a dream and has some backbone for fighting fish
  • 2 piece and easy to travel with
  • Sensitive to all bites no matter how subtle
  • An exceptionally light rod that will give you no fatigue issues

Cons

  • It’s pretty expensive
  • The rod may be a little short for some at 5 ft

Cadence CR5 Ultralight Fishing Rod

Balanced feel and great to cast with. It has all the right specs for you to enjoy some ultra light fishing.

Cadence CR5 Ultralight Fishing Rod

Cadence rods have been around for a while and do a good job of making very affordable quality rods and the CR5, spinning rod has been doing the rounds of late. 

Build

The CR5 spinning rod is made from a carbon blank making the rod durable, strong, light, and sensitive. It has a lovely balanced feel to it and is great to cast with. 

The rod comes with a Fuji reel seat, a comfy cork handle, and SiC guides with durable stainless steel frames.

Guides

SiC guides are Fuji guides designed to dissipate heat to protect your line from damage and they do it better than any other, which is ideal when you’re needing to fish with ultra light fishing rods and lines. 

Although the guides are good at dealing with heat, they do tend to bend and the guides inserts can even pop out.

Also, the reel seat seems to fail after a while in some cases. Neither of these issues is uncommon in budget rods, you get what you pay for. 

Length

The model below is a little short but is the best length for kids starting out who can’t quite handle a long rod yet. It has all the right specs for you to enjoy some ultra light fishing, although I would stick to panfish with this little spinning rod.

Specs

  • Model: CR5-481S-ULM
  • Power Rating: Ultralight
  • Length: 4’8”
  • Line: 2-6 lb
  • Lure Weight: 1/32-1/8 oz
  • Action: Moderate

Pros

  • Good rod length for kids and short people
  • 2 piece rod for easy traveling
  • The rod is made from quality carbon fiber for strength and sensitivity
  • A light rod that you cast all day with
  • For use in both salt and freshwater
  • Come with nice cork handles

Cons

  • The reel seat system can fail after a while
  • Guides bend easily and the inserts can pop out
  • It’s a little short for tall people

Sougayilang Ultralight Trout Rods

Made for quality graphite, it casts well, is sensitive, and all the extras like stainless steel guides and stainless inserts.

Sougayilang Ultralight Trout Rods

Sougayilang is a Chinese manufacturer of fishing rods that is actively trying to get their rods into the marketplace, making them very affordable.

Their rods are still of good quality though, and are ideal for anyone looking for a bargain. 

Build

Their ultra light trout spinning rod is a serious contender in the ultra light rods marketplace. It’s made for quality graphite, it casts well, is sensitive, and all the extras like stainless steel guides and stainless inserts make this rod a pleasure to go fishing with. 

Length

The rod model below is an ideal length for the middle ground, it’s not too long for kids or too short for taller people.

The ultra light power combined with the fast action makes it sensitive to bites with enough backbone to set the hook well. 

The only issue with these rods is that they aren’t very tough and if you push them too far they are likely to snap. Make sure you use the rods correctly and play the fish for a while and you shouldn’t have any rods breaking

Specs

  • Model: PE-plus-602
  • Power Rating: Ultralight
  • Length: 6 ft
  • Line: 2-6 lbs
  • Lure Weight: 1/32 – 3/16 oz
  • Action: Fast

Pros

  • Rod has a nice combination with the fast action tip for extra sensitivity and backbone
  • The rod comes with durable stainless steel guides and stainless inserts
  • You can use the rod in both fresh and saltwater
  • The rod is made with quality graphite construction for great balance and castability
  • The rods come with a comfy cork handle
  • Easy to travel with thanks to the two-piece design

Cons

  • It’s not very tough and can snap under pressure

Kastking Crixus Spinning Rods

Made from an IM6 graphite blank that is light, durable, and high performing.

Kastking Crixus Spinning Rods

Kastking is another fishing brand that is into the quality but affordable spinning rods market but they are based in the US rather than China.

Their Crixus spinning rod series consists of some pretty great rods that are a bargain for the quality you’re getting. 

Build

Crixus spinning rods are made from an IM6 graphite blank that is light, durable, and high performing.

The spinning rods cast super well and can be used for fishing in fresh or saltwater.

It comes with a full graphite reel seat that will never corrode, and an incredible grippy handle that is comfortable and won’t slip regardless of weather. 

Guides

The guides on these spinning rods are Zirconium Oxide guides with a stainless steel frame. Zirconium oxide guides are great but the quality of these Zirconium oxide guides seems to be lacking.

They tend to break or pop out when under too much pressure. 

Action

The model highlighted below is only a light-action spinning rod, which isn’t necessarily ideal but is the lightest Crixus they make.

You’ll still be able to enjoy the ultra light experience, but it might be toned down a little bit. The medium-fast action will give you enough sensitivity to feel subtle bites and backbone to set the hook.

Specs

  • Model: KRDS NCX-66L2
  • Power Rating: Light
  • Rod Length: 6’6”
  • Line: 4-8 lbs
  • Lure Weight: 1/16 – ⅜ oz
  • Action: Medium Fast

Pros

  • Great rod for use in fresh or saltwater
  • Rod is made from quality IM6 graphite blank
  • The handle is very grippy and comfy
  • The graphite reel seat will never corrode
  • It’s very inexpensive for the quality you’re getting
  • Two-piece rod makes it easy to travel with

Cons

  • The guides inserts can pop out and break under pressure
  • No ultra light power rated rods in the series

Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod

An incredibly easy spinning rod to use, as it’s beautifully balanced and casts like a dream

Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod

Shakespeare has been around for years and their Micro Spinning Rod is an excellent choice for beginners and pros alike.

It’s an incredibly easy spinning rod to use, as it’s beautifully balanced and casts like a dream. 

Build

It’s made from a high-quality graphite blank that gives the rod great sensitivity and castability. It features stainless guides and inserts that stand up well to corrosion and don’t bend or pop out like other rods on the market. It’s a lovely fishing rod and is an ideal choice for ultralight fishing. 

Action

The model chosen below is the best ultralight spinning rod in the series in terms of the right length, power, and action combination.

While it might not have a fast action, medium action will suffice as you’ll still feel the bites and have enough gusto to set the hook. 

Durability

Some anglers have mentioned that this fishing rod is a little floppy and not stiff enough.

This comes down to personal preference though.

You should also try not to push this fishing rod too far, as it can break under too much pressure.

Specs

  • Model: MGSP 702UL
  • Power Rating: Ultralight
  • Rod Length: 7 ft
  • Line: 2-6 lbs
  • Lure Weight: 1/32 – ¼ oz
  • Action: Medium

Pros

  • The rod comes with a reliable reel seat that’ll hold your reel in place no matter what
  • The rod is made with quality graphite blank construction for durability and sensitivity
  • Exceptionally easy to use, nicely balanced, and casts well – great for kids
  • The rod comes with stainless steel guides and inserts that last
  • Two-piece rod makes it easy to travel with

Cons

  • A little delicate and can snap under pressure
  • A bit floppy for some

Top Pick

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

An ideal ultralight set up with the perfect combination of length, power, and action for some awesome ultralight fishing.

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

If you haven’t owned an Ugly Stik before, perhaps now is the time.

Most anglers use this because they are affordable and almost unbreakable.

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod is no different and uses the same unbreakable build. It’s probably Shakespeare’s best ultralight. 

Build

The Ugly Stik Elite is made from a graphite and fiberglass composite. These two materials together give you a light and sensitive rod that just keeps on bending instead of breaking. That’s the joy of composite. It will be a little heavier than if they just used graphite, but not by very much. 

Guides and Reel Seat

The Ugly Stik Elite comes with stainless steel guides with no inserts, so there is a lot less to go wrong.

The guides are tough and durable and tend to have zero issues. The seat for the reel is also high quality but it is a little small and doesn’t fit every spinning reel out there. 

The model chosen below is an ideal ultralight set up with the perfect combination of length, power, and action for some awesome ultralight fishing.

Specs

  • Model: USES 662UL
  • Power Rating: Ultralight
  • Length: 6’6”
  • Line: 2-6 lbs
  • Lure Weight: 1/32 – ⅜ oz
  • Action: Medium-fast

Pros

  • Made with almost unbreakable Ugly Stik construction
  • Comes with a clear tip for stealth and sensitivity
  • Casts well and is light for fatigue-less all day fishing
  • Stainless steel guides with no inserts to pop out
  • Affordable for the high quality
  • A two-piece rod that is easy to travel with and has comfy cork handles

Cons

  • The reel seat is a little small for all spinning reels

What Is Ultralight Fishing? 

Ultralight fishing is exactly what it sounds like; using ultra light fishing rods with a light reel, line, and lures to target any species you feel like going for.

The joy of it comes from either challenging yourself or having casual fun catching small fish you’d normally use a heavier rod for. 

Sensitivity

Catching fish with an ultralight rod amplifies every tiny bit of the experience by a hundred. Every bite and every run will be extra-accentuated by the ultralight setup and really get your fishing vibes buzzing. 

What Makes A Fishing Rod Ultralight?

Man Holding a Fishing Rod
Man Holding a Fishing Rod

Again, there are no mysteries here. What makes a fishing rod ultra-light is the rod being very lightweight, thin, and sensitive.

It should have an ultralight power rating.

A brown trout pulling on a medium-power rod won’t bend it much because it is thicker, stiffer, and more powerful, but the same trout pulling on an ultralight-power rod will have it bending a lot – that’s all part of the fun!

What Are Ultralight Rods Good For? 

Ultralight rods can be the best and most enjoyable rod with which to go chasing small panfish like crappie, trout and walleye with.

Rather than hauling fish out with a heavier rod without even feeling a fight, you get to feel everything from the subtlest bite to every movement of the fish in the fight. It’s far more pleasurable and challenging. 

TIP

You can also use an ultralight rod to target other larger species if you want a challenge, but make sure to play them softly or you’ll risk breaking your ultralight rod. 

Why Are All Ultralight Rods, Spinning Rods? 

If you have been shopping around you’ll have noticed that all the ultralight rods available are ultralight spinning rods.

This is because the best reel to cast ultralight lures with are spinning reels.

Using any other kind of reel simply won’t work due to how light the lures are. 

Why Choose An Ultralight Rod? 

We have already hit this nail on the head. Using an ultralight rod is so much fun.

The challenge and the sheer hilarity of small fish taking you for a ride because of your ultralight setup makes fishing for small species incredibly rewarding and satisfying. 

What To Consider When Finding The Best Ultralight Rod

Man Fishing at a Lake
Man Fishing at a Lake

Power & Action, Are They The Same Thing? 

No, they are completely different.

The power of a rod denotes its thickness, stiffness, weight, and resulting power.

What is Power?

Power ratings range from ultralight to extra heavy, and you can select the power of your rod accordingly based on what kind of fishing you’re going to be doing. 

What is Action?

Action refers to where along the length of the rod it will bend and it’s rated from slow to extra fast.

A slow action rod will bend at the butt section while a fast action rod will bend at the tip.

Fast action rods provide a lot more sensitivity and give you the backbone needed to set a hook into the tough mouth of a fish. 

Power

All ultralight rods have a power rating of ultralight, it is what makes them who they are. Don’t go and buy a light power rod thinking it is ultralight, as it is not the same. 

Action

The right action for ultralight spinning rods is a medium to fast action. This is because the rod is already light enough and you don’t want it bending at the butt, but further up the rod nearer the tip.

A medium to fast action rod will also give you a lot more sensitivity in the tip to feel the subtle bites of smaller fish and increase your hook up rate. 

Length

The length of ultralight spinning rods can vary from between 5-7 feet.

The longer the rod, the further you’ll be able to cast your lure, and the more leverage you’ll have over a fish when fighting it.

Adjust to Height

If you’re tall or average height, then you should choose a longer rod around the 7ft mark. If you’re shorter or buying for a child, stick to 5-6ft.

Man Holding a Fish and a Rod
Man Holding a Fish and a Rod

Material

The best material ultralight spinning rods can be made out of are fiberglass, carbon fiber, graphite or a composite mixture of graphite, and fiberglass. 

Carbon Fiber & Graphite

Carbon and graphite are very similar and are far lighter than fiberglass.

They are very durable, lightweight, sensitive, and are great materials to cast with.

The main differences between them are the price, carbon is more expensive, and that carbon performs a little better, but it’ll only be noticeable to pros. 

Fiberglass

Fiberglass rods are almost unbreakable but they are heavy and sluggish to fish with.

They can bend almost in half but don’t give you the sensitivity you need when fishing for small species. 

Composites 

Composite rods are a blend of graphite and fiberglass that give you the best of both worlds. They have lightweight sensitivity of graphite combined with the unbeatable sturdiness of fiberglass.

They are great rods and, in our opinion, certainly worth considering.

Lightening Up

Let’s take a quick look at the top three rods…

Top Pick

Anyone who wants an all-rounder but isn’t looking to spend a little as possible should go for the Ugly Stik Elite. It does everything well, will last and anyone can fish with it, whether they are a child or a pro. 

Best Value

If you’re bargain hunting, then the Sougayilang Trout Rod.

For a tiny price, you get an ultralight rod that is reliable, great to fish with, long-lasting if you take care of it. 

Editor’s Choice

If you want to take ultra light fishing to the next level, then it has to be the G. Loomis.

You can really push yourself to target species that you wouldn’t go for with a different ultra light.

The sheer quality and performance of these rods are unbeatable, and should be worth investing in.

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