Last updated on August 17th, 2023
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For many adventurers, the joy of exploring the great outdoors is only enriched by the tranquility of fishing. Whether you are hiking through vast forest landscapes or navigating remote alpine streams, having a reliable and portable fishing rod is key. Backpacking fishing rods are the epitome of convenience and compactness, designed for the wanderer who can’t resist the allure of an untamed river or a serene lake hidden amidst the trails.
The market for backpacking fishing rods has grown substantially over the years, with a multitude of options offering a range of features. However, not all rods are created equal, and the best backpacking fishing rod for you depends on your specific needs and fishing situations. This article will discuss the important features of these rods and delve into the world of backpacking fishing, from the placid, mirrored lake at the end of a trail, to the fast-moving stream hidden in mountainous terrain.
Types of Backpacking Fishing Rods
Selecting the right type of fishing rod is just as important as its physical features. Various rod types are tailored to different fishing methods, locations, and species. Below, we discuss the most common types suitable for backpacking: spinning rods, fly rods, and tenkara rods.
Spinning rods are popular among backpackers due to their versatility and ease of use. These rods are excellent for casting light lures and baits, and they handle a wide range of fish species, from bass and trout to walleye and salmon. With the reel and guides located on the underside of the rod, spinning rods allow for accurate casting and are less prone to line tangles, making them ideal for beginners.
Fly rods are specialized tools designed for fly fishing—a method of fishing where the weight of the line carries the hook through the air. They are lightweight and flexible, allowing the angler to cast with precision. These rods are particularly well-suited for backpacking trips into mountain streams and lakes where trout fishing is prevalent. Fly rods do, however, require more skill to handle effectively, and their performance can be influenced by wind conditions.
Tenkara is a traditional Japanese fishing method that has gained popularity worldwide, especially among backpackers. Tenkara rods are ultra-lightweight, telescopic, and do not use a reel—the fishing line is simply attached to the end of the rod. This simplicity makes tenkara rods incredibly compact and portable, and they shine in mountain streams where their short casting range is not a limitation.
Tenkara fishing focuses more on technique than on equipment, making it a uniquely engaging form of fishing. However, they are not suitable for all situations and might struggle with larger fish species.
In conclusion, the best type of backpacking fishing rod depends largely on your fishing situation, target species, and personal preference. Understanding the differences between spinning, fly, and tenkara rods will help you make the most informed decision and enhance your fishing experience.
Best Backpacking Fishing Poles of 2023
Disclaimer: All products in this article were independently researched and reviewed by our team of experienced anglers. Learn more about our review process here. We use so-called affiliate links in this article. This means that if you click on one of the links provided in this article and end up making a purchase, we might earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. We only recommend products we’ve tested and believe in.
Key Features and Specifications
The Okuma Voyager Spinning Freshwater Travel Kit is a well-crafted, portable fishing kit perfect for the angler on the go.
- Model: VS-605-20
- Type: Spinning rod and reel
- Length: 6 feet
- Line weight: 4-8 lbs
- Sections: 5
- Material: Graphite and cork
This kit features a 6-foot, 5-piece spinning rod and a size 20 reel that comes pre-spooled with line. It’s made of a combination of graphite and cork, ensuring durability and a comfortable grip. The rod boasts a medium action that’s versatile enough to handle a variety of fishing situations.
What makes this kit unique is that it comes with a convenient carry case, ensuring all components stay safe and organized during transport. The case’s design is compact, making it easy to store in a backpack or car.
The Okuma Voyager Spinning Rod delivers reliable performance across various freshwater fishing situations. Its medium action and 4-8 lb line weight make it ideal for targeting small to medium-sized species like bass, trout, and panfish.
The size 20 spinning reel is smooth and dependable, featuring a ball-bearing drive system that ensures consistent performance. Its lightweight design makes it easy to handle, reducing fatigue during extended fishing sessions.
The compact size and carry case make it excellent for backpacking, camping trips, or even just a spontaneous day of fishing. The carry case’s padded interior ensures the rod and reel stay protected, while its zippered closure keeps everything secure.
- Complete Kit: The kit includes a rod, reel, and carry case—everything you need to start fishing.
- Portable: The 5-piece design and compact carry case make it easy to transport and store.
- Versatile: The rod’s medium action and line weight make it adaptable for a variety of species and environments.
- Affordable: The Okuma Voyager Kit offers excellent value for money.
- Not for Big Fish: While versatile, this rod isn’t built to handle larger fish species.
- Limited to Freshwater: This kit is designed specifically for freshwater fishing, limiting its versatility.
The Okuma Voyager Spinning Freshwater Travel Kit is an excellent choice for those seeking a complete, portable, and affordable fishing solution. It offers reliable performance and versatility for various freshwater fishing situations. While it may not be suitable for larger species or saltwater fishing, its convenience and value for money make it a worthwhile addition to any angler’s gear collection. Especially for backpackers and campers, this kit’s portability and comprehensive features make it an excellent choice.
Key Features and Specifications
The Smuggler 6 Travel Fishing Rod is a fantastic piece of gear designed to accompany anglers on their most adventurous journeys.
- Model: Smuggler 6
- Type: Casting rod
- Length: 6.5 feet
- Line weight: 8-15 lbs
- Sections: 6
- Material: Carbon fiber
Designed with a compact 6-piece configuration, this rod fits neatly into a 17.3-inch case, making it highly portable for travel. The rod is built from high-quality carbon fiber, providing a balance of strength and lightness.
The Smuggler 6 comes with an aluminum reel seat and features a cork handle for a comfortable and firm grip. With a 6.5-foot length and a line weight of 8-15 lbs, it’s designed for versatility in various fishing situations.
The Smuggler 6 Travel Fishing Rod delivers consistent performance in both freshwater and saltwater environments. Its medium-heavy power and 8-15 lb line weight make it suitable for targeting a range of species, from trout and bass to redfish and snapper.
Despite its compact design, the rod doesn’t compromise on casting distance or accuracy, and the action is responsive, aiding in precise casts and efficient hooksets. Its balanced construction offers a comfortable fishing experience even during long sessions.
The compact size and lightweight design make it an ideal choice for backpacking, camping, and overseas travel. The durable case ensures the rod remains safe and secure during transport.
- Compact Design: The 6-piece design ensures excellent portability.
- Versatile: Its medium-heavy power and line weight cater to a wide range of fishing situations.
- Quality Construction: The high-quality carbon fiber construction and cork handle ensure durability and comfort.
- Freshwater and Saltwater Compatible: The rod is designed to withstand both freshwater and saltwater fishing environments.
- Price: The Smuggler 6 is in a higher price range compared to other travel fishing rods.
- Lack of Included Reel: The rod doesn’t come with a reel, necessitating an additional purchase.
The Smuggler 6 Travel Fishing Rod is a premium piece of gear designed for the adventurous angler. Its compact size, high-quality materials, and versatile performance make it a highly recommended product for those who fish in various environments. While it might be on the higher end of the price scale and lacks an included reel, its overall performance and convenience make it a worthwhile investment for any serious angler on the move.
Key Features and Specifications
- Model: X5
- Type: Multi-function (casting, spinning, and fly)
- Length: 7 feet 8 inches
- Line weight: Varies depending on the setup
- Sections: 10 (interchangeable)
- Material: Carbon fiber
Constructed with high-quality carbon fiber, this rod is designed to be lightweight yet robust. Its five-piece design collapses to a compact size for easy storage and transportation.
One of the X5’s standout features is its versatility. With interchangeable sections, this rod can be set up for baitcasting, spinning, or fly fishing, making it adaptable to a wide range of fishing situations.
In its various configurations, the X5 Travel Fishing Combination shines in multiple fishing situations. As a casting rod, it provides the power and control necessary for targeting larger species. In its spinning configuration, it offers versatility for a variety of species in both freshwater and saltwater. And as a fly rod, it delivers the delicate presentation and accuracy required in fly fishing scenarios.
The X5 is an ideal companion for any angler who enjoys different styles of fishing and wants a single rod that can handle all scenarios. It performs well whether you’re fishing in small streams, larger rivers, or coastal waters.
Its compact and lightweight design also makes it a solid choice for backpackers, kayak anglers, or any angler on the go.
- Versatility: The rod’s interchangeable sections allow for casting, spinning, and fly-fishing setups.
- High-Quality Construction: The rod’s carbon fiber construction ensures it’s lightweight and durable.
- Compact Design: The five-piece design ensures excellent portability.
- Ideal for Various Fishing Situations: This rod performs well in various environments, from small streams to coastal waters.
- Learning Curve: It may take some time to learn how to efficiently switch between the different configurations.
- Reel Not Included: The rod doesn’t come with a reel, necessitating an additional purchase.
The X5 Travel Fishing Combination is a highly versatile and innovative product that suits a wide range of fishing styles and scenarios. Its high-quality construction, portability, and ability to switch between casting, spinning, and fly fishing make it a valuable addition to any angler’s gear collection. While it may take some time to get used to the different configurations, and an additional reel will be needed, its flexibility makes it a worthwhile investment, particularly for anglers who enjoy variety in their fishing experiences.
Key Features and Specifications
The Echo Trip Fly Rod is a marvel of modern fishing gear technology, built with both convenience and performance in mind.
- Model: 590-8
- Type: Fly rod
- Length: 9 feet
- Line weight: 5
- Sections: 8
- Material: Graphite
Key features include its 8-piece design, which enhances the rod’s portability without sacrificing its performance. The rod is crafted from high-grade graphite, making it both lightweight and sturdy.
Performance-wise, the Echo Trip Fly Rod shines in a variety of fishing situations. The rod’s medium-fast action provides the flexibility needed for accurate casting, and it’s capable of delivering dry flies, nymphs, and small streamers with precision. With a line weight of 5, it’s suitable for handling fish species ranging from trout to small bass, making it a versatile tool for any fly fishing enthusiast.
The rod’s 9-foot length allows for long casts and better line control, which is ideal for larger rivers and lakes. Despite its length, the 8-piece design makes it compact and easy to pack, fitting into most backpacks with ease. This rod is also noted for its impressive balance and smooth casting action, making it a pleasure to fish with.
- Compact Design: The 8-piece design allows the rod to break down into a compact size for easy transport.
- Versatile: With a 5-line weight, it’s suitable for a variety of fish species and fishing environments.
- Quality Construction: The high-grade graphite construction ensures durability and a lightweight feel.
- Smooth Performance: The rod’s medium-fast action guarantees accurate casts and smooth delivery.
- Price: The Echo Trip Fly Rod is priced higher than some other travel fly rods on the market. However, the cost is justified by its high quality and performance.
- Learning Curve: As with any fly rod, there may be a learning curve for beginners.
The Echo Trip Fly Rod is a premium choice for any backpacker who enjoys fly fishing. It is designed for both travel convenience and versatile fishing, making it a worthwhile investment for fishing adventures. Its robust construction, excellent performance, and compact design certainly make it stand out in the world of backpacking fishing rods. However, its higher price point and the potential learning curve for beginners are aspects to consider. All in all, it is a highly recommended tool for anyone looking to enhance their fly fishing experience on the trail.
Key Features and Specifications
The REYR Gear First Cast Fly Rod is a piece of gear that packs an impressive amount of innovation into its compact design.
- Model: First Cast
- Type: Telescoping fly rod
- Length: 8 feet
- Line weight: 5
- Sections: Telescoping
- Material: High-modulus carbon fiber
The rod boasts a telescoping design, making it incredibly compact for transportation while still delivering the length and performance needed for fly fishing. The First Cast is constructed from high-modulus carbon fiber, providing a balance of lightweight and high strength.
Unique to this rod is its ability to remain rigged even when collapsed, thanks to an internal line management system. This eliminates the need for re-rigging between fishing spots and saves valuable time.
The REYR Gear First Cast Fly Rod performs admirably in a variety of fishing situations. Thanks to its 5-line weight and 8-foot length, it handles anything from small stream fishing to casting across larger bodies of water with relative ease.
The rod’s ability to remain rigged while collapsed is a significant advantage for the backpacking angler frequently moving between locations. This also makes the rod an excellent choice for kayaking or canoeing trips where storage space is limited and quick deployment is desired.
In terms of casting performance, the First Cast offers a responsive, medium-fast action that lends itself well to accurate and effective fly delivery.
- Compact Design: The telescoping design ensures optimal portability.
- Rigged When Collapsed: The rod’s unique internal line management system allows it to remain rigged while collapsed.
- Versatile: With its 5-line weight, the rod is adaptable to a variety of fish species and environments.
- Quality Construction: High-modulus carbon fiber construction offers durability and lightweight performance.
- Price: The REYR Gear First Cast is a premium product, reflected in its higher price point.
- Complexity: The internal line system, while innovative, adds a level of complexity to maintenance and repairs.
The REYR Gear First Cast Fly Rod is a versatile and innovative tool for the backpacking angler. Its unique features, like the ability to stay rigged while collapsed, and its compact telescoping design make it stand out. The rod’s quality construction and versatile performance make it a worthwhile addition to any backpacking fishing gear. However, its premium pricing and slightly complex design may not appeal to everyone. Nonetheless, for those willing to invest, it promises an exceptional fly fishing experience on the go.
Key Features and Specifications
The Tiny Ten 5 Foot Mini Ultralight Carbon Fiber Tenkara Fly Fishing Rod is a unique offering from Tiny Tenkara Co. designed for ultra-lightweight and compact fishing adventures.
- Model: Tiny Ten
- Type: Tenkara rod
- Length: 5 feet
- Action: Fast
- Sections: Telescopic
- Material: Carbon fiber
The Tiny Ten is constructed from high-quality carbon fiber, which keeps it lightweight yet robust. It utilizes a telescopic design, collapsing down to just 11 inches, which is incredibly compact for a fly rod.
This tenkara rod, with its fast action and light line weight, is ideal for small stream fishing where precision and subtlety are key. It’s particularly adept at catching trout, panfish, and other smaller freshwater species.
Despite its small size, the Tiny Ten doesn’t compromise on performance. It provides a responsive feel and accurate casting, essential for the precise presentations that tenkara fishing often requires.
The rod’s incredibly compact and lightweight design makes it an excellent choice for backpackers, hikers, or anyone who wants a fishing rod that can easily fit into a day pack.
- Ultra-Compact Design: At only 11 inches when collapsed, this is one of the most portable fly rods on the market.
- Lightweight: The rod is made from carbon fiber, making it extremely light and easy to carry.
- Responsive Action: The rod’s fast action ensures accurate casting and a responsive feel.
- Ideal for Small Streams: This rod excels in small stream environments, making it perfect for trout and panfish.
- Limited to Small Fish: The rod’s small size and light line weight limit its use to smaller species.
- Not Suitable for Beginners: Tenkara fishing requires a different skill set than traditional fly or spin fishing, which may be a learning curve for some.
The Tiny Ten 5 Foot Mini Ultralight Carbon Fiber Tenkara Fly Fishing Rod is an exceptional tool for the backpacker or light traveler seeking a fishing rod that takes up minimal space. It offers excellent performance for small stream fishing and provides a unique experience that tenkara fishing is known for. However, it’s important to note that its small size does limit the types of fish it can handle, and beginners might face a learning curve. Regardless, for those who value portability and enjoy the simplicity and elegance of tenkara fishing, the Tiny Ten is a fantastic choice.
Important Features of Backpacking Fishing Rods
Collapsibility (Small Size)
A top-notch backpacking fishing rod is primarily characterized by its collapsibility, a feature that enables it to be compactly stored and conveniently carried. Collapsible rods, also known as travel or telescopic rods, have segments that slide into one another, reducing the rod’s overall length for transport or storage. These rods are easy to set up and take down, making them perfect for backpacking trips where space and time are of the essence.
Rod length is another critical factor. While longer rods can cast farther distances and handle larger fish, they can be more cumbersome to carry. The ideal length of a backpacking fishing rod often falls between 6 and 9 feet. However, the correct length will also depend on the type of fishing you plan to do and the species you’re targeting.
Aside from collapsibility, overall packability is a key consideration for the best backpacking fishing rod. This includes its weight, diameter when collapsed, and whether it comes with a case. The best backpacking rods are lightweight, and compact, and often come with a hard case for protection. The material of the rod also plays a role here—graphite rods, for example, are known for being lightweight yet sturdy, making them ideal for backpacking.
Fishing Situations for the Best Backpacking Fishing Rod
Backpacking fishing rods are versatile tools that can handle a variety of fishing situations. These rods are perfect for high-mountain fishing, where trails often lead to isolated lakes or streams filled with trout and other species. They are also ideal for jungle trekking, where you may come across rivers teeming with fish.
Additionally, if you’re a multi-day backpacker, these rods can provide a source of food along the journey. For those who enjoy survivalist or minimalist camping, the best backpacking fishing pole is an excellent addition to the gear list, providing both a source of entertainment and a means to catch dinner.
Conclusion on the Best Backpacking Fishing Poles
Selecting the best backpacking fishing rod involves careful consideration of its key features, such as collapsibility, length, and packability. Weighing these features against your specific needs and fishing situations will lead you to the perfect rod. Whether you’re casting lines into a pristine mountain lake or patiently waiting for a bite in a murmuring stream deep in the woods, the convenience and compactness of a backpacking fishing rod can significantly enhance your outdoor adventure.
How should I choose the right length for the best backpacking fishing rod?
The right length depends on your fishing environment and target species. If you’re casting in tight spots or targeting smaller species, a shorter rod of 6 to 7 feet may suffice. If you’re casting long distances or fishing for larger species, a longer rod of 8 to 9 feet may be better.
Are collapsible fishing rods durable?
Yes, most high-quality collapsible fishing rods are designed to be both durable and lightweight. Materials like graphite and carbon fiber are often used to ensure strength and longevity.
Can I use my backpacking fishing rod for saltwater fishing?
Yes, but make sure it’s designed for saltwater use to prevent corrosion. It’s also essential to clean your rod after every saltwater use.
What is the difference between a telescopic rod and a travel rod?
A telescopic rod collapses into itself, while a travel rod breaks down into separate pieces. Both are compact and suitable for backpacking, but travel rods tend to be more robust, while telescopic rods are more convenient to set up and pack.
How do I maintain my backpacking fishing rod?
After each use, clean your rod with fresh water and dry it thoroughly before storage. Periodically check for any damages or loose parts, and store them in their case to protect them from impacts.