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Best ultra-light rod and reel combo

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Those anglers looking for the ultimate lightweight fishing experience, then they should search for the best ultra-light rod and reel combo on the market. An ultra-light rod and reel combo can make a prominent difference when you’re fishing especially for smaller catches, offering improved sensitivity and a greater feeling of control while still being lightweight and easy to handle.

But with so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to choose. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, in this article, we’ll help you find the best ultra-light rod and reel combo to suit your needs, so you can spend less time searching and more time reeling in your catch.

Advantages of using ultra-light fishing gear setup

Using an ultra-light rod and reel setup for fishing can have several advantages, including:

Increased sensitivity

Ultra-light rods are designed to be more sensitive, allowing you to feel even the slightest nibble on your line. It’s easier to detect the bites even by the smallest specie by using sensitive rods.

Lighter weight

As the name suggests, ultra-light fishing gear is much lighter than standard equipment. This makes it easier to handle and carry, especially during long fishing trips or when hiking to remote fishing locations.

You can fish a full long day without any arm fatigue.

Enhanced accuracy

The handy and lightweight nature of an ultra-light setup means that it’s easier to cast accurately and with greater precision. This can be particularly helpful when trying to reach a specific spot in the water or casting in small, tight spaces.


Ultra-light gear can be used for a variety of fishing techniques, even if you are right with the technique or by luck you can also land some bigger catches with setup. Ultra-light rods and reels are the ideal options for catching smaller fish species such as trout.

Improved fighting power

Despite being lightweight or flexible, an ultra-light setup can still offers the required backbone when it comes to fighting fish. The sensitive, flexible rod allows for better control over the fish and can make it easier to tire them out and bring them in.

Top 3 picks for the best ultra-light rod and reel combos

best ultra-light spinning combo for trout
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Combo
  • Composite rod construction
  • Aluminum reel
  • 7 feet long
  • 5.5:1 gear ratio
best ultra-light combo overall
Okuma ROX Spinning Combo
  • Graphite rod
  • 7 feet long
  • 2 ball bearings, Aluminum reel
  • 5.1:1 gear ratio
best ultra-light combo for panfish
Daiwa, D-Shock Freshwater Spinning Combo
  • Fiberglass rods
  • Graphite reel body
  • 5’6’’ long rod
  • 2 ball bearings

List of best ultra-light combos reviewed in detail

1- Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Combo

best ultra-light spinning combo for trout

best combo for trout
  • Composite rod construction
  • Aluminum reel
  • 7 feet long
  • 3+1 ball bearings
  • 2-6 lb. fish weight
  • 5.5:1 gear ratio
  • 2 piece rod

This trustful brand is suitable for both professional as well as novice anglers. I have always been the Ugly Stik fishing gear fan as they offer budget-friendly durable options. 

The Ugly Stik GX2 spinning combo has been added to many of my best spinning rods and reel lists and now adding to the best ultra-light rod and reel combo.

This combo has many features that fulfill the criteria of the best ultra-light gear option. It features a composite rod (a high-end rod feature), and an aluminum spool reel, with EVA grips on the rod indicating that it will last longer.

The ultra-light rod is available as 2 piece rod so you can easily transport to any desired location and enjoy full-day fishing as it is such a lightweight set up easy on arms and easy to operate.

Its paired reel features 4 ball bearings with the right count and can easily land 2-6 lb. fish. This 7-footer combo with 2500 size reel is perfect for panfish, trout, and fishing techniques.

You can experiment with different techniques for casting lighter lures. It’s a freshwater test combo but its durability indicates it can be a trustful combo for saltwater fishing. Just be careful with maintenance as saltwater can damage the aluminum reel.

Many anglers replace the reel with Shimano or Piscifun. If you aren’t tight on the budget you can also go for this cross-brand.

Overall a recommended combo for regular fishing and a good start rod and reel for beginners. Pick some of the best lightweight trout lures with this combo.

  • Suitable for all skill-level anglers
  • Durable rods
  • 2-piece rod
  • Fast retrievals
  • Anti-reverse switch
  • Sensitive rod
  • Aluminum reel which is not resistant to corrosion

2- Okuma ROX Spinning Combo

best ultra-light combo overall

best ultra-light combo overall
  • Graphite rod
  • 7 feet long
  • Stainless steel line guides
  • Split grip cork handles
  • 2 piece rods
  • Aluminum reel
  • 2 ball bearings
  • 5.1:1 gear ratio

Okuma ROX spinning combo doesn’t features an ultra-light power rod, it’s a medium power rod but due to the graphite construction, it is incredible at sensitivity feature.

This combo detects the slightest fish nibbles and lessens the chances of missing the smaller fish catch. The rod tip and reel seat transfer the vibrations directly to the angler’s hand.

That’s why this medium power setup is added to the ultra-light combo list. You can catch panfish to bass, bluegill, and catfish with this rod and reel. You can fish from a lake, or pond, fish from a boat, pier fishing, or trolling. It is a reliable combo but doesn’t feature an ideally fast reel.

The rod is graphite, with stainless steel line guides. The rod weight is well balanced as its features the split grip handle design. You can hold the cork handles even with your hands easily.

Its 2 bearings reel with aluminum anodized spool and oil felt drag washers although durable lacks sealed components so if you are fully practiced with the assembling of reel components then it’s all good, as you can wash it with fresh water to remove dust particles.

Overall it’s a good combo for freshwater fishing. You can replace the reel with one of the best ultra-light spinning reels if you prefer greater ball bearings.

  • Lightweight combo
  • Sensitive rod
  • Suitable for both smaller and medium-sized catches
  • Budget-friendly rod and reel
  • Reel components are not sealed

3- Daiwa, D-Shock Freshwater Spinning Combo

best ultra-light combo for panfish

best ultra-light combo for panfish
  • Fiberglass rods
  • Graphite reel body
  • 5’6’’ long rod
  • 2 ball bearings reel
  • 2 piece rod
  • Full grip cork handles
  • Aluminum oxide guides

The Daiwa D-Shock Freshwater Spinning Combo is an excellent option for anyone looking for a budget-friendly and reliable fishing setup for Panfish without losing the quality. Daiwa has a reputation for producing gear in the fishing industry that stands the test of time, and this combo is no exception.

One of the promising features of this combo is its ultra-light design, an ideal setup for catching delicate mouth panfish. The rod is 5’6″ long and made from high-quality fiberglass providing excellent flex and backbone to perform beyond its limit.

The combo is great for casting accurately lightweight lures and making smaller casts. Try this for murky water conditions where accurate casts are important. 

The reel paired is also incredibly lightweight, it is an aluminum spool reel with a graphite body weighing in at just 8.1 ounces, making it easy to handle and use for long periods.

This 1000-size reel even with 2 ball bearings offers flawless casts with a reduced rate of line tangles.

The overall build quality of the Daiwa D-Shock Freshwater Spinning Combo is impressive, with attention paid to even the smallest details. The cork handle is comfortable to hold and provides a firm grip, while the stainless guides are well-positioned to ensure smooth line flow and reduce the chances of tangling.

In addition to panfish, it is also a recommended combo for trout. Use this fishing rod with the jigging fishing technique for incredible results.

The ultra-light design, high-quality materials, and attention to detail make this combo an excellent value for the price. I highly recommend it to any angler looking for a top-performing ultra-light combo for panfish.

  • Lightweight rod
  • 2-piece rod
  • Budget-friendly ultra-light combo
  • Features a hook keeper
  • Not suitable for saltwater

4- PENN Fierce III Combo

best ultra-light rod and reel combo for saltwater

best ultra-light combo for saltwater
  • Graphite composite rod
  • 6’6” length
  • Fast action
  • EVA grips
  • Aluminum body reel
  • 4+1 Stainless steel ball bearings
  • 6.2:1 gear ratio

The anglers looking for an ultra-light option suitable for both saltwater and freshwater fishing, PENN Fierce is a great choice who enjoy both types of fishing. PENN is one of the tournament-level trusted brands by professional anglers.

The highlighting feature of this combo is its composite construction fast action rod, which offers excellent sensitivity and responsiveness. This makes it ideal for catching a variety of fish, from panfish to medium-sized catches.

Additionally, the rod has the perfect amount of flex and backbone, providing the strength you need to land bigger fish without sacrificing the sensitivity required for smaller catches.

The 1000-size reel attached to this combo is also impressive, with the ability to spool 4-10 lb. line test and featuring a 6.2:1 gear ratio. Its reel comprises plenty of premium quality features carbon fiber drag washers, a full metal body, and 4+1 stainless steel guides for smooth buttery reel operation.

Another thing to note is that the PENN Fierce III Combo is almost the same price as other ultra-light combos on this list.

The only reason why it isn’t placed on top is because it is one piece rod difficult to transport.

Overall, its high-quality materials and excellent build quality make it worth the investment for serious anglers who want a versatile and reliable fishing setup.

  • High quality rod and reel construction
  • Durable combo
  • Sealed reel components;
  • Suitable for saltwater fishing
  • Long lasting light combo
  • One piece rod

5- Dead Meat Combo

best ultra-light combo for ice fishing

best ultra-light combo for ice fishing
  • Fiberglass rods
  • Cork handle
  • 32 inches in length 
  • 5+1 ball bearings
  • 4.8:1 gear ratio
  • 2-4 lb. line capacity

The Dead Meat Combo is an excellent choice for any angler looking for the best ultra-light rod and reel combo for ice fishing. The high performance, sensitivity, and durability make it an excellent value for the price.

 I highly recommend this combo to any ice-fishing enthusiast who wants a reliable setup that can handle anything the winter weather can throw at it.

The fiberglass rod in this combo is incredibly sensitive and offers a perfect balance between strength and flexibility and are perfectly durable. This means that you can easily detect even the lightest bites in ice water.

Its reel attached is equally impressive, with a smooth drag system and a high retrieval rate with a 4.8:1 gear ratio, making it easy to reel in your catch.

Its 5+1 ball bearings are built to withstand the harsh conditions of ice fishing. Moreover, the oversized guides on the rod are designed to reduce ice buildup and resist freezing, ensuring that you can fish all day without any issues.

It is the ultimate ultra-light ice fishing setup for those who demand high performance and reliability as the cork handles placed to offer the required firm grip even with gloves.

  • Durable set up for ice fishing
  • Lightweight
  • Sensitive rod
  • The connection of reel with the rod needs improvements

6- Zebco 33 Spincast Reel Rod Combo

best ultra-light combo under $50

best ultra-light combo under $50
  • Fiberglass rod
  • 5 feet long
  • 1/64-1/8 lure weight
  • Bite Alert
  • EVA foam handles
  • 4.3:1 gear ratio
  • 2-6 lb. line capacity
  • Bite alert switch

The Zebco 33 Spincast Reel and 2-Piece Fishing Rod Combo is a great choice for beginners or casual anglers looking for a reliable, affordable, and or anyone who wants a hassle-free fishing setup.

The rod is made of durable fiberglass and has a comfortable EVA handle that provides a good grip while casting and reeling in your catch. The reel is easy to use and has a smooth drag system that allows for easy and accurate casting without the line breaking.

Featuring a 4.3:1 gear ratio reel, pre-spooled with a 4-pound Zebco-Cajun Line. The reason why it is suitable for beginners It’s easy to use and requires little to no maintenance. You don’t have to disassemble reel parts and lubricate them.

The 5 feet long rod with ultra-light power and moderate-fast action with durable line guides can handle multiple bait presentations and rigging set up.

This one features the EVA foam handles but if you prefer a cork handle on the rod the upgraded version of this Zebco 33 Cork Reel and Fishing Rod Combo comprises of full-grip cork handles.

While it may not be the most advanced or high-end fishing setup on the market, it’s definitely a solid choice for casual anglers who want to get out on the water and catch some fish.

It’s a great setup to teach young anglers how to cast a fishing rod and how to catch fish as this combo also features a “BITE Alert” switch to trigger fish bites.

  • A perfect rod and reel for novice anglers
  • Fast line retrievals
  • Ambidextrous handle
  • The spin cast reel’s maximum drag capacity may not be enough for larger or more aggressive fish

7- Wakeman Swarm Series Combo

best ultra-light spinning rod and reel

best ultra-lighht spinning combo
  • Fiberglass rod
  • 5’5’’ long rod
  • Split grip EVA handles
  • Graphite reel body
  • 2000 size spinning reel
  • 6lb. monofilament pre-spooled
  • Ambidextrous handle

This combo is a great option for anglers who want to spend long days on the water without feeling weighed down. Despite having fewer ball bearings than other reels in its class, the reel attached to this combo is still reliable and can handle decent size fish.

The reel has a smooth drag system and a gear ratio of 5.2:1, which makes it easy to reel in your catch. It also has an anti-reverse feature, which helps prevent the line from becoming tangled or breaking during a fight with a fish.

It’s a pre-spooled 2000-size reel with a 6 lb. monofilament line. The guides on the rod are made durable to bear fishing bruises. All smaller components the ceramic line guides, and the graphite reel body, are of high quality and resistant to corrosion to offer a smooth casting experience for a longer time.

The rod itself is designed to provide a sensitive and responsive fishing experience. It has medium-light power and fast action, which allows anglers to feel even the slightest bites and movements in the water.

The EVA handle is comfortable to grip, and the rod also has a hook keeper, which helps prevent the hook from becoming tangled in the line.

Overall, the sensitivity and responsiveness of the rod make it easy to feel bites and movements in the water, which can help improve the chances of a successful catch, a recommended ultra-light rod and reel for lake fishing.

  • A reliable combo for windy fishing conditions
  • Can be used for kayak fishing
  • Suitable for all skill level anglers
  • The pre-spooled line may need to be replaced, which can be an additional expense, as anglers may prefer a different type of line, such as braided or fluorocarbon, depending on the fishing conditions and the type of fish they are targeting

8- Daiwa Mini System Ultralight Spinning Reel and Rod

best ultra-light combo for travel

best ultra-light spinning combo for travel
  • 4.5 feet long rod
  • 5 piece rod
  • 500 size reel
  • 5.1 gear ratio
  • 2-6 lb. test lines
  • 1/16 to 1/4 oz. lures
  • Multi-disc drag
  • Ultra hard case included

Anglers who frequently travel or fish on trips or at random fishing spots should take a closer look at the Daiwa Mini System Minispin Ultralight Spinning Reel and Rod Combo. This compact rod is designed to fit in a hard case, providing optimal protection from damage while on the go.

Despite its small size, the Daiwa Mini System Minispin Ultralight Spinning Reel and Rod Combo is a reliable and high-performance setup. This five-piece ultra-light rod with 500 size reel.

Its reel has a multi-disc drag system, it typically means that it has a more powerful and precise drag that can handle a wider range of fishing conditions and fish species.

The multi-disc drag system can provide anglers with more control over the amount of resistance on the line, which can help them tire out a fish more efficiently and bring it in more quickly.

The appreciating feature is the strong ferrules that are durable and firmly stick to their position offer solid casts just like a one piece rod.

Whether you’re on a trip or just looking for a reliable and high-performance ultralight combo, this combo is sure to provide you with a smooth and enjoyable fishing experience.

  • Durable telescopic rod
  • Includes hard case rod and reel holder
  • Easy to assemble
  • Pressure more than its capacity can break the rod, make sure to follow the line and lure rating

How to choose the best ultra-light rod and reel combo

Fishing is one of the most relaxing and fulfilling outdoor activities, but it can be a hassle to lug around heavy equipment when you’re out on the water.

This is exactly where an ultra-light rod and reel combo comes in handy. These light power and easy-to-handle gears are designed to provide the perfect balance between sensitivity and strength. But with so many options available, it can be challenging to know which one to choose.

Read carefully the following points to make your gear pick the right one according to your requirements.

Ultra-light Fishing Rod

This “ultra-light” fishing rod isn’t a different type but a power rating. The power of the fishing rod describes how much pressure is required to make a bend in the rod. This tells what size fish you can land with that specific power rod.

You don’t have to be an expert in finding the rod power as it is already mentioned on the rod with other specifications. There are three different rod power categories

  1. Heavy Power
  2. Medium Power
  3. Light Power
  4. Ultra-light Power

The lower the power rating is, the more flexible the rod is and the smallest fish it can land. Length

The length of the rod decides how far you can cast. Casting distance is also a factor dependent on the fishing location. If you are fishing from shore a longer rod is required.

For ultra-light rods, a 6-7 feet length is the optimal choice. Exceeding this length might be challenging to handle as these are flexible rods. A 7 feet ultra-light fishing rod offers casting accuracy and is easy to hold.


The famous feature of the ultra-light rod is the sensitivity and to confirm this feature, fast action is paired. Fast-action rods are sensitive of all. They let you feel the slightest fish nibble and allow you to set the hook fast. The best rod in the best ultra-light rod and reel combo is the “ultra-light power with fast action”.

Learn more about rod power rating and actions in “Fishing rod power and action”.

Rod material

Talking about rod construction materials there are four options


Graphite is a popular material for fishing rods due to its lightweight nature and sensitivity. It’s also strong and durable, making it a good choice for both beginners and experienced anglers.


Fiberglass rods are known for their durability and flexibility, making them a good choice for heavy-duty fishing. They’re also relatively inexpensive compared to other materials, making them a good option for beginners.


Composite rods are made from a blend of graphite and fiberglass, which gives them a balance of sensitivity and strength. They can be more expensive than other materials, but they offer a good compromise between performance and affordability.

Carbon fiber

Carbon fiber rods are strong, lightweight, and sensitive, making them a top choice for serious anglers. They can be quite expensive, but they offer top-of-the-line performance and are often used in professional fishing tournaments.

For ultra-light, clearly, graphite rods are the optimal pick.

Line Guides

The small eyelets on the fishing rod are Line guides. These guides are responsible for accurate casts, keeping the line away from the rod, and reducing line tangles and twists.

There are different material line guides placed on the fishing rods, these are

  1. Aluminum oxide
  2. Stainless steel
  3. Titanium oxide
  4. Ceramic

Aluminum oxide line guides are durable but not fully resistant to corrosion, they need regular maintenance and oiling for smooth operation. In comparison to them, stainless steel guides are a reliable option, they are durable, lightweight, and corrosion-resistant.

Stainless steel guides are expensive but now many cheap fishing rods are also using these material guides. Titanium and ceramic guides are of top quality. They are placed on high-performing fishing rods same are the ceramic guides.

They’re also highly resistant to wear and tear and can handle the weight and pressure of larger fish species. Both types of guides are perfect for heavy use.

Overall, Stainless steel guides are strong, corrosion-resistant, and relatively inexpensive than titanium or ceramic guides, making them a common choice for many types of fishing rods. They’re also easy to maintain and can last for a long time with proper care.

Rod handle Material

Fishing rod handles, also known as grips, can be made from various materials and among them, the popular ones are Cork and EVA foams.


Cork is a popular material for fishing rod handles due to its lightweight nature, and comfortable grip. It’s also resistant to water and moisture, making it ideal for use in wet conditions. But can’t retain their shape when placed in rod holders.

EVA foam

EVA foam is another common material for fishing rod handles, known for its cushioning and shock-absorbing properties. It’s also easy to clean and maintain. Their top quality is durability, as they can bear wear and tear.

For ultra-light rod and reel combo, the rods with cork handles are preferred.

Ultra-light reels

As we are clear that we are targeting smaller fish species, the smaller size and lighter reel will be the best choice. For the ultra-light reel, the following properties are considered

Reel size

The fishing reels are available in 500 to 30,000 sizes. So the reel size is chosen according to the size of the fish. So for ultra-light 1000-3000 is the optimal pick. I mostly pick 2500 or 3000-size reels as they have line capacities of 4-6 pound test enough to target panfish, crappie, or even trout and bass.

Gear Ratio

The number of times the spool rotates on one complete turn of the handle is the gear ratio. It is mentioned 4.1, 5.1, or 6.1 which means the spool rotates 6 times on 1 crank of the handle.

For an ultra-light gear setup, fast-moving spinning reels are preferred i.e. 6.1 or 7.1. This ratio reels and retrieves enough lines. For targeting smaller fish fast reels are the optimal pick.

Reel body

The reel body refers to the outer covering of the reel. The material of the body plus the spool material used. The reel’s durability, smooth operation, and resistance to corrosion are directly proportional to the construction material of the body, spool, and bearing materials.

Aluminum and stainless steel are the two main materials used for construction. It is no doubt a durable option but offers less resistance to corrosion whereas graphite reel bodies are light in weight, last longer, and offer high-level resistance to rust from salt water.

This materrial reels can also be preferred as they are the cheapest and durable of all but you have to be regular with the maintenance. Proper lubrication using synthetic oils after saltwater exposure is required.

Other than these two, carbon fiber is also an option available among high-level reels. These material reels are higher in price but great with performance.  Choosing one, I will prefer graphite reels in an ultra-light gear setup.

Ball bearings

Ball bearings are also a factor regarding reel smoothness. These are small internal bearings that reduce friction among the moving parts of the reel. Most anglers scale the smoothness of the reel on basis of ball bearings count.

The greater the number of ball bearings, the smoother casts, and retrievals will be in almost all types of conditions. There is also another theory regarding this the material of the ball bearings. Stainless steel ball bearings are better than aluminum bearings.

Professional anglers prefer that a reel must have at least 4 ball bearings. Ultra-light spinning reels mostly have less than 4 bearings which are all right. As smaller catches don’t put extra pressure on the reel. You can attach other reels with greater bearings count.

Frequently asked questions


Ultimately, the best ultra-light rod and reel combo will depend on an angler’s individual needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a compact and portable combo for travel or a reliable and high-performing setup for everyday use, there are plenty of great options available that can help you enjoy a successful and enjoyable fishing experience.

After reviewing several options, the Ugly Stik GX2 spinning combo stands out as the top choice. With its durable and lightweight construction, smooth drag system, and responsive rod, this combo is a reliable and high-performing setup for anglers of all skill levels. Additionally, its versatile design makes it suitable for a wide range of fishing conditions and species, making it a great option for any angler looking to upgrade their ultra-light setup.