Best Rod For Senko, Shaky Head, Wacky Rig, Neko Rig, Ned Rig – Finesse Fishing [2021 Buyer’s Guide]

Are you’re looking into improving your finesse fishing game?  Do you love fishing a Wacky Rig, Ned Rig, Mojo Rig, or Shaky Head Rig? Do you enjoy the thill of catching a monster bass on a light line and narrow gauge hook?  If so you are in the right place, I love finesse fishing too! You know how important it is to have the correct rod when fishing any finesse technique.  Sadly most fishermen don’t…  And it’s not their fault. Many anglers have been duped into believing that all fishing rods are about the same.  I’m here to tell you that is just a bunch of B.S.!  It’s vital that you own the correct rod for finesse fishing…

Today, I’m going to assist you with choosing the best finesse rod for every budget and skill level.  Because there is a lot of selection to go through and to help you narrow it down, this is your guide for the best finesse rod available in each category.

Finding The Best Finesse Fishing Rod For The Money

In the early days you could get away with one or two fishing poles. 

Nowadays, specialized techniques requires specialized tackle and gear, like fishing rods. 

Finesse fishing has been steadily gaining popularity for the last 15 years, especially since more and more people at becoming interested in bass fishing. Increase fishing pressure forces anglers to trick the fish into biting with this subtle finesse technique. 

Luckily, recent advances in technology has allowed some fishing rod manfacturers to produce some of the most sensitive rods on the market. 

This post was written to specifically help you choose which finesse rod is best suited for you and your needs.

At A Glance...

And the Winner is...

St. Croix Legend® Xtreme Rods

Sparing no expense, St. Croix debuts their top-of-the-line finesse rod within their all new Legend Xtreme rod series.

St Croix blends technology and functionality into one seamless product…

In A Hurry?

If you don’t have much time to read the detailed reviews, simply use the links below to quickly find the best finesse rod for the money on Amazon. You can be assured we only choose the best products…

Best Overall FeaturesSt. Croix Legend Xtreme Finesse Rod

Editor’s ChoiceDobyn’s Fury Rod

Best BudgetUgly Stik Elite

Best Overall
LEGEND XTREME Spinning
Best Budget
Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Medium - 1pc
Editor's Choice
Dobyns Rods Fury Series 7’0” Spinning Fishing Rod | FR702SF | Med-Light Fast Action Rod | Modulus Graphite Blank with Kevlar Wrapping | Fuji Reel Seats and Alconite Guides | Line 6-12lb Lure ⅛ -½ oz., Black/Green
Runner Up
G. Loomis NRX 822S DSR Bass Spinning Rod
Best Under $200
St. Croix Rods Premier Spinning Rod , Classic Black Pearl, 7'0"
Product
Legend Xtreme Finesse Spinning Rod
Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Medium - 1pc
Dobyns Rods Fury Series Spinning Rod
G. Loomis NRX 822S DSR Bass Spinning Rod
St Croix Premier Spinning Fishing Rod
Length
6'10"
7'0"
7'0"
6'10"
7'0"
Power
Medium Light
Medium
Medium Light
Mag-Medium
Medium
Tip Action
Extra Fast
Fast
Fast
Extra Fast
Fast
Angler Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
⭐⭐⭐
⭐⭐⭐⭐
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Prime
-
-
-
-
Best Overall
LEGEND XTREME Spinning
Product
Legend Xtreme Finesse Spinning Rod
Length
6'10"
Power
Medium Light
Tip Action
Extra Fast
Angler Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Prime
-
Learn More
Best Budget
Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Medium - 1pc
Product
Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Medium - 1pc
Length
7'0"
Power
Medium
Tip Action
Fast
Angler Rating
⭐⭐⭐
Prime
-
Learn More
Editor's Choice
Dobyns Rods Fury Series 7’0” Spinning Fishing Rod | FR702SF | Med-Light Fast Action Rod | Modulus Graphite Blank with Kevlar Wrapping | Fuji Reel Seats and Alconite Guides | Line 6-12lb Lure ⅛ -½ oz., Black/Green
Product
Dobyns Rods Fury Series Spinning Rod
Length
7'0"
Power
Medium Light
Tip Action
Fast
Angler Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Prime
Learn More
Runner Up
G. Loomis NRX 822S DSR Bass Spinning Rod
Product
G. Loomis NRX 822S DSR Bass Spinning Rod
Length
6'10"
Power
Mag-Medium
Tip Action
Extra Fast
Angler Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Prime
-
Learn More
Best Under $200
St. Croix Rods Premier Spinning Rod , Classic Black Pearl, 7'0"
Product
St Croix Premier Spinning Fishing Rod
Length
7'0"
Power
Medium
Tip Action
Fast
Angler Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Prime
-
Learn More

Best Over All Features

Best Budget

Runner Up

Editor’s Choice

Best Under $200

Best Under $100

Best Telescoping Travel Rod

Best Finesse Rod/Reel Set 

Why You Should Trust Us

We used our experiences with the products and looked over hundreds of customer reviews, watched tons of video reviews, and analyzed what the professionals and experts had to say from popular sources like BassMaster Magazine.

We scrutinized the data from the product catalog pages of nearly a dozen manufacturers, and we even tried to interview some of the company representatives to talk shop and get their take.

What Makes The Best Rod For Finesse Fishing?

There are many factors that go into determining what a great finesse rod should look and feel like.  Some of those factors include style, material, length, sensitivity, which we’ll explore individually…

Style: Spinning

Spinning rods in bass fishing are primarily (but not always) designed around more finesse applications. They are on average lighter, more sensitive and have a hand feel that is more comfortable than using a baitcasting rod. 

Typically spinning rods will have a longer butt and will include a cork grip. 

Most of the time when you are finesse fishing you’re weight will rarely exceed ¼-ounce, so you need an rod and reel combo that can perform within these set parameters. 

Material: Graphite

Rods made from graphite started in the 1970’s by the Fenwick rod company. Today, technology has allowed companies to take rod building to a whole new level…

Graphite rods are products in a two-part process. One to give the rod strength and the other to give it stiffness. The graphite is baked in an oven that sometimes exceeds 3000 decrees! WOW that’s HOT!!!

The hotter that oven is the stronger and more sensitivity that rod will eventually have. And the rod will also be lighter because the manufacturer will need less material.

What does it mean when a rod has IM5, IM6, IM7, ect graphite?

When you see the verbiage IM-__ it means that rod manufacture is using a special type of graphite made by the Hexcel Corporation.  If a particular company uses IM graphite the higher the number the better quality graphite it will be. 

Some premium brands like G.Loomis (ex: GLX series) and St. Croix (certain lines will add SC4 graphite) will even add a secondary layer of graphite making it even stronger in certain sections of the rod all while keeping the weight down and maintaining the utmost sensitivity. 

Unfortunately, you’ll also read about other rod brands that will offer “high-modulus” graphite rods with a really affordable price, but what they’re not telling you is that they’re not taking all the extra steps of adding the extra high-end graphite backing and will glue on fiberglass instead.  That means the customer will end up with purchasing an inferior, heavier, less sensitive rod.

You really do get what you pay for with the premium brands. And best of all, most of the premium brands have awesome warranties or rod replacement programs on their rods… just in case you close your truck door on your rod tip (speaking from experience)… moving on. 

Length: You’ll need a longer rod. 

You may ask what size rod is best for finesse fishing? Fish with a rod that is at least 6’10” in length. Having a longer rod will allow you to cast a lightweight rig farther and even into the wind. 

Having a longer rod will give you the ability to move, lift, and drag your any finesse rig over or around certain pieces of structure.

 Sensitivity:

Getting back to what you were learning about rod construction. Buying a rod that uses high end graphite can give you an extra sense of sensitivity that it’s hard to describe. It’s almost like gaining a 6th sense… you almost feel the fish is going to bite your lure.

Many anglers say the premium graphite allows the angler to feel when the fish is “breathing on the lure”

Best All Around Finesse Rod - St. Croix Legend® Xtreme rods

Photo cred above and below: @stephenk22

But, why are St. Croix rods the best spinning rod for finesse fishing?

The St. Croix Legend Extreme Spinning Rods are absolutely an amazing piece of fish catching technology, especially for finesse fishing.

St Croix uses the newest and some of the most advanced technology in order to give you a rod that outperforms any finesse rod on the market. 

Using proprietary high-modulus/high-strain SCV graphite and reinforced with super-high modulus SCVI graphite in the back end, this is the rod will you an insane amount of sensitivity, improved strength, and perfect reel seat balance that will allow you to catch fish for hours without getting the slightest bit fatigued.

St. Croix’s TET (Taper Enhancement Technology) design provides curved patterns for enhanced action and boosts sensitivity as well!

But that’s not all! St Croix also partnered with Daiwa to add their exclusive AGS guide system that gives your unmatched durability and longevity to your rod, so you can use it for years to come.

St Croix Xtreme Stories – Derek Hudnall

This rod will last you years and is well worth the investment.

Feature 1: Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) – Breakthrough advances in technology allowed St. Croix to overhaul the rod manufacturing capability to remake the “mandrel”.

The mandrel is a cone-like unit which the rod is made around.  St Croix uses a smooth continuous tapering mandrel.

All others in the industry use a “stair step” mandrel.  By eliminating the “stair step” approach to rod building it creates a uniform thickness of the rod blank which eliminates extra weight and gives the rod unparalleled action. 

Feature 2:  Insanely lightweight and strong – Each rod uses an exotic carbon fiber material that give the angler a magnitude (10X) of strength with virtually no increase in blank diameter or weight.

Feature 3: Advanced Construction Resins – Fortified super resin used in every blank consistently creates rods to be 33% stronger when compared to other manufacturers who build their rods with standard resins and curing methods.

Accolades: St Croix sas won over 20+ ICAST awards.  Most recently in 2018 St Croix was awarded three Best of Show awards. St. Croix Rods claimed this prestigious honor for three of its rods in the freshwater, saltwater, and fly categories. Not an easy feat!

If you’re looking for that competitive edge owning a St. Croix Legend Xtreme Finesse Rod will give you that extra advantage. 

"...The more and more fish I caught with it, I realized it's the sensitivity in the rod that I'm actually feeling these individual strikes now. It was like nothing before, there was no more guessing, when I got a bite, I knew he was there."

- Even Derek Hudnall (professional bass angler and BASSMASTER Elite pro)

Tech Specs:

Best Budget Finesse Rod - Ugly Stik Elite

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What Makes This Rod Great?

This rod manufacturer has been in business for generations. The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod will give you a great rod for skipping docks especially if you’re serious about catching fish but at a price-point that anyone can appreciate.

We chose this specific rod because Ulgy Stik rods run a little on the stiff side. The medium light backbone is more than enough to set the hook in a wacky worm or a Texas rigged fluke bait.  The tip is more than soft enough to skip cast  

When compared to other entry level manufacturers Ulgy Stik designs their rod with 35% more graphite. This means you get a rod that is incredibly strong and still lightweight. 

The Ulgy Tuff stainless steel guides with a fiberglass tip means this economic rod will stand up to any nasty weather that Mother Nature can throw at it!

On a more personal note:  I bought my nephew this rod for general fishing. Overall it’s a great rod at an beginner-level price.

Essential features you want

Out of this world durability – not only will this rod pull in a 10-pound bass. Other anglers also said this rod can easily pull in a 30+ pound catfish!

Incredibly versatile – Whether you want to skip docks, throw a spinnerbait or cast a small crankbait, this rod is built to handle it all. 

Cork handles – The ergonomic handles are designed for all day comfort.

Tech Specs

Best Runner Up - G.Loomis NRX Spinning Rod

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Why did the G.Loomis NRX finesse spinning rod win the Runner Up choice?

The G. Loomis NRX spinning rods are considered to be the flagship of the G. Loomis spinning rod line up.  What makes this rod so special is the exclusive way that G. Loomis makes its rods. 

Proprietary construction methods allow G. Loomis to make this rod 15% lighter than even is GLX model.  

Why is that important?  Because G. Loomis gives you a finesse fishing rod that is more durable, extremely sensitive, all while maintaining a strong backbone.   

Featherlight nibbles will now feel like a chomp, you’ll easily feel if you’re dragging a lure across sand or a shell bed… and will maintain sensitivity even if you’re fishing over 40+ feet of water!  That’s unheard of… up until now! 

This rod is very evenly weighted and will no wear out your arms during a full day of fishing.

On top of all the class leading technology packed into a single rod, G. Loomis spares no expense when adding accessories…

Loomis paired with Fuji guides and added their Fuji Titanium-Framed SIC Guides and REC Recoil Black Ion-coated, Nickel-Titanium Guides.  

Also small and incredibly lightweight, the guides assist in improved casting performance, giving the opportunity to keep your lure in the strike zone longer.

G. Loomis NRX Spinning Rod Review

“I’ve been a lifetime fan and came to realize I needed that same on-going quality, technology, innovation and performance in my fishing rods, with the G. Loomis brand being part of Shimano and being aware of how they have taken rod manufacturing to a next level, I had an easy decision once they asked me to fish with all the high-end G. Loomis rods.”

- Aaron Martens (professional bass angler and 3-time Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year award winner)

Accolades: Best of Show in the Freshwater Rod Category at ICAST.  Remember, ICAST is one of the worlds most distinguished trade shows for the most innovative fishing gear, products and apparel.

Feature 1:  At least 20% lighter than competitors –  Uses state of the art composite blank to make a rod that is not only lighter but has insane sensitivity.

Feature 2: Perfectly Balanced –  Each hand crafted rod is made to be perfectly balanced in the anglers hands. This is said to reduce arm fatigue.

Feature 3: World class warranty – G.Loomis has the best warranty on the market.

Tech Specs:

Editor's Choice Winner

Dobyn's Fury Series Rod

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About Dobyn's Fury rods...

Without a doubt, the Dobyns rod company is one of the best manufacturers of spinning rods on the market.

The Dobyns Fury Rod would have earned it a higher spot however it is offered by few retailers and is relatively hard to find…

Luckily they also sell their rods on Amazon.com

I have owned a handful of these rods in the past and I will vouch for these rods hands down.

Dobyns Rods uses ultra-high modulus graphite blanks to create unmatched performance and give the angler a bite sensitivity that a $300 plus rod would give.

Each Dobyns rod Is paired with premium line guides that are even wrapped with Kevlar!

The reel seat is incredibly lightweight and the rod feels very balanced in your hand.

The Dobyn Fury spinning rod is a fantastic rod that is priced incredibly fairly. 

Tech Specs:

– Featured Article Of The Month –

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Best Rod Under $200 - St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rod

photo cred @stcroixrods

What Makes This Rod Great?

This US build rod is the perfect combination of being lightweight, strong and highly sensitive and at a price that fits most budgets.  Year over year the St. Croix Premier Series spinning rod is one of the most popular rods that is offered. 

This rod accels as a rod that can skip cast soft plastics without any difficulty. Built with St Croix’s premium SCII graphite blanks and high quality components it gives anglers the perfect mix of sensitivity and power. 

The SCII blank uses hyper-responsive graphite fiber and is used and more importantly it has a  higher strain rate than fibers commonly used by other rod manufactures for increased sensitivity and power. 

Durable Kigan Master Hand 3D guides with slim, strong aluminum-oxide rings and black frames give you rugged performance.

The lightweight Fuji® DPS reel seat with frosted silver hoods provide a solid, comfortable base for your reel. Premium grade, full cork handles also provide a comfortable grip and plenty of fish fighting leverage. 

Offering the ideal blend of incredible performance and value, the St. Croix Premier Series Spinning Rods are handcrafted in Park Falls USA.

“OUTSTANDING CHOICE FOR ANGLERS WHO APPRECIATE HIGH-PERFORMANCE WITHOUT HIGH COST.”

Essential features you want

We love this rod but you don’t have to take our word for it!  After reviewing nearly 300 reviews from both Amazon.com and Bass Pro Shops we came up with the top three features why anglers love this rod. 

Durability – Over and over other anglers say this rod is light as a feather, but built like a tank. 

Versatility – This rod is great for skipping dock with senkos, but it also can excel in other techniques of fishing such as dragging a Texas Rig, jigging tubes, and jerking a weightless fluke. 

Most Bang For Your Buck – The most common review we saw was this rod is well worth the money.  Many anglers say this rod is just as good as their $300+ rod. 

Tech Specs

Best Under $100 - Fenwick HMG

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Check out what these happy customers have to say about this rod...

“Fish comfortably all day. Fenwick really made a rod that’s comfortable and won’t hurt my hand when I’m done fishing for the day.” – Amazon.com (certified review)

“I don’t think there is a better rod in the market around $100. Aconite guide inserts in very small fuji guides. Casts like a dream. Lightweight rod with a very comfortable grip. I paired the 7′ medium light rod with a Shimano Nasci 2500 spinning reel. It’s an awesome combo.” – Amazon.com (certified review)

“I was looking for a solid finesse rod that would not cost me an arm and a leg. Being a fenwick guy, I purchased the 7 medium light HMG. I was a bit concerned about the sensitivity, but after a few times out I was ecstatic about how much I could feel. I have no problem slinging a weightless worm a good distance and the action is just right when fighting a lunker. I know there are super sensitive rods out there but I am willing to bet you would have to spend double to get a significantly more sensitive rod than the HMG. I’m glad I purchased this classic. Thanks Fenwuck!” – fenwickfishing.com

What Makes This Fenwick Rod Great?

Best all around finesse rod under $100 has to Fenwick HMG rod

It wins hit spot because it has extremely good casting quality and good sensitivity.  It’s incredibly well balanced and the handle is super comfortable. Not big and bulky like some of the other rods in this market class. It does not feel awkward in your hand. 

If you’re looking for a rod under $100 then this is the ticket! But you don’t have to take our word for it!

Tech Specs:

Best Telescoping Rod - KastKing Blackhawk II

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About KastKing Blackhawk II

The best telescoping rod has to go the KastKing Blackhawk II fishing rod.

Being a relatively new player KastKing has pushed the boundaries for delivering  innovative and interesting products.

This rod is ideal if you want to pack this under your car seat if you want to go fishing on your lunch break, or you can pack this into a small suitcase bag if you’re traveling. 

One of the best features that the Blackhawk II has to offer is it comes in a variety of lengths and strengths. So you can choose the rod that best suits the style of fishing you’re doing.

I recommend the KastKing Blackhawk II, 7-foot medium power with a fast tip rod caught our eye for its excellent finesse fishing features. 

Tech Specs:

Is It Worth It? Rod And Reel Combos?

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Best finesse rod and reel setup

It makes sense to buy a rod and reel set especially if you are a beginner and really don’t know the small details that come along with pairing a specific style of rod with a specific style of reel.

Many times manufacturers will help out these new anglers by paring their products together that can help with the learning curve.

It really comes down to a handful of questions to help you determine whether or not you are going to purchase a rod and reel set or purchase it separately… 

  1. You need to ask yourself how much fishing experience do you have?
  2. Do you have confidence that you can pair up the right rod to the right real? 
  3. Are you going to use that combo for any other style of fishing?

If you are new to bass fishing this rod and reel combo by Pflueger President Spinning Reel and Fenwick Eagle Fishing Rod Combo is a great starter set.

Tech Specs:

DIY - BUILD YOUR OWN SPINNING ROD

If you don’t want to buy a premium spinning rod and think it’s the best idea to build your own specialty finesse fishing rod, then check out this YouTube video.

How to Build Your Own Fishing Rod

Therefore, before you even think of making your rod, you have to understand how they are made up and what qualities they should carry. You have to ensure that the blank rod is solid and powerful enough to set the hook, yet sensitive enough to detect even the smallest bites. 

Accessories You'll Need

Reel – Having the correct reel to match with your rod is just as important.  A good reel should be light and have a buttery smooth drag. There are several great reels on the market, but I recommend the Daiwa Tatula LT Spinning Reel (TALT2000D-XH). It’s a great reel packed with great features. So much so it could easily be priced in the mid $200 range. 

Fishing Line – Having a good line is just as important as having a good rod. I recommend fishing with a good fluorocarbon line. Furthermore, it’s super sensitive because it has little to no stretch and underwater it’s invisible to the bass!  If pride or money is on the line I would use Sunline Sniper FC.    

Finesse Baits – Not all baits are created the same. There are many great baits to choose from, however many companies will have great marketing but end up having horrific action.  To help you avoid making a huge mistake, I wrote the report, Top 10 Fishing Baits You Don’t Know About, where I break down the best baits for drop shot baits, but you can also use for other finesse rigs like the Neg Rig or Shaky Head. 

Best yet, I cover in detail some of the least know baits… some of which you may know about and some you may not know about and much, much more! Click here!

Read More: Top 10 Finesse & Drop Shot Baits You Don’t Know About

Tackle Bag – You can’t carry all your gear in your pockets, so you need reliable tackle bag to transport it. I wrote a complete review guide, Best Tackle Bag for Fishing, check it out be clicking here.   But if you don’t have the time to read the fill guide then let me tell you I recommend the Lunker Bag by KastKing

Fishing Pliers – Nothing will ruin a day quicker than getting a hook embedded in your hand, or worse your eye.  That’s why I always recommend have a good set up pliers that wont rust and won’t slip out of your hand.  I recommend that KastKing Cutthroat 7” Fishing Pliers.  

Landing Net – As you are reeling in that monster fish, you don’t want to injure yourself or knock the fish off the hook by trying to grab it. That’s why I recommend a dependable telescopic landing net

Fishing Weight Scale – Whether if you’re going to keep your catch or just take a photo of it and brag to your friends it’s important to have an accurate scale. I recommend a scale that has a large LED display like this one fishing scale here

Wide Brim Fishing Hat – Nowadays, you have to protect yourself against the sun’s harmful rays. Wearing a wide brim hat not only give you UV protection, it also keeps you cool.  I recommend the Columbia Unisex Bora Bora Booney hat. It fits any size head and it feels really comfortable. 

Fishing Sun Shirt – Don’t you stop at only getting head protection, you also need to protect your chest, back, arms and torso. According to the researchers finding skin cancers on the shoulders and forearms rank within the top-5 locations to get skin cancer*. Avoid any unnecessary UV exposure and stay cool by wearing a UV protective PFG Fishing Shirt by Columbia.

Fishing Gloves – Fishing gloves allow your hands to stay covered from the suns harmful rays and stay dry by using special material. These gloves by Fishaholic offer UPF50+ 

FAQ

What is the best way to set the hook with a finesse rig?

A sweeping hookset. Bass anglers have been trained to set the hook as hard as they can fishing with large hooks. But in finesse fishing, you’re dealing with needle-sharp thin gauge wire hooks, so you don’t need to reel down and set the hook as hard as you can.

If you see your line moving or if you feel a bite reel down and set the hook sideways with a sweeping hookset.  This will prevent the hook from being pulled out the mouth.  In my post that covers a drop shot fishing, I wrote the post, 15 Drop Shot Fishing Tips For Beginners, where I give you fifteen specific tips that actually work!  Click here to find out what skills you are missing.

I think Chris Zaldain (Bassmaster ELITE Pro) said it best, he doesn’t even set the hook!  “…just reel down, take the slack out of the line and lean back into the fish. The hook will set itself!

When I order a rod how big is the shipping package?

Your rod will be most likely shipped in a tube that is approximately 8-feet long. 

Can I use these rods for saltwater fishing?

Yes, just made sure you rinse off your rod with regular water and wipe after use. 

What type of line do spinning rods use?

Spinning rod for finesse fishing are best used with braided to a fluorocarbon leader or straight fluorocarbon line. 

Warranty? What happens if I broke my rod after a few trips to the lake?

I strongly recommend contacting the manufacturer as soon as possible. They are normally pretty good with warranties.

Explain to them what happened, provide pictures of the rod, and purchase information they would typically replace the rod at a massive discount and you may have to pay a small shipping fee.

Title picture credit: @stephenk22

*Source [1],  **Source [2]

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

My name is George and I'm been fishing my entire life and love all things outdoors. My passion is helping anyone catch more fish. The newest things I've been doing lately is learning how to break down and clean all my reels, teaching my boy how to kayak fish, and bushcraft wilderness survival.