The Top 10 Fishing Rods and Reels of the Year

The latest crop of rods and reels will have you covered all year round for any species you’re after

This year, fishing manufacturers have not let up one bit to produce gear that will keep you happy. A whole new arsenal of rods and reels are available to the angler, whether targeting largemouth bass or yellowfin tuna. Here are our top picks for 2020.

1. Abu Garcia Zenon Reels

Abu Garcia Zenon Reels on a white background.
Abu Garcia Zenon Reels. Abu Garcia

Barely registering on the weight scale, the new line of Abu Garcia Zenon reels are a mere 4.9 ounces, earning the distinction of the lightest spinning reel in the world. With a 6.2:1 ratio, its smooth drag and silent retrieve guarantee the finest in light-line finesse presentations. The Zenon is ergonomically designed to achieve perfect in-hand compatibility with its sturdy magnesium body. And, its low-inertia silent rotors combined with an ultralight hybrid spool help get baits in and out of cover without alerting fish. $500; abugarcia.com

2. Fenwick World Class Ice Rod

Fenwick World Class Ice Rod
Fenwick World Class Ice Rod. Fenwick

Those who think ice fishing is a guy sitting on a 5-gallon bucket and insanely jigging all day have no idea how a sensitive, solid rod will put fish on the ice. Fenwick’s new World Class Ice rod is made from premium carbon blanks tuned for true finesse and constructed with a cork-grip Tennessee handle and Fuji AT guides. The ultra-light feel should transmit even the most delicate bites from perch, panfish, and pickerel, so you can score more fish on hard water. $80; fenwickfishing.com

3. Shimano Vanford

Shimano Vanford fishing reel.
Shimano Vanford. Shimano

The new Vanford lineup is a replacement for the Stradic series, and it’s built upon the same CI4+ body for a lightweight feel and rigidity. What’s new is the Magnum Lite Rotor, offering up to 48 percent less rotational inertia than traditional rotor construction. Premium internal components produce a seamless rotational performance while the Long Stroke Spool can dish out casts a country mile. Smooth and silky, it has 7-plus-1 bearings for the ultimate retrieve. Available in 500 to 5000 sizes. $229-$239; shimano.com

4. St. Croix Legend Xtreme

St. Croix Legend Xtreme on a white background.
St. Croix Legend Xtreme. St. Croix

Made in the U.S.A., the Legend Xtreme line blends the best of all St. Croix technology into one rod, including a proprietary manufacturing process that uses resin to increase flex strength under serious loads. The Legend Xtreme freshwater series now includes 11 rods—five spinning models and six casting models—ranging from 6-8 to 7-4, medium to heavy power, and Fast to X-Fast actions capable of throwing ¼ to 1½ ounces effortlessly. The Legend Xtreme series supports anglers in an even wider range of freshwater presentations and techniques instilling the finest St. Croix performance you’ve grown to trust. $630-$650; stcroixrods.com

5. Penn Battle III

Penn Battle III
Penn Battle III. Penn

Saltwater anglers looking for a sturdy reel to handle backwater beasts with both aggression and subtlety can rely on the Penn Battle III to finish the job. Equipped with proprietary CNC Gear technology and HT-100 Carbon Fiber Drag system, this reel is tough. It’s strong guts and full metal body, which Penn is known for, are there for you to use, abuse, and pit against the numbers of fish you plan on catching. Models are available from 1000 to 10000 sizes to finesse sleek seatrout or reel in chunky bluefin tuna. $100; pennfishing.com

6. Zebco Platinum Spincast 33

Zebco Platinum Spincast 33
Zebco Platinum Spincast 33. Zebco

You’ll probably recognize this reel as does every angler on planet Earth. The Zebco spincast is most likely the first reel you got started on. But this year Zebco has gone platinum. The trusted, reliable 33 spincast now comes with an all-metal body, metal gears, four stainless steel bearings, and an instant anti-reverse clutch. Knock it around, get it wet, and keep the kids reeling in fish after fish without having to worry about it breaking down on you. If only I had this as a kid, I wouldn’t have gone through so many reels. $40; zebco.com

7. Okuma Psycho Stick Bass Rods

Okuma Psycho Stick Bass Rods
Okuma Psycho Stick Bass Rods. Okuma

This professional-grade bass rod is comprised of 46-ton low resin carbon making it extremely lightweight and responsive. Though as light as it is, it’s also reinforced throughout with Okuma’s UMR technology, giving it the strength and durability needed to pull in a lunker. Best of all the Psycho Stick boasts a wide array of premium components including Fuji KW Concept guides; Fuji SiC inserts with deep pressed frames; a double locking screw to keep the reel firmly in place; and a SeaGuide injected carbon reel seat with no grip, so can feel even the most subtle strikes. It’s also backed by a limited lifetime warranty, so you can feel comfortable about putting this rod through its paces. $219-$239; okumafishingusa.com

8. 13 Fishing Concept Z SLD

13 Fishing Concept Z Sld
13 Fishing Concept Z SLD. 13 Fishing

Split-second decisions can often make or break your ability to successfully cast to trophy bass. The Concept Z SLD reel ensures you can make those decisions with a slide of your finger. Its SLIDE magnetic cast control system is located right next to the spool, so you can adjust the brake without missing a single cast. Whether you need to switch it up from downwind to upwind pressure, pitching to jigging, or reach a far-away stump, a simple flick of the thumb can control the brake from the outside of the reel. $275; 13fishing.com

9. Shimano Trevala Px Series

Shimano Trevala Px Series
Shimano Trevala Px Series. Shimano

Big game beware. As butterfly jigging became popular more than 10 years ago, Shimano introduced the Trevala series of rods to specifically fish jigs for behemoths in both deep and shallow water situations. The new Trevala PX re-design improves upon the series with an increase in core strength, a 45-degree X pattern on the outside of the blank, and improved jigging functionality. Launched with 14 casting and 14 spinning models, covering all lengths and powers from 5-8 to 7-0, L to XXH, there’s a Trevala PX rod for any species your targeting—whether it be goliath grouper, bluefin tuna, or amberjacks. $180$200; shimano.com

10. Daiwa Tatula TWS 300

Daiwa Tatula Tws 300.
Daiwa Tatula TWS 300. Daiwa

If you like to throw big baits at big bass, look no further than Daiwa’s Tatula TWS 300. This baitcaster now fits comfortably in the palm of your hand to wing large swimbaits for hours on end with no fatigue. TWS stands for “T-Wing System.” It helps you cast longer, stronger, and more accurately to provide stress-free control when skipping baits or casting into the wind. It also allows you to take the reel out of gear for less resistance on the line, so you can cast farther and plunk lures into those previously out-of-reach spots. A wide, 110mm handle with large rubber knobs gives you the ability to work big bass baits such as deep-diving crankbaits and oversized swimbaits with flawless presentations, letting your lure swim exactly how it was designed to. $270; daiwa.com