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4 Best Baitcasting Rods on the Cheap
If you’ve been following our website lately, you may have seen our feature post on what we feel are 4 of the best budget low-profile baitcasting reels currently available. These baitcasters deliver exceptional performance and value, especially if you are working with a tight budget. However, they are of little use if not paired up with a reliable baitcasting rod – they go hand-in-hand.
Anyhow, picking the right baitcasting rod is just as important as settling on a reel when trying to put together a good baitcasting combo.
The right rod in our case will be one that offers high-quality components and years of reliable performance without emptying already light pockets. So as a continuation of that post, if you will, I have applied the same criteria to put together a shortlist of 4 baitcasting rods for this review.
After all, we want to make sure our baitcasting rod purchase is going to leave us feeling like we made a good decision – long after the novelty phase has worn off. There’s nothing worse than realizing that you’ve wasted your hard-earned money on something that didn’t meet your expectations.
This is why I’ve taken the time to find 4 exceptional yet affordable baitcasting rods from which to choose, whether it is for pairing with an existing reel or to build the best baitcaster combo you can within your modest budget.
I feel the models chosen here represent the class of the best baitcasting rods under $100 today and have no doubt they will provide years of affordable performance and reliability.
Let’s check out our 4 picks and learn why they represent some of the best baitcasting rod values on the market today.
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Falcon Rods may not be a household name but they have been favorites with pro anglers, fishing guides and recreational fishermen for than 25 years, and not without good reason. Over the years, Falcon has built a solid reputation for making quality rods (with most made in the USA), across multiple competitive price ranges, based on feedback from anglers.
While the affordable HD rods are not made in the USA (made in China) like their high-end casting rods such as the Cara, LowRider 20 and BuCoo Micro baitcasting rods, they are still very well made baitcasting rods that feature 100% graphite blanks, genuine Fuji guides, Fuji exposed blank seats, and natural cork handles.
The blank-exposed/blank-through seat design, which allows the angler to have direct contact with the rod blank and thus better sensitivity while fishing, is a key feature that more rod manufacturers are employing today.
The one-piece Falcon HD comes in 7 models ranging in lengths from 6′ 6″ to 7′ 6″ and taper/action from moderate to fast for use in varying freshwater as well as saltwater conditions.
The HD series is an excellent offering for the money and, with its lightweight and sensitive design that can be used by anyone, from the beginner to the advanced baitcaster. Falcon HD baitcasting rods are covered by a 5-Year Limited Warranty.
These rods cast extremely well when paired with quality, affordable low-profile baitcasting reels such as the Shimano Caenan or the Quantum Accurist PT. They are great for throwing jigs, crankbaits, frogs, buzz baits, etc.
What We Liked:
- 7 models/sizes of varying power and actions from which to choose
- Lightweight 100% carbon fiber with yet good backbone
- Fuji guides and blank-exposed reel seat
- 5-Year Warranty
What Could Be Better:
- The HD only comes in 1-piece models, a limiting factor for anyone who needs the convenience space-savings that 2-piece rod can provide
Vengeance may sound a little menacing for a fishing rod (not unlike their popular Vendetta rods) but, names aside, this is a tried and true budget baitcasting rod for the price of a tank of gas (well, depending on what you’re driving!).
You get a lot of quality components and performance features on the cheap with this rod, starting with a 24-ton high-modular lightweight blank, SS line guides w/titanium oxide inserts and an extra-comfort, durable EVA split-grip handle. This rod also features a blank-through reel seat for extra sensitivity.
The one-piece best-selling Abu Garcia baitcasting rod comes in 6 models ranging in sizes from 6′ 6″ to 7′ 6″ in medium to heavy rod power configurations for just about every angling situation.
The Vengeance is offered in fast and moderate-fast tip actions for better bite sensitivity and more hookups. Paired with a fairly strong backbone, it is the kind of rod that makes for a perfect bass fishing baitcaster.
A convenient Texas-rigged hook-keeper to secure your hook or lure in place when you are on the move is a nice bonus feature.
The Vengeance casting rod comes with a 3-Year Limited Warranty (U.S. & Canada).
What We Liked:
- 24-Ton carbon fiber rod blank is light, sensitive and durable
- Stainless steel line guides with lightweight, durable titanium o-rings (great for braided lines)
- Completely exposed-blank reel seat for better feel
- Most affordable rod series in this review (with exception of 7′ 6″ heavy rod)
What Could Be Better:
- One-piece only – yet another rod series with no 2-piece options
- Guides/ inserts not the sturdiest – the potential for bending/ popping out
KastKing continues to get it right and give more established brands a run for their money with the introduction of the Perigee II baitcasting rod.
Their new and updated version of the Perigee series, the Perigee II, which also comes in spinning models, is not only an aesthetically attractive offering but also one of the best-made casting rods we’ve seen in this price range.
In fact, the look, feel and quality of this rod scream high-end, not budget rod. All Perigee II rods start with a 24-ton Toray matrix carbon fiber blank.
Why does this matter? Because Japanese manufacturer Toray Industries is the world’s leading producer of premium carbon fiber used in making fishing rod blanks and other products. So the Perigee II starts off a high-quality blank.
But that is only the beginning. The rod is further enhanced by KastKing’s KastFlex technology, a thermal/carbon fiber compression process that makes every Perigee II ultra-lightweight yet 10% stronger than other similar rods, according to the company.
The rods are offered in five 1-piece and two 2-piece fast action models with medium-light to heavy power. The 2-piece models are one-of-a-kind, introducing an innovation that no other rod on the market offers – 2 interchangeable rod tips!
So in reality, when you buy a Perigee II 2-piece rod, you are getting 2 different rod ends with it, giving you essentially 2 rods in one. The 7 ft. (KKR-PG2-2C7MLM) medium-light baitcaster rod comes with an extra medium power top end/tip section while the medium power model of the same length (KKR-PG2-2C7MMH) gets a second medium-heavy tip.
One of the problems with traditional 2-piece rods is that they lose some of their power and sensitivity at the point where the rod pieces join (at the ferrules).
The Perigee II solves that problem by using its unique “Power Transition” (PTS) spigot ferrule design to connect the 2 pieces of the rod. The result is a 2-piece baitcast rod that feels and behaves more like a one-piece rod.
Other quality features include Fuji stainless steel line guides with durable ceramic o-rings, high-strength graphite seats and reinforced graphite hood, high-density EVA foam grips, and a rubber bottom stamped with the attractive KastKing logo.
As we’ve seen the Falcon HD and Abu Garcia Vengeance rods, the Perigee II also follows the exposed reel seat design for greater sensitivity. Rounding out things is a unique KastKing hook keeper that I find far more convenient to use than traditional keepers.
Lastly, Perigee II’s warranty is an interesting and welcome one. While all Perigee II rods carry a standard One-Year Warranty, the 2-piece models get a Lifetime Warranty on the interchangeable tip ends (tip sections only – not entire rod).
What We Liked:
- Uses quality Japanese Toray 24-ton carbon blank
- KastFlex technology makes rod 10% stronger than most of the competition
- Comes in 1-piece and 2-piece models; 2-pc models come with 2 interchangeable tip ends, basically giving you 2 rods for the price of one
- Innovative spigot ferrules give 2-piece rods the backbone and feel of a 1-piece unit
- 2-Piece models come with a Lifetime Warranty on the twin tips
What Could Be Better:
- Not much to complain about here – the Perigee II is simply a lot of rod for the money with no glaring shortcomings
The Ugly Stik is the all-time best selling rod. They were billed as the “virtually indestructible” fishing rod, and many of us grew up using them. Since its introduction in 1976, the name has been synonymous with affordability and durability. If you wanted a very good, reliable fishing rod on the cheap, a Shakespeare Ugly Stik was your ticket.
In that sense, not much has changed. The rods have become lighter, better and more sensitive but at the heart of the Ugly Stik’s appeal is still this notion that you can get a really good fishing rod without spending a lot of money.
The new Elite baitcasting rod carries on the Ugly Stik tradition of offering great value but adds some nice tweaks. The Elite contains 35% more carbon fiber than the brand’s hugely popular GX2 casting rod, making it lighter and more sensitive while still retaining the toughness and durability that the series has been known for since the rollout of the first patented “Howald Process” Ugly Stik 42 years ago.
In addition to the rod’s renown, powerful carbon fiber/fiberglass blank construction, other important features include Ugly Stik’s recognizable “Clear Tip” design which adds a solid fiberglass tip to the rod for extra strength where rods are most vulnerable.
Rounding out the Ugly Stik Elite is a select cork handle for improved grip, an “Ugly Tuff” one-piece stainless steel guide design that prevents the o-rings from popping and increases longevity, and an exposed blank reel seat (with SS hood) so you can better feel the fish bite.
The new Elite series comes in 7 configurations ranging in lengths from 6′ 6″ to 7′, of which five are one-piece and two are 2-piece models. It is also offered in several power and action combinations to match various applications and styles of fishing.
Finally, another feature I think every angler will appreciate is the rod’s 7-Year Warranty that will replace the rod if it fails because of defects in materials or workmanship. Now, that’s hard to beat!
The value to performance ratio of this rod is also hard to beat. The Ugly Stick Elite is an excellent all-purpose, everyday rod and a great choice for just anyone who is looking for a rock-solid, inexpensive baitcasting rod, whether they be a novice or experienced angler.
What We Liked:
- Ugly Stik’s tried and true “Howald Process” blanks and solid fiberglass tips are as powerful and durable as they come
- Has 35% more graphite than Ugly Stik’s best-selling GX2 rods – lighter and more sensitive to bite
- Unique “Ugly Tuff” one-piece SS guides resist bending and o-ring pop-outs (for all lines, including braid)
- Best-in-class 7-Year Warranty replaces defective/failed rods
What Could Be Better:
- Ok, this rod is lighter than other Ugly Stik models but because it’s made of graphite and fiberglass, it is still going to be heavier – though not much heavier- than some of the others on our list (but it sure is durable!)
The bottom line on the baitcasting rods featured in this review is that they all offer a degree of performance and quality that makes them hard to pass up and, to boot, come in a price range that just about anyone can afford.
But which of these 4 outstanding offers the best deal?
Well, if I just wanted an inexpensive, rugged everyday baitcasting rod that I don’t have to baby – that I can just throw in the trunk and go – I would go with the Ugly Stik Elite. I can count on it being a reliable, durable all-around rod I can fish for years.
But if I could choose just one of these rods, it would be the Kastking Perigee II. It features so many quality components and forward-thinking innovations, is sensitive and strong enough for various types of baitcasting fishing, and has the looks and feel of a much more expensive rod. It’s just too good a deal to pass up.
The Perigee 2 pairs up nicely with KastKing’s Speed Demon low-profile reel, for those wondering.
That’s it for now, friends. By the way, if you haven’t already read the review of our top-pick affordable, low-profile baitcasting reels, it’s worth checking out. You might just find the perfect reel to pair up with one of the outstanding rods here for a killer baitcaster combo on a budget. Tight lines!