The Pursuit Of The Perfect Inshore Fishing Rod (Does It Exist?)


Does the perfect inshore fishing rod even exist?

Probably not.

For the past five years, we’ve been in pursuit of the best fishing rod for catching our favorite inshore species because your rod is the most important piece of your setup.

And through those years we’ve used a TON of different rods (some from big brands like St. Croix, G. Loomis, TFO, and Ugly Stik), some from middle-sized brands (like Bull Bay), and some from smaller brands.

We’ve even had quite a few custom rods made.

But none have been perfect.

So listen in as we share where we’ve been in terms of rods and where we’re going.

You can watch the video version of this podcast below (which I highly recommend), listen to the audio version by clicking the play button underneath it, or listen to it on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.

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The Best Inshore Fishing Rod [VIDEO]

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The Best Inshore Fishing Rod [PODCAST]

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Here’s a timestamped table of contents:

  • 2:09 – Here’s why the rod is more important than the reel
  • 2:35 – Choose your setup in this order: rod, line, lure, reel
  • 3:05 – The rod is an extension of your arm
  • 4:55 – Your reel is your line management system
  • 6:45 – Our custom Bull Bay rod is built to the specs we know work
  • 8:35 – A 7’6″ medium power, fast action rod is a good starting point
  • 8:57 – Manufacturers do not all have the same standards for specs
  • 10:05 – Shaking the tip of your rod does not determine the action
  • 12:38 – Action is the spot of the bend, power is how much force it takes to bend, and performance is the combination of the two
  • 14:15 – TFO rods have a great blend of power and action
  • 16:25 – Don’t overcomplicate your setup
  • 18:41 – Different brands have different ratings and it’s not consistent
  • 19:58 – The importance of sizing
  • 22:10 – What are rods made of?
  • 25:11 – What your guides will tell you
  • 26:25 – The reason why some rods are more expensive
  • 28:36 – You could have issues with the guide inserts, here’s why
  • 29:13 – Let’s talk about cork
  • 30:09 – How does cork affect fishing
  • 31:57 –  What is faux cork?
  • 33:20 – The pros and cons of split grips
  • 35:27 – How will balance change with a split grip?
  • 38:05 – Check out the balance point video here
  • 44:06 – Help us design the perfect inshore fishing rod
  • 47:40 – Here’s why butt lengths are important
  • 48:37 – The further you can cast, the more fish you will catch
  • 53:23 – Moving forward, no combos, please
  • 54:42 – This will guarantee that you’ll catch more fish


how to pair inshore rod and reel

Repeat after me: the rod is more important than the reel.

So as we continue our quest to find or build the best inshore fishing rod, we’ll be focusing on quality, value, and performance.

Do you have any feedback on the specifications you’d like to see in our custom rod?

Have any questions about which rod is best for you?

Let me know down in the comments!

And if you know someone who’s in the market for a new rod, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

P.S. Want access to our best fishing spots and tips, plus discounts to our online tackle store? Click here to join us in the Insider Club!

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Angelo Durso
1 year ago

Excellent, informative discussion. Thank you. As we approach a new year and hopefully new inventory cycle for fishing rods, I thought I’d make a suggestion in evaluating rods and that is to give hard consideration to a rod manufacturers warranty & return policy. I recently broke 2 different poles the same way: walking from back of boat to front, under a tower top, in my dual console boat, and the tip was pointed too high; hit the tower top, and broke about 6-8 inches from top of rod.

I contacted both maufacturers, St. Croix and Temple Fork Outfitters, and explained I was at complete fault for the tip breaking, and received 2 different responses.

St. Croix essentially stated “no problem, we stand by our rods no matter what” and for $25 shipping, sent me a completely new rod, which typically costs $180.00.

Temple Fork Outfitters, on the other hand, essentially stated “unless I was claiming a defect, there is nothing we can do.” To be clear, I am ok with that response and actually expected that from both rod manufacturers. After all, it was my fault.

However, considering the similar costs of both rods, and even though I LOVE my TFO, St. Croix’s return policy is extraordinarily generous, and something which will likely sway me to buy rods from them instead of TFO going forward. It’s just too easy for my in my dual console boat to point the tip too high and break the rod.

Thanks again for another informative video!

Justin Ritchey
1 year ago
Reply to  Angelo Durso

Thank you for sharing that with us, Angelo. I will agree, not all Manufacturers Warranty Programs are created equal. Back in early 2020 (Pre-COVID times) and earlier, every Manufacturer would have bent over backwards to help service their customers. But sadly, demand & inventory issues combined with all of these crazy shipping delays (since many of these products are made overseas nowadays) have caused a shift from the majority of Manufacturers to blur the lines on what is covered in their Warranty Program.

Ex: Star Rods used to offer a Lifetime Warranty, no questions asked for any rod that would break. However, they shifted from that mindset and refocused their efforts on Distribution & Supply to Retailers, and ran out of available on-hand Inventory to service customers with their Warranty Issues. I’m not saying TFO has followed suit in this example, but I would not be surprised if a number of Manufacturers are doing the same thing right now, as frustrating as that is for the end user.

St. Croix makes an excellent product, no doubt. While they tend to be a little pricier than their competitors, many of their models are made in the US and they have the means to keep up with their Warranty Program. Sadly, St. Croix doesn’t approve of us offering an Insider Discount to our Members, for fear it would upset local Retailers that don’t offer any sort of Discount. We’d love to carry St. Croix as an alternative for our Members, but they just weren’t willing to play ball.

We will definitely be taking a closer look at the Warranty Process of other Manufacturers before adding new products to our Shop Page. Thanks again Angelo!

Bob Stewart
1 year ago

I’m new to the community but not to fishing. Obviously rods can be a very personal choice on likes/ dislikes. I don’t mind spending a little more for the most important piece of gear in the system but there is a break-over point where the bang for the buck component wise occurs. I think if y’all can find that point where we are not paying for the name and getting the best bang for the buck, it will be a keeper. I don’t know where that is but i suspect it will be in the affordable range especially if the buyer understands the rod importance in the system.

Rick Markiewicz
1 year ago

Greetings y’all.

New member of about a week with a rod question for inshore fishing.

I like the advise of a 7’6″ medium strength, fast action rod as a starting point. However, I have also watch your video’s on jigs.

The rods offered here in 7′ 6″ medium fast are rated for 1/4 – 3/4 oz. If I am going to throw 1/8 or 3/16 oz in shallower water as learned, do I need the medium light rated for 1/8 – 1/4 oz. The limp noodle comment for medium light has me confused.

Thank you.

Luke Simonds
1 year ago

Hey Rick, make sure to factor in the weight of the soft plastic that you’ll be adding to the weighted hooks or jig heads that you’ll be using. For example, even a small 3″ soft plastic paddletail rigged on a 1/16th oz weighted hook still weighs more than 1/4 oz in total. So it’s extremely rare that a lure you’ll be throwing is too heavy for most medium rods… therefore, no need for the wet noodle rods:)

Rick Markiewicz
1 year ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

That’s why I joined. Thank you!

John Caldwell
1 year ago

I have only been in Florida full time for 2 years.Before than only on vacation couple times a year.So saying that I come from smallmouth waters in central Va to Chesapeake bay salt. Living on North Hutchinson Island with my bay boat on a lift on the Indian River I have not let bought any new rods YET! I use a GLoomis E6X worm/jig spinning rods from

Xavier Muniz
1 year ago

Loved this episode and super excited for my Bull Bay custom rod! With that being said, now I’ve got rod and line on the list of importance, yet I need support with choosing the reel based on existing limited inventory. What would be the best way to narrow down a 2500/3000 match for the Bull Bay custom rod???

Darren Corlett
1 year ago

I get laughed when kayak fishing because I bring a different rod for every bait I’m going to be using. I’m not going to use a medium heavy rod to throw a shadrap SSR5, a really light small bait, and I don’t want to use a light action rod to throw a Live Target mullet. If you’re power fishing for bass, crank bait, spinner bait etc. you’re going to cast 800-900 times in a day so I like a lighter rod. I love the Boyd Duckett White Ice, which is now the Black Ice because it’s super light. A 7’ medium action rod with a Quantum Tour MG together weighs 10.48 oz. to me that makes a difference when making that many casts in a day. I use the same rods for inshore fishing as well.

Richard Thompson
1 year ago

Great information , I personally prefer a 7 ft Rod. I find I get less wrist fatigue over the course of a day on the water.

Charles Syverson
1 year ago

Can you compare the TFO to the Bull Bay custom? I have the TFO and am considering another one but am wondering if the additional cost of the custom rod is a significant upgrade.

Justin Ritchey
1 year ago

Really good question, Charles. To put things simply, the Bull Bay Custom Rod offers specific components that are intended to refine the angler’s experience. Some examples applied to the Custom Rod are the shorter butt length in the cork handle, the “drop shot” style hook keeper for storing your rig, and the Stainless Steel Tangle-Free Frames for improved casting performance. These modifications were made on the Custom Rod with “ease of use” in mind. The biggest difference between TFO and the Bull Bay Custom is in the specific componentry of each rod. But at the end of the day, in terms of artificial lure performance, both rods are excellent choices.

Adam Bailey
1 year ago

Regarding a MudHole custom rod, I’m really interested in what’s ahead. I hope to buy and use the SS BB rod (before I die of natural causes :)) so I can add to my experience of what I like and not. For me, having even limited options on a semi-custom rod could be great. I understand that may not be as feasible from your perspective, but a couple of general options like length and power may appeal to a wider group of anglers. I’m sure there is a wide variety of preferences across the SS membership. For more targeted feedback, consider sending out short, limited surveys on preferences for certain rod components, such as full or split grip.

Thanks for continuing to push for angling innovation!

John R Arnett
1 year ago

I’ve been fishing the north Pinellas county area my whole life.only in the past 2 years have I targeted snook almost exclusively from the local beaches and bridges.i started then with a BG 3000 and a star stellar lite.since then I have honed in on the type/ action etc I prefer.went from using a med/hvy 7′ to now use a star seagis 7’6″ med/light and a super light JDM Daiwa ballistic.i have learned to me sensitivity and light weight means more to me than almost anything else!!!


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