By Dan Durbin
Modestly priced rods today have technology that a few years ago would have doubled their 2021 price tag. The fishing rods listed here were selected based on their high-tech blanks, species-specific tapers, and handles that appeal to a wide variety of anglers. But here’s one bit of advice: If possible, get out and feel the rod tapers at your local dealer instead of ordering blindly.
Daiwa PROCYON Series starting at $79.99
Daiwa’s Procyon rods offer a full range of lightweight IM7 graphite spinning, trigger, and flipping rods that cover all freshwater and some light saltwater angling. Minima reel seats allow finger-contact to the blank when bites are light but the strength-to-weight ratio of the blank can handle big hits and all-day casting without fatigue. There are options from panfish to light muskie and saltwater angling.
Species: Bass, trout, stripers, walleyes, and panfish
Rods in series: 34 styles, including two travel rods
Lengths: 6’6″ – 7′
Blank: IM7 carbon graphite
Handle: Cork handle
Lew’s: Kevin VanDam Series starting at $99
KVD Series rods feature IM8 graphite blanks, split-grip EVA handles, and new Lew’s proprietary Full Contact reel seats with increased blank contact for improved comfort. A patented braided line No Foul hook keeper is handy. VanDam designed them to the exact specific actions, rod and handle lengths, for competitive bass angling that even a weekend angler can afford without the sponsors.
Species: Bass, walleyes, and northern pike
Rods in series: 23
Lengths: 6’8″ – 7’10”
Handle: Split-grip AVA
St. Croix Mojo Bass Series starting at $140
St. Croix has constantly upgraded and added to its Mojo Bass series because anglers appreciate the reasonable price with a huge variety of options in strength, taper, lengths, and technique-driven blanks. The rods are offered in SIII graphite or S-Glass (for you crankbait folks) and feature St. Croix’s Integrated Poly Curve technology. Mojo has rod series for kayakers, catfish anglers, and muskie hunters.
Species: Both bass species, walleyes, light muskies
Rods in series: 28
Lengths: 6’8″ – 9’6″
Blank: High-modulus SCIII graphite
Handle: Fugi ECS (casting), Fugi DPS (spinning)
Abu Garcia Veritas Series starting at $99
New Veritas rods offer Powerlux 100 resin, which increases strength by 15% while also reducing weight by 5%. The system distributes nano-particles between each carbon fiber to enhance the rod’s performance and strength by preventing cracks in the blank material. A custom-designed reel seat delivers hypersensitivity around the exposed blank sections and improves comfort for all-day fishing.
Species: Bass, walleyes, northern pike, light muskies
Rods in series: 15
Lengths: 6’3″ – 9′
Handle: Closed-Cell EVA Split
Shimano Zodias starting at $199
Newly redesigned, the Zodias rods incorporate Carbon Monocoque technology that when coupled with its CI4+ reel seats provide a 30% gain in sensitivity over conventionally constructed models. In addition, Shimano’s Hi-Power X technology increases the transfer of energy through the rod for enhanced accuracy and casting distance, as well as reduced blank twist for better control when fighting those big fish.
Species: Bass, walleyes, northern pike
Rods in series: 17
Lengths: 6’10” – 7’6″
Blank: Hi-Power X
Handle: Carbon Monocoque