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Best Backpacking Fishing Poles of 2021

Fishing and backpacking go together like peanut butter and jelly. Choosing the best backpacking fishing pole is no easy task though, read our reviews to find the right one for you.

After a day of hiking, few activities are as pleasurable as casting a line and maybe even catching a meal. Don’t even think about packing your favorite rod. It’ll almost certainly be too bulky to carry several miles into the wilderness.

You need something that’s built for the task, and that’s why we put together a list of ten of the best backpacking fishing poles on the market right now.

We’re big fans of the [amazon link=”B071RWHNYT” title=”Emmrod Packrod” /], with its ultra-compact design and unbeatable durability. Still, no rod will satisfy everyone, and there are quite a few to choose from.

Quick Answer: These are the Best Backpacking Fishing Poles of 2021

[amazon fields="B071RWHNYT" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Emmrod Packrod

Best Budget Option

[amazon fields="B071RWHNYT" value="button" button_text="CHECK PRICE" /]
[amazon fields="B07G99T86Q" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Troutboy Black Warrior

Best Performance

[amazon fields="B07G99T86Q" value="button" button_text="CHECK PRICE" /]
[amazon fields="B001IAHX6A" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Wild Water Tenkara

Complete Package

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[amazon fields="B00N36YY1O" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Dragontail Tenkara Shadowfire

Best Lightweight Option

[amazon fields="B00N36YY1O" value="button" button_text="CHECK PRICE" /]
[amazon fields="B000MQTJW2" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Okura Voyager Spinning Travel Kit

Best Value

[amazon fields="B000MQTJW2" value="button" button_text="CHECK PRICE" /]
[amazon fields="B00TKUTMPU" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Daiwa Ardito Travel

 

[amazon fields="B00TKUTMPU" value="button" button_text="CHECK PRICE" /]
[amazon fields="B07PFT8GCG" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Orvis Clearwater

 

[amazon fields="B07PFT8GCG" value="button" button_text="CHECK PRICE" /]
[amazon fields="B0032MUHBK" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Eagleclaw Trailmaster

 

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[amazon fields="B00N36YY1O" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Dragontail Tenkara Shadowfire

 

[amazon fields="B00N36YY1O" value="button" button_text="CHECK PRICE" /]
[amazon fields="B00290SPOC" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

St. Croix Triumph

 

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The Best Backpacking Fishing Poles of 2021 Reviewed

~ Best Budget Option ~

Emmrod Packrod

[amazon fields="B071RWHNYT" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Emmrod Packrod

[amazon fields="B071RWHNYT" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

Pros

Cons

The Packrod is a favorite among backpackers, checking nearly all the boxes for things you’d look for in a backcountry fishing pole.

For starters, it’s super compact, breaking down to a mere fifteen inches by separating the rod from the handle piece. Unlike many other backpacking fishing rods, though, it’s relatively short when assembled, just twenty-four inches. Casting with such a short rod will feel awkward for those unaccustomed to it, but you still get some serious distance with a little practice.

The [amazon link=”B071RWHNYT” title=”Packrod” /] comes in at eight ounces, which isn’t super lightweight but is surprising given its durable construction. Both the handle and rod sections are made from solid aluminum, making this one of the toughest backpacking rods. However, the handle section is coated with a thermoplastic polymer, which gives it a very secure grip.

Emmrod offers a selection of rod ends with varying amounts of coils for different fish weights. Your catch will probably be on the smaller side when backpacking, so choose an option with more coils.

The Packrod is one of the best backpacking fishing poles on the market and a solid choice for anyone that wants a compact, lightweight, and durable rod. Its shorter length is challenging to cast with, but only at first.

[amazon fields="B071RWHNYT" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

~ Best Performance ~

Troutboy Black Warrior

[amazon fields="B07G99T86Q" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Troutboy Black Warrior

[amazon fields="B07G99T86Q" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

Pros

Cons

If you want a longer backpacking rod but still need it to pack down small, one of the best options is a telescoping setup. The design suffers from durability issues and is often unsuitable for big catches. Thanks to its solid composite/fiberglass construction, the [amazon link=”B07G99T86Q” title=”Troutboy Black Warrior” /] might be one of the best telescoping spinning rods for larger fish.

You can purchase the rod by itself or couple it with one of several reel options. The telescoping rod comes in a few different lengths, but it’s best to go small as a backpacking rod. This will reduce weight and packed size and make for a more manageable cast on smaller rivers and streams.

The smallest rod length packs down to just under nineteen inches and weighs five ounces. With the reel, you’ll be adding another nine to fourteen ounces. Fully extended, the shortest rod is seventy inches long, more than enough for most backpacking anglers. No matter what length you choose, expect rock-solid performance and durability from the rod.

Unfortunately, the company’s zeal for quality didn’t make it into the handle design. It’s covered in EVA foam and doesn’t have an ergonomic grip. The foam provides some traction when it’s wet, but it just feels like Troutboy could have done more to make holding the rod a comfortable experience.

The Black Warrior is an excellent choice for backpackers that want quality at an affordable price. The fact that you can choose so many different lengths and reel setups on those telescoping rods just add to its desirability.

[amazon fields="B07G99T86Q" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

~ Complete Package ~

Wild Water Tenkara

[amazon fields="B001IAHX6A" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Wild Water Tenkara

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Pros

Cons

A tenkara rod is an interestingly simple third option after spinning rods and fly rods. They completely forgo the reel, so the rod will be your only purchase. Reel differences aside, they’re similar to fly rods in how they’re used. Thanks to their simple design, they’re blowing up in popularity with backpackers.

The [amazon link=”B001IAHX6A” title=”Wild Water” /] comes apart in nine sections and assembles into a twelve-foot pole. Even so, the broken-down version is twenty-two inches in length – not as small as most of the telescopic spinning rods we’ve reviewed. All the pieces fit inside the handle, and this setup comes with a handy tote bag.

It shines in the weight department, with the graphite construction keeping it below the four-ounce mark (and remember, no reel is required – that’s the final weight).

This package comes with a float box, a dozen flies, a roll of tippet, nippers, and a zinger. It’s the complete package to get you ready for Tenkara fishing, and it comes with a very reasonable price tag.

[amazon fields="B001IAHX6A" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

~ Best Lightweight Option ~

Dragontail Tenkara Shadowfire

[amazon fields="B00N36YY1O" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Dragontail Tenkara Shadowfire

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Pros

Cons

A step up from the Wild Water in Tenkara quality is the Dragontail Shadowfire. It’s a little more expensive. This setup doesn’t come with all the starter gear that the Wild Water does (though you can buy that package for a small fee).

The [amazon link=”B00N36YY1O” title=”Dragontail Shadowfire” /] is excellent for more experienced Tenkara anglers.

At just under three ounces, you’re almost going to forget that you packed the 12-foot Shadowfire. It’s twelve feet long, so be wary of getting this pole if you’re fishing in tight spaces.

It breaks down into eight segments and packs down an inch or so shorter than Wild Water, to a slightly smaller twenty and a half inches. It comes standard with a hard side storage tube that will keep in safe while you’re on the trail.

The Shadowfire is best for fish between four and eighteen inches in length – it’s not designed for reeling in a big catch. It can handle larger fish, but it’s not going to perform that well (there will be too much flex).

One of the nicer small touches on the Shadowfire is its ergonomic grip. The vast majority of cork grips are either straight or slightly tapered, but this one has an hourglass shape that not only feels good it helps you keep a tighter hold on the rod.

The Shadowfire is an excellent Tenkara pole that isn’t too expensive. It’s a good entry-level rod, especially if you’re catching some larger fish on your backcountry adventures. However, it could also be a significant upgrade if you already have some Tenkara experience under your belt.

[amazon fields="B00N36YY1O" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

~ Best Value ~

Okura Voyager Spinning Travel Kit

[amazon fields="B000MQTJW2" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Okura Voyager Spinning Travel Kit

[amazon fields="B000MQTJW2" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

Pros

Cons

If this is your first backpacking pole and you want a cheap and effective setup, this kit from Okura might be your best bet. The [amazon link=”B000MQTJW2″ title=”Voyager collapsible rod” /] is as light as most of its competitors for about half the cost.

This is a kit setup, and with it, you’ll get a reel, tackle box, and travel case. The reel is, admittedly, not that great, but it will function with smaller fish. Don’t load it up with a heavy line. It won’t handle it well, and the rod bends pretty severely with large fish. A few extra eyelets along its length would have given it more strength.

The Voyager kit also includes a nylon carrying bag with foam cutouts to protect your rod. While you probably wouldn’t carry such a bulky case on your backpacking trips, it’s a nice perk.

The rod itself is pretty standard, though the inclusion of cork grip on such a budget-friendly model is kind of impressive. They give it a more comfortable feel that all-day anglers will significantly appreciate.

The Voyager isn’t an amazing rod, but it’s very inexpensive, and the kit includes a reel, travel case, and tackle box – all you need is lures. It’s an excellent choice for those just getting into backcountry fishing.

[amazon fields="B000MQTJW2" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

Daiwa Ardito Travel

[amazon fields="B00TKUTMPU" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Daiwa Ardito Travel

[amazon fields="B00TKUTMPU" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

Pros

Cons

If a collapsible rod sounds like the best option for you, but Eagle Claw’s Trailmaster wasn’t heavy-duty enough for your kind of fishing, [amazon link=”B00TKUTMPU” title=”Daiwa’s Ardito Travel Trigger rod” /] could be the perfect fit. It’s a performance rod with a price to match, but you will love what this pole can do if you have the budget.

The Daiwa Ardito is a medium power spinning rod intended for fish between ten and twenty pounds. It’s quite a bit stiffer than the Trailmaster. Still, its graphite construction keeps its pack weight down to just five ounces, no more than a lightweight telescopic fishing rod.

This rod comes with its own carrying case, but the case is thirty-two inches long, arguable too long for a backpacking setup. However, attached to the outside of your pack, it shouldn’t be too intrusive. Just don’t try to hike through thick brush with it sticking out.

It collapses down into three sections instead of the usual four. While such a design prevents it from being very compact, it certainly improves performance. Each joint results in a loss of responsiveness.

This would be a good choice for anglers seeking big fish on their backpacking trips. However, if your campsite doesn’t have anything to catch over a few pounds, it will be overkill and too expensive for your needs.

[amazon fields="B00TKUTMPU" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

Orvis Clearwater

[amazon fields="B07PFT8GCG" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Orvis Clearwater

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Pros

Cons

Fly rods are typically more expensive, harder to use, and take up more space in your pack. There are certainly better options for novice backcountry anglers, but there’s also no substitute for a great fly fishing experience. The thrill of the cast, the subtle movements of the fly over water, and the joy of the fight has made fly fishing a staple of wilderness literature.

Orvis has been around forever and makes some of the most popular fly rods on the market. The Clearwater is one of their finest specimens. At nine feet long, it’s a middle ground between the massive Tenkara rods and the super-compact spinning rods.

The [amazon link=”B07PFT8GCG” title=”Clearwater is incredibly lightweight” /], coming in at under four ounces. This is a five-weight rod, so it’s best used with smaller fish. It’s responsive, but if you try to pull in anything too big, you’ll see some severe bend in the rod.

Orvis also added a comfortable cork grip to the Clearwater. Utilizing a pear-shaped handle design, the Clearwater will feel great in your hand all day long.

Orvis stands behind their products too, with all of their rods having a 25-year guarantee. Though this won’t protect against negligence (stepping on your rod at camp), it gives you peace of mind that it won’t break with regular use.

The Clearwater is an excellent choice for fly fishing anglers ready to buy a high-quality product with an equally high-quality price tag.

[amazon fields="B07PFT8GCG" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

Eagleclaw Trailmaster

[amazon fields="B0032MUHBK" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Eagleclaw Trailmaster

[amazon fields="B0032MUHBK" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

Pros

Cons

 

Eagle Claw is a long-time leader in the fishing industry, and their [amazon link=”B0032MUHBK” title=”Trailmaster rod” /] is one of their most exciting products. Depending on the type of reel you add, it can function as a fly rod or a spinning rod. Based on its design, it’s best used as a spinning rod for smaller fish, but it’s nice to have the option to choose either technique.

The Trailmaster is a collapsible pole, splitting into four sections with a max length of twenty-four inches. That puts the Trailmaster as the least compact rod reviewed thus far. While it does take up more space, the collapsible design has a significantly better performance than the telescoping poles, especially when reacting to a bite on your line.

At its full length, the Trailmaster is also seven and a half feet long, a solid foot more than most of its competitors. That extra length improves its capabilities as a fly fishing rod. Still, it does make it harder to cast in dense vegetation.

One of the nicer touches to the Trailmaster is its cork grip handle. It feels great against your hand and adds a little bit of traction when wet. It’s just one of the small details that put it above some of the budget fishing rods on this list.

The Trailmaster isn’t a particularly cheap rod, but since it works as both a spinning rod and a fly rod, you could think of it as getting two for the price of one.

[amazon fields="B0032MUHBK" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

Dragontail Tenkara Shadowfire

[amazon fields="B00N36YY1O" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

Dragontail Tenkara Shadowfire

[amazon fields="B00N36YY1O" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

Pros

Cons

A step up from the Wild Water in Tenkara quality is the Dragontail Shadowfire. It’s a little more expensive. This setup doesn’t come with all the starter gear that the Wild Water does (though you can buy that package for a small fee).

The [amazon link=”B00N36YY1O” title=”Dragontail Shadowfire” /] is excellent for more experienced Tenkara anglers.

At just under three ounces, you’re almost going to forget that you packed the 12-foot Shadowfire. It’s twelve feet long, so be wary of getting this pole if you’re fishing in tight spaces.

It breaks down into eight segments and packs down an inch or so shorter than Wild Water, to a slightly smaller twenty and a half inches. It comes standard with a hard side storage tube that will keep in safe while you’re on the trail.

The Shadowfire is best for fish between four and eighteen inches in length – it’s not designed for reeling in a big catch. It can handle larger fish, but it’s not going to perform that well (there will be too much flex).

One of the nicer small touches on the Shadowfire is its ergonomic grip. The vast majority of cork grips are either straight or slightly tapered, but this one has an hourglass shape that not only feels good it helps you keep a tighter hold on the rod.

The Shadowfire is an excellent Tenkara pole that isn’t too expensive. It’s a good entry-level rod, especially if you’re catching some larger fish on your backcountry adventures. However, it could also be a significant upgrade if you already have some Tenkara experience under your belt.

[amazon fields="B00N36YY1O" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

St. Croix Triumph

[amazon fields="B00290SPOC" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_class="amzimg"]

St. Croix Triumph

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Pros

Cons

Those searching for a high-quality spinning reel will be quite happy with the [amazon link=”B00290SPOC” title=”Triumph from St. Croix” /]. It’s incredibly lightweight for its size, can reel in a decent-sized fish, has a comfortable cork grip, and breaks down into four pieces.

One of the first things you’ll notice about this pole is the craftsmanship. It’s constructed from graphite to keep the weight low and strength high. It also makes this one of the more responsive rods when you get a hit on the end of your line. The cork grips provide a more pleasant feel and have a beautiful look.

This is also one of the better options if you need a medium to medium-heavy power rod. It’s got a line weight of 10-20 pounds, which is more than sufficient for most backcountry fishing trips.

At its full length, the Triumph is six and a half feet long. It comes with a twenty-four-inch soft case to hold the four sections in their collapsed form. It weighs just under five ounces, which is quite good for a pole of this length and power.

The St. Croix Triumph would be an excellent choice for more experienced anglers looking to upgrade their backpacking fishing pole to something more substantial, more lightweight, and responsive.

[amazon fields="B00290SPOC" value="button" button_text="CHECK LATEST PRICE" /]

How to choose the best backpacking fishing rod for your needs

Choosing the best backpacking fishing pole is a challenging endeavor. The features that make an excellent backpacking rod are not the same as the ones for picking a good rod for a leisurely weekend trip – knowing the differences will make the buying experience considerably more straightforward.

Keeping the Weight Down

In backpacking, every ounce counts: you saw off the end of your toothbrush, eschew excess toiletries, and maybe carry a tarp to sleep under instead of a tent. All those lessons about shaving weight shouldn’t go out the window when you’re buying a fishing pole.

Materials are the most significant factor here; aluminum poles run-heavy, and carbon fiber/composite designs are considerably lighter. Lighter materials cost a bit more, so you’ll have to decide whether your body (which has to carry this heavy pack) or your wallet takes priority.

fishing rods carbon fiber

A rod’s durability is quite often tied to its weight too. That’s not to say heavy is always better, as carbon fiber is stronger than aluminum but considerably lighter. For a given material, heavier rods are usually more durable as they’re made from thicker tubing.

Fishing Pole Length Considerations

One of the most important considerations when choosing a backpacking fishing rod is the length. When it’s strapped to your pack, it should be as small as possible to not catch on any branches overhanging the trail.

Fishing Pole Length Considerations

When you’re ready to use it, you’ll want it to be considerably longer, making for more effortless casting. Long rods are harder to handle in dense brush or tight quarters; both of these are common occurrences along mountain streams. All things being equal, a shorter rod is better for backpacking.

How Does It Pack Down?

Backpacking rods need to pack down small, and there’s a variety of ways they can do it. One of the more common methods is telescoping, where the rod is made from a few sections, each one smaller than the last, so they all fit inside each other. It’s super compact, but the sections become very thin at the end of the rod and are prone to breakage.

Another typical design is the collapsible rod, which consists of several sections that screw together to reach the final length. The sections take up a little more space than the telescoping rod as they don’t fit inside each other. All of the sections are of a similar diameter, forming a more robust and more durable rod.

Collapsible fishing rods

Collapsible rods also give better sensitivity – your ability to feel a fish biting down on your lure. A telescoping fishing rod is usually made from more sections than a similar collapsible fishing rod model. Each joint between those sections diminishes sensitivity. Telescoping poles are more often used by novice anglers that won’t notice or care about the loss of sensitivity.

How Much Power?

The power of a rod is a measure of how much it bends underweight; it’s used to determine the size of the lure that works well with each rod. Backpacking rods usually fall towards the lower end of the power scale, thanks to their compact design and lightweight materials. As such, telescoping rods typically have lower power for their size compared to collapsible rods.

Those just getting into backcountry fishing should stick to a medium power rod, which works in most situations. Higher power isn’t necessarily better; you need to tailor your rod to the size of fish you’ll be catching.

Go too light, and your pole will bend over with the smallest lure and could snap under the load of a struggling fish. Go too big, and you’ll get an overbuilt rod that’s too heavy, unresponsive to small fish, and too unruly to carry on your pack.

Fly Rod vs. Spinning Rod

This is a fairly obvious distinction. Are you casting with flies or lures? If you’re not familiar with the difference, it’s best to start with a spinning rod as the casting technique is simple. However, if you’re well versed in both disciplines, you simply need to decide which type of angling you prefer while backpacking.

Fly Rod vs. Spinning Rod

The majestic dance of a fly rod might seem like the obvious fit for backcountry adventures, but it has several downsides. The first of which is the sheer amount of gear that goes with fly fishing; look at any angler with a fly rod, and you’ll probably see a chest pack. Everything necessary for fishing with a spinning rod fits in your pocket.

Fly fishing is inherently more complicated. That’s part of the fun – it takes skill to catch fish. In the backcountry, catching a fish might be more about having something to eat for dinner; that’s an easier task with a spinning rod.

For pure recreation, the fly rod can’t be beaten. If you’re carrying enough food to sustain yourself, and are doing catch and release anyway, by all means, enjoy that fly rod.

If you need something of a middle ground, Tenkara rods look very similar to a fly fishing rod – long and thin but without a reel. You still cast the line rather than the lure, but the procedure is considerably simpler for novices to learn.

Included Reel or Not

Many entry-level backpacking rods come with a spinning reel so that you can use them as a casting rod without another thought. If you don’t know much about gear ratios, baitcasting vs. spinning, or drag mechanism, just stick to the reel provided. It will do the job, and you can always upgrade later to something better suited to your needs.

If your well-versed in the features of reels, pick a pole that doesn’t come with one already attached. You’ll have the freedom to customize your setup and make it backpacking specific.

How Much Should I Spend?

That’s a highly personal decision, but a quality backpacking rod might set you back about $100. Remember, that’s just the rod your purchasing. You’ll still need a reel (unless it’s packaged with one), lures/flies, line, weights, and a variety of other fishing accessories. Be sure to factor that into your budget.

You’ll also need to face the fact that a backpacking rod has a much greater likelihood of being damaged. Whether it’s because you packed your bag too tightly, whacked it on a tree, or lost it while being chased by a wild animal, things happen in the wilderness. Your backpacking rod shouldn’t cost so much that you’re inconsolable when it gets damaged.

Conclusion: What is the best back fishing pole for backpacking?

If you’re just getting into backcountry fishing, the best backpacking fishing pole is going to be the [amazon link=”B071RWHNYT” title=”Emmrod Packrod” /]. It’s compact, lightweight, and very durable; you can’t beat its rock bottom price either. The only downside to it is that it takes some practice to cast with such a short rod. Your first pole should be a no-fuss setup, and the Packrod won’t give you a lick of trouble.

Those that have been around the block a few times with their fishing gear might want something more performance heavy though, and that’s where the [amazon link=”B07G99T86Q” title=”Troutboy Black Warrior” /] comes in. Sure, it takes up some space, but you need something with more power for bigger fish, and this graphite pole has got it.

If fly fishing is in the cards, then the [amazon link=”B0032MUHBK” title=”Eagleclaw Trailmaster” /] is a worthy contender. Since you can use it with a fly or spinning reel, you’ll have options, which is also essential when dealing with the uncertainty of the wilderness. For a truly lightweight fly fishing experience, go with the [amazon link=”B00N36YY1O” title=”Dragontail Shadowfire” /].

Jason Miller

Jason Miller

Hi there, my name is Jason and I am the creator and editor of this site. My activities include hiking, skiing, mountain biking, camping, and backpacking. I'm also a keen nature photographer. I like to get outdoors and then write about it. I created this site to help people find the right gear so they enjoy their outdoor pursuits that much more.

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