Okuma Makaira Saltwater Rod MK-C-701XH Okuma_Makaira_thumb.jpg
MSRP: $199.99
This 7-foot extra-heavy saltwater rod handles line weights from 30- to 80-pound-test and utilizes the latest carbon composite technology to deliver supreme performance at a great price. From Homer halibut to sturdy lings in Prince William Sound, this rod did it all for us in 2013.

Scott Fly Rods 9’6” 8-weight A4 Series Fly Rod Scott_Fly_Rods_thumb.jpg
MSRP: $395
A high-performance fly rod for everyone, this 8-weight Scott A4 is an ideal stick for Alaska, covering a range of species and applications, from swinging for autumn trout on the Naknek to dead-drifting for Kenai sockeye or stripping Clousers for Kodiak coho.

Highliner Rods Custom Spinning Rod Highliner_Rod_thumb.jpg
MSRP: Starting at $550
Another gem of a rod built by Bill Amerongen, the 10-foot, 8- to 12-pound, Lamiglas Certified Pro salmon and steelhead spinning rod (XSH 120 2M blank) is well-suited for drift fishing for steelhead and coho salmon. What stands out to even the most novice rod-buyer is the incredible threadwork and craftsmanship that Bill put into this work of art. We love fishing Bill’s rods because not only does Bill use the best components to produce a highly-technical rod that catches fish, but they are the best-looking sticks on the water. Testers received many compliments about the looks of this rod.

Okuma T-40X Casting Rod TX-C-1032MH Okuma_t40x_thumb.jpg
MSRP: $159.99

Featuring a lightweight carbon-fiber construction and stainless steel guide frames, the T-40X is the perfect combination of strength and sensitivity. The line is available in 16 unique models, eight spinning rods and eight casting.

St. Croix Wild River Casting Rod WRS106MF2 st_croix_wid_river_spinning_thumb.jpg
MSRP: $190
From handling ripping hardware behind downriggers to delivering tiny tidbits through a slow-moving eddy, and all techniques in-between, the redesigned Wild River series fits the bill. For 2013, we chose a 10-foot, 6-inch model built on all-new SCII graphite blanks with Kigan Master Hand 3D guides and premium, thin aluminum-oxide rings, and then we put it to the test on salmon across the state, with endless grins the result. Like many St. Croix rods we’ve had the chance to use, it just feels comfortable in your hands.

Temple Fork Outfitters Gary’s Tactical Series Salmon Spinning Rod GTS SS904-2 TFO_Tactical_Series.jpg
MSRP: $189.99
Following the success of their Gary Loomis high-performance rods over the past few years, TFO has released a line of rods built specifically with Alaska in mind. The new Alaska family of GTS rods are fast and powerful and come in a variety of spinning, casting and travel models. We loved this spinning rod and put it to work with great results in 2013.

Temple Fork Outfitters Deer Creek Spey Rod TF 6/7 130 4 DC TFO_Deer_Creek_thumb.jpg
George Krumm writes, “A great introductory Spey rod.  It performs very well for the money, and this rod has a place on the Naknek and Kenai for large trout and can handle most steelhead. It’s rated as a 6/7-weight; I’ve thrown lines as heavy as 520-grain Skagit heads but it performs better with lines in the 450- to 480-grain range. Smooth and deep loading, it’s a nice-looking rod, too, with the amethyst color and copper trim on the wraps. If I had someone who didn’t have a large budget but wanted to get into two-handed rods, I’d point them at a Deer Creek.”

Wright & McGill Blair Wiggins Flats Blue S-Curve Offshore Casting Rod Wright_Mcgill_Blair_Wiggins_JiggingRod_thumb.jpg
MSRP: $129.99
With a soft tip for control and manipulation of your jig and a strong butt section to help in hauling up the feistiest critters, this is a rod ideally suited to your saltwater adventures in 2014. Our favorite in the series was the heavy-action, 6 1/2-foot, 20- to 40-pound rated rod, which we found ideally suited for fishing jigs to smaller halibut, average lingcod, big coho and monster rockfish on trips from Seward and Homer.

Lamiglas Infinity SI Fly Rod ISI 1178 SW Lamiglas_ISI_1178_SW_thumb.jpg
MSRP: $400
This 11-foot 7/8-weight switch rod worked out nicely for forays into some of the more varied river systems we ventured to in 2013, as anglers could fish conventionally where space allowed, making casts of good distance with relative ease, while also fishing Spey-style when the willow and alder encroached on things. Efficiency is the name of the game when fishing the highly productive fisheries in Alaska and this rod certainly helps get it done in multiple ways.

Winston Boron IIIx 9’ 6” 8-weight Fly Rod Winston_rod_thumb.jpg
MSRP: $810
Word was these all-purpose fast-action fly rods were ideal sticks for tossing obscene amounts of string across western Alaska rivers, regardless of the conditions or the need for big, bulky flies. Giving the 9-foot, 6-inch 8-weight a try for fall trout, we came up even more impressed than reports led us to believe. Responsive and deadly accurate, these are outstanding fly rods for the hardcore Alaska trouter.

Lamiglas Certified Pro Kwik XCC 965 GH Lamiglas_Certified_Pro_Kwik_thumb.jpg
MSRP: $360
With a proprietary fiberglass and graphite blend throughout the blank, quick results are the rule with the Kwik series of Lamiglas Certified Pro rods. Sensitive yet stout, there’s a reason Alaskan river guides swear by these rods, each of which also features a Fuji reel seat and Fuji Concept Guide System.