best fishing rods 2020The best fishing rods for Alaska vary widely depending on what fish species you’re targeting, where you are in the state, and each angler’s personal preference.

We at Fish Alaska test a wide range of fishing rods every year from trolling rods in saltwater to single-handed fly-fishing rods. We test spey rods, spinning rods, casting rods, and technique-specific fishing rods for every gamefish in Alaska to find the best fishing rods for Alaska.

These are the best fishing rods for Alaska in 2020

KastKing Krome KRDCSTKR-82HS2 Hot Shot Rod
As the name implies, this rod was designed for pulling plugs. Rated for 10- to 20-pound-test line, it has a fast tip but surprising strength in the butt section, well suited for big steelhead and salmon. It can handle lead up to 3 ounces. We also used this rod for hover fishing eggs for Chinook, and although that’s not what it was designed for, it worked very well in this application. The fluorescent-orange color of the tip makes it easy to see how your plug is running. That orange tip also proved helpful in detecting the often very subtle bite while hover fishing. The value for the price of KastKing Krome rods continues to impress us.

KastKing Krome KKR-KR-2S9MD Medium Drifter Spinning Rod
KastKing KromeThis is a great rod for drift fishing, bobber fishing, chucking spinners, and bobber dogging for steelhead and silvers. It’s a fast-action, medium-light rod, and at 9’ long, it’s rated for 8- to 12-pound-test line. It can handle weights of ⅜- to ¾-ounce, and it’s a very versatile stick. KastKing’s technique-specific Krome salmon and steelhead rods are a great match for Alaska fishing.
Daiwa Ardito Travel Rods
best fishing rods alaska 2020These rods are well suited for traveling anglers heading to Alaska. We tested the ARDT763MHFB-TR and ARDT703MFS-TR on multiple trips to remote rivers in 2019. They fished well. The rods have a fast action (one is extra fast), are either 7’ or 7’6”, have a range of line-test-rating including 4-15, 6-15, 8-17 and 10-20, and are all three-piece rods, so they fit easily in luggage or taken aboard as a carry on. Rods are responsive, components are quality, fit and finish is solid.
Eagle Claw Featherlight Combo
Eagle Claw Featherlight ComboWe tested the two-piece 5’6” Featherlight spinning combo, rated for 2- to 6-pound-test and lures up to ⅜-ounce. It sure is fun to fish for stocked trout with this rod! It’s a great starter rod for your kids and also one for the adults to use when needing to downsize gear to match their quarry. The fiberglass blank is durable, and the action has been updated for a faster response. The cork grip is comfortable in the hand and we found that the reel casts well, offers plenty of capacity for the 4-pound-test monofilament that we spooled on it, and provides plenty of drag. The combo comes in three sizes of rods: 5’6”, 6’0”, and 6’6”. One of the features we especially appreciated is the 15-inch ruler that is printed on the blank.
Pieroway Renegade 12’, 9-weight Fly Rod
best fishing rods for alaskaLast year, the Pieroway Renegade 11’6” 8-weight two-hander won an Editors’ Choice Award based on its performances on big Alaska rainbows and steelhead. Like the 8-weight, the 12’ 9-weight is a rod that easily performs Skagit casts to fishable distances, even with heavy sink tips and big flies. Jerry French designed the rods to be easy-to-cast fishing tools, and based on the two rods we’ve tested, he nailed it. Our resident swing junkie George Krumm used the 9-weight to swing for kings on the Naknek, and also for that river’s outsized rainbows. This rod had no trouble launching a 475-grain Commando head, 10 feet of T-17 or T-20 and a 5-inch fly. In fact, George only used three rods on the Naknek for rainbows this fall—two of the Renegade 8-weights and the Renegade 9-weight. Furthermore, for most of his swing fishing he’s likely to have a Renegade in hand. That’s credible testimony on the quality of Pieroway Renegade two-handers. The overall action is medium-fast, smooth, with quick recovery which aids in tight loops and accuracy. The composite cork handles are just the right diameter and length, and the overall finish is impeccable. This rod is well-suited for small-to-medium-sized kings, chums, steelhead and large rainbows.
G. Loomis E6X Salmon Mooching Rods E6X 1174-2C SAR GH and E6X 1265-2C SAR GH
G. Loomis E6X Salmon Mooching RodsThese moderate-action mooching rods are light, soft in the tip, but with great power in the butt section. They’re made in medium-heavy to extra-heavy actions in lengths from 9’ to 10’6”. Our tester used the 9’9” medium-heavy rod rated for 10- to 30-pound-test line and the 10’6” heavy rod rated for 10- to 40-pound-test line. Although designed for mooching, he used these rods primarily for trolling herring and also 360 flashers with either spinners or Super Baits. This style of fishing requires the use of heavy leads, and these rods saw use with lead up to 16 ounces. He also used them for bobber fishing eggs for Chinook. Numerous kings and silvers were landed on them. Notably, these rods are lighter in hand than comparable rods from other manufacturers.
Echo King KING-9130 13’ 9-wt Fly Rod
Echo King KING-9130 13’ 9-wt Fly RodThe Echo King was designed specifically with king salmon in mind. George Krumm commented, “If you had to pick one rod to swing for kings, you wouldn’t be wrong to choose the Echo King.” He used the rod to swing for kings on the Naknek this summer. Paired with a 630-grain Airflow Skagit Compact G2 head and 10 feet of T-whatever, this rod has the guts to power big flies and sink tips a long ways, and the backbone to keep the heat on almost any Chinook you’re fortunate enough to hook. Though our tester used the 9-weight, the King is also available in 10-weight and if you’re in a place where the likelihood of a 40-pound-plus king is highly possible, then the 10-weight would be a better choice. The King is moderately priced compared to the competition. George added that he doesn’t know of a better value in a two-hander for the king swing game.

Cortland Competition MKII Fly Rod
Cortland Competition MKII Fly RodThis rod is available in 6-, 7- and 8-weight models; all are 10 feet long. We tested the 7-weight. It is light, powerful, incorporates a fast action for throwing long, tight loops, and really throws line. We swung streamers and nymphed beads for ‘bows, stripped buggers to sea-run ‘cutts, and both stripped and swung wet-fly patterns to coho. We like the feel of the premium-grade Portuguese cork that is used for the handles, and the fighting butt adds comfort and leverage when fighting larger fish. Rods are built in four pieces and come with a sock and case.

Redington Predator 7100-4 Fly Rod
Redington Predator 7100-4 Fly RodThis fast-action rod loads quickly for long casts. At 10 feet long, it also allows the caster to manage and mend line for precise drifts. We used it to roll cast to sockeye, where the 10-foot length allowed testers to easily cast and optimally control floating line through the drift. We also used it to throw streamers to coho, and enjoyed long, crisp casts and tight loops. Among other features, the rod boasts an anodized, machined-aluminum reel seat, making it usable in the saltwater. There are a wide range of models in the Predator lineup in addition to this 7-weight, 10-foot, 4-piece model.
TFO Sea Hunter SHC 6640
TFO Sea Hunter SHC 6640We used this rod to jig for halibut, rockfish, and lingcod in Yakutat Bay and were very impressed. Its medium-fast action is perfect for working metal, and the strong butt section allowed us to subdue halibut over 50 pounds. We paired the rod with an Okuma Metaloid 5 and KastKing KastPro 65-pound-test braided line; it balanced well which made it comfortable to fish all day long. The high-density fore and rear grips are comfortable in the hand and the midnight-blue blank is sharp looking. This series of rods comes in several sizes of both spinning and casting models.

Back to Editors’ Choice Awards Categories