10 Best Backpacking Fishing Rods to Help You Cast Anywhere

Best Backpacking Fishing Rods

Backpacking is quickly becoming a very popular pastime for people looking to get out and explore without any constraints. No booking campsites, no noise, and no Wi-Fi. For those looking to get in touch with the wilderness in its most pure form, nothing comes close to grabbing a backpack and the right gear and just setting off on an adventure.

Every backpacker obviously needs things like a reliable bag and tent for basic living, but many people miss out on the opportunity to fish when going backpacking. Many explorers have it in their mind that fishing is something that needs lots of heavy equipment and experience to have fun with, but that is no longer the case. To help the backpacking community enjoy the art of fishing and camping on the same trip, we want to take a look at 10 of the best backpacking fishing rods options to give anyone the chance to catch a big one wherever they go.

We will look at everything that makes a backpacking fishing rod unique from its design to its reel that makes it stand out from traditional designs. As we walk through what to look for in a backpacking rod and why one is ideal, we will see why the right compact fishing pole for backpacking and exploring can be the perfect companion to every trip.

Choosing the best backpacking rod

  What Are The Best Backpacking Fishing Rods?

  • CAPACI Portable Travel Casting Spinning Bass Fishing Rod

  • Wild Water Fly Fishing 12′ Tenkara

  • FISHOAKY Fishing Rod Kit

  • Goture Travel Fishing Rods

  • PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

  • DRAGONtail Shadowfire

  • Sougayilang Fishing Rod Combo

  • TROUTBOY Fishing Rod

  • Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager Spinning Travel Kit

  • MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Tenkara Fishing Rod


Best Backpacking Fishing Rods Buying Guide

With every rod having its own personality and characteristics that make it unique, we need to see what makes a backpacking fishing rod unique. A fishing rod may just seem like some string on a stick, but it is so much more.

Rod design

With fishing being such a large and diverse sport, there are going to be a wide variety of rod types and designs to choose from when going fishing. From single piece poles to telescopic options, every design offers a unique fishing experience to the user with benefits and drawbacks coming with every design. Since backpacking is based around the idea of having things that are smaller and compact, we will be looking at rod types that make the most sense for backpacking.

The most popular style of rod for backpacking is going to be a telescopic pole. As the name suggests, this is the most versatile option when it comes to packable fishing rod options. Telescopic poles are easily the smallest as the entire pole is able to collapse into itself when not being used. This incredibly useful design means that a backpacker can store this rod and reel in their backpack and fully extend the rod when they go fishing. When getting a telescopic pole, they will likely come with a standard reel that is designed for bait or casting just like a standard rod.

Another option for fishers who are looking to go fly fishing with their rod is the Tenkara design of fishing rods. This style of fishing involves very little equipment and originates from Japanese stream fishers. Similar to the telescopic rod design, this style of rod is usually very compact and can usually collapse into itself. What makes this rod unique is that it does not have a traditional reel for fly fishing so you have less weight and space taken up by the rod. Combine its small size with a unique fishing style and lightweight lures for a unique fishing experience.

backpacking fishing pole

Reel Choice

With the rod design being an important consideration for the backpacking portion of the fishing experience, the reel choice is what matters when it comes to the actual fishing experience you are looking to have. The three-reel types found on a standard fishing rod are spincast, spinning, and baitcast reels. Each one has a distinctive way to use the reel and is suited for a certain type of fisher, so let’s see what each one offers.

The spincast reel design is easily the simplest design as it is designed to just work and not put up and fight with the fisher. These reels of the simplest design are great for beginners or those who don’t want to be dealing with tangled lines all day. When looking at portable fishing rods, choosing spincast reels could be good for the explorer who is somewhat new to fishing and just wants to try out the experience without needing a long history of experience with reels. The only downside to this design is that it is not going to be suited for medium to large fish or longer casts with the rod.

The most common reel design is the spinning reel. The reason the backpacking spinning rod is the way most backpackers lean is because of the middleweight nature of the spinning design. Whereas the spincast design is fully enclosed and isolated, the spinning reel has exposed lines and requires the fisher to control when the line stops being casted. For the backpacker looking for a reel option that will be ideal for almost all backpacking location fishing, the spinning reel is a safe bet that only requires a bit of maintenance here and there.

The last reel you can choose is a baitcast reel. By looking at the design and price of these reels, it is easy to see why they are usually only used by the more serious fisher. Holding one of these reels makes it apparent how serious it is as the heavyweight and finicky design is something that needs to be treated properly to work effectively. If you are going after bigger fish and know your way around a fishing reel, the baitcast reel is a solid choice.

Rod Size

Where things start to get interesting is when you want to figure out what rod size you want to take backpacking. While we mentioned that telescopic rods are likely your best bet for backpacking, they all come in different lengths and sizes to choose from. Depending on whether your priority is fishing or space savings, you can go in two directions with rod size.

If you are going backpacking and want a lightweight rod for some casual fishing, you can get by with a shorter rod. Shorter rods are great for saving weight and will be fine for some casual fishing in a stream or lake. If you choose to not get a telescopic rod and opt for a traditional multi-piece rod, then a shorter one is a must for backpacking. Shorter rods are generally better when it comes to fighting a fish and have more power with their more rigid structure.

For a longer rod, you can get rods anywhere from 7-12 feet that offer a good mix of power and are designed for smaller fish. When looking for better casts, a longer rod will have more flex to it and allows for easier casting. Getting a rod right around the 7 foot mark is a happy medium between long and short rods, but 12 foot rods have their purposes. The main downside to a longer rod for backpacking is that the rods will take up more space and likely be heavier than a smaller rod.

backpacking spinning rod

Rod Power and action

One of the harder concepts for beginner fishers to wrap their heads around when learning how to pick the right rod is understanding the difference and relationship between power and action. Starting with rod power, this is the measurement that indicates how much resistance a rod has to bend and flex when using a specific lure. 

Rod power is broken down into a range of weights from ultralight to heavy that determine what lures are going to be used. Since most backpacking rods are lightweight, you will want to look for a rod with an ultralight to medium power range to ensure that you are using the best rod for the bait you would be using.

Where power is a rod resistance to bending, rod action refers to how much a rod will bend when experiencing a level of pressure. The action of a rod is determined primarily by the construction of the rod and how it is tapered to allow the end to bend when a fish is on the line. Just like power, rod action also has a range that goes from very fast to slow.

For the fisher who wants to feel every bit instantly and get a feeling for their lure, fast action will be ideal as the rod is very sensitive to movement. A slower action rod is ideal for lighter bait as it allows the lighter lures to cast better and have a reasonable response feeling.


Finding the right backpacking fishing pole and reel can quickly become a very expensive endeavor if you start diving in too eagerly to all the options. Sure, you could buy a carbon fiber rod and a reel meant for catching sharks, but do you really need that for your first lake fishing experience when backpacking?

The answer is probably not. While you don’t need an expensive rod and reel combo for backpacking enjoyment, you definitely get what you pay for with any fishing setup. Split your budget between a good rod and reel to create a great platform that is compact and ready to catch you some fish. Another thing to remember is you will likely also need to set aside some money for lures, hooks, line, and other fishing accessories.

compact fishing pole for backpacking

Reel Gear Ratio

For the backpacker and fisher who is into the more technical aspect of a fishing reel, understanding the reel gear ratio may make a lot or no sense at all. To put it simply, the reel gear ratio is the number of times the reel itself spins whenever you complete a full rotation of the handle. These ratios range from a low ratio of around 5.1:1 up to a higher 7.4:1.

With a lower reel gear ratio, the reel will turn less times every time you spin the wheel. This produces a lower amount of torque on the line and is ideal when using a heavier bait that produces more drag. A higher ratio is used for a faster style of fishing with lighter lures that need to be brought in at a faster pace.

Construction Material               

Last but not least, the construction material of the rod and reel can play an impact on how heavy and sturdy a rod is going to be. The two primary materials that rods are made out of are fiberglass and a graphite composite. The vast majority of rods are going to be made out of fiberglass as it is cheaper to make and mass produce. Rods made out of fiberglass are going to be cheaper and more lightweight, so they are well suited for new fishers.

If you are looking for a more durable and substantial rod, graphite may be for you. These rods are more expensive with their unique material blends, but they offer a more tactile experience and allow for better fishing in general with their feeling.

Standard VS Backpacking Rod

If you have gone fishing before with a standard rod, you are probably wondering why you can’t just use a collapsible fishing pole for backpacking. With a majority of standard poles coming in a few pieces, it would seem to make sense that you could just throw on in your bag and go backpacking with it. However, standard fishing pole designs are somewhat different and can make backpacking with one a challenge.

Standard fishing rods either come as a single piece of material or two pieces that break down. This isn’t an issue when you have a long car or trunk to put the rod in, but no backpack is going to be able to fit these rods in them. With backpacking being about compact equipment that is lightweight and efficient, a standard pole is just too cumbersome to carry around on the trails. As another downside, standard rods often have many large rungs to guide the line that gets caught on bags and anything they come in contact with when moving the rods around.

Take away: What to look for When Picking a Backpacking Fishing Rod

Best Backpacking Fishing Rods Comparison Table

10 Best Backpacking Fishing Rods Review

Key Features

  • Ability to choose the best reel for personal preference
  • 6 piece collapsible design
  • Very lightweight design and feel
  • Fast action for intense fishing

This newly designed rod is a unique offering that is ready to show the backpacking world that it means business. Unlike the many telescopic options that are designed for backpacking, the CAPACI travel rod breaks down into 6 small pieces for easy storage in a backpack.

The length of this rod is right where you want it to be for most fishing trips as it strikes a balance in the middle of standard rod lengths. The multi-piece design at a respectable overall length means you can have smaller pieces that fit more easily in a bag than other rods with larger components.


  •  Multi-piece design for easier storage
  •  Perfect length rod
  •  Lightweight construction
  •  Freedom to choose their own reel


  • More pieces to get broken or lost
  • Not great for larger fish

Key Features

  • Unique Tenkara design with long length
  • Comes with everything you need for fishing
  • Packs into a very small size
  • Very lightweight and slim form factor

Calling back to its Japanese roots, the Wild Water Tenkara is a modern take on a classic favorite. For the backpacker who finds space precious, this rod has one of the best-designed form factors. The entire kit fits into a small pouch that can be stored on the outside or inside of a bag.

If you are just starting out, this kit comes with everything you need to start your Tenkara fishing journey. Lures, lines, and a case come with this well-sized and kitted rod for a great overall package.


  • Comes with everything needed
  • Small and versatile size
  • Large rod when fishing
  • Comfortable weight


  • Unique style not for everyone
  • Not ideal for larger fish

Key Features

  • Carbon fiber telescopic design for strength and convenience
  • Comes with numerous included accessories
  • Reliable included reel
  • Breaks down into a very portable package

For a telescopic rod with plenty of strength to take on some big fish, the FISHOAKEY Fishing Rod Kit is the perfect companion for any backpacker. With this kit, you get everything you need to take on any fishing challenge and keep casting all day long.

What is nice to see on this rod is a carbon fiber construction that helps it to remain sturdy after many casts. Throw this kit in your bag and be confident you will do well any time you use it.


  • Complete kit included
  • The included reel is reliable and predictable
  • Telescopic and compact design
  • Durable construction materials


  • Does not include instructions
  • Included lures are not the best

Key Features

  • Designed for both casting and spinning
  • Included case for packing
  • Multi-piece design for easy assembly
  • Perfect for traveling and fishing

Goture understands that fishing is all about simplicity, so their travel fishing rod kit is all you need for a great experience. This rod comes in at a perfect length for the traveling fisher and is constructed with a carbon matrix to ensure it can take on a number of fishing situations.

With the freedom to choose your reel, you can use this rod the way you desire for a custom fishing setup. Stay fishing all day with this comfortable and capable rod.


  • Blends strength and lightweight performance
  • Comfortable and ergonomic grip
  • Corrosion-resistant line guides
  • Included carrying case for transport


  • Somewhat large size broken down
  • Not ideal for all fishing

Key Features

  • Convenient telescopic design
  • Built with quality materials
  • Sturdy pole when lengthened
  • Comfortable grip position

As telescoping rods take the industry by storm, the PLUSINNO offering stands out among the crowd. Telescoping design and an included reel make this a great option for newer fishers looking for a compact rod. The closed design of this rod is very small and the extended version has several length options.

With the option to get a full fishing kit with this rod, you could buy just this and be ready to fish when it arrives. The great design and sturdy materials make this rod a winner.


  • Various length options
  • Very small when condensed
  • Comfortable and firm to hold
  • Solid included reel


  • Reel not suited for larger fish
  • Somewhat heavy

Key Features

  • Graphite construction for tough fish
  • Breaks down into a very convenient size
  • Included useful starter kit
  • Simplistic design with less to break

Another promising Tenkara design rod, this DRAGONtail offering is a great option for those wanting a simplistic yet effective fishing package. This self-contained package can fit anywhere in or on your bag, so there is no excuse not to take it fishing.

The included basics and efficient design mean that beginners in this style of fishing are going to be in for a treat. Durable construction and smart design make this rod a great companion for backpackers.


  • Ideal for backpacking
  • Impressive material choice
  • Sets up in just three minutes
  • Comes with essential equipment


  • Somewhat expensive
  • Not great for all fishing styles

Key Features

  • Comes in sizes for all needs
  • Able to be used by both hands
  • Included reel with smooth action
  • Greta for budget options

With a variety of size options in a telescopic package, the Sougayilang telescopic fishing rod is great for fishers of all skill levels. Choose from a variety of length options to fit your needs and enjoy the smoothness of the included reel paired with a strong rod design.

For those who fish with different hand positions, this rod can be used by right and left-handed fishers alike. An overall great package at a respectable price makes this a great telescopic rod option.


  • Great reel included
  • Can change reel sides
  • Compact design
  • Convenient accessories


  • Maybe too light for some
  • The case is somewhat large

Key Features

  • Wide range of telescopic options
  • Carbon fiber construction
  • Ceramic guide rings for smoothness
  • Ability to mount your own reel

For a telescopic option that lets you use your own reel, the TROUTBOY telescopic rod is a great choice. Choose from a number of lengths for different needs and then pick your own reel options to create the perfect compact and powerful rod.

The fixed handle of this rod and its carbon construction means that it will feel much sturdier in the hands than most other telescopic rods.   Professionals and beginners alike will find plenty to love about this fishing rod.


  • Durable carbon design
  • Various length options
  • Choose your own reel
  • Compact design


  • No case included
  • Needs a good reel to work well

Key Features

  • Multi-piece construction for easy storage
  • Cork grip for comfort
  • Durable graphite frame
  • Excellent reel included with the rod

With most rods trying to reinvent the wheel to make them lighter and more compact, Okuma made things simpler to achieve the same results. This simple yet effective rod comes in a few pieces and has a convenient case to take the rod and all the necessary gear anywhere you can get to.

The cork handle and graphite design scream classic fishing rod and the included reel is a serious piece of kit to use. This is a great option for any compact rod seeker looking for a reliable and sensible rod package.


  • Simple and effective design
  • Durable reel with quality materials
  • Cork adds class and comfort
  • Ceramic guides for smooth casting


  • Lacks basic accessories
  • Multiple pieces can be fragile alone

Key Features      

  • Nine collapsible sections for small design
  • Included sleeve and tube are very compact
  • Carbon fiber construction for many years of use
  • Variety of size options available

Our last Tenkara designed rod from MAXIMUMCATCH gives fishers all the rod they need in a simplistic and existing package. Whether you are looking for a very durable and capable rod or just one that offers a new style of fishing, this one ticks all the boxes as a very capable Tenkara rod. Its large size when in use and backpack friendly broken down form is great for minimal need backpackers looking to get out and fish.


  • Lightweight design
  • Simple to use
  • Strong construction materials
  • Comfortable cork handle


  • Not suited for larger fish
  • Sensitive tip


What is a Backpacking Rod?

The most common question people have about the backpacking rod is usually wanting to know what exactly it is. Since there is already a wide variety of fishing rods on the market, how could there be one that is designed specifically for backpacking? Interestingly enough, compact fishing rods are becoming much more popular as people are looking to take them on hikes and trips where they don’t want to carry around a full-sized rod.

What makes a backpacking rod unique is simply its design philosophy. Where standard rods are meant to be as powerful and as technically advanced as possible, a backpacking rod just needs to get the job done in a reliable, lightweight package. To make a backpacking rod that is compact, lightweight, and works well, companies generally go the route of making a telescopic pole design that can be folded into itself for easy storage. While a normal fishing trip doesn’t require maximum weight savings and a small collapsed rod, backpacking needs all the help it can get to make an effective rod that can be broken into a small package.

Can Backpacking Rods be Used in Saltwater?

Depending on where you are looking to go backpacking, you may be wondering if you can use a backpacking rod when going sea fishing. While this is an interesting question that many ask, it has a somewhat shrouded answer. Since sea fishing usually requires a larger rod that has a reel design for sea fish, you need to make sure you are fishing with something ready to tackle large fish.

Because of this, you are likely to have to find a rod that is suited for sea usage as a top priority. When looking for a backpacking rod, you can likely find some rod and reel combinations that would make for a good sea rod. You should however keep in mind that sea rods are usually longer and heavier than standard rods, so any rod you get for sea fishing will be large and heavy.

Do Backpacking Rods Come with a Reel?

Depending on your level of fishing experience, you may wonder if all rods come with a reel. Depending on what style of rod you are looking for, some will and some will not come with reels. If you are shopping around for a standard rod with the kit included, that backpacking rod will likely come with a reel so that owners have less to think about when buying a rod.

If you are a more experienced fisher, you will likely want to purchase a rod and reel separately to create the perfect fishing experience. When going backpacking, choosing a separate rod and eel may be beneficial as you can choose lighter individual components to create a finished product that is much lighter than something you can buy in a store.

What are the Benefits of backpacking Rods?

When comparing a standard rod and a backpacking rod, understanding what makes the best hiking fishing rod different from the best standard fishing rod comes down to weight and size. When all you have with you is a backpack full of supplies, you want a rod that can simply slide in the bag and not take up too much space. Backpacking rods are designed specifically to be compact and light while still retaining all the necessary features to make them effective at catching fish.

Our Verdict

Fishing offers so many great experiences to so many people, and we want everyone to find a rod they love. So many great rods can be used for backpacking, so you are really spoiled for choice when picking the rod for you.

Look to the PLUSINNO for a great rod and reel combo that comes in a telescopic package perfect for backpacking. If you would rather a more traditionally styled rod, there is always the OKUMA voyager that looks the part and is able to be stored away nicely.

No matter how or where you are looking to go fishing, we hope you found out picks for the best backpacking fishing rod to give you some more clarity in choosing your next fishing companion.

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