The Best Rods For Pier Fishing: 2021 Buyers Guide

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Premium Option: St. Croix Avid Inshore Spinning Rod (click to see)
“Enjoy casting long distances and fighting down huge catch without worrying about breaking your rod. The St. Croix Avid Inshore Rod’s lightweight and durable design make it an incredible fishing partner all day long.”

Best Budget Option: Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 (click to see)
“The Ugly Stik GX2 is the perfect blend of sensitivity and comfort. It’s one of the most lightweight rods you can find, and its sensitivity is right up there with the premium rods on the market – all for a very affordable price.”

Best Distance-Casting Rod: Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite Rods (click to see)
“Nothing excels at casting far distances better than the Okuma Longitude Surf Rod. It lets you cast a bottom rig at a hundred yards easily while maintaining a firm and comfortable grip with its ergonomic and durable graphite build.”

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Pier fishing allows anglers to reach the outer edges of sandbars running down the shoreline. Thanks to piers, anglers can routinely catch many species of fish that would usually require a boat to get to. For the best chance at landing the fish you’re after, you need the right fishing rod to do the job.

The best rods for pier fishing are strong enough to pull fish up to where you are high above the water and fight the larger fish you can run into in deeper water. They also need to cast considerable distances, be sensitive enough to tell when a fish bites, and be durable enough to last a long time.

Finding the right fishing rods that fit your budget and target species can be challenging with how many rods are on the market. So we’ve made this list of seven of the best pier fishing rods to make your buying decision much easier.

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Hours spent testing
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Products tested
Product Name
Best Budget Option
Best Distance-Casting Rod
Our ranking
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
St. Croix Rod Avid Spinning Rod
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite Rods (Large, Black/Blue/Silver)
Our grade
Our Rating 96/100
Our Rating 94/100
Our Rating 93/100
Feature 1
Titanium inserts and slow-cure finish give durability
Fiberglass and graphite rod blank
12-foot length increases casting distance by nearly double
Feature 2
The ergonomic design makes all actions with the rod feel smooth
The sensitive clear tip reacts to the slightest bite
Extra-long rod base lets you brace against your legs
Best Premium Option
Our ranking
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
St. Croix Rod Avid Spinning Rod
Our grade
Our Rating 96/100
Feature 1
Titanium inserts and slow-cure finish give durability
Feature 2
The ergonomic design makes all actions with the rod feel smooth
Buy Now Button
Best Budget Option
Our ranking
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
Our grade
Our Rating 94/100
Feature 1
Fiberglass and graphite rod blank
Feature 2
The sensitive clear tip reacts to the slightest bite
Buy Now Button
Best Distance-Casting Rod
Our ranking
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite Rods (Large, Black/Blue/Silver)
Our grade
Our Rating 93/100
Feature 1
12-foot length increases casting distance by nearly double
Feature 2
Extra-long rod base lets you brace against your legs
Buy Now Button

Best Pier Fishing Rod Reviews

  1. Best Premium Option: St. Croix Avid Inshore Spinning Rod
  2. Best Budget Option: Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2
  3. Best Distance-Casting Rod: Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite Rods
  4. Best For Most Anglers: Daiwa Coastal Salt Pro
  5. Best Heavy Boat Rod: Penn Carnage II
  6. Best SpinCasting Rod: Shimano Trevala
  7. Honorable Mention Budget Buy: Berkley Big Game Spinning Rod

St. Croix Avid Inshore Spinning Rod

Best Premium Option: High-quality materials deliver high-quality performance

St. Croix Rod Avid Spinning Rod
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KEY FEATURES

  • Corkwood handles are incredibly comfortable
  • Titanium inserts and slow-cure finish give durability
  • The ergonomic design makes all actions with the rod feel smooth

Most of the time, with fishing gear, you get what you pay for. The Avid Inshore Rod delivers one of the smoothest and most comfortable experiences with rods money can buy. Backed by a 15-year warranty, this fishing rod is a great choice for catching anything short of sharks off the pier. 

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Rod Specifications

The fishing rod has an ergonomic design that transfers your action to the rod as smoothly as possible, making it feel like an extension of your arm on casts. In addition, the corkwood handles are much more comfortable than other foam handles, and the entire pier fishing rod is corrosion-resistant for better durability.

How it Performs

The fishing rod is much stronger than it looks and incredibly sensitive. You can cast huge distances and fight down big fish without worrying about it breaking. Its lightweight frame, comfortable grips, and smooth use let you fish with it all day.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

Best Budget Option: A sensitive and robust rod with a seven-year warranty

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
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KEY FEATURES

  • Fiberglass and graphite rod blank
  • The sensitive clear tip reacts to the slightest bite
  • One-piece guides make insert popouts a thing of the past

Ugly Stik Rods are known for their low prices and great warranties. They have a signature clear tip that is extra sensitive, so you always know when you’ve got a bite. This model makes the best pier fishing rod that can handle the strong fish you’ll end up encountering.

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Rod Specifications

The fishing rod blank is made from spun fiberglass and graphite, making it flexible and durable. One-piece stainless steel rod guides are attached to this blank, making it impossible for inserts to fall out and ruin the guide. The clear tip design lets you know when a fish is mouthing your bait and is extremely sensitive overall.

How it Performs

The GX2 is one of the most lightweight rods on the list and handles comfortably. The EVA grips are comfortable on your hands, even during long fights against big fish. Regardless of your preferred choice of line, this fishing rod will be able to use and cast the far distances you’ll need comfortably.

Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite Rods

Best Distance-Casting Rod: Surf Rod with the strength you need on a pier

Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite Rods (Large, Black/Blue/Silver)
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KEY FEATURES

  • 12-foot length increases casting distance by nearly double
  • Extra-long rod base lets you brace against your legs
  • Comfortable grips are EVA foam wrapped in cork

Sometimes a normal seven-foot fishing rod won’t cut it for the distance you’re trying to cast. If you need more distance, a strong surf rod makes the perfect pier fishing rod and the Okuma Longitude fits the role nicely. 

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Rod Specifications

Both fore and rear grips are wrapped in cork, making them more comfortable and increasing your grip. Be careful with these, though, as cork wraps will eventually wear out and have holes in them. Regardless of that, the Longitude is made from a high-density graphite blank that makes it incredibly strong and has a corrosive-resistant reel seat and guides that make it the best pier fishing rod for long-casting.

How it Performs

With the right weight balance, proper technique, and a little help from the wind, you could easily cast a bottom rig a hundred yards. This pier fishing rod excels at casting, letting you get your two and three-ounce lures out to passing fish. It feels comfortable in your hands and has all the power you need to pull a fish up to you.

Daiwa Coastal Salt Pro

Best For Most Anglers: Quality rod at a reasonable price

Daiwa Coastal Salt Pro CLSP701MFS 7' Spinning Rod
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KEY FEATURES

  • Stainless steel reel seat brushes off salt corrosion
  • Lightweight but stiff rod is excellent for casting
  • Guides are tight to the rod and reduce line twists and tangles

The best pier rods have great casting distance and a heavier action to help deal with the big fish you run into. Look no further than the Salt Pro, as it will cast 2 and 3 ounce lures for miles. The fishing rod stands up well to the sand and spray it’ll face and won’t rust or break off due to poor construction or accidentally sitting a cooler on it. 

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Rod Specifications

The reel seat stands out on this fishing rod for being purely stainless steel and corrosive resistant. In addition, the rod guides sit close to the blank, reducing the number of tangles you’ll run into even on long casts. While lightweight, the fishing rod has a rigid feel that lends to better load-ups during casts and a more sensitive feel.

How it Performs

You should expect absolutely no problems from this rod. The seven-foot fishing rod casts a mile with the right weight balance on it, and it can run either braid or monofilament without tearing up the guides. Set any saltwater reel in the stainless steel reel seat, and you’re ready to start fishing.

Penn Carnage II Boat Spinning Rod

Best Heavy Boat Rod: For the monsters lurking along the pier pilings

PENN Carnage II Boat Spinning
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KEY FEATURES

  • Lightweight but built for power
  • Shorter and stiffer rod for horsing up big fish
  • No-slip foregrip gives you the leverage you need

Big fish tend to hang around structures like the pilings piers are built on. Normally this boat rod is used for jigging up big fish from the bottom like grouper, but it serves equally at horsing big fish from underneath a pier. This rod is perfect for fishermen targeting big fish that want to be able to pull them away from pier pilings without worrying about the rod breaking.

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Rod Specifications

Extra-heavy action blanks make the fishing rod extra stiff and better suited to shorter cast distances. The no-slip force grip gives you plenty of leverage against big fish without needing to worry about your grip. Its aluminum gimbal, rod seat, and Alconite inserts are corrosive resistant, so don’t worry if you get it wet.

How it Performs

The fishing rod may not be excellent nat casting, but it trades that ability for pure power. The rod is made to stand up to huge reef fish that dive towards structures after being hooked. You’ll have no problem turning the fish around and keeping them away from pier pilings. And can quickly bring reasonably sized fish up to you on the pier.

Shimano Trevala

Best SpinCasting Rod: When you aren’t a fan of spinning reels

SHIMANO Trevala 6'6 MH Saltwater Jigging Spinning Rod
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KEY FEATURES

  • Conventional rod guides are excellent for baitcasters and conventionals
  • Trigger on grip helps with casting and holding rod steady
  • Comfortable rod butt doesn’t dig into you

Not everyone is a fan of spinning reels. Some fishermen are more comfortable using baitcasters and conventional reels. You need a fishing rod with the proper guides to avoid tangling during casts with these reels, and the Shimano Trevala is built for big game saltwater fish. 

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Rod Specifications

While normally a jigging rod, this six-foot rod is solid and made for big saltwater gamefish. The guides are made for baitcasters and conventional reels, making it an excellent option for fishers going for huge fish and sharks from the pier. In addition, it has a tapered rod butt that doesn’t dig into your gut, making it more comfortable to use than other rods.

How it Performs

This fishing rod delivers plenty of power for hauling up big game fish and pressuring them during their runs. It doesn’t work with spinning reels due to the guide, but if you’re a fisherman that prefers using a bait caster or conventional, you won’t have any problems casting with this rod.

Berkley Big Game Spinning Fishing Rod

Honorable Mention Budget Buy: two-piece rod for travel

Berkley Big Game Spinning Fishing Rod, 8' Medium Heavy -2Pcs
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KEY FEATURES

  • Titanium guides with zirconium inserts are corrosion resistant
  • Comfortable split-grip handle
  • Limited lifetime warranty and low price

Heavy spinning rods are usually fairly pricey, but this one from Berkley is a great option for fishermen on a budget. Protected by a limited lifetime warranty and quality materials, this rod will last much longer than you’ll need to get your money out of it. It’s strong enough to handle big fish and has comfortable enough grips to keep your hands from harm.

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Rod Specifications

The biggest standout on this rod is the ergonomic grips. Covered in a comfortable foam, the grip fits in your hand nicely. The rod also includes titanium guides that won’t rust from use in saltwater environments.

How it Performs

One of the few two-piece rods on the list, this fishing rod is more portable than others. It’s plenty strong for dealing with big pier fish, is comfortable to cast, and is excellent for beginners and budget buyers alike. You also get peace of mind with the lifetime warranty that comes with purchasing this rod.


Things to Consider When Buying Pier Fishing Rods

Casting Efficiency

It would be best if you had a fishing rod that can cast great distances to get away from the pier and reach passing schools of fish. You also want those casts to be as smooth as possible so you can cast as many times as necessary. Finally, look for rods that are comfortable for you to cast with the weight you’ll use for your lure or bait.

Material and Construction

Most rod blanks are made out of some blend of graphite or fiberglass. Look for higher density composites, as those will be more durable and more sensitive. 

Try to find rods that use stainless steel or anodized aluminum for reel seats and guides. These are corrosion resistant and won’t rust from the salt water they’ll be exposed to.

EVA is a common foam material used for grips on rods. Corkwood is more comfortable and has a better grip but is more expensive. When it comes to the grips, get a feel for the rods before buying and decide what is most comfortable for you.

Sensitivity

Rod sensitivity makes a big difference when you’re waiting on a bite. More sensitive rods twitch much more at much smaller bites and make it easy to feel hits on lures. Some fishing rods achieve this by having a more flexible tip or easier bending rod, while others still achieve sensitivity with a stiffer rod blank. 

You want to find a sensitive fishing rod that lets you feel bites, but whether you prefer stiff or flexible rods is a personal preference. Try out different kinds of rod blanks and choose based on which rod stiffness feels better to you.

Comfort

The more comfortable the rod, the longer you can fish. Comfortable grips help you avoid hurting your hands when fighting fish. They also make it much easier to handle the fishing rod throughout the day.

Lightweight and ergonomic rods also make for a more comfortable tool. The lighter and smoother the rod lets you use it, the less strain it puts on you and the longer you can use it.


Questions & Answers

What kinds of fish can you catch while pier fishing?

Your location primarily determines the species of fish you’ll catch. You can expect the typical kinds of fish you’d find in the surf, with a few more aquatic species being possible on longer piers.

On the Gulf of Mexico, the more sought-after pier fish species include Spanish Trout, King Mackerel, Cobia, and Pompano. You can also expect your fair share of Jack Crevalle, Redfish, Bluefish, and occasional Mahi Mahi, Tarpon, and Sailfish.

On the East Coast, you can expect more Bluefish and Striped Bass to be caught. The West Coast has some fantastic flounder and lingcod fishing.

What equipment do you need to go pier fishing?

Besides the apparent rod, reel, and bait, some other pieces of equipment are great to have. Since you’ll be on solid ground, try to bring a lawn chair or something to sit on. If you aren’t actively casting lures all day, you can sit down and rest your feet while you watch your fishing rod for a bite.

One of the more important things to bring is a drop net. This is essentially a net attached to a ring with a rope that lets you haul it back up. Pier fishing means you’ll typically be high above the water, and most lines and rods can’t handle the strain of pulling the full weight of a fish up to you. Even if they can, fish will actively flip when pulled out of the water, and the sharp jerks can easily snap lines or pull out the hook, all of which can be avoided by using a drop net.

Pier carts are easy ways to carry all your gear out. A glorified wagon with fishing rod holders, a pier cart save you from clumsily carrying everything you need from your car to your spot. The wheels make it much easier to move and let you take everything in one trip, plus it’s easier to pack into a car.

Coolers are lifesavers sometimes. You can keep both baits and caught fish on ice to keep them from spoiling in the sun, including all the cold drinks you’ll want during the day. If you don’t have a chair, you can also use coolers as a makeshift seat.

Lastly, a five-gallon bucket comes in handy, especially for anglers using live bait. Get some salt water in the bucket, catch your baitfish, and leave them in the bucket. They’ll keep most of the day, but if they get sluggish, refresh the water.

Do you need a license to go pier fishing?

The best answer to this question is to check your local regulations, both state and county. For example, some states allow shoreline fishing, including piers, without a license if you’re a resident. In other cases, you purchase a pass to go onto the dock to fish, and that serves as your fishing license for that time. 

When in doubt, it’s best to go ahead and purchase a fishing license and check the regulations of the area you plan on pier fishing. Fishing laws vary by state and sometimes by county, and there are too many exceptions to list here.