Many anglers pick up bluegill fishing with whatever rod they have on hand. Bluegill are generally easy to catch and you certainly can catch them on any rod. But some rods will definitely work better than others.
Not only will these rods help you cast better, have a better fight, and help you land more fish but they also won’t break the bank either. You can get a really great bluegill fishing rod much cheaper than say a good saltwater or bass fishing rod.
So let’s get into my top 4 choices for a bluegill rod and then get into what specific things you want to look for in a good bluegill rod in case you want to go searching on your own. But I’ve always found that Bass Pro Shops has the best options at the lowest prices!
St. Croix rods end up on every list of rods you should buy, and for good reason. There is probably no other manufacturer that consistently makes great rods time after time. Read more about what makes them such a great rod company.
I specifically like the Premier PS60ULF because it is extremely lightweight and balances. This comes from their specialized graphite blanks that create advanced sensitivity but are so lightweight it’s like you have a feather for a rod. Despite being so light, they also are extremely durable due to the coating they receive. Plus, St. Croix offers warranty on their rods.
This rod will also come with every other upgrade you expect for a $150 rod including cork handles, smooth guides, and an upgraded reel seat. Overall, this rod just feels premium and is a joy to catch bluegill on.
The only real con for this rod is that it doesn’t have upgraded guides. They are instead made from aluminum which is a subpar material, particularly at this price. But all the other pros make up for it in my opinion if you’re willing to fork over the cash.
Maybe you don’t want to spend that much on a bluegill rod. No worries, Bass Pro Shops has you covered with the Micro Lite Graphite series that comes in just over $50 and offers performance well above its price range.
Made specifically for light line and lure applications, like bluegill fishing, the Micro Lite comes with a lot of great features. This includes a graphite blank, cork handles, and a variety of length options in ultralight and light models. The micro lite is not as comfortable in the hand as the St. Croix Premier, but for is relatively lightweight for the price.
Probably the biggest cons for this rod is you won’t get any of the upgrades that a higher budget model would offer you. Guides are stainless steel, leading to overall lower sensitivity. The reel seat is good but not great. And there is no special design or technology in the blank that enhances durability or sensitivity either.
What you get here is just a really solid rod that is worth every penny and then some. It won’t blow you away, but you’ll be happy with the performance you get for the price
If you go to Bass Pro or Walmart, you’re likely to be able to find an Ugly Stik GX2. No other brand has as wide of a reach as Ugly Stik, known for making unbreakable rods that are great for any entry-level fisherman.
Their durability is their strongest point, but Ugly Stik makes a quality rod given their low price of just under $50. Sensitivity is improved from the majority of base model rods you could find and they also have clear tips that helps in detecting bites. Though a bit gimmicky, it does work to some success.
Unfortunately, they are not going to be the best rod you could get around the price though. I prefer the Micro Lite Bass Pro mentioned above which comes with a much more sensitive blank and cork grips for just $10 more. However, you are not going to find Bass Pro rods anywhere but Bass Pro. So an Ugly Stik might be worth it as the most available option at your local big box store.
If you can wait a few business days for shipping, I definitely would go with the Micro Lite instead. Remember they almost always have free shipping on items over $50!
As I have written in many articles before, like the best trout rods you can buy, Fenwick delivers on price to performance in every category with the Fenwick HMG series. This rod is $20 to $40 cheaper than the best rod on this list, the St. Croix Premier, but some would argue that it goes toe-to-toe with the Premier. .
Like St. Croix, Fenwick used updated technologies to create graphite rods that are extremely lightweight and comfortable. They also are extremely durable and have upgraded, custom reel seats. The same stainless steel eyelets are on the Fenwick, but it does contain zirconium inserts that enhance sensitivity. Plus, the Fenwick has a lifetime warranty.
So as you can see, the Fenwick HMG is basically the same as the St. Croix, just with a lesser known name brand and maybe just a slightly worse blank. But honestly, a lot of the St. Croix vs. Fenwick comparisons come to personal preference. They are highly comparable, and just a bit cheaper.
That’s why the Fenwick HMG gets my Author’s Choice. If I could buy one rod on this list, I would buy the Fenwick HMG.
What to look for in a bluegill rod
Now that you have your top 4 choices, lets get into what makes these rods great for bluegill fishing and why I picked them. We’ll break it down into the type of rod you want for bluegill, the best rod length, power, and some other features you should be looking for in a great bluegill rod.
Spinning v. Spincast v. Casting Rods
So the first thing to separate is the type of rod that you want to use for bluegill fishing. There are many different kinds of rods, but the most common are spincast, spinning, and casting.
Spincast rods are the most simple to use and the type you see with children’s rods. These can cast with the push of a button and the reel is enclosed in plastic which helps nothing bad happen to it. But you won’t want to use it for serious bluegill fishing. When the line does knot it is very difficult to untangle. And most importantly – it’s hard to cast any distance and fight a fish with.
Casting rods are the most difficult of the rods to use, but allows for pinpoint accuracy and a lot of control over fishing. I wrote an article about using them and why they are great for bass fishing, but for bluegill you don’t want them at all. Casting rods have reels with an open face that you manage with your thumb. It requires heavy lures, not ideal for bluegill, and is frankly overkill for what you need.
Spinning rods on the other hand are absolutely perfect for bluegill. They have an open reel with a bailiff that you click over to cast. Because you cast by holding your finger on the line and flinging the bait – you can cast it farther than any other type of rod. And you can use extremely light lures without messing up your reel. Fighting a fish is also much better on these reels and you have supreme control.
So you want a spinning rod for bluegill fishing – plain and simple. It’s the best option and every professional or serious angler will agree.
Rod Length for Bluegill
Fishing rod length is a much more personal preference. I generally recommend a 6’ rod as a great beginner option and you can experiment from there later in your fishing journey on if you want to go longer or shorter.
The benefit that comes from length is primarily that you can cast much further. The longer the rod you have, the more momentum you can build up to really fling a lure way out into the water. For bluegill fishing you don’t normally need to be too far off the shore though. So the only time you would want a very long rod is if you’re using extremely light lures (the lighter the lure, the less distance you can cast).
Shorter rods get the benefit of being able to have more controlled casts. Accuracy is usually more important than distance, particularly when fishing for bluegill. You want to be able to get right in the hole a school is sitting, not necessarily out to the deepest point in the water. But with a shorter rod you also do have less bend and flexibility when fighting a fish – so that’s something to consider.
Rods usually come in lengths from 5 and half feet to 7 feet or longer. For me, 6 feet is long enough I can cast wherever i need to but still have a ton of accuracy. Plus, it fits in my vehicle a lot easier!
Rod Power for Bluegill
Fishing rod power is often called the “backbone” of a fishing pole. Essentially this is how much pressure needs to be put on a rod before it starts to bend. A “heavy” rod has to have a lot of pressure before it starts to bend. A “light” rod requires little pressure. And “medium” falls right in the middle.
A lot of people use “medium” power fishing rods because they are the most universal. It’s light enough it can handle a bluegill but also heavy enough to handle a catfish. So if you are fishing for bluegill but know you might catch a ton of different species, then medium power rods aren’t a bad choice.
But if you are specifically targeting bluegill, a light or even ultra-light rod is going to make a world of difference. Having a rod that bends a lot more easily for the smaller size fish is really important to keeping tension when fighting a fish. The number one reason you lose fish after they bite is because you don’t keep enough tension on the line – so a light rod is important.
Fishing with an ultralight rod versus a medium rod is also just so much more fun. Because the pole bends easily it makes the fight and reeling in of even a tiny fish enjoyable. It really feels like you’re fighting back and forth and you can feel the fish run more easily. So if you’re fishing for enjoyment – which I hope you are – try an ultralight rod and you’ll be surprised how big a healthy bluegill will feel on the end of your line.
Other Features you need
Getting the right length, power, and type of fishing rod is easy enough, but what are those extra features that you should be looking for that really put one rod above the rest?
Cork handles are widely considered the best grip that you can find on fishing poles. They are comfortable on the hand, easy to keep clean, and provide for good sensitivity when feeling fish bites. Stay away from felt handles if you can, as they are much less sensitive and if you get sweaty hands they can get gross quite quickly.
Also look for the way that the reel sits on the rod. You want something that screws on and is not completely plastic as it is more prone to wear out. Nothing is worse than having a reel that slips off the rod easily while you’re trying to fight a fish. If possible, one that locks in on top and bottom is preferred.
The material that a blank is made from is also important. Graphite is the preferred material so make sure that whatever you purchase has a graphite blank. Aluminum is often in cheaply made rods and not nearly as sensitive. Fiberglass is another option, but not great for bluegill and less durable as well.
Hopefully you see now that buying a good bluegill fishing rod is a little more complicated than a lot of people think. Sure, you could catch them on any old rod, but if you want to have the best experience possible and make sure you don’t lose any fish, buying a rod specifically for bluegill fishing is definitely a great thing to do!
If you’re looking at a new fishing rod and want some opinions, leave the make and model number below! I try to read comments within a few days at least and other members of the Go Fishing Outdoors community may also have some first-hand experience to give you a recommendation.