I don’t know about you but I just love blending fishing and camping. It means I can get to bits of water that daytrippers tend to avoid. Chasing trout during an evening hatch on a summer’s evening with nobody else around...Bliss! But, and here’s the tricky bit, the best backpacking fishing pole for you is going to depend on a bunch of factors.
For me? I love love love fly fishing. And I love trout. And that’s why I have a St Croix Mojo (8’6”, 4 weight, 4 piece) fly rod with a Hardy Ultralight CADD reel. It’s a sick rig, but only one a real enthusiast would want!
For you, dear reader, you will need to ask yourself a few questions before making a decision. But hopefully this article will help you answer them!
- Are you a passionate angler? Or just like the idea of fishing while backpacking?
- What sort of fishing do you want to do? Fly-fishing? Spinning? Bait-casting? Ice-fishing?
- Do you want a telescopic rod or a multi-section rod?
- Will you be fishing in saltwater or freshwater?
- What’s your target species?
- And of course, that perennial question...what’s your budget!?
The Best Backpacking Fishing Pole (for serious anglers)
I’m going to kick off with the best of the best. These are high-end rigs for folk who love angling and are going backpacking. Below that you’ll find recommendations for people who love backpacking, who fancy doing a bit of fishing.
I may be a bit of a snob when it comes to fishing gear, but I do love a lot of the top brands. I don’t think you can go wrong with them. Yes, they may be pricey but they’re beautifully-designed, the engineering is excellent and, let’s be honest here, how many times in your life are you going to buy a fishing rod? (Clue: I’m a lifelong trout fisherman and I have owned just two trout fishing rods. I blew 200 bucks on my last rod and expect my cost-per-use to get well below a dollar before my next purchase).
St Croix Triumph are a beautiful family of rods designed especially for freshwater fishing. There are loads to choose from but there are two travel versions that are of particular interest to us. You’ve got a set of travel spinning rods and a set of travel baitcasting rods. For anyone leery of a 4-piece rod, I challenge you to find fault with these bad boys!
St Croix Triumph - Best Backpacking Spinning Rod
St Croix Triumph Travel Spinning Rods are terrific. Each variation comes in 4 pieces with a soft carry case. The lengths vary from 5’6” to 6’6” and you’ve got a range of actions and rod powers to choose from. Broken down, the case will be no longer than 24” whatever size rod you go for. It only weighs 1lb which makes it a very attractive backpacking option. But don’t be fooled by the weight because it’s tough as old boots (but without sacrificing sensitivity).
You can definitely take a 20lb fish on it. It’s perfect for mountain lakes, streams and rivers. You can feel really confident targeting bass, trout and pike. Some folk have even successfully gotten catfish with it.
The poles work brilliantly with the Shimano Stradic 2500 spinning reel (or a Size 20 Pflueger President XT for something a bit cheaper). The only downside is the soft carry case. So you’d be advised to try and pick up a hard shell if you want to carry it in a rucksack. And also throw a bit of bow wax into the mix to make sure the sections are as secure as possible.
St Croix Triumph Travel Casting Rod - Best Backpacking Baitcasting Rod
Meanwhile, over in bait casting world, the the casting version of the Triumph is another tremendous fishing pole. The one I just linked to is 6’6”, 4 piece, weighs just 1lb, takes a line weight of 10lb-20lb, and a max lure weight of 1oz. Pairs well with the Pflueger Supreme XT Low Profile Baitcast Reel. Much like it’s spinner sibling, the carry case is only 24” long but it’s soft-shell rather than hard shell.
St Croix Mojo - Best Backpacking Fly Rod
Finally for the fly-fishing enthusiast (and my personal favorite that I mentioned earlier) you’ve got the St Croix Mojo family. The 4-piece trout versions run from 7’ to 9’ with a range of power and actions. I accept that most folk are probably looking to spin fish, so I won’t wax lyrical about this particular model. Suffice it to say that I wouldn’t trade it for any other rod right now. Can I promise you’ll never have a blank day with it? Sure! Why not! This rod guarantees you will catch fish!
Best Backpacking Fishing Rod and Reel Combinations
To summarise my ramblings above, the best backpacking fishing rod and reel combos (IMHO) are as follows:
- For fly fishing go for the St Croix Mojo with a Hardy Ultralight CADD
- For spinning combine a St Croix Triumph with a Shimano Stradic 2500
- For bait casting pair the St Croix Triumph (Casting) with a Shimano CURADO DC
The Best Midrange Backpacking Fishing Rod [COMING SOON]
The Best Backpacking Fishing Pole (for fun) [COMING SOON]