Top 8 Casting Rods of 2018 – Buyer’s Guide

This Buyer’s Guide looks at the best rod and reel combos in the “mid-range” category. We’ve already covered combos under $200 and High-End combos. This breaks down the best “bang for the buck” rods on the market. The market is saturated with rods, let us do the hard work and find the best deals for you.

If you’re looking for a last minute holiday purchase, today is the last day that ground shipping will arrive before Christmas. Whether your rod budget is $200 or $500 there is an option here to give you the best quality, sensitivity, and responsiveness for the price point.

Below is a break down of the rods and reels discussed in this video. They are sorted by price from highest to lowest to make it easy for you to see the the best values based on our review.

Casting Combos…

Rod- G Loomis GLX:
Reel- Shimano Chronarch MGL 150:
Favorite Models… 853C JWR, 854C JWR, 893C JWR

Rod- Dobyns Champion Extreme:
Reel- Shimano Chronarch MGL 150:
Favorite Models… 745, 746, 7’8” Heavy

Rod- G Loomis IMX Pro:
Reel- Shimano Curado K:
Favorite Models… 845 CBR , 966 , 854C JWR, 874C CRR

Rod- St. Croix Legend Tournament:
Reel- Shimano Bantam:
Favorite Models… 6’10” Medium, 7’4” Medium Heavy, 7’5” Heavy Moderate Fast, 7’8” Medium Heavy Moderate (big cranker)

Rod- Dobyns Champion XP:
Reel- Shimano Tranx 200:
Favorite Models… 805 CB, 765 Flip, 764, 734

Rod- Shimano Expride:
Reel- Shimano Curado DC:
Favorite Models… 6’10 Medium, 7’2” Medium, 7’2” Heavy, 7’6” Medium Heavy, 7’11” Extra Heavy

Rod- Shimano Zodias:
Reel- Shimano Curado K:
Favorite Models… 6’10” Medium. 7’2” Medium, 7’2” Medium Heavy, 7’5” Extra Heavy

Rod- Daiwa Tatula Elite:
Reel- Daiwa Tatula SV TW:
Favorite Models… 7’1” Heavy, 7’3” Med Heavy, 7’6” Medium Heavy

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Sun Mask:
Sun Shirt w/ Hood:
Light Fishing Pants:
Reaper Hoodie (Hoodie with Warm Face Cover built in):
Horizon Sweater (Water resistant, great for layering):

Equipment We Recommend…

Minn Kota Ultrex Trolling Motor:
Minn Kota Battery Charger:
Humminbird Solix 15 Electronics:
Minn Kota Talons:
Wireless Talon Foot Switch:

Favorite Pliers:
Favorite Split Ring Pliers:
Favorite Wire Cutters:
Favorite life jacket:
Favorite sunglasses:
Hero6 Camera:
ElectroSamson Scale:
Promar Net:

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Josh Bailey says:

Does anybody know how the expride mo fast handle t rigs under 3/8 oz?

Tim Rodgers says:

Did you test the new 100 or 200 Daiwa bait casters? Would the 200 be good for deep cranking? Also would you say the SLX is as good? Thanks for the videos.

smoovefishing says:

Wow i am in hog heaven getting to 2 videos in one day

slonefactor says:

I have went solely to St. Croix rods my fav is the tournament Big cranker, mojos are sensitive too.

chuck howell says:

Do you guy’s ever do any testing or reviews on the IKE series rods?

Ryan Michael says:

Matt and Tim, what techniques do you recommend for the 7’6MH expride?

Praise The Nova says:

I’m not used to asking questions on YouTube but this fan base is the best so here goes. I recently purchased a dobyns colt heavy baitcasting rod and was wondering if I could cast lures over the 1oz max listed on the rod. Nothing crazy just want to know if my rod can handle using a 168 s-waver. Any help would be appreciated.

JoJo Mahler says:

Can we expect a review of the Dobyns Xtasy anytime soon?

Aaron Banquer-Glenn says:

Have you guys tried Denali rods? I love their baitcasters and have used them for a few years. Has been the best rods for the $ I have found and that is compared to abu, loomis, and st croix along with a few other individual mid price rods. Curious if you guys have an opinion on the brand and the rod sensitivity compared to other rods at that price-point. thanks

Jack Huminski says:

Simple solution for all the braid to fluoro guys like myself is to just have the fluoro start outside of the reel so it doesn’t get caught up coming off the spool.

Gary Perrine says:

do you ever sell your used fishing gear How about winter clothing buying guide Your both great Happy Holidays Thx

Richard Davis says:

Quick question Matt/Tim…you mentioned using the Dobyns Champ 805 CB for 10XDs and DD22s. I have a bunch of the old Lucky Craft DR120 mags. Would you use this same rod for those monster crankbaits or would you use the Dobyns 806 CB? Or is there another Dobyns that’s better suited for the Mag 120s? Thanks for all you do, guys and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

BassGeek says:

As always some great gear.

Josh Beasley says:

Dude y’all need to try out the lews reels there awesome

the Smith says:

You guys definitely put out some great content, I really like these buyers guids. You touched on something I would really like to hear more about. How about a buyers guide for kayak cross over? I’m sure I can’t be the only one interested in something like that.

Jeremy Davis says:

What is your opinion on Phenix rods?

The Mitten Outdoors says:

U GUYS NEED TO STOP SPENDING ALL OF OUR MONEY!!! LOL my tackle warehouse wishlist is a mile long right now. Love the videos as always!!! #zodias #shimano. I bought a zodias prior to my last trip out and love them. Tax return season cant come soon enough!

jimbo jones says:

I love the Kistler Rods, Helium 3 are super sensitive. Lightest rods too.

sam fletcher says:

Matt, question about the Daiwa t wing. I use the Tatula series and really like them. I use braid to leader usually around 8 to 10 feet just so I don’t have to retie leaders all the time. Once in a while it seems like the line gets caught a little bit while casting. Is that what you are experiencing with the Daiwa? If that is the t wing then bummer. I like everything else about the reel. I have 2 now and was going to add 2 more reels this spring but I fish braid to leader on almost everything. This makes me think I should look at Curados.

Mr Fisher Fishing says:

Hell yes!! Been waiting for these videos ever since you guys mentioned them!! Can’t buy till next year but now I at least know what I’m going to buy! Appreciate you guys taking the time to put this together and helping me spend all my money wise! 🙂 Love the channel keep it up!

bethlehemlacrosse24 says:

Try the St Croix Avid X. 7’4 MH or H. Seems like Matts type of rod.

Josh Rodriguez says:

Can y’all review Kistler Rods? I would love to hear yalls thought on them

Daniel Clark says:

I perfer the Scorpion DC over the Curado DC. It just feels better to me.

Frank Hulick says:

Just wondering….why don’t you guys fish any Phenix Rods ?

William Hakes says:

what legend tournament model would yall recommend for throwing megabass sonic sides and vibration x jr?

Owen870 says:

Y’all need to try duckett rods

Quentez Garnes says:

Have you guys ever checked out the 6 sense lux rods, if so are they any good??

James Corsiglia says:

I appreciate all the work you both do, love the content, been learning so much from each and every video put out! A rare example of being able to live out a passion and finding a medium that provides the opportunity. Anyways, keep it up and Merry Christmas.

william jackson says:

have you guys tried any falcon rods?

Bass Fishing In Florida says:

what’s a good rod for throwing lures up to 2oz and down to a texas rig worm or even 3/8 jig? i’m looking in the 100-120$ range

juan garcia says:

On that Dobyns 805 do you guys have the XP version or the non xp 805 ?

David Dawson says:

Check out the Abu Garcia premier rods along with some kistler stuff.

Brayden Miller says:

Y’all should do a review on the Shimano tranx 200

Michael Barnish says:

I ordered my expride in August. I got it in November.

OnTopFishing says:

What do you guys think about the Loomis E6X

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