We use a 10-point scale for scoring and ranking fishing rods. Here is how you should interpret the overall score we give each fishing rod:
- 10: This is an exceptional score. You won’t see this very often, if ever at all, but if you do, this rod is perfect in every aspect
- 9.5-9.9: This is an excellent score. Rods in this range are top-of-the-line rods that will deliver on all fronts and leave users in awe of their performance and quality
- 9.0-9.4: This is a great score. Rods in this range are still top-of-the-line but are slightly lacking in one or more areas
- 8.5-8.9: This is a good score. Rods in this range often fare well in most aspects but can do better in a couple of areas
- 8.0-8.4: This score is not bad. Rods in this range often fare well in most aspects but definitely have a couple or more areas they can improve on
- 7.5-7.9: This is a decent score. Rods in this range can satisfy your needs, but you will find yourself wishing you had a better rod
- 7.0-7.4: This is an average score. Rods in this range can also satisfy your needs, but tend to be severely lacking in one area or more
- 6.5-6.9: This is a bad score. Rods in this range will have plenty of flaws
- 6.0-6.4: This is a terrible score. Rods in this range will have plenty of flaws, possibly major ones
- <6.0: It’s unlikely that you’ll ever see a rod like this in our lists unless it excels in one particular area and is priced very affordably. Rods in this range have serious drawbacks
To calculate this score, we look at eight different metrics. Each is assigned a weighting out of 100% depending on how important it is for a good fishing rod:
- Effectiveness For Task (25%)
- Durability (20%)
- Weight (10%)
- Comfort (10%)
- Versatility (10%)
- Customer Service (5%)
- Aesthetics (10%)
- User reviews (10%)
Here is how the scores for each metric are determined.
Effectiveness For Task
To determine how effective a rod is for the task at hand, whether it’s bass fishing, surf fishing, or fly fishing, we need to look at three things – length, power, and action.
Each fish species or fishing style will call for different requirements. For instance, surf fishing calls for longer rods, while you’ll need stronger rods for musky fishing.
Based on the demands of the fish species or fishing style, we will score a particular fishing rod using this scale:
- 10 – Can handle the entire range of fish, eg if it’s for trout fishing, you will be able to catch all trout, from the tiniest brook trout to the largest lake trout. If it’s for surf fishing, you should be able to handle all the fish in the surf, though this is impossible
- 9.0 – Can handle almost the entire range of fish, except for the largest ones or smallest ones
- 8.0 – Can handle a good range of target fish
- 7.0 – Can handle a decent range of target fish
- 6.0 – Only able to handle a limited range of target fish
The durability of a rod constitutes both corrosion resistance and its ability to withstand abuse. To determine these, we look at the material and construction of the rod blank, handle, and guides.
This is the scale we use to determine the Durability Score:
- 10 – Pretty much indestructible and immune to corrosion
- 9.0 – Can take lots of abuse and very corrosion-resistant
- 8.0 – Can take lots of abuse but poor corrosion resistance or high corrosion resistance but not able to take abuse
- 7.0 – Decent corrosion resistance and able to take some abuse
- 6.0 – Can take some abuse but poor corrosion resistance or decent corrosion resistance but not able to take abuse
When assessing the weight of a rod, we consider it in relation to the average or standard weight for rods of similar size.
This is the scale we use to determine the Weight Score:
- 10 – As light as it gets. Few, if any, other rods of the same size have achieved this lightness
- 9.0 – Much lighter than average
- 8.0 – Lighter than average
- 7.0 – Average
- 6.0 – Heavier than average
- 5.0 – Much heavier than average
The comfort of a rod is decided by the length, material, and build of the handle. That said, this can be rather subjective, as some anglers prefer a cork handle while others prefer EVA foam, and some prefer a thicker grip while others prefer a thinner one.
As such, we will simply be assessing the comfort level of a rod based on user reviews. However, we decided to separate the Comfort Score from the user reviews score because we felt that readers would benefit from knowing the comfort level of a rod rather than just having the overall User Reviews Score, which is merely indicative of overall satisfaction.
This is the scale we use to determine the Comfort Score:
- 10 – Users gave good remarks on comfort level
- 9.0 – No positive or negative remarks on comfort level, so rod will be assumed to be relatively comfortable
- 8.0 – Majority of reviews did not remark on comfort level, no more than one negative remark on comfort level after five minutes of looking through reviews
- 7.0 – A number of negative remarks on comfort level
- 6.0 – Many negative remarks on comfort level
We assess the versatility of a rod based on the range of fishing applications it can be used for. Even if a rod is very effective for the task at hand, whether it’s trout fishing or musky fishing, it may not necessarily be versatile and useable for a wide range of fishing applications.
This score, like the Effectiveness For Task Score, will depend on the length, power, and action of the rod.
This is the scale we use to determine the Versatility Score:
- 10 – Incredibly versatile rod that can be used in both saltwater and freshwater and can catch both large and tiny fish
- 9.0 – Versatile rod that can be used in both saltwater and freshwater and can catch a good range of fish
- 8.0 – Relatively versatile rod that can only be used in freshwater and can catch both large and tiny fish
- 7.5 – Decently versatile rod that can only be used in freshwater and can catch a good range of fish
- 7.0 – Relatively versatile rod that can be used in both saltwater and freshwater but can only catch a limited range of fish
- 6.0 – Limited range rod that can only be used in freshwater and can only catch a limited range of fish
We assess the customer service of a brand based on three factors – delivery, support, and warranty.
A maximum of four points can be deducted, so the lowest any rod can score in this category is 6.0. Here is how points are deducted for each factor.
Starting with delivery, delivery time often depends on Amazon or other third-party couriers, so we will not be taking it into account as any fault is not with the fishing rod brand.
Instead, we will look at the packaging used which will affect the condition of the item on delivery.
As for whether all the items were delivered correctly, it is inevitable that items are wrongly delivered sometimes, and what matters is that the company promptly resolves it. As such, this will fall under the next factor – support.
All in all, we will deduct 0.5 points for Delivery only when the packaging used is poor and is likely to harm the rod’s condition during shipping or delivery.
Next, when it comes to support, what we’re looking for is how responsive and helpful the customer service team is, whatever the issue is. This includes returns, exchanges, part replacements, warranty claims, and so on.
This is the scale we use to determine how many points to deduct:
- 0.0 – No negative remarks whatsoever from user reviews
- 0.5 – Slow response, but still able to get issues resolved
- 1.0 – Most users issues are resolved, a couple complaints here and there
- 1.5 – Some users report issues with claiming warranty, exchanges, and so on
- 2.0 – Many reports of issues with claiming warranty, exchanges, and so on
- 2.5 – Unresponsive customer service team
For warranty, we opted not to factor in the coverage of the warranty, because most warranties nowadays only cover basic manufacturer defects, unless you’re paying a very premium price. Instead, we’ll be deducting points based on the length of the warranty.
Note that it’s not uncommon for the length of the warranty to increase with the price of the fishing rod, so the answer to “What’s a good warranty length?” is a little subjective. For example, if you bought a $25 rod, a 3-year warranty would be wonderful, but if you’re buying a $300 rod, you probably wouldn’t be too impressed by a 3-year warranty.
As such, we will be deducting points based on the price range of the rods. The price ranges we will be using are entry-level (<$50), mid-range ($50-$200), and high-end (>$200).
This is how points will be deducted according to warranty length:
- 0.0 – At least 3 years for entry-level, 5 years for mid-range, and 7 years for high-end rods
- 0.5 – 2 years for entry-level, 4 years for mid-range, and 6 years for high-end rods
- 1.0 – No more than 1 year for entry-level, 3 years for mid-range, and 5 years for high-end rods
Moving on to aesthetics, this is the hardest to measure for obvious reasons. As such, we will once again be depending on user reviews.
Also, note that the thing with aesthetics is that even plain rods don’t look that bad, so the lowest score for this will be only 8.0.
This is the scale we use to determine the Aesthetics Score:
- 10 – Users praised aesthetics of the rod
- 9.5 – Users had no positive or negative remarks about the rod’s aesthetics
- 8.0 – User reviews mentioned negative remarks about the rod, eg too bright, ugly design, and so on
Finally, no matter how impressive a rod’s specs or technology may be, what matters is its performance on the water. But with the amount of rods we need to test, we may not be able to extensively put the rod to the test in different situations.
As such, we rely on a wide pool of user reviews to gather information on not just how a rod will fare in different situations, but also how well it serves anglers from different experience levels.
This is a rather straightforward score to calculate because Amazon and the brand’s website will clearly display it.
This is the scale we use to determine the User Reviews Score:
- 10 – 4.6 stars and above. No rod is perfect, but if it can score more than 4.5 stars based on many users’ reviews, it’s a very strong sign of an excellent rod with few, if any, flaws
- 9.0 – 4.2 to 4.5 stars. This is still a great score for a rod to have and is a strong indicator of a top-notch rod with minimal flaws
- 8.0 – 4.0 to 4.1 stars. Rods in this range are generally of good quality with minor flaws
- 7.5 – 3.8 to 3.9 stars. Rods in this range are still of commendable quality, though perhaps with some catches
- 7.0 – 3.5 to 3.7 stars. Rods in this range tend to still deliver the performance needed but are often lacking in one or more areas
- 6.0 – 3.4 stars and below. Rods that cannot score higher than 3.5 stars often have major flaws, but may still be worth buying at very low prices
We usually stick to this scoring system, but we may adjust it on a case-by-case basis.
Here are the exceptions to this scoring system:
- Telescopic Fishing Rods: We included portability as one of the factors that make up the Effectiveness For Task Score.
- Backpacking Fishing Rods: Same as with telescopic fishing rods, we added portability as one of the factors of the Effectiveness For Task Score.
- Ultralight Fishing Rods: All ultralight fishing rods will score poorly for the Versatility Score because they can’t, and shouldn’t, be able to take on larger fish. As such, we will not consider the Versatility Score in the overall score. We will still be listing the Versatility Score (based on the most versatile option of the rod, eg a rod with an ultralight option may also have a heavy option, which we will use for the Versatility Score), it just won’t be taken into account for the overall score.
- Kids Fishing Rods: When it comes to fishing rods for kids, it’s much more important that the rod is lightweight and less important that it’s durable, so we’ll decrease the weighting of the Durability Score and increase the weighting of the Weight Score. Also, while we generally assess both the rod and reel for combos, we decided not to assess the reel for kids’ combos. The reason is that they’re all spincast reels, which are mostly similar across brands, so assessing them would turn up very similar scores. This would defeat the purpose of the scoring system, which is to help you differentiate between each option. Lastly, for the same reason as ultralight fishing rods, we will not be considering the Versatility score in the overall score.
Need clarification on any part of our scoring system? Contact us here.