Offshore kayak fishing offers a level of thrill and excitement that’s hard to replicate with any other type of fishing.
The extended fights with large ocean fish sometimes remind us of Hemingway’s classic tale of The Old Man and the Sea.
Any seasoned angler will tell you that experience and expertise can only take you so far.
Eventually, whether or not you have the right equipment will dictate your level of offshore fishing success.
If you’ve already gotten your hands on one of the best ocean fishing kayaks, it’s time to expand your fishing gear collection so that you always have the right supplies for whatever Big Blue throws at you.
In this article, we’ll review the 10 best rods and reels for offshore kayak fishing.
We’ll also provide a detailed buying guide so that you can select the right rod and reel combination for your offshore fishing needs.
- Jargon Buster
- Buying Guide
- Best Rod And Reel For Offshore Kayak Fishing Reviews
- Our Pick – Penn Warfare Star Drag Combo
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Before we get into the most important factors to consider when selecting a rod and reel for offshore kayak fishing, let’s take a few moments to define some of the key kayak fishing terms you’ll see in the rest of this article.
This type of small multiplier reel is specifically designed for casting lures.
Blank is another word for the long and flexible “pole” component of a fishing rod.
It’s what you’d be looking at before the grips, handles, reel seats, and guides are attached to complete the rod setup.
Certain materials used in fishing rod construction have this term ‘anodized’ before the name of the material.
Anodizing is a process by which a material is treated to create a more durable finish.
To get just a little scientific, it’s an electrochemical process that converts a metal’s surface into a more decorative and durable anodic oxide finish.
In terms of practical application, this process is important to improve the corrosion-resistant properties of many rods and reels designed for saltwater fishing applications.
Guides are the small eyelets found along the length of the fishing rod. These eyelets “guide” the fishing line down the shaft to support it and more evenly distribute the stress when the line is under tension.
Many saltwater anglers are targeting much larger and stronger species than we’d typically see in a freshwater environment.
This means the design of their rod and reel must be much different, so let’s take a look at the most important elements of a rod and reel for offshore kayak fishing.
The main choice you’ll have to make on this front is between a spinning reel and a baitcasting reel.
Spinning reels are typically easier to use for kayak anglers that have a little less experience with offshore fishing.
Baitcasting reels, however, tend to offer more strength and better performance for certain types of fish.
Many baitcasting reels are designed with corrosion-resistant materials as well, which makes them better for saltwater applications.
The weight of the reel is also an important consideration for kayak fishing. Because you’ll mainly be fishing from a seated position, make sure to choose a lightweight reel that you won’t have trouble operating using only your upper body strength.
A lightweight reel also means that you’ll have to work less when fishing overall.
This can become really important for kayak anglers because you should remember to conserve enough strength to paddle home effectively at the end of the day.
Choosing the right rod length for your offshore kayak fishing setup first requires acknowledgment of the length of your kayak.
In an ideal setup, you should be able to extend the tip of your pole past the bow of your kayak.
Without this minimum length, there’s added risk of catching your line on the front of your kayak.
This can begin to cause even larger problems if your catch starts to swim underneath your kayak (like unexpectedly having to master the art of the wet exit!).
When compared to rod and reel combinations for other fishing applications, however, you’ll notice that offshore fishing setups are typically more compact.
This is because a shorter rod will be much easier to maneuver when you’re sitting in the relatively tight cockpit of a fishing kayak.
Much like the design principles of kayaks, the materials used in a rod and reel combination play a large role in performance and durability.
The number one “must-have” on any offshore fishing rod and reel is corrosion-resistant components.
There are many materials used in the design and construction of the rod and reel combinations we’ve highlighted below.
Graphite, carbon, and aluminum are just a few of the most common, but you’ll also find fiberglass and other more expensive materials used in fishing rod construction.
The materials used in rod construction will impact weight, durability, and performance.
These days, most of the lightest options on the market feature mostly graphite or carbon construction, which is also an adequately durable material.
Aluminum and fiberglass rods tend to weigh a little more, but these materials still offer great strength and durability.
The main advantage of choosing a fishing rod made from these materials is that it will most likely cost less than a graphite or carbon setup.
Action and Power
For offshore kayak fishing applications, look for a rod and reel combination that offers at least medium power and always fast action.
These are preferred because they offer the most versatility and there are many species in that big ocean you could be fishing for.
Fishing rods with fast action are also more sensitive, which will help you notice bites more quickly.
When you’re fishing from a kayak, not noticing a bite until it’s too late can have more immediate consequences than when you’re fishing from shore.
Most offshore kayak anglers don’t target the largest species of fish out there in that vast blue ocean.
There are obvious reasons for this, but the most important one is for the kayaker to maintain safety and make it home at the end of the day.
Beyond that, there are many (smaller) fish in the sea.
The specific species that you’re targeting can adapt the type of rod and reel combination that’s best for your intended application.
Take the time to research the species you might like to target depending on where you plan on spending most of your time on the water.
What you find will most definitely influence the final rod and reel combination that you decide on.
The species that you’re targeting can also be a factor in how much line capacity you need in a fishing rod.
Many combinations designed for marlin fishing, for example, feature a line capacity of nearly 1,000 yards to reduce the likelihood of a line snapping or a pole breaking during an extended fight.
But if you’re not marlin fishing, you probably won’t need a line capacity of quite that length.
The exact number that you’ll need will depend on your target species, but we recommend looking for a minimum line capacity somewhere between 250 and 400 yards.
There are two main materials used in fishing rod grips: EVA foam and cork. Rods with EVA foam tend to be more durable and budget-friendly while rods with cork grips tend to be lighter and more sensitive to bites.
Fishing rods with cork grips also maintain more residual heat during the summer months, are more difficult to keep clean, and tend to be more expensive.
The only real downsides to EVA foam are reduced sensitivity and less overall grip when wet.
Best Rod And Reel For Offshore Kayak Fishing Reviews
The Penn Warfare Star Drag Combo features medium-heavy power with a rod length of six feet, six inches. The entire setup weighs less than two pounds, which makes it super easy to handle.
This is a single-piece design that provides added strength and sensitivity. The line rating of this combination is 30 to 80 pounds and the maximum drag is 15 pounds.
With moderate fast action, this setup is super versatile. The blank construction features tubular glass with a solid glass tip and a total of nine guides along the rod are made of stainless steel with aluminum oxide inserts.
The reel on the Star Drag Combo is made with a lightweight graphite frame, side plates, and a forged and machined aluminum spool.
The unique triangle EVA foregrip helps to give you extra control while making this setup super comfortable to use.
The EatMyTackle 30 wide setup is five feet, five inches long and it weighs a total of five pounds.
The blank construction uses carbon composite with span wrap to provide the extra strength you need to fight a large marlin.
The wide mouth wind mounted on leader roller guides offers two-speed gear ratios and a maximum drag of 85 pounds.
The handle is finished with EVA foam for an excellent no-slip grip, even when wet.
Made for the long fight, this rod and reel combination offers a line capacity of 950 yards.
The reel boasts a total of nine shielded ball bearings and the exterior is anodized for a durable, saltwater-resistant finish.
It has comfortable fore and rear grips made with EVA foam for solid handling when you hook into a large fish.
The blank construction of this rod uses durable glass fiber and the guide inserts are made of ceramic material. The guides on this rod are also reinforced with double footers.
The size 80 spinning reel on this combo features a corrosion-resistant graphite spool that contains a multi-disc, oil-felt drag system that works to provide ample resistance and smooth casting.
The Okuma Tundra Surf is great for offshore kayak anglers that want a lightweight rod and reel combo.
It weighs less than 16 ounces and features a two-piece design for easy breakdown and compact storage.
4. Daiwa BG4000
The Daiwa BG4000 is a single-piece saltwater rod and reel combination with a seven-foot length.
It boasts medium-heavy power and a line rating of 12 to 20 pounds, so it’s made for fishing smaller ocean species.
The spool is made from ABS aluminum with a fully aluminum body.
The blank construction features 100-percent graphite material and cut-proof aluminum oxide guides.
The traditional cork grips on the handle provide anti-slip functionality.
With a total of six stainless steel ball bearings in the reel design, this combination provides optimized speed while retaining exceptional power.
The reel on the Daiwa BG4000 also contains an instant anti-reverse bearing to guarantee smooth, reliable operation.
The surface-treated allow drive gear and marine bronze pinion gear also combine to make this reel incredibly durable.
The Penn Ware Level Wind Fishing Rod and Reel Combo comes in both a 20 wide and 30 wide reel size.
The rod itself is six feet, six inches long, and the setup offers medium-heavy power and fast action.
This combination is made for a line rating of 20 to 50 pounds and features a one-piece design for added strength and sensitivity.
It boasts an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system that delivers exceptional power without sacrificing smooth casting and reeling.
Within the reel construction, there are five stainless steel bearings that deliver fluid cranking and it also boasts an instant anti-reverse bearing.
The reel has a lightweight graphite frame with side plates and a brass main with pinion gears.
The rod features tubular blank construction with a solid glass tip for extra responsiveness.
The seven guides on the Level Wind combo are made from stainless steel with aluminum oxide inserts.
The Hurricane Bluefin Spinning Surf Combo is a super lightweight option for offshore kayak fishing.
The entire setup weighs less than two pounds and the two-piece design makes this rod and reel combination easy to break down and store when you’re not using it.
The blank construction of this rod is double-dipped E-glass and it features a solid power wrap tip and aluminum oxide guides.
The handle is finished with a cork wrap that eliminates slippage, even when wet.
With medium-heavy action, this rod and reel combination is rated for a line weight between 12 and 25 pounds.
The graphite reel seat comes with stainless steel cushioned hoods for saltwater corrosion resistance.
As its name suggests, this combo is made for fishing through the toughest surf.
The reel’s instant anti-reverse feature makes it easier to fight some of the toughest ocean species and return home victorious at the end of the day.
The Penn Fierce II Live Liner offers a 10-foot length with heavy action and 50-pound test capacity.
It’s both a dependable and powerful rod and reel combination that’s also priced very affordably.
The oiled-felt drag system in the reel has undergone extensive field-testing.
Throughout that testing process, it has repeatedly proven to be incredibly reliable and has enough muscle to tame larger saltwater species.
The Live Liner reel features a metal body construction with side plates that will keep the gears properly aligned under heavy loads.
The reel is also designed with a techno-balanced rotor for smooth retrieves and 4+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings.
The blank material on the rod itself is graphite composite and the guides are made of aluminum oxide.
Both of these materials are specially designed to reduce corrosion resistance resulting from exposure to saltwater.
8. Daiwa D-Wave
No matter the length you choose, you’ll find aluminum oxide guides along the length of the rod.
The reel on this combo features a gyro spin balanced rotor and a smooth ball bearing drive.
It’s designed to provide the right amount of drag under load while allowing for smooth distance casting.
All of these lengths come as a two-piece design and they easily collapse for compact storage on your kayak or in transit.
This is a great rod for fishing stripers, Redfish, Snook, and baby Tarpon.
The D-Wave works well in heavy applications and offers full graphite blank construction for a great balance of strength and sensitivity.
This rod and reel combo is also built with stainless steel hooded reel seats for saltwater corrosion resistance.
It’s designed to catch many types of baitfish, including Ballyhoo, Cigar Minnows, and Blue Runners.
The design of the Sabiki rod eliminates the chance of getting a hook in you, rather than in the baitfish you’re hunting.
It’s a two-piece rod that breaks down for easy storage and this particular model actually comes as a two-pack so you can have two different setups at the ready.
The opening in the rod measures 7/16ths of an inch so that it can accommodate the hooks found on most rigs.
When you’re done fishing, the entire rig, including hooks, winds up and stores inside the rod.
The conventional saltwater reel on this setup is lightweight and provides for smooth casting and reeling.
It’s an extremely easy setup for offshore fishing because it won’t get in the way when you’re paddling.
It uses a precision-machined, stainless steel pinion gear for smooth casting and reeling.
The rod is six feet, six inches long and weighs four pounds. One excited Penn user reported catching an Alaskan Halibut weighing close to 200 pounds with this rod and reel combination.
The HT-100 drag washers in the reel design give you smooth drag even when under heavy loads.
The main gear on the reel is manufactured with high-strength, marine-grade bronze alloy.
The rod features a one-piece design that’s constructed with tubular graphite composite.
The EVA grip on the handle provides comfort and security and the shielded stainless steel ball bearings make this combo an offshore workhorse.
Our Pick – Penn Warfare Star Drag Combo
We picked the Penn Warfare Star Drag Combo as our top pick for the best rod and reel for offshore kayak fishing because it provides an excellent balance of performance and affordability.
Some high-end offshore fishing rigs can get more expensive than your fishing kayak.
So we wanted to choose a setup that wouldn’t make you feel like you should’ve spent less on the watercraft that will keep you afloat.
One thing we really like about this combo is the low weight. When kayak fishing, it’s great to have a light set up so that you won’t struggle to use it effectively from a seated position.
The foregrip design also contributes to the comfort and ease of using this setup.
Industry-wide, star drag reels are known to be extremely user-friendly and great for casting due to their ability to retain high drag pressures.
The final reason why we choose this as our top pick is the design of the reel itself.
The main and pinion gears are made of machined brass and the design incorporates HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers.
This combination of materials makes it an extremely lightweight reel that’s still capable of delivering heavy-duty fish fighting power, a high line capacity, and the reliable fish-stopping ability.