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Top 5 Best Salmon Steelhead Rods in 2022

Catching salmon and steelhead is fun, but you’ll need a special rod for both of these species. It takes the right method, action, weight, and sensitivity to catch this fish.

The Okuma Celilo spinning rod is probably the best choice if you’re looking for a high-quality one. However, the X-11 Cork and Tica HLHB are great choices as well, if you’re after the best value for money.

Continue reading to discover some of the best salmon and steelhead rods and how to pick one.

Best Overall


Okuma Celilo Graphite Spinning Rods

Best For Beginners


X-11 Cork – Salmon & Steelhead Fishing Rod

Best by Budget


Tica HLHB Alaska Salmon Fishing Rod Series

1. Okuma Celilo Graphite Spinning Rods

Best Overall

Standout Features:

These Okuma spinning rods are ideal for steelhead and salmon fishing techniques. The sensitive banks are made from graphite composite, featuring 100% stainless steel hooded reel seats.

The guide inserts are made from aluminum oxide, while the hook keepers are also from stainless steel. The hook keepers are a handy addition, keeping the hook away and safe when it’s not in use.

Although this salmon steelhead rod are sensitive, they’re highly durable and easy to use. As a result, they’re suitable for both beginners and advanced anglers with more skills.

On top of that, the flexibility allows the salmon steelhead spinning rod to fight the big catch without breaking. And, the excellent cast and retrieve these provide make them a good choice for surf fishing.

They’re medium action, working best with 8 to 17 pounds lines. Plus, the company offers a year-long warranty deal that covers all defects in materials and manufacturing.

2. X-11 Cork - Salmon & Steelhead Fishing Rod

Best for Beginners

Standout Features:

The X-11 salmon steelhead rod is available at different lengths ranging from 7.9 feet to 9.6 feet. It’s suitable for beginners and experienced anglers using all kinds of fishing techniques.

It’s made with graphite and fiberglass, so it’s pretty lightweight and flexible. But, on the other hand, it’s highly sensitive, which allows it to transfer even the slightest bite.

Nonetheless, this one has enough sturdiness to handle heavy catches. It features stainless steel guides and a convenient reel space for added comfort.

The rear and fore cork grips stay comfortable even when wet, so don’t worry about it becoming slippery. It handles frequent use well thanks to the high-quality materials used.

Plus, it’s a two-piece steelhead, which allows easy storage and portability since it doesn’t take up much space. However, some people find it tricky to set up, especially if it’s your first rod.

It comes with a one-year warranty from the manufacturer, covering damage caused by faulty materials and manufacturing.

3. Tica HLHB Alaska Salmon Fishing Rod Series

Best by Budget

Standout Features:

The Tica HLHB Alaska Salmon Rod is a lightweight and flexible piece. It casts and retrieves easily and is comfortable to use for hours.

The action is fast at the tip, but it’s designed to flex down the blank. As a result, it can handle heavy lures and large fish.

It comes with a graphite reel seat and a cork handle that doesn’t slip. Plus, its graphite construction works excellent with Fuji line guides, making it easy to handle heavy-duty salmon.

It’s a two-piece salmon steelhead rod featuring long handles for maximum comfort even during prolonged fishing trips. And, as we said, it has just enough sensitivity to feel the bite without breaking.

It’s important to note that there’s a casting version available. It’s more suitable if you prefer using a baitcasting reel.

Overall, its moderate-fast action and excellent flex make it a perfect choice for catching salmon in different conditions.

4. BERRYPRO Spinning Rod

Standout Features:

Berrypro spinning rod is strong but slim, so it’s comfortable to use in all kinds of conditions. It’s built using the IM8 X-Carbon technology for the blank, which gives the rod excellent power.

This salmon steelhead spinning rod is excellent for catching salmon, but it’s also great for walleye, and other inshore fish. It’s lightweight and easy to use for both beginners and advanced anglers.

Berrypro spinning rod has stainless steel guides with ceramic rings. They’re precisely aligned to allow smooth performance, but some people reported the rings to tend to shave off monofilament lines.

Other than that, its ergonomically shaped reel seat allows for an easy grasp. And, it has a unique cork handle that remains non-slippery even when wet.

Overall, its design combines excellent levels of power and flexibility. However, it might not handle heavy fish so well due to high tension. 

5. 13 FISHING - Fate Steel - Rods

Standout Features:

The Fate Steel rod is meant for heavy-duty fish that throws serious fights. It features the Japanese 30-ton HTC 3 blank construction built to handle all kinds of conditions.

This one stands out with its casting accuracy, power, but also forgiveness. All of this is meant to keep the fish on the hook as you retrieve it at different speeds.

It’s important to note that you can choose between a one-piece and two-piece version. The two-piece salmon steelhead rod is easier to travel with because it packs neatly.

Either way, the 13 Fishing Fate Steel rod comes with a 2A cork handle and a 3K carbon rear grip. In addition, it has an Evolve soft-touch reel seat for comfortable use, even if it’s for hours at a time.

And, it has ALPS stainless steel guides combined with zirconia inserts. These allow smooth performance, making it easy to cast and retrieve without ever damaging the line.

Buying Guide: Salmon Steelhead Rods

Buying a fishing rod for salmon and steelhead doesn’t have to be as challenging as many people think. All you need is the right information to make the best decision.

Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s much easier to pick what suits your needs and preferences. Plus, not every rod is suitable for this type of fish, so it always helps to double-check a few factors.

Salmon Steelhead Rod Action

The first thing to think about before settling for rod action is the type of fish you’re looking to catch. As you probably know, you can choose between fast, moderate, and slow action models.

The slower the steelhead rod, the more sensitivity it has for catching small to medium fish. However, even moderate and fast can do well for salmon, especially when fighting the fish.

Although fast and moderate rods are stiffer at the tip, they’re generally easy to use after getting used to them.

Beginners usually benefit the most from slow and sensitive rods before they switch to faster ones.

Power and Capacity

This is another quite critical factor to think about before picking any particular steelhead rod. Its power indicates the maximum weight it can handle when fighting your catch.

The power is indicated as medium-heavy, heavy, and medium. Choosing one is up to you, but keep in mind that more power usually means better efficiency.

It shows how much the rod can handle before finally breaking. So, the most affordable ones can typically handle between 50 and 80 pounds. More high-end rods can handle up to 100 pounds.

Salmon Steelhead Rod Size

Steelheads require longer and heavier rods, so try not to overlook this factor. Luckily, most of these rods come at different length variations, making it easy to find what fits you the best.

In most cases, they range between 8 to 10 feet. The longer the rod is, the more distance you can reach. On the other hand, shorter ones are somewhat more accurate and easier to stabilize.

Many things depend on your experience as well, but generally speaking, longer models are better for salmon fishing. If you’re a beginner, you’re better off starting with a longer one before you build some skills.

Weight Capacity on a Salmon Steelhead Rod

Weight is something most beginners usually struggle with when first trying steelhead fishing. A heavy rod weight means the blank is stiffer. Although this allows you to catch bigger fish, it’s also often trickier to work with.

This doesn’t always have to do with strength and durability. For this reason, even the strongest ones aren’t always so heavy.

Its weight capacity depends on the materials used. This is why many brands use graphite as the material is strong but light.

Another thing that will affect its overall weight is the reel you choose.

Rod Sensitivity

Rod sensitivity is a complex topic important for your performance and rod’s ease of use. It refers to its overall ability to store the energy before releasing it while casting.

This is actually the rod’s responsiveness. The most sensitive rods will show you even the slightest nibble, enabling you to catch a wide variety of fish.

While this is usually a good thing, a highly sensitive rod doesn’t work so well with heavy lures. It’s usually best to go for a less responsive one in this case.

Graphite Reinforcement

Graphite is a common material used on steelhead rods. It’s strong but still lightweight, making it a good choice for catching salmon.

It’s usually used to make a rod stronger while reducing its flex. It’s a stiff material most brands use as a reinforcement to their blanks.

However, not every rod has graphite, so this is something you should check beforehand. Also, think about if you’d like the extra reinforcement, especially because these poles often cost more. Nonetheless, it’s a worthy investment if you’re serious about salmon fishing. 


Fiberglass is by far the most popular when it comes to steelhead rods. This is because it’s flexible, lightweight, and can last a long time, even with frequent use.

These rods give just the right ratio of strength to flexibility. In addition, they’re stiffer near the handle and weigh enough to avoid sore hands by the end of your trip.

As you may have noticed, many companies use fiberglass. Some might combine it with graphite to reinforce the blank for added strength.

Line Guides

Line guides are always important to look at when buying any rod. As you know, different rods have different guides that may or may not work with your preferred line.

There’s a difference in size and location with most rods. The more guides you have, the less likely you’ll end up with a tangled line regardless of the fish you’re catching.

So, think about how many guides the rod has and how they’re placed. Also, make sure they’re made from stainless steel or another material that doesn’t corrode.


Steelhead fishing rods usually have cork handles, but this isn’t really a rule. Other options are made from EVA foam.

Which one you’ll choose depends on your needs and preferences. A good handle is crucial for your comfort, especially if you’re going on longer fishing trips.

In many cases, you’ll have to hold the rod for a long time. And, imagine retrieving the fish with an uncomfortable handle?

It doesn’t matter so much what it’s made from as long as you find it easy to use. Plus, make sure the material can handle the conditions you fish in.

Price & Warranty

Fishing rods can be quite expensive regardless of what you’re trying to get. Luckily, many are quite affordable.

The first thing you should do is think about your budget. Having an idea of how much money you’re willing to spend can help you choose.

High-end poles cost a few hundred, but you don’t always have to go for the most expensive one. Budget options exist and can be quite efficient, especially if you’re a beginner.

When it comes to the warranty, you’ll notice most brands offer a year-long deal. However, this typically covers only the damage caused by faulty materials and manufacturing.

FAQ for Salmon Steelhead Rods

What’s the Difference Between the Salmon and Steelhead?

Both salmon and steelhead trout are anadromous. However, these two species don’t look the same. Steelhead is actually rainbow trout that migrated from fresh to saltwater at some point.

You can catch them later in the year, especially because they typically spawn more than once.

What is the Best Type of Bait for Salmon?

Salmon has an incredible sense of smell, which is why you should use special smelly bait. Look for the one specifically made for salmon as it’s designed to smell the same as their typical food.

Plus, look for bait that can mimic the natural movement of their food. They’re curious, so find a good way to lure them into investigating the bait.

Are there Any Care Steps Needed for Salmon and Steelhead Rods?

Much like any rod, your steelhead and salmon rod requires special care and maintenance to last a long time. Luckily, this sounds more complicated than it actually is.

First and foremost, make sure you dry and wipe down the pole before storing it away. Storing it away while it’s wet will most likely result in corrosion at some point.

You might also want to use a non-corrosive spray once a season. 

What is the Right Time to Fish for Salmon & Steelhead?

The best time to catch this fish in North America is May through September. Steelhead is typically the most active mid-fall and until the early spring.

On the other hand, you can sometimes catch salmon as late as November.

Final Thoughts on the Best Salmon Steelhead Rods

Both salmon and steelhead can be found in different waters, so you need a versatile rod that can handle various conditions. Hopefully, you found one among the several models we reviewed.

These are the best that the market has to offer right now. And, the information from the guide can help you pinpoint the right one for your skillset.