Centerpin Fishing | Steelhead

5 Best Centerpin Rods Of 2021

The best Centerpin Rods

The best Centerpin rod for you is the one that fits the type of river that you fish and the type of fish that you fish for, and one that fits into your budget.

The best Centerpin rod and the one that I recommend most often is the Raven IM8 13 foot with the sliding rings. It’s a great all around Centerpin rod that fits into most anglers budgets, but, before you go buying this rod, there are a few things to take into consideration to be sure it’s the best Centerpin rod for you.

If you want to maximize your success on the river you will need a Centerpin rod that is the right length, the right stiffness, and the right weight for where you fish. I’ll give you the same advice I give to my clients and my friends when they need a new Centerpin rod.

I have had the opportunity to try dozens of the best Centerpin rods. I have tried all the Centerpin rods that my clients have brought with them, as well as Centerpin rods that companies have sent to me to try and to test. Some of these Centerpin rods were great, and some were just good, and some Centerpin rods were just crap.

The Best Centerpin Rod Length

Centerpin rods are long and often between 11 feet and 13 feet, however, some rods can be up to 16 feet long.

There is a time and place for different rod lengths and the best rod length depends on the type of water you will be fishing.

The long length allows the angler to keep the line up off the water longer which gives the angler a better ability to control the float and get a better drift.

The long rod also acts like a giant shock absorber which protects the leader on hard hooks sets and also when fishing big fish on light leaders.

The longer rods have the advantage of fishing deeper water with a fixed float. A fixed float is one that does not move on the line unless you manually move it.

Best Centerpin Rod Length For Smaller Rivers

If you fish a lot of smaller rivers that are not very deep with lots of brush to walk through the best Centerpin rod would be a shorter rod of 10 to 11 feet which is best for getting through the brush and since it’s a smaller river you won’t need to make a lot of really long drifts where you need to keep the line up off the water for long.

The downside to a shorter Centerpin rod is less leader protection and I have seen anglers break fish off on the hook-set and when fighting the fish with lighter leaders.

Best Centerpin Rod Length For Medium Sized Rivers

On a medium-sized river of up to 60 feet across, the best Centerpin rod would be between 12 and 14 feet.

A Centerpin rod of 13 feet is my go-to rod for almost all rivers around the Great lakes region. This length allows me to fish from 2 feet to 15 feet without much problem and still allows me to make long controlled drifts keeping the line up and off the water longer. This length also gives me longer casts if needed.

This is also a great length for protecting the leader on hook sets and when fighting the fish, but only if the rod is not too heavy or too stiff. See rod size below for more details on picking the right rod weight for your type of fishing.

Many anglers tell me they really enjoy fishing with and fighting fish on the longer rods in the 13 foot range.

Best Centerpin Rod Length For Large Rivers

For very large rivers like the Niagara River that is a hundred feet or more and has very, very long runs with deep water I think the best Centerpin rod would be in the 15-foot range.

Best Centerpin Rod Action And Size

Centerpin rods come in different weights or line sizes and different rod actions. A rod with a heavy line rating may be too stiff for what you want to do. Some rods are so soft and whippy that your hook sets will suffer and some rods are so stiff that you will break more fish off.

A soft rod may mean fewer fish due to poor hook-sets. In fact, in the early days of Centerpin fishing, Centerpin rods were also known as noodle rods because of their soft whippy action. There are still some rods on the market that are like this and I DO NOT recommend them. Luckily rods have advanced a lot so there are some great Centerpin rods available even at budget-friendly prices.

The action of the rod is determined by the blank design and the taper, as well as the type of graphite used in its construction.

The best Centerpin rods are made by rod companies that now make high modulus graphite rods that are stiffer in the right places like lower near the handle for more power when fighting big fish, and are softer where needed like near the tip to protect light leaders and for preventing small hooks from pulling out. The best Centerpin rods will be the ones that well balanced, light in weight, and use good components.

Some anglers will tell you to go with heavier rods because the fish are bigger and these heavier rods will have enough backbone to really horse the bigger fish in. Unfortunately, that’s not always the best advice. It’s not always the size of the fish that you need to consider when you consider the right weight of a Centerpin Rod.

As an example, if you fish slow clear water you may need to use very light leaders just to get the big steelhead to bite. If you use light leaders it doesn’t matter how big the fish is and how much power your rod has because you can’t use all that power with those light leaders or you will just break fish off. You need a rod that is best suited to your leader size and your leader size will depend on the type of water that you fish.

The best Centerpin rods will have line ratings listed on them and you will want to get a rod suitable for where you fish the most. See the chart below.

Centerpin Rod Size Chart

Type Of River

Steelhead

Salmon - Rod Weight

Trout - Rod Weight

Very Large Rivers

- Length 15 foot

- Action - Medium or Medium Light

- Line 8-12lb / Lure 1/4 - 1/2 oz.

- Length 15 foot

- Action - Medium or Medium Heavy

- Line 8-12lb / Lure 1/4 - 1/2 oz.

- Length 15 foot

- Action - Medium Light

- Line 4-10lb line / Lure 1/4 - 1/2 oz.

Medium Average Rivers

- Length 12 - 14 foot

- Action - light to Medium Light

- Line 4-10lb / lure 1/8 - 1/2 oz.

- Length 12 - 14 foot

- Action - Medium or Medium Heavy

-Line 8-12lb line - lure 1/4 - 1/2 oz.

- Length 12.6 - 13.6 foot

- Action - Light to Medium Light

- Line 8-12lb /Lure 1/4 - 1/2 oz.

Small Rivers

- Lenght 10.6 - 11.6 foot

- Action - light to Medium Light

- Line 4-10lb / lure 1/8 - 1/2 oz.

- Lenght 10.6 - 11.6 foot

- Action - Medium to Medium Light

- Line 8-12lb / lure 1/4 - 1/2 oz.

- Length 9 - 11.6 foot

- Action - Utra Light to light

- Line 2-8lb

Larger steelhead - West Coast Fish

- Line 8-14lb

- Action - Medium or Medium Heavy

- Line 12-18lb

- Action - Medium or Medium Heavy

N /A

Pier / River Mouth

- Lenght 14 - 15 foot

- Action - Medium or Medium Light

- Lenght 14 - 15 foot

- Action - Medium or Medium Heavy

N /A

Best Multi Purpose Rod - Great Lakes Region

- Lenght 13 foot

- Action - Medium or Medium Light

- Lenght 13 foot

- Action - Medium

- Lenght 12 foot

- Action - Light or Medium Light

Best Centerpin Rod Handle Type

There are two main types of handles for Centerpin rods that you will need to choose from. Each handle offers anglers different advantages and disadvantages.

Fixed Reel Seat Rod

The fixed reel seat handle is similar to that of a spinning rod or a bait cast rod in that the reel seat is built right into the handle of the rod.

The advantage of this type of handle is that it is a very secure connection of the Centerpin reel to the rod and the reel seat adds a bit of weight so the rod may not be as tip heavy.

The disadvantage of this type of handle is that you can not adjust the position of the Centerpin reel on the handle to get a better rod/reel balance or to get a more comfortable grip.

Some anglers like me prefer a longer butt section with the reel higher up on the rod handle, while other anglers prefer less butt section and like the reel closer to the butt of the handle. Most fixed reel seats are set somewhere in the middle and can not be adjusted for comfort or balance.

Sliding Rings Reel Seat

Centerpin Reel Sliding Rings
The Sliding Rings reel handle allows the angler to place the reel at the preferred position for balance and leverage.

The sliding rings real seat is my preferred option for a number of reasons.

There are lots of different Centerpin reels on the market. Some are lightweight and some are heavier and because of this, it’s easier to balance out the Centerpin rod with the adjustable sliding rings.

I also prefer a longer butt section for better hook sets and more power or leverage when fighting big fish.

The picture above shows the reel high on the handle and the butt section under the armpit which allows for better balance, less wrist fatigue, and more torque when fighting fish. This is my preferred reel position.

Centerpin Reel Position
Centerpin Reel Position is important – Here an angler’s reel is to close to his body.

Being able to put your reel further up the handle may prevent the reel from being pressed against your jacket or waders when fighting a fish which could lead to a broken off fish.

If the reel stops spinning because the reel handles hooks onto a pocket or part of your body it can stop the float or worse, it can break off the fish, so a proper reel position is important.

2 Piece or 3 Piece Centerpin Rods.

The best Centerpin rods usually come in 2 and 3 pieces. I prefer the 2 piece Centerpin rods because they have fewer connection points which may make the rod slightly lighter and have fewer pieces that could accidentally come apart when casting, and 2 piece rods they break down easier for me.

If you are tight for space, a 3 piece rod may be the best Centerpin rod choice for you.

Remember that a 14-foot rod that breaks down into only 2 pieces means it is still 7 feet long and that may not fit in small cars or 2-seater pickup trucks, therefore a 3 piece rod may be a better option for you.

5 Best Centerpin Rods

GUIDES CHOICE

Raven IM8 Centerpin Rod

This is my go-to rod for all my guiding and is the rod that I recommend the most to my clients and friends. Of all the rods I have tried I would say this is the best Centerpin rod for the average angler.

I see this Centerpin rod on the rivers more than any other Centerpin rod and for good reason. It’s durable and one of the best multi-purpose rods that I have used.

I prefer the 13 foot, 2 piece sliding rings model.

Paired with the Raven Matrix Reel with 8lb Raven High Viz Mainline this is a Great setup for beginner and advanced anglers for all around the great lakes region.

Top High End Rod

Raven RPX Centerpin Rod

This is one of the lightest and strongest and possibly the best Centerpin rod on the market. I have used and recommend the 13’6 rod with the sliding rigs.

This Centerpin Rod offers the most advanced NANO technology resins, REC Recoil™ and Titanium Frame SiC Guides, RAVEN’s custom tapers, and top quality components to deliver the world’s lightest, most responsive float rod ever.

Popular High End Rod

Loomis GLX Centerpin Rod

This is a favorite for many steelhead anglers and is one of the lightest and best Centerpin rods on the market. I have used and recommend the 13’6 rod with the sliding rings for most trout and steelhead rivers.

The STR1563 GLX CP model is a great all-around rod for big steelhead and Salmon around the great lakes region.

The STR1803 GLX CP model would be a good rod for larger rivers for steelhead and salmon.

Good Starter Rod

Okuma SST Float Rod

The 13’4 SST Float Rod is a popular economy Centerpin rod for under $150.00 ad it gets good reviews from users.

With economy Centerpin rods you may get a softer action and slightly heavier rod but this rod uses an IM8 blank and is one of the best Centerpin rods at this price range.

I have been using the SST spinning rod version for years and like it.

Favorite Small River Rod

St.Croix Avid Centerpin Rod

I have some friends that prefer this Centerpin rod over their high-end Centerpin rods and I agree with them that this rod has a great feel when fighting fish and gives you solid hooksets.

I highly recommend the 11-foot Centerpin rod for smaller rivers.

This Centerpin rod also gets great reviews from users.

Best Float Rods for Spinning Reels

Some anglers prefer to use spinning reels instead of Centerpin reels. I have done a lot of float fishing guide trips with spinning reels and Centerpin spinning rods and these are the best Centerpin rods for spin fishing. You can also use these rods for throwing lures.

Guides Choice

Lamiglas X-11 Great Lakes Float Spinning Rod

When it comes to finding the best Centerpin Rod that is long and designed for float fishing with a spinning reel this is my favorite. I prefer the 12 foot LX12MLS-M model for most rivers.

There are 2 shorter versions which would be good for casting lures or float fishing.

The Lamiglas X-11 Great Lakes Float Spinning Rod is an excellent steelhead float rod with classic Michigan-style handles anglers know and love.

Best Float Rod – Spinning

Okuma SST – Spinning Float Rod

The 10’6 model is the one I use for float fishing and for spin fishing with lures on small to medium-sized rivers. It has enough length for float fishing but isn’t too long that you can’t easily throw lures with it.

Okuma SST Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rods offer technique and species-specific rods with premium IM-8 graphite blanks and components for the ultimate tool in a Salmon & Steelhead rod.

Best Centerpin Reels – Next Article

Centerpin Reels
My Centerpin reels Ready and waiting for the next guide trip.

If you want the best Centerpin and Float fishing setup possible, don’t forget to check out my page on the 5 Best Centerpin Reels and the page on the Best Float Fishing Lines next. . . .

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