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Telescopic fishing rods ensure that an angler can put a compact package in a suitcase, vehicle or backpack, travel anywhere and be ready to fish at a moment’s notice. Unlike multi-piece travel rods, you can’t lose one section and be completely out of luck, and they won’t spring into a fractured mess while fighting a fish if not properly put together. To some extent, they’ve fallen out of favor in the U.S. domestic market, but there are still some options available that will get the job done. Here are some of our favorites:
Best Overall: Daiwa Ninja X
Best for Kids: Eagle Claw Spinning Pack-It Rod
Best Combo for Kids: Zebco 33 Spincast Telescopic Combo
Best Telescopic Baitcasting Rod: KastKing Blackhawk II
How I Chose the Best Telescopic Fishing Rods
The author rigging a telescopic rod while on a testing trip. Pete Robbins
I began testing telescopic rods with low expectations, figuring that they were fodder for infomercials and gimmick products at the Dollar Store. At the low end, there are still plenty that will be unusable for experienced and picky anglers. But I was surprised that some manufacturers have found the wherewithal to equip theirs with quality components and one-piece-style actions. Any rod that collapsed at an inopportune time or had too many dead spots was immediately dinged, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there were some that never failed when assembled properly, and could be implemented into my everyday fishing arsenal.
Best Telescopic Fishing Rods: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Daiwa Ninja X Telescopic Rod
Carbon fiber blank
Full cork handle
Sensitive carbon fiber blank
High quality cork
Aimed at the serious angler
A rod at this level and price should come with a case
Daiwa’s footprint throughout Asia and Europe, where telescopic rods are more popular than they are in the U.S., makes them a serious player in this space, and this rod—also available in other lengths and options—will find a home in serious anglers’ travel bags. It feels remarkably like a one-piece rod, with no dead spots or odd transfer points during the cast, and the sections lock into place firmly, with little chance that the rod will collapse or twist. I used this rod to dropshot and for throwing a Ned Rig, and found it to be fairly sensitive and to enable long casts. It would also excel with light crankbaits, hair jigs, and other finesse lures, although I could also see employing it for light saltwater use. In fact, I found it to be a joy to fish with and quickly forgot that it was telescopic fishing rod until it was time to go home. I did have to add a protective case for travel, since it came with only a flimsy cloth cover and a plastic tip protector.
Best Telescopic Rod for Kids: Eagle Claw Spinning Pack-It Rod
EVA Foam Handle
Wire framed ceramic guides won’t be bent or broken by regular use
Not very sensitive
The Eagle Claw Pack-It rod can catch anything from panfish to bass. Pete Robbins
This is an ideal choice for your scout or camper headed off on their first fishing trip, or on a trip where fishing might serve as an ancillary or incidental activity. The modest length and short EVA grip are built for smaller bodies. The components are super-durable, including the guides and reel seat. It’s not the lightest of the best telescopic fishing rods. It’s also not the most sensitive. And for this bargain of a price, it doesn’t come with a case. More importantly, the return on investment is immense, as it puts your youngster in a position to catch everything from panfish to trout to bass to light saltwater species. It also comes as an affordable combo with a matching spinning reel.
Best for Kids: Zebco 33 Spincast Telescopic Combo
4.1:1 gear ratio spincast reel spooled with 10 pound test line
Stainless steel covers and metal gears
Push-button reel easy to operate
6-foot length unusual in bargain packages, will last through various transitions
Not particularly sensitive
There’s nothing easier to operate than a spincasting combo, but most of them are effectively toys. Few are made for the rigors of harsh use or larger species. This combo will help your budding pro start off with smaller panfish and trout, and then carry them all the way up to more serious pursuits. In fact, when they decide it’s time to move on to a baitcaster, they can simply remove this reel and put it on the rod. It’s not super-sensitive, but it’ll do for most applications, and will handle a variety of lures or baits. Zebco has built their name in this sphere, and there’s a reason that just about every long term angler has a Zebco 33 in their history – it’s a gateway to fun.
Read Next: The Best Spinning Rods, Tested and Reviewed
Best Bargain Telescopic Rod Combo: Sougayilang Combo Spinning Rod and Reel
Carbon fiber and fiberglass composite blank
SIC ceramic guides
Metal and foam split grip handle
Comes with a reel, extra spool, braided line and small lure kit
Durable case has custom-molded spaces for each component
Available in other lengths and powers
Overbuilt construction makes the rod heavy
The Sougayilang includes everything you need to fish. Pete Robbins
I really didn’t expect much from this rod and reel combo. I figured that the unknown brand and inclusion of numerous components at a low price reeked of disposability. To that end, it wasn’t as sensitive or light as the Daiwa Ninja, but my first impressions were wrong. This is a rod that I wouldn’t hesitate to fish with in the salt or for larger species like catfish and pike, or even bluefish and stripers. I learned that when my Chatterbait was engulfed by a big blue cat. The reel drag worked perfectly. After a time, I subdued the slimy beast without any glitches or problems. The metal handle is heavy, but in situations where that’s a feature rather than a bug, this rod will treat you right.
Read Next: The Best Saltwater Fishing Rods
Best Telescopic Bait Casting Rod: KastKing Blackhawk II
Seven different lengths from 6-foot 6-inch to 8-foot
Various medium and medium heavy actions, plus a heavy inshore-oriented rod
24-ton Carbon Matrix blank with glass tip section
Split grip EVA handle
Lightweight thanks to graphite reel seat and EVA handle
Durable stainless steel guides
Huge array of lengths and actions
Would benefit from a quality case
KastKing has made heavy inroads into the fishing market in just a few short years, with a wide arrange of bargain, premium and specialty items, including dedicated bait finesse systems. Their approach to telescopic rods is no less comprehensive, and this set of bargain telescopic rods are much better than their price tag would indicate. In fact, at this level, it makes sense to get several of them, the better to fill out a traveling arsenal. Most telescopic rods tend to be for beginners, or in mid-range actions, but KastKing actually took the needs of traveling anglers into account. If you want an 8-foot heavy-action rod that’s suitable for flipping or saltwater or big pike, they’ve got you covered. But, there are also 7-foot 6-inch fast and moderate fast medium heavies, which means you don’t have to compromise when you’re fishing a worm or a crankbait. I’d feel comfortable going to a distant lake with a small set of these packed in my suitcase, ready for action.
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Most of us who’ve moved onto specialized fishing and high-end rods turn up our noses at the thought of a telescopic rod or multi-piece rods in general. They’re seen as compromise solutions, good but not ideal, made for last minute insertion into a suitcase. In some cases that’s accurate, but if you look closely there are rods in this category that are better than those low expectations. Some of them even feel like your regular tournament tools. Find a few that you like with the right level of components and keep them handy, even when you don’t expect to be fishing – you’ll be surprised at how often they come into play and produce “bonus fish,” some of which may be true trophies.
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