5 Best Rod and Reel Combos for River Fishing (Reviews Updated 2022)

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River fishing provides the perfect conditions to catch fish in convenience and use the water’s movement to your advantage. But fishing in rivers comes with its own share of logistics and your gear in the form of a rod and reel combo can mean the difference between occasional bites and reeling in more than you know what to do with. The ideal rod and reel combo for river fishing should be lightweight, durable, very sensitive, come with a decent line capacity, and yield impressive reeling power.

Best Rod and Reel Combos for River Fishing

We have compiled a list of rod and reel combos for river fishing that check all these boxes and don’t cost a fortune.

1. KastKing Crixus Rod and Reel Combo

Kastking Crixus Fishing Rod And Reel Combo

The KastKing Crixus comes as either spinning or a baitcasting rod and reel combo, with each type in a 2-piece configuration for excellent portability. Each combo features a blend of lightweight carbon frames and graphite blanks in different lengths and power ratings, aluminum spools, carbon discs for impressive drag, and shielded stainless steel bearings for smooth operation. They also sport golf stick-style superpolymer handles for the most comfort and feature zirconium oxide guides for the best casting performance.

  • 2-piece versatile design.
  • Lightweight, smooth operation.
  • Very comfortable, superior casting performance.
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2. Crystal River Fly Fishing Combo

Crystal River Fly Fishing Combo

The Crystal River comes as a fly fishing rod and reel combo kit with an E-glass construction. It comes in a three-piece design, is 8’ long, EVA grips, and graphite accessories. Its reel sports a sturdy graphite construction, a kigan hook keeper, comes with line, and includes two flies.

  • Best for fly fishing.
  • Lightweight and durable.
  • Comes with included accessories.
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3. Abu Garcia Catfish Commando Combo

Abu Garcia Catfish Commando Combo

The Abu Garcia Catfish Commando comes as a baitcasting combo ideal for catfish. It sports a composite construction, comes with medium-heavy power, is 7’ long, and comes with EVA grips for comfort. It also comes with a baitcasting reel that features a centrifugal bracket, delivers excellent drag, and runs on two bearings.

  • Lightweight and sensitive.
  • Accurate, smooth casting performance.
  • Excellent controls.
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4. Shakespeare Alpha

Shakespeare Alpha Medium

The Shakespeare Alpha is a medium power, baitcasting rod and reel combo that sports a sleek, low-profile design. Its 6 feet. long rod features a lightweight, high-strength tubular glass blank, EVA grip handles for the most comfort, and top-mounted line guides for the best casting performance. Its baitcasting reel features a lightweight, durable graphite frame, anti-rust bearings for smooth performance, an anti-reverse, and comes pre-spooled with 8 lb. line for out-of-the-box use.

  • Baitcasting rod and reel combo.
  • Lightweight and comfortable to use.
  • Comes with pre-spooled reel.
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5. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Combo

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Gx2 Fishing Rod And Spinning Reel Combo

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 is one of the most versatile river fishing options and comes as a medium-heavy power spinning rod and reel combo, and sports a graphite and fiberglass construction for low weight and maximum sensitivity. It comes with the Clear Tip design that emphasizes high strength, an ergonomic EVA grip for comfort, and is 7’ long. It also comes with a 5.2:1 gear ratio spinning reel, runs on 3+1 bearings, and features compression bail springs for reel durability.

  • Heavy-duty performance.
  • Lightweight and sensitive.
  • Very durable; exceptionally versatile.
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Rod and Reel Combo for River Fishing Buying Guide

River fishing is the ideal freshwater fishing niche for the angler who wants the most specie variety. As many species migrate, rivers are the ideal hot spots for catching them without the more complex logistics of saltwater fishing.

Our buying guide reviews the best rod and reel combos for river fishing based on their specified features and tested performance to give you the best options to choose from. We then take it a step further and outline the factors you should consider and qualities you should look out for in a rod and reel combo for river fishing before you make a purchase.


The first factor you want to consider for a rod and reel combo for river fishing is the type you want to get. There are generally four types of fishing combos – spinning, baicasting, conventional, and spincast combos.

Spinning combos are the most versatile and most popular choice on the market. They boast of impressive casting range and affordability.

Baitcasting combos are suited to larger species and are common with experienced anglers who want to fish in rivers. They boast of more accurate casts.

Spincast combos, somewhat combine the pros of both spinning and baitcasting combos and are ideal for newbie anglers.

Conventional combos are the ideal choice for anglers who want to target the largest river species and use techniques like trolling. They boast of large line capacities and superior reeling power.

Target Species

Your choice for the type of fishing combo you go for and your other equipment will depend largely on the species you are after. The rivers come with a wide variety of species that sit over a range of weights, sizes, and fighting power.

For smaller target fish, you will typically go for lightweight, ultralight spinning or spincast combos that emphasize sensitivity. For larger species, you will favor heavy-power baitcasting or conventional combos that emphasize impressive fighting power.


Everything fishing is done in or around water, so you want your rod and reel combo to be exceptionally durable and corrosion-resistant.

Fishing reels will usually be made of graphite, aluminum alloys, or composites. Graphite reels are lightweight and exceptionally durable. Aluminum reels boast of higher strengths and will take a beating better than graphite reels.

The fishing rod in the combo will be usually made from fiberglass, graphite, or a composite. Fiberglass rods are lightweight, tough, and the most affordable. Graphite rods are lighter and more sensitive.

Higher-end rod and reel combos for river fishing come with composite constructions and offer the best combinations of low weight, sensitivity, and durability, but are the most expensive.