The Best Carp Rod and Reel Combo - (Carp Rods & Reels Reviewed)

Best Carp Rod & Reel Combo

Is there such a thing as the best Carp rod and reel combo? Surely one does one thing and the other does something else?

To answer this question practically, grab yourself a 3.5lb test curve carp rod add a small shallow spool reel and cast a 3 oz bomb as far as you can. Then try the same with a 1.5lb test curve rod, same sized bomb and a large big pit reel.

What you should find in these scenarios is either something has broken or snapped and / or a real in-balance of how these setups feel.

This article aims to detail what to look for in the correct Carp rod and reel combo and why it's important. I will also give some recommendations on the best Carp rod and reel combos for various fishing situations.

Strapped For Time?

With this article being fairly long and detailed, you may want to cut to the chase and find out now what the best carp rod and reel combo is. Here are our top choices:

Best Overall: 

Rod: Daiwa Infinity X45

Reel: Shimano Ultegra 14000 XTD

Good For Distance Fishing

Rod: Basia AGS Carp Rod

Reel: Daiwa 19 Basia

Great Spodding Option

Rod & Reel: Sonik Vader X 12ft Spod Marker Rod + Spod Reel

Stalking Combo

Rod: Greys Carp Stalking Rod

Reel: Mitchell Avocast Free Spool Reel

Best Suited For Surface Fishing

Rod: Daiwa Longbow DF Floater Carp Rod

Reel: Daiwa Regal Baitrunner

Good For Beginners

Rod & Reel: Mitchell Catch Carp Combo

Budget Option

Rod & Reel: NGT 2 Rod Carp Fishing Setup

What To Look For In The Best Carp Rod and Reel Combo

Ask any master of his craft what he looks for in his tools and chances are he will give you a range of answers. Some will say they use the cheapest, others will say they prefer quality, and still others will say a mixture of the two. Being a master of your craft is all about balance.

When it comes to the Best Carp Rod and reel combo I mean this quite literally. Both from a cost vs quality point of view and literally, how the rod feels when set up.

Some will argue that the fish just do not care what rod and reel you have. And to an extent I must admit this is true. However if it becomes impossible to ever present your bait properly, or you are hampered in your ability to reach the fish, then it makes sense to also admit that your catch rate is going to go down as a result of an incorrect setup.

There is nothing nicer than finding that ‘sweet spot’ in your setup. When you are in perfect control and the rod and reel feel like an extension of yourself. You only have to think what you want to achieve with your cast and it happens. But, until you find the best Carp rod and reel combo that works for you, this can take some fine tuning.

Why The Right Carp Rod and Reel Combo Is Important

best carp rod & reel combo

First of all, you want to catch fish. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. One of the appeals of fishing is it is a constantly evolving loop.

You enjoy fishing so you get better at it, as you get better at it you catch more fish, which means you enjoy it even more, which means you continue to get better at it…ad infinitum... hence the reason we are all angling addicts.

However if you are thwarted in your enjoyment by a setup that just doesn’t work you will see the opposite effect. It can be frustrating to have to ask yourself the question ‘what am I doing wrong’ and find that it is something easily within your control; your tackle.

Whilst for a beginner a ‘bare bones and basic’ setup might serve a purpose, for someone looking to indulge their passion long term it makes sense to invest in something that you will enjoy using.

View the best Carp rod and reel combo as two sides of the same coin. They are yin and yang. One cannot shine without the other. You can have the best action, premium grade, all singing and dancing, designer rod (with the brand and price tag to match). But if it is paired with a reel that simply doesn’t match it, then it just won't work for you.

Spending fortunes on the lightest possible rod, only to have it feel like you are holding a broom handle because you have gone for a reel that is too big or too heavy is also only going to hamper your efforts.

On the other side of the coin. It makes little sense to invest in what is actually a complex piece of engineering, only to pair it with something that doesn’t release its potential. Modern reels are precision tools.

Depending on your style of fishing, it will be in constant use and has to work all-the-time. No exceptions. You can have the best quality reel on the market, but if you have it attached to a sub standard stick, you might as well not bother.

What you want to be able to concentrate on is catching fish. Nothing else. If your arm is tired because your Carp rod and reel combo is mismatched then that is going to distract from the enjoyment.

If you spot a once in a lifetime fish but can’t get to it because your casting accuracy or distance suffers then you are missing opportunities based on your choices, which is never a good feeling.

And what if you do manage to hook a real ‘rod bender’? If you reel hasn’t got the grunt or finesse to handle it then the outcome is all but assured.

The Importance Of Getting The Right Balance Of Carp Rod and Reel.

best carp rod & reel combo

The best Carp rod and reel combo will primarily be dictated by your style of fishing. If you are the kind of Carp angler who wants to carpet bomb an area of several acres with a spod, then you are probably looking for something heavy duty that makes the geese think twice about venturing within 300 yards of you. 

Obviously the rod must have the backbone to do the work, but the reel must be able to cope as well. 

Casting a 5oz weight into the distance only for the drag to ‘give’ mid-cast is a mistake you will only make once. Trust me, I’ve got the scars on my index finger to prove it.

Likewise if you are more of a ‘hunter’, and like to cast light, well presented baits, with pinpoint precision under a waggler, then a big 10000 size reel is going to give you all the grace and presentation of a dropped cannonball. If its fine work you're after you will need something lighter and more refined.

Checkout  this video courtesy of Tipp Topp Fishing that really highlights the importance of choice and balance:

Factors Affecting Your Carp Rod and Reel Choice

I’ll put it right out there, for most people the main factor will be cost. But cheap doesn’t mean you can’t get something more than adequate for your needs. Many of the suggestions below offer premium performance at a fraction of the price.

Once you have decided on a budget you need to think of the ‘where’. As in, where will you be using the rod. If you regularly fish at a massive venue it is worth beefing up your ideas. Likewise if you are more of a sleepy pool kind of angler, no one is going to appreciate an 8oz spod landing practically on the opposite bank, least of all the Carp.

You also need to decide the ‘what’. What am I aiming to achieve? A lighter rod can often take some of the stress off the carp line, allowing you to go a bit finer in your choice. If this is the case, you don’t need to go for a reel that can hold 300m of 30lb test.

If you don’t have a powerful rod you don’t need a powerful reel. So ask yourself what is the best Carp rod and reel combo for my intended use.

Getting the right balance of Carp rod and reel is important and requires thought. To save you a bit of time and mental energy, I've come up with some suggestions for the best Carp rod and reel combos, perfectly balanced....

The Best Carp Rod and Reel Combos

Top Choice 

Daiwa Infinity X45 & Shimano Ultegra 14000 XSD

best overall carp rod and reel combo
Best carp rod and reel combo

So both Daiwa and Shimano lead the way of quality for Carp rods & reels respectively. As a result this choice may not surprise some people. Many a famous Carp angler will vouch for both the Infinity and Ultegra ranges of rod & reel.

For me though (and forgive me for sounding like a broken record) the balance of this rod & reel combo is second to none. The infinity X 45 rods have a butt guide of 50mm followed by intermediates of 38mm and 32mm. These are purpose-built to expertly funnel the line towards the tip.

The classic Fuji reel seat and stainless steel trim insures that the Infinity X looks as classy as it feels. The NS grip extends down to the butt giving the rod an extremely sleek finish. This grip is flared as it reaches the butt to allow for a better grip, as well as complementing the rod shape impressively. The butt is finished with a stainless steel cap. 

The low glare matt silk finish completes the outfit, leaving you with an incredibly elegant and attractive rod that performs like a dream.

The Shimano Ultegra 14000 provides outstanding casting performance achieved by the use of an oversized spool which is noticeably larger in diameter than a normal sized spool.

The reel also uses Aero Wrap II (Shimano's top line lay system) and 2-speed oscillation for almost perfect spool line management. Another advantage of the large diameter spool is that one turn of the handle retrieves nearly 1 metre of line making retrieving from distance faster.

I've mentioned the quality so will move onto the versatility of the pair. These two will absolutely turn their hand to any angling situation.

If you flex between fishing under your feet in the margins on one rod and chucking out a 4oz bomb 100yards on the other, this combination will achieve both of these with absolute ease and precision.

Overall I recommend the 3.25lb test curve version of the Infinity's to achieve the best balance with the Ultegra reel however, one either side of this test curve range will perform just as well.

In summary, with these two bad-boys in your arsenal you can guarantee you have all the ammunition you need to tackle any Carp fishing situation.

Budget Option

3 Rod Carp Fishing Setup by NGT 

NGT Carp Rod & reel Combo

If you are on a budget you still want something that will keep you catching, whilst not breaking the bank. If you can enjoy the luxury of two or three rods then all the better! If the rod and reel combo is balanced, then you can’t ask for much more.

This rod  & reel Carp fishing setup offers a whole lot of value in one package. With three rods boasting an impressive 2.75lbs test curve and three reels, a perfectly balanced setup, with line pre-loaded. You are getting a configuration that will feel just right, for all the right reasons.

Good For Beginners

Mitchell Catch Carp Combo 

Mitchell Catch Carp Combo

When you fish with something that looks this good, you feel good and more confident. Confidence leads to more fish. Although we have said this setup is the Best Carp Rod and reel combo for beginners, it looks and fishes like some of its much more expensive competitors.

When Carp Rod and reels come as a combo package they have already been tested as a pair, ensuring you have the balance we talked about.

Mitchell has been a solid name in fishing for decades. They have a reputation for quality. With this setup you are covered for most venues and techniques and as such is a great combo to start with in the wonderful world of Carp fishing.

Spodding Combo. 

Sonik Vader X 12ft Spod Marker Rod + Spod Reel

Vader X Spod Rod & reel Combo

Sometimes casting into the right place isn’t enough. You want the fish in a feeding frenzy. And we can’t think of a better way than a long distance aerial assault (of groundbait). If you want to make a big bang on a budget, this is the Best Carp rod and reel combo for spodding.

The rod is packed with power, a 4.5lb test curve will give your spod setup all the push it needs on its journey. Boasting technology that will please both expert anglers and those new to the game alike, this rod gives performance that is equal to some much more well known (and much more expensive) big names.

With the rod partnered with the Sonik Vader X Carp fishing spod reel, you have got yourself a proper setup. The reel has 5 ball bearings and boasts an impressive retrieve rate, which is good, as you’ll be casting it a lot. The wooden handle is also a nice touch. 

Stalking Option

Greys Carp Stalking Rod & Mitchell Avocast Free Spool Reel

best carp reel and rod combo
best carp rod and reel combo for stalking

This fantastic stalking rod from the reputable Greys, comes in 3 lengths. The 7' perfect for close quarter big fish hunting, the 9' perfect as an all rounder and the 12' which has a soft tip and medium fast action to which is perfect for casting out small leads and controller floats.

All versions of this rod come with robust double leg sic guides, a quality, cork, handle and a folding hook keeper and line clip making it a perfect choice for the roaming approach.

Mitchell have a vast reputation for producing quality reels and this version of the popular, Avocast range is no exception. The lightweight feel to this reel alongside its smooth retrieve and free spool option make it the perfect choice for stalking close to medium range Carp.

Best for Floater Fishing

Daiwa Longbow DF Floater Carp Rod & Daiwa Regal Baitrunner

best floater carp rod and reel combo
best floater carp rod and reel combo

Danny Fairbrass in conjunction with Daiwa have developed a solid set of rods with the longbow range. The floater Carp rod version is subtle enough with its 2.25lb test curve to delicately place a free-lined dog biscuit a fair few yards whilst at the same time holding enough power to dictate and land large Carp when needed.

Of course we know that Daiwa make great reels but you'll be forgiven if you haven't heard the Regal baitrunner being flag shipped with all the bells and whistles its Big Pit counter parts bring. 

For what reason? we don't know as this reel is smooth on the cast as well as the retrieve and with the baitrunner option actually makes this reel a great all rounder. For floater fishing, we actually really like the the 2500 version for its lightweight feel and its great price tag!

Distance Fishing Top Pick 

Daiwa Basia AGS Carp Rod & Daiwa 19 Basia Reel 

best distance carp rod and reel combo
best carp reels

So you have stalked fished the margins with a light and quick setup to no avail? The next step of your plan is to blast something out into an area where the fish are far less wary.

But to do that you are going to need power. Real power. And for power, this is the Best Carp Rod and reel combo we’ve seen. Whilst package deals are good, sometimes you want something a bit more customised.

The best Carp rods for distance fishing is often a feisty debate. This Carp Rod and reel combo offers unparalleled power and choice and should no doubt have more or less a unanimous agreement with the quality they both provide.

The rod is available in a choice of test curves, and with a thinner blank you are saving weight whilst maximising rod action. Real veteran anglers have had an input on this rod’s manufacture and design, so you know you are getting legitimate quality.

When paired with the Daiwa 19 Basia reel, the combination is truly something to behold. 7 ball bearings ensure silky smoothness when reeling in, and with a 15kg drag, it has the muscle to launch, and pull in, whatever is on the end of your line.

Final Thoughts

I have already talked (until the cows come home) about balance. Sometimes you can have two very good bits of kit, but regardless of quality, to be effective, they have to work together.

Things have to match up and compliment each other. You wouldn’t get a plastic strap and put it on a designer watch, would you?

The Carp rods and reel are no different. By thinking about what you need your tackle to do, and when and where, you have the know-how to make an informed choice on what the best Carp rod and reel combo is for you.

Thanks for reading the article. 

Tight Lines!

All of the fishing tackle featured in this article can be found at one of the following online shops...

Total fishing tackle

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