The Best Carp Rods - (Complete Guide To Carp Fishing Rods)

Carp fishing can get quite… technical. And everyone is trying to get that ‘edge’ to catch more often. If your tackle is your ‘carp toolkit’, then your rod is probably one of the most essential tools in the bag, so you will want to choose the right one for the job.

As to the best carp rods, well, that all depends on what you are trying to do with them, however we do answer this question direct in the next paragraph.

Carp fishing rods are not created equal, and some shine in one specific area. In this article we will take a look at the best carp rods for different types of fishing scenarios.
the best carp fishing rods

Strapped For Time?

The best carp rods will depend on the fishing scenario in front of you. This is because different carp rods are designed to achieve different things.

For example the carp rod you use for surface fishing will be different to the rod you would use for distance fishing.

To best answer the question, a further breakdown of different scenarios is required:

Please read on to find out more on what factors decide on the best carp rods as well as reviews on the chosen rods. Alternatively you can skip straight to our recommended rods below:

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What are the Different Types of Carp Fishing Rod and How Do They Differ?

Ok so, we’re at the tackle shop. Picture it in your head…

What does it look like?

We’re betting there are racks of rods all pointing skyward? That’s the thing about carp fishing. There is always plenty of choices when it comes to choosing the best gear.

Well, seeing as we have a selection of rods in front of us, we might as well go through them, and then you know what we are dealing with…

Distance Fishing Rods

Distance fishing rods, as the name suggests, are designed to propel your bait a long way. When we say a long way, we mean around the 150 yards mark! The key to success with a distance fishing rod depends on two things:

The rod action, and the strength of the blank.

You’ll generally find that distance fishing rods have a ‘through’ action. This is where the entirety of the rod bends and flexes to apply the maximum amount of force needed to propel a heavy lead (and bait) a long way.

However, a through action with a soft blank wouldn’t be strong enough to throw a large weight a considerable distance, so twinned with this ‘through’ action is a stronger and stiffer blank.

You’ll find that distance fishing rods are relatively long too. This length causes greater inertia, throwing your weight further.

Keep a close eye on the butt rings too. Because you’ll generate high energy during casts, you don’t want stop knots and shock leaders catching the rod eyes. Larger rings prevent this from happening and reduce distance loss through friction.

Spod Rods

Spod Rods share some similar traits with distance rods. A fully loaded spod can weigh anything up to 8 ounces!

If you aren’t familiar with spodding, it is the practice of loading a ‘rocket’ with bait. This is propelled at range before shedding its contents underneath its landing spot.

Here’s carp legend Danny Fairbrass showing off a handmade Spod Rod!

You’ll notice a few things, namely that, just like a distance casting carp rod, the spod rod is pretty stiff.

Secondly, spod rods tend to have really big rings. The reason for this is that the less contact the carp fishing line makes with the rod’s eyes, the further your spod rig will travel!

Stalking Rods

Stalking rods for carp fishing are a much more gentle affair.

When you are stalking, you’ll likely be able to see the fish, so the need to propel a 5oz bomb into oblivion isn’t necessary. Thinking about the pursuit of stalking carp, you’ll need a few things in a rod.

First, you will want it to be able to cast super accurately, perfect for bringing bait to rest right in the path of a hungry carp! For this reason, you’ll find that most stalking rods tend to have a fast action blank.

This is normally more flexible towards the tip, allowing you to cast a light float or controller without too much weight on the line.

You will frequently see that stalking rods are a little shorter too. You may be navigating an area with overhanging trees or moving the rod between beds of reeds, so it will have to be manageable.

Just because it is more refined doesn’t mean that you won’t catch big fish, so you still need a stalking rod to have a decent test curve!

Floater (Surface Fishing) Rods

Fishing on top is one of the most exciting ways to fish. There’s nothing more exciting than watching a big old grazing carp suck down a dog biscuit or floating marshmallow (I’ve given away one of my top-secret baits there).

This isn’t the kind of fishing that relies on stiff rods and heavy weights. You should go as delicate as you can.

Floater rods tend to have a progressive action and a relatively light test curve, certainly no greater than 2.5lb. As with carp stalking rods, most of the action will be towards the tip.

You’ll also find a few extra features not seen elsewhere. Look out for things like hook keeper rings on the side of the rod. This allows you to quickly move around with your rig safely hooked down towards the butt end of the rod.

Other features are low friction guide rings. You aren’t going to be casting miles at the end of the day, and with using light setups, you won’t want that distance to be cut further with a line sticking in the rings.

You’ll often find floater rods have a matte finish. With the fish being on the surface, it is easy to spook them with flashes of sunlight glinting off your rod. A matte finish prevents this.

Most of the best floater rods are around 12ft in length. This gives casting distance without compromising on pulling power.

carp rod for surface fishing

Small Carp feeding on the surface

General All Round Rods

Is it possible to get the best of all worlds? In a fashion, yes… provided you don’t ask too much of your rod.

Let’s be honest, some types of carp rod are specialised. It is unlikely that you will find a spod rod that doubles up as an excellent float fishing rod for carp.

But you should be able to get something that ticks a few boxes at once if you agree to compromise.

Some feeder rods are strong enough to allow you to ledger with a reasonable amount of weight but have the necessary bend and action to do a pretty great job at float fishing too.

When choosing a good all-round carp rod, the aim is to look at the features required for your chosen discipline.

An 11 or 12-foot rod is compact enough to use for stalking but will still have the necessary grunt to throw out a 3oz lead. 

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How to Choose the Right Carp Fishing Rod?

Now that we have discussed some of the principles with each rod, let’s look at features found in the best carp rods.

Carp Rod Material

As a general rule, you will find strong modulus carbon style blanks in the vast majority of carp rods. Occasionally, you’ll also see fibreglass. Both are strong enough to withstand a fair amount of pressure.

Depending on what style of fishing you intend to do, check the finish too. For visual and surface-based carp fishing, try and choose something matte. When fishing at range, this doesn’t matter quite so much. 

Rod Handles

Back in the day, you had one choice. Cork!

Nowadays, there are a whole host of options for the best carp rod handles. EVA foam is a popular choice as it stays grippy when wet and doesn’t tend to corrode when exposed to moisture.

For rods that aren’t going to be held for long periods (such as distance fishing rods), you’ll often find ‘shrink wrapped’ handles. There is a short grip at the butt, a large section of ‘bare’ blank and then another small grip towards the reel seat.

Aside from looking super cool, shrink wrap handles keep the weight down.

Reel Seats for Carp Rods

Want a piece of advice? Make sure your reel seat is of the locking screw type. Friction based reel seats are very much a thing of the past. There’s no worse feeling than a ‘splash’ while you are fighting the fish of a lifetime and seeing your reel sink into the depths.

And there’s more…

Remember, with some carp rods, you will be generating a lot of force with heavy weights. If that reel moves even an inch, it can give you a nasty cut on your finger when casting. I know from personal experience!

Rod Action

The rod action is variable depending on type of fishing. For big fish and big weights, ideally, you will want a through action fishing rod. As you move to lighter weights and shorter distances, it might make sense to look for a rod with a progressive action towards the rod tip.

best action for carp rods

3 different types of rod action

Number of Eyes

Eyes aren’t just there to look good. They provide a purpose. Each eye spreads the weight of the line over the rod blank. Fewer eyes can mean more strain placed on the line and the rod.

The flip side is friction. You’ll find that distance rods have fewer eyes, spread further apart. The combined friction of many eyes can seriously curtail your casting distance.

Eye Liner When Carp Fishing?

Makeup jokes aside, you can get more distance on your cast and a smoother experience if you choose a carp rod with lined eyes.

You’ll see several kinds of lining material, including ceramic, PTFE, and just plain old glass. Anything that reduces friction through the eyes is a good thing.

Rod Weight

Rod weight is twinned with several factors. The blank, the handles and your reel will all come into play.  Our advice is this...

If you are fishing in a style that requires you to hold the rod, such as floater fishing or stalking carp, you will need a rod that is as light as possible.

Rod Power

Rod power is important in two ways.

When you are casting, you need enough backbone to shoot that bait (and maybe a lead) out to the correct distance accurately.

If you’ve cast to the right place and the fishing gods are on your side, you’ll also need the strength to pull the fish (and the weight of your rig) back in as quickly as possible.

The reason we fish for carp is that they are bigger and they fight hard. That certainly means you are going to need a rod that has a decent amount of power.

A 2lb test curve should be about the lowest you’ll want to go for mid-sized carp.

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What is the Best Action for a Carp Fishing Rod?

So you’ll have seen us talk about ‘through’ action, not to mention ‘tip’ and ‘progressive’ action. But what does it all mean? In the simplest terms possible, ‘rod action’ means ‘how and where the rod bends’. Simple, right?

As we’ve said, the action required in a carp rod depends very much on how it will be used. Here’s a really quick rundown of actions and the carp rods you’ll find they are best suited to: -

Tip Action rods

Tip action rods are where the majority of movement happens at the very end. They are good for picking the line up quickly and casting very lightweight setups like floats.

While they can handle bigger fish, they are ideally suited to medium to smaller sized carp.

Tip to Middle Action

Tip to middle action carp rods are great all-rounders. They have some tip action, but this spreads down towards the central section of the rod. You can fish a variety of styles with a tip to middle action. 

Through Action

Through-action carp rods tend to be a little more heavy-duty. They bend under load along the entirety of the rod.

You’ll tend to see these used in long-distance rods and anything designed to handle bigger weights (both fish and rigs)

What is the Best Test Curve for a Carp Fishing Rod?

With all of the above in mind, the test curve is the ultimate deciding factor in how big and heavy a rod can go. Consider the test curve a measure of the rod’s ‘power’. The higher the number, the greater the power. It is worth noting that the test curve is often independent of the rod action.

2lb – 2.25lb Test Curve

Ideally suited for lighter applications like stalking and surface fishing. These test curves are more suited to smaller still waters where huge casts aren’t necessary. There is also a smaller chance of catching extremely large fish.

2.5lb – 2.75lb Test Curve

This test curve range is widely considered an average for a carp rod and better suited towards a more all-round fishing approach.

Strong enough to cast a decent distance yet subtle enough for margin or floater fishing, this is probably the most popular range of test curve you’ll find in the tackle shop.

3lb Test Curve

A 3lb test curve is considered above average in a carp rod and is the starting point of a more ‘heavy duty’ rod.

Ideal for mid-sized waters or for ‘going heavy’ on somewhere smaller, you’d have enough strength to cast a decent sized weight and have the power to manage most sizes of fish.

Most spod rods tend to start around this range as they require a stronger blank to get a good launch on the rig.

3.5lb Test Curve

This is a mark of the big guns. 3.5lb test curves tend to work best on larger waters, holding big fish and requiring long casts. For small still waters, it is probably a little too heavy-duty.

These rods are purely designed to cast extreme distances with heavy weights, method feeders and spodding setups.

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How Long Should My Carp Fishing Rod Be?

The length of the carp rod to use boils down to a couple of things. One of which is a personal preference.

As a good middle ground, 11-12ft is the place to aim for. For casting longer, a big rod increases distance (hence the reason sea fishing rods go up to 18 feet).

A 12ft carp rod, or thereabouts, will cover you for 90% of the fishing you will do. If you are looking for something to stalk fish with or are restricted on space, you can go down to 9 or 10ft. Some stalking rods even go down to 8 feet! 

What is the Best Reel for a Carp Fishing Rod?

When carp fishing it's important to ensure you have the correct rod & reel combo. The most important factor in this choice is always balance and synergy.

For light work and floater fishing, a standard 3-4000 sized reel will cover you when paired with an all-round carp fishing rod.

When we start talking about strong test curves and casting big weights, you might need something a little more specialised. 

Big pit reels are often paired with heavy setups. They have huge spools that allow the angler to wind the bait (and the fish) in much quicker. Because of the large spools, they also give a really even line lay. As a result, it comes off the spool easier when casting, increasing distance.

When fishing at a distance, it can be hard to see when you’ve got a bite. Another great solution is the use of a baitrunner reel. This allows the spool to pay out line freely when a fish takes the bait and 'runs', giving you time to emerge from your bivvy and strike!

As to which reel type is ‘best’ is very much open for debate. You can read about Big Pit Vs Bait Runners just here.

Alternatively checkout our full guide on the best carp reels that will take you through all you need to know.

big pit reels vs baitrunners

Big Pit Reel (left) vs Bait runner (right)

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What are the Best Carp Rods to Buy?

So now you know everything you need to about carp rods, it’s time to consider your options. You’ll no doubt have an idea of where you are going to fish, how you will fish, and how big you want to catch.

From here, it’s just a case of choosing the rod that matches the criteria.

If you are stuck for ideas, we’ve applied everything that we just talked about and found some really worthwhile suggestions. Why not take a look at our list below. There’s a rod for every occasion!

What is the best budget carp rod?

If you are looking for a decent carp rod at a low price, then look no further than this great rod offering real value for money.

Shakespeare Beta Carp Rod

carp rod on a budget

Shakespeare has been in the fishing game since Adam was a lad producing good quality gear and offering great value.

At 12ft, this rod is the ideal size as a good all-rounder. The test curve is 2.5lb, which, while not the heaviest, is strong enough to allow you to cast a respectable distance.

There are a few nice features that make it really suitable for carp fishing. The lined guides will make the eye’s pretty frictionless, aiding casting distance. The cushioned reel seat is comfortable in hand and also features a locking screw system, keeping your reel fixed firmly in place.

And the best bit?

For the money, you can’t really go wrong! 

What is the best carp rod for spodding?

As mentioned earlier in the article, spod rods need to be strong and solid to cope with huge weights with rockets full of bait. The following rod is a clear winner in terms of performance, quality and is reasonably priced as well.

Wychwood Dispatch S1 Spod Rod

Remember the features we talked about at the start when it comes to spod rods? Here is a prime example.

At 12 foot, it is plenty long enough to launch a spod rocket into orbit. The rod features a through (and ever so slightly progressive action). 

The blank is really strong and powerful, constructed from multi layer technology. It’s capable of throwing weights of 6oz well over 100 yards.

Speaking of casting distance, Wychwood has fine-tuned the rod with custom spaced rings giving excellent support during the cast.

The gunmetal reel seat is strong and corrosion-resistant, so your reel will stay put. This is paired up with a full Japanese abbreviated handle, making it pleasure to hold.

Essentially this rod performs like something worth 5 times the price.

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What is the best carp rod for distance fishing?

There are actually three rods we have identified to feature as the best carp rod for distance fishing all at differing price points.

If money is no object then we definitely recommend the Basia AGS, however the other 2 rods featured below are very suitable alternatives.

Daiwa Basia AGS - 3.25lb Test Curve

carp fishing rod for distance

Ok, so you want the very best? Well, here it is. Daiwa excels in making the gold standard in carp fishing gear.

If you were looking for the ultimate carp rod & reel combo, pair this up with a Basia reel, and you’ve got your ‘forever’ setup. It’s that good.

The Daiwa Basia is lightweight yet extremely strong, featuring all of the good stuff we talked about above. With a shrink grip handle and a DPS style reel seat, it looks the part.

Paired up with premium features, such as lightweight ceramic rings and a large 50mm butt cap, you’ll find it is a joy to use.

You’ll find the ideal rod for all different kinds of work: the 3.25lb, 12ft version offering both excellent casting distance and real stopping power.

Checkout the following video showcasing some of the features of the Basia AGS:

In summary this rod is absolutely one of the best carp rods both on the market today and one of the best of all time.

Daiwa Infinity DF X45 - 3.25lb Test Curve

distance rod for carp fishing

If the Basia is too steep for your taste, then Daiwa can still offer you a premium carp rod at a lower price.

The rod has been designed with Danny Fairbrass and shares many of the Basia features, including a 50mm butt guide, massive power delivery in the through blank, and excellent pulling power.

For the money, you’ll find plenty to love. A fuji graphite reel seat keeps the weight of the rod down, and it looks like something special with the NS shrink tube handle. We particularly like the low glare silk matte finish.

It looks really classy and performs like a dream!

Daiwa Black Widow G50

distance budget carp rod

Being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t get Daiwa quality. Again you’ll find things that make this really worthwhile.

The lightweight blank takes the casting load across its entire length, with quick recovery, giving excellent casting distance. It’s also ideal when playing big fish at a distance.

The longer rods are the big hitters, with the 12 foot 3.25lb test being the pick of the bunch.

Surprisingly, considering the price, this also features lightweight and wide ceramic rings and a slim profile shrink grip handle.

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What Is the Best Carp Rod for Surface Fishing?

The best surface fishing carp rod needs to be strong yet light and subtle yet precise. This can be hard to achieve if you don't know what to look for.

The following rod is the best we tested with all the right attributes for floater fishing.

Fox Horizon X3 12ft 2.25lb T.C Floater Rod

We love it when we can get kitted out for carp fishing at a discount. The Fox horizon is worth every penny.

Remember how we said that floater fishing needs a lightweight rod? This is it! The high modulus, lightweight blank means you can hold it all day without discomfort. 

The large butt ring will increase casting distance, and the multi-directional carbon blank will aid in your cast accuracy. The slim cork handle has a nice, traditional look and feel. 

When combined with low profile graphics and black whippings & fittings, you’ve got a package that looks and performs while still keeping you well below budget. 

What Is the Best Carp Marker Rod?

Similar to surface fishing rods, marker rods need to be light weight, subtle yet strong in order to cast a decent length and to also maximise the ability to 'feel' features and undulations on the lake bed.

This is a really important feature when mapping out your swim.

Also similar to floater rods, the right attributes can be hard to find particularly if you are new to the sport. The following rod is a great choice and has all the features you need in a marker rod.

Shimano Tribal TX-A Marker 12ft 3lb

best carp marker rod

When you are buying the best marker rod, you want to achieve two things: accuracy and distance. The good news is that with this rod, you will effortlessly be able to achieve both.

With a 3lb test curve, you’ll have all the action you need to throw out a substantial lead and marker float. At 12 feet long, it is well within the correct bracket for rods of its class.

Just because it’s powerful doesn’t mean that it is bulky. The slim carbon blank has been redesigned to give the rod a really low profile and as such really helps when marking out your swim.

With large guide rings and an aluminium reel seat, you’ve got a powerful setup that is great on a budget.

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What Is the Best Carp Rod for Beginners?

When you are starting out in carp fishing and 'testing the water' you will no doubt  be after a fishing rod that can get you started, does what it's meant to do and not cost the earth. 

Checkout the following carp rod that ticks all the relevant boxes and is perfect for beginners.


carp rod for beginners

Next-generation tackle is fast becoming a household name in the carp fishing game. They offer low-cost solutions that work!

This rod’s low price point makes it ideal for beginners to figure out what works and what doesn’t (and they won’t cry if they break it).

The rod is a 2.75lb test, which makes it a great all round rod to practice on as well as making it ideal for a range of different fishing styles and venues.

As with all of our suggestions, it features a locking reel seat. This is paired with a durable, grippy and lightweight EVA handle.

The fibreglass blank is through action, giving lots of strength for longer casts, and the eyes are lined to aid distance in this 12-foot rod.

What Is the Best Carp Rod for Kids?

When I took my kids carp fishing for the first time, I quickly realised that the right size, weight and test curve was really important for them to achieve the best experience.

A rod too long was just too heavy and cumbersome for them whereas a rod too short was too difficult for them to cast and play fish.

The following rod I found to be perfect for children to learn and enjoy carp fishing with.

NGT Carp Stalker 2-Piece Fishing Rod

When we talked about carp stalking rods, we mentioned that shorter is often better for getting under and around bushes. This is a case in point.

At 8 feet, it is by far the shortest rod on our list. It would be ideally suited for small, still waters. This is further demonstrated by the relatively light 2lb test curve, which will ensure you have sufficient ‘flex’ to cast lighter baits a considerable distance.

Rod behaviour aside, this would be especially suitable for children. The 8-foot two-piece rod is much easier to manage, and the low price means it isn’t quite as eye-watering when it inevitably gets dropped (…or pulled in).

This fibreglass rod should work for small to medium-sized fish and is light enough to make it really portable, perfect for smaller arms that might get tired with a full day of fishing.

When they’ve had enough, it’s easy to pack out of the way in your carp rod holdall.

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What Is the Best All Round Carp Rod?

If you fish different waters and vary your carp fishing tactics somewhat, then an all round carp rod maybe just the ticket.

The following two rods are fantastic rods that are well balanced and suitable to use in a number of fishing circumstances.

Sonik Vader X RS Carp Rod

carp rod for all round fishing

Sleek and sophisticated. The Sonik Vader X series of carp rods are fantastic all-rounders.

Besides the fact that they are available in a range of lengths and options, you’ll find plenty that makes each excellent for several different carp styles.

The casting action is sublime, offering a progressive action and quick recovery. This is enough to cast both floats or lighter baits or medium to heavy sized weights.

The 17mm DPS reel seat is substantial enough to accommodate a big pit reel too, so if you want to create a ‘beefy’ setup, you’ll have the tools to do it.

The rings are lightweight, spacious, and they are also lined, giving a good mix of support and casting distance. You’ll also find a few nice extras like a line clip and a Japanese shrink wrap grip.

 Overall, this is a solid performer in looks, performance and price.

Shimano Tribal TX-4 – 2.75lb Test Curve

carp fishing rod for all round use

Shimano are specialists in producing rods that perform. This is a mid-priced rod that does exactly that. In fact, it behaves far over its price point.

The thing that makes it special is the action. It is strong throughout the blank but has just a slightly softer tip, perfect for playing big fish, prone to making sudden runs.

At 2.75lbs, you might think it is going to be ‘too soft.’

You’d be wrong.

This thing is a beast when it comes to casting power, with reports of it reaching up to 150 yards!

Aside from power, it has looks too. HPC 100 biofire carbon has been combined with an EVA shrink grip.

When paired with a Shimano woven reel seat, it looks like every inch the carp rod.

Final thoughts

Well, we’re still stood in the tackle shop… Where are you going to fish? and what are you going to catch?

There’s scope in the above list of the best carp rods for you to fish anywhere in any way you please.

Choosing carp rods isn’t always easy, but with any luck, you feel well equipped to make a decision, and then you’ll be well equipped to catch.

If you need any other carp fishing tackle, you may want to checkout our carp fishing tackle deals page and hopefully grab yourself a bargain.

We wish you tight lines and the best of luck.

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