How to Buy a Pier Fishing Rod: 7 Things to Look For

With the buzz of daylight activity yet a mutual pact of non-intrusive leisure, pier fishing is a unique experience. No one is expected to be an expert, and beginners are welcomed to fish at piers where they have access to deep waters and a solid surface. With the right rod, almost anyone can catch a fish around a pier, given enough time.

To buy a pier fishing rod, you should look for high flexibility, quality material like fiberglass, and a length of around 7 feet. You should also make sure the rod is spinning type and that the handle can be gripped firmly.

In this article, you will learn about the following:

  • How pier fishing is different from other types of fishing
  • What does pier-placement mean for the rod you invest in
  • How to get better at catching fish from a pier
  • Our three top selections for pier fishing rods

What Makes Pier Fishing Different?

To get the right rod for pier fishing, you need to understand why this kind of fishing is unlike any other. Pier fishing combines the ease of surf fishing with the advantages of boat-fishing, as it gives you access to deeper waters from a stationary platform. Unlike boats, you don’t have to worry too much about balancing the platform since the pier is firmly grounded. 

But you also don’t have to deal with a smaller pool of fish available to shallower waters as a pier can extend into deep waters. Because of this, you have access to a different range of fish. Among the fish that you can expect to catch are Cobia, Flounder, Spanish Mackerel, Pompano, and Red Fish, to name a few. 

Though the variety of sizes and types of fish presents an advantage, it also makes your choosing your fishing rod more complicated. 

Check for Flexibility

When you are fishing from a pier, the fish have the freedom to move under you after biting the line. Even a medium-sized fish swimming under the pier will put a strain on the rod, and the rod will have to bend to give you the leverage and angle with which you can reel in your win. 

Fishing rods can be flexible at different stages, determining how effective they are at catching large or medium-sized fish if they swim in the opposite direction of the reel. The rods also require a different amount of pressure before bending. While both of these have to do with the rod’s flexibility, the domains are labeled separately.


Action refers to where the rod starts bending. A fast rod bends closest to its tip (bends faster) but can take the least amount of strain. The slow rod bends closest to the middle and takes the highest amount of strain. 

If you plan to catch small fish, invest in a fast action rod as they swim quite fast, and the rod bending close to the top will not break because of the fish’s size. If you want to fish for the larger ones, your rod needs to be flexible towards the middle. A slow action rod will take some time to bend, but the fish will not be nearly fast enough to get away.

Verdict: With pier fishing, you can expect to catch both small fish and large fish, so the best way to hedge your bet is to invest in a medium action fishing rod.


Power, too, has to deal with flexibility but refers to how much pressure the rod needs before it bends. In other words, a high power rod will take the most amount of pressure before bending. On the other hand, a low powered rod will bend even for the small fish.

When fishing in waters where small fish are prevalent, it is advisable to use a low power rod. You do not want the rod remaining rigid as a fast swimmer breaks free by swimming underneath you.

But if you buy a low power rod and a bigger fish happens to bite the bait, it will bend too much too quickly and most likely break the rod as the fish struggles.

Verdict: If your fishing rod has higher power than is necessary, it may make catching smaller fish a little inconvenient. But if your rod has too little power, it will break when a big enough fish bites and swims under you. When comparing the consequences, it is obvious to err on the heavier side and invest only in the medium to heavy power rods.

Look for Optimal Length

The length of the rod is very important in different types of fishing. For instance, if you are fishing from the shore, you are at a disadvantage because you can access shallower waters. To offset this, you have to invest in the longest rod you can manage to fish with. So the optimal length of the rod is determined by the inherent handicap of the type of fishing you are involved with. 

The fishing rod you choose has to be long enough to offset the drawback of fish, possibly swimming under the pier. The other disadvantage of pier fishing is that unlike shores, too many people fishing too close to each other. The rod must not be too long to offset this. 

How Long Should a Pier Fishing Rod Be?

Since the shorter rods are most likely to break and make fishing the hardest when fish swim under the pier, it is advisable to err on the side of longer rods. The worst-case scenario if the rod is too long is that you will need more practice to handle it. 

The ideal height most pier fishers use is seven-feet long, but you can purchase up to eight-feet long rods without making the fishing experience too difficult.

Look for the Easiest Type That Can Give You Enough Leverage

While different roads exist, including telescopic rods, fly fishing rods, and overhead rods, you must look at the two broad categories of rods. 

There are casting rods, and there are spinning rods. The casting rods help you cast farther than the spinning rods, but they are also harder to handle. The spinning rods are great for beginners and those interested in catching small to medium-sized fish. However, they cannot cast too far, which is fine when you are on a pier because you have lots of fish in your vicinity.

It is worth noting that both spinning rods and casting rods have reels that spin. It is just that the placement of the casting rod’s reel and the handle is optimized for fishing at a sloped angle because the fish swim farther away. On the other hand, the spinning rods are better optimized for fishing at an upright angle because the fish you catch is likely nearby.

Verdict: While it is possible to use both casting rods and spinning rods to catch fish from a pier, it is advisable to look at spinning types with the right power to catch the broadest range of fish without mastering the art of faraway casting.

Look for a Durable Material That Is Not Too Brittle

The material of your fishing rod largely determines your success and the price you pay. While opting for the right power and action will automatically disqualify the wrong materials, it is still important that you know the kinds of materials that will work well for your angling experience.

You will find graphite rods and fiberglass rods available on the market. The graphite rod is lightweight and is the easiest to handle. If you plan to sink the line closeby and expect to catch only small fish, then a graphite rod would be a low-cost investment. However, graphite is quite brittle, and the last thing you want is the rod breaking as you struggle with a larger fish. 

With pier fishing, it is quite likely that your fishing rod’s strength will be put to the test. Therefore, even if you are jigging and catching small fish, it is better to avoid graphite rods altogether.

The other option is fiberglass. While not too expensive, the rod brings more flexibility but is also heavier. Since pier fishing is not usually done with a rod-harness and you are handling the fishing rod, for the most part, a heavier rod can mean you get tired and pack up early.

But this is a tradeoff you have to consider. Are you willing to get a lighter rod that can break faster (graphite) or handle a heavier one (fiberglass) that will make you tired much sooner?

Verdict: When angling on a pier, your fishing rod will be under constant strain; that is why you should get yourself a high-quality fishing rod made with fiberglass. The material can be stressed without breaking too easily but will require getting used to because of its relative weight.

Look for a Handle That Can Be Gripped Well

No conversation about fishing rods would be complete without discussing handles. After all, it is the grip you have on the rod that determines whether you catch any fish at all. The grips available include cork rings, Hypalon, cord, and shrink tube. 

Cork rings are made of cork and go over the handle like a ring, hence the name. One advantage you have here is that you can sand these to make the right room for your grip.

Hypalon is extruded rubber that is primarily meant to protect the rod than it is to make it more conducive to gripping. It is ideal for rod holders that already have a powerful grip.

Cord grips are literally made of a cord wound around the handle. They provide grip for slippery and wet hands that are durable enough to hold when fishing on a boat or a pier.

Shrink tube can shrink under stress, so you can grip it tighter when angling. It is not as solid of a grip as cork or wood, though. 

Verdict: As long as the handle is not slippery enough to fall off your hands, any grip is practical. But for better results, you should opt for a cork ring grip or a sanded wooden handle. Though both these will be tougher on your hands than some rubber handles, they will provide enough resistance to give you a tighter grip.

The Ultimate Deciding Factor Is the Fish You Will Catch

The rods are not designed for boats, beaches, or piers. They are designed for the end-result, the fish. If the fish can swim underneath the angler, the rods are flexible. If the fish are far away from the angler, the rods are long.

Pier-fishing is interesting because of the variety of fish, so you have to get a rod that is best for the small to medium-large fish. However, not all piers are alike. And certain piers have a higher concentration of a specific type of size of fish. So while the above factors help you choose the rod for saltwater fishing in general, you can curate your fishing rods better if you know the type of fish that populate certain waters.

The Best Rods for Catching Small Fish on a Pier

Please note that you should follow the guidelines in this section if you are assured that there are no medium-to-large fish around a specific pier because a fish larger than intended can break the rod. 

For small fish, you will be using a jig and sinking the line pretty close to yourself. For this, a light power rod is best because the small fish are faster, and you need the rod to bend with ease. A 7-foot rod will work just fine for this, and you will need to invest in high action, so the rod bends as soon as the fish tries to get away.

As for the rod type, a spinning type is recommended for ease. While graphite rods are light enough to handle small fish, you should still choose fiberglass for flexibility.

The Best Rods for Catching Medium-Sized Fish on a Pier

This is the fishing rod recommended for piers because it is durable enough for small fish but does not break when larger fish get involved.

A spinning type fiberglass rod that is 8 feet will provide the right combination of reach, flexibility, and ease of use. You can invest in higher power rods if you are sure there are no smaller fish around. And if you are sure there are no bigger fish around, opt for medium power. Just remember that medium is riskier than high power.

The Best Rods for Catching Large Fish on a Pier

It needs to be emphasized that before you opt for this, make sure that you are ready to invest the time it will take to master this variety. Not only will it be heavier, but it will also lead to a lot of smaller fish getting away if you do not learn to maneuver it properly.

That said, it is perfectly suitable for large and medium-large fish. If the locals assure you that the fish around a pier are on the larger side, opt for a 9 feet long rod with a heavy power rating. This may cost a pretty penny and some training time, but you will be posing with some of the largest catches on the pier.

Best Fishing Rods for Pier Fishing

If you do not want to spend time focusing on product specifications and sorting by flexibility, action, power, and height, below are some of the top pier fishing rods.

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

Ugly Stik leads the industry in producing high-end fishing gear for seasoned anglers. However, when starting out, you need a model that is easier to handle and works well with a pier position.

This is where Ugly Stik GX2 comes into play. As mentioned previously, graphite is light but risks breakage, and fiberglass can bend but is heavier to handle. GX2 brings together the best of both to produce a durable, flexible build that is also easy to handle.

It is long enough at 7 feet for you to cast where required, be it around you or at a distance. Many anglers often worry about the precision of their casting. The GX2 has durable guides that help you cast with more accuracy. 

Upon casting, the medium power and high action combination leave you room for cashing lightweight, fast swimmers as well as medium-sized fish without risking rod breakage. And with appropriate use, the brand has you covered with a seven-year warranty. 

It has more than four hundred and fifty reviews on Amazon and is collectively rated at an average of 4.6 stars out of 5. More specifically, customers have given it 4.5 stars for the value of money, which is an important aspect when shopping for a rod. It also has 4.5 stars average for being lightweight.

Suppose you are a beginner or will manually handle the rod, this significant. The rod’s stretch is rated at f4.5 stars as well and is good for pier fishing because the fish can swim away and towards you.

Its lowest specific rating is still over four stars with a 4.6 stars average on durability. If the brand offers a seven-year warranty, the rod is, of course, durable within reason. But that said, you cannot expect to use it to catch very large fish.

St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rods

This brand champions fishing in the water bodies around us. This includes ponds, lakes, and beaches. Because you are not taking a boat into a larger body of water to angle for larger fish, St. Croix is a brand that matches your needs.

The triumph spinning rods come in all power and action ranges. In other words, the model stands for a build, but the material mix differs depending on whether you would like the rod to bend quicker or at a certain angle.

Though the material is graphite for the lost part, the overall build is not purely graphite and is produced to have the flexibility required. You can order a medium to high action. The rod will be flexible enough for pier fishing. It has a cork handle, which, as discussed earlier, is quite good for fishing with bare hands and is one of the highest-rated products in its category on Amazon.

With over five hundred ratings, the triumph spinning rods come at an average of 4.6 stars out of five and have the highest rating for being lightweight (4.5 stars out of 5). Its second-highest rated specification is the stretch, which is rated at 4.3 stars. In value for money, there is a significant drop in rating (3.9 stars out of 5).

Its lowest rating comes in durability (3.8 stars). However, if any of the specifics make you hesitant in buying a St. Croix rod, it is worth knowing that this model is backed by the brand’s five-year warranty.

Fenwicks Spinning Rod

Since we covered small fishing and angling exclusively for the lightweight catches, Fenwicks spinning rod deserves mention. This is a no-brainer purchase because of an incredibly low cost and a straight forward operating method. 

The rods are meant for smaller fish; if you plan to use a jig or lighter bait, and locals have assured you that a pier is populated mostly by smaller fish, this rod will be your perfect companion.

With fast action, it beds closer to the tip, and if the fish try to swim under the pier, they are likely to remain on the hook. Furthermore, it is 6 feet to 7 feet in size, and it is recommended that you opt for the higher length options and are engineered for strength.

The cork handle provides a solid grip while the rest of the pole is carbon bound and spiraled with carbon thread to add yet another layer of strength. With two hundred plus reviews on Amazon, this product has a global average rating of 4.2 stars. Of this, 72% of the customers have given it five stars out of 5, while 7% have given it four stars.

With 79% of customers giving it four stars or above, only 21 of the customers have rated it below four stars. To make sure you are not one of the customers who are dissatisfied with these rods, make sure to only purchase them if you are not fishing in an area where there is a risk of larger fish biting the bait.

Is It Better to Angle in Low Tide or High Tide?

If you are preparing to visit a specific pier for your fishing trip, you may want to make sure the trip isn’t wasted and that you only set out with your pole only if there is a likelihood of catching plenty of fish. 

It is ideal to go during mid-tide as high tides can present uncertain conditions that put your rod at risk. On the other hand, the lower tide might force you to cast farther, which is not ideal for a 7-foot fishing rod and can result in broken lines.

Where Should You Cast Your Bait During Pier Fishing?

Humans are social animals and learn by imitation. However, Pier fishing is not a place to engage in social learning. Most people visiting a pier for angling are beginners and assume others are experts. This leads to the imitative acceleration of bad fishing practices. The chief among these is trying to cast as far into the water as possible.

You do not need to cast at all. Simply floating, the bait under the pier does the job. Most bait fish swim around the pier but out of people’s view. If you float the bait around the pillars or below the platform, you will get more fish biting the bait.

Is It Better to Fish During the Day or at Night?

Most pier fishing is done during the day as people do not just engage in catching the fish but also the atmosphere. From taking in the scenery to having a feel of group activity without intrusive social exchanges, pier fishing creates a unique atmosphere.

However, if you want to catch the prize fish and in large quantities, you should fish at night during the mid-tide. This reduces the noise and fish-repelling activity that is abundant during the day. Furthermore, it gives you very precise areas to locate the baitfish in.

During the day, water hits most of the surface, but there are lights reflected only in specific parts at night. Baitfish are attracted to light, and you can start casting towards the spots hit by light. This will increase the amount of fish you catch per cast.

How to Catch More Fish on a Pier

While it is true that almost anyone can catch a fish if he or she tries long enough around a pier, most people would like to start catching fish sooner than later.

If you wear a pair of polarized glasses during the day, you will be able to look past the sunlight’s glare and deeper underwater. By doing this, you can locate hotspots and lower your line around those areas to catch more fish.


Pier fishing is a great way to get introduced to angling. However, to make sure your experience isn’t ruined by a broken rod, consider the steps listed in this article. Here’s a final recap of the post.

  • Make sure the material is flexible and not brittle.
  • Check the action factor of the rod.
  • Make sure the power rating matches the fish you intend to catch.
  • Look for the optimal length.
  • Check the reel release to make sure it is the spinning type.
  • Make sure the material is fiberglass or equivalent.
  • Check if the handle is conducive to tighter grips

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