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Light vs. Ultralight Rods for Catching Trout

Using a light rig is often a good idea when fishing for trout. You can feel the bites more and the trout can seemingly put up more of a fight, making for a better fishing experience. But how light of a setup should you get? Well, let’s start with the rod.

While light rods can work well for trout fishing, ultralight rods can give you a better experience. Even though they occasionally cost a bit more, ultralight rods improve casting with lighter lures, increase sensitivity when a fish bites, and make reeling in trout more challenging and fun.

Which rod should you go with? Keep reading and let’s find out.

What is a light rod?

Before we look at what a light rod is, we have to first consider a rod’s “weight” and “action”.

All fishing rods have a different weight and action.

The weight of a rod has to do with how the rod bends, or how stiff it is. This could be ultralight, light, medium, or heavy.

And the action of a rod means the location of the bend (does it bend just at the tip, or does the rod bend halfway down?). Rods with slow action bend all the way down to the reel, while rods with fast action only bend at the top.

Light rods normally have a light weight (as the name implies), while their action is generally fast, or bending mostly at the tip. Rods that are lighter also have an easier time casting bait and lures that have a low weight, or near weightless.

This shows that light rods can make a good experience when it comes to fishing for trout. But what about the ultralight rods?

What is an ultralight rod?

Similar to light rods, ultralight fishing rods are even lighter (if you haven’t guessed by now). Ultralight rods can make downsizing gear more fun. By using an ultralight rod, you can get more of a bend in the rod and the trout can put up more of a fight.

Although rods with an ultralight action are manufactured a bit differently, and can cost more, there are plenty of affordable options out there.

When should you use ultralight?

Depending on the fish you’re targeting, you might need a light line and small lures to be successful. This is when using ultralight rods comes in handy. It allows you to cast almost weightless lures at a good distance, which is perfect for fishing for trout.

However, if you’re planning on using heavy lures, like plugs or crank-baits, steer away from using ultralight rods. The line sensitivity will be reduced and you likely won’t be able to feel the fish biting. This could end up with a lot of “hit and runs” and lost bait. Not to mention the rod tip will be constantly flexing from the weight of the heavier lure.

Which rod is better for catching trout?

If you’re primarily focusing on trout, and you’re using extremely lightweight lures and bait, then going with an ultralight rod can make a better experience vs a light rod. Not only can you cast better and more accurately, but the increased line sensitivity and overall experience will prove to be worth it.

Ultralight rods are great if you either want to downsize for the fun of it, or for the necessity of casting light-weight lures.

However, if you’re planning to catch a variety of fish, and some larger than trout, then skipping the ultralight rod and going with a light rod and tackle would likely work in your favor.

Which costs more?

Both light and ultralight rods can range anywhere from $20 to $100 and up. While ultralight rods can be more expensive, recent strides in manufacturing have leveled the playing field and have made them more available.

Related questions

How long should an ultralight rod be?

Most ultralight fishing rods should be between 5 and 6 feet. Although, some use 7-foot poles with lightweight tackle. It all comes down to the type of fishing you’re doing and which fish you’re going after.

Which baits and lures work best on ultralight rigs?

When using ultralight tackle, minnow and worm lures work well, along with smaller spinners. For ultralight baits, nightcrawlers, maggots, grasshoppers, and PowerBait are some of the most used and productive baits.

If you’d like my recommendation on rods, check out the Bass Pro Shops Micro Lite Graphite Spinning Rod (ultralight) or the B’n’M Sam Heaton Super Sensitive Jig Rod (light).