The best carp rods

The best carp rods

by Aidan Bordiuk |
Updated on

Big carp are incredibly powerful creatures, so having the best carp rod for the job is vital if you are to be rewarded for your time on the bank by landing each and every one that you hook. A whole host of different fishing rods are available to suit the many varying styles of carp angling, such is the varied nature of the modern carp scene.

Whether you're choosing a bespoke floater fishing tool or a beefier model, tailor-made for casting extreme distances, the right choice can make your angling so much more efficient. In other words, you need to pick the right rod for your preferred form of fishing. After all, one that’s perfect for tackling your local farm pond will not be best-suited to getting the best from a wild and windswept 100-acre gravel pit!

The best carp rods at a glance

Best Casting Rod - Korda Kaizen Platinum Carp Rods - view offer on Total Fishing Tackle

Best Stalking Rod - ESP Onyx Quickdraw Rods - view offer on Total Fishing Tackle

Best Beginner Rod - Fox EOS Pro Rods - view offer on Total Fishing Tackle

Best Budget Spod Rod - Wychwood Dispatch S1 Spod Rod - view offer on Amazon UK

That said, however, there are some rods available that are good ‘middle of the road’ options, if you don’t fancy splashing out on a set-up for every situation. Here, then, is our pick of some of the best carp rods on the market right now...

Best carp rod (2023 National Angling Award winner)

Designed and built in the UK, Daiwa has incorporated the very latest material technology into its Longbow X45M rods. Thanks to the blank’s profile, Daiwa has been able to push the design limits of the test curve, bringing a groundbreaking 4lb tc model into the six-rod range.

Such a test curve would have been more familiar on a spod rod not so long ago – however, the outstanding casting power is remarkably well balanced, with a responsive and forgiving tip action that ensures even tentative hook holds are not penalised. The blank boasts ‘near-skeletal’ TDG guides, making the rod lightweight and super-responsive. A quality Seaguide reel seat and Japanese shrink grip make up a simple, understated handle assembly in a top-quality carp rod.


  • 4lb test curve model is a distance casting beast.
  • Very premium build.


  • Shrink wrap handle might not be to every angler's taste.

Best distance casting rod

Available in test curves between 3lb and 4lb and lengths of 12ft, 12ft 6ins and 13ft, Korda Kaizen Platinum Carp Rods will help you hit your big-cast potential with ease. They’re Korda’s first entry into the rod market, and user reports suggest they won’t disappoint.

Constructed from a high-grade, super tensile Japanese carbon with a fast-tapered profile blank, the rods have a high compression strength, so you can put your back into those long chucks!

They boast a super-fast recovery speed and are super light thanks to the stainless-steel guides, which include a 50mm butt and 16mm tip ring on all models. There’s a dedicated spod rod too.


  • Incredible casting tools.
  • Classy, low-glare matt paint finish and clean fittings.


  • We would have liked to have seen a slightly lighter rod in the range for smaller waters.

Best value carp rod

A reliable rod that will cover most fishing scenarios in the UK with ease, the Daiwa Black Widow XT Carp rod is a phenomenal rod and friendly on the wallet too. 

An HMC+ carbon blank makes for a super lightweight rod that is durable and strong, depending on what test curve you opt for this rod is capable of casting 4oz leads over 100 yards. The 50mm butt ring comes as standard on the 12ft models and there is also a 13ft model to aid those who really want to fish further, with two 10ft options for those who like smaller rods.

The rod features a screw in reel seat, LS ceramic guides as well as a full shrink handle all on an understated finished blank. These rods are not only built to last, they also won’t look out of place on any venue they are used at, they look and perform incredibly well, far above their price point.


  • Range of sizes to suit all anglers.
  • Perform to a much higher standard than their price range suggests.


  • Lack power for really long range fishing.

Best surface fishing rod

A new release from Nash who, despite producing short rods like the Scopes, have gone back to the traditional 12ft length for the Nash Flota Rota rod. Made for surface fishing, the 2.5lb test curve blank will help you place a controller float within a pod of surface-feeding carp with ease.

The blank is constructed with a responsive yet powerful 1k carbon weave, with 40mm to 12mm super-light low-profile SeaGuides throughout. An old school cork handle gives the rod that classic look, in keeping with the true nature of surface fishing, one of the pleasures of summer angling.

The keeper rings are a nice touch when it comes to staying mobile, too, something that’s often required when trying to stalk wary carp off the top.


  • Classy looks and feel.
  • The requisite power to punch controller floats a long way.


  • We'd prefer to have seen a slightly lighter option for freelining or close in work.

Best mid-range, all-round carp rod

Shimano's TX-5A models are truly things of beauty. The aesthetics are backed up by performance, offering a blend of casting power and finesse. They are a joy to play fish on, yet with plenty of power in reserve to hit a big chuck, which can be further improved with the range’s ‘Intensity’ versions.

The blank is made of a slim Nanosheet carbon with a reinforced 3k weave. SeaGuide guides throughout enhance the action and tip recovery speed, all finished off with a 3K reel seat and polymer Winn Grip handle.

Six models range from 10-footers for boat fishing, right up to 13ft


  • Superb fish playing action.
  • Good casting performance.


  • Not the best for extreme casting scenarios or stalking work.

Best 'classic looking' carp rod

For those who want their rods to maintain a classic feel in today’s increasingly high-tech modern carp world, these cork-handled Daiwa Crosscast Traditional rods are just the ticket. Despite being highly affordable, these rods are capable of performing a variety of tasks, from margin stalking to punching longer casts out into the pond.

While they certainly look like a classic carp rod, they are adorned with modern features, including a high-quality carbon fibre blank (the slimmest Daiwa produces) with premium SeaGuide TDG rings and reel seats.

The Crosscast Traditionals are certainly light and responsive, but they still have enough grunt for medium-to-long-range casts when required. They are available in 10ft-13ft lengths in test curves of 3lb to 3.5lb, with a dedicated 5lb spod rod also available


  • A stunning rod to look at on the rests.
  • Great fun to play fish on.


  • Not the best for fishing at really long ranges

Best beginner rod

If you’re new to carp fishing and want a reliable rod that you can use anywhere for any size fish, the Fox EOS Pro Carp rods have you covered. The range has rods from 10ft in 3lb/3.5lb test curve to 13ft 3.5lb TC. The shorter rods are perfect for stalking or boat fishing, whilst the longer rods will help you with your casting and are able to tolerate heavier end tackle like solid PVA bags.

A full shrink wrap handle, Slik guides and a low resin carbon blank make for a very lightweight rod that is really comfortable to use and lovely to play fish on. The rods feature very understated graphics and are finished in matt black, giving the rods a timeless feel that will look as good in 20 years time as they do now. An 18mm reel seat will make sure everything is locked securely into place.


  • Plenty of power for accurate casting.
  • Premium finish to the rods .


  • A lighter rod for floater fishing would complete the range nicely.

Best budget spod rod

The Wychwood Dispatch S1 Spod rod might be cheaper than other rods out there but it certainly punches well above its weight. Whilst it doesn’t specify a test curve, it can comfortably cast full, large spombs and big leads out well over 100 yards. The tip has a nice element of sensitivity to it also, so if you wanted the rod to double up as a feature finding tool, as most do nowadays, its more than up to the job.

At 12ft in length with a 50mm butt ring and braid friendly guides, this not only improves the distances that can be achieved, it also stops the braid cutting into or damaging the guides with the brute force that modern day Spombing enforces on rods.

The rod is easily compressed allowing maximum distance and accuracy, it definitely out performs more expensive options out there. If you want a nice, simple spod/marker rod this is a very viable option that is definitely worth checking out.


  • Powerful rod.
  • Can be used for Spomb or marker work.


  • Handle is a little short.

Best mid-range casting rod

Free Spirit CTX Carp Rods
Price: £159.99+

Free Spirit have cemented themselves into the carp fishing fraternity for producing quality rods that are capable of casting ridiculous distances and the Free Spirit CTX Carp rods are no different.

Built on top quality 40t and 30t carbon blanks with very low resin content, the rods are superbly lightweight with a formidable amount of power, with the 13ft 3.5lb test curve version a real casting animal. They are, however, easy to compress and will add yards to even the most capable of casters. 

In addition to the quality carbons, Free Spirit have chosen to wrap said carbon at 90 degrees when building the rods. Whilst this sounds technical, in short, it reduces the twisting movement of the rod during casting to improve their accuracy and recovery, very clever indeed. In their category we wouldn’t say there is a rod that rivals its power, they really are that good, they even offer discounts for purchasing more than one rod.

Full Fuji DPS reel seats are included along with S-Lite guides, no expense has been spared, meaning these rods will not only last for years to come, but they will also continue to look fantastic too.


  • Formidable power, incredible casting performance.
  • Cork handles available.


  • No smaller version than 12ft available.

Best value short carp rod

If you're a fan of using rods a little shorter than the traditional 12ft length, then Sonik Xtractor Pros are a must-view option. Built from a high modulus Toray carbon and reinforced with a Lite-Ply 1K armoured weave, the blanks of these rods are built for the most demanding of carp fishing situations.

Despite their shorter length (available in 9ft and 10ft), these rods have some pretty impressive casting power, aided by the multi-directional tip section and Super-light M-Series DL anti-frap guides. This is improved even further on the 3.25lb-plus models with the butt ring increasing from 40mm to 50mm in diameter.

Considering their ‘affordable’ price, the finish on these rods is fantastic, too, with an 18mm Black DPS reel seat, slim Japanese shrink rubber handle and black anodised butt cap, laser-etched with the Sonik logo.


  • Good casting rod considering its length.
  • Comfortable to use.


  • Can take a while to get used to playing fish on a shorter rod.

Best stalking rod

These shorter ESP Onyx Quickdraw rods are available in 9 or 10ft and both incorporate 40mm butt rings and a retractable butt section. This not only makes them easier to walk around and get into tight swims with, you can also leave them ready to go in the boot of the car so you never miss an opportunity.

The Anti-frap tip is large and really well designed, it eliminates line wrapping over, which is notorious for happening just as you want to put your rig in, ending up in you messing around trying to untangle the rod. The 9ft rod has a 3lb and 3.25lb test curve version, with the 10ft including a 3.25lb and 3.5lb test. 

The rods have a durable EVA handle and the carbon finish is some of the most exquisite available. The rods are finshed this way to prevent scratching and wear that can come with this stalking type of angling, so they are sure to look great and last for years.


  • Retractable for ease of use.
  • Lightweight and easy to store and transport.


  • The 9ft version isn't the best casting rod.

What to look for in a carp rod

Picking the best carp fishing rod for you will largely depend on the types of waters you regularly fish. If your venue is a small farm pond or club lake, you aren't going to need 13ft 4lb test curve rods that are built for casting. It's all about finding the right balance, that includes picking the best carp fishing reel to pair the rod with.

Like many things, carp rods tend to follow certain trends. Short rods have been incredibly popular in recent times, as have 13ft models with high test curves, but there is still nothing wrong with the more traditional 12ft length and lower test curves if used in the correct situations.

Ideally, you want a rod that can cast further than your required distance, so in harsh weather conditions you can still hit the right spots. But this also needs to be paired with a fish playing action that is soft enough for you not to lose fish under the rod tip.


Blank: The hollow carbon fibre tube that the rod is made from, attached to which are the guides and handle.

Guides: The rings that line the length of the rod that the line passes through.

Reel seat: The part of the handle that your reel attaches to. Almost all UK coarse rods have screw-down reel seats, where the fore-grip on the handle rotates and closes the seat to hold the reel in place.

Test curve: Usually measured in pounds, it's the weight that needs to be applied to the end of the rod to make it bend over 90 degrees. The greater the test curve, the more powerful the rod.

Fish playing action: A way of describing how good a rod performs when reeling in a fish. A rod with a good fish-playing action will provide plenty of cushion to a thrashing fish, preventing hookpulls (lost fish) and line breakages.

Progressive action. A rod that quickly powers up from its tip through to its middle area, providing the ideal coordinated playing action for powerful fish.

Tip action: This normally applies to traditional three-piece float rods that need a 'tip or tippy action' to be able to whip out light floats when casting, as well as pick-up line very quickly on the strike.

Through action: A rod that has a softer top section but still produces a cushioned bend throughout its entire length, giving a good fish-playing action.

Rod taper: How a rod changes in diameter along its length. A fast taper rod will typically thicken up very quickly as you move away from the tip. Although other factors come into play, like carbon types, weave and construction, typically, a fast taper rod will bend more at the tip than the butt (tip actioned).

Butt ring: The first eye up from the reel seat, generally, 40mm or 50mm in size and the larger the eye, the less friction on the cast, which can mean better distances.

Anti-frap rings: A specially designed rod ring with longer arms, generally on the tip, which prevents line wrapping around it on the cast, helping prevent crack-offs.

Frequently asked questions on carp rods

Should I choose a rod that will cast the furthest distance that I will want to fish?

No, you should choose a rod that best suits the distance that you want to fish at. A rod that is too long and powerful will make casting short distances with any kind of accuracy difficult and will have a poor fish playing action. This is why all rod ranges feature models of varying lengths and powers.

Why are rods different lengths?

Typically, the further you want to cast, the longer the rod you should go for, whilst also taking into account casting weight and fish playing action.

Will a rod with a bigger casting weight or test curve rating cast further?

Yes, when combined with extra length, you will be able to achieve greater distances with the correct technique and a weight that matches the rod. Be aware that the more powerful your rod, the stronger the line and hooks you will need to use to prevent fish losses, which could, in turn, mean you fooling less fish into taking your bait to start off with.

Why are distance casting rods so stiff?

You can cast miles with this rod, yet it doesn't feel like a broom handle to fish with. The stiffness of all distance rods works in two ways. Firstly, it helps to produce lots of casting power, and secondly, it minimises tip recoil aiding casting distance.

What are rod test curves, and what do they mean?

Quite simply, it is the weight required to pull a rod tip to a 90-degree angle to the rod butt when the rod is held in an upright position. They can also be used as a rough rule-of-thumb guide for the rod's weight casting potential.

Author Aidan Bordiuk is an enthusiastic angler who enjoys all fishing disciplines from match fishing to beach casting. He is currently occupying the position of Commercial Content Writer at Angling Times.

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