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What Is the Best Beginners Rod and Reel Under $50 For Fishing?

What is the best rod and reel for beginners to use in freshwater and saltwater fishing?

This is one of the most common questions I get every year about this time or even earlier. What is the best fishing rod for under $50 you can use for saltwater or freshwater fishing?

I have a great answer for you. Read on!

What Is the Best All-Around Fishing Rod and Reel Combination?

As a beginner, you want a fishing rod and reel that you can use for any situation. Rods and reels under $50 are typically Chinese no-name brand rods and reels that will break within the first couple of times you go fishing.

Instead of referring you to one of those fishing rods, I will make a case for why you should buy a brand-name fishing rod and reel for under $50.

The spinning rod I’m going to recommend is from Shakespeare. This company was around when my father and grandfather were fishing. You may have heard of the ugly stick. It is a strong fishing rod that I have used for many years and have been very happy with. I figured for your first rod you should also have a Shakespeare.

Likewise, the reel that I want you to buy as your first beginner’s rod one is a brand name. PENN reels have been my favorite brand for over two decades. My uncles used them and I have heard almost nothing but good things about these reels.

I’ve spent well over a thousand of dollars on PENN equipment in the past. I have never regretted a purchase.

What Is the Best Inexpensive Fishing Reel?

For your first fishing reel, I wanted you to have one that you could use for freshwater or saltwater fishing. The PENN reel that I am about to tell you about is probably the least expensive reel in their manufacturing line. That’s OK because what we are looking for is a brand name filled with quality fishing products.

PENN fits that qualification.

PENN PURSUIT III reel.
PENN PURSUIT III 4000 level reel is great for beginners. ©Vern Lovic at Salty101.com.

The best all-around spinning reel you can get for catching fish in Florida or anywhere in the USA is the PENN PURSUIT III (PURIII4000).

This is the latest iteration of a tried and true reel that has provided beginners and intermediate anglers alike thousands of hours of enjoyable fishing time with family and friends.

This is not just a beginner’s reel for children, though they can certainly master it in a few minutes. I recently bought this rod and reel setup after looking at hundreds to choose from at my local fishing store.

I saw many SHIMANO, DAIWA, and ABU GARCIA reels that I compared. I looked up reviews on Amazon and fishing sites to see if people were generally satisfied with this reel. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of the PENN PURSUIT III as a great purchase that would serve a new angler well for years of fishing.

Why Is the PENN PURSUIT III 4000 level a Great Beginners Reel?

You get the feeling this reel is high-quality made when it is only about a $35 reel! Go pick one up somewhere and see how it feels. The reel action is buttery smooth. The handle is unbelievably comfortable to reel in line with.

Check out the rubber-coated handle. It’s grippy and large enough to be comfortable. This is crucial when fishing for hours at a time, especially on a lake or somewhere with artificial lures where you are reeling constantly.

PENN PURSUIT III Specs

  • Gear Ratio is 6.2:1. You get a lot of line reeled in with one turn of the handle.
  • Monofilament Capacity – 6 lb./360 yds. | 8 lb./285 yds. | 10 lb./ 220 yds. | 20 lb./ 120 yds.
  • Braided Capacity – 10 lb./310 yds. | 15 lb./270 yds. | 20 lb./220 yds.
  • Weight – 12.4 oz./351 grams
  • HT-100 Carbon fiber drag washers (smooth).
  • Corrosion-resistant graphite body (OK for saltwater)
  • Aluminum spool
  • Reversible handle – swap left or right side.

All of this for well under $50 US Dollars almost anywhere you look (except Asia!) is an exceptional deal and makes the decision easy for me to choose the right fishing reel to recommend to you.

What Is the Best Inexpensive Fishing Rod?

Shakespeare OUTCAST rod is ideal for beginners or anyone looking for light tackle. ©Vern Lovic at Salty101.com.

The Shakespeare rod I am going to recommend to you is ridiculously inexpensive. I found it for just $15. And, I think it’s a fantastic bargain. It is super lightweight and has a couple of features I really like.

The first one is the weight. It is ultra-lightweight. I’m using it with a level 4000 reel and it will fit anything down to a 1000. You could even go up one size to a 5000 but I think the balance will be off a bit. Stay with the 4000 level size PENN PURSUIT.

Most people use braided line these days – at least part of the time. This rod has metal guides with ceramic inserts which means braided works fine on this rod. This was the one problem I thought I might have with a setup this light.

When I bought this rod and reel I wanted something that I could use mainly for freshwater ponds and lakes, but also for the occasional cruise down to the beach or fishing pier.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to want to target heavy fish on this rod! It says “medium” action, but I’m going to call it effectively medium-light. The top flexes considerably with even a couple of pounds of weight, so it will make catching any size fish a real good time.

Don’t target Jacks, Grouper, Wahoo fish or Amberjack fish with this tiny rod/reel setup!

That said, I read in the comments at PENN’s website that someone had caught a 20 lb. kingfish on their PENN 4000 reel! They definitely did NOT have this rod though.

The best inexpensive fishing rod is the Shakespeare OUTCAST rod.

Shakespeare OUTCAST Rod Specs

  • 6 ft. 6 inches (variable, there were other sizes)
  • Medium action (that is more like medium-light).
  • Ultra-lightweight. I’ve never handled a lighter rod before.
  • Compatible with PENN spinning rods of 1000 to 4000 level with good balance.
  • Foam grip, not cork. (I don’t like cork)
  • A 2-piece collapsible is nice for traveling.

Shakespeare OUTCAST Rod OCSP 66 2M. 6’6″ long. Medium action. Black. (Part # 01E18BK)

My PURSUIT III and OUTCAST Setup

I wound on some 20 lb. mono line as my main spool line. I couldn’t find 20-30 lb. braided line I liked is the only reason I went with mono. Ideally, you should put 20-30 lb. braided fishing line on yours.

I’m going to go to a fishing lake at the base of a huge mountain here in the area and so I bought some flexible plastic grubs about 3 inches long in different colors. I bought some jig heads to fit them. I got some strong swivels and an assortment of smaller hooks to catch everything from baitfish up to decent-sized eating fish of a few pounds or so.

If you haven’t yet learned the Palomar Knot, you should go now and see how to tie it. Super-simple and you’ll learn it in about 20 seconds. Don’t forget to wet the knot before you cinch it tight.

After Your Fishing Trip

If you go freshwater fishing, it’s a good idea to rinse your rod and reel of dirt. Don’t dunk your reel in a bucket of water unless you plan on taking it apart to lube and air-dry. The main idea is to remove the spool and clean what you see with just water, wiping it out with a rag.

If you fished in saltwater, you’ll need to spray the reel down well with fresh water and wipe it off well. Salt can corrode metal and other materials pretty fast. It’s essential to clean your gear well when saltwater fishing.

Your new PENN PURSUIT III reel and Shakespeare OUTCAST rod should last for years if you’re strictly using it in freshwater and not with fish so big that they can destroy your gear. If you’re fishing saltwater a lot, you’ll get about a year of use before you need to replace parts or get a new reel.

PENN includes a parts list in the box with this reel which is outstanding. I never expected to see that for a reel this cheap.

Shakespeare and PENN generally make really good fishing gear. You probably won’t go wrong if you continue to buy these brands for the rest of your life!