Light VS Ultralight fishing rod For Trout

Trout fishing should be done with rod and reel combinations that range from light to ultra-light. Depending on your fishing style, determining which one you use can vary. Here, I’ll go through the main reasons why you might choose one over the other, and the factors that are most likely more important.

Should you use a light or ultralight fishing rod for trout?

Both light and ultralight rods work great for trout fishing. However, the one you choose should depend on the type of water you plan to fish, the bait or lure you’ll throw, and the size of fish you are reeling in.

I use a long ultralight rod for trout. Specifically a 7′ rod with a recommended line rating of 2-4 pound test. I believe this is the best rod for 90% of trout fishing.

The reason why I prefer an ultralight rod is because it’s easier to cast than a light rod. This makes it much easier to get into position where you want to set up your rig. It also allows me to have my hands free to do other things while casting.

If you’re using a light rod, you will need to make sure you have enough leverage to reel in larger fish. A longer rod will help you achieve this.

If you’re going to be using a heavier weight rod, you may not want to use a lighter rod. You’ll need to be able to handle the extra weight. if you are looking for a complete guide on What type of rod is best for inshore fishing? click here.

My favorite trout rod is a 7' Ultralight

Whether you are fishing in lakes, ponds, small streams or raging rivers, make sure you have the fishing rod to match. Here are the major factors to consider when choosing a light vs ultralight rod for trout fishing.

  • Where are you fishing? Lakes, ponds, rivers
  • What are you casting? Lure, bait, or other attractor
  • How big is the average trout where you are fishing?
  • Are you practicing catch and release?
  • Other considerations. Reel and line

But First, The Truth…

The terms “light” and “ultralight” don’t mean very much. What one rod company says is “ultralight” may be considered “light” by another company.

The specs I look for in a trout rod are the length, the recommended line weight, and sometimes the lure weight. These are the specs where the rod has been designed to operate best. These three specs tell me so much more about the action of the rod than the terms “light” and “ultralight.”

Defining Light vs Ultralight

Light Fishing Rods

  • Length:shorterthan 6′
  • Recommended line weight: 4 to 10 pound test
  • Lure weight: ~¼ oz.

Ultralight Fishing Rods

  • Length:longerthan 6′
  • Recommended line weight: 1 to 4 pound test
  • Lure weight: ~1/32 oz.

This is because the only practical reason of using an ultralight rod is to cast light baits and lures farther with more accuracy. A longer rod will cast much farther than a short one.

Hopefully that cleared up the definition of light vs ultralight. Now let’s get into the good stuff.

Is a Medium Light Rod Good for Trout Fishing?

A medium light rod is ideal to catch trout and other small game fish. This type of rod is usually around 7 feet long and weighs about 2 pounds. Because of their size, medium light rods are great for fishing shallow water areas such as lakes and ponds. They also work well for casting into open water where you want to cast farther distances. If you’re looking for something smaller, try a light rod. These types of rods are good for targeting larger species like walleye and pike.

Lure weight is another important factor to consider when selecting a lure for your next outing. Lures come in different sizes ranging from tiny jigs to large plugs. Smaller lures tend to be better for targeting smaller game while larger ones are used for bigger targets. You’ll find both types of lures in tackle shops.

When choosing a lure, look for one that fits your needs. For example, if you’re trying to target largemouth bass, choose a bait that looks similar to what the fish eat. Also, make sure that the lure doesn’t move too much once it hits the water. Some lures can cause problems because they move too fast or don’t sink quickly enough.

Where Are You Fishing?

The design of the rod has more to do with casting than it does with reeling in the trout. However, both factors do matter and I will cover them both throughout this post.

The way water type (eg. lake vs river) could affect your choice between a light vs ultralight rod has to do with fighting the trout.

Trout are known for being strong fighters. Wild trout in particular know a few tricks to get off the hook. One of these tricks is to pull your line into snags and rocks which will cut or break it. If you are fishing near snags, then using a light or medium action rod vs an ultralight, can help to keep the fish under control.

Another trick a wise trout will use is the power of a river’s current. Trout have torpedo like bodies that are designed to have very little resistance in the river. But all they have to do is turn their bodies perpendicular to the current and they’ll be quickly washed downstream. So what sometimes happens when you hook a trout, is that they will turn their bodies to get the pull of the river on their side.

What to look for when choosing a spinning rod?

When it comes to choosing a spinning reel, there are several things to consider. First and foremost, you want to find one that fits your style of fishing. Are you looking for something that is lightweight and easy to cast? Or do you prefer heavier weight models that require less effort to wind up? Next, you want to make sure that the reel offers enough capacity to hold your catch. How big of a fish are you hoping to land? And finally, how much money are you willing to spend?

The size of the reel is determined by the diameter of the handle. Reel diameters range anywhere from 3/8 inches to 2 inches. Smaller diameter reels are easier to use and offer better control over the bait or lure. Larger diameter reels are generally lighter and easier to cast. You can buy smaller diameter reels for under $100, while larger diameter reels start at about $200.

Reel capacity refers to the amount of line that the reel can hold. Line capacities vary greatly. Some reels can hold 50 yards of 12 pound test monofilament line, while others can hold hundreds of yards of 20 pound test mono. If you

Use a light or medium power rod in fast flowing rivers.

In faster rivers, It’s often better to use a light or medium action rod, which will give you the backbone to keep fish from running off downstream.

Unfortunately, what you gain in fighting power, you can lose in castability. What makes ultralight rods so desirable is their ability to cast ultralight baits and lures.

To conclude this section I would say, think about the obstacles that could arise during a fight, and the bait/lure you need to throw. Here are a couple rules I follow…

  • If you are fishing for trout over 14 inches in a strong river then go for a light to medium action rod.
  • If you are fishing in a lake or pond for highly pressured trout under 16 inches, then go with an ultralight rod, and do your best to keep the fish out of the snaggs.

What Are You Casting?

I touched a bit on this already, but remember that lighter action rods are designed to cast lighter baits and lures farther and with more accuracy.

Refer to the chart below to get an idea of what you can likely cast with a light rod vs an ultralight rod. YES means you most likely can cast it, NO means probably not very well.

What Bait/Lure You Can CastLight RodUltralight Rod
Salmon Egg with 1 splitshotNOYES
1/32 oz. LureNOYES
Small NightcrawlerNOYES
Small Jig or Fly with Weightless BobberNOYES
Egg, Jig or fly with weighted bobberYesYES
1/16 oz. LuresYESYES
Nightcrawler with SplitshotYESYES

As you can see, an Ultralight rod can cast anything a light rod can cast and then some.

Ultralight baits and lures are important when you are fishing for trout that are easily spooked. Maybe they have been under a lot of angling pressure. Maybe they have learned to be more cautious about thick fishing lines, big lures, and splashes from large sinkers.

If you never need to cast ultralight baits, then a light action rod may be all you need for trout fishing.

However, I like to keep my options open. That’s why I chose the 7’6” ultralight.

How Big Are The Trout?

small trout are a lot of fun on an ultralight rod

This brings us back to fighting the fish. During the fight, you want to be in control. If your rod and line are too light, the fish will run you all over the place.

This is where the question comes into play: Do you want more castability or fighting power?

If you are targeting big trout over 16 inches (especially in a river), then you may get away with 1/4+ oz. lures. In this case you should use a light or even a medium action rod.

But if the average fish is around 12 inches, or if you are fishing still water for trout up to 16 inches, then I recommend using an ultralight rod. This will give you more options for baits and lures to cast if the trout are pressured.

Are You Practicing Catch and Release?

If you are practicing catch and release, and targeting big trout over 16 inches, then go with a light to medium action rod. It is important to be able to net the fish quickly so you don’t tire them out too much.

If you are using an ultralight rod, it may take longer to get the fish in because the rod doesn’t have the backbone to pull it. This means you have to fight the fish for longer to wear it out. This of course, isn’t good for the fish.

So, if you are going to practice catch and release, make sure you choose the right rod.

What Are the Benefits of Using an Ultralight Rod?

Ultralights are lighter than regular fishing rods, which makes it easier for anglers to cast longer distances and make bigger casts. This allows you to cover greater areas of water faster, giving you more chances to find fish. Plus, ultralights are much easier to transport and store compared to traditional fishing rods.

Other Considerations


  • The reel is not nearly as important as the rod. You can get by with a $15 to $20 reel labeled as “ultralight.” I usually go with a Shimano or Okuma in this price range. They last me a few years and I get a ton of use out of them. Currently I have a Pflueger President reel because it’s so quiet and smooth, but it costs around $40.


  • If you are fishing with a light or ultralight rod thenI recommend a 4 pound test line.I would never go bigger for trout. My biggest trout was a 21 inch cutthroat caught in a river. I was using a 2 pound test line and still got it to the bank. (It was unexpected, otherwise I would have used a stronger rod with a 4 pound test line.)

If you want to learn more about hunting and fishing, check this page out.

Can You Catch Bass on an Ultralight?

Ultra light rods are designed for capturing small fish like perch and sunfish. They weigh less than 3 ounces and are typically used for fishing shallow water areas where casting distance isn’t a concern. Anglers use ultra light rods because they’re easier to cast and require less effort to reel in a fish.

A 4lb line will work perfectly to catch a 20 lb largemouth bass. If you want to catch a bigger bass, try a heavier line. Lighter lines allow angler to cast farther and faster, allowing them to cover greater distances while still reeling in a large fish.


For trout fishing I would recommend an ultralight rod which I define as longer than 6 feet, and rated for line between 1 to 4 pound test. The only time I would use a light or medium action rod for trout is if I knew I was targeting fish over 16 inches in a fast flowing river.