Compact Angling: How To Choose The Best Pen Fishing Rod For Your Pocket

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Pen fishing rods have gained popularity among anglers for their compact design and convenience, but there’s debate over whether they’re a practical tool for fishing or just a novelty. These rods, which can collapse to the size of a pen, are designed for anglers to carry and use on the fly easily. The allure is obvious: a fishing rod that will fit in your pocket allows an angler to fish impromptu without carrying bulky equipment.

Yet, the question remains: do pen fishing rods deliver on their promise of convenience yet still provide a viable option for anglers?

Key Takeaways

  • Pen fishing rods are a compact and portable option for anglers.
  • They are most effective in specific scenarios where traditional gear is less convenient.
  • Quality and type are crucial factors in selecting a pen rod that offers genuine utility.

Design and Material Choices

The best pen fishing rods are typically constructed from durable materials such as aluminum alloycarbon fiber, or glass steel fiber, ensuring a balance between lightweight properties and strength. Using stainless steel for moving parts and aluminum or fiberglass for rod construction is common. Their compact size doesn’t detract from their robustness, making them suitable for catching a range of fish sizes, but typically not the largest species.

Materials commonly used in pen fishing rods:

  • Rod Shaft: Aluminum alloy, carbon fiber, glass steel fiber
  • Reel: Stainless steel, aluminum

Types and Features

Pen fishing rods come in various types, including mini fishing rods, telescopic rods, and collapsible fishing rod forms. Telescopic fishing rod models can extend to varying lengths, offering adaptability depending on the fishing scenario. Most sets are sold as rod and reel combos for convenience and simplicity. 

Features to consider:

  • Type: Telescopic, collapsible, mini
  • Length: Varies, some extending up to several feet
  • Weight: Lightweight for ease of transport

When Should You Use A Pen Rod?

Pen fishing rods have a distinct niche within the fishing community. I recommend using a pen rod:

  • When Traveling: Their compact size makes them highly portable, fitting easily into a backpack or glove compartment.
  • For Casual Angling: If you’re looking for a relaxing day by the water and targeting small species, a pen rod is a suitable choice.
  • Teaching Children: Their manageable size and simplicity make pen rods ideal for introducing fishing to kids.
  • As a Backup: A pen rod can serve as a convenient backup that doesn’t consume much space.
  • During Hikes or Camps: On trails, weight and space are at a premium; pen rods excel in this scenario.

Matching the pen rod to the fish size and water environment is essential. I use them for species like crappies, small trout, or bluegill. However, a full-sized rod is required for harder fighting and larger fish over a couple of pounds, like bass and carp.

Features to Look For:

  • Material: I prefer aluminum alloy for durability and weight balance.
  • Reel Quality: A decent reel compliments a pen rod’s performance.
  • Ease of Use: This is especially important for children or novice anglers.
  • Length and Strength: The rod should extend to a functional length and handle the intended fish size.

So, Which Are the Best Pen Fishing Rods?

The effectiveness of these rods can vary widely based on their construction, material, and the type of fishing they’re used for. I’ll examine their practicality and guide you in choosing which pen fishing rods are functional and have sufficient quality to perform.

pen portable telescopic fishing pole
Pen rods create a lot of fun for light tackle and
smaller fish and come in many colors
  • Docooler Mini Aluminum Pen Fishing Rod Reel Combo – My Best Overall Pick! 
  • Lixada Pen Fishing Rod Reel Combo Set – My Best Quality Pick!
  • YOGAYET Mini Pocket Fishing Rod & Reel Combo – My Best Fly Fishing Pick!
  • MultiOutools Pen Fishing Pole & Reel Combo – My Best Ornamental Pick!
  • Happy Outdoor Mini Pen Fishing Pole & Reel Combo – My Best For Kids Pick!

Docooler Mini Aluminum Pen Fishing Rod Reel Combo – My Best Overall Pick! 

The Docooler Mini Saltwater Pen Fishing Rod & Reel Combo is one of the best pen fishing rods around, and it comes with a reel, too, so it’s pretty much the most portable fishing kit you can own. 

You can keep this pen rod combo in your glove box or your work bag so you can have a cast on any bit of water you happen to wander by, including saltwater use. 

When closed, the pen fishing rod is just 8 inches long to store it in your pocket. To open it up, remove the lid and pull open the telescopic rod to its full length of 38 inches. 

The rod is durably built from fiberglass and aluminum alloy, which means it is both corrosion-resistant and flexible enough to bend by fish. It is surprisingly good to cast with, and you can easily make casts of around 15-20 feet with it, which is more than enough to catch a fish or two. 

This is the perfect pen rod to enjoy catching small fish like crappies, small trout, and bluegill plus, it is super easy to use and the perfect size for kids too. It will handle a fight pretty well, but you will be outgunned if you hook a large bass or trout. 

This set includes an aluminum alloy reel, which works okay but is not very durable, so don’t be surprised if it needs replacing at some point. You will also find some basic line on the reel, but you should remove it and replace it with a new one, or you will be untangling the line instead of fishing. 


  • Good for casting, despite being tiny 
  • Rod is well-made and will last 
  • Awesome for kids and beginners 
  • Way too much for pros  
  • It is super easy to use and simple to set up 
  • Super lightweight and portable fishing combo 
  • Includes an aluminum alloy reel with fishing line 
  • Holds a good amount of line 


  • The reel isn’t very durable 
  • The line needs changing as it coils  
  • Won’t handle big fish over 2 lbs 



Material: Aluminum alloy & fiberglass 

Closed length: 7.87in

Open length: 38 in

Weight: 55 grams 


Material: Aluminum alloy

Gear Ratio: 5.1:1

Weight: 5.19oz

Line capacity: 5lb/180 yd or 0.5mm/190m

Lixada Pen Fishing Rod Reel Combo Set – My Best Quality Pick!

The Lixada Pen, Fishing Rod Reel Combo Set is the best quality pen fishing rod and reel combos around, and if you genuinely want to catch fish with a pen rod setup, this is the one to buy. 

The rod is 8 inches long when stored away, so you can keep it handy in a laptop bag, glove box – pretty much anywhere. This means you will never walk past a fishy bit of water again and think, “I wish I had my rod,” as this one will be with you. 

The Lixada extends to a range of lengths from 1 to 2.4 meters, so you can pick the rod length that suits you best. Built from glass steel fiber and a high-quality aluminum alloy, the rod is pretty tough and can handle a reasonable-sized fish. 

You can make some long casts with it and cover more than enough distance to catch small species like trout, bluegill, and crappies. It is the perfect setup for kids, beginners, and anyone looking for a cool portable rod option.  

The pen rod combo also comes with a good spinning reel. Built from aluminum, it is both durable and light, plus it even comes with drag and anti-reverse. The line capacity is pretty good with up to 60 meters of 2lb line, so if you do hook a bigger fish, you might be able to land it. 

The one problem with this combo is the line that comes on the reel; it is not to the standard of the rod/reel combo and is full of memory. Be sure to remove it and replace it with some new mono so you don’t end up in tangles. 

If you plan to go ice fishing, the Lixada pen rod and reel combo is the best option to use. It can handle bigger-sized fish, such as bass, up to 5 lbs if you take your time to land the fish slowly.


  • It comes in a range of different sizes 
  • A great gift for anglers 
  • Perfect for off-the-cuff fishing opportunities 
  • Very affordable for the quality 
  • It comes with a spinning reel that works well 
  • Kids and beginners will love using this 
  • A fun gift for fishing enthusiasts or collectors
  • A durable rod that is fun for catching small species 
  • Small, lightweight, and super portable 


  • Change out the line that comes with it 



Material: Aluminum alloy & glass steel fiber 

Closed length: 8 in. 

Open length: 1 – 2.4 m 

Weight: 2.8 oz 


Material: Aluminum alloy 

Gear Ratio: 4.3: 1

Weight: 7 oz 

Line capacity: 1lb/120M, 2lb/60M

Yogayet Mini Pocket Fishing Rod & Reel Combo – My Best Fly Fishing Pick!

The Yogayet Mini Pocket Fishing Rod & Reel Combo is a different style of pen fishing rod combo compared to the others, as this combo comes with a fly reel instead of a spinning reel. 

This mini pocket rod, like the others, is made from durable fiberglass and aluminum so that you can use it in saltwater and freshwater. They are pretty durable, tough little rods, too, and can handle catching trout around 1 lb and other species of a similar size. 

When stored, the rod is 8.27 inches, highly portable, and can be taken anywhere you go. It hits around 39 inches in length when pulled out, so you can easily make short casts with it. 

The fly reel with the rod is made from aluminum and works well, but you must lubricate it before using it. To get the most out of the reel, buy a 2-weight fly line and trim it down to a length that works with the reel. 

When set up, the Yogayet combo is a ton of fun to catch small fish with, and it is great for kids to learn fly fishing with. Check out my article on learning how to fly fish

You will find that the set includes a box of fishing tackle, including two fishing floats, two jig hooks, and a couple of soft lures. The mono fishing line is very cheap and not very good quality. I suggest replacing them when you get a chance to give you more chances to catch fish. 


  • It comes with a fly reel for fly fishing
  • It can also be used with a spinning reel 
  • Super portable
  • It is quite good to cast with 
  • Works for fly fishing with a trimmed 2 wt fly line 
  • Great for kids to learn fly fishing with 
  • Fun for catching small trout with 
  • Set includes line, lures, and a tackle box 


  • Line and lures are not so good 
  • The reel needs lubricating before use 



Material: Aluminum & fiberglass

Closed length: 8.27 inch 

Open length: 39 inch 

Weight: 170 grams (total)


Material: Aluminum alloy 

G. Ratio: 1:1

Weight: 170 grams (total)

Line capacity: 2lb/20m 

MultiOutools Pen Fishing Pole & Reel Combo – My Best Ornamental Pick!

The MultiOutools Pen Fishing Rod & Reel Combo isn’t the most functional option featured in my picks, but it is a great gift for a collector who likes the idea of a pen fishing rod. 

You can still fish with it, but don’t expect it to be as durable as the others. 

The MultiOutools is made from aluminum and fiberglass like the others and is super light and portable, being just 7.87 inches long. Fully opened, it is around 38 inches long, long enough to make casts of around 20 feet to catch some small fish. 

Opening it up is easy as you extend the telescopic sections and lock them in place. Closing it is a little more tricky as the sections tend to stick, making it a little bit frustrating. 

This rod and reel combo comes with a reel, line, lures, and everything you need to start fishing. It would make a good gift for a child who wants to try fishing as it is super affordable, and if they do like it, you can upgrade the tackle.  

However, the lures, line, and reel are not the best, and I would suggest replacing them as soon as possible since they will only create headaches on the water. 


  • Advertised as ready for saltwater  
  • Ideal for kids, beginners, and quick casts 
  • Labeled durable enough for saltwater use 
  • Simple and easy to use 
  • Good for small fish around 1 lb in size 
  • You can cast pretty well with it 
  • Lightweight and super portable 
  • Includes tackle, line, and reel 
  • Best used as an ornament 


  • You will want to replace the reel and terminal tackle 
  • Delicate and needs extra care when fishing 



Material: Aluminum alloy & fiberglass 

Closed length: 7.87 in. 

Open length: 38 in. 

Weight: 0.13 lbs 


Material: Plastic & aluminum 

G. Ratio: 5.1:1 

Weight: NA

Line capacity mm/m: 0.17/130,0.20/110,0.23/90

Happy Outdoor Mini Pen Fishing Pole & Reel Combo – My Best For Kids Pick! 

The Happy Outdoor Mini Pen Fishing Pole Reel Combo is another of the options out there that suits the first rod for a kid to “test the waters,” so to speak, or as an ornament for a collector. 

The combo includes everything from a reel to the line, lures, and floats, too, but the reel doesn’t work, so you will want to buy a separate one if you intend to use this for fishing. 

The rod is built from aluminum and plastic, creating a surprisingly durable combination that will easily catch small fish under 1 lb. Closed, this pen rod is 8 inches, and fully extended, it is 39 inches. 

You can make good enough casts with it of around 25 feet and, therefore, can catch small species that like to come near the shoreline. 

Opening the rod out is simple, but closing it can be a problem as the sections tend not to retract smoothly, meaning getting it back to the 8-inch pen length every time might often prove difficult.

The reel in the set is made to sit on the mantelpiece, as it is quite pretty but not very functional. It has no drag and will eventually not last very long. You are best off adding your own spinning reel if you want to use this pocket fishing rod.  


  • Rod can handle small fish around 1lb 
  • It works well for kids 
  • Good for casting short distances 
  • Compact, light, and portable 
  • Easy to open and use 
  • Excellent for use as an ornament/collector’s item 
  • Includes line, lures, and a reel 


  • The reel quality is poor 
  • The sections of the rod can get stuck 
  • Not that great for fishing with 



Material: Plastic and aluminum 

Closed length: 8.1 in. 

Open length: 39 in. 

Weight: 6 oz 


Material: Plastic  

G. Ratio: 1:1

Weight: 8 oz 

Line capacity: 2lb/26 m 

Pen Fishing Rods – Frequently Asked Questions

When Should You Use A Pen Fishing Rod?

Pen fishing rods are best suited for:

  • Casual fishing escapades
  • Backup use in unexpected fishing opportunities
  • Anglers with limited carrying space

What Type Of Fishing Is A Pen Rod Best For?

Their effective application hinges on the target species and environment:

  • Freshwater: Suitable for small fish like crappiessmall trout, and bluegill.
  • Saltwater: Generally less ideal due to the potential for corrosion, but some options are corrosion-resistant.
  • Ice Fishing: A fun use case, but the rod’s limited strength must be considered against the environment.

What Is The Best Line For A Pen Rod?

The best fishing line for use with a pen rod is monofilament. Mono is more stretchy than braid or fluoro fishing line, which helps reduce pressure on the rod during striking and landing fish. A line with a minimum 2lb to a maximum 4lb test (breaking strain) is the ideal strength. If you use a stronger line, the rod will likely snap!

What Drag Should I Set On A Pen Reel?

It’s always best to keep a very loose drag while fishing with pen fishing rods. Once you have a fish on the line, adjust and tighten the drag accordingly whilst landing the fish. 

Can I Lift A Fish With A Pen Rod?

It is best not to lift a fish weighing more than 4oz (approx 6″ in length) with a pen rod. These tiny rods are not strong enough to lift a larger fish without breaking. For larger fish, it is always best to use a telescopic landing net to ensure you land the fish without harming the fish.

Final Thoughts 

Thanks very much for reading my article. I hope you enjoyed it and found the right pen fishing rod. They are a super cool concept, and being so affordable, it is worth owning one. 

Pen rods are useful for specific conditions, particularly where convenience and portability are priorities. They should not be expected to replace standard rods for serious angling or larger fish. Just be sure to choose the right pen rod for your purpose; for example, some of the ones sold are better on the mantelpiece, while others will catch fish! 

If you are interested in reading more on rods that offer portability but are more suited for larger fish, check out my article on travel fishing rods, which covers quality traveling options for saltwater, coarse, fly, and carp fishing. 

Steve Fitzjohn