6 Best Fishing Brands

Buying fishing gear for the first time can be a complicated task. There are so many rods and reels, lures, and accessories that it can often confuse the buyer.

Our team of writers conduct thorough research, testing, and comparisons to provide recommendations for top-rated products. As a reader-supported platform, we may earn commissions from purchases made through our affiliate links.

Buying fishing gear for the first time can be a complicated task. There are so many rods and reels, lures, and accessories that it can often confuse the buyer.

The best piece of advice I ever received about buying hunting, fishing, or outdoor equipment was, look for gear that is easily obtainable to where you spend your time. Like Newton said “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Last thing you want to be doing on a fishing trip is scrambling around town looking for replacement parts that they don’t stock.

Here are my picks for the 6 best fishing brands to look at. I will be judging these by their accessibility, price and reviews. My picks are Shakespeare, Penn, Cortland, Orvis, LL Bean and Rapala.

Table of Contents

Shakespeare Rod And Reels

The Shakespeare Company has been producing quality fishing gear since 1897 and it has been a popular choice for anglers ever since.

Where To Find Shakespeare Rods And Reels

Arguably the greatest thing about Shakespeare is that it is available everywhere. You can find Shakespeare on Amazon, most major outdoor stores, such as Cabelas and Basspro Shops, small mom and pop owned stores, and stores like Walmart. This makes them a popular choice for the modern day angler.

Shakespeare’s Price Point

You will be able to buy a Shakespeare Rod and Reel combo without breaking the bank. A Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 outfit, will cost you $49.99 at most sores. This is a great rod and one that I own and still use on a regular basis.

Reviews Of Shakespeare Rod And Reels

As I mentioned above I own a Shakespeare rod and I can attest to its quality. It is just a nice rod and reel, casts and reels smoothly and I have never had any issues with it. A quick Google search shows that Shakespeare has a 4-5 star review on most sites.

Wrap Up

Overall Shakespeare produces a great product that can be used to catch everything from bluegills, to bass and trout. It is something that I highly recommend.

Penn Rod And Reels

Penn Fishing Tackle has been around since the early 1900s. Penn has been known to be ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. 

Where To Locate Penn Fishing Gear

Penn fishing gear will be located at many of the same stores that Shakespeare is located in. However, in my quick research it appeared Penn had a larger presence on Amazon. Also, in my experience I do not see Penn as often as Shakespeare, or other manufacturers, at the small mom and pop stores. But, this just may be the areas in which I fish.

Pricepoint Of Penn Fishing Gear

Penn fishing gear is, on average, going to be more expensive than Shakespeare. A google search shows Penn rod and reel combos will start at approximately $90.00, with some getting up to the $150-170 price range.

Review Of Penn Fishing Gear

Penn fishing gear is rated very high. My own research showed most people rated them at 4.5 or 5 stars. Most people rave about the quality. While reviewing Penn I decided I will be buying one before next season!

Wrap up

Penn has a solid name and can be located at most stores. They are a little bit more expensive, but as many reviewers said “you get what you pay for.”

Cortland Fly Fishing Gear

Cortland is another company that has been around for over a century. Cortland is based in Cortland, New York.

Where To Locate Cortland Fishing Gear

Cortland can be difficult to find at the major big name businesses, but they do have an entry level outfit for sale at Walmart. The reason I like Cortland is because I usually find them at the smaller tackle stores in the more remote areas I fish. Because of this, I usually bring my Cortland rod and reel on trips.

Price Point Of Cortland Fishing Gear

The price of Cortland will vary, but Walmart has a basic 8’ combo that is for sale for approximately $70.00. My Cortland set-up was just over $200.00, I purchased the rod and reel separately from a small tackle shop near my cabin. This is my “truck” rod and reel and stays in my UTV all summer. If I locate a good fishing hole, I use this rod.

Cortland also sells a variety of fly fishing gear. Cortland backing line will cost around $40.00, a net $12.00-$30.00, vest or chest pack will range from $30.00-$40.00, rod and reel carrying case will be $40.00, little items like scissors, knot tyer, fly boxes, cleaners, and everything else can range from $5.00-$25.00.

Cortland gear, like any other fly fishing gear, will add up quickly.

Reviews Of Cortland Fly Fishing

Generally speaking, Cortland has good reviews, but people complained about Cortland rods snapping. Which truth be told this has happened to me, however Cortland replaced the rod and I haven’t had an issue since.

Wrap Up

Overall, Cortland has been good to me. I feel the strikes well and I find it easy to cast out.

Orvis Fly Fishing Gear

Many people believe Orvis is the best in the fly fishing business. Orvis was founded in the mid 1800s and is based out of Vermont.

Where To Buy Orvis

Orvis can also be found at a lot of the big name stores out there. You can find a lot of Orvis products online, especially Amazon. In my personal experience, I have not found a lot of Orvis gear at small tackle shops. However, Orvis can be found all over the country at their stores or affiliate stores.

Price Point Of Orvis Fishing Gear

Orvis has a reputation for being an expensive store, but they sell fly fishing gear at reasonable prices. A Google search showed you can get an Orvis Encounter Fly and Reel combo for $169.00 at Cabelas and most other big name stores. Reelflyrod.com is selling a complete Orvis fly fishing outfit, complete with flies, line, scissors, net, and a carrying case for $295.00. That price tag may seem high, but it's not that bad for quality gear. Orvis also sells extremely expensive rods and reels that can be upwards of $1000.00.

Like Cortland, Orvis sells a variety of gear, such as nets, lines, flies, and so forth, but individually they are expensive. If you are set on Orvis I would look for a complete package. It will be expensive upfront, but may save you money in the long run. Orvis also sells other gear, clothing, waders, and so forth.

Review Of Orvis Gear

Orvis has an amazing name and reputation. They pretty much only have 5 star reviews across the board. I own and use an Orvis fly rod and reel and love it. I like it more than my Cortland, but it is also more expensive, so I tend to baby it.

Orvis Fishing Clothing

Orvis also sells a variety of gear, specifically made for fishing. Orvis fishing jackets, waders, boots, packs, and hats are used by all anglers.

Price Of Orvis Fishing Clothing

Like their rod and reels, Orvis tends to be a little bit more expensive than other competitors. However, with some things like jackets or waders, you will want to look for more quality items, otherwise you’ll be buying the same item more than once.

Orvis has a variety of fishing jackets, that will range in price from $149.00 to $350.00. These jackets are great and something you can use no matter what type of fishing you are embarking on. They keep you dry and warm and allow you to fish when the weather is gloomy.

Orvis waders will range from $198.00 to over $300.00. They seem to be quality and durable, but I have never owned a pair.

Other Orvis gear includes bags, boots, packs and tools. All these range in price, but for the most part Orvis is quality and you get what you pay for. If there is an Orvis dealer near you, I recommend this brand.

Reviews Of Orvis Fishing Clothing

The reviews of Orvis fishing clothing are similar to their rods and reels. Overall, they are highly regarded. However, some people have complained about their waders leaking water.

LL Bean Fishing Clothing

LL Bean is another outdoor store that has been around since, the early 1900s. LL Bean is known for their Bean Boats, which to me are the ultimate hunting boots, but they also sell fishing gear.

Where To Locate LL Bean

The reason LL Bean Fishing rods and reels didn’t make the cut, is because they can be difficult to get. They are usually only sold at LL Bean stores and outlets, so depending on where you live you might not be able to find an outfit. They have a great online business though, so I recommend their clothing and other gear.

Pricepoint Of LL Bean

Like Orvis, LL Bean is a little bit more expensive than other stores, but it is quality.

LL Bean has a clothing line up called the “No Fly Zone”, it is clothing used to repel bugs and mosquitoes. The pants are $65.00-$99.00 and the shirts will be around $40.00. It is a little expensive, but I use it for hunting, fishing, kayaking, and hiking. So I get my money's worth.

Like Orvis, LL Bean sells rain jackets specifically made for fishing. They will cost $129.00-$300.00. They are durable and comfortable. I have owned several in my lifetime and continue to use LL Bean rain gear for fishing and hunting.

LL Bean has a wide range of decent waders that range from $149.00 to $400.00. They are also durable and comfortable.

LL Bean also sells any fishing gear you may need, boots, nets, scissors, vest and packs. Like Orvis, you can’t go wrong with LL Bean gear.

LL Bean stores and outlets, will often have a returned or discounted section in their stores. This is a great spot to locate LL Bean gear, especially if you go out of season. Although I never lucked out with fishing gear, I have got a $260.00 bird hunting jacket for $40.00.

These items usually aren’t listed online, so you will need to go to a physical store and see what they have in stock.

Reviews Of LL Bean Gear

LL Bean is rated very similar to Orvis. One of LL Bean's biggest critiques is sizing though. Everything at LL Bean seems to run big. So if you order something from them keep this in mind. LL Bean’s customer service is second to none and is 24/7. Heck, Connan O'brien has done skits about calling LL Bean on his late show.

The majority of my fishing and hunting clothing is from LL Bean. I find it to be the most durable, most comfortable, and most dependable.

Also, like I mentioned above, LL Bean’s gear is very versatile. Most of my LL Bean gear is used for hiking, hunting, and fishing alike. So before you buy anything, study all the gear and see what else you could use it for.

Rapala Lures

Rapala has been around since 1930 and has been one of the biggest names in lures. It is the only lure you will find in my tackle box.

Where To Locate Rapala

Rapala can be found at most stores big and small. They are one of, if not, the most popular fishing lure. They also have a big online presence.

Price Of Rapala Lures

Rapala lures are expensive, however they are worth it. They look and act realistic and attract a variety of fish. The average lure is going to be around $10.00, but they should last a lifetime. Some stores will sell Rapala Lures in a pack of 5 for $30.00, which is a good value.

Rapala also sells other gear that is worth talking about, like fillet knives, pilers, scales and so forth. They are all quality items. I have had my Rapala scale and fillet knife for over 20 years. They have held up well and I still use them every season.

Reviews of Rapala Gear

They are amazing, boom review done. In all seriousness, the reviews are amazing and their performance is better than advertised. I typically don’t advocate buying the most expensive gear, but this is an exception. If you aren’t going to fish with live bait, then Rapala is the next best thing.

Buying The Items Needed

Now that you have an idea of what gear is out there, go out and look at some of the items. You should hold rods, try on waders, and see lures in person. If you discover you like something you can always order online if it is cheaper.

If you know you will be fishing in a certain area the majority of the time, look for a local store and see what gear they sell. It may not be something I recommended, but always remember Newton’s Law. There are all sorts of great fishing gear out there and most will get the job done.


Scott Kimball

Scott Kimball

From a young age I was introduced to fishing, hiking, camping, snowboarding and more through family, friends, and scouting. After 20 years of learning and participating in these outdoor activities, I share what i've learned (and continue learning) with you.

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