5 Best Japanese Fishing Rod Brands

What are the best Japanese fishing rod brands? My personal favorites are Shimano and Megabass, but there’s a lot to like about all of them.

Let’s take a look at the best Japanese fishing rod brands and what they have to offer for your next fishing adventure.

Shimano

Shimano has been around for 100 years, and the company makes freshwater and saltwater fishing rods with a focus on low-weight yet strong setups. I think Shimano has the best grip out of all Japanese fishing rods, and the high sensitivity makes it a no-brainer for trout or bass fishing.

Shimano first started with glass rods before moving to polyester resin and eventually high-strength carbon fiber. Today their extensive collection includes trolling, jigging, inshore, and surf rods, plus special designs for muskie, salmon, and steelhead.

Shimano is also a popular choice for conventional, spinning, and electric reels, as well as combo setups and fishing lures.

Top Shimano Japanese Fishing Rods

A few of Shimano’s bestsellers include:

  • Shimano SLX Casting Rod – sensitive carbon foregrip and custom reel seat.
  • Shimano Clarus Salmon Trolling Rod – lightweight and durable carbon handles.
  • Shimano SKIXX Muskie Rod – 250% more structurally rigid than standard rods.
  • Shimano Cauis Combo Rod & Reel – compact durable bait-casting reel with Super Free Spool.

Megabass

Another one of the best Japanese fishing rod brands is Megabass. It’s a newer brand compared to Shimano, but the quality and rod selection is of the same high caliber.

Megabass specializes in freshwater rods and also has reels, lines, and lures. These rods are stylish and designed to maximize comfort, so if prefer holding your rod like I do, Megabass is a good choice.

Megabass is known for handcrafted designs and technical advancements. Although the company has grown significantly in the past decades, it remains committed to comfortable, custom rods that combine functionality and performance.

Some of my best lake days have been with the Megabass Levante rod, but there are many more rods that work for hard-charging, big-biting fish too.

My Favorite Megabass Fishing Rods

If you’re going to try Megabass Japanese fishing rods, I recommend:

  • Megabass Levante Jerkbait Special – 6’11” length and shorter rear grip help with balance and long casts.
  • Megabass Destroyer Bunker Buster – designed for heavy jigs, allowing precise angles and accuracy.
  • Megabass Destroyer P5 Kirisame Ultimate – solid carbon stinger tip with 5-D Graphite for extra sensitivity.
  • Megabass Orochi XX Tour Versatile – a tournament-tested rod with compact 7’ blank and fast taper.

Daiwa

Best Japanese Fishing Rod Brands

It’s tough to beat Daiwa fishing rods too. This Japanese fishing brand has a reputation for durable and affordable rods, which feature a water-resistant coating so they last longer.

The company started making reels in the 1950s and has built up a big following thanks to their innovative open-faced reel and high-tech graphite rods with densely packed carbon fibers.

Daiwa has a wide range of freshwater, saltwater, travel, and surf rods, plus specialty trolling rods for walleye, catfish, crappie, muskie, and salmon. You can also get saltwater combos with fiberglass rods, spinning reels and rods, lures, lines, and apparel.

I personally am a big fan of the newer Daiwa rods that prevent line tangling and offer extra carbon reinforcement without losing sensitivity.

Durable Daiwa Japanese Fishing Rods

There’s a lot of Daiwa rods to choose from, but here are some of the most popular:

  • Daiwa Emeraldas X IL – interline technology keeps line tidy and ensures precise casting.
  • Daiwa Jig Caster – ideal for shore jigging trout, snapper, and bluefish with long, lightweight casts.
  • Daiwa Ajing X – improved power and function with braided technology for light lure fishing.
  • Daiwa Liberty Club Iso – an all-purpose rod with standard draw-out for rockfish, halibut, and sea bass.

Gan Craft

Gan Craft isn’t as mainstream as some other leading Japanese fishing brands, but their rods are still very impressive.

Originally a lure manufacturer, Gan Craft started selling fishing rods more than a decade ago, and they have quickly become popular as an economical yet effective option for bass and saltwater fishing.

Gan Craft makes custom rods and uses strong carbon fiber in its dynamic designs. The Gan Craft Scarface rod stood out to me with its special banks for better hooking.

Just keep in mind Gan Craft has more specialized rods in a smaller selection compared to Shimano and Megabass.

Great Gan Craft Rods

The most exciting Japanese rods from Gan Craft include:

  • Gan Craft Scarface – a 6′-8″ medium-heavy power rod good for spinnerbaits and shad raps.
  • Gan Craft Cross Born – hard tip with high sensitivity for bait casting and great for rubber jigs.
  • Gan Craft Super Violence Jerk – a high-end saltwater rod with ideal balance for larger fish.
  • Gan Craft Ocean Killers – custom saltwater jigging rod with bait model for slow jigging or spinning model for super light jigging.

Raid Japan

This list of the best Japanese fishing rod brands wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Raid Japan, a rod and lure manufacturer specializing in bass fishing.

There aren’t as many rods to choose from, but the brand’s two series don’t disappoint. Both the Gladiator Anti and Gladiator Maximum are carefully designed for better comfort while reeling in bass and similar fish.

One of the first things I noticed about Raid Japan rods was the style, with a modern black and gold design that looks as smooth as it feels. These carbon graphite rods are available in different weights, with ultra-light, light, medium, and heavy options.

Bestselling Raid Japan Rods

If you want to test out Raid Japan rods, you can’t go wrong with:

  • Raid Japan Gladiator Maximum The Maxx – this is the flagship model with a heavier cover and delicate solid tip with ample flexibility for bass bites.
  • Raid Japan Gladiator Maximum The Bishop – a shooting specialty rod for close-range fishing perfect for light or medium rigs.
  • Raid Japan Gladiator Anti Power Bait Finesse – 6’5 ” medium-light rod with a solid tip offers fast response for rubber jigs and plugging.
  • Raid Japan Gladiator Anti King Heavy – a versatile heavy rod with new carbon material and sharp blanks for long-distance fishing and side casting.

Conclusion

In my opinion, the best Japanese fishing rod brands are Shimano and Megabass. I know I’m not the only angler who appreciates their premium comfort and sensitivity, so you can feel every bite.

As an avid salmon angler, my top two go-to rods are the Shimano Clarus Salmon Trolling Rod and Megabass Levante.

Daiwa, Gan Craft, and Raid Japan are some other popular Japanese brands for fishing gear. Whichever brand you go with, you can look forward to the quality and comfort that Japanese fishing gear brands are known for.