The Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning rod is a multi-modulus carbon composite blank designed to provide a bit of extra backbone compared to other makers on the market.
On the other hand, the Lightning Spinning Rod also aims to offer a combination of strength and sensitivity for an all-purpose spinning rod for a day of fishing fun.
However, the Berkley Lightning Rods sit at a budget-friendly price that is often half the cost of high-end spinning rods– or less– and not without its issues.
So then the question becomes: is a rod that sits this low in an inexpensive price range worth the cost even as a budget choice, or are you better off looking at the high-end fishing rods with premiere features?
- Extremely low price
- Fairly durable blank
- Multiple action options
- Not the most sensitive
- Not the best reel seat
- Not a durable handle
Construction (craftsmanship, make quality)
Berkley Lightning Rods feature graphite blank construction reinforced with fiberglass to make a composite blank designed to stand up to hard-fighting fish.
That said, the graphite construction definitely leaves a bit to be desired and comes with the caveat that you should never lift the fish out of the water with the pole.
While carbon construction poles often have their limits in terms of strength and durability, rarely will you find one that pretty much requires a net to be used in conjunction with it.
Unfortunately, the Lightning’s lightweight graphite frame doesn’t consistently afford this basic level of competence and regularly snaps at various points along the blank but generally at the tip.
And as is the case with many fishing poles that have an inexpensive price, this issue of durability doesn’t end with the blank.
This problem also extends to the guides, though likely not in the way that you expect. Rather than the guides being fragile and having to worry about braided lines slicing through them, it’s the inserts that present a problem.
That said, those with plenty of fishing experience likely keep a pair of fishing pliers on hand– especially if they go on frequent evening fishing expeditions.
Keep in mind that this will not necessarily work in every situation and is far more effective when replacing a tip, but a pair of fishing pliers is almost required equipment at this point.
Continuing down the pole, the Berkley Lightning also sees issues with the cork grips, though again, it’s not the base cork grip that presents the problem.
In this instance, the cork grip is rubberized to add comfort in fishing all day, but it runs into issues with other rubber products around water: they break down.
While this doesn’t mean you have to worry about the cork grip completely breaking down in your hands, it will still often begin peeling.
Finally, there are also reports of the reel seat not able to withstand simple installation.
This comes down to the fact that the skeletal reel seat isn’t much more durable than the black plastic reel seats you find on similarly-priced competitors.
This turns into a situation where fastening the reel seat too tightly leads to the reel frame seat cracking.
The Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning comes in a wide range of lengths with one and two-piece models to fit any situation.
Granted, the range of lengths doesn’t extend as far as some of the top-tier alternatives, but that’s not really what you expect from an angler-friendly price.
Still, with models spanning 5′ to 7′, you shouldn’t have trouble finding the right size for you.
The Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning carbon composite blank with a combination of fiberglass and carbon fiber material seems like it should incredibly strong.
It’s possible that the multi-modulus graphite blank construction has weak points at specific spots along the length of the blank.
Still, 24-Ton Multi- Modulus graphite generally fares well with other models.
The textured rubber handle infusing cork at least conforms to the shape of your hand better than most options.
That said, it can be somewhat disappointing when it flakes, presenting just as frustrating and confounding of a scenario as the graphite composition blank.
While the 24-ton multi-modulus graphite may not live up to expectations, the same can’t be said for the stainless steel guides.
In fact, this is one of the few instances where almost none of the complaints levied at a fishing rod include the guides.
Given its inexpensive price, you’d be forgiven for expecting the Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning pole to follow the industry standard and stick exclusively with a fast action.
However, this pole surprises with a wider range than you’re liable to find on rods that cost much more.
With actions that begin at the moderate level and work their way up to extra fast, this option can accommodate a casting range most others can’t touch.
Keep in mind that casting distance involves more than just amazing casting ability– especially with a spinning reel.
Still, getting distance during casting makes a coastal fishing trip a viable option with the Lightning.
Of course, the pole’s fragility kind of eliminates ice fishing from the table.
It’s worth noting that the spin casting versions with slower actions won’t also be able to offer magnificent sensitivity, but that’s the tradeoff. In order to get longer casting models, you have to give up the lightweight sensitivity you’d expect from carbon fiber material.
Given its checkered results, it’s difficult to label the Berkley Lightning as a “do-all” spinning rod, but you won’t find that problem with the power ratings.
Outside of the “heavy” and “extra heavy” ratings, the Berkley Lighting rods cover the rest of the power specs, providing a weight range that is unexpected at this price point.
To make this even better, Berkley also pairs the power rating with the action spec to give you the level of sensitivity needed to feel slight vibrations.
However, this unintentionally places a bit more pressure on your shoulders to make sure you pick the right combination of features to properly handle the weight range of fish you’re trying to catch.
The Shock series casting rods come with stainless steel guides that are perfect for fighting tough fish to prevent the line from breaking the guides.
This design also pairs well with Berkley-branded lines, especially their monofilament lines, to help reduce some of the “stickiness” that you run into when casting stiffer lines.
Employing stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts may not provide the Berkley Lighting with a remarkably smooth line flow, but it allows you to use braided lines.
This option only opens up because stainless steel makes for some of the most durable guides on the market, and braided lines slice through softer metals that are smoother.
Handle (material, shape, etc)
While the Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning comes with a rubberized cork handle like its bait casting series, it doesn’t feature a finger grip for accurate aim.
That said, this spinning casting rod series still provides an extended handle for comfort as well as to provide a bit more leverage when fighting stronger fish.
Granted, you do still have to worry about the cork grips peeling– especially if they get wet and are then left out under exposure to the sun on a hot day.
But, the cork handle itself is reasonably durable and comfortable with three different styles of handle that match both the length of the rod as well as its power rating.
Uses (Who is this good for)
You should already be fairly well-acquainted with the basics of fishing if you use this rod as it doesn’t use a beginner-friendly fishing reel.
Even with a solid casting range, the stainless steel guides combined with a spinning reel make achieving smooth line flow much more challenging and requires more skill than most other options.
In the end, a Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning likely works better as a good choice for youths or as a backup spinning rod.
Thankfully, Berkley seems to recognize this as well since this pole also comes in Berkley Lightning Rod Spinning Combo Models at a similarly inexpensive price– though still a bit more to cover the reel.
Reel and Real Seat Compatibility
The Shock series casting rods employ a double locking reel seat which, when combined with the textured rubber handle, makes for one of the more secure options available.
That said, the lack of durability means you have to be careful when installing your reel or it won’t be much better than the black plastic reel seats found on other cheap alternatives.
Conclusion (Wrap Up)
When it comes right down to it, you don’t need every single pole you pack to be an exemplar of excellent fishing rods, especially for certain fishing environments.
Sure, an awesome fishing rod would be preferred, but a merely adequate pole will generally get the job done.
On top of that, lighter fishing doesn’t really need an all-around fishing pole to be successful.
However, that means that you should understand what this budget spinning rod can and cannot do on its own.
This is most certainly not your classic “do-all” spinning rod, but it can still be a quality rod as a backup or for children and adolescents just learning.
Still, it’s probably a good idea to reserve this option for lighter lines that won’t put as much stress on the laminate graphite blank.