Choosing the Right Fishing Rod, When There is No Rod to Choose: Which Handline is Best for You?

Adam Nelson 
Founder of The Daggerfish Gear Co.

If you’re new to fishing, trying to pick the best fishing rods from the huge variety that are available can be a real challenge.

That’s actually one of the reasons I created the Daggerfish in the first place.  I was interested in learning how to fish, but choosing the right fishing rod was overwhelming. I wanted something that would be easy to use, lightweight and compact, and versatile enough that I could take it with me on backpacking trips, on kayak trips, or just keep in my glove box for spur-of-the-moment fishing opportunities. 

If you’re anything like me and are excited about learning to fish, or you’re an experienced angler looking for a great second rod to take on your next trip, this article will walk you through the benefits of using a Daggerfish Handreel and compare the Original and Deluxe versions of these products.

Why choose a handline?

A handline is an extremely simple tool, but in that simplicity is its strength. With no moving parts, the Daggerfish is easy to use, difficult to break, and a lot of fun to fish with. 

Weighing 3-4 ounces and at less than 10 inches in length, the Daggerfish’s portability makes it possible to fish remote places where others can’t reach, as well as making it possible to fish on virtually every outdoor adventure by tossing it into your bag or slipping it on your belt.

Despite its simplicity, it’s possible to use the Daggerfish for bait fishing right out of the box, or expand into spin fishing and fly fishing with a minimum of additional tackle. Check out our articles on how to fish with a handreel here.

So if you’re going to use a handline, which one should you pick?

Comparing the Original Daggerfish vs the Deluxe

Both the Original and the Deluxe are handcrafted from natural hardwood, come complete with a lead-free tackle kit, and are backed by our For a Lifetime Guarantee. With these things in common, let’s see how these Daggerfish compare.

Key Differences

30% More Storage Space: The Deluxe Handreel features expanded storage in the reel and handle, increasing bait and tackle storage by nearly a third and reducing the overall weight by roughly an ounce. Critically, the handle of the Deluxe is large enough to store a small multitool (I use a Leatherman Squirt) which lets you carry the basic tools like pliers, scissors, and a knife with you inside your Daggerfish.

Tackle storage in the Original and Deluxe Daggerfish

Wider variety of Woods and Limited Edition Finishes: While the Original Handreel is always available, the various wood varieties and finishes of the Deluxe Daggerfish are only available in limited quantities. If you’re choosing the right fishing rod for your personal style, there’s a Deluxe Daggerfish for you.

Upgraded Line: Both the Original and Deluxe versions come equipped with a lead-free tackle kit, allowing you to use your Daggerfish in almost any waterway in the US. The Original comes with 6lb monofilament line, while the Deluxe comes with 6lb copolymer line, in a stealth green tint that makes it more difficult for fish to see. 

Fishing with a handline

All Features





9 inches

9 inches


1.5 inches

1.5 inches

Average weight

4 oz/113 grams

3 oz/85 grams

Reel storage

1 inch x 1.75 inches

1.125 inches x 1.75 inches

Handle storage

.75 inches x 3.5 inches

.875 inches x 3.5 inches

Total storage

2.92 cubic inches

3.84 cubic inches



Maple, cherry, walnut, and limited runs of other unique hardwoods and special finishes 


6lb monofilament

6lb copolymer

Choosing the Right Fishing Rod...or Handline 

Ultimately, your choice is a personal preference. If you’re just getting into outdoor exploration, or are looking for a simple fishing setup for teaching kids to fish, the Original Daggerfish Handreel is a lightweight, compact, and handcrafted hand line fishing rod that’s simple to learn and fun to use.

If you’re a backpacker, kayaker, paddlerboarder, bikepacker, or a more experienced angler, the Deluxe will provide you with a more versatile and functional hand line for all occasions, made from unique woods that match your personal style.

Next: Basic Bait Fishing with your Daggerfish

Find calm and confidence.

No matter where you are in your journey to reconnect with the wilderness, Daggerfish has the minimalist, intuitive gear & tools to help you get closer. 

Daggerfish Backpacking Fishing Poles

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