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How to Choose a Fishing Rod

If you are just starting out fishing then you may be wondering why there are so many different types of fishing rods and how exactly do you go about choosing one?

Rod selection is normally determined by a number of factors:

  • Type and size of fish
  • Fishing method
  • Type of water or location

A musky rod will be very different than a lightweight rod that you would use for trout fishing rod  so knowing what kind of fish you intend to target is crucial from the start.

Will you be using bait or lures?

If using lures do you require a specialist rod for say large jerkbaits or will a more general spinning rod be okay?

Freshwater or saltwater fishing puts different demands of rods particularly the line guides as salt water is highly corrosive and you need a rod that can handle this.

Spinning Rods vs Baitcasting Rods

There are generally two styles of rods(not including flyfishing rods):

  • Spinning Rods - reel is mounted on the under side of the rod.
  • Baitcasting Rods - reel is mounted on the top of the rod

Spinning rods are mostly used for lighter fishing styles such as small lures as spinning reels are better suited when using light fishing line under 10 lbs in breaking strain.

For the best casting performance a baitcasting rod is preferred as a baitcaster reel can cast much further than a spinning reel once a sufficient weight is used.

However when choosing a fishing rod for beginners it is generally accepted that a spinning rod setup is the easiest to handle and learn how to cast.

How to Choose a Fishing Rod

1. Rod Length

How long a rod is will have a big impact on not only it's casting distance but also on how easy it will be to maneuver and play the fish especially in tight spaces.

Long rods are best suited to more open areas that require a longer casting performance.

For example the best surf rods for casting off of the beach out beyond the breaking surf will routinely be over ten feet in length. Some even as long as thirteen feet.

All things be equal a longer rod acts as a much longer lever when you are casting it. This longer lever allows you to whip the lure or weight out at a much higher speed.

However, if you are in a more confined space such as a small river or on a busy charter boat then a long rod will become to unwieldy and that extra rod length needed for casting will become a nuisance.

2. Rod Power

Rod power generally defines how strong the backbone of the rod is. In other words how much weight or pressure the rod can handle once it has been put under load.

It will also dictate what size line you can use and what weight of lure is best to match up to the rod.

Most rods will come with one of the following power ratings stamped on it's blank somewhere close to the reel seat:

  • Ultralight
  • Light
  • Light/Medium
  • Medium
  • Medium Heavy
  • Heavy
  • Extra/Super Heavy

At the lightest end of the scale are ultralight rods. These are super sensitive rods used for fishing with very light lures or bobber fishing.

At the heavier end of the scale are heavy rods which are used for larger fish and much bigger heavier lures.

3. Rod Action

Rod action is used to define where on the rod blank the bend in the rod will start once pressure is applied to the rod by weighing the line.

Most rods will have one of the following rod action ratings:

  • X-Fast
  • Fast
  • Moderate/Fast
  • Moderate
  • Slow

A fast action rod will bend mush higher up towards the tip of the rod. These rods are a lot more sensitive and will give better feedback down to the handle than a slow action.

Conversely a slow action rod will start to bend much lower down towards the reel.

These rods are less sensitive but will generally be more powerful and more durable.

4. Materials

Graphite vs fiberglass?

Traditionally rods were made from bamboo or split cane. These were replaced about 50 years ago by the more modern man made material fiberglass.

Fiberglass rods are very durable and can take a lot of abuse.

In recent years fiberglass has been largely replaced by graphite or some form of graphite blend with either fiberglass or carbon fiber.

Also Read: Matching Spinning Reel to Rod

Graphite rods are a lot more sensitive and can be designed to offer a mush higher casting performance.

However, they are a lot less durable than fiberglass and can snap very easily if stood on for example.