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The 9 Different Types of Fishing Rods

If you are just starting out fishing you may be confused by all of the different types of fishing rods available in your local tackle store.

Long/short, thin/thick, multiple sections one piece or telescopic.

For every kind of fishing rod there is also a lot of different models available and they are usually distinguished by three main attributes:

  • Length
  • Power
  • Action

Most rods have this rating stamped on the rod blank just above the handle.

The length is normally always stated in feet and inches. Rods range from 5' all the way up to 15' long.

A longer rod will generally cast longer distances. A shorter rod gives you more control and is easier to use for close up work.

The power indicates how heavy a lure or weight that the rod has been designed for. Sometimes they it is quoted in ounces, more often than not it is rated as one of the following:

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

Unfortunately between the different manufacturers these are not always the same, but they are usually similar enough so as to be a decent guide.

The action of a rod describes where the bend starts when it is under load. A fast action starts up near the rod tip whereas a slow action starts further down the rod blank towards the reel:

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

All types of fishing poles will have the above ratings.

Types of Fishing Rods

The most common types of fishing rods are:

  • Casting rods
  • Spinning rods
  • Trolling rods
  • Flyfishing rods
  • Travel rods
  • Ultralight rods
  • Surf rods
  • Ice rods
  • Telescopic.

However, within each class of rod there are many specialist rods that are designed with a specific use case in mind.

When choosing a fishing rod it is important decide first on the type of fishing you will be doing.

1. Casting

A casting rod is designed to be used with a baitcasting or a conventional reel.

Casting rods are constructed so that the reel sits on the top of the rod unlike a spinning rod where the reel hangs below the rod on the underside.

Ultimately the best baitcasting rods are all about casting performance. Due to the design of a baitcasting reel you can simply flick a switch and cast at will.

Once you master how to cast with this setup it really does become second nature and is a lot less tiring on the arm than using a conventional spinning combo.

Casting rods have probably the biggest number of applications that they are used for especially in the freshwater bass fishing world.

It is not uncommon for a bass fisherman to have over ten different rods such as a crankbait rod, frog rod, spinnerbait rod, flipping rod etc.

2. Spinning 

Spinning rods unlike a baitcaster will have the reel on the underside of the rod. They are the kind of fishing rods that most people will associate with a "fishing rod".

They differ in design in that the line guide closest to the reel will be much large than on a casting rod.

Also Read: Match Spinning Reels to Rod

This is because the line comes off of the spool in a cylindrical motion and in order to reduce the friction of the line on the guide the wider it is the better. 

3. Trolling

Trolling rods are built much heavier than the above two types of rods. This is because trolling involves dragging a lure behind a boat at between 2 and 6 mph.

This places a lot of strain on the rod and as a result they need to be thicker and built tougher.

A lot of trolling rods are built from fiberglass rather than graphite as fiberglass is a lot more hard wearing and can take a much bigger beating.

4. Flyfishing

Flyfishing rods are super light and are designed so that the fly line can be whipped forwards and backwards using the natural spring in the tip of the rod blank.

As the rod is whipped out a small bit of line is let out. Over several actions the desired length of line is in the air and is eventually cast forwards and down so that the fly lands within the fish's field of vision.

5. Travel

Travel fishing rods are like normal rods however they are usually in 3 or 4 pieces so that the can be packed down neatly into a rod case so that there is less chance of damaging them during travel.

A hard rod case or tube is best as it provides the maximum amount of protection versus a cloth rod cover.

6. Ultralight

There is a speific type of spinning rod that is called an ultralight spinning rod.

These rods are really light and short and are used with very light line in the 2 to 6 lbs range.

As the name suggests the power rating is "ultra light" and are predominantly used for smaller freshwater fishing.

They make excellent trout spinning rods for small rivers and streams.

7. Surf Fishing

Surf fishing rods are designed with maximum casting distance in mind. They are usually quite long, 8 feet at a minimum.

They rod blanks are suited to casting large weights long distances out over the surf when beach fishing.

They tend to have a bend that starts lower down the rod blank so that the maximum amount of energy can be put into the rod when casting large weights long distances.

8. Ice Fishing Rods

Ice fishing rods as the name suggests are used when fishing through a hole in the ice.

They are extremely short and light rods that are mostly used for vertical jigging through the ice.

9. Telescopic

Telescopic rods are collapsible rods where the upper sections of the rod slide down into the lower sections making them much shorter during transportation.

They are used a lot by children or are stored in a car or a truck as a second or backup rod.