Guide To Selecting Perfect Fishing Rod
Fishing is one of the topmost hobbies in the country, which over 45 million people engage in every year.
Most fishers (or anglers), prefer to fish using a fishing rod.
This makes it considerably more of an activity sport than merely using a fishing net.
Whether you consider it a sport, a hobby, or even just a fun activity that provides you with fresh fish to eat, you can’t argue against the importance of a fishing rod.
A fishing rod is a primary tool for the hobby of fishing.
How good and well-suited for the job it is, can mean the difference between an empty fish basket and substantial catches.
To this end, you should know a few important things about different fishing rods so that you can choose the perfect one for your fishing expeditions.
Structure of a Fishing Rod
A fishing rod is a relatively simple device.
The core of a fishing rod’s construction is precisely what the name suggests, a rod.
Traditionally, it was made out of bamboo or wood.
Nowadays, the two most common materials for the rod structure are graphite and fiberglass. Graphite rods are also sometimes called carbon fiber rods.
The length of a fishing rod usually lies somewhere between 5 and 12 feet.
The handle is another essential part of a fishing rod.
It’s usually made out of cork or EVA foam, and can be short (one-handed) or long (two-handed) depending on the use you will be putting it through.
Perhaps the most crucial part of a fishing rod is the reel.
Some people consider it a separate part altogether, but for this guide, we will consider the reel and its type as part of the fishing rod.
A fishing reel is a device where the fishing line is stowed.
When you cast the bait, the reel allows the fishing line to be released. If the fish bites, you can reel your catch back in by rewinding the line on the reel.
There are guides (also called eyes) all along the shaft of the fishing rod. They are small rings through which the line runs. Guides can be on the top or bottom side of the rod, depending upon its type.
Most Popular Types of Fishing Rods
Fishing rods come in a large variety, but most of them can be classified into four distinct types.
1. Spinning Rods
This is, perhaps, the most beginner-friendly and popular type of fishing rod.
The spinning rods average around six and seven feet in length, and they have the guides on the bottom. In good spinning rods, guides (preferably made of titanium) are spaced out equally, and they decrease in size from handle to tip.
The spinning reel is open-faced and is fixed at the bottom of the rod.
The action of the spinning reel is usually referred to as “egg-beater,” indicating the mechanism used to reel the line back in. The spinning reels are perfect for beginners, but they are also relatively accurate, so many seasoned anglers use them as well.
Spinning rods are usually inexpensive, compared to other types.
This combination of ease of use and reasonable price tag is why many people prefer spinning rods as their beginner rod. They can work with most lines, but the ideal ones are monofilaments between 6-12 pound ranges.
It’s also important to note that a spinning rod is radically different from the casting rod, in terms of where the force of fish is applied.
When you are working with a spinning rod, with guides underside the rod, the fish, and in turn, the line will be exerting force on the guides. This is why their equal distribution is so important so that the weight is dispersed equally.
The guides also have bigger diameters, in the beginning, to cut the friction on the line.
In contrast, the casting rods (Spin-cast and Bait-cast rods), where the reel and the guides are on the top side of the rod, the rod itself bears the weight of the line. The guides are comparatively smaller in a casting rod.
Casting rods are designed for more accuracy.
2. Spin-cast Rods
The simplest of the two casting rods. It’s also considered a very beginner-friendly fishing rod. It works on a simple principle. The reel and small guides are mounted on top of the rod.
Unlike the open-faced reel in the spinning rods, the reel in the spin-cast rod is enclosed. It works directly by the push of the button. You push the button on the reel when you are ready to cast, and when you are at the angle where you want the line to start shooting, you release the button.
When you start working the crank, the reel stops sending the line forward, and you can reel it back in. The spin cast-reels are the least accurate type of fishing rods, but they are easy for making simple catches, so they are favored, even by the seasoned anglers, when they are after less tricky and easy fish.
What is the difference between spinning and spin-cast rods?
This is a common question. Thanks to their very similar names, spinning rods and spin-cast rods are often confused. As you might have guessed by the definitions above, they are very different in design and in the mechanism of the reels.
Accuracy is one of the core differences between the two. The other is casting distance.
Since a spinning reel depends on the weight of the bait (or lure) for driving the line, you can cast bait much farther using a spinning reel, compared to a spin-cast rod. Another difference is durability. Spinning rods tend to fare much better in the test of times, whereas spin-cast rods are prone to breaking.
You have many more options and versatility when it comes to spinning rods.
3. Bait-cast Rods
These are relatively much more accurate than spin-cast rods. And they appear different from either spinning rods or spin-cast rods because instead of the reel sitting atop or beneath the rod, it’s actually perpendicular to it. So rods for left-handed and right-handed anglers are different.
In bait-casters, you don’t control the line and bait in a cast using your finger (as you might do in the spinning rod). Instead, you have learned to control the spool speed, and it allows you to cast your bait much more accurately.
Bait-casters are recommended for seasoned anglers and not for beginners. One of the reasons for this is a backlash (or bird’s nest). It happens if you don’t correctly fine-tune your bait-caster.
It also occurs from the wrong casting move – Your bait (lure) hitting the water before you stop or slow the spool. It usually frustrates the new anglers and takes the fun out of fishing for them.
But when mastered, a bait-caster is much more accurate, and more accuracy than other fishing rods. The more control comes with controlling the speed of the line and ultimately stopping it by applying a little pressure from your thumb. This is possible with a spinning rod, but relatively more difficult.
4. Fly Rod
A fly rod or a fly-casting rod is used for fly fishing. Fly fishing is generally a bit more different than other types of angling because instead of casting the bait, fly fishing focuses on casting the line.
Therefore, the lines used in fly fishing are relatively heavy. It’s also the type of fishing rod where bamboo is considered the prime construction material, and seasoned, experienced anglers prefer bamboo fly rods. Graphite and fiberglass fly rods are aimed and intermediate and beginner anglers.
Fly fishing is primarily done for trout. But experienced anglers can get other species to hook on the fly as well. A fly is akin to bait in other forms of angling.
But the difference is that it doesn’t have a lot of weight, and it resembles flies and other colorful bugs that the fish might want to feed on. Fly fishing is much more disciplined and relatively complex.
The rods themselves are very flexible. The guides are not as essential as they are for spinning rods, but there have to be enough of them present on the rod to avoid any sharp turns in the line, and they are beneath the rod. The reel itself resembles a simple wheel that goes under the rod.
Other Fishing Rod Types
Though for most of your fishing endeavors, you will be good with the four types above. But there are some particular types of fishing rods as well. Like ice fishing rods.
They are smaller, and they don’t have a reel. Instead, two opposing hooks are attached to the fishing rod to wind the line. There are also surf rods that are used for fishing from the seashores, and trolling rods for boats.
But for most anglers, the fishing rods falling into one of the four common categories will suffice.
Is telescopic fishing rod good?
Telescoping fishing rods are a compact type of rods that were designed to be easily stored and carried. Once collapsed, these rods are usually 1.5 to 2 feet in length.
Making them perfect for storage in small spaces, and they are effortless to pack in a fish backpack. In terms of material, they come in the same variety: Graphite, fiberglass, and composite.
Unlike most people believe, they are very sturdy and tough. Since they are in pieces, the weight distribution is a bit more equal, which allows them to handle heavier fish and baits better than conventional rods.
On the flip side, the sensitivity is a bit lost to the sections. A single piece graphite road will be more sensitive than the same length telescoping rod.
Most of the problems that occur with telescopic fishing are due to handling and age. If you don’t open and close the rod in the recommended way, they are more prone to breaks than any one-piece or two-piece fishing rod. Also, if you don’t clean them properly before collapsing, the rod will wear much faster.
Fishing Rod Basics
Now that you know about the most common types of fishing rods let’s take a look at some of the basic parameters of the fishing rods.
The two most common materials you will find when it comes to a fishing rod, are graphite and fiberglass. Bamboo is a coveted material for high-end fly-casting rods. But for the most part, you will still have to choose between graphite and fiberglass.
Graphite is a relatively newer material when it comes to fishing rods. It’s lighter, more robust, and more sensitive. Graphite rods provide more line speed than similarly powered fiberglass rods, and their lighter weight allows you to tire slowly. The higher sensitivity of graphite rods is probably the most desirable trait. This will enable you to pick up on even the lighter bites. They do tend to be somewhat brittle, though.
The other option of fiberglass has been around for a very long time. These rods are cheaper, easier to maintain, and relatively sturdier. They are not very sensitive, and the added weight can cause fatigue. Many pros prefer them when they go with crankbaits and when they go for larger fish. Compared to them, graphite rods are preferred for casting jigs or worms.
Many beginners prefer to start with fiberglass rods than graduate to graphite as they evolve. Another, more costly, but the high-performance option is a composite material. It combines the ruggedness of fiberglass with the sensitivity of graphite.
If you are going to fly fishing, bamboo is another option. It’s highly flexible and allows are a range of complicated fly casts.
Which material to choose?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Graphite and fiberglass are both excellent options. If you are buying your first rod, your choice might be more swayed by the cost factor. A fiberglass rod would be better in this regard. Fiberglass rods are also more durable and more suited for heavy fishing. If you think that sensitivity is essential for your fishing style, then graphite will be the better option.
Composite rods offer a good compromise. They will allow you to fish successfully in several different conditions and for a wide variety of fish.
Rod length has a lot of say in your casting distance. The longer your rod is, the farther you can cast your bait. But there are other reasons to choose one over the other as well.
Like if you fish a lot in spaces where there is a dense tree growth, like around ponds, a shorter rod will be preferable.
Shorter rods are generally suited when you have to “fight the fish.” Since they usually bend less than their longer counterparts, they allow you to pull the fish more quickly out of the water. Longer rods, on the other hand, are better for deep fishing. Some anglers believe the long rods actually provide more control over the fish.
Usually, many people start with a 7 feet rod. This is a reasonable length since it can accommodate fishing in small ponds, as well as large lakes and rivers. Long rods are hard to stow away and carry around when you are moving from one spot to another.
It is also essential to understand the rod length isn’t just the length of the shaft. The length of a fishing rod is calculated from tip to the butt of the handle.
How do you pick a fishing pole length?
Your choice should be simple in this regard. If you have to cover more ground (actually, water), a longer rod would be better for you. If you are saltwater fishing, you can benefit from the extra length of the rod and go surf-fishing.
If you were fishing primarily in small bodies of water, a smaller-size rod would be better. Shorter rods are suitable for lightweight lures (but it also depends upon the material of the rod). Another benefit of a short rod is that it can be used for trolling.
Power (or weight) of the rod dictates how much you weight it can bear without breaking. Another way to describe it is the amount of pressure you have to apply to bend the rod. Simply put, on the same weight, the massive rod will barely bend, whereas the light rod will flex the most.
The power is usually graded as heavy, medium, and light. But there are further classifications as well, like ultra-light or extra-heavy. Most commonly used ones are medium-light and medium-heavy.
The amount of power dictates the kind of bend you can expect from your rod. The medium to high-power rods is suitable for deep fishing because they will allow better movement of crankbaits and other heavy baits.
How to choose fishing rod power?
Like all other parameters of a fishing rod, the power you must choose is also governed by the kind of fishing you are going to do.
If you are fishing in areas where you are not expecting to find anything more than a 2-pounder, you will be good with a lightweight one. They are mostly suited for smaller bass and some species of panfish.
Medium power rods would be excellent for catfish, salmon. Medium-light for large-mouth bass and other pond fish. Medium-heavy for off-shore fishing. For massive saltwater fish, it’s better to go with smaller (8 feet) heavy power rods.
Action is a fishing rod parameter that is mostly coupled with its power.
The action describes where the tip will stop bending when the fish is hooked. Or starting from the tip, how far in, the rod will bend.
The action is usually graded from extra-fast to slow. An extra-fast fishing rod will only bend three to four inches from the tip when the fish is hooked, while a slow rod might bend all the way to the middle.
What it means is that the action of a fishing rod governs when the weight of the fish will be transferred to the angler.
In fast action rods, the angler will know instantly, since after bending just a bit at the tip, the rod will transfer the power to the blank.
A fast action rod is more sensitive, and you can move the line faster in a fast action rod since the rod won’t be bending too much from the middle. Fast action rods also snap back faster, allowing you to pull the fish out easily.
When you are working with crankbaits and jerk baits, moderate action rods are usually preferred. These rods also offer more casting distance, compared to fast action rods.
Which action is best for you?
The action of the rod alone isn’t usually able to give you the full picture of its ability. You will have a more precise idea if you look for the power and action combination.
For pond fishing, a medium-light powered, fast action rod will be great. For pier fishing, you may fare better with medium-heavy power, moderate action fishing rod.
Some Other Tips and Tricks for Choosing a Fishing Rod
You must have gotten a good idea about the variety of fishing rods available and which rods might be good for your fishing needs.
There are a few other things you might find helpful.
1. An idea of where and what you will be fishing is fundamental in choosing the fishing rod. Freshwater fishing is very different from saltwater fishing. And in saltwater fishing, fishing from a pier or a boat means a world of difference between water current and fish species. So knowing what you are fishing for, should be your primary driver of choosing the relevant rod.
2. For your first time fishing rod, choose something the covers the most variety. For example, a medium, fast-action ceramic rod might be able to give you a lot of fishing options as a first-timer, and it will also cost you less.
3. Always match the line to the reel and the fishing rod. Using a 20-pound line on a rod that is rated for 12-pounds, will limit the line you can put on the reel, as well as mess up your casting balance.
4. It’s better to have two or three cheap fishing rods, than only one expensive rod. A variety of rods will expand your fishing options considerably.
5. If you are only looking to fish for eating (Subsistence fishing), you might be better off with one massive, sturdy fishing rod. But if you want to feel the excitement of the sports of fishing, make sure you have the right rod for the kind of fishing you are going for.
6. The size and weight of the lure and bait you will be using is just as important as the species of fish you are trying to catch. It affects your choice of the fishing rod. The rods have ratings for lures and lines.
7. For dock fishing, you need a stiffer rod, like a medium-heavy fishing rod. It will be suitable for casts that are low to the water.
8. Whenever possible, try to pick the rod up and feel how it fits in your hands. If the handle is uncomfortable for you, no matter how good the rod is, you will not be able to enjoy your fishing.
9. If your fishing rod isn’t the combined rig of rod and reel, make sure to check the rod with your desired reel installed on it. Otherwise, you won’t get a good idea of its feel.
10. The local tackle shop will provide some of the best advice and information about the local fish. Unless they try to dupe you, they will give you a good idea of the kind of fish you might find in the local bodies of water, which fishing rod, bait, and tackle would be best for catching them.
11. For longer casts and dragging the fish, a full-cork handle grip will be better than a split grip. For topwater fishing and working with jerk baits, split grip handles are much more desirable.
Fishing is an activity that requires a lot of patience.
And this extends to more than just not catching any fish. Despite all your research, you might not be able to select the perfect fishing rod the first time. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a wasted investment. The rod that isn’t good for the big lake might be just perfect for the little pond you didn’t consider fishing in.
Also, things won’t just fall into place if you managed to pick the perfect rod. Choosing the wrong line, wrong bait, too big a lure, and even fishing in the bad weather or the wrong time of the day can have a drastic impact on the success of your fishing trip.
Choosing the fishing rod is very important, and you have to be very careful about it, but equating the choice of your fishing rod to the success of your fishing is wrong.
With that said, you will have a lot of fun fishing with the perfect fishing rod.