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How To Choose A Fishing Rod: Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to fishing, the most important piece of equipment is the fishing rod. Determining the difference between success and failure, what fishing rod you choose should be decided according to a variety of factors and not the one you think looks the coolest.

Man Choosing a fishing rod

However, how do you choose the right fishing rod for you? That’s half the battle. Once you’ve chosen the right fishing rod for you, you’ll find it easier to work on your skills and be able to develop as an angler. We’ve compiled this ultimate guide so you know exactly what to look out for and consider when choosing your fishing rod. 

Reel Type

Depending on your skill level and experience, you might want to choose a rod based on the type of fishing reel you are comfortable using.  There are a few to choose from and the reel rod combination is very important.  You don’t want to match a the wrong rod type with a certain reel.  The different reel types are:

  • Spincast
  • Spinning
  • Baitcaster
  • Conventional
  • Fly Fishing

Typically beginner anglers start with either a spincast or spinning rod and reel set up.  These are easier to use without a lot of learning curve.  Baitcasting and traditional are more difficult due to the way the reels work when casting. 

Once you decide which reel you want to use, the rod selection gets narrowed down and you’ll look at the following characteristics from here.

Rod length

The first thing to always think about when looking at fishing rods is the length. There are all kinds of lengths available and which one you go for is dependent on what kind of fish you are looking for and, most importantly, a length that is comfortable for you and your height.

The rod length will indicate how far you can cast the line so the longer the rod, the further you can cast. However, longer rods may give you less control. On the other hand, shorter rods provide a lot more stability and control in your throw but you won’t be able to cast a long line. 

Shorter rods are also ideal for catching larger fish as they are sturdier in construction and give you more control.

For those who are throwing topwater walking lures, longer rods will give you the performance you need as the fish you will catch are more lightweight but since they scare easy will have to approach from afar meaning the longer line will help lure them in.

fishing rods in the store

Rod materials

The next thing to think about are the rod materials. The main three materials are: fiberglass, graphite and composite which is a combination of the two. When combined with the length of the rod, the material can help to enhance your performance. Here are the three materials in more detail:

Fiberglass 

For those who want a traditional fishing rod, look no further than fiberglass. This material is reliable and durable as they have been made with heavy duty in mind. They’re also really cheap as they are easy to make which means they are perfect for those on a budget.

The downside to fiberglass rods is that they aren’t as sensitive so lighter bites may go by undetected. They can also be heavy and cause fatigue over longer periods of time. 

Graphite 

Graphite rods have been around since the 1970s and are ideal for those who want a lightweight rod for catching smaller fish. They are available with different stiffness depending on what kind of flexibility you want.

These rods are extremely sensitive to bites which makes them ideal for those fishing above water which makes casting and handling a lot easier and lighter. However, these rods also have a brittleness due to the stiffness. They also cost a lot more than fiberglass rods. 

Composite 

For those who are wanting a rod that has a great all round performance, a composite rod is just what you need. These rods are made from a combination of fiberglass and graphite, bringing the best of both worlds for a more reliable performance.

They bring the stability you need without compromising the weight. So whether you want a longer or shorter rod, composite rods are a great choice for anglers of all abilities.

They are extremely versatile and great for those who want to fish in different waters. As expected, they are the most expensive type of rod on the market so bear in mind that they are an investment.

man selecting fishing rod in the sports shop

Speed of action

The action of a rod relates to the performance aspect of the pole. This can be determined by the shape of the rod and its material as it indicates where your rod bends and how much. It can control the speed that the rod goes from back to the original position.

There are three different types of action types which have their pros and cons. These are: slow (light) action, medium action and fast (heavy) action. In different ways, they influence how the rod is handled and determine what kind of fish you can catch. 

Slow (light) action

The first kind of action to consider is a slow action, otherwise known as light action. This is when the rod bends all the way down the rod and is ideal for fishing smaller species. This action is particularly great for longer casts and requires you to match the lure size to the rod.

For newbies who are unfamiliar with working with lure, use the smallest lure which can assure that you have a comfortable experience. The lures have to be small as it takes a little bit longer for the lodge to be hooked inside the fish’s mouth.

It’s recommended to use treble hooks as they have smaller tips that require less pressure when penetrating the fish. Other options for lures include spinners and rattle baits for those who are on a stricter budget.

The disadvantage of slow action rods is that they are more complex to set up and also require more strength when pulling them back as they require a longer cast. It also takes a lot of instinct to detect those lighter bites.

Medium action

Medium action rods are when the rod bends at the top half of the pole. These are great for those who are starting out in fishing and are unsure what action they need.

They have a decent casting distance as well as good hook capabilities making them the most versatile of the three options. This is due to how many hook set ups are available with this action. 

The downside to medium action rods is that they aren’t specifically geared towards a kind of fish as they are more generic. If you know what kind of fish you are wanting to catch, then you’ll need either slow (light) action or fast (heavy) action. 

Fast (heavy) action

The last action to consider is fast action which is known as heavy action which bends at the upper part of the pole just below the tip. They are extremely sensitive, meaning you’ll instantly know when a fish has taken the bait.

Fast action rods also snap back into position the quickest which makes it the most powerful. Thanks to the strong backbone, they are ideal for catching large fish in any kind of water.

The cons of fast action rods is that they have a shorter cast so bear that in mind as they cannot travel as far as medium or slow action rods. 

Man chooses fishing rod in the sports shop

Which rod is the best?

So which action is actually the best? As expected, there isn’t one answer that suits all scenarios because each action has their own pros and cons which makes them suited for different kinds of fishing.

The best rule of thumb to follow is that heavier rods are best for catching large fish while lighter rods are best for smaller fish. However, it’s best to make sure that you are not overdoing it when first using the rod so you can gage the amount of power you need to apply when fishing. 

Other parts of the fishing rod

Other parts of the fishing rod

The majority of the fishing rod components that have been discussed in this guide revolve around the pole of the rod. Here are some of the other parts of fishing rods that you should learn about:

Guide

The first part you need to know about is the rod guide which is a handy little ring that can give you more success and accuracy. Mainly made from metal with a ceramic interior, rod guides help to reduce friction across the line which in turn makes your casting a smoother experience.

The majority of fishing rods come with a rod guide which allows you to see the benefits before deciding if you want to buy one that is higher quality. Bear in mind that fully metal rod guides that don’t have a ceramic interior may be exposed to rust. 

Another thing to bear in mind is how many guides come with the rod. On average, rods tend to have between 6 to 9 rod guides. The more guides they have, the better as they can distribute stress on the line more evenly which helps to add more precision to your casts.

Rod guides can be expensive so bear in mind that the more you have, the more it costs. 

Handle

The last component you need to bear in mind is the handle. Made from either cork or EVA foam, the handle is the part of the rod that you will have the most contact with.

Most anglers prefer handles made from cork thanks to the comfortability and ergonomic design as they provide more cushioning than EVA foam. However, cork doesn’t last as long as EVA foam which is a more durable and reliable material no matter what the weather is.

Cork is also harder to maintain and can be dented a lot easier than EVA foam. For anglers who are wanting a handle that is easy to maintain then EVA foam is the best option.

A third option that has seen increasing popularity are carbon fiber handles which are incredibly sensitive and highly resistant and reliable. The downside is that they are extremely costly because of how strong and durable they are. 

The handles are available in a variety of shapes but the top two shapes to consider are the pistol grip and trigger stick. Pistol grips have a shorter handle with a hook for the index finger. It’s contoured structure makes it ideal for higher accuracy and precise movements.

On the other handle, trigger sticks are longer and are used with both hands. They are better for longer distance casts which is preferred when trying to catch large fish. Both shapes cost around the same price so it’s just a case of deciding what you prefer. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, choosing a fishing rod that is best for you isn’t quite as easy as walking into a shop and choosing the one that looks the coolest. It takes time to analyse what kind of fish you want to catch and what kind of water you’ll be fishing in.

There are a lot of factors that you need to consider when deciding the length and action among many more. Doing the research now means that you’ll know what to expect when you are out on the water and you’ll have a better idea of what fish you are likely to encounter. 

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