Whether you are an experienced fisherman or you are relatively new to the hobby, one thing you should know and never overlook is the fact that fishing rods are important. A good fishing rod can make all the difference in what happens with your bait when casting out to catch fish, and this is ironic because many people often overlook the fishing rod as an important aspect of fishing.
Choosing spinning or casting rods can be overwhelming as a newbie or even an experienced fisherman as you have to consider different things; from the length of the rod to the material used, and even how far and accurately you would be able to cast.
We are not saying that using the right rod would automatically guarantee a 100% success rate when you are on the water, but in the same vein, using an incorrect one would make things very difficult for you.
Learning how to choose the right fishing rod is like learning a new language. Each one has its own specifications, and each fisherman will have their preferences. So it can be tough but not impossible! Do you know your beginners from your intermediates? Your casting rods from trolling for fish? Here’s everything that we think you might need in order to get started with choosing the perfect fishing rod:
Table of Contents
Things to consider when choosing a fishing rod
Some of the questions to ask before making the decision are:
- Are you a land-based angler?
- What type of rob blank do you want?
- Do you plan to fish from a kayak or boat?
- Do you want to fish off the beach or rocks?
- What are the uses?
- What is your preferred casting distance?
- What body of water are you going to be fishing? Lake, River, Stream?
These questions might seem complicated, especially for a first-timer, but it is important to note that different ways of fishing may limit/determine which rod you’ll be able to use.
For instance, if you plan to fish in shallow creeks and estuaries, a lightweight spinning rod would be the best option for you.
However, if your intent is for bass or trout fishing in freshwater streams and rivers, then certain fishing rods would be more appropriate than others. In the end, it’s important to make sure they’re compatible with their intended purpose and what type of water one plans on fishing in – saltwater versus fresh!
To simplify things, here are 9 factors to take into consideration when choosing a fishing rod:
1. The fishing rod length
The length of the spinning or casting rod is the first set of factors to consider when looking to get a new rod as it influences the casting distance. There are different types; from the long casting poles to close-quarter fishing rods, fishing rods can range from 4–14 feet in length.
Rod length affects how far you can cast. For instance, longer rods are typically known to accommodate longer casts, but they are harder to move around, so if you are a newbie with no prior knowledge or skill as regards casting, the best size fishing rod for you would definitely not be longer rods.
The shorter rods or lines, on the other hand, give you more control while casting but the downside with that is that there is a limitation on how far you can get to toss the line while fishing, so you would always have to go close to your preferred fishing spot.
So, if you are wondering “What size fishing rod should I use”, here are a few suggestions depending on the situation.
Imagine fishing underwater from a kayak. Common sense dictates that you would not need to cast your rod in that kind of situation -say a fly rod- so far. So, in a situation like this, something short, that is easy to handle and cast would be recommended.
Fishing rods of about 5–7′ inches come in really handy in this case.
Another scenario is if you are wading. In a situation like this, 8+ foot poles are recommended as they make for longer lines and can help you make long casts.
If you are a beginner, however, you can settle for a 7′ fishing pole, as it is a good place to start.
Another thing to note is that the fishing rod’s length impacts four aspects of your fishing experience, which are:
As explained earlier, shorter poles allow for accurate casts while fishing, and in addition, they are easy to manage and maneuver. As they also require considerably lesser energy to cast, they are perfect for first-timers.
So as a fishing enthusiast, if you want to choose which fishing rod to buy, you should consider the level of accuracy you are aspiring for.
If you are looking to cover a lot of distance while fishing, then long fishing rods are your best bet. It is important to note that if you are picking distance, you would be sacrificing accuracy, so it is left to you to decide which one is of more importance.
You can decide to opt for a heavy long rod or a light short rod based on the amount of leverage you would need while fishing.
Your comfort level also influences the type or length of fishing stick you pick. If you are tall, chances are you would be more comfortable with a longer rod than if you are short. The point is to know what works for you and stick with it.
2. Which rod material should I choose?
You can get a fishing rod in different materials, from fiberglass to graphite or even composite which is a combination of fiberglass and graphite. The rod material goes a long way in how the fishing rod performs so before picking a material, you have to know the pros and cons and how to work with it.
Now, let’s check out the advantages and disadvantages of each material, so you can make an informed decision when selecting one.
Fiberglass rods are well known to be reliable, strong, and durable. If you are looking for surf rods that can take all the stress, it is fiberglass. Apart from its durability, another selling point of this material is that is easy to make and also affordable.
If you are a newbie, fiberglass is recommended as it can deal with wear and tear. When it comes to the disadvantages of using this material, however, fiberglass is known to be heavy. If you are on the lookout for a light fishing rod, then you might want to skip fiberglass.
Graphite rods are a good alternative to fiberglass. This is because even though they are durable, they are also lighter. This makes them easy to cast, handle and fish with. Apart from this, graphite fishing rods are also sensitive to bites.
The major flaw with graphite rods is that they are often stiff and brittle, so there is a high chance that the rod will break when bending too far. It is also more expensive than fiberglass.
Composite rods are a combination of graphite and fiberglass which means that you are getting the flexibility that comes with graphite, alongside the strength of fiberglass. It is a good middle ground as they are versatile and can be used in different waters and to catch different types of fish.
Another type of fishing rod to be on the lookout for is the bamboo rod. This is in a whole new lane compared to the other rods because of its price. An antique bamboo rod can sell for as high as $2,780.
The fishing line holds its weight also, as it produces a smooth backcast alongside a high level of accuracy in terms of placement. Bamboo rods are also very durable and if properly maintained, can last for decades.
When selecting the rod material to use, you should also consider the following:
This also has a role to play when selecting a fishing line or casting rod to use. This is because beginners would obviously not be able to handle a fishing rod like a professional can. While professionals know all about the fishing rods and when best to use each one, beginners do not.
Professionals in this line tend to favor the graphite rod because it is both rigid, lightweight, and extra sensitive which comes in handy while fishing.
Beginners on the other hand might not be able to deal with the sensitivity of a graphite rod, so it is often advised that they settle for a fiberglass rod which they would be able to control seeing as it is more rigid than the graphite.
Apart from being rigid, a fiberglass rod is also more durable, so it would be able to withstand usage by a novice.
As a beginner or someone looking to take up fishing as a hobby, there is no need to invest heavily in a fishing line or pole. There are many rods on the market, so when choosing one, you should look out for one that is on the affordable side, that can serve you properly.
In terms of materials, fiberglass is the least expensive while graphite is in the middle range category. Composite comes in as an intermediary between graphite and fiberglass as regards the price.
The most expensive casting rod is usually the bamboo rod as it takes time to construct. If you are a newbie to fishing, there is no need to go for an expensive rod. You can start with fiberglass and then upgrade as time goes on.
The type of bait to be used
As inconsequential as it might seem, the type of bait to be used also plays a huge role in the type of fishing. rods to get.
Now, there are two types of bait; live baits and lures. Live baits like earthworms, crickets, or other insects are more reliable for fishing and their success rate cannot be compared to that of the lure.
When it comes to lures and bait, there are many different materials that go well together. For example, graphite works better with live bait because of how sensitive the material is. The sensitivity offered by graphite allows you to notice subtle surface changes or snags from a fish bite.
Where the fishing would be done
Another important criterion to consider when selecting a material for your casting rod is where you would be fishing. This is because certain fishing locations and the physical conditions of the place work better for specific types of fishing rods.
For instance, if you would be fishing in deep waters, your best bet would be a graphite rod as this provides more sensitivity and bulk (it is not lightweight like fiberglass), so it would allow for thicker fishing lines and weightier lures, and heavier catches. Graphite can also hold its own against breaks on long casts or even thick vegetation.
Fiberglass rods, on the other hand, are best suited for areas with rough surfaces. Even though it is lightweight, it is tough enough to withstand snags and obstructions. If you are looking to fish in water bodies with a lot of saltwater content also, fiberglass is your best bet. This is because they are more durable and resistant enough to resist corrosion.
The type of fish you want to catch
The location and the type of fish you want to catch go hand in hand as they influence each other. With fishing, you have to be prepared before setting out and one of the ways to prepare adequately is by knowing your goals/target for that fishing trip.
This includes the type of fish you want to catch as it greatly influences the type of material you would go for when choosing a fishing rod. If you are going to catch big fish, then a graphite rod that is very rigid and strong is the preferred choice. If on the other hand, you would be catching small but aggressive fishes, then fiberglass is a good choice.
Using graphite with aggressive fishes would be counterproductive as the rod would not be able to handle all the movement and would most possibly snap in the process.
When you’re casting your fishing rod, the action refers to how much it bends. A person may have a preference for one type of action over another depending on their needs and style of fishing.
There are three types; fast, medium, or slow actions which can be determined by looking at the shape and material used in creating that particular rod
Fast or Heavy Action
If you are handling fast action rods, you would notice that the rod usually bends are at the upper part. With Fast action rods, the slightest movement is recorded and vibrations are sent straight to the hand, so you would know that a fish is nibbling on the bait.
Fast action rods can also snap back quickly and they are perfect for pulling large fish. In freshwater, for instance, a fast action rod can get you a fish as big as a Largemouth. In saltwater, you can use a fast-action rod to catch a large Tuna.
With medium action rods, the bend is usually situated at the top half of the pole. Medium action rods allow for good hook-setting and a considerable amount of distance for casting.
They are of less impact than fast action rods however but you can also expect versatility from them. The versatility is in the sense that you can use medium action rods to catch both different types of fish and also use them in different waters.
Slow (Light) Action
Slow action rods can be bent to the bottom of the pole and you can use them to catch small fish. The cast capacity is great and in addition to this, they allow you to maintain just the right amount of tension on the fish.
The downside of slow or light action rods here is that they are not so easy to set the hook with, so you have to pull back further when a fish is on the line.
4. The Rod Power
A fishing rod’s power determines how much weight it can hold and the ease at which it flexes. A low-power rod will bend easily, while a high-powered one would not budge that easily! The key to finding an effective fishing rod lies in choosing one with just enough grunt for your needs.
For fishing, you should go for a rod that can bend easily as this would give you more control while fishing. Rod power can be divided into six categories; Ultra Light, Light, Medium, Medium-Heavy, Heavy, and Ultra Heavy.
Rods that fall under the ultralight category are perfect for catching small fishes as they can bend very well and you would easily be able to detect a bite.
Rods with moderate power rods are ideal for situations where you don’t want to break the line.
For the heavier power rods, the application is best suited to situations where less bend in the rod is required.
5. Rod markings
Did you know that all fishing rods have markings on them? If not, well now you do! The function of these numbers and letters that are used to mark a fishing rod is to give you an insight as to the rod and its properties.
The first letters on the marking show the length of the rods. The other numbers show the action and then the recommended line and lure weights.
6. Rod Guides
Most casting rod guides are made from metals and have ceramic coatings inside them. The function of the ceramic coating is to reduce the friction on the line and make sure that it moves smoothly.
When looking out for fishing rods to buy, it is advisable to go for the ones with ceramic coatings, as opposed to the old ones with basic metal guides.
The number of guides is also another factor to consider as the more guides a rod has, the more precise it would be. Having more guides also helps to reduce friction which in turn reduces heat. The guides also help to distribute the stress on the rod evenly so it is worth paying attention to when choosing the right fishing rods.
Having more guides attracts an extra cost though, so you have to decide on how many of the rod guides you want on your fishing rods.
7. Rod Handle
One part of fishing rods that gets in contact with people the most would have to be the rod handle. It is mostly made with any of these two materials; the cork or the EVA foam.
A large percentage of people believe that the cork is a better fit as a rod handle as it provides a cushion while using, and it is also sensitive enough to transfer any vibrations.
However, the downside with the option for the cork as the material of your rod handle is that it doesn’t last as long as the EVA foam, so in the end, you have to cough out more money for something that isn’t quite as durable.
Another drawback with the cork is that it is difficult to clean and it also gets more dents on it. If you’re a fishing enthusiast who wants to be able to clean their rod handles easily, then an EVA foam handle is the better option.
There is a third, alternative which is not as commonly used as the EVA foam or the cork; the carbon fiber handle, and although it is considerably more expensive than the other two options, it is very sensitive and durable.
With spinning rod handles, there are two commonly utilized shapes; the pistol grip and the trigger stick. The pistol grip has a short handle, which has contours and a hook for your finger.
These features make it a perfect fit for fishing enthusiasts who want a lot of accuracy and precise movement while casting.
The trigger stick on the other hand has a much longer handle, so with it, you can cast with two hands making you cover longer casting distances.
Ultimately, the typical shape of the rod handle you go for is entirely dependent on the type of fishing you want to get into.
8. The Rod Reel Type
A fishing reel is a device that is attached to a fishing rod, like a casting rod, and is used for winding a fishing line. Reels differ in both casting distance and the accuracy offered, so it is another factor to note while choosing a fishing rod.
Some reels even have pressure which helps anglers to know when there is a fish on the line. There are four types of rod reels to pick from; the spinning reel, fly-casting reel, bait-casting reel, and the spin-casting reel. These reels all differ in the way they are positioned on the reel seat, their alignment, and even enclosure, and figuring out your reel type is important as it would help determine the rod type.
The reel seat should also be considered when selecting the rod reel type and as there are different types of reel seats based on the type of water to be fished in, that also has to be taken into consideration.
9. Your Budget
Apart from your skillset and the type of fishing you are going to be doing, your budget comes into play when you are choosing a fishing rod.
There are different brands to pick from, so it is best to do your due diligence in terms of research as regards what would serve you better. As a beginner, however, you can get a good and durable fishing rod for $50 above.
For intermediate anglers, your budget can start from about $200 as this price range provides more options.
For advanced anglers, graphite is preferred and as discussed earlier, it is more expensive, so a budget of about $500 above should be budgeted for a new fishing rod.
If you are working with a tight budget, you can always go for a cheaper option that can equally serve you well. Another option you can explore if you are on a tight budget is to buy from people looking to get rid of old or unused fishing items. You can check online resources like eBay or even Joom to get started. There are many fishing rods there, including spinning rods.
If you can afford to splurge, however, you can go all out and pick a fishing rod that can get the job done the best.
Key Insights & Takeaways
With fishing, there is no one size fits all, and knowing how to choose fishing rods doesn’t come easily seeing as there are many factors to consider per time.
Fishing rods can be a little confusing to buy if you don’t know what they are. Hopefully, this article has helped with that by informing you on the fishing rod types and important factors when considering purchasing one, as well as eliminating some of the confusion around getting one!
This is an informative piece on how we should go about buying our next fishing rod because it’s not always easy figuring out which ones would work best for us or understanding every factor there is in selecting these tools.
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