A fishing rod is a great foundation of any angling setup. This typically means that the type of rod is just as important as its quality. You can’t use an old rod and except a better fishing experience just like you can’t take an SUV regardless of how basic it looks to NASCAR. However, there are different types of rods available on the market which makes choosing the right one an uphill task.
Choosing the right fishing rod is as overwhelming as it is tiresome since there’s a variety to choose from. It’s especially hard for the novice who are not conversant with fishing gears. From power and action, to materials and length, the number of things you need to put into consideration will literally spin your head. Don’t fret, we’ve done the legwork for you. So, here’s how to choose a fishing rod. Read on!
This article will guide you on how to choose a fishing rod. We’ll also highlight the pros and cons of different types of fishing rods available on the market. Let’s dive right into the details!
How to Choose a Fishing Rod
The Length of a Fishing Rod
The length of a fishing rod is one of the most important things you need to consider when looking for a new one. From long casting rods to stout close-quarter fishing rods, they all range from between 4 to 14ft or thereabout. The extremes usually come with a little trade off. That’s why it’s always advisable to match the rod with the type of fishing.
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The length of the fishing rod plays a significant role as far as casting is concern. As usual, long rods make longer casts. The only downside is that they are equally hard to maneuver. Shorter rods, on the other hand, gives the angler more control but tends to limit the casting distance. For instance, when underwater fishing on a kayak.
In such cases, you wouldn’t need to cast further away from the vessel. Instead, a fishing rod that you can handle with ease will come in handy. This is where the 5 to about 7ft rods come into play because short rods are more powerful. If you are going for large species, then shorter rods are your best bet. If you plan on throwing or wading top water lures, a long fishing rod will be a lifesaver.
Swinging longer rods is not a walk in the park. However, you’ll make longer casts and that should be enough consolation as it typically equates to catching more fish. A 7ft fishing rod would be a perfect all-round option for any beginner.
The Type of Rod Material
Fishing rods are usually made of different materials including graphite, fiberglass or composite which is a combination of the two. They type of material used in making the fishing rod plays a huge part when it comes to performance. This means that you’ll have a better fishing experience when using the right type of rod made from high-quality materials.
Let’s compare different types of rod materials along with their pros and cons.
Fiberglass Fishing Rods
Fiberglass fishing rods are the most reliable since they’ve been around since time immemorial. These rods can withstand any kind of abuse owing to their long-lasting durability, endurance and sturdiness. What’s more, they are a bit easy to make and relatively affordable.
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It’s an excellent choice for beginners since they are durable and fall on the lower side of the pricing spectrum. However, using fiberglass fishing rods also come with a price. These rods usually provide limited feedback which makes detecting lighter bites harder owing to their pliable nature. The rods are also heavy making then unsuitable for battling fish for an extended period.
Graphite Fishing Rods
Graphite fishing rods have been around since the 70’s. They are a great alternative to fiberglass rods especially to those looking for a lighter option. These rods are quite popular and that’s why they attract lots of misconceptions which this article will clear up. Read on.
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If you’ve seen or used a graphite fishing rod before, then you are conversant with the IM8, IM7 and IM6 markers. The markers help identify the modulus otherwise known as the stiffness degree of the fishing rod. This typically means that if the modulus is high, then the material is equally stiffer. In layman terms, if the graphite is stiffer, the manufacturer can use less material to get the same stiffness which equates to a lightweight rod.
The most common misconception is that a graphite fishing rod with the IM8 marker is stiffer than its counterpart with an IM6 marker. This is not true. In actual sense, both fishing rods exhibit the same amount of stiffness and the only different is the IM8rod is lighter.
The best thing about graphite fishing rods is that they are usually highly sensitive to bites and are also lightweight. Its weight and sensitivity along with ease of handling guarantees a better fishing experience. Plus, you’ll be able to catch more fish. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that these rods are all sunshine and rainbows.
Graphite fishing rods are more brittle since they are stiffer. Plus, they fall on the higher side of the pricing spectrum as compared to fiberglass rods with the same specifications.
Composite Fishing Rods
As earlier mentioned, composite fishing rods are a combination of both fiberglass and graphite. The former and the latter won’t cut it if you are looking for a high performing fishing rod and that’s where composite rods come in.
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Composite rods are a lot more flexible without additional bulk and compromising on sensitivity and performance. These rods are equally versatile which makes them an excellent choice for using on different types of water. As expected, they are quite expensive owing to their impressive features. They are the best fishing rods available on the market if you can look beyond the price tag.
Fast, Medium and Slow Action
Action is a determinant factor of the performance of the fishing rod. It’s usually defined by the rod material and shape. Action dictates where and how much the fishing rod will bend while controlling the speed at which it goes from loaded to its actual position. This is where fast, medium and slow action narrative is derived from.
Action is majorly influenced by the target species and the way you handle the fishing rod. Here’s a detailed explanation of the actions:
Heavy or Fast Action
These types of rods usually bend right below the tip, at the upper part. They are highly sensitive and can detect even the lightest of bites and send vibrations to the palm of your hands. Heavy or fast action rods can also snap back fast which makes them perfect for robust hook setting. Talking of hooks, these fishing rods work remarkably well with the single hooks, large jigs and worms.
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Heavy or fast action rods are best suited for pulling the target from a heavy cover owing to their strong backbones and fast moving tips. You can also pursue larger species thanks to its strong backbone. When fishing in fresh water, a fast action fishing rod can get you anything ranging from Muskie to Large Mouth. In saltwater, on the other hand, you can comfortably land Billfish and tuna.
Medium action fishing rods usually bend at the top half only. They provide excellent hook setting feedback and capabilities to allow the angler to cast further. These rods work better with multiple-hook setups since they move slower than their fast action counterparts. Plus, they give the target ample time to bite.
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Medium action rods can also use single hooks. They are equally versatile since they can handle different types of fish from small to large and work perfectly well in different types of waters.
Light or Slow Action
Slow action rods usually bend all the way which makes battling the target a lot more fun. You’ll love these type of rods if you plan on fishing for trout and panfish. The casts are quite impressive when using these rods especially if you match the rod to the size of the lure when casting. It’s always advisable to use the smallest of lures as they cast better.
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Why is it important to use a small lure? This is because unlike their fast action counterparts, slow action rods take some time to lodge hooks into the mouth of the fish. In such cases, treble hooks will come in handy as they have small tips that need less pressure to get into the fish. Rattle baits and spinners among other fast moving lures are equally great.
However, setting the hooks in slow action rods is not as easy and this is a major drawback. This is because you’ll need to pull the fishing rod further back when the target bites since it bends all the way unlike fast action rods. Fortunately, maintaining tension on the target is easier once the hooks are in the mouth.
Rod power is almost the same as rod action although it’s the fishing rod’s ability to withstand pressure. Heavy rods are best suited for large fish while the lighter ones work well with small fish. In the same breath, heavy rods require heavier rods and vice versa. As much as there’s a leeway in that statement, it would be best to stick to markers on the blank.
The fishing line can snap if you use a heavy rod. Similarly, the rod can snap if the line is too heavy. Rod power goes from ultra-heavy, heavy to medium heavy, medium to ultra-light, light. However, you should remember that a heavy bass fishing rod and a heavy offshore fishing rod are two different things. This is because they might have different ratings. For instance, one rod could be rated for an 80lb line while the other for a 25lb line.
By now, you know all the things involved in choosing the right fishing rod. You can’t be certain you’ve picked one that suits your needs if you are not conversant with rod markings. With that in mind, you should know that most fishing rods usually have markings. You’ll know more about the rod you’ve opted for with those letters and numbers.
The first numbers, usually three or four are connected to the length of the fishing rod. The second one is the type of action followed by lure and line weights. The most common rod markings look like the one below:
Spin MH 732 Line Wt. 10-15lb, Lure Wt. ¼ – ¾ Oz
This typically means that the fishing rod is medium heavy, 7ft 3 inches and can handle 10-15 pounds lines and lures that weight between ¼ to ¾ ounces. When it comes to 732, 2 means that it’s a two-part fishing rod. Most brands tend to show the specs in the above order but it can be different for others. The salesman can explain in details if you are getting the rod in a local store.
Other Different Parts of a Fishing Rod
The parts talked about above are typically a section of the blank which is typically the actual stick. However, there are other different parts of a fishing rod that both beginner anglers and professionals should be conversant with before getting one or replacing an old one.
In case you are wondering, rod guides also play an important part in angling. There’s very little to know about them but even so, we can’t rule them out. Most guide feature ceramic coating interior and are made of metal. The coating helps reduce friction on the fishing line to allow it to move rather smoothly. Currently, most advanced rods available on the market have guides with a ceramic coating. Avoid buying fishing rods with crude metal guides.
The number of guides is just as important. For instance, a 7ft fishing rod has between 6 to 9 guides or thereabout. As a rule of thumb, it’s always said that a rod with more guides is better. This is because more guides means that pressure is distributed evenly on both the rod and line, allowing the angler to cast accurately and precisely.
The only downside to this is that fishing rods with more guides usually cost more. However, at the end of the day, the decision always narrows down to personal preference and specifications.
The rod handle is made with two different materials – EVA foam and cork. Most anglers prefer the latter since it’s more comfortable and easy on the hands. Cork not only offers warmth when the temperatures run low but also more cushion. However, the most important thing is that cork is more sensitive as compared to EVA foam as it transfers vibrations thrice as much.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all sunshine and rainbows with rod handles made of cork. For starters, cork is not as durable as EVA foam and also falls on the higher side of the pricing spectrum. Cleaning it is a bit hard and is more susceptible to dents especially if you like storing your fishing rods on a rod holder and leaving them laying around on the rocks when wading.
If you want to avoid the stress that comes with keeping the rod clean and tidy, the EVA foam is an excellent alternative. Nowadays, there are carbon fiber handles as well that boast high sensitivity without reliability issues. Just as in the debate about rod blanks, carbon fiber handles are a superior option but you’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets.
Rod handles usually come in a range of shapes. However, there are two shapes that are the most common – trigger stick and piston grip. The latter is a bit short features a contoured handle and a hook for the index finger. Piston grip rod handles are best suited for casting precise and accurate jigging movements.
The trigger stick, on the other hand, is long and allows the anglers to use both hands when casting. It casts better since you can cast further to catch more fish. It’s best suited for battling large fish species. The good news is, both the trigger stick and piston grip fall within the same price range so it’s a matter of personal preference and the type of fishing.
By now, you should know how to choose a fishing rod even though it doesn’t come easy. There are a number of things to put into consideration especially when buying a new fishing rod. Thankfully, knowing how the rod works and what it’s meant for will save you all the hassle that comes with guesswork.
I hope this article comes in handy for those looking for the best fishing rod available on the market. Remember, having the right gear at your disposal will not only give you a better fishing experience but also increase your chances of catching more fish. Keep that in mind the next time you plan on hitting the waters!