OUTDOOR BASICS

Types of Fishing Rods: A Guide to Your First Fishing Gear

Fishing rods types
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Throughout the years, hook and line fishing has evolved from a means of livelihood to a form of recreation. There is more to fishing than just catching fish and many people are now taking up this activity. Fishing helps ease the pressures of everyday life and it is a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

Reeling in the catch of the day is as thrilling as it is fulfilling, and it all begins with choosing right equipment. Fishing is a sport, and like many sports, there are different types of gear to choose from; in this case, different types of fishing rods.

Fishing rods are made in wide assortments for different kinds of fishing.

Fishing rods

Prior to purchasing a rod, one must first familiarize themselves with its parts and get acquainted with a few important terms and features.

Basic Parts of A Fishing Rod

Although there are many different kinds of fishing rods, all of them have the following parts in common:

  • Butt Cap: This is located at the bottom of the handle. It protects the handle from getting damaged. Butt caps are often made of rubber or cork.
  • Reel seat: It is where the reel is attached to the rod. Reel seats are made using graphite or aluminum. A good reel seat is one that is durable and rust-proof and should be securely fastened to the rod to prevent wobbling during casting.
  • Handle: Anglers opt for handles made from cork because they are lightweight and more resistant to wear and tear, as compared to synthetic foam. Cork particles are also infused with resin for durability. A special grip called a “pistol grip” is contoured to fit the shape of an angler’s hand and it has a special hook for the index finger to improve casting.
  • Hook Keeper: This keeps the hook in place when the rod is not being used.
  • Butt: Part of the rod that is nearest to the handle. This is the most rigid part of the rod. The specifications or features of the rod can be seen printed here.
  • Guides: These are the rings found at the top of the rod, they lead the line from the reel to the tip of the rod. The smallest guide found at the end of the rod is called “tip top”. Good quality rods often have more guides for better casting and for less friction on the line. The guide also assists in dispersing tension across the rod when reeling in a heavy fish. Guides come in many sizes, choose the ones that work best for you.
  • Windings: attaches the guides to the rod.
  • Tip: the thinnest and most flexible element of the rod.

Important Features of A Fishing Rod

One of the features to consider when buying a fishing rod is its “action”. The term refers to a rod’s flexibility: how much it will bend when pressure is applied to the tip, and its responsiveness to a deflecting force or the speed by which it could return to its neutral position. This feature affects your casting distance and accuracy.

The action of a rod also has a role in determining the type of bait and reels to be used. There are three modes of actions, the fast action, the moderate action and the slow action.

Fast action rods are rigid and bend only slightly at the tip. This mode is used when angling with single hooks such as worm and jig fishing. They can also work with heavy lures and bottom fishing. Moderate action rods bend about halfway through its length when cast, providing sufficient casting distance while still maintaining an adequate hookset.

The versatility of this mode makes it the most commonly used among anglers. It is advisable to pair this with treble hooks and slipbobbers or floats along with reaction lures in order to get the best results.

Fishing Rod features

Slow action rods have the biggest bending curve; they start bending at the lower third of the rod thereby providing the most flexibility. This mode uses the rod as a shock absorber when fighting with stubborn fish. Slow action rods are good for casting light baits.

Another relevant feature of the rod is its power value or its weight, which is the strength of your rod.  The lifting power indicates the type of fishing, as well as the species or size of fish the rod is suitable for.

Light rods are used for catching small baitfish while heavy rods are better suited for deep sea fishing or catching heavy fish. Luring in a heavy fish with a lightweight rod could result to a broken tackle, or much worse, a snapped rod. The popular choice is a medium weight rod. Medium weight rods are light enough to make catching baitfish a little fun and heavy enough to lure in large fishes.

Lastly, line weight is a feature you shouldn’t ignore. Line weight is the amount of tensile force a line can support before it parts. The line weight must be compatible with the capacity of the rod; otherwise a rod may break before the line parts. The action and the power of the rod also changes significantly when line weight is incompatible with the rod.

Materials Used in Fishing Rods

Fishing rods have developed a lot since they were first used, from natural resources such as ash wood and split bamboo, to a wide variety of synthetic materials such as steel, graphite, fiberglass or a combination of these materials.

Steel rods are no longer being fabricated nowadays. When they were first made, they were too heavy and flexible leaving many anglers dissatisfied. Steel rods also required a lot of maintenance and protection from rusting. The next development came when fiberglass rods were manufactured. Distinguished by their toughness and soft – moderate action, fiberglass rods quickly replaced steel rods in the market place.

Although fiberglass rods are not as sensitive as graphite rods, they are quite durable. This is why they are still being used in the market today and are highly recommended for new anglers and for children.

Steel fishing rod

The more expensive rods are made of graphite. They are lighter and more sensitive as compared to fiberglass rods. Graphite undergoes two processes to come up with high strain and high modulus or stiffness.

These two characteristics of graphite rods should go hand in hand. A graphite rod with high modulus and low strain is easily snapped. Processing graphite for fishing rods is a costly procedure, and some manufacturers look for ways to minimize these expenses, resulting in a cheap product. Care should be taken in examining and doing some research on the graphite rod you’re interested in to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.

High quality bamboo rods are still being used today but they are often customized or made according to an angler’s preference. Though this leads to the “perfect fishing rod” for each fisherman, mamboo rods require a lot of maintenance and are not as durable as fiberglass or graphite rods.

Modern techniques have helped rod manufacturers to modify the shape and action of fishing rods for greater accuracy, flexibility, strength and durability. In order to achieve these features, a combination of different materials such as graphite and fiberglass are utilized in order to improve upon the benefits of each.

How to Choose A Fishing Rod that Suits your Needs

Being familiar with the features of a fishing rod will help you to choose the one that is perfect for you and your fishing style. Along with the right target catch and lures, you’ll have no problems catching fresh fish, as long as they’re suited to your environment.

Spincasting rods

Using gear that’s appropriate for a small lake, for example, isn’t going to work for deep sea fishing. So here are the different kinds of rods to choose from:

  • Spincasting rods have reels situated above the rod reducing the probability of the line snarling or back lashing. This type of rod is commonly made of fiberglass and the reels that accompany spincasting rods have low gear ratios due to its large spool size. Casting using this reel is very easy. Disengaging the line can be done by pressing a button on the backend of the reel. Upon casting, the line will come off the spool. Retrieval is also very simple: just turn the crank handle and the pick – up pin automatically does the job. Spincasting rods are the ideal start –up gear for beginner anglers.
  • Baitcasting rods are versatile and suitable for many types of fishing. This rod is perfect for catching big fish with the use of heavy lures, such as bass and pike fishing. The casting of this rod is difficult to master and is apt only for experienced anglers. The reels for baitcasting rods are also mounted on top of the rod. Casting is done by moving the rod backward then flicking it forward. The line is then pulled by the weight of the lure. There is a broad selection for baitcasting rods: round with a low profile, high and low retrieval options and they are equipped with anti-reverse drags. It also comes with a casting brake – an important feature for baitcasting rods. This feature controls the amount of line released and reduces overruns and snaring.
  • Spinning rods are generally lightweight rods used with lightweight lines. They are easier to use than baitcasting rods, yet they provide better accuracy compared with spincasting rods. Unlike reels for casting rods, the reel for spinning rods is located beneath the rod, fastened by a locking reel seat. This is popularly used for trolling or fishing with live bait, though good performance is diminished when used with heavy lines.
  • Flycasting rods come in a variety of sizes and can be used to catch small pond fish up to larger sea fish. These rods are manufactured mostly from carbon graphite and are designed to be thin and flexible. A unique line called a “fly line” or “streamer” is necessary to cast this gear. This is composed of a hook tied with an assortment of lightweight, man – made materials such as fur, feathers and other materials that are supposed to mimic an insect on the water surface. Flycasting does not use weighted lures and relies solely on the weight of the fly line during casting. Like spinning rods, the reels for flycasting rods are found below the rod. Several methods are employed when casting this rod and most of them are very complex. Flyfishing requires practice and/or the guidance of a professional to improve your chances of a landing a catch.

The length of a rod can range from 5 feet to 14 feet, and longer rods can be disassembled into several pieces for easier transportation.  The area you’re interested in fishing in can help you determine the appropriate length of the rod. Longer rods can cast longer distances and can be used in seas or wide lakes, whether you’re in a boat or on the shore.

Fishing from boat

When fishing from a vessel, longer rods require some amount of deck space to allow proper casting. Shorter rods can cast shorter distances, and are ideal for fishing in narrow rivers and small boats. Shorter rods are also great for children because of their height.

Can’t Decide on A Fishing Technique Yet?

What if you only want to take up fishing without a specific target catch? You need not worry; there exists an all-around fishing rod. This rod can handle almost any fishing situations. They are medium-weighted and moderate action rods.

They can be equipped with a spinning reel or a spincast reel depending on your preference. Spinning reels are designed to protect the line from breaking when cast incorrectly while spincast reels are the easiest reels to cast. The features of the all-around rod can handle small fishes and can withstand the weight and pull of bigger ones.

The deciding factor when purchasing a rod is the overall feel of the gear or its balance. A balanced rod is important because it allows detection of small vibrations along the line. It is also easier to maintain a steady position with a perfectly balanced rod, meaning less energy is wasted in keeping it from shaking.

How to Balance A Rod

Make sure that the design of the rod matches the reel you want to use. As we have already mentioned, casting reels are mounted on top of a rod while spinning reels are below the rod.

For spincasting rods, test the balance by holding the rod horizontally on your index finger, positioning your finger in front of the reel. If the rod tips towards the handle, the reel is heavy. Change it for a lighter one for better balance.

Having a heavy reel will reduce the sensitivity of the rod and may cause problems during casting. On the other hand, if the rod tips forward, the rod is too heavy for the reel. Fishing for long periods using this rod will be exhausting as more energy is spent on maintaining the position of the rod.

How to Balance a Rod

If you decide to outfit your rod with a spinning reel, you can test its balance by holding it forward, grasping it in a way that your index finger will be situated right where the reel is seated in the rod. If the set-up feels natural and there is minimal swaying, then the rod is balanced.

Additional Information on Choosing your Rod

If you are a beginner, being equipped with all these information can be overwhelming. However, it’s easy to see that rods with greater accuracy, power, durability and reliability are going to cost more. However, it is not recommended that you purchase high – end, pricey rods. Although a good rod will aid your success as an angler, a beginner with a top quality rod won’t be able to catch more than a beginner with a cheap rod.

A good rod goes a long way, so it is also inadvisable to purchase cheap plastic rods because you will end up spending more on maintenance and there is a high risk of it snapping. Try to get the feel of fishing first with good gear at a decent price. When you have already identified your favored fishing technique, you can start building and upgrading your own rod.

Choosing a fishing rod

Rod building is common among experienced anglers because they know exactly what to look for. They do not have any difficulty deciding on the specifications and features they want and can always customize their fishing rods to achieve the performance they desire.  Since seasoned anglers know where to place their lures, they want rods that are accurate and responsive to their wishes.

Tackle shops sell rods and reels in packages or individually. The packages are already balanced but it will not hurt to try the feel of one before you decide to buy it. Keep in mind the important features discussed above in order to find the fishing rod that is right for you. Feel free to ask yourself: to what extent can it bend and how much strain can the rod endure?

If you’re new to fishing and you don’t know how to install reels and lines, ask the tackle shop representatives for instructions or have them install it for you. Equipment plays a great role in fishing, so do not forget that the type of rod you choose will impact your fishing success. Remember the information and details that you have acquired from this article, select the perfect rod for your needs, and enjoy the rest of your fishing adventures!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Alex Lauther

    Sometimes I go with a lighter rod over a heavier one. There’s fun when there’s a fight between me and the fish. Anyway, I will always love my Ugly Stik. It’s cheap and very versatile. It’ll last at least as long as any more expensive rod.

  • Mark Foster

    Sometimes cheap is not synonymous with quality gear. Go and look at some high quality rods here that won’t bust your budget. Most have great features borne out of new technology – something the ugly stick may not have.

  • Meg Gardner

    Fishing makes camping more fun and we share the passion for it. Although, I still find baitcasting rods difficult. I heard that it has advantages like being able to get casts out faster and more accurately. Thanks for the amazing guide!

  • Mark Foster

    You’re welcome Meg and I’m glad you love fishing, too! Choose rods that you can handle well. Forget what others are using, just enjoy the sport by using quality gear that answers your needs. When I was starting out in fishing, I purchased rods that I can actually use. I’ve listed my top choices up there and I do hope one will catch your eye.

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