A fishing rod or a fishing pole is a long and flexible stick used for fishing. The length of a fishing rod usually is between 12 inches and 20 feet.
The flexibility of rods varies too from one rod to other. Selecting the right rod for the specific type of fish can influence your fishing success. All fishing rods are not the same and they vary in flexibility, thickness and length. A fishing rod supports and guides the fishing line. When a fish bites the lure, the rod will absorb the tension created right that moment.
Rod Materials and Construction
Modern rods are made of fiberglass or graphite or a combination of both materials.
Graphite rods are lighter, flexible, highly sensitive and durable. These rods are lighter and stronger. So, these are typically used by experienced anglers.
Fiberglass rods have extreme durability but have more weight, less flexibility and less sensitivity compared to graphite rods. These rods have an average weight and needs little maintenance. Though fiberglass rods are not as good as graphite rods, they are less costly and more durable. Composite rods made of graphite and fiberglass has mixed variations in terms of quality issues such as weight, flexibility, sensitivity and also prices.
Though many people think fiberglass and graphite are the only materials used in making fishing rods. But the fact is – there are bamboo made fishing rods too. If you are a beginner, you can start with a fiberglass rod.
Bamboo rods are built from Tonkin cane and can even provide highest quality.
Handles / Grips
Cork is traditionally used material for handles. But on most bait casting (especially freshwater and inshore) rods, a pistol grip is often used. A pistol grip is the shortest type of handle for these rods. But on saltwater (especially spinning) rods, a longer pistol is used. A longer pistol is used because it works as a fighting butt and helps two-handed casts. If you are using a rod with handle, make sure the your hand comfortable because it will help you to. EVA Foam is also used to make handles. Foam has several benefits such as (a) more resistant to temperature changes (b) more durable and (c) more resistant to the effects of water and wear. So, some anglers prefer foam handles.
Nowadays blank-through-handle design is the most popular because these roads are stronger and more sensitive.
Line guides on rod are usually made of plastic, metal and ceramic. Plastic guides are lowest quality guides while metal guides have medium and ceramic guides have highest quality levels. These guides can be single-foot or double-foot. When more guides are used, the angler gets several benefits such as (a) casting becomes smooth (b) stress is distributed more evenly across the rod. But the longer a rod is, the more guides are needed for the rod. The more rods are used, the higher the cost becomes.
You need rods of different lengths for catching different types of fishes. For example, you need a stiff rod of moderate length if you are going for bottom fishing from a boat for grouper. You will need a long rod if you are surfcasting. So make sure you are taking the proper rod suitable for catching your target fishes. If you are targeting bigger fish and you need longer casting, you need to use a longer rod.
Though rod lengths typically range from 6 to 12 feet, you need to select the rod based on several conditions. If you are buying it for a child, you should buy a small one for him because a child can easily handle a small rod. If you are a beginner and buying a rod, make sure that you can easily handle the rod and cast as long as you need to. You will need a longer rod if you are casting in wide open space for fly fishing. But if the surrounds allow you small space, you should choose a smaller rod. You should use a shorter but strong rod if you’re fishing for strong, aggressive and larger fishes.
Sometimes you need a heavy rod and sometimes you need a lighter rod. It is depend on your fishing conditions and fishing targets. If “(pound sign) 5/8’” is marked on the rod, it means the rod is a 5-weight, 8 foot rod.
It is the flex of the tip of a rod when pressure is applied perpendicular to the rod. The beginning of the tip part of the rod will bend but the end of the rod will stay rigid.
Tapers help to get the feel for the lure. It also helps to dictate when a fish is caught.
Jig type lures are used with fast tapers. Since the fast taper sends the feel quickly, it becomes easy to control the lure and manage the catch when a fish strikes.
Slow tapers are easier to cast and good for fighting large fish with light fishing line.
If you use your rod for bait casting, you have to use one type of reel and another type of reel for spin casting.
Bait casting reels are design in such a way that it fits in the palm of the anger’s hand so that the angler can control the bait or jigs more efficiently. It is easy to monitor the line in a bait casting reel.
Spin casting reels are enclosed by a cover.
Several specifications are used to maintain the quality of a fishing rod. These are power, action, line weight, lure weight, and number of pieces.
There is no fixed specification for power. Power is also known as “power value” or “rod weight”. Power can be classified in many ways such as (a) ultra-light (b) light (c) medium-light (d) medium (e) medium-heavy (f) heavy (g) ultra-heavy or other similar combinations.
You need one type of rod for catching small fishes and another type of rod for catching medium fishes. When you are catching small bait fish or pan fish, you should use ultra-light rods. Ultra-light rods are also used when rod responsiveness is critical. Ultra-heavy rods are suitable for catching heavy fishes, surf fishing and deep sea fishing. It will be odd if you got to catch pinfish using a ultra-heavy rod. If you try to catch a big sea fish using a ultra-light rod, it break down. So you should use a rod that is suitable for the kind of fish you are going to catch.
It is the speed to which the rod returns to its neutral position. The speed may be slow, medium, fast, medium fast or any other such combination.
Three things are used to influence the action of a rod – (a) tapering of a rod (b) the length of the rod and (c) the materials used for the blank. When a carbon fiber composite blank is used, the rod becomes faster than a rod using a glass fiber composite blank.
There is no fixed standard for determining the action of a rod. So it can vary from one company to another company. For example, a fast fiberglass rod may have a slower action than a medium action bamboo rod.
Please note that rod action is commonly misunderstood as the curve of the rod. Action is basically related to the speed issue.
Line weight is measured in pounds of tensile force that line can handle. When we mention line weight for a rod, it means the amount of pressure the rod is designed to support.
Fly rod weights are written as 2wt, 9wt or 12 wt. The range is from 1wt to 12wt (1 to 12). Each of these 12 weights indicates a specific weight of the first 30 feet of the fly line. The weight standard has been established by the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Association.
8 to 12 pound (lb) lines are typical for casting and spinning rods.
Every rod is not suitable to support any lure or hook. A rod is designed to support the weight of a particular or few particular types of lures or hooks. This weight is usually expressed in ounces or grams.
Number of pieces
If your rod is one piece from butt to tip, it will give you the most natural feel. But its main disadvantage is – it is hard to carry from one place to another because of its long size.
Two pieces rods are easier to carry but you may have to sacrifice little natural feel if the rod is well-engineered though many anglers do not even feel the difference.
Types of Fishing Rods
Now we will introduce you to several types of fishing rods. When you finish reading this article, you will gain enough knowledge to choose your own fishing rod.
Carbon fiber rods
Glass fiber rods were used before carbon fiber rods. Carbon fiber rod is stiffer than glass fiber rod and thus less flexible. It is also brittle. If it is misused, it will easily break. But it is possible to make longer rods using the carbon fiber.
These rods are thin and flexible. These are designed to cast an artificial fly or fly lure. It usually consists of a hook tied with fur, feather, foam or other lightweight material. Some modern flies are also tied with synthetic materials. Nowadays man-made materials are used to make these rods. These materials can be fiberglass, carbon/graphite, or even graphite/boron composites. But it was previously made of yew, green hart, and later split bamboo (Tonkin cane).
Split bamboo rods are usually most beautiful and most “classic” rods. But these are most fragile too. If you want these rods last longer, you need a great deal of care.
The rod size is dependent on several factors such as (a) the fish being sought (b) the wind conditions, (c) the water conditions (d) weight of the line. You may know that larger and heavier line sizes are used to cast larger and heavier flies. Most fly rods have little or no butt section (handle) extending below the fishing reel. The butt section is kept as little as possible to avoid interference with casting movement.
You will find fly rods with a wide variety of line sizes. While some are used for the smallest freshwater trout and pan fish others are used for larger saltwater game fish.
If you are going to fish in a narrow stream or tiny pond, the fishing space can be limited. In such condition, shorter rods are typically used. These shorter rods are less than 8 feet long. 8 to 9 feet long rods are the most popular casting rods for bass and trout fishing.
4 to 8 middle weights are typically used for freshwater fishing.
If you are targeting larger black bass, channel catfish or walleye, you should use a medium power, moderate fast or fast action bait casting rod. But you should use a medium heavy or heavy power bait casting rod with fast action if you are targeting striped bass, blue catfish, flathead catfish or muskellunge. When you are using live bait, you should use a moderate or slow action rod with medium-heavy or heavy power.
These rods are made from graphite or fiberglass. These have a cork or PVC foam handle. The usual length is 5 to 8.5 feet (1.5 – 2.6). The spinning reel hangs beneath the rod and it is done so that the angler can fish comfortably for extended periods. Since the reel is beneath the rod, the angler can hold the rod in his dominant hand. But it is also true that the handle is reversible in most modern spinning reels.
These rods and reels are often used in fishing for popular North American sport fishes. These fishes are mainly bass, trout, pike and walleye. In European continent, these rods are used in fishing pike, perch, eel and zander. Zander is actually walleye fish.
Longer spinning rods are often used in saltwater or steelhead and salmon fishing. These rods come with elongated grip handles for two-handed casting. These are also frequently used for trolling and still fishing with live bait.
Baitcasting and spinning rods are mainly used for saltwater fishing though there are technical sub-divisions such as inshore, offshore, bottom fishing, surfcasting and others.
Bait casting rods hold a baitcasting reel on top of the baitcasting rod. You will see a trigger grip in most baitcasting rods. While anglers cast and retrieve line, they secure the rod using the trigger with a forefinger. The trigger grip of the rod allows you to hold the rod securely while releasing the thumb bar or line release. Manufacturers design spincasting reels in such a way that they fit in both baitcasting and casting rods.
Spin casting rods hold a spin casting reel above the handle. These rods have small eyes and often a forefinger grip trigger. You already know spincasting reel is suitable for spinning rods. There are spinning reels that are also suitable for spinning rods. The line guides of spinning rods seats at the bottom of the rods but triggers are not used.
You can use your baitcasting reel in spin casting rods too.
It is interesting that nowadays there is no or little difference between baitcasting and spin casting rods. So both of them are termed as “casting rods” now and you will not find much difference since today’s casting rods suit any of these two fishing styles.
Nowadays modern ice rods are usually very short spinning rods. The length can vary from 24 to 36 inches. Though modern ice rods are easily available, the classic ice rods are still widely used. These classic rods are rod-like piece of wood and have (a) a carved wooden handle (b) a couple of line guides and (c) two opposing hooks mounted ahead of the handle.
The rods are used for fishing through holes in cover of frozen lakes and ponds.