How To Choose the Best Fishing Rod

How To Choose Spinning and Baitcasting Fishing Rods

If you’re like the vast majority of anglers, a basic fishing rod with either a spinning or baitcasting reel is all that you’ll ever need, whether you’re a beginner or seasoned pro. Compared to fly rods, they’re both easy to use. Both types also perform well in a variety of conditions, in fresh and saltwater, using different techniques, and for the gamut of fish species. But there are still a few considerations to sort out when it comes to choosing your setup. 

Start by thinking through what you’re hoping to accomplish. What type of fish will you be trying to catch? What weight lures will you be casting to accomplish that? What type of water will you primarily be fishing? And will you be looking for distance—casting out into a lake—or trying to make tight, accurate casts in small streams?

Rod Action

Think of your fishing rod as a slingshot tasked with whipping your lure and line out into the water. Action is a measure of how much of the rod can get behind that slingshot. Technically, it’s how much of the rod bends when you weight the tip.

Fast action rods bend at the top and through the upper third of the rod, while most of the rod stays firm. If you’re setting the hook into bigger fish or trying to pull a fish out of vegetation, they can be more powerful. They also have greater sensitivity and longer casting distances, but they’re not as forgiving. 

Medium action rods bend at roughly the top half of the rod and offer moderate firmness, setting ability, and sensitivity. 

And finally, slow action rods bend through their entire length. They absorb more of the fight with fish and keep pressure more consistently on the fish. They’re the best option for crankbaits. But more force is required to set the hook. 

Rod Power

A rod’s power goes alongside action, but identifies how much (rather than where) it flexes. Most of the time, the measure relates to how thick the rod is. The more powerful a rod is, the more easily it can throw heavier and stronger line, as well as heavier lures. The power you need all comes down to the fish you’re seeking. Smaller fish need less power, while bigger fish need more. Most rods are rated from 0 to 8, with 0 being incredibly light and 8 being necessary for really big fish. 

Rod Length

A rod’s length is critical both while casting and fighting a fish back to shore. Generally, longer rods are better for longer casts, while shorter rods are more nimble and precise in small areas. Also, longer rods give the fish more leverage, so shorter ones might be better for fighting fish. 

Rod Construction

The most common rod materials are fiberglass, graphite, and carbon fiber. 

Fiberglass is the most affordable (and common) option. Fiberglass rods are typically a little bit thicker, longer, and less sensitive than other materials. They’re often slow to medium action, which is great for fishing with larger baits. Fiberglass is also more durable than other materials. 

Graphite and carbon fiber make for strong rods that are more sensitive than fiberglass ones, but predictably more expensive. It’s a lot easier to feel fish biting or even nibbling on your bait or lure with these rods. They’re also much lighter than fiberglass rods. 

One-Piece vs. Two-Piece

While modern two-piece rods are often just as stiff and sensitive as a one-piece rod, it’s worth keeping in mind that two-piece rods are sometimes heavier and may have some sensitivity drawbacks. But if portability is a priority, these are minor tradeoffs. 

Handle Material

Cork is the traditional grip material on most fishing rods. It’s comfortable, even when your hands are wet, and it’s more sensitive than EVA foam. However, cork can be less durable. Foam grips are easy to clean, lighter, and tougher. Your best bet is to pick a grip that feels comfortable in your hands and that you’ll want to hold and cast for extended periods. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.