How do I choose the right fishing rod?
Picture yourself in your favorite sporting goods store taking a stroll through the fishing department. The options for tackle, rods, reels are expansive to say the least. A seemingly never-ending list of brands, types, and configurations call this area home.
When it comes to rods, the options are plentiful. Most major retailers will have a variety of lengths, powers, and actions to cover a range of techniques and target species. Choosing the right for the right situation is a task in itself; but it doesn’t need to be as hard as one thinks.
Fortunately for consumers, many manufacturers provide a great deal of detail right on the pole. When making a fishing pole purchase, there are a variety of characteristics to consider, however, four major attributes – length, power, action, and composition – are arguably the most important in your decision matrix.
Length refers simply to the overall length of the pole. Rods come in a wide variety of lengths to cover a variety of techniques and fishing scenarios. Historically, open water fishing rods stayed on the shorter end of the spectrum.
In recent years, trends towards longer and longer rods are very prevalent. Many manufacturers continue to add more lengthier models to meet the needs of anglers and the techniques they want to fish.
Rod length impacts the overall performance. However, it has some of the greatest impacts on casting distance. In general, longer rods will cast further than shorter. This casting distance can come at a cost, with shorter rods proving to provide more accurate casts.
For techniques that occur closer to the boat, like vertical jigging, shorter options (5’6” to 6’6”) are preferred. These shorter rods give an angler more control over their presentation and allow them to keep their set up close. For situations that involve lures away from the boat, longer rods are more beneficial.
Take slip bobber fishing, for example. Anglers often make long casts and need to pick up a lot of line in order to make an effective hookset. Rods in the 7’ and longer range excel in these areas.
Rod power is defined as the amount of force required to bend or flex a pole. In layman’s terms, it is simply the stiffness of the rod. In general, power ranges from ultralight to extra-heavy.
Rod power is particularly important for two main reasons. First, it impacts the range of lures and line sizes that a pole can cast. For instance, a panfish rod is not designed to cast musky sized baits, nor is a musky rod designed to cast panfish sized baits. Most manufacturers list the range of lure weights that are compatible with a specific pole. Tuned-Up Custom Rods has a chart describing the proper use of each ice rod.
This can help an angler decide on a rod based on the lures they plan to fish. Secondly, it impacts the overall size of the fish the pole was developed to handle. While a single rod may work for both bass and walleye, you should look at another option if you plan to target much smaller fish or much larger fish.
The action refers to the location where the rod bends under pressure. Rod actions typically range from moderate to extra fast, each of which shines in different scenarios. Moderate to moderate-fast actions are ideal for moving baits like trolling and casting crankbaits or bladed jigs.
Because of their more parabolic bend, these actions help to keep fish pinned. Fast actions are arguably the most versatile and can be used for a wide range of techniques.
Faster actions excel in scenarios where quick hook sets are necessary because the rod transitions from tip to backbone so quickly. These types of techniques include vertical jigging, drop shotting, slip bobber fishing. Slower actions are preferred for techniques involving moving baits as they aid in hook set as well as keeping the fish pinned. Examples include crankbaits and chatterbaits. St. Croix Rods has an excellent page describing power and action.
Two major materials dominate the bulk of blank compositions throughout the fishing industry: carbon and glass. As technologies advance, more exotic materials come into play, as well as new hybrids such as carbon-glass blends. That being said, blank composition can ultimately be sorted to the two major types. Each type has its own set of advantages and drawbacks, making each type excel in specific fishing scenarios.
Carbon based rods are designed for feel. These blanks excel in situations where having the utmost sensitivity is advantageous, like jig fishing. Glass rods lack the same sensitivity as carbon poles, however, their composition makes them an ideal choice for keeping fish pinned.
The more parabolic bend typically associated with these poles excels for fishing moving baits, like bladed jigs or crankbaits. In general, carbon rods weigh significantly less than glass rods.
Many rod manufacturers have gone the extra step to create naming conventions that help anglers decide on the right pole for them. Take St. Croix for example. The company has taken steps to create series designed specifically by species.
Case in point: Eyecon, Legend Tournament Bass, Legend Elite Panfish, Mojo Musky, etc. Many of these series also include technique specific rod choices with names that help any angler know exactly what it’s for. For example, the Vertical Jig, the Snap Jig, and the Jerkbait.
Finding the right tool for the job doesn’t have to be that hard. Take the time to determine the application you want the pole for and review the available options. Many manufacturers have taken out all the guesswork by creating specific rods for specific techniques. Find the right one for you and enjoy your time on the water.
If you are looking for a complete custom rod for your next fishing adventure, visit Tuned-Up Custom‘s open water series.
Looking to up your game on the water? Check out this post on How to be more consistent on the water.