How To Pick Out The Perfect Fishing Rod
Picking out the perfect fishing rod can be more of a challenge than most might think. To make a well-informed decision that you can be happy with for years to come, it’s really important to understand the basics of a rod first. A common sight when someone is learning how to pick out a fishing rod is for them to pick it up and wiggle it around sporadically. The next step is usually followed by staring it down like a wooden 2x4 and than pressing its tip into the floor with a concentrated look on their face. After this ritual is done, a look at the price tag is taken and the rod either goes home with them or sits back on the rack. Sure, some of these commonly used rod-selecting techniques have their place, time and purpose. However, a little bit of background knowledge about fishing rods can really go a long way in order for you to make a decision you will truly be happy with and ultimately be able to have more success with on the water. For most, what this article covers may be common knowledge, but for some it may just give you that little bit of insight you need to start your journey on becoming a better angler. So we will start with…..
Material: For the modern angler the most popular two choices of rod materials consist of either graphite, fiberglass or a combination of both.
Graphite Rods - 99% of the time a graphite rod will be lighter, more sensitive and stiffer, which is why graphite is used almost exclusively for most casting and jigging techniques by a vast majority of anglers. These characteristics all come from how graphite is made. It consists of thousands upon thousands of fine strains of modules woven together. The more strains, the higher grade of graphite the rod is. That is why sometimes you will see labels like IM6 or IM8 on a rod. IM8 rods will be made from more modules to make it more sensitive. Okay, we know what you are thinking, the more sensitive the rod is, the more likely it is to break, right? Well this is true, but with modern rod making technology, a quality graphite rod will be able to withstand tremendous amounts of stress during normal fishing use, so worrying about your rod breaking shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, most quality rod makers almost always include some type of warranty to assure you have a product that will be by your side for years to come.
Fiberglass - Fiberglass rods have their time and place two. In fact, a fiberglass rod can be a great choice for many anglers that primarily troll for fish. These rods work especially well for trolling techniques that require planer boards due to the rods ability to absorb long periods of constant pressure and provide forgiveness that keeps boards from being lifted into the air in more aggressive wave conditions. Despite the common misconception of a fiberglass rod maybe not being as sophisticated of a fishing tool, with enough practice they can be used very effectively for applications like casting and provide more forgiveness in terms of fish fighting and landing ability. In fact, a high-quality fiberglass rod is actually preferred over a graphite rod for some applications by many very experienced anglers.
Handle Types: Just like the two main options for rod materials are either graphite or fiberglass, most fishing rod handles are either made of foam or cork. We know what you're thinking, “what’s the big deal?” or “can the handle material of your rod really make any kind of a difference?”. The answer is, yes!
Cork Handles – Cork has been a go-to choice for many of the world’s top rod makers for a very long time. Cork is a lighter material and actually can increase a rod’s sensitivity. In fact, vibrations from even the slightest nick can be felt very easily when traveling through the composition of cork. Cork also doesn’t absorb temperature as well as foam does. More-or-less, cork doesn’t feel so cold on cold days and hot on hot days, which is good because a lot of fisherman don’t like to wear gloves!Cork vs Foam? A personal preference!
Foam Handles - Where foam takes the cake over cork fishing handles is in terms of durability. Foam will hold up far better to abuse compared to cork. This is why most top trolling rods will have foam handles because they often spend most of their time being put in and out of rod holders, which is naturally stressful on handles. Cork is also much easier to wash clean of any fish slime or other mess.
Guides: Guides may be the single most overlooked aspect of a rod, but in fact, they play a very pivotal role in the rods performance. Top rod makers put a tremendous amount of time and thought into how many guides need to be used, where guides need to be placed and what materials they are made from. Rod guides can drastically effect a rods ability to reduce line twist, increase casting distance and accuracy and even make a rod more sensitive.
Popular rod makers like St.Coix, Dobyns, 13 Fishing and G Loomis are very persistent about what types of guides they place on their rod blanks. As you move up the product lines of fishing rods from makers like these, more time and effort gets put into guides to ensure you are getting top performance for a specific fishing technique. An industry leader in guide manufacturing for years has been Fuji. If you see a Fuji tag on the rod, take a second to read about the guides and rest assured you are making a quality choice.
Length: Length is very important to consider when you are in the market for a new rod and there are pros and cons to each. Generally speaking, a shorter rod is going to make casting accuracy easier. However, the down side to short rod is that you loose a lot of hook setting leverage and casting distance.
If you aren’t sure what technique you will be primarily doing with this new rod you wish to purchase, a great rod length to choose would be somewhere in the 6’6” – 6’10" range for all-around use. This mid-range size rod is long enough for casting most types of lures; yet short enough to promote accuracy. It’s also a manageable length to vertical jig with.
Rod Action: Rod action is very much a give and take game. This is yet another one of those grey areas that tends to trip up a lot of rod shoppers. In the most basic form, the rod action describes how it will react (or how much it will bend) when pressure is applied to it. There a multiple types of rod actions, but the most common forms consist of:
- Extra Fast
Moderate - Moderate action rods will provide a great deal of flex throughout much of the upper half of the rod blank. These types of actions are ideal for casting lures. When you are about to cast a moderate action rod, you can see and feel almost half of the rod (from the tip down) flex and load up.
When you think of a rod loading up, think of it like Pole Vaulting. With moderate action rods, the rod bends and the weight and energy from the forward motion (such as you casting) gets transferred through the shaft and is able to more easily fling a projectile, or lure.
The more bend of a moderate action rod also makes it easier to land fish because the rod’s extra forgiveness means it’s less likely to spit a hook. The more bend a rod has, the less chance for slack line to occur. Moderate action rods do have their drawbacks however, they are often less sensitive for feeling fish strikes and lack in hook setting power. Moderate rod actions are ideal for trolling, shore fishing and casting.
Fast - Fast action rods have a little less give than a moderate action rod will. The less bend of the rod helps detect fish strikes easier, inherently making it a more sensitive rod. A fast action rod will not be able to cast a lure as well as most moderate action rods, but where its major benefit comes from is its ability to provide more hook setting power and greater sensitivity. A fast action rod is an excellent choice for someone that wants a rod that will offer versatility and many benefits for multiple fishing techniques.
Extra Fast - Extra fast rods are naturally the most sensitive action of rods out there. They only flex a little bit at the very tip of the rod. You guessed it, an extra fast rod is not an ideal casting rod and is naturally the most difficult type of rod to land a fish with. This is because it’s not as forgiving of a rod after a hook set. With practice and experience however, being able to fish with an extra fast rod can be critical for catching fish when others are not. They allow for even the lightest of bites to be felt, some of the most command over lures that require very specific action and very quick hook setting power.
Still have some questions on how to pick out a fishing rod? What brands to look at? What price point to start at? We would be happy to answer any specific questions you have! Contact a TRS team member today by visiting HERE!