When we go out and buy our first fishing rod, the type of fish we will be looking for and the number of nice pennies we will spend are often the two most limiting factors. And while we’ve now amassed a great collection, those factors remain key considerations when looking for a new fishing rod to add to the arsenal. In our fishing rod buyer’s guide, we explain how to choose a fishing rod based on the target species and fishing environment.
If you’re just starting out and thinking about buying your first fishing rod, the sheer number of options available can be quite confusing. Fortunately, a little research is all that is needed to help you choose the right fishing rod for the job, and this is a great place to start.
Things to consider when choosing a fishing rod
The most important things to consider when choosing your fishing rod are the species you are targeting and how you will target them.
You may be focusing your efforts on a particular fish or you may be looking for a multipurpose rod to target many different species. Asking yourself a few key questions will help narrow your search for the right rod.
- Are you a land-based angler?
- Do you fish off jetties and piers?
- Are you fishing off the beach or rocks?
- Will you be doing a bit of bush bashing or wading through rivers to get to your spot?
- Do you like to travel and pack a rod with you?
- Are you intending to fish from a kayak or boat?
- What body of water are you going to be fishing?
This may sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Buying a rod just requires a good understanding of what you are fishing for and the environments you plan to spend most of your time casting your line in. Different ways of fishing can limit which rod you can use. For example, if you plan to fish only in shallow streams and estuaries, you will be much better suited to a light spinning rod, rather than a heavy surf rod.
If this is the beginning of your fishing career, we think it’s worth taking a look at our beginner’s guide to fishing gear for more detailed information on the rest of the gear you’ll need.
Choosing a fishing rod that suits your preferred fishing method
Now we have dealt with the “where” and the “what”, now we have to think about the “how”.
In particular, how we are targeting a species of fish or fishing for a body of water.
- Are we using lures, bait, or both?
- Are we casting, and if so, where are we fishing?
Fishing rods are generally designed to suit a particular method and are defined by the type of reel or tackle that works most effectively with that setup.
Rods are generally classified into spinning, baitcasting, surfing, telescopic, overhead, and fly categories.
Spinning rods are the most common type of rod found in the hands of fish of all skill levels. A spinning reel fits underneath the rod, making it a very versatile rod and reel combo, suitable for lure casting and bait fishing. Depending on the weight class of your setup, a spinning rod can be used to target a wide range of small to medium-sized fish species from shore, and they are well suited for boat and kayak fishing.
Baitcasting rods are a great alternative to spinning rods, as they are quite versatile, but recommended for more experienced anglers. “Why is that?”, You may be wondering. Have you heard of a “bird’s nest”? Hobbyists can go out very quickly with a bait rod and reel combination because without proper handling, they are prone to get tangled in the reel. But for an experienced angler, they offer even greater precision when casting and more control when handling a fish.
Surf rods, as the name suggests, are specifically designed for surf fishing (but they are also great for rock fishing). The longest of the rod family, surf rods can be up to 4-5 meters long and are used from shore to cast extremely long distances beyond crashing waves to where fish like to feed. Surf rods are generally used with large egg beating reels or “Alvey” style reels to deal with large fish and cope with the added weight of pulling fish through the waves. For easy transport, the surf rods can be divided into several pieces.
Telescopic rods are designed to adapt to the lifestyle of any fisherman where: a) they are on the road a lot and a telescopic rod fits perfectly in the trunk of the car; b) they cannot travel or venture without carrying a fishing pole or, c) they do not have enough space at home for a normal size pole. The technology behind telescopic rods has come a long way. Gone are the days of brittle rods with a plastic feel – there are now some fabulous telescopic and travel rods on the market suitable for small to medium-sized fish, generally designed for use with spinning reels.
The rods above are classic boat fishing rods. They are designed to work in perfect unison with a top reel and are typically a bit shorter and more powerful than cast rods. They are made to fight large species of deep-sea fish and sport fish. You won’t do a lot of casting with a rod and reel combo – just drop your line and wait for the bites to arrive.
A Fly rod is specifically designed for use with a fly reel when fly fishing. Fly fishing is very different from other traditional forms of fishing. It is often compared to hunting, where it takes stealth, patience, and great skill to cast a fly that mimics what the species feeds on.
Fly rods are not only prepared for trout fishing in mountain streams and freshwater lakes; There are a plethora of rods, reels, lines, and flies to fish for everything from bass to bream, rod, and more. If you are interested in learning more about fly fishing, we have some great tips for beginners.
The first thing to consider when choosing a fishing rod for kids is the size. If the rod is too big for your children to handle, they will become frustrated and lose interest.
While the target species and fishing environment should still weigh your decision, an off-road rod or rod and reel combo (such as a light, spinning rod, and reel combo) is usually a good option when shopping for kids; after all, it will probably have to be replaced with a larger model as your child grows.
For a quick reference, check out this infographic that breaks down the main types of rods, explaining where they are most often used, the type of reel they are best suited for, and the relationship between rod action and power.
What Features To Look For When Buy or Choose A Fishing Rod
You have researched your target fish – you now know where the fish lives, its life cycle, and feeding habits. And you have a good idea of the best fishing method to use. This is a great start to choosing your rod. Now you need to consider the length of the rod, the stock, the weight class. And the materials used in its construction.
At the most basic level, a modern fishing rod is a long rod that tapers from butt to tip. The fishing line is fed from the spool through the guides/runners and exits through the tip guide.
Action describes how much a reed flexes along its length and how quickly the reed tip returns to a neutral position when flexed. The action of the rod is affected by the taper, length, and material from which the blank (core) is made. The action of a fishing rod affects not only what type of fishing it is best suited for. But also how you will handle a fish.
Rod taper and length
The taper and length play an important role in the action of a fishing rod and, along with understanding your target fish and the method you will use to catch them, will help determine which rod to choose.
Most reeds on the market taper progressively from tip to tip to allow for uniform reed action.
- A long, thin, and light rod (7 to 10 feet) will generally be suitable for smaller species. A long rod also helps with casting, as the bending of the rod acts as a catapult to cast the lure or bait. Lightweight rods typically have a slower action allowing minimal adjustments when handling smaller fish species.
- A short, sturdy rod (5 – 7 feet) will be more suitable for a heavier line weight class and capable of handling larger species but is not ideal for casting. The added stiffness, weight, and less dramatic taper make for quicker action, providing good power while fighting strong and heavy fish.
- Intermediate reeds may be more suitable for multipurpose, as they offer a good balance between action and power.
The action of a rod can also be influenced by whether the rod is one-piece, two-piece, telescopic, or multi-piece travel.
While it is undeniable that a one-piece rod offers maximum performance in fishing rod action. And it may not be the most practical rod to suit your lifestyle.
E.g. Having a small hatchback and a one-piece 7-foot rod is not ideal; it may not fit in the car.
The weight class of a rod is generally measured by the recommended maximum line weight and is displayed on the rod in kilograms or pounds.
A rod weighing 5 kg suggests that you are targeting fish with a fishing line of up to 5 kg. Sometimes the weight of the lure is also marked on the rod, indicating the maximum casting weight for that rod. Both measurements should help you determine which reel size and line weight to match your rod.
Modern fishing rods are made of carbon, fiberglass, graphite, and composite materials; Each shows its own characteristics and influences the overall action and feel of the reed.
Rod grips and guides/runners are also made from a host of different materials and while there are some technical differences and advantages. And it may come down to personal taste and how much you are willing to spend on your first rod. Materials like carbon fiber offer superior performance but may be out of your budget for your first fishing rod. I hope this content will help to choose a fishing rod.
By understanding your target species and fishing destination, and by learning more about how length, taper, and weight class affect the action and power of a rod, you will be better equipped to choose the right fishing rod. for conditions.