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Different Types of Fishing Rods & How to Pick the Right One

Different Types of Fishing Rods
Written by Immanuel Baranov
Last Update: July 24, 2023

Because there are different types of fishing, so there are different types of fishing rods. Gone are the days when one type fits all. During the history of mankind fishing was done for the express purpose of feeding oneself or family. Back then, fishing was done either by nets or fishing pole, but the nature of fishing has changed. During the 19th century fishing became a sport and the fishing pole, which is literary just a long pole with twine and hook attached to the end, slowly began to be replaced by custom built rods and became much more advanced with the introduction of reels and moving line. That tendency has developed until today we have millions upon millions of fishermen and women all over the world and an equally worldwide industry that manufactures tackle for their needs. With this expansion, different types of fishing rods have also developed to accommodate different types of fishing.

Fishing is one of those sports in which, if you enjoy it, your enthusiasm for the sport grows. Therefore, you are tempted to expand the type and kinds of fishing that you want to do, from river fishing to saltwater. For beginners it is recommended to pick up any kind of rod to try it out, but once you have caught the fishing bug, you will want to check out much better equipment. Not only different types of fishing itself, but also the fishing rod types that have been specially developed to help with the multiple ways in which you can fish. So, before plunging into updating your tackle, it is a good idea to acquaint yourself with what’s available, starting with the basic and most important component, your rod.

Different Types of Fishing Rods

Casting Rods

Casting Rods - different types of fishing rods

Casting rods and baitcasting rods are basically the same, the names are interchangeable. They are used for float fishing or spinning. Eyes and reel are mounted on the top side of the rod.

Spinning Rods

Spinning Rods - different types of fishing rods

Spinning rods are a good universal type rod where the reel is located underneath the handle. Can be two or three piece. Between 5-9 feet, they are small and light, the eye closest to the reel larger than all the rest to help the line move smoothly and rapidly off the spool. The eyes become progressively smaller from handle to tip.

Fly Rods

Fly Rods - different types of fishing rods

Specifically made for fly fishing. Long but lightweight and flexible because of the need for constant motion. Used with an open reel, which is usually located at the back end of the handle. Traditionally used for trout or salmon, but other types of fish will rise to the lure of a fly. Fly fishing rods have also been developed for saltwater fishing to catch big games. The butt or handles come in cork or wood. They also make the best walleye rods being lightweight and sturdy.

Ice Fishing Rods

Ice Fishing Rod - different types of fishing rods

Basically a spinning rod, but very short and sturdy. Only a yard or less in length. Because of their shortness there fewer eyes.  There’s no need to cast as you just drop your tackle into a hole in the ice and sit over it. The very old style rods dispense with a reel and the line is wound by hand.

Sea Fishing Rods

Sea Fishing rod - different types of fishing rods

Heavy-duty rods, both long and short, depending on whether or not you are fishing from a boat or the shore. Rod tips are very strong. The tackle and reels are designed for dealing with weighty fish that put up a fight. These come in different types, according to how you wish to fish. As stated above, there are even sea fishing fly rods.

Surf Rods

Surf Casting rod - different types of fishing rods

Again, a sea fishing rod, but very long as they are cast from the shore. Can be as long as 14 feet or more.  Heavy-duty and needs a two handed casting action to achieve distance, as they carry very heavy tackle. They are also called beachcasters.

Trolling Rods

Trolling Rod

Heavier than spincast or spinning rods and are used more for catching bottom feeders. Using a spinning lure, they can be used for freshwater or seawater. From a boat or the bank of a river. Good for game fishing.

Baitcasting Rods

Baitcasting Rods

Freshwater or warm water rods that are the same as spinning rods. Also called casting rods. Usually, the only difference is that they are a bit heavier than casting or spinning rods.

Telescopic Rods

Telescopic Rod

The ultimate in fold away equipment. Both compact and extendable. Reduces to about two feet long and can easily be packed away and left in a car or strapped to a bike for instant use. On the other hand, some can extend up to 20 and have been developed for sea fishing too. Some types dispense with a reel all together, the fishing line run through the actual rod.  Like a standard spinning rod, but the pieces are compressed into the handle.

Pen Rods

Pen Rod

These are the same as telescopic, but are even smaller and lighter than the telescopic rods. They only extend a couple of feet. Even easier to pack away and transport, put them in a day pack or glove compartment. Good for the avid fisherman to take along just in case you find an unexpected chance to fish somewhere. Not recommended if you are going after sizable fish.

Spincasting Rods

Spincasting Rod

No different from spinning rods except you use a closed or hooded reel mounted on the top of the rod, instead of underneath. They have small eyes. Basically, they get their name from the type of reel used. Used when fishing with a spinning lure. The name spincast in interchangeable with casting rod.


Ultra light rod

Ultra-light fishing rods are exactly as they sound, very light. They are the same as any spinning or spincast rod, but even smaller and lighter. The length isn’t longer than 5 and a half feet and can be used with up to a 6 pound line. They are used for smaller and faster fish. Usually the reel is fitted with a very low poundage line. This is more sporting and tests the skill of the angler.

Rod Materials

Not only are there different types of rods for different types of fishing, but they are also differentiated by weight, which is according to what material they are made of.

Fibreglass: Most rods can be made of fibreglass. Although cheaper and heavier than graphite, it is also much more durable.

Graphite: very light and more delicate than fibreglass, it is also much more expensive.

Bamboo: split bamboo is a traditional material for rod construction. It is heavier than either graphite or fibreglass.

How to Pick the Right One

First, you have to understand different parts of a fishing rod and decide what fishing rod type will suit your purpose. That is, what type of fishing you wish to do or which type of fish you want to catch.


different types of fishing rods Length

This depends on a number of questions. If you need a long rod to achieve distance, it has to be one that you can handle with ease. Something too unwieldy will impede your casting. Best to test the action and weight physically before deciding. Length usually adds weight and you have to take into consideration the added weight of tackle and reel. When fishing from a boat, ice fishing or even spinning or trolling doesn’t necessitate long rods.


different types of fishing rods Power

There are no set definitions or charts to compare the power of one rod over another. The strength of a rod and its flexibility depends on it composition and use.


different types of fishing rods Action

This refers to how fast the rod returns to its normal position after casting.  Again, there isn’t a standard to compare rod action by. Some are fast, some slow, some in between. It usually depends of length, weight of tackle and the material of construction. Different rods have different actions and despite manufacturer’s claims, you will only find out with use.


Like any other equipment, to retain the full use of your rod when you want to use it, you have to look after it. Rods aren’t complicated machinery, so it doesn’t take a lot to look after them. Don’t put them away wet. Always swipe them down and clean off any debris.  As fishing is an outdoor sport you can always find plenty of obstacles to knock against. Make sure there aren’t any damage to the eyes and that they are all still aligned correctly. Check to see if there are any cracks or splits in each section. Inspect the joints for damage as they light and are particularly prone to squashed or bent out of shape. If you have a built-in reel support, make sure that is working smoothly. And don’t forget to do the same with your reel.

As a beginner you may find the world of fishing equipment a bit overwhelming, but you have to realise that it is just variations on the same theme. Once you get into it, it won’t seem so complicated. What you should do before looking for a rod is to make a decision on what type of fishing you intend to do. With that in mind, you can start narrowing down your options and find a rod that will suit you.

About the author

Immanuel Baranov

My life is pretty much defined by my avid outdoor activities. I’m generally obsessed with fishing, skiing and occasional hunting and whitewater paddling. I’ve been active since my early years. I inherited my passion for fishing from my father who made frequent family trips to the banks of Sacramento River. Growing up, I did a lot of fishing in the vicinity. Now that I have two sons, our weekends are full of fishing activities. I would say, you need good spots where you can go out a lot for the thing you love. I had the privilege to grow up near numerous water bodies and I’m proud to say that I made good use of them. It’s also great to do something with kids that helps them learn patience, endurance and preciseness.

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