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How to Select a Fishing Rod – A Guide to Choosing the Right One!

how to select a fishing rod
Written by Simon Michel
Last Update: March 8, 2022

Most keen fishermen or women carry a case of rods with them when they are fishing. This is so they can switch how or what they want to fish. Different rods for different waters and conditions. Of course, the beginner won’t invest so much and it is best for them to buy something cheaper and all purpose. If the pursuit of fish grabs you, then you will obviously tend to invest more and take a greater interest in what’s on offer. Remember, rods aren’t the same as fishing poles, which are just a pole with a line attached to the end. As fishing has many variations, freshwater or seawater, slow or fast moving water, fly, float or spinning, many types of rods have been developed for the maximum performance for whatever kind you select.

How to Select a Fishing Rod

Serious fishermen will study the selection guides and fishing tackle before they pick a fishing rod. Before choosing a fishing rod it is well to ask some questions about the characteristics of each rod. Read the following sections to know how to select a fishing rod with careful consideration.


Fishing Rod Length

Length depends on the kind of fishing that you want to do. Normal fishing rod size is anything between 5-14 feet. If you need distance casting, then it is better to have a longer rod. If long casting isn’t a priority, then something smaller will suit you. One thing to take into consideration is weight. Length guides should be studied. Any rod that has to be hand held for long periods, however lightweight, can become tiresome. Longer casting may mean heavier tackle, such as in beach or surfcasting.


Fishing Rod Material

Most rods nowadays are made out of graphite or fibreglass. Both are lightweight materials, but graphite is the lighter type of the two. Graphite is more expensive than fibreglass. Many rods are now composites. Another material is split bamboo, which is much heavier and used more for sea or game fishing.

Reel Seat

Fishing Reel Seat

Many handles have a reel seat incorporated in them. Although most of the handle is made of cork or wood, reel seats are mostly made of aluminium or plastic.


Fishing Rod Power

Power comes down to how much force is necessary to bend the rod. Each rod has its own characteristics. This is determined by its composition and length.


Fishing Rod Action

Rod action comes in three basic categories: slow, medium and fast. It’s all about flexibility. Which means how long the tip of the rod returns to its original position after a cast. Fast action takes place at the top section of the rod. Medium action takes place further down the rod and slowly takes place much closer to the handle.  The action can have a significant effect on your casting or striking ability.


Fishing Rod Handle

Handles come in either cork or wood. Their length depends on the kind of rod. Some are big enough for two handed casting, as with surfcasting. Some have reel seats moulded into them, but others are plain and the reel secured by rings.

The Blank and Guides

Fishing Rod Blank and Guides

Blanks are the unadorned rod itself, before anything is attached. The guides are also called eyes. They are usually made of metal or ceramic. Some have a ceramic rim on the inside. The number of guides depends on the length and purpose of the rod. Blanks should be perfectly straight and the guides aligned correctly.


Fishing Rod Ferrules

Ferrules are what the sections are of the rod are fitted together by. There are simple metal male and female joints that slide into each other. They should be a snug fit, but easy to assemble and disassemble.

Select a Type of Fishing Rod

Casting Rod vs Spinning Rod

Casting Rods

Casting rods, also known as spincast rods are probably the best known most used type of rod. These are usually the first rod for beginners. They have a top mounted reel, which is covered or hooded. They are also easy to use with the older type reel that has a simple bail mechanism. Easy to handle and versatile, they are also lightweight and cheaper than other models. Good for still waters that are fished with a float or bobber.

Spinning Rods

Similar to a casting rod, but the reel hangs underneath the rod. They can be used with either a spincast or open reel. Considered a step up from a casting reel due to the different species of fish that you would catch with one of these. Also, they used with spinning lures. Like the casting rod, they are lightweight and are cheaper.

Other Rods to Select From

Fly fishing

Fly Fishing Rod

Lightweight, very flexible. Specially made for catching game fish such as trout or salmon, although there are other fish that will accept fly bait. They are also expensive like quality fly fishing reels. Apart from that, it takes a lot of skill and practice to use them correctly.

Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing Rod

Short rods. They don’t have to be long because there’s no casting. The angler sits over a hole and drops the line into it. Not only short, but strong too, made to catch bigger fish that put up a fight. The classic ice-fishing rod doesn’t even have a reel, the line is guided through a couple of hooks.


Trolling Rod

Trolling rods don’t need to be long either. This kind of fishing relies on trailing bait or a lure near the bottom from weighted line.  A long rod isn’t necessary as the shot or weight will easily pull the line off the spool. Trolling can be done from the bank or from a boat.


Spincasting Rod

Spincasting rods are very popular and probably the first rod the budding fisherman will get. They might seem a bit strange to the uninitiated, as both the reel and eyes are placed on the top of the rod, instead of underneath, which everyone expects. A good all-round rod to use until you have more experience and find out which particular kind of fishing you like best.


Telescopic Rod

Rods that are folded up, one section into another, until the whole is hidden inside the handle. Because of their construction they aren’t very long, but are neatly compact. Because of their shortness they are easy to transport. Easy to fit into a car boot or a back seat, even tied to the crossbar of a bike. A rod for that unexpected opportunity to fish.


Pen Rod

A type of telescope rod that has gone to extremes. Even smaller than the telescopic, it reduces further. At around two feet long. Small enough to put in a backpack or glove compartment.


Ultra light rod

Made of modern ultra-light materials such as graphite or composites. Fast action rods, they are highly flexible and especially good for fly fishing or catching fish that bite like lightning. Because of being lightweight, they are easy to handle one-handedly for a long time, you can hold them all day without much discomfort. This essential feature is a must-have for the best walleye rods.

Sea Fishing

Sea Fishing rod

Most are strong and tough because of the catch sea fishermen are after. Their tip sections are thicker and less tapered than freshwater rods, because of the strain they have to bear. As most sea fishing takes place from a boat and casting distance isn’t an important consideration, the rods aren’t generally very long.

Surf Casting

Surf Casting rod

Another type of sea fishing rod, but because they are cast from the beach, they need to be very long and very strong. The same as the other type of sea fishing rods, because they also heavy-duty reels and tackle.

Fishing has a huge variety of species that you would like to catch and it helps if you have the right equipment to do so. Not to forget the water conditions where you intend to catch them. So, choosing the correct rod is the first and probably the most important step. Take your time before choosing, weigh the pros and cons, ask advice and enjoy your fishing.

About the author

Simon Michel

The plight of life sometimes takes you to extremes of nature and guess what, you learn the best lessons in your most difficult times. As a keen sea explorer with several years spent in yachts business, I had damn busy schedules throughout 13 years of my career. I used to free my mind from my mundane days in the sea with extreme fishing expeditions when this became not just a fun activity, but a life saver. You could say, I employed most types of fishing techniques but nothing felt better than fly fishing. That drew my whole attention for a good number of reasons. I mean, it’s an amazing feeling when you are in a light mood with buddies munching snacks and casting the fishing road. I look forward to making the most of my leisure time with this fantastic sport.

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