[Happiness is a bent Rod!]
How to pick the right fishing rod
Between your line and the reel is a very important part of your gear. The rod.
This is what tells you you're getting a bite. This will wear out that monster. This is what sets the hook. This is what puts pressure on them to get them into your hands. Without this your "hand lining". It can be done this way. But why?
So, if you're new to fishing this is the one part of your gear you really want to shop around for. Go to the store and feel a few. See what you like. Then see if you can use it to catch whatever it is you’re after.
Rod length is a big factor in how far you can cast. Generally the longer the rod the farther you can cast it.
The average lengths are between 5’ to 7 ½’. If you're going to be casting far, like surf fishing, longer is the way to go. But for your everyday, “Let’s just go” fishing, 5’s are fine. I prefer a 6’ foot rod, especially when I’m fishing for speckled trout.
If you are not casting that far, like deep sea fishing, shorter is better. This has to do with rod power too. Not a lot of casting in deep sea fishing. Usually it’s just drop it down or troll it.
It also has to do with what kind of room you have to work with. Cramped spaces, like a crowded boat, with inexperienced people, go short. All that extra rod length gets in the way and causes problems. Like hooking your buddy. It happens. So I’ve been told.
Power is how tough a rod is. This determines how much weight it can hold. The higher the power the bigger the fish. Those deep sea rods have the highest power.
Higher power rods usually have hardly any action. You won’t feel much on high power rods. But you don’t need to. You just need them to hold together when you do get one on.
Lower power rods are for the smaller fish. Lower power smaller fish.
You can get away with some variance by adjusting your drag but not that much.
Higher power bigger line bigger reel.
You can catch big fish on small tackle. You get a lot more bragging rights for doing it too. But if you're just starting out I would suggest sticking to the scale. Then when you get a few more notches on your belt, start branching out. I like using light tackle, fast action, for things like trout. But I've been doing this for a while and know how to finesse in a big one. You’ll get there too. Have patience. Nobody became a pro overnight.
In fact most people never become pro’s. But they all have fun fishing. Which is what it’s about anyway. Spending quality time doing something you love with people you care about. That’s a win in my book.
Type of guides
There are really only two types of rods. I'm sure some people might disagree, but I like things that are simple.
- Eyes on top - Just like it sounds, the line guides, or eyes, are on the top. The reel sits on top. This is your basic fishing rod
- Eyes on bottom - The eyes, or line guides are on the bottom. Spin casters and some deep sea rod and reels are like this. Fly rods too are eyes on bottom.
I don’t have a preference here. I use both. Spin caster and guides on bottom are good for trout and bass and things. But I use eyes on top for the same fish.
I do believe, and it could just be me, that eyes on top have more sensitivity. They just seem to work better on those spook, easy trout and bass. Try them both and see for yourself.
Action is how quickly a rod goes from being bent to straight again. It also determines how much you can feel. Big wallops or little “Ticks”. I like to feel everything when I’m trout fishing. Bass, well, depends on the time of year. So you need to know how the fish you're after is going to strike. They don’t all pounce on it.
If you don’t know this yet it’s time to switch to a high action rod. You might be shocked at what you’ve been missing.
The way it’s determined is by how far down the rod the bend happens. Don’t get this confused with power. Power is how strong the rod is, action is how it bends. They do different things.
Action breaks down like this:
- High action - sometimes called fast action; Bends mostly at the tip or thinnest third. You can feel every little twitch in the water. Personal favorites. I don’t like to miss fish. Contrary to popular belief, some of the biggest fish have the lightest strikes. Trout for example. You’ll barely feel a big one. The little ones haven't learned not to go crazy on bait yet.
- Medium action - the rod bends down to the 2/3rds length from the tip. Can't feel as much as a fast action. Better for bigger fish or when you need heavier line. Like surf fishing. Fish that just take off and run or absolutely nail it. Also good for when you’re using larger lures. Things like top water. Also better for bigger reels with heavier drag. Good for muscling in medium sized fish. Great for setting hooks in things that don’t like to be hooked.
- Low action - These are the ones that bend all the way down. And where it gets weird. They are not good for big fish. If you hook one it’s going to be a long fight. All finesse with these. Also great for little kids. Or people just learning how to fish. It’s a good thing to teach with.
Rods come in 3 types now: fiberglass, graphite, and composite. But they all work basically the same. In fact starting out you won't probably be able to tell enough of a difference in them for it to matter.
Fiberglass rods are heavier and probably stronger. In most cases anyway.
Graphite rods are lighter and have more sensitivity. They’re still strong; they just don't go as high in power as fiberglass. Most deep-sea rods are fiberglass. They make graphite and composite. I just haven't been convinced they are as strong in real world conditions. They can prove anything in a lab. Out there it's a different story.
Composite is like the best of both. Strong, sensitive, and light. Unless you're really going for all the precision you can muster, and strength in a light rod, you won't tell the difference. These are not the beginner rods. These are the competition models. If you want to fish like the pros, maybe you need a rod like they do. I don’t usually fish like that. I enjoy it. So, I’ll grab fiberglass or graphite and do what I can. Choice is yours. I do hope that one day you have fished enough so that you can tell the difference though. I’ll even tell people you’ve made it to the pros. If you ask.
Not really a lot of letters of recommendation used in fishing circles. At least not in mine. The ones I’m in you're only as good as your last catch anyway. No matter how big, or small it was. It counts.
The only other part of the rod that is different is the handle. The part you hold your other hand on. Because one is for reeling.
This is strictly a personal preference. They have different shapes, lengths, and are made from different things.
Is the handle going to help you catch fish? Probably not. But it can make some things easier. You don’t want a pistol grip short handle and try fighting a very big fish.
The longer the handle the more leverage you can get. It also makes it easier to press into your waist and hold on. But this is for really big fish. The rods for those types of fish only really come with one handle type.
The materials they are made from are mostly a comfort and grip choice. Cork has been used the longest and is still one of the best. The other polymer blended things are good too.
Cork wears out quicker but is the easiest to replace. Usually. There are exceptions to every rule. Just use what feels right to you.
So, know what type of fish you're after then try a few different rods for that fish. Use the one you’re the most comfortable with. This is fishing after all. It’s supposed to be enjoyable. It might even become one of the most sought-after events in your life.
We’ll have another talk then. If someone else in your life hasn’t already. Don’t neglect the ones you care about. Take them too. Take them fishing. Take them to the outdoors.
After all, life is out here.