In the last article, I outlined some basic information about fishing reels. In this issue I will discuss some options when looking at rods.
The anatomy of a fishing rod is more or less the same despite the wide variety of styles and designs that are on the market. The main parts are the rod blank, line guides, reel seat, and the rod handle. The reel seat is how the reel is attached to the rod and is either made for a baitcasting reel (above the rod) or a spinning reel (below the rod). The line guides are the rings attached to the blank and generally speaking, the more line guides on the rod the better. The rod handle can vary in grip design and length depending on the application. Common materials used are plastic, foam, or cork. The blank is essentially what the rod is. The rest of the parts are designed to complement the design and purpose of the blank.
The amount of engineering that goes into today’s rod blanks has come a long way from the rods of generations past. Anglers now have the advantage of using rods that are much stronger, yet are still more sensitive than what was previously available. Blanks can be made of carbon, fibreglass, graphite, or some combination of these materials called a composite. The characteristics of a good rod are strength, sensitivity, and being light in weight. An all graphite rod best fulfills these qualities but it is also the most expensive. A more affordable option is graphite composites which are suitable rods for multi-purpose applications.
On the side of a rod just before the reel seat you will find that rod’s specification label. This information will often include the model number, rod length, action, power, and lure weight or line weight range. The model number will almost always be the first set of characters on this label. Rod lengths will be displayed in feet and can vary from as short as 4’6” to as long as 11’. The majority of rods you will find in a store however will be in between 6’ and 8’. Anything below or above this range is generally considered to be a specialty rod for a specific technique. The lure weight range will typically show a low end and a high end such as 1/8oz – 1/2oz. Line weight will be displayed in pound test such as 8lb – 12lb. This means that this particular rod would perform optimally for lures or rigs in that weight range or lines in that range.
The action of a rod describes how the rod’s tip will flex under load. This can range from slow to extra fast. Slow means that the rod will bend more evenly throughout the length of the rod. Extra fast means that the rod is stiffer and the bend will be mostly at the top end. A moderate to fast action is the most versatile and will work fine for most techniques. The advantage of a slower action is a more even distribution of flex so as not to pull a hook out of a fish’s mouth such as what often happens with treble hooks. Or when fishing for soft mouthed fish like goldeye or crappie you are less prone to rip their mouths. A faster tip is good for more sensitivity to detect strikes and still have backbone for a solid hookset such as when fishing for walleyes or bass with jigs or livebait.
A rod’s power rating can range from ultralight all the way to heavy. Just as it sounds, an ultralight rod is thinner and is designed to be used for panfish or light jig or lure techniques. At the other end a heavy rod will be thicker and is ideal for chasing larger species or for throwing heavier lures or rigs. The different combinations of action and power are numerous with each one designed to fish a specific technique, presentation, or aimed at landing certain sizes of gamefish.
Visiting a fishing store with knowledgeable staff on hand is the best way to get proper advice on a setup that is ideal for you. Most stores will conveniently have various rod and reel combos for sale which are already paired up to match each other’s specifications. When making a rod and/or reel purchase remember to factor in what techniques you will be using them for and how often you will be using them. This will go a long way to making sure you have the right equipment for a more enjoyable time on the water.