Types of Fishing Rods: Buy The One That’s Best for You

Fishing rods types
Written by Neal Walker

The simplest fishing rod is a pole attached to a line with a hook at the end for holding bait. But, the rods that we use now are far more advanced and come in many sizes and varieties. Actually, there are different types of fishing rods suited to specific areas you fish at and specific kinds of fish you catch.

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So it’s definitely a difficult task trying to figure out how to choose a fishing rod – the kind of rod that YOU will need. This is especially because fishing rods and reels are the most expensive among all your fishing gear. You should be able to use them every time you go fishing and you must feel that they were worth the money you spent.

If you have a good idea about the different parts of a fishing rod and how each part helps catch fish, you are half way through to choosing the right kind of rod and reel you want. So let’s start from the beginning.

The Basics

Before moving on to the steps to choose the best fishing rod for yourself, you might want to understand its parts.

Fishing rod parts

The variety and design of these parts determine the overall capacity and use of the rod. So these are the different parts that make up your fishing rod:

  • The Butt Cap is the bottom of your rod and it’s usually made of rubber or cork.
  • The Grip is where you’ll hold the rod
  • The Reel Seat is where the reel is fitted to your rod
  • The Reel is what you’ll use to catch fish

How to Choose The Right Fishing Rod

Now let’s think of all the important things you must have in mind before you choose your fishing rod.

The Kind of Fish

There are different types of reel fittings for different species of fish and the kind of bait you’ll be using. So you must have an idea about what type of fish you want to catch and the bait you’ll use.

Casting rod

A spinning rod is usually good for beginners while a casting rod can be used if you have some more experience. You’ll learn the difference in a bit.

Where You’ll Use It

You might also want to consider where you’ll use your fishing rod. If you’re planning to use it for fishing from a lake, then you’ll need one that’s designed specifically for that. If you want to fish from a boat, you can buy a different one for that too. Again a short rod is used for short distances and lighter fish while long ones are used for the heavier fish. See also our tip and guidelines on ice fishing before you embark in any fishing adventure.

The Power

The weight of the rod also tells you how much it is capable of carrying. There are different classifications for weight such as Ultra – Light, Medium – Light, Heavy, Ultra – Heavy etc. The weight is also called the power of a rod.

If you know the kind of baits you would be using, it would be easier to decide on the power of your rod. And to choose one that’s perfect in terms of power, you could simply choose the rods that would hold the type of lure you prefer.

The Action

Where the rod bends is called the “Action” and this again relates to the kind of fish you want to catch. A rod that bends near the tip is said to have heavy action and one that bends close to the handle has a light action. Heavy action rods can be used to catch large fish and the light action ones are used for smaller species.

Your level of expertise-action

You must know the amount of action you would prefer your fishing rod to have and this is usually understood by actually trying different degrees. It’s still good to have a general idea about the different degrees of action.

  • The Extra Fast or Extra Heavy Action rod bends quite close to the tip and can be used for many different fishing techniques. These rods are usually used for Jigging
  • The Fast Action or Heavy Action rods are popular for all kinds of fishing
  • A moderate action means the rod bends near the middle. It could be used when you plan to use crankbaits
  • A Light Action or Slow Action means the rod bends near the grip or handle. It’s usually used for fly fishing

The Material

Now even the material that the rod is made of is important. Fishing rods are usually made of fiberglass, graphite or a combination of both these materials. Graphite rods may be more expensive but are light weight. Fibre glass rods may be a bit heavier but they don’t break easily.

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If you will be fishing in many different places and want to catch different types of fish, then a combination rod would be the best. Rods made of bamboo are also available but they are quite heavy. People still use them though.

Your level of expertise

The next thing you need to have in mind is your level of expertise. There are different fishing rod and reel combinations that will suit different levels of fishermen.

Level of expertise

If you are just a beginner you might want to buy something that is more easy to use and less expensive.

The Specifications

Once you have all your requirements in mind, you must also know how to read specifications mentioned on fishing rods and reels if you want to make sure, you choose the right ones. The specifications on a fishing rod are usually about its length, action and power. The ones on the reel would show its line capacity.

When you read these specifications you must also know how to figure out if the reel and the rod would go well with each other. If you are not sure of these details, it is better to purchase a recommended combination

Where You Want to Buy

Like we said, fishing rods can be quite expensive and a lot of thought should be put in before making a purchase. You may find many cheap ones online but it’s always best to visit a store in person. This way you’ll be able to inspect your fishing rod thoroughly before buying. You could also read through the details and get a feel of the equipment.

We are not completely against online purchasing, though. If you’re just repurchasing something that you’ve already used for a while, then you could save a lot of time and effort by just purchasing online. But for beginners, visiting a store would be a good idea. Why not check out our piece on the best affordable fishing rods to help you with more choices.

The Different Rod and Reel Combinations

There are five combinations of rods and reels for you to consider. Each combination suits a specific category of fishing. So you need to understand these combinations before you know the kind that’s best for your needs. Within these five categories, there are a few subcategories as well. The difference is the kind of baits you would use and the specific fishing tactics you wish to employ.

Spinning rods are the first kind

So here are the five basic combinations of fishing rods and reels:

  • Spinning rods are the first kind. These are good for beginners as they have an automatic pickup which pulls the fishing line back on its own. Spinning rods help catch lighter species of fish.
  • Bait – Casting rods are good for any kind of fish but are mainly used to catch heavier fish. These rods are usually used by more experienced fishermen. They also allow a number of options when it comes to choosing fishing lines. You may need some time to learn how to use them. You need to have an understanding of the casting break if you want to use these fishing rods.
  • Spin – Casting rods are the best for beginners and can be used when you’re planning to teach your children, the basics of fishing. It is best to buy rods made of fiberglass if you want to use this rod and reel combination. You cannot use it if you’re using spinner baits.
  • Fly – casting rods are used for fly fishing. The bait is usually tied with lightweight materials so that they float on the surface of the water. If you plan on fly fishing, you’ll need to take lessons or be with a professional though
  • Trolling rods are the fifth kind. They similar to bait – casting rods but are used to catch heavier fish. The fishing lines are made of metal to stop the fish from escaping.

The Rod and Reel Balance

Understanding the different rod and reel combinations isn’t quite enough to find a perfect fit for you. You also need to know how to balance your fishing rod, which means you need to have the right kind of rod for your reel. You may otherwise experience fatigue or discomfort when fishing.

The Balance Point

The first thing is to make sure your fishing rod does not bend to any side when you hold it. If it bends, it may mean that the reel is either heavy or too light for the rod. It’s best to try a few combinations before making your final purchase.

The Balance Point – Something you must note

Let’s think you know the kind of rod you want and the reel you want to use. How would you know that the combination will work? Depending on the type of rod you have, there are two ways to find out if it’s balanced.

If you’re using a Bait – casting rod, you must hold it with your finger under the rod, a little ahead of the reel. If it doesn’t fall, it means your rod is balanced. If you’re using a spinning rod, then you have to hold it in front of the reel mount and see how the tip drops. The tips of long rods will drop but the point is to note how quickly they drop.

The Different Lengths of Fishing Rods

So now that you have an idea about the basic requirements of choosing your fishing rod, let’s get into a bit more detail. There is one other factor that you can consider to make sure your choice is perfect. This is basically a simple thing that we wouldn’t put much thought into.

So before you make your decision, let’s think about how long you want your fishing rod to be. Like different combinations of Rods and Reels, there are different lengths of fishing rods available for different kinds of fishing.

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A basic fishing rod is 6 feet long. If you’re trying to catch fish from a lake, then a rod that is 6 to 7 feet long will be great. You could simply use a thicker rod if you’re planning to fish for heavier species.

To cast at a longer distance and to catch bigger fish, you can use different lengths of fishing rods depending on your circumstances. The lengths of longer rods range from 6.5 feet to 12 feet.

Fishing rods different lengths

Again depending on the type of lure technique that you prefer to use, the lengths would vary.

We know there are two basic categories of fishing rods: the Spinning Rods and the Casting Rods. Depending on your luring preferences in case of spinning rods, there are different lengths that may be appropriate:

  • For skipping, you may need to use shorter fishing rods, that are less than 6 feet
  • For shaking, you could use a rod that slightly above 6 feet. A medium strength will help you shake the bait better
  • For Split Shot you might want to use a slightly longer fishing rod – something around 6.6 feet
  • The Drop Shot requires a still longer rod – somewhere around 6.9 feet so you can lure fish that are deeper in the water
  • Finesse fishing requires at least a 6.8-feet rod which will help your cast at longer distances
  • For Tube if you need to cast further away, you’ll need to use at least a 7-feet fishing rod

Now for Casting rods, there are a whole lot of other techniques, which will again require different lengths of fishing rods. Let’s have a look at a few now:

  • If you use a spinner bait, then a short rod would be appropriate. You could use something that is a bit above 6 feet
  • If you plan to use a jerk bait, then you can opt for a longer fishing rod. A 6.5 feet rod would be a good choice
  • If you are jigging, then a rod that is between 6.5 feet to 6.8 feet would be suitable
  • Flipping would need a rod that is 7 – 8 feet which will help with your casting accuracy

These are just recommendations though. These may not suit your preferences when you actually try them out. Each person would develop preferences of their own as they try different combinations.

The Most Popular Fishing Rods

Now here are three popular brands of fishing rods and reel combinations you could try out when you want to make your purchase. These combinations are available for online purchase but if you haven’t tried them at all, it would be better to visit a store.

Pflueger President Spinning Reel and Rod Combo

The results are based on our research of customers’ reviews about their usability and value for money.

  • Pflueger President – This is a 6.6 feet spinning rod which may be perfect if you are a beginner. It is lightweight and made of graphite. It wouldn’t cost you much too. It’s available from $77.99 through Amazon.
  • Daiwa D-Shock – It’s said to be quite durable and is used more by experts. It’s a spinning rod and reel combination which is available from as low as $42.79
  • Shakespeare Ugly Stik – This is another popular spinning rod which is available for a lower price. It is said that the rod helps easy casting and is light weight. It 6 feet long and is suitable for any level of expertise.

The best thing about buying combinations like these is that you can be sure they would be balanced. If you were to buy the fishing rod and reel separately then you would need to check all the details before finalising your purchase.

If You Are Not Sure of Your Preferences

If you don’t know your exact preferences or if you’re not able to decide, it is always good to choose a fishing rod that is suitable for all uses. Something that has the basic length which is 6 feet and with medium action could be your choice if you have no clue as to what fishing is but would like to learn.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod Combo

So those are the details you must definitely know before you go out and buy a brand new fishing rod. It’s good to do your own research and have a basic picture depending on your preferences. Again we would all have different tastes with regards to the type of fish, the places and the gear we want to use.

It is a good idea to try out different methods and combinations to find out what we are truly comfortable with. Especially with a sport like fishing, rather than just going through lots of material, practical know how works best.

Should you opt not to buy your gear from the store, check out the article on easy DIY fishing rods to save money.


Neal Walker

Neal Walker started fishing when he was 4. His father took him to the fishing trips all over USA and Canada. Later he took Angling Education Program at Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, but most of his knowledge comes from experience. Now he takes his sons with him to share his passion.