How to Choose a Fishing Rod

If you’re new to fishing, seeing the number of fishing rods on the market probably left you feeling pretty overwhelmed. So, here’s a quick rundown on how to choose the right rod fit for the type of fishing you’ll be doing:

Figure out what you’re trying to catch.

The first step in choosing a fishing rod is to figure out the species of fish you’re after. Research where it lives, its lifecycle, feeding habits, and the best type of bait to attract them.

Decide where you’ll be fishing from.

The next step is to decide how you’ll be fishing.

  • Will you be on land?
  • In a kayak or boat?
  • On the beach or rocks?
  • In a river?
  • On a pier?
  • Will you be driving up to your fishing site or hiking a long distance first?
  • Will you be fishing in the ocean, a lake, pond, river, etc.?

Determine the type of rod you need.

Once you’ve figured out numbers 1 and 2, determining the type of rod you need gets a whole lot easier.

Spinning. This is the most common type of fishing rod because it is so versatile. It can be used to catch small to medium-sized fish from a boat, kayak or the shore using bait or a lure.

Baitcasting. Once you have some experience under your belt, a baitcasting rod is a great next step up from a spinning rod. These rods are more accurate and provide the angler with more control over the fish; however, they are prone to becoming tangled.

Surf. You probably guessed it already, but surf rods are for surf fishing. These are the longest rods on the market so that you can cast past the breaking waves while standing on the beach or rocks.

Telescopic. If you are after small to medium-sized fish, plan to travel long distances to your fishing destination, and are looking for something more compact, consider a telescopic rod.

Overhead. Overhead rods are the rod of choice if you are going after larger deep-sea and sportfish. You simply drop your line from your boat and wait for a fish to take a bite!

Fly Fishing. Like the name suggests, fly fishing rods are used for fly fishing. They typically aren’t recommended for beginners because it is a much harder skill to learn compared to using other fishing methods.

Look at the rod’s details.

Once you’ve determined the type of rod to purchase, you can get into the features of each rod. Here are a few to consider when narrowing down your options:

Rod action. The action of the fishing rod is how much it flexes and how quickly it returns to a neutral position once flexed. The rod’s action is influenced by its taper, weight (or the material it’s made from), and length. Rods with fast action will be heavy and those with slow action will be light in weight. Generally, you will want faster action for larger, stronger fish.

Rod taper and length. The taper and length of the rod that you want will be influenced by the type of fish you are going after. A long (7-10 ft), thin rod will work well for catching small fish. A short (5-7ft), thick rod is great for catching large fish, however it is not ideal for casting. A rod that falls in between those specifications are a good choice if you are looking for a more versatile rod.

Weight class. Pay attention to the weight class of the rod you purchase. This number tells you the maximum line weight recommended for that rod and is displayed in kilograms or pounds. Once again, what you need will be determined by the type of fish you are trying to catch.

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