Fishing Rod Buyers Guide
Fishing Rod Buyers Guide
Important Factors when Choosing a Fishing Rod
- How much fishing do you plan to do?
- How does power and action factor into the utility of a rod?
- What species are you likely to target?
How much fishing do you plan to do?
Are you a tournament angler, beginner, fanatic, or weekend warrior? It is important to consider how much time you plan to spend on the water as well as the impact that selecting just the right fishing rod will have on your experience. The one that got away can be a minor thing for a casual angler but may haunt a tournament angler or cost them money. Beginners should choose a well rounded rod that will perform adequately in a variety of fishing applications. Tournament anglers often niche down and get very specific choosing certain rods for each fishing technique. The budget for your purchase should correlate to how often you will fish and what is at stake with each catch.
How does power and action factor in to the utility of a rod?
The classifications of rod powers are Ultra light, light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, and heavy. When selecting a fishing rod based on power think of the size of the fish you will target with that rod. If its bluegill think on the lighter side of the spectrum…if its pike or musky think on the heavier side. An ultra light rod cannot muscle a pike around (although more than one large fish has been landed on ultra light rod) and a bluegill caught on a heavy fishing rod feels like reeling in a crankbait.
The classifications of rod action are Extra fast, Fast, Moderate Fast, Moderate, and Slow. When selecting a rod based on action think of how soon you want to feel the fish and how soon the fish will feel you. An extra fast tip means the tip will be very sensitive and you will feel a bite very quick. However the fish will also feel the resistance of the rod sooner so quick hook sets are needed. Fast tips are normally used for single hook presentations where more pressure is needed to set the hook. Moving down the spectrum to Moderate and Moderate Fast you will find the action needed for a good crankbait fishing rod. The slower action allows the rod to be more forgiving on hook sets and also is less likely to throw live bait off the hook when casting. With the short hooks of crankbaits, too much force can pull baits out of the mouth of a fish either before they have fully engulfed the bait or because the short hook can be torn from their mouth.
So let us bring these concepts together. If you want to fish for panfish you would want a fishing rod that is light or ultra light and an action that was moderate or slow. Even though panfish are most often caught on single hook live bait rigs the hooks are small and the amount of pressure needed to set the hook is not high. The mouth of a panfish is much softer than a bass or walleye therefore the slower action does not deter hook ups. If you are looking for a rod to use for crankbait fishing for walleye or bass a medium to medium heavy power and moderate to moderate fast action would be appropriate. The slower action provides forgiveness on hook sets so you do not pull the lure from the mouth of the fish. If you are looking for a live bait rig for bass or walleye a medium to medium heavy power and a fast to extra fast action would be appropriate. The faster tip allows for faster and harder hook sets and the medium to medium heavy power is enough backbone to fight a bigger fish. Now if you are a beginner or a budget minded fisherman, look for a medium power rod with a moderate fast action. This fishing rod will adequately serve you in almost all fishing applications.
What species are you likely to target?
A rod specifically designed for panfish will be much different than one designed for muskie. For panfish a lighter power rod will be appropriate and for muskie a heavy power rod will be recommended. Somewhere in the middle you will find a good all purpose fishing rod.
When fishing for panfish, small jigs or single hook live bait rigs are the typically used as the most common presentations. A light to medium light power rod will have plenty of power to lift panfish. A moderate to moderate fast action will provide enough sensitivity to detect bites and enough power on hook sets. Because of the small hooks typically used when panfishing there does not need to be a high amount of pressure when setting a hook. Many fishermen use ultra light rods when panfishing, this allows for easier casting of light lures as well as more of a challenge when landing the fish.
At times heavy power rods will be used when panfishing. This is done when fishing around heavy cover and it is imperative to lift the fish from the cover quickly before it has time to snag the line on cover.
Specialty rods designed for jigging and trolling for panfish are available from lengths of 8 feet all the way up to 20 feet. These rods vary from ultra light to medium light powers and usually have moderate to fast actions. Rods built for long line trolling can be up to 20 feet long and are used in spider rigging, which is a slow trolling technique commonly used in the south to find scattered schools of crappie. The “shorter” 8 to 12 foot rods are typically used for jigging.
There are a number of ways to fish for walleye but there are three types of rods that will satisfy most presentations. First, a rod with a light to medium power and a fast to extra fast tip will be the right choice in live bait or jig fishing. You do not need a heavy power rod as walleyes are known more for their aggressive head shakes and not powerful runs. The faster actions allow for more sensitivity to feel subtle bites and quick pressure for solid hook sets. The second type of rod is used for crankbait fishing. A medium light to medium power rod and moderate to moderate fast action is the right choice. Once again the medium light to medium power is more than enough lift to handle walleyes and the moderate to moderate fast action will allow for enough give in the rod so you do not pull the lure from the mouth of the fish on the hook set. The third type of rod is for trolling. Rods specifically designed for trolling are often 8 to 10 feet in length and have medium to medium heavy power with moderate to moderate fast action. The slower action is for the same reason they are useful in crankbait presentations. The heavier power allows for better durability and can handle downrigging.
Catfishing rods can range from medium to heavy power depending on what species of catfish you are targeting. For smaller channel cats a medium power rod will work, for large blues or flat heads a medium heavy to heavy power rod is more appropriate. When fishing live or dead bait a moderate to moderate fast action rod will allow you to see the activity going on at the other end of your line. It can help decipher how aggressive the bites are and alert you to the proper time to set the hook. Using slower action rods are very important when using circle hooks since it a steady pressure and not a hard jerk that sets the hook. When fishing for catfish with lures such as swimbaits or crankbaits you will want to use the same principles when choosing the power of the rod but for crankbaits you will want a moderate to moderate fast action and for swimbaits you will want a moderate fast to fast tip.
With the popularity of bass fishing soaring you can find a type of rod specifically designed for each fishing presentation imaginable. Generally speaking you will need a medium to heavy power and moderate to moderate fast action rod for crankbait presentations. The medium to heavy power is enough lift to handle the strong runs and the moderate to moderate fast action will allow for enough give in the rod so you do not pull the lure from the mouth of the fish on the hook set. For jigs and soft plastics a medium to heavy power and fast to extra fast action will be the right choice. As discussed before the fast tip will help detect bites as well as transfer power quickly to hook sets. Power is needed behind hook sets when soft plastics are presented with large single hooks.