Walk into any tackle or bait store and you may well be overwhelmed by all of the different types of fishing rods that are on display.
Big ones, small ones, single piece, multi-piece, and even telescopic rods.
Once you are familiar with the basic types of fishing rods then it will all start to make a lot more sense and you can choose a fishing rod that suits your type and style of fishing.
Regardless of the type of rod, all kinds of fishing rods will have a number of specifications that are used to describe how the rod is likely to perform:
- Length – the length of a rod is usually measured in feet and inches and describes how long the rod is from the tip to the end of the butt section or handle. A longer rod will generally cast longer distances than a short rod.
- Power – the power of a rod describes how heavy a lie or lure that it is rated for. An ultralight rod would be rated for very small lures and line in the 2 to 6 lbs range, whereas an extra-heavy rod could be rated for 100 lbs plus for big offshore rods.
- Action – action describes where on a rod the bend will start to form when pressure is applied to the line. A fast action rod will bend in the upper one third of the rod blank, whereas a slow action rod will bend further down towards the reel.
Fast action rods are better suited to quick hook-sets and more precie techniques, slower action rods are better at casting big weights long distances and delaying the hook-set.
- Type – spinning, casting, flyfishing, trolling, ice fishing all of which will be explained below.
Types of Fishing Rods
Below we will discuss the different types of fishing poles and their uses/characteristics.
One exception is travel rods. Travel rods can be any of the below but come with multiple shorter rods sections so that they can be dismantled and transported much more easily.
1. Spinning Rod
A spinning rod is probably what most people think of when you mention the words ‘fishing rods’.
They are long poles that taper from the bottom thicker end to a thinner top. They are suitable for use with a spinning reel.
The line guides hang on the bottom of the rod blank with the first line guide being significantly wider than the top line guide or ‘eye’.
This is to accommodate how the line comes off of a spinning reel during casting.
A spinning reel has a fixed spool that the reel winds the line onto. During casting the line will fall off of the spool in a circular coiling type of motion that is roughly wider than the width of the spool.
If the first line guide was too thin the circular movement of the line would create extra friction on the line guide insert, which would reduce the casting distance.
The guides then taper in diameter from the first(widest) up to the top eye which is the most narrow.
2. Baitcasting Rod
Baitcasting rods or casting rods are designed to be used with a baitcaster reel. These reels sit on the top of the rod so unlike a spinning setup the reel is mounted on the top of the rod and it will have the line guides on the top also.
For medium, to heavy weights, a casting rod will almost always outperform a spinning one. This is largely due to how the different types of reels run line off of their spools.
The best catfish rods for example for big cats will almost always be a baitcasting rod.
The other advantage to using a baitcaster is that they can usually hold a lot of catfish fishing line without getting too heavy whereas in the bigger sizes spinning reels start to get really heavy and can end up unbalancing your rod.
3. Fly Rod
Fly rods are very thin and light rods that are used to cast fly lines.
The overhead casting motion required to get a fly line out any sort of distance means you need a really light rod that can load up at the tip so that the line can be whipped out in front of you on the final forward motion.
Fly rods are rated by weight i.e a 5wt rod is suitable for 5 weight fly line. These would be used for very light dry flies whereas a rod rated for a 10 wt fly line would be for bigger heavier wet flies and streamers.
High-end fly rods are very expensive as the materials and build techniques required are very advanced and seek to get the very best performance from the rod.
4. Trolling Rod
Trolling rods take a real beating as they are under constant tension from the drag that your lure and line create when trolled through the water.
When you add a downrigger into the mix then the tip really needs to be able to be bent in a sharp arc for long periods of time.
They are usually purpose-built baitcast rods as a spinning reel when trolling is a bit more work than using a conventional reel.
5. Ice Fishing Rod
Ice fishing rods are designed so that they are very short. When ice fishing there is no need for a rod more than 4 feet in length as you are effectively just dropping a lure or bait down into a cut hole in the ice. They are normally pretty light rods and also have a very bendy tip.