By EZ Angler
Purchasing a rod can be one of the most daunting aspects of getting started in fishing. There are a multitude of options available, each claiming to be superior to the rods next to them. In many cases it comes down to affordability. But you must consider the old saying, you get what you pay for and that’s why it’s important to at least know the basics of rod selection – even if you are going for a combo.
The first step in purchasing a fishing rod or blank (this refers to the rod proper) is understanding the varying materials that rods are made from. Shafts can be purchased in three different materials: bamboo, fiberglass and graphite.
–Bamboo rods are generally used for fly fishing and can be quite expensive.
–Fiberglass rods are generally targeted at beginners, and are easily found local department type stores. They typically require little maintenance medium weight and strength. If big fish such as Pike are on your radar, you may want to reconsider the purchase of a fiberglass rod.
–Graphite rods are a bit more expensive than fiberglass (depending on the brand) but graphite is the material of choice for serious fisherman, and can be found many places online, department stores or at your local sporting goods stores. Light and easy to handle, graphite rods are durable, capable of handling much heavier catches. The other advantage of graphite is that typically is typically corrosion free.
Next consider length. This is typically not a major consideration but if you are fishing from a kayak or canoe or from shore and needs extra distance, length is a consideration. Longer rods are essential for long casting and offer greater control, however shorter rods a great for casting in tight quarters including areas such as rocks and docks. Another benefit of shorter rods is transportability.
Sensitivity is also an important factor when choosing a rod. As a general rule, the deeper the water that you are fishing in, the higher sensitivity you will want, so that you can feel the more subtle bites. The last thing you want is to have to go home and tell the story about the one that got away. This is determined by the material and the rod’s action – fast for greater sensitivity. You can easily test sensitivity by simply tapping the rod tip with your finger and determining how easily the vibration is felt.
Rods also come in varying degrees of strength.
- Ultra Light (UL)
- Light (L)
- Medium-Light (ML)
- Medium (M)
- Medium-Heavy (MH)
- Heavy (H).
Typically these classifications are located on any fishing rod between the handle and the first line guide or eye.
When starting out, it’s best to begin in the middle with a medium rod. As you get deeper into the sport, you will have the opportunity to explore others rods. It should be noted, that heavier rods have a tendency to break lighter line very easily whereas heavier lines can snap lighter weight rods. That is why a medium rod is a good starting point. This conversation can be taken further into line, weight and lure selection. This will be covered in other articles on EZ Angler, but you get the point.
Action is another factor tied into rod strength and what you will typically find is fast action rods and medium to slow action rods. What we really are talking about here is the taper, meaning the diameter of the rod changes respectfully as you progress from the tip towards the end or butt of the rod. When discussing action we are referring to how the blank bends under certain pressure. A moderate to slow rod will will bend closer to the middle of the rod and provide greater distance when casting but less accuracy. Whereas fast action rods receive the bend at the top of the rod creating more sensitivity. Fast action rods are great for pitching because they allow for better accuracy.
One factor that affects sensitivity of your rod, besides material of the shaft, is the handle construction. Usually the handles are made from cork or foam.You should ensure that the handle feels comfortable in your hand and that it is not too soft, otherwise you may not be able to feel those aforementioned subtle bites. Also, if you are fishing with any type of artificial bait, it is crucial to be able to feel the movement of the bait through the rod to ensure that you are enticing the fish in the proper manner.
There is also the consideration of one piece, two piece and even three piece rods. One piece offers the best guarantee from problems, but it comes to choice and transportability.
One rod won’t do it all but these basics should reduce some of the confusion in selecting that first rod or rods.