How Many Fishing Rods Does an Angler “Need?”

By Andy Whitcomb

Dec 01, 2014

The average subscriber to Bass Angler Magazine has about 26 fishing rods.

The average subscriber to Bass Angler Magazine has about 26 fishing rods. Pennsylvania angler, Joe Stefanacci, estimates he has over 40. Nebraska angler Jared Schleifer only has 7 that he considers “active.”

You could play a round of golf with just a 4-iron. It wouldn’t affect my score much, but once you gain experience and learn when, why, and how to use the full range of clubs for the unique challenge at each hole, a golfer can become more efficient. Every fishing hole also presents a variety of challenges and having a range of rods can help.

Cabela’s, for example, has a selection of over 400 rods. They group the rod choices by use: casting, trolling, spinning, saltwater, and fly-fishing. And then within any of these classes of rods there can be a range of “action” like ultra light, light, medium, or heavy.

Bass Pro Shops has a category which allows you to choose a rod for a specific species such as crappie, walleye, muskie, or steelhead. There are nuances with these rods which help to pair nicely with the size, fight, and tackle associated with these species. There is room for crossover, such as landing a steelhead with an 11 ft. long crappie rod. However, I’ve also read of disastrous results.

There are reasons my collection has extended well into double digits. Most anglers started with a pushbutton closed-face rod and reel combo. Now that I have kids, they each have their “starter” rods plus, we have enough to take their friends fishing too. My kids are experienced enough also to have earned medium spinning rods. I have a couple of extras for friends and relatives visiting from out of state.

Among this core of spinning rods, I eventually dedicated rods to line type (monofilament, flourocarbon, braid, Fireline) and rod action. Additionally, rods are sorted by use such as the older, more expendable models for river fishing with bait, while saving the higher end stuff for lure casting reliability and accuracy. Then there are fly fishing rods of differing weights, ice fishing rods, a nifty telescopic combo that will fit in a backpack, and surf rod or two.

Novice anglers may only have a couple of fishing combos in the corner of the garage. And that’s enough really. A medium action spinning rod combo will catch just about anything that swims. It is a hoot with hand-sized sunfish and yet stands up to hefty catfish.

But then again, Christmas is coming… How many more niches would you like to fill?

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.