Can You Fish with a Travel, Mini, or Pocket Fishing Rod?
I’ve often advised people who know nothing about fishing, but want to get someone a fishing-related gift, to either find out what specific piece of fishing equipment the recipient would like or needs, or get them a gift certificate, or buy them a book, calendar, piece of art, or something else less activity specific. But they, and others, often fall for dubious-value mass market fishing products - the lure that’s been “banned” somewhere because it’s so effective, the “revolutionary” lure that catches every species known to man, the pocket fishing rod and reel combo that does it all, etc.
So when asked recently about a collapsible or so-called pocket fishing rod, I winced a little. I’m a serious angler and this is not the stuff for serious fishing efforts. I don’t know anybody who has or uses such an item.
However, I recognize that everyone wants to be frugal, has limited storage space, desires portability, and also seeks value. And I know where the term “pocket” in pocket fishing rod comes from — a product that Ron Popeil, the creator of infomercials and famous mass marketer, allegedly sold more than a million of, for what could now be considered pocket change, starting in the 1970s.
One-Piece vs Multi-Piece Fishing Rods
Fishing rods (some people call them poles) come in various lengths for diverse purposes. Many are one piece. Many are segmented, or multi-pieced, with two sections, a butt and tip, being most common. It used to be that the ferrules joining rod sections were stiff add-ons that dampened the action of a rod. Modern manufacturing methods have mostly eliminated that problem, however, and the benefit of easier storage and portability makes a segmented rod very functional and satisfactory to use.
Travel vs Collapsible Fishing Rods
Major rod manufacturers have developed what are known as “travel” fishing rods, which are three-, four-, or five-piece graphite rods (spinning, baitcasting, and fly) that can be put into a relatively short protective tube. Though more expensive than one-piece rods, they are high-quality products used by avid anglers for a range of freshwater and saltwater species.
At the other extreme, there are collapsible/mini/pocket fishing rods, most of which serious anglers consider a toy or a joke. Of course, these are not marketed to serious anglers. Most don’t hold up to much use. They’re usually short and sometimes sold as a combo or package with a small spinning reel or incorporated pushbutton-operated spincasting reel, and maybe with a few small lures. At best, the mini or pocket products are suited for casting short distances, catching small fish, and use only in freshwater. Some telescopic rods, however, made of graphite or a graphite-fiberglass composition, are more functional and capable of achieving better fishing results.
Being able to take a collapsible fishing outfit out of your glovebox, satchel, or backpack and fish anywhere is appealing in concept, and certainly those that are available from mass market sellers have a low-cost appeal. I’d suggest that you see who the manufacturer of such a product is, and disregard the self-serving promotional “reviews” that may accompany a listing for such a product.
If you know someone who has one, give it a try. If you’re thinking of buying this as first-time outfit for someone, especially a young person, compare instead a small combo rod and reel (not mini fishing rod and reel) from a reputable manufacturer.
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Ken Schultz was a longtime staff writer for Field & Stream magazine and is the former Fishing Editor of ESPNoutdoors.com. He’s written and photographed nineteen books on sportfishing topics, plus an annual fishing tips calendar, and his writing has appeared on various websites for more than two decades. His author website is kenschultz.com