Fishing Rod Composition

By Andy Whitcomb

Jun 15, 2015

The composition of your fishing rod can affect the way it feels and performs. Here are some of the differences between rod materials.

“If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it isn’t.” Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors.

A significant portion of our family fishing time currently is consumed by my kids’ baseball and softball games and practices. During one particularly lengthy practice my thoughts wandered to fishing and I asked Coach Mike Weigle, about bat construction materials. He explained some of the differences between wooden, “composite carbon fiber polymer,” and “aluminum alloy” bats. Like fishing rods, each material is designed to perform and feel a certain way in the hands of an experienced user.


Similar to the first baseball bats, the first fishing rods also were made of wood (or bamboo), and later constructed of carbon fiber (graphite) or even aluminum. A quick survey of my fishing rod inventory revealed half were of unknown composition, either not labeled by the manufacturer or the sticker had long since worn away. Most of the remaining were “graphite” but “Fiberglas” and bamboo were represented as well.

Here are a few differences between fishing rod materials as explained by Mike Woodward of “Woody’s Custom Rods”:

  • Graphite — “lighter and usually more sensitive.” By using a stiffer grade of graphite material, a stiffer fishing rod can be created, often rated by a term called “modulus.”

  • “Glass” (Fiberglass) — “heavier but usually casts better and is able to load the rod better when fighting a fish.” Traditionally it is more durable and with the “loading” quality, often used for crankbaits.

  • Composite — A combination of materials such as Fiberglas and graphite. These rods are designed to be both sensitive and durable.

  • Bamboo — “This is coming back around due to versatility and sensitivity. Mostly used for fly fishing applications.”

There are new fishing rod materials, manufacturing methods, and combinations under development. Some anglers may buy a rod by the species or line/lure size recommended. Others may be influenced by the brand or price. The true test is how it feels in your hands. With experience, using the right rod materials under certain situations may help you catch more fish.

Do you have a favorite fishing rod composition material? Share this post with your friends and remind them to renew or get their fishing license.

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.