Freshwater Fishing Rods: Types
Fishing rods vary in width, length and flexibility, depending on where you're fishing and what you're trying to catch. Basically, you want a rod that is stiff enough so it doesn't break when a fish is on your line. But flexible enough to absorb the tension of a fighting fish, so you don't break your line.
Study up. Match the right rod and reel, and the right line and the right bait, and you’re well on your way to catching the fish you're after.
A spinning rod is a style of fishing rod made from graphite or fiberglass with a cork or PVC foam handle. They tend to be between 5 and 8.5 feet (1.5 to 2.6 m) in length. Typically, spinning rods have anywhere from five to eight large diameter guides arranged along the underside of the rod to help control the line. Guides (also known as eyes) decrease in size from the handle to the tip, with the one nearest the handle usually much larger than the rest to allow less friction as the coiled line comes off the reel.
Unlike bait casting and spin casting fishing reels, the spinning reel hangs beneath the rod rather than sitting on top, and is held in place with a sliding or locking reel seat. Spinning rods and reels are widely used in fishing for popular North American sport fish including bass, trout, pike and walleye. Longer spinning rods with elongated grip handles for two-handed casting are frequently employed for saltwater or steelhead and salmon fishing. Spinning rods are also widely used for trolling and still fishing with live bait.
Bait-Casting and Closed-Spin Casting Rods
Bait-casting and closed-spin casting rods are designed to hold fishing reels that are mounted above the handle. So the line-guide eyes are on the top and the casting trigger is on the bottom.
The rods are made from graphite or fiberglass with a cork or PVC foam handle and tend to be between 5 and 8.5 feet (1.5 to 2.6 m) in length. They have anywhere from five to eight guide eyes to help control the line. The eyes decrease in size from the handle to the tip, with the one nearest the handle usually much larger than the rest to allow less friction as the coiled line comes off the reel.
Longer fishing rods, with elongated grip handles for two-handed casting, are frequently used for saltwater or steelhead and salmon fishing. Spinning rods are also widely used for trolling and still fishing with live bait. Bigger fishing rods are used for bigger bait and bigger fish.
Telescopic Fishing Rods
Telescopic fishing rods are designed to collapse (shorten) or expand (lengthen). 20 - or even 30-foot rods can close to as little as a foot and a half. This makes them very easy to transport.
Telescopic fishing rods are made from the same materials as conventional one- or two-piece rods. Graphite and fiberglass or composites of these materials are designed to slip into each other so that they open and close. The eyes are generally, but not always, a special design to help make the end of each section stronger. Various grade eyes available on conventional rods are also available on telescopic fishing rods.
Be careful about how you open a telescopic rod into the expanded position. Rapidly whipping or flinging open a telescopic fishing rod will likely make it difficult to close. Often the rods come with tip covers to protect the tip and guides.
Carrying around a 12- or 14-foot fishing rod, even in two pieces, may be cumbersome. The shorter the sections, the shorter they close, the more eyes they have, and the better the power curve is in them. More eyes mean better weight and stress distribution throughout the arc. This translates to further casting, stronger fish fighting abilities and less breakage.
Fiberglass Fishing Rods
Fiberglass fishing rods work well with crank baits, jerk baits, reaction baits, and baits with treble hooks because the rod flexes and bends, allowing the fish to pull further and the hook to go in deeper.
Carbon-Fiber Fishing Rods
Carbon-fiber fishing rods are commonly used by professionals. They're made with a variety of different qualities of carbon fiber that result in precise casting.
Ultra-light Fishing Rods
If you want to catch smaller fish, or get more fight out of a larger fish, then try an ultra-light fishing rod. They're shorter (4 to 5.5 feet is common), lighter and have more flex than normal rods. Tip actions vary from slow to fast, depending on your intended use. Some ultra-light rods are capable of casting lures and flies as light as 1/64th of an ounce.
Ultra-light rods are widely used for crappie, trout, bass, bluegill and other types of panfish.
To learn about different types of freshwater fishing reels visit our next section.