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How to Choose a Fishing Rod [Complete Guide]

How to Choose a Fishing Rod [Complete Guide]
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Choosing the right fishing rod for your unique fishing needs can make things much easier for you, and fishing more fun. Walk into a fishing shop without prior knowledge of the type of fishing rod you want, and you’d be overwhelmed at the sight of fishing rods of different lengths, shapes, and sizes, made for different fishermen (one of which you are) with different needs.

Whether you are thinking about how to start fishing or an expert in angling, you’d realize that a fishing rod isn’t just a stick you can pick any one of and set out… Depending on what kind of fishing you plan to go for, there are different considerations to make, and parameters to guide you on the choice of fishing rods most suitable for your lifestyle.

In this article, we have supplied all you’d need to make an informed decision on how to choose a fishing rod (and of course, purchase the right one). Continue reading to learn how.

How to choose a fishing rod
Photo by Thirdman from Pexels

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Fishing Rod

If you’re working with a budget like most people, there are important considerations you need to make in choosing a fishing rod. One of them is what material a fishing rod is made of; as that can affect its price, its effectiveness, and your comfort. However, that decision will be guided by what type of fishing you intend to go for, as there are different materials for different fishing needs.

1. The Material of the Fishing Rod.

Fishing rods are made from different materials, and in knowing the unique advantage of each, you can make an informed choice. The three regular materials are graphite, fiberglass, and a mixture of both.

Graphite Fishing Rods.

Fishing rods made of graphite (also known as carbon fiber) are brittle, stiff and light, and can be a great option when your type of fishing involves lifting heavy loads. Graphite fishing rods are the most sensitive and have the fastest action. This, however, can be an expensive option.

Fiberglass Fishing Rods.

Fiberglass fishing rods are more flexible than graphite rods, even though they are much heavier. They are also very unlikely to break. A fiberglass fishing rod is a great option when medium to slow action is needed in fishing. It is a less expensive option too.

Composite Fishing Rods.

A combination of graphite and fiberglass is ideal for you if you’d be fishing in different locations and catching all kinds of fish. When made with the best of both materials, composite is durable, and a great money saver for fishermen and anglers.

Buy this 2-Piece Composite Fishing Rod on Amazon

2. Weight of the Fishing Rod.

It is not unusual to have heard a rod seller in a tackle shop say a fishing rod has a lot of backbone. That refers to its weight, lifting power, or strength. The choice of weight also is an important consideration to make when purchasing fishing rods — what works for one fisherman may not be ideal for another.

The power of a fishing rod is proved by its ‘pound test’ — how much fishing line weight it is designed to carry or the weight of lure it can cast, and how strong it is. You will need a specific strength rod, depending on the lures or bait you plan to use. Weight is usually classified into three: lightweight, mediumweight, and heavyweight.

  1. Lightweight: If you’re going out for mostly trout, panfish, lighter bass, or any other smaller species of fish, lightweight fishing rods should be the ideal choice for you. For anything heavier, you might consider using mediumweight rods.
  2. Mediumweight: In fishing situations where you’d be catching salmon, catfish or other bigger species of fish, choosing a mediumweight rod is the way to go. It can handle quite some baits and lures, making it a great choice for you. Since in many cases there is a connection between the weight of a fishing rod and its length, using a mediumweight rod means you can cover longer distances when fishing off-shore, for example.
  3. Heavyweight: When going out for much bigger, predatory species of fish, you’d surely not want your fishing rod to give way in the middle of a big catch. You’d go for a sturdy, heavyweight rod. A heavyweight rod can deal with larger lures on a regular basis.

3. Length of the Fishing Rod.

The length of a fishing rod is an important factor to consider during a purchase. It has a relationship with the intended casting distance — shorter rods will cast shorter distances, while longer ones will cast farther. Both have advantages and disadvantages, depending on where you’ll be using which. Depending on where you’ll be fishing and the type of fishing it will be, you’d need to choose a suitable rod length.

Rod length is measured from the tip of the rod to the butt of its handle. When considering buying a larger rod, it is normal to be concerned about how to transport it. This should not pose a problem, as longer rods can be dissembled into several pieces for easy transportation.

Fishing rod lengths can vary from four to fourteen feet. For a new angler, a seven-foot rod should serve well.

  • Shorter rods are great when you’re trolling (where the line is attached to a moving boat and pulled across the water) and when you have to fight with stronger species of fish. The shortness helps you to manipulate easily and draw the fish to the surface. They are also good when you intend to use lightweight lures.
  • If you intend to use heavier lures or prefer to fish directly from a shoreline rather than a moving boat, longer fishing rods will be ideal for you. They cast farther distances and can be great for fly fishing.
Buy this 9-Foot Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combo on Amazon

4. Action of the Fishing Rod

The action of a fishing rod is how much it bends when pressure is applied to it, either manually or due to a bite. It also refers to the point where the rod bends. Remember when we talked about rod backbone? When a rod is said to have heavy or fast action, it (has a long, stiff backbone and so) bends closer to the tip during a fresh bite; but, when it has light or slow action, it bends near the butt of the handle.

For this reason, a heavier action fishing rod is ideal when you’re going for bigger fish species like Bass; while a lighter action one will serve well for smaller species of fish. There is also the moderate action rod which bends around the middle. This type is recommended when you’re using crankbaits.

Each of these, however, can be subject to the type of fishing rod you’re using. A heavy action fly rod will work a bit differently from a heavy action bass rod.

5. Reel Seat.

The reel seat is the place on a fishing rod where the reel will be affixed. The choice of which rod to buy can be determined by which reel you intend to use. The two types are spinning and casting, and each meets a different need.

  • A spinning reel is ideal for beginners. This is because it is made with the simplicity necessary for the beginner’s inexperience; it is less likely to tangle and works well with lightweight lures and baits. Most spinning reels have an anti-reverse mechanism that helps to prevent anglers from spooling out once they have a bite.
  • A casting reel has a button that an angler needs to use when launching. It is situated at the point where the thumb grips the handle. Similar to a manual transmission car, the angler has ultimate control over its use, meaning that it is a bit more difficult to use. It is often used with heavier lures.
Buy this Spinning Reel on Amazon

6. Guides.

The guides are the eyelets or loops along the length of the rod that attach the line to the rod. It is through the guides that the fishing line is threaded, thereby providing control for the angler. It is common knowledge that the more the guides, the better the casting. They are made of ceramic or any type of metal.

More fishing guides also mean the rod can bend evenly throughout its length; so, when choosing which rod to go for, hold the rod at eye level and ensure that the guides line up properly.

More Tips on How to Choose a Fishing Rod

Choosing the right fishing rod can seem a hassle because there are different things to consider. However, it is important to be open about the level of expertise you have as a fisherman. This is because your level of experience too can determine what you need to buy or not.

A newbie should go for a less expensive rod, while the more experienced one can invest in something more expensive, that can last longer.

Here are some tips to guide you on how to choose a fishing rod:

1. Sensitivity.

A very sensitive rod, a graphite rod for instance, easily transfers vibration from the hook, through the rod, and into the fisherman’s hands. This is a great way to know when there’s a fresh bite or any other thing that’s happening to the line. A rod’s effectiveness can also be determined by how sensitive it is. Rods with faster action are usually more sensitive.

How to choose a fishing rod
Image by Martin Hradil from Pixabay

2. Handle Type.

This is more about comfort and personal preference. Choosing a lightweight fishing rod with a longer handle can aid in casting long distances, while a shorter one is perfect for casting accurately at shorter distances. Handle types like the pistol grip are great for fishermen who want to keep their rod weight low, while split grip handles are usually okay for people fishing for bass.

3. Price.

For beginners, a simple, low-cost rod can serve several purposes. You should opt for less expensive rods until you become versed in the game and have fishing rod preferences. Note, also, that a high price tag may not necessarily mean high quality.

4. Fishing Location.

If you’re planning to travel a distance to fish, it’s wise to choose a rod that can disassemble into several pieces for easy transportation. However, if you’ll be fishing nearby, this might not be an issue.

How to Check for the Quality of a Fishing Rod

1. Make sure it feels comfortable.

A rod that feels great in one angler’s hand may not feel the same in yours. Hold and wield it a bit to see how it feels. If you’re not sure, ask if there are modifications to certain things that may suit your preference.

2. Check for cracks or any faults in workmanship.

It is not unusual to find rods that have wiggle room after assembly (for ones that break down into pieces). Check to ensure that there are no faults that will affect the rod’s effectiveness, or shorten its lifespan.

3. Check the Guides.

Make sure the guides line up properly by holding the rod at eye level and looking down its entire length. The more the guides, the better the rod and the better the quality.

What to do after getting a suitable fishing rod? Watch this video to learn how to set up a new fishing rod:


The level of success you have out on the water is sometimes determined by your choice of fishing rods. Interestingly, this is one factor that is often overlooked. Even though good fishing rods don’t automatically make you a good angler, they can make your time out on the water fun and worthwhile. Good fishing rods help you feel and know what’s going on with your lure.

Except you know how to make a fishing rod, choosing a good one is as important as going fishing itself. You’ll need to determine where you’ll be fishing, what level fisherman you are, and any personal preferences you may have. Good knowledge of the different parts of fishing rods also helps in taking the best decision.

This article has addressed the necessary things to know and considerations to make on how to choose a fishing rod. That singular choice can make a difference in your fishing experience.

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