Rod Basics

Ever walk into a tackle shop and feel overwhelmed at the options? There are literally hundreds of rods from which to choose; all of them different. What’s more, you may have a rod locker full of rods, but still grabbing the one with the lure tied on that you want to use, rather than choosing the one that is right for your fishing situation. Knowing how to select and use the right fishing rod is an essential skill that every angler should have. Here, we will describe some of the key points that you should know.

There are three things that describe the performance of the common fishing rod:




Offshore saltwater rods, trolling rods, surfcasting rods, and fly rods may or may not fit these descriptors, but for most rods, you can sum up the primary performance of the rod with these three metrics. Rod manufacturers will almost always print the length of the rod on the rod itself, usually near the grip. Rod length is the most important of the three descriptors, and the first that you should have in mind when making a selection.

Rod weight is a close 2nd to importance, and is less often printed on the rod.  The weight of the rod refers to the overall stiffness, and may be accomplished by a larger diameter, thicker internal wall, or both. Note that rod “weight” has nothing to do with the actual mass of the rod, but refers to the rod stiffness.

Rod action is rarely printed on rod blanks, but is becoming more and more common to see it printed on the blank. Rod action has to do with the rate of taper as you go from the butt to the tip. Sometimes it is beneficial to have a rod that bends deeply through its length (slow action). Other times, you want a rigid rod, with a very soft tip (fast action).

Lets look at these three metrics in more detail...

...Rod Length

For a description of basic rod anatomy, please click here.