Types of Fishing Rods and Poles
Fishing rods, or poles, are important pieces of fishing equipment. In their simplest form, they are used to throw out a line with a hook on the end for the purpose of catching fish. Sounds easy so far, doesn’t it?
Fishing rods vary in width, length and flexibility (action), 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. The size of the 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.
Fishing for small game fish such as crappies or bluegills requires enhanced sensitivity to feel the soft bites. Carbon fiber is the preferred rod when you require sensitivity because it has a lightweight, flexible design that transfers the vibrations through the rod from a fish biting the hook. For example, some carbon fiber rods are 40 percent lighter than other graphite or fiberglass rods, increasing sensitivity.
The carbon fiber material is lightweight, but it also sacrifices durability versus fiberglass rods. If you are fishing for larger fish such as muskie, walleye or pike where you need a heavy, durable rod for retrieving the fighting fish, fiberglass rods are preferred over the stiff and brittle carbon fiber. However, most professional anglers and rod manufacturers routinely use carbon fiber rods for nearly every fishing situation.
The rod components and features are equally as important as the rod material. For example, the rod guides need to be made from high-quality materials such as ceramic that provide a low-profile, lightweight design for increased sensitivity and casting distance. Other important features to consider are the quality of the reel seat and the materials used for the rod handle.
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 commonly used for crappie, trout, bass, bluegill and other types of panfish.