Part 1 - Fishing Rod Basics

Fishing Rods, what do we know about them and do we really care. I believe we should care if we are serious about fishing effectively. There is a lot to know about them! I asked a few friends recently what they looked for in a rod when purchasing. Generally the reply was, “I pick up the rod and hold it out in front of me and I shake it, if it feels good and looks like I think it should, I buy it.” Well, if you fish only once a year or so, that may be okay. Although, if you fish several times a month or more you may want to make your selection a little more educated.

The price range for fishing rods varies widely based on the quality of the materials used and size. Rods are one of the most expensive pieces of tackle that you will be purchasing. If you're just starting out you may want a good all around type rod that will work well for most techniques and lure types, and as you progress as a seasoned angler will continue to be useful to you. You will want the best for the money you spend. Like anything else you’ll find bargains that aren’t worth the effort you spend to carry then to the trunk and there are products that are so expensive that they should make the fish just want to jump into your basket.


So what I would like to do today is share with you the different aspect of a fishing rod to make that informed purchasing decision. This topic can become deep although I will try to keep it interesting and understandable.

First of all, ask yourself, how often do you intend to fish and where do you intend to fish. The more often that you fish you may want a higher quality of rod. Then where do you want to fish? Would it be saltwater or fresh water? Will you be fishing at the beach, ocean, river, stream or pond? Will you be fish from a jetty, bridge or boat? Make your decision and commit to picking a rod that meets that decision.

What are you fishing for? The bigger the fish the bigger rod needed. The smaller the fish the smaller the rod needed.

Do you want a Spinning rod or Bait Casting rod? These are two totally different types of rods. With the Spinning Rod the reel hangs from the bottom of the rod and with the Bait Casting rod the reel sits on top of the rod.  Further discussion on these two will follow latter.


Are you fishing for fun or for food?  It’s a lot of fun and challenging to fight a big fish on light tackle. It requires patience and knowledge and can be very enjoyable. You can’t get that enjoyable feeling with a strong hard rod.


All these questions need to be answered so that you can match the features of a rod to those answers. There are different types of rods with their own features and purposes. When you make your choice just remember four important components of rods, Material, Length, Action and Power.


  • Material – What is the rod made of? The materials are generally Graphite, Fiberglass or Composite. The best rods are made of Carbon Fiber. The good quality rods are made from reinforced Composite materials, and average rods are made of the same material without the cross winding reinforcements. Guides are made from Titanium, Silicon Carbon or Ceramic, and avoid those made from plastic. The purpose of the guide is to keep the line under control and ensure longer casts.
  • Length – Long rods are generally used for surf and pier fishing when long casts are required. A shorter rod is better suited for fishing from a boat and medium length rods are better for fresh water fishing.
  • Action – the flexibility of the rod. Actions range from fast to medium to slow. A fast action rod is more sensitive and so makes setting the hook easier. But a slow action rod is better for casting light baits and for fighting fish. Knowing the species of fish your after is helpful here.
  • Power – How stiff is the rod? A heavy rod needs more power to bend it, where a light rod will bend easily. The power or stiffness must match the size of bait, the attached weight and the weight of fish your fishing for. For large fish a strong, stiff rod is preferred and for smaller pan fish a light rod will suffice.




Bait Casting or Spinning, Which do you prefer? There are two main types of rods, one being the Bait Casting rod and the Spinning Rod.


  • Bait Casting Rods – requires bait Casting Reels. The reel and line sit on top of the rod. The rod will have a finger grip that lets you hold the rod firmly while releasing the thumb bar / line release. The finger grip is similar to a trigger on a hand gun.
  • Spinning Rods – requires us to use a Spinning Reel. The reel hangs from the bottom of the rod in a reel seat and the line guides are on the bottom of the rod as well. The handle length is balanced against the rods length. Finger grips (triggers) are not used on Spinning Rods




  • Pistol grip is the shortest type of grip. It is contoured to the shape of your hand with a hook for your index finger. This hook helps in casting more accurately.
  • Trigger Stick is longer and is used two-handed for longer casts.
  • Grip materials – come in two general styles either cork or EVA foam. Cork is a traditional material that feels good and has solid grip. EVA foam offers more durability and more resistant to temperature swings and water exposure.



  • Line guides can be made of plastic, metal, or ceramic. These guides are positioned to the rods shaft to control fishing line.
  • In casting rods, line guides are positioned on top of the rod. They are smaller to reduce the play in the line and allow for easier casting and quicker retrieve.
  • Spinning Rods place the line guides on the bottom of the rod. The guides are larger in diameter and get larger towards the base of the rod.
  • The number of guides is determined by the length of the rod.


The better your rod the more sensitive it will be, the more responsive it will be, and the more accuracy you will be able to achieve. There are rods out there that claim they won't break but you won't see any of them on the decks of serious bass anglers or in the hands of any tour pros because they demand rods that are light, sensitive, and powerful. Sure those rods cost more, but for those they're worth every penny.

A good rod may not instantly make you a better angler but a poor rod will be a limiting factor for any angler. A good rod will allow you to feel much more of what's going on with your lure. For instance, you'll be able to tell if you're dragging your jig through mud, sand, rock, sticks, etc., and more importantly, when you get bit, which can often be hard to detect.

   Part of being a good angler is the ability to place your lure exactly where you want it, often as quietly as possible, and a good rod will definitely help your casting ability with more responsive graphite and perfectly engineered actions. The ability to create actions for specific techniques only comes with rod building expertise and the ability to use the best materials, which adds considerably to the expense. As a general rule then, a good rod will help and a poor rod will hurt your fishing ability.

I hope these basics will help you make an informed decision in the purchase of a Fishing Rod. You will find a selection of quality Rods at The Out Door Family Store. Stop by and check them out. If you don't find what your looking for, drop us a line and we would be happy to help you find what your looking for or to answer any questions you may have. 

Further info on fishing rods will be coming out soon. Check back often. And thank you for checking our blog.

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