Se­lect­ing the Right Rod

The core el­e­ment in your fish­ing equip­ment is your rod. In the ‘How to Use the Guide’ sec­tion we de­scribed fish­ing with just bread, a hook and some line, with the next evo­lu­tion­ary step – a stick.

Sport Fishing Gear Guide - - Contents -

As lures, baits and tech­niques have evolved, so have man­u­fac­tur­ers’ rod de­sign. They have fine-tuned their rods to give the an­gler the ad­van­tage over the fish when you choose the right ‘stick’. The cor­rect rod al­lows you to cast more ac­cu­rately, work the baits bet­ter, de­tect more strikes and set the hook to land your catch.

Step one in choos­ing the right rod starts with know­ing what kind of fish you are most of­ten af­ter, which will help de­cide which tech­nique you’ll be us­ing and ul­ti­mately lead to the type of rod and ac­tion you want.

The two most dom­i­nant rods are ei­ther spin­ning or bait­cast. Spin­ning rods mount the reel un­der the han­dle and bait­cast are seated on top. These are two dif­fer­ent cast­ing tech­niques. Your de­ci­sion on fish and fish­ing tech­nique will de­cide your reel, and now you can se­lect your rod.

Most fish­ing en­thu­si­asts start out with a 6’6” to 7’ medium rod as these rods will work with most tech­niques and lure types.

Build­ing a fish­ing rod in­volves de­sign com­prises. You can build a rod that will never break – think solid steel pipe – but it would be too heavy to cast with all day, and it wouldn’t be sen­si­tive enough to let you know when you had a bite. A great rod is strong but re­spon­sive, sen­si­tive and durable. A good rod won’t in­stantly make you a great

an­gler, but a poor one will cer­tainly hin­der you, and could cause you enough grief and ex­pense that it will turn you off one of Canada’s great­est pas­times.

An hon­est, knowl­edge­able lo­cal re­tailer can help tell you the most pop­u­lar tech­niques for the fish in the re­gion. But it helps to un­der­stand the lan­guage he or she is about to speak.


Ac­tion – de­scribes how the rod bends when pres­sure is ap­plied at the tip. A fast ac­tion rod bends in the top third and a slow ac­tion rod starts bend­ing in the bot­tom third. How eas­ily it bends de­pends on the type of fish for which the rod is de­signed. For in­stance, a fast ac­tion fly rod will bend much lower and more eas­ily than a fast ac­tion off­shore rod. For the most part, the na­ture of the flex is de­ter­mined by the ta­per of the rod – how the di­am­e­ter de­creases from han­dle to tip.

The weight of the lures you’ll be fish­ing with helps choose the ac­tion. Lighter lures work with faster ac­tion rods stor­ing ki­netic en­ergy eas­ily. Bass rods are typ­i­cally fast ac­tion. This helps in set­ting the hook, as the rod stops flex­ing quickly as it reaches the stiffer part of the blank sooner. They work best where short to medium cast­ing dis­tances are in­volved, us­ing sin­gle hooks in worm and jig fish­ing.

For longer casts, medium to medium-fast rods are used in con­junc­tion with treble hooks like top­wa­ter lures, crankbaits, or spin­ner baits. The slower ac­tion makes it less likely that you’ll tear the hook out of that stronger fish you’re af­ter.

Power – de­scribes the strength of the rod. As in, its lift­ing power, rated from ex­tra-heavy to ul­tra-light. De­scrib­ing the power of a rod de­pends on the type of rod you’re dis­cussing. A heavy bass rod might be limited to a 25 lb line while a heavy off­shore rod might be rated for 80 lb line. As you may have al­ready guessed, the line weight should match the rod power. With a heavy line on a light rod you could snap the rod, and with a light line on a heavy power rod you could snap the line. Match­ing the rod and line will help you to work within the lim­its of the equip­ment to land your prize.

Re­spon­sive­ness – is the rods abil­ity to flex un­der load and then re­lease the stored en­ergy. A light, highly re­spon­sive rod will al­low you to more ac­cu­rately cast on a low tra­jec­tory when you want to land your bait lightly and per­haps need to land close to an ob­struc­tion.

Graphite – is a ma­te­rial used to build ev­ery­thing from fish­ing rods to wa­ter­skis. Like most ma­te­ri­als there are sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences in the qual­ity of the graphite and how well it is used. It costs a lot more, and re­quires a great deal of ex­per­tise to build a light, re­spon­sive and durable rod. Con­versely, a cheap rod can be built from graphite - but be heavy and brit­tle.

Graphite of­ten comes with a rat­ing i.e. IM6 or IM7, etc. Un­for­tu­nately, it isn’t an in­dus­try stan­dard so the qual­ity of IM6 graphite can vary from one man­u­fac­turer to another. You can count on it to com­pare rods within a rod man­u­fac­tur­ers lineup where you can ex­pect an IM8 will be bet­ter (more sen­si­tive/re­spon­sive) than an IM7.

Other man­u­fac­tur­ers use a ‘ton’ rat­ing, i.e. 30 ton or 40 ton (40 be­ing more sen­si­tive/re­spon­sive). Un­for­tu­nately this is also not an in­dus­try stan­dard so you can’t ac­cu­rately equate a ‘ton’ rat­ing with an ‘IM’ rat­ing.

Mod­u­lus refers to the stiff­ness of the graphite, but be­cause so many other fac­tors in­flu­ence the qual­ity of the graphite, a higher mod­u­lus doesn’t mean a bet­ter qual­ity rod. In gen­eral, the higher the num­ber, the stronger the rod will be for its weight – but also the more brit­tle it be­comes. In some cases a stiffer rod is detri­men­tal, as you wouldn’t want a stiff rod for light line tech­niques.

Fi­bre­glass – is known by any­one born af­ter 1940, but like many modern ma­te­ri­als ‘glass’ has changed and evolved over the decades and in some in­stances in fish­ing rods, has been com­bined with graphite to pro­duce some stel­lar rods. Al­though heav­ier than graphite, glass has a solid rep­u­ta­tion with many an­glers look­ing for a medium to slow ac­tion rod that is very durable. For in­stance, you’ll find them in rods for heav­ier fish, and in boat rods that don’t re­quire cast­ing.

Guides – most are com­posed of an outer metal ring, and the best are lined or coated with a re­duced fric­tion in­ner ring. Fric­tion causes heat, and heat breaks down line. Low fric­tion also trans­lates into longer casts. The best guides are also light­weight and durable. Rods with more guides will bend truer to the rods de­sign, and typ­i­cally cast bet­ter than those with fewer.

Ma­te­ri­als in­clude Al­conite, whose base ma­te­rial is alu­minum ox­ide, and it is an im­prove­ment over Hard­loy (another alu­minum ox­ide de­riv­a­tive). SIC stands for sil­i­con car­bide, which along with ti­ta­nium car­bide and Zir­co­nium are a few of the higher end ma­te­ri­als as they re­duce fric­tion and heat to a min­i­mum. Some of the best guides are made of nickel-ti­ta­nium al­loy, which spring back into place even when bent back, re­quire no plat­ing, and can­not cor­rode.

Han­dles and knobs – are of­ten made from cork, an age-old ma­te­rial cho­sen be­cause it is light­weight and pro­vides good grip even when it’s wet. About 50% of the world’s cork comes from Por­tu­gal, and like graphite there is no univer­sal grad­ing sys­tem. One mans ‘Flor’ is another mans ‘AAAA’ is another’s ‘AAA’ and another’s CG1. All you can ex­pect is that the best cork is found on the most ex­pen­sive rods. EVA foam is the other ma­te­rial most of­ten found in han­dles and is more durable than cork.

Reel seat – holds the reel onto the rod, and if the reel comes loose, the tro­phy fish of your life­time could be lost. The reel is where the torque gen­er­ated in the fight is ap­plied to the rod. The cheap­est reel seats could have card­board in­side, and/or use metal that rusts. It is best to spend a few dol­lars more on a trusted name brand, and avoid the deal that seems too good to be true, be­cause it is.

Now that you are armed with the lingo, pe­ruse the pages of this guide to see what’s new in rods, the prices, and get ready for your best sea­son ever.

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