Saltwater Fishing - Helping you catch that fish of a lifetime
Choosing the Right Fishing Rod #102by Capt. Terry Rand
Learn to choose the right fishing rod for your personal fishing situations.
Once an angler gains some experience and confidence in using the one or two rods that they have in their arsenal of fishing tackle, the need for more specialized rods and technique specific rods usually becomes apparent. For instance, a fisherman who has been using their standard spinning rod and reel to cast big chunks of cut bait with heavy sinkers attached will quickly learn that the rod they have been using to cast half ounce lures just doesn't have the back bone to launch a bulky bait rig into the strike zone. This is the time to assess the type of fishing you are doing and what rod types will best handle your specific needs.
A good place to start is with rod action. Rods come in various lengths, power ratings and action specifications. Action refers to how quickly the tip of the rod returns to its natural position from a bent position. A fast action rod has a somewhat rigid tip so when it is released from a bent position it returns very quickly. A slow action rod will bend further down the blank so its return to its natural position will be much slower. A rod with a fast action is normally required to cast heavy lures or baits efficiently. These rods will bend a bit in the tip sections but have a rigid backbone that will allow larger lures and baits to be heaved on long casts.
Slow action rods are great for casting small, light lures that need a little more snap in the cast to get them out there. They are also an asset in fighting fish that have soft mouths like ladyfish, crappie and shad. The slow action of the rod absorbs the head shakes of the fish during the fight, much like the stretching of an elastic band, preventing the hooks from tearing out the soft mouth of the fish. A slow action rod can also aid in light, finesse style presentations when minimal movement of the lure is desired to get finicky fish to strike.
In addition to understanding rod action, it should also be noted that manufacturers have been taking the guess work out of choosing rods by making technique specific rods. This is very common in the bass fishing industry where rods are being produced that are specifically made for various bass fishing techniques like drop shots, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. This convention has crossed into the saltwater industry as well with some rods being designated for sailfish, striped bass and wahoo while other are designated for live bait fishing, wreck fishing and inshore fishing. Whether the rod is fish specific or technique specific, it is still good to be well aware of the power and action of the rod so you know it will fit your true needs.
Situations that require specific rod types are found throughout the world, with every location offering different variables such as water depth, strength of the tide, wind, where the fish hold their position, etc. All of these varying factors equate to a specific rod type being the best at getting the job done. If an angler finds themselves in Alaska fishing for halibut in 150 feet of water, then they will require the right rod to get the job done efficiently. The spinning rod that they use for bluefish back home is not going to live up to the rigors of fishing halibut in deep water. Take into account that halibut fishing in Alaska often requires more than one pound of lead sinker to deliver a bait to that depth. The type of rod you need just to sink the bait and still maintain some sensitivity is about the size of a pool cue. This may be an extreme example but the lesson is the same. You need the right tool to get the job done effectively.
The same goes for rods that are built for casting as opposed to rods that are designed for either trolling or vertical fishing. Spinning rods are always built with intention of being used for casting, as well as baitcasting rods. Boat rods on the other hand, are built almost exclusively for either vertical fishing or trolling applications. They are rods that are built for use with conventional reels so their design is not geared towards casting. Most rods designated as trolling rods are built only for trolling situations. Their line guide system usually incorporates guides with rollers to reduce friction on the line.
As mentioned before, some rods are designed for specific species of fish and for certain fishing techniques. But, make sure that the rods action, power and line ratings match your specific needs. Once you acquire the right tools to get the job done properly, it makes the task much easier to accomplish. You'll find that your catch rate goes up, as well as your confidence level, when you are using the right fishing rod for your specific fishing needs.
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