Choosing the Right Fishing Rodby Capt. Terry Rand
Choosing the correct fishing rod to buy seems like it should be an easy task. It can be if you’re buying a starter rod and reel combo. But, if you have reached a level in your fishing skills where you need different rods for different fishing applications, it can become tricky. One way to get yourself totally overwhelmed is to walk into a fishing retailer and try to select one rod to out of their vast inventory.
A good starting place is simply realizing that spending a lot of money on a rod won’t necessarily buy you exactly what you need. Technology allows manufacturers to create very good quality graphite rods at very affordable prices. Many quality rods built by name brand companies can be purchased for less than $80 and most carry a warrantee of some kind. Everyone likes to save a dollar so keep this in mind while selecting your purchase.
Next, consider exactly what you will be using this rod for. Do you just need to have a second rod, just like your other one? Or, are you looking for a rod to add to your arsenal that you can devote exclusively to drop-shotting small finesse baits? Maybe you need a rod for catching striped bass in heavy current where 16 oz. of lead is needed to get your bait down to the bottom? These are factors that should weigh in heavily while deciding on the appropriate rod for the job.
On the side of the rod blank, near the handle, is the manufacturer labeling. Along with the name of the company and the rod series name are some specifications about the rod itself that can be very helpful in your decision making. Most rods will specify the appropriate line weight range for the rod. It will also specify the suggested lure weight to use with the rod, if the rod is built for casting. So, if you plan to use 10 pound test line and cast medium sized bass lures, select a rod that is labeled for the task. If you plan to fish 20 pound test and cast to schools of bluefish, the labeling on the rod should dictate with some precision which rod would be right for you.
Another consideration is the use of braided lines. The labeling used on rods to indicate suggested line weight is based on monofilament line. Braided line has a significantly reduced line diameter over mono of equal breaking strength. Average 50 pound test braided line usually has a diameter of a 12 – 15 pound test monofilament line. So, if you plan to use 50 pound braid with your new bass rod and flip the stump fields, then you don’t have to find a rod that is rated for 50 lb. line. Just find something that will accommodate the 12 – 15 pound diameter line.
Of course, you also need to consider the weight of the lures you plan to cast with your new purchase. The rod labeling will help immensely in this part of the decision making. You will notice, if the rod is rated for lure weights of 1/8 oz. – ¼ oz., then the rod will be light and have a relatively thin diameter. If the rod is rated for lures of ¾ oz. – 1 ¾ oz., the rod is most likely fairly heavy in weight and be of a much thicker diameter. If you attempt to cast lures that weigh less than what is recommended, the result will likely involve a failed cast. A heavier lure than recommended risks a broken line on your cast or, even worse, a broken rod.
The last thing that you need to think about is the length of the rod. This should be relatively easy for you to figure out. One quick solution is, if you’re fishing out of a boat then choose a rod no longer than 8 feet long. They just become unruly. But, if your fishing from shore along a trout stream, then you will likely want a shorter rod to help you cast from between the trees on the bank. If you’re fishing from shore on a large river or from the surf and need to cast long distances then you will want something in the 9 – 12 foot range.
There are certainly other considerations that could arise and some fishing applications require more complex levels of decision making. But, these basic considerations will allow you to quickly refine your search for the perfect rod. You can use this method to shop for rods in your local fishing tackle retailer or even online and feel confident that you are making the correct choice for your fishing needs.