Fishing rod that is. I’m a lifelong fisherman and a fishing outfitter with “America’s Formost Outfitter”, Cabela’s and I’m surprised at how many anglers are confused about the nominclature of fishing rods. I’ll admit I didn’t really get it figured out until well into the later half of fishing life. Let me shed some light on it for you.
I’m going to assume you know the difference between a casting rod and a spinning rod, if not I’ll cover that in another article. I am also not going to talk about composition and construction of modern fishing rods at this time. We are just going to talk about the little numbers on the side of your rod and what they when you are fishing.
Rod length ranges greatly dependent upon application. From as short as a 22 inch ice fishing rod to a 15 foot surf rods. Most rods sold today to the average bass, trout, panfish and inshore anglers are between 5’6″ and 7’6. For me the choice is made based upon how and where I use it, for example; pitching and flipping from the front of my boat or my kayak I use a 6 footer because it’s more maneuverable especially for underhand tosses. When out on the saltwater flats throwing crab or cut bait at redfish I prefer a 7’6″ or even an 8 footer for long casts. Most of my rods are 7 foot because It gives my the best balance of distance and accuracy in casting. The rule of thumb is longer the rod the longer the casts.
**Disclaimer** when discussing fishing rod power, and speed there is no industry standard so these ratings very by brand.
The power of a rod is related to two things the pound test line you can safely use and the maximum lure weight. This rating is listed on you rod with the words; Ultra-light, Light, Medium-Light, Medium, Medium Heavy, Heavy, and some brands have an extra-Heavy. The line rating and lure weight will be listed as well. Here are some examples:
Here is a little chart that is pretty close, in general, but remember the is no industry standard so it varies by manufacturer.
|Rod Power||Line Strength (LBs)||Lure Wt (oz)||Species||Common Length|
|Ulta-Light – Light||2 to 6||1/32 to 1/4||Panfish, Trout||4’ 6” to 6’|
|Medium Light – Medium||6 to 12||1/16 to 5/8||Bass, Walleye||6’ to7’ 6”|
|medium Heavy – Heavy||10 to 20||1/4 to 1||Bass, Catfish, Pike||7’ to 9’|
Line Strength Recommendation
This is put on the rod to help prevent you from braking your rod. Here is an example, you have a Medium rod rated for a max of 12 LB test line. You get hung up on tree stump as big as the hall closet. You start pulling and take your rod 90 degrees or greater the 12 LB test line should break before the rod does. Keep in mind that it has become common practice, with the increase in popularity of braided “super lines” to over line our rod. Meaning, exceeding the recommended line strength. If you do this just remember you can pull hard enough to break you rod so ease up and decrease the angle buy lowering your rod tip. I have gotten in the habit of keeping my rod tip pointed at the snag and pulling straight away to release a sna
Lure Weight Recommendation
This is put on the rod to help protect the tip of the rod during your cast. Exceeding this weight could cause you to brake the tip of your rod especially if you use a lot of whip in your cast. If you choose to exceed this rating you must slow down and use a more a lob cast. We get a lot of rods returned with the top 2 to 3 inches broken off because they just did pay attention to this.
ROD SPEED OR ACTION
A rod’s speed or action is categorized in general terms such as fast, moderate or medium and slow. A fast-action rod bends mostly in the top 1/3 of the rod’s length. Moderate- or medium-action rods bend further down the rod’s length; typically through its midsection. A slow-action rod bends throughout the entire length of the rod, down to the handle.
A rod’s action also relates to the size and weight of lures that you are using. With smaller lures, a medium action will give you longer casts, since the more limber rod will have a greater flex and develop more kinetic energy.
Fast-action rods provide a quick hookset for techniques such as jigging. A moderate action works well for casting middleweight crankbaits and slow-action rods work well for long gentle casts when fishing live bait.
Now as I have have said before in the article. There is no industry standard so a St. Croix Fast is not exactly the same as a G. Loomis fast or a Cabela’s XML fast. You have to experience them for yourself and pick what works best. For example for top-waters I like a St. Croix “Fast” because I can “walk the dog” by just tapping my index finger on the side of the rod where with a slow rod like my old Ugly Stick I have to move my lower arm almost a foot.
Here is how I test a rod I’m looking at to see its action or speed. Place the butt of the rod against the wall or a piece of furniture, something that won’t move when you push on it. Orient the rod properly; Guides up for a casting, guides down for spinning. Put the tip of the rod in the palm of your hand and gently press on the rod tip so that the rod starts to flex and observe where that flex starts. If it starts in the top third of the rod its a fast action. If the flex starts in the middle third its medium or moderate action and if the flex starts all the way back to the first third it a slow action.
If you select the correct rod for the species of fish you are targeting and technique you are using you well maximize you time on the water. You can reduce fatigue and create the most effective presentation of you lures or bait. You can also decrease the the chance of damaging you equipment. But since the is no industry standard for the ratings on the rods you must get out to your local fishing tackle shop and feel them for yourself.
See you on the water!
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