How to Read Rod Specs
High quality rods almost always have 3 sets of number printed just above the handle. The first set of numbers portray the rods model number followed by the length of the rod and type. The second set of numbers represent the “Action” or “Power” of the rod. The last line typically indicates the suggested line test rating and finally the suggested weight of the lure. You must clearly identify these important sets of number when looking at the rod as this will dictate the perfect rod for fishing the method of your choice.
Fishing Rod Length
Determining your fishing rod length is the first identifier when selecting a new piece of equipment. Fishing rods can range from 4 feet all the way up to 14 feet, but most trout rods tend to run between 6 to 9 feet from tip to butt. The general rule of fishing rod length is based on casting distances:
Shorter the rod = shorter casting distance
Longer the the rod = longer casting distance
Generally speaking, shorter rods are better for fishing smaller waterways or if you are fishing in tight spots along river banks with overhang. The short body allows for better close combat type of fishing, you will find anglers fishing from boats or kayak prefer shorter rods. It is easier to maneuver if distance casting is not a big factor.
On the flip side, longer rods can help you cover more water and achieve great casting distances. Saltwater anglers who fish from piers or the beach will very often use longer rods.
Fishing Rod Materials
Fishing rods are typically made from graphite, fiberglass, or a combination of both. Although there are other exotic materials used such as bamboo all the way to carbon fiber we will focus on the general materials used. Graphite rods are typically lighter and stiffer, however they tend to break more easily than fiberglass. The upside is that the brittleness and light weight of graphite rods make them more sensitive and is generally better at detecting light bites. Fiberglass rods on the other hand have a more flexible tendency and can take a lot more to break them. Anglers whom fish in a multitude of conditions and environments usually opt for rods with a hybrid combination of both materials.
What is a Rods “Power” Rating?
The power of a rod describes how much weight it takes to bend the rod. The first letter usually refers to how stiff or powerful the rod is. The larger the fish you are targeting means the more power is required in a rod. The power is its resistance to bending and is also known as the rod weight. The codes below are what you will find most commonly:
UL – Ultra Light (small fish in the 1-2lb range)
L – Light ( small/medium fish in the 2-4lb range)
ML – Medium Light ( medium sized fish in the 3-6lb range)
M – Medium (medium sized fish in the 5-12lb range)
MH – Medium Heavy (medium/large fish in the 12-20lb range)
H – Heavy (large fish in the 15-30lb range)
EH – Extra Heavy (very large fish in the 30+lb range)
You would want a rod with a stiffer backbone, or more power to fight larger fish. While light or ultralight rods are geared more towards smaller species like trout and panfish as the rod has much more bend, and can detect bites much easier. Medium rods are good for finesse fishing where you will be throwing spoons, crankbaits, or spinners. Heavier rods are best suited for bottom fishing and throwing large lures such as jigs or topwater lures.
What is a Rods “Action”?
The action of the rod is best described as the point of where the rod begins to bend. This is not to be confused with the “power” of the rod. The action is the placement of where you prefer the bend to begin. Lets break this down:
A “fast” action rod, bends closer to the tip
A “Slow” action rod, bends closer to the handle.
The action or the bend of a rod is essential for 2 main reasons. Firstly, the bend allows you to constantly put pressure on the hooked fish so that the hook does not pop out. The second reason is to provide a specific backbone in order to cast certain lures.
When throwing big baits or lures, it is recommended that a fast action rating is used. While on the other hand, when fishing smaller lures, a medium or slower action is preferred so that the action can provide the momentum to achieve casts.
Tips On Choosing The Right Rod For You
Now that you are armed with the understanding of the basics of how to read fishing rod specs, you probably already have an idea what type of rod you are deciding on.
Since fishing rod brands have their own methods of rod ratings, you will find that every rod will handle slightly differently from one brand to another. No one is better suited to select the perfect rod for you other than yourself, your rod selection comes down to your fishing style and your personal preferences. Firstly determine the species you are deciding to target, and how you decide to target them.
You can decide on the type of rod according to your preferred style of fishing:
Once you decide on your method, determine your budget. Remember that an expensive rod will not always make you a better angler, however choosing rods with specific characteristics will provide you with a better edge when it comes to performance.
Start by going to your local fishing shops and test out different brands and specs until you find a rod that best suits you.
You will find there are plenty of fishing rod brands on the market, varying in prices. Because the selections can be somewhat intimidating, we have broken down all the rods that we have fished with and we deem the best value and performance.