How to Choose a Fishing Rod (Basic Guide)

How to Choose a Fishing Rod (Basic Guide)

by | May 1, 2017 | Fishing, Gear and Tackle | 0 comments

How to choose a fishing rod can be a confusing task and one that comes with a ton of questions.  Especially for those who are new to fishing.  This guide should answer some of your questions and give you a basic understanding of the mechanics of how to choose a fishing rod that best fits your needs.

What is a fishing rod

Fishing rod:  A long cylinder shaped rod that is typically made from graphite components like carbon fiber.  Fiberglass rods are still used today.  You can even find rods made of bamboo.

These rods are outfitted with guides a reel seat, and a handle when complete.   We will discuss all of this below in further detail.

Purpose of a fishing rod

The purpose of a fishing rod is so you can present the bait away from you by casting.  Also a fishing rod gives the ability to fight the fish into you once it is hooked.  The rod bends and gives when the fish runs so your line does not break.

What length can fishing rods come in?

Fishing rods can come in many lengths.  From micro rods that are 3 foot in length to multiple piece surf rods that are 15 foot or more.  The typical freshwater rod will be anywhere from 5 1/2 foot to 7 foot and be one or two pieces.

One or two piece fishing rods

Fishing rods can come in one piece, meaning the blank of the rod which is the long light circled piece of graphite, or fiberglass that is all one piece and does not come in multiple pieces.

A two piece rod will have a blank that is in two separate pieces that attaches and detaches.  Some travel rods can even break down further.  Today’s technology makes two piece almost unnoticeable once connected in terms of performance.

But if your going to go with a two piece rod go with a higher end rod like a St Croix or something comparable.  Years ago two piece were very noticeable in the feel of a rod, but as technology has improved in rod making so has the two piece rod performance.

How to Choose a Fishing Rod tip to remember:

  • If you have limited space and need to break down your rods you may want to go with a multiple piece rod.


What does Power mean in a rod?

How to Choose a Fishing Rod
Source: Blog

Fishing Rods use ratings that determine there best use.  Let’s take a look and ill explain.  For simplicity of this guide and because this guide is written for new fisherman just starting out I will group them into the 3 areas. Light, medium, and heavy.


Rods that are meant to fish light line from 6 lb test to 10lb test and bend more through the butt of the rod are considered light action rods.

Medium and heavy power rods:

Medium and heavy action rods will be slightly heaver and stronger in terms of power.  A medium rod will be thicker then a light rod and not bend as much under weight at the butt like a lighter fishing rod.

Heavy action rod will be stronger in terms of power and not bend as much in the butt area as a medium rod.

What does the action of a rod mean?

How to Choose a Fishing Rod
Source: Blog

When talking about action of a rod this means how fast the rod takes to flex back into position.  Keep this in mind when starting out.

Slow Action:

If you whip the rod up and down a slow action rod will bend further down the rod closer to your hands or closer to the handle of the rod.  The whipping motion happens over a longer part of the rod.

Medium action:

With medium action it takes a little less time to snap the rod back into place then it does a slow action rod.  Or it takes less time to snap back into place.

Fast action:

I personally love a fast action rod.  In a fast faction fishing rod when you whip it up and down you will notice that  just the top foot or less will have a whipping action to it.  The rest of the rod feels solid with no whipping motion to it.

How to choose a fishing rod tip:




  • The action is how fast a rod takes to flex back into position.


Fishing Rod Guides

How to Choose a Fishing Rod

Fishing rod guides are the round ceramic rings that you see running up a rod blank.  These guides typically will be made from metal and have a ceramic ring in the center.  This smooth surface is what your fishing line will travel on when making a cast and fighting fish.

Guides are very light weight and Sic guides are considered top quality material when building rods.

You will notice that some fishing rods have more guides then some rods of the same height.  The more fishing guides the better as it produces a better bend when fighting fishing.

Fishing rod handles

For simplicity of this guide we are going to look at two types of handles that are most used.  The spinning handle and casting handle.

This image is from St. Croix Rods Triump freshwater series rods.  But when talking about handle types these are universal.  Either spinning or casting handles will be the most common.

How to Choose a Fishing Rod


The fishing rod handle can be made from cork or foam grips.  I am partial to cork as I prefer the feel and look.  Cork rings are probably the most common choice when you’re talking about inshore rods and freshwater rods.

EVA Foam

This grip for a handle is lightweight and comfortable to fish.   Again you will see this type of material in freshwater and inshore fishing alike.


This material is very durable and stands up to the tough conditions of rod holders that you see in boats.

How to choose a fishing rod tip:




You can tell the difference between a spinning reel rod and a casting rod by the trigger.  The trigger is the claw shaped piece on a casting rod.  The spinning rod does not have this.

Real Seat

The reel seat is what the reel slides into so that it attaches to the fishing rod.

How to Choose a Fishing Rod

In Closing, how to choose a fishing rod will come down to a few basics things to remember

Remember when choosing a fishing rod first figure out where you will be using the rod the most.  If your going to use this rod in freshwater and inshore saltwater fishing for smaller fish like brim, bass, and trout you can go with a fast action light power blank and be just fine.

If your going after larger fish, upgrade to a larger setup fishing rod.   Look at the power and action on each rod before making a decision.

Remember a fishing rod with the same dimensions made by different manufactures will not feel the same.  There will be slight differences in the feel, so be sure to put the rod in your hands and feel it first.  When your really get into fishing you will have many many different rods for the many different applications of fishing, but that is for another article.

About The Author

Anthony Arcodia

A Florida Native, Anthony has been a lifelong fisherman and outdoorsman. As a child, he started fishing lakes around the South Florida area chasing bass which quickly spread to chasing snook and tarpon in the 10 thousand islands. Anthony has passed his love of the outdoors and fishing to his son and both continue to enjoy the great outdoors together while pursuing their passion of fishing.

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