Buying Guide: Best Fishing Rod Models and Features
One of the most important decisions that you can make when building your fishing gear set, is the the construction of your tackle gear, and your rod and reel. Personally, I think that you can slack off on the quality of your lures, because they can be replaced on the cheap and you have a whole set of them from which to choose. Your also likely to lose quite a few over the course of time. A nice reel on the other hand, can last for quite a long time, and you can really get a lot of good mileage out of it before it ultimately needs to be replaced. When choosing your weapon of choice however, don’t think that you can thrift your way to a great purchase, you get what you pay for. There are bargains, but if you don’t know what you are looking for, chances are that you could just be throwing away your money. A poor rod is useless to you, and I’m not just talking about the quality here, but what you are intending to use it for. Purchase a bass casting model with a poor taper and go deep sea fishing, and your likely to lose it. Purchase a heavier model with extra fast action, and your success rate while jigging will go down considerably. You have to know what your doing.
There are tons of rods with different strengths and variations being sold today, and if you are a serious angler, this is exciting because there is no shortage of choices from which to choose from. At the same time however, this increases the chances that you will end up purchasing junk. On the other hand, a nice model that you can use consistently every time you fish, is money very well spent.
I’ve gone ahead and done all of the hard work for you and have prepared a list of some of the best fishing rods, which I know should work well. I’ve tried some of these myself, but others I’ve just read about and trust the company, and some of them my friends have tried out. If you want to do a bit of research on your own however, keep reading as I give a thorough guide as to what to look for in the top fishing rods, pros and cons, and what to keep away from. Enjoy!
There are many different varieties when it comes to your blanks and poles. Most of the ones which are sold to bass anglers are casting rods, while the spinning varieties are sold to people who use specialized techniques with light fishing lures. Different models compliment different techniques, but if your new, I recommend sticking to a simple casting rod that is at least 6’5″ as these are versatile and work with almost all lure types and techniques, and will always be useful. As you advance in your knowledge however, consider purchasing more specialized models, and as your collection increases so will your success rate with different species of fish.
Often times, the value that you get out of your rod will depend directly on how often you fish. If your a serious angler, you have to factor in other attributes, but in general the more expensive poles cost more due to their sensitivity and casting accuracy. These are light and can break, so, why purchase these? Basically, its because the heavier models just aren’t sensitive enough. The better the sensitivity, the more accurate you will be while casting, and you can feel the line better, giving you greater control over our jigging and other techniques.
Being a good angler is all about being able to pin point where you want to cast your lure, hit that spot accurately, and then apply your technique. Although a good rod won’t necessarily make you better at this, you will need practice, I can definitively say that a poor quality model will be a hindrance.
The Lingo of the Trade, Attributes to Consider
Before you can begin comparing the different varieties, you are going to have to understand the lingo, and how important each aspect is in the design of the rod.
Blank: This is the shaft itself. It can be made from many materials. While traditional fishing poles were created using wood, most of today’s varieties are made from graphite or fiberglass.
Action: The action of the fishing pole deals with the degree at which it bends when you apply pressure to it. These range from extra fast, to slow. Extra fast fishing rods bend only around the top third of the blank or less, while one with a medium action will bend near the middle, and a slow model will bend near the lower portion. Slows are also called “parabolic”, because the arch that is created by the action looks very similar throughout the reel. The action will vary depending on the material used, and what it is used for. For instance, a steelhead or fast action rod will bend much lower compared to a casting bass rod or simple off shore model.
Most of the bass rods are very fast, and this is on purpose, as it generally provides better sensitivity and quicker power for hooksetting. These types are great for when it is necessary to use single hook lures, such as jig fishing or using a worm. The quicker the power, the quicker the hookset, which you will definitely need while bass fishing
.If instead you opt for medium to medium/fast styles, you will get increased casting distance, at the expense of a little less hooksetting power. Most varieties like this are usually used in association with treble hooks, topwater lures, and crankbaits. My own personal rod is a medium, if your looking for a comparison. Other reactionary lures such as spinnerbaits also work well with medium action styles. The reason I like these rods in particular, is because the slower action will not pull whatever lure you are using out of the fish’s mouth until after it has fully swallowed the lure. The action of the shaft that you use should correlate closely with the type of lure you plan on using.
Taper: The taper of your rod is directly correlated with the bend, and therefore the action. It describes how thick the blank is and where the material thins out.
Power: The power of your fishing rod is very closely related to the strength of the fishing line that you use. The heavier the it is, the heavier the line that you can use. This is a major factor when deep sea fishing, but minor when inland fishing. It is very important that when you purchase your fishing line, that the test is within the limits that your fishing pole is able to handle. Heavy lines can easily snap the lighter models, and heavier rods can easily snap light lines.
Responsiveness: This is relative to the flex of the blank, and its ability to unload the stored energy during the cast. Think of it as like a slingshot. There is a strong correlation between the type of material that the rod is made out of, and the quality of its responsiveness. In general when the material is the same however, the heavier models are less responsive. Simple physics.
Modulus: This refers to the stiffness of a graphite rod(and not one made of fiberglass!). Many people purchase these specifically based on its modulus, thinking it can be used for light or heavy actions. However, you should also ensure that it is properly constructed for best performance. Generally the stiffer the modulus, the more power behind each cast, but the less responsive it is.
Guides: This refers to the area of the blank which your line rests on. Most of the guides that you see today for bass rods feature a frame made out of metal, and a ceramic ring which the fishing line rests on. The best kind of guides are made of silicon carbide(SiC), which offers an extremely smooth surface and a minimum amount of friction, which translates to longer casts and less heat on the fishing line.
Another material which is often used in the construction of guides is alconite, and is popular because it costs less than silicon carbide; although you may opt for other materials such as aluminum oxide, ceramic, Hialoy, and Hardloy. As a rule, the more guides, generally the more expensive the rod.
Cork: Refers to the grip of the rod. If you want to be able to control your rod and handle or pick up the delicate vibrations which are given off from a fish picking at your line, than you will need a nice cork. In general, the more expensive rods have the best corks.
Reel Seats: This is what attaches the reel onto the rod. As a matter of preference, I like graphite seats that allow me to feel the blank, so I can pick up the vibrations. Cheaper rods don’t include plastic cushions inside of the metal hoods. This is bad because this can cause your seats to rust and stain and bind up, so make sure your seats include these.
Graphite Versus Fiberglass
Graphite use to be the material of choice, but fiberglass has come a long way, and they are now preferred for specific types of fishing. There are even some rods which are created using both materials. Fiberglass materials are best used when you need a slow action and are throwing crankbaits and other trailing lures, I use a fiberglass rod when using my crankbait.
Graphite rods are the most common type of rod used, and they were introduced in the 70’s. They come in varying degrees of tensile strength(or modulus). The process of creating a graphite rod requires several very expensive steps to be taken, the cheaper the rod generally means that not all of the steps took place, making an inferior rod. The process involves heating the rod to over 3000 degrees, and is a two part process which changes its tensile strength and stiffness.