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"Choosing the right Rod, Tips and Terminology"
By Justin Hires


A rod purchase can be a big investment, so follow the steps in this article and I know you’ll make a good purchase.

Whether you’re a beginner, avid weekend angler, or seasoned pro, choosing the right rod is essential. Owning and using the right rod has many, many benefits. If you don’t have or use the right rod; this can lead to many problems. One problem in particular is missed fish strikes. I’ll address these issues a little later.

When I started out as a beginner bass fisherman, I made many mistakes. To start with, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on fishing equipment. Nor, did I think it was important to spend much money purchasing high-end technique specific rods. So I started by purchasing a bunch $25 to $50 rods at Wal-Mart or the local bait shop.

This is all fine and good right?

It is if you plan to go fishing a very limited amount of time per year, or in other words you’re not really serious about bass fishing. But, if you are serious about bass fishing; some changes are in order.

The first thing one should learn is the parts of rod and rod terminology.

Parts of a rod:

Handle End Cap or Butt: Handle, where one holds the rod, usually made of cork or foam. End Cap or Butt a part that covers the end of the handle.

Reel seat: Where the reel attaches to the rod.

Fore grip: The front of the handle just in front of the reel seat. Usually made of cork, foam or not present. The removal of the fore grip lightens the weight of the rod and provides better sensitivity.

Guides: What the fishing line runs though to connect the line to the rod.

Hook hanger: A place where the hook or lure can be connected or stored to the rod when not in use.

Rod blank: The actual rod; usually made up with some kind of graphite.

Graphite: A type of modulus or ampli-fibers used in the make-up of the rod blank.

Glass composite: A type of modulus, glass combined with graphite in the make-up of the rod blank.

Telescopic and two piece: Telescopic, the rod breaks down by sliding down into the handle to shorten the length and make it’s easier to store the rod when not in use.

Two piece rod; the rod comes apart making it two pieces for easier storage and better travel ability. Most of these rods are referred to as travel rods.

Rod Terminology:

Casting or spinning: Casting is used for bait casting reels. Spinning is for use with a spinning reel.

Length: The length of the rod usually including length of the handle.

Action: The kind of response expected from the rod tip section. Typically this is referred to as fast a quick response, moderate response, or moderate-fast.

Power: The mid section of the rod blank down to the handle. The kind of backbone or muscle expected from the rod blank. Typically this is referred to as light, medium, heavy, med-heavy, and extra heavy.

Sensitivity: The feel of the bait, bottom surface, cover, structure, or fish strike.

Lure weight: The lure size rating recommended for the rod.

Line weight:  The line size rating recommended for the rod.

Titanium guides: The kind of inserts used in the guides. This type is made for use with braided lines, and better cast ability.

Zirconia guides: The kind of inserts used in the guides. This type is made for use with braided lines, better cast ability, and used with lighter guides.

Ceramic guides: The kind of inserts used in the guides. Cheaper kind of guide insert, not suited for braided lines.

The second thing to understand is the importance of having and using the correct rod for a certain bait, technique, or presentation. There are in some instances where one rod can be used for multiple applications. But, do not fall into the thinking that one rod does it all! This is far from the truth, and is where many beginners make a mistake.

Every rod is designed for certain purposes, and the more experience you have using different rods you’ll see the differences.

Decide what kind of bait, technique, or presentation for one rod you plan on using. An example would be a rod to use with spinnerbaits.

The next thing is to do some research before you head to the store and make any rod purchases. Something to remember at this point; you are looking for the type, length and action for a rod. You are not deciding on the manufacture or model just yet; that will come later. Try not to get over anxious, and make an impulse purchase (doing so will almost always end in disaster).

Checkout some rod manufactures websites i.e. , there are lots to choose from. Do a google search to find more listings.

Now days there are a lot of manufactures who offer “Technique Specific” rods, which help take some of the guess work out of finding the correct rod. Ask a close friend what they use. Or, stop by your local sporting goods store and ask to look at some of their rod catalogs they have. While at the store talk with the clerk about the application you plan on using the rod for. Ask the clerk what they suggest as far as type, length and action that would be best. These resources are a very good place to start.

In regards to length of the rod, you’ll want to find one that suits you best according to your height. As an example; for a spinnerbait I use a 6’6” Kistler. I am 5’ 8” so the 6’ 6” is a perfect fit for me. Still using a spinnerbait as an example; If you were planning on fishing 1/8oz to 3/4oz spinnerbaits you most likely would want a rod with a fast action tip, med-heavy power bait caster.

Another thing that will help is to visit website discussion boards i.e. , , . Here you can post questions to other anglers about what you are looking for. This can be very helpful.

Now that you have gotten to this point; it is time to learn the importance of using a sensitive, lightweight high quality rod. There is a huge difference between low quality low cost rods, verses higher cost high quality rods other than the price. The phrase “You get what you pay for” has never been truer when it comes to fishing rods.

The difference between rods is like night and day. With a lighter more sensitive rod you will feel the bottom, cover, structure, lure, and most of all fish strikes much better. Also, with a lighter rod, your arms will be less fatigued after a long day on the water. Many anglers do not realize when the body gets fatigued, the sense of feel diminishes. With a less sensitive, heavier rod you’ll not be able to work the lure properly. This not only adds up to less strikes on a given day, but more missed hook sets too. You’ll also not be able to feel many of the subtle light strikes that all too often go undetected.

It is at this point when you should decide how much you can afford to spend on a rod. It’s in my opinion, a mistake to buy a bunch of mid-grade rods for let’s say $40-$60 each; only to turn around the following year and replace them with high-end rods.

I say this because the money spent on the mid-grade rods is in a way wasted. Selling them is hard to do, and what you do sell them for is pennies on the dollar.

The best thing to do if you can’t afford many of the higher cost rods; is buy one or two high-end rods for your favorite baits or techniques. Use them for awhile perfecting those techniques until you can afford to purchase more down the road.

Ok, now that you have gone thru all these steps it’s time to decide on that first rod.

Ask a friend or go back to the websites mentioned earlier and get opinions from others about rods they use. Remember, to get multiple feedbacks to make a better decision.

I use Kistler, Helium LTA, Graphite Plus, and Helium II rods exclusively. I am very happy with their overall performance! These rods are very sensitive, lightweight, one of a kind hook hanger, flanged ring tips to keep from rings being knocked out, smooth action and comfortable hand/palm fit! Not to mention the “NO Hassle Lifetime Warranty”

What ever rod you decide on, don’t forget to checkout the warranty policies that go along with the rod! It’s a good investment to purchase a rod that has a good lifetime warranty!

Lastly, go to your local sporting goods store and checkout the rods first hand to make your final decision.

If this article was helpful to you, please shoot me an email and let me know. I would be glad to hear from you.

Good luck with your rod purchase, and good luck fishing!

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