Nothing can make you happier than a big fish caught in your bait. The key to starting sport fishing or angling is basically to start with the right technique -Lure Casting or Spinning, Bait fishing, Float fishing, Fly Fishing etc. Depending on the technique you will have to decide the type of gear you will have to collect. The backbone of any fishing gear is the rod and choosing the right one requires understanding its structure and functions . ‘What is the right fishing rod for beginners?’ is a question which appears in every aspiring angler’s mind.
In olden days, fishing rods were made of sticks, bamboo and cane poles. During 2000 BC, fishing rods were made of 6 feet long hazel shoots with a horsehair line that was attached to the tip of the rod with a hook at the end of the line that stayed till it was broken by the fish. Sometimes when the hazel shoot wasn’t available, a flexible wood or reed would be used.
By 1700s fishing rods were getting better using a wide range of material like a deal, ash, and willow whereas, by 1860s, hazel was replaced by lancewood. With time and innovation, rods are now available in materials such as fiberglass, graphite or composites of graphite, boron, and carbon.
The market is filled with various kinds of rods for different types of fishing techniques. This article will focus on understanding the basics of Fishing rod for beginners.
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Fishing Rod for Beginners – The Basics
Fishing Rod Parts :
Blank: It is the shaft along which all the other parts are attached. It can be of different length and thickness depending on the application it is built for. Typically, it is thicker at the base and very thin at the top.
Line guides: These are the rings that run across the length of the rod to the tip. These rings are bigger towards the base and get smaller near the tip. The objective is to keep the line away from the rod for better casting. The rings are made of metal with a ceramic coating to help the line flow through the guides smoothly without any friction ensuring further casts and no wear and tear on the line.
Rod Tip: It is at the top of the rod and is meant to be thin and flexible. The tip of the rod has a different kind of guide call Tip Top. It is the most sensitive part of the rod and the most fragile.
Reel Seat: This is the part that connects the reel and the rod. The reel handle is placed on the reel seat and screwed tightly to keep in place.
Handle: Handle is the part from where you can hold the rod. This is PVC foam or Cork. For lighter application cork is preferred as it is very light and can be used for casting all day along. PVC foam is preferred for heavier application where it can withstand more abuse from fighting bigger fish.
Hook keeper – Not an essential part, and is not found in all rods. The hook keeper is a safety feature that helps to hold the hook at the end of the line, in one place so that it doesn’t swing around while walking
Rod Material :
Carbon fibre or graphite rods : These are light weighted, sensitive and flexible without comprising on strength and power and hence are very popular. The design allows the angler to feel the vibration from the hook when the fish bites through to the fishing rod. It can help you to catch small fish along with the big ones and are highly recommended for deep waters.
Fiberglass rods: Fiberglass rods are tough, weigh more than the graphite rods and are suitable for moderate and heavy action. Normally suited for very heavy offshore fishing.
Fishing Rod for Beginners: Rod Properties (Ratings mentioned on Rods)
Length : Indicated in feet and inches. This affects the casting distance. Longer rods have longer casting distance. The longest rods are Surf Rods which can go upto 14 feet in length and the shortest rods are Ice fishing rods which can be as short 2 feet in length.
Lure Rating: Measured in ounces (oz) – This shows the range of weight which can be casted by the rod optimally. Casting anything lighter will not be reach the desired place and casting heavier lure risks breaking the rod tip.
Line Rating: Measured in pounds (lb) Usually indicated for monofilament lines. This is the line weight ideally suited for that rod build. This basically states that if the load on the rod goes beyond the indicated rating it can damage the rod.
Power Rating: Indicated as ultra-light(UL), light(L), medium light (ML), medium(M), medium heavy(MH), heavy(H), extra heavy (XH) etc. It is the pressure that has to be applied in order to bend the rod. There are different rod powers for handling different lure weights and sizes.
Light rods are best for catching bait fishes and can bend easily. Heavy rods are useful for deep-sea fishing and need more pressure to bend. For anglers who find it difficult to understand, the power rating is often mentioned on the fishing rod.
Action Rating: Indicated by terms Extra Fast, Fast, Moderate Fast, Moderate and Slow Action refers to the flexibility of the rod; in other words, how much a rod can bend once there is a load on its tip and how fast it can come back to its original position after being bent.
The bend depends on where on the length of the rod it is designed to bend – top, middle or bottom. This affects the casting and sensitivity of the rod. Fast action rods will mostly bend near the tip, moderate action rods bend towards the middle whereas slow action rods will bend down into the butt section.
Slow Action rods are for bait fishing – long casting, powerful handling, more flexibility . Fast, stiff rods are for situations where extra sensitivity is required to detect the fish bite or to control the lure action. Moderate Action for hard striking fish like stripped bass. Also, the rod needs to add to the drag the fish has to fight. Light rods are slower whereas the heavier rods are faster.
The key thing to note is that these combinations if used in the right way can help get the fish in quickly and can be released back with the high survival chance and no damage.
Related: Knowing the basics of Fishing rod for beginners is not enough, you need to know about Fishing Reel Basics for Beginners too!
Types of fishing rods – Spinning vs Baitcasting
Spinning rods are used mostly by amateur anglers who are new to fishing. A key distinguishing feature of the Spinning rod from Baitcasting rods is that the line guides are positioned below and the reel position will face downward.
Spinning rods are very easy to use and are perfect for beginners to get started in angling. They are versatile and can be used for very light fishing when targeting very small fish as well as for heavy fishing while targeting very big fish.
Spinning rods have a problem of line twisting and this leads to weakening the line. Line winding on the spool while reeling can be uneven and will require unspooling and respooling the line regularly.
Baitcasting rods are ideally suited for seasoned anglers as with proper technique they give more power, better line management, casting accuracy and better control of fish. They have to be held like a tennis racket with an upward-looking reel and line guides are facing upwards. The line comes from the Reel and passes through the guides above the rod.
Baitcasting rods are typically on the stronger side than spinning rods. Their line guides are smaller and placed closer to each other. This makes them impart more power than the same rating spinning rod. One key factor is that the line on a bait-casting rod and reel comes off straight, creating greater accuracy when casting.
Another advantage of baitcasting rods is that the line does not twist and hence retains its strength unlike a spinning rod. Seasoned anglers who use baitcasting rod and reel also say that they can control the fish better after the hookup as their palm is able to cup the reel which improves the hold on the rod.
However, the biggest problem with the baitcasting setup has always been of ‘Birds Nest’ or ‘Backlash’. Beginners find it difficult to start with baitcasting with the frequent occurrence of this problem.
Related: You can read more about how to avoid backlashes and how to use a baitcaster properly.
Fishing Rod for Beginners: Tips to choose your first rod
A good rod should be able to place the bait where you want it to be. There are a lot of factors to choosing the right rod. It is always better to consult your friend or a local expert what is suitable for you based on the kind of fishing done in your area. However, in the absence of this help, here are a few tips that will help you:
- Matching the line and reel with the rod is essential.
- Spinning rods are great for light baits and lures.
- Baitcasting rods help in case of artificial baits and jigs.
- Beginners are advised to start with spinning rod setup as it is easier to learn
- Find out the fish type around your area by visiting a nearby fishing pond or lake and talking to some anglers you might see fishing.
- If the fish are small in size then take a Light and Fast Action rod.
- If you are not sure it is better to start with a Medium heavy + Moderate action rod as this is versatile for all kinds for application
- Length between six and half feet to seven and half feet is ideal
- Carbon fibre rods are commonly used now as fibreglass tends to be heavy.
Related: Understand the Fishing Lines basics for beginners to match with with your fishing rod and reel.
Surely by now, you must have a good idea about fishing rods and how to set them up. So, don’t forget to plan your next fishing trip with the right rod. Happy Fishing!
Here is an Infographic on Fishing Rod Properties for you to save and share: