I hate when someone comes up to me and asks me what type of fishing rod should they buy? So many times I feel like screaming at them “how the hell should I know!” its kind of like a complete stranger asking you what food should they eat? Without knowledge of what they like, any allergies and how much they want to spend its very hard to answer this question. Buying a fishing rod is no different but it is very exact depending on your use for it. There are so many choices but this choice may not be all that difficult if you know what you are looking for. Remember that different types of fishing require different types of tackle and you would not use a fishing rod designed for Tuna when you are fishing for Trout. The same goes for the quality of the rod just like the quality of a restaurant, there is a great difference between MacDonald’s and a 5 star restaurant, both are considered meals but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
If you are a beginning fisherman there are quite a few inexpensive choices you can make and most of them won’t break the bank. Pretty much any tackle store or Walmart will have what you need, but if you are a tournament angler or somewhere in between your choices will need to include a few more factors. Do you travel to your fishing grounds? Do you fish from shore, a pier or do you own a boat? Basically, the more often you fish and the type of fishing you do should determine the quality of the rod you purchase. This fishing rod should also fit your fishing style, such as a rod that breaks down into 2 or more sections if you travel, a longer rod if you fish from piers or the surf or one with specialized guides if you troll from a boat. Although there are some rods that can do double duty for several species of fish and are adequate for both fresh and saltwater it is quite often about the experience of the angler that determines how much wiggle room you have with your rod and reel. But this doesn’t mean you can use a tuna stick for trout or visa versa.
Most fishing rods are designed to accommodate either a spinning reel, conventional reel or baitcasting reel and again the choice comes down to what you are planning on fishing for. If you are fishing for crappie on your local lake you may choose a spinning reel and matching rod for this type of fishing, taking into consideration that lighter line will give you a better feel for any bites and working a jig or lure. Match the rod to the reel to the line for the species and water conditions! For large offshore species you may need to sacrifice some sensitivity for a rod with backbone and a reel with a smooth drag and capable of holding a large quantity of quality fishing line. I will say it again and again, the key is to match all the equipment to the target species. Often the equipment used for a great many species will overlap and you can use the same tackle with only minor tweaking. For those on a budget this is an important consideration.So now as you narrow down where you are most likely to fish and what types of fish you are most likely to target, you now need to consider what techniques you enjoy using to fish for them. My brother only uses live bait and I prefer to use artificial lures most of the time so we both have to tailor our tackle to these individual techniques. With live bait he needs a more sensitive rod to feel the bait or fish indicating an imminent strike, while I need a rod that allows me to cast repeatedly and work my lure with maximum action and efficiency.
Most rods will be made out of either fiberglass or graphite. Fiberglass has been the tried and true material but will be a bit thicker in diameter for similar strength and reliability. Graphite is the overwhelming winner when more sensitivity is needed. Fiberglass is probably a bit heavier that graphite but the difference is not so great as to make it a deciding factor. Balance and action are the important factors. Rods are considered to have a fast, moderate-fast, moderate or slow-action, much of the action is dependant more on the taper and construction of the Fishing rod that the material used. A rod that flexes mostly near the tip is said to have an Xtra-Fast taper, while a rod which seems to flex over the entire length of the rod employs a Slow taper.
So now that you have a lot of the information you need to purchase a fishing rod, and keeping in mind that the wonderful people at your local tackle shop or outdoors superstore will be able to guide you in your choice, its time to make a choice. If price and durability is a factor than look towards the less expensive fiberglass, if you need increased sensitivity and can afford it, look into graphite. But again, it really comes down to a balanced outfit and what you are most comfortable with. Many rods will serve your purpose but only a few will really feel like a great fit.