How to Choose The Right Fishing Rod?

Written by Patrick in Fishing
Image Credits: Pixabay.com

Fishing is one of the most sought after pastimes for all types of outdoor enthusiasts alike. There is no surprise that you might already be thinking about planning a fishing trip for yourself. The most important factor to consider before you go, though, is how you can choose the perfect fishing rod for your endeavors.

How to choose the right fishing rod? Look at what will make a rod effective for you, decide how much you can spend, then learn where to look.

While choosing a fishing rod for the first time can seem like a daunting task, you shouldn’t let it intimidate you. In fact, there is a fool-proof process that you can go through in order to make the best decision for your initial trip.

This article contains information on the terminology you’ll need to know when you shop for a rod, where to shop and how to save, as well as some things to remember when you go out on the water. After reading through all of these tips, you’ll be on your way to kissing your first catch in no time!

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How to Choose The Right Fishing Rod [Beginners Guide]

When it comes to choosing a fishing rod as a beginner, there are a number of factors to consider before you can make your final purchase.

Overview of Important Factors When Choosing a Fishing Rod

Factors To Consider: 

Why It Is Important:

Where You Will Be Fishing

Different water conditions call for specific rods (ie freshwater, saltwater, etc.)

Species of Fish You Want to Go After

Each type of fish might require a different type of rod, quality/strength, or kind of bait, and more. 

Size of Your Rod 

The size of your rod must fit your body perfectly for comfort and ease of use 

» Considering a New Fishing Rod? Have a Look at the Rods at Amazon, Click here!

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Fishing Rod

Choosing a fishing rod begins with a few essential choices, including the location of your choice and the species of fish you intend on catching.

In addition to the basic question that you should ask yourself when making this initial decision, you should make sure that the size of the specific rod is just right for you. All in all, these questions will give you the information you need to head to the store.

Factor #1: Where Do You Want to Fish?

First, figure out where you want to fish. As a beginner, it’s nice to find an especially well-stocked body of water.

To be more specific, some parks stock fish in ponds that are for anyone to fish in. Beginners often like these, because you’ll get a catch quicker and more easily.

Not only does this build momentum and keep you excited and engaged, it also means you’ll do the process of baiting and casting more often to get lots of good practice. Repetition is key, and this will help up your overall fishing game faster.

Public lakes, rivers, and ponds usually have lots of different types of fish, so you’re more likely to come home with something good.

Fish will be closer to shore in the spring and fall, and in deeper water during summer—so the warmer it is outside, the deeper you’ll want to go.

Factor #2: What Type of Fish Do You Want to Catch?

Once you’ve settled on a location, you must then decide what type of fish you want to catch. Some of us may have a variety in mind that we love to eat, and if this is the case, sounds like your decision is made for you!

If not, you can also consider species based on how easy they’ll be to reel in. Bass, crappies, sunfish, bluegills, and catfish are good starters depending on where you’re located and what types of fish live there.

You should be able to find out which fish live near you online or by checking with your parks department.

You could also simply ask around at sporting goods stores, angling or tackle shops, marinas, or even around the campgrounds or beach. This will help give you tips on best locations, too, straight from the mouths of other locals.

Now that you know where and what variety you’re after, you can do more targeted research on how to be successful in your goal. Included in that research should be the type of rod and bait other anglers are using for that type of fish in that type of habitat.

Factor #3: What Size of Rod Will You Need?

The location of your choice and the targeted species of fish will also help you to figure out what specific type of rod that you should be purchasing for your first trip. Once you have a clear direction on where you are headed in this aspect, you will be able to get a little bit more detailed in your search.

Knowing which type of rod to get is one thing, but you must also choose the right size before you buy. When you are at the sporting goods or fishing store, you should make sure that the rod actually fits you, and that it will be comfortable while you are out on the water.

The last thing that you want is to grab the wrong size and be struggling even more on your first trip! The associates at the store of your choice can help you find the correct rod, in order to avoid these technical difficulties.

This is why it is most ideal to go shopping for your first fishing rod in store, so that you can get helpful tips and assistance from the experts.

To tie up this section, we will be outlining a simple step-by-step process that will help you to find the perfect fishing rod for all of your outdoor adventuring needs. Take a look at the list down below to get some insight on this topic.

Finding the Perfect Fishing Rod Step-by-Step

  1. Choose the correct length
  2. Pick the weight/strength of your rod
  3. Examine the action of the rod to help you make your decision
  4. Choose the right material for your needs
  5. Pick the reel that you will be using
  6. Make sure the fishing rod of your choice is of utmost quality
  7. Consider your price range before completing the transaction

Step #1: Choose the Proper Length

The first step in finding the perfect fishing rod is to choose the correct length, which was mentioned earlier on in this section. This is one of the most important factors, as stated, because you need to be able to maneuver the rod while remaining comfortable during your trip.

Step #2: Choose the Proper Weight and Strength

Next, pick the weight and strength of your rod. These two credentials go hand in hand, because the weight of the rod itself will let you know exactly how big of a fish it will be able to pull up.

Step #3: Examine the Action of the Rod

Examine the action of the rod next, to help you make your decision. The action is basically how your rod moves while you are using it. Is it more firm or does it bend when a fish is on the line?

Step #4: Choose the Right Material for Your Needs

Choosing the correct material for your needs is another important factor that is often overlooked. Some of the most common types of rods that you might be able to choose from include fiberglass, graphite, or both.

While this might seem like something that doesn’t really matter, there are a lot of things that can be affected by what your fishing rod is made out of. To be more specific, graphite rods take on a stiff texture, and they are very sensitive to movements.

Fiberglass, on the other hand, usually has a much larger mass, with a bendable texture. These types of rods are not easily broken, and are more cost-effective than graphite as well.

Step #5: Decide What Reel to Use

The next critical choice that you will need to make before you can purchase your ideal fishing rod is the reel that you will be using. The two most common types of reels are spinning and casting reels.

The main difference between spinning and casting reels is the level of control that the fisher has with each.

Spinning reels are much easier to use, and are ideal for the beginner. When using one of these reels, you will not be able to control exactly what your line does and where it goes. However, it is very simple to reel in one of these lines and cast them as well, without any prior experience with fishing.

Casting reels, on the other hand, are more expert-level. You can have full control of your line when you use one of these, but you must also be very experienced in the craft in order to be successful at it.

Steps #6 and #7: Make a Choice of Good Quality and Consider the Price

In addition to making sure that the fishing rod of your choice is up to quality standards, you will need to also consider the price that you will pay to acquire it. Think about your budget and what you are willing to spend when you are making the choice between one or more fishing rods.

So, after making the essential beginning decisions, you can look at what makes a good rod so you’ll know which one to choose when the time comes. Keep reading on to the next section to discover what makes a great fishing rod.

Characteristics of a Quality Fishing Rod

In addition to just being able to choose the correct size and type of fishing rod for your first adventure, you will need to look out for a few tell-tale signs that will tell you whether or not the rod of your choice is quality.

In other words, it is one thing to find the most ideal rod, but finding a rod of utmost quality is an entirely different conversation.

A List of Characteristics to Consider

  • Strength and flexibility
  • Action
  • Style
  • Length

Strength and Flexibility

The first item to think about is the strength and flexibility of the rod. A strong rod allows you to use heavier baits and lures, and can withstand a wrestle with that huge catch if need be.

A flexible rod, on the other hand, is more sensitive to the tentative tug of a fish on your line, and you’ll notice a nibble faster, so can respond right away.

A high-quality rod strikes the perfect balance between the two factors. We’d all love a rod that is maximally strong and flexible at the same time, but the laws of physics haven’t allowed for this yet. Instead, you’ll have to choose what makes the most sense for you and your individual fishing needs.

Action

With that being said, let’s think about your rod’s action. This refers to how quickly and how high up on the pole the bend begins when a fish pulls.

Small fish are most easily caught with ultra light rods that bend sooner. The bass or walleye will require a medium to medium heavy. Catfish and salmon will need the medium heavy to heavy varieties.

Style

Now, about the style of rod. Perhaps the most common types of fishing rods are spinning and casting rods. These rods are both made from similar materials and usually come in similar lengths.

One key difference is the position of the reels. On a spinning rod, the reel hangs just below; on a casting rod, it sits on top. Either is a good bet for your sports fish: bass, trout, pike, and walleye would all fall into this category. Although these rods are meant for the same purpose, they work differently.

In the spinning type, the reel hangs just below the rod. You’ll maneuver it with your dominant hand while your other hand stays on the handle. When you get that first bite, the spinning rod will bend to accommodate the force on the line. You can quickly reel in without worrying too much about tangling the line.

Even with its various types and sizes, many people find it to be a very intuitive mechanism, which will work in your favor if you’re a novice.

By contrast, the casting rod (bait-casting and closed-spin casting) has the reel sitting on top. When a fish pulls, the rod bends over with the eyelets taking an upward position, which feels counterintuitive to some.

The performance, though, is typically better with a casting rod than a spinning rod—assuming, of course, that you understand how to use it correctly. You’ll want a casting rod if you’re going to be tossing heavier artificial baits, plugs, and jigs.

The rod/reel combo is key here, as well: match spinning rod to spinning reel, casting rod to casting reel, rather than mixing and matching.

Most stores will sell you these pieces together as a kit, sometimes with the rigs spooled and all set up for you. If not, check with a salesperson to make sure you’ve got the right match of equipment.

Length

Next, how about the length? The longer rods (more than 8 long) will allow you to cast farther and more easily and will likely be more sensitive. Use these if you’re going to be on an open lake, for instance, that will necessitate casting farther out.

If you’re along the side of a creek surrounded by trees, though, a longer rod will likely just get in your way. In these cases, you might benefit more from a shorter rod (less than 8 feet).

If you aren’t ready to commit to a specific type of habitat, or think you’ll switch back and forth, then the 7-to-8-footer is a good choice for you.

But overall, the most effective way to find a “really good” rod is actually to determine what is most important to you, and choose a rod accordingly.

Characteristics of a Quality Fishing Rod

In addition to just being able to choose the correct size and type of fishing rod for your first adventure, you will need to look out for a few tell-tale signs that will tell you whether or not the rod of your choice is quality.

In other words, it is one thing to find the most ideal rod, but finding a rod of utmost quality is an entirely different conversation.

A List of Characteristics to Consider

  • Strength and flexibility
  • Action
  • Style
  • Length

Strength and Flexibility

The first item to think about is the strength and flexibility of the rod. A strong rod allows you to use heavier baits and lures, and can withstand a wrestle with that huge catch if need be.

A flexible rod, on the other hand, is more sensitive to the tentative tug of a fish on your line, and you’ll notice a nibble faster, so can respond right away.

A high-quality rod strikes the perfect balance between the two factors. We’d all love a rod that is maximally strong and flexible at the same time, but the laws of physics haven’t allowed for this yet. Instead, you’ll have to choose what makes the most sense for you and your individual fishing needs.

Action

With that being said, let’s think about your rod’s action. This refers to how quickly and how high up on the pole the bend begins when a fish pulls.

Small fish are most easily caught with ultra light rods that bend sooner. The bass or walleye will require a medium to medium heavy. Catfish and salmon will need the medium heavy to heavy varieties.

Style

Now, about the style of rod. Perhaps the most common types of fishing rods are spinning and casting rods. These rods are both made from similar materials and usually come in similar lengths.

One key difference is the position of the reels. On a spinning rod, the reel hangs just below; on a casting rod, it sits on top. Either is a good bet for your sports fish: bass, trout, pike, and walleye would all fall into this category. Although these rods are meant for the same purpose, they work differently.

In the spinning type, the reel hangs just below the rod. You’ll maneuver it with your dominant hand while your other hand stays on the handle. When you get that first bite, the spinning rod will bend to accommodate the force on the line. You can quickly reel in without worrying too much about tangling the line.

Even with its various types and sizes, many people find it to be a very intuitive mechanism, which will work in your favor if you’re a novice.

By contrast, the casting rod (bait-casting and closed-spin casting) has the reel sitting on top. When a fish pulls, the rod bends over with the eyelets taking an upward position, which feels counterintuitive to some.

The performance, though, is typically better with a casting rod than a spinning rod—assuming, of course, that you understand how to use it correctly. You’ll want a casting rod if you’re going to be tossing heavier artificial baits, plugs, and jigs.

The rod/reel combo is key here, as well: match spinning rod to spinning reel, casting rod to casting reel, rather than mixing and matching.

Most stores will sell you these pieces together as a kit, sometimes with the rigs spooled and all set up for you. If not, check with a salesperson to make sure you’ve got the right match of equipment.

Length

Next, how about the length? The longer rods (more than 8 long) will allow you to cast farther and more easily and will likely be more sensitive. Use these if you’re going to be on an open lake, for instance, that will necessitate casting farther out.

If you’re along the side of a creek surrounded by trees, though, a longer rod will likely just get in your way. In these cases, you might benefit more from a shorter rod (less than 8 feet).

If you aren’t ready to commit to a specific type of habitat, or think you’ll switch back and forth, then the 7-to-8-footer is a good choice for you.

But overall, the most effective way to find a “really good” rod is actually to determine what is most important to you, and choose a rod accordingly.

The Best Places to Find Your Perfect Fishing Rod

As with any purchase, you have options for different ways to pursue it. The best place to find it will depend on you, your location, and your general preferences.

Types of Places to Buy Fishing Rods

  • In-person at a sporting goods store
  • In-person at a major general retailer
  • Online at a webshop like Amazon - Find it here!

In Person at a Sporting Goods Store

Your local tackle shop or sporting goods store offers some natural advantages. You’re a lot more likely to get knowledgeable staff helping you with your purchase here than at a big retailer.

These types of stores tend to like to hire people in their fishing department who actually fish themselves.

Also, you’ll probably have a wider variety of options and more specialized options, as the purchaser for the department is likely also better-equipped with fishing knowledge. One drawback is that you may pay a bit more here.

In Person at a Major General Retailer

A major general retailer is good for the novice fisher who just wants to grab some quick equipment and go fishing.

There will be less options, but this could even work in your favor, as it’s a lot less overwhelming to choose from three types of rods versus two dozen types.

You want the entire fishing experience—including shopping for equipment—to be enjoyable. You may save some money by going this route, too.

But you’ll want to remember that the clerks at these types of establishments may not be fishers, and may not know the answers to your nuanced questions.

Online Shopping

Online shopping can hold advantages for those grab-and-go types as well as for the avid researchers among us. 

A Comparison of Specific Places to Buy Your Perfect Fishing Rod

This article has already equipped you with much of the basic information you’ll need to choose a rod, so when you look at options online, you’ll know what you’re looking at, and can find a good price and get your rod shipped directly to your door.

An advantage for the more research-oriented shopper is that there are countless options to choose from. Obvious disadvantages are the lack of help from salespeople, and the fact that you won’t be able to physically see or buy the rod before committing to it.

Before we move on to the topic of saving money on your fishing rod purchase, we will touch on some of the best retailers where that you can look to in order to find your first fishing rod.

While the information in the list above was helpful in general, you might still need a push in the right direction when it comes to deciding on where to shop. Take a look at the table down below and browse through the retailers and their perks to get some ideas.


Wide Range of Fishing Rod Options?

Buy Online?

Buy In-Store?

Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store?

Sale Options?

Amazon - Click here

Absolutely

Yes

No

No

Yes

Cabela's

Absolutely

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Big 5 Sporting Goods

Sort-of

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

DICK's Sporting Goods

Sort-of

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

FishUSA

Absolutely

Yes

In Certain Areas

In Certain Areas

Yes

TackleWarehouse

Not as Much

Yes

No

No

Yes

TackleDirect

Absolutely

Yes

One Location

No

Yes

Bass Pro Shops

Absolutely

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

There are plenty more great places to find fishing rods, but the above listed retailers will help to get you started.

In addition to the online stores that were mentioned, you might be able to find some valuable stock on the websites of the brick and mortar retailers that we began with.

How To Save Money on Your Fishing Rod Purchase

Money is almost certainly going to be one of your deciding factors when making your rod purchase, so you’ll want to identify your spending range before you get yourself excited over that specialized, professional-style rod.

Tips for Saving Money on Your Fishing Rod Purchase

  • Search for rods in your set price range
  • Wait for sales in stores (peak fishing dates)
  • Find internet/printable coupons
  • Conduct a detailed search for fishing gear coupons/deals

Search for Rods in Your Price Range

It may be a good idea to search through the most popular rods online or browse the entire aisle of the store you’re shopping in, read all the price tags, and orient yourself to the cost range offered. Then you can decide where you fall in that range.

Wait for Sales

One way to save money is, of course, to wait for a good sale. Stores that specialize in sporting goods will know the weekends of the year when people are most likely to shop for fishing gear: the opening of the season, free fishing weekend, other peak fishing dates. These businesses often plan for those dates with a sale on gear.

Find Coupons

The internet has some good coupons out there, too, that you can either use online or print off at the store. Manufacturers want you to buy their equipment, and they’re willing to give you a better deal on it if it means you’ll choose one of their models.

Conduct an In-Depth Search

Simply typing “coupons for fishing gear” into your favorite search engine can usually produce some good results, along with queries like “fishing gear deals” or “fishing poles on sale/clearance”.

Fishing Tips For The Absolute Beginner

With all of the helpful tips that were outlined throughout the beginning sections of this article, you are almost all set to go on your first fishing trip. However, before you do that, there are some additional tips that you should consider, for the absolute beginner.

You’ve done your research on where to fish and what species to target, so now you’re ready to go!

Fishing is part a physical sport, as well as a mental one. There are a few other things you can remember to keep your mindset straight while you are out on the water, which are all listed down below.

A Look at Fishing Tips for the Absolute Beginner

  • Stay within your means
  • Respect nature
  • Set reasonable expectations
  • Feel confident
  • Think of yourself as a fisherman/fisherwoman

Stay Within Your Means

As with any other pursuit, remember there are plenty of flashy varieties of gear. If it seems like it’s meant to appeal to the fisher more than to the fish, that’s probably a good time to re-set things and keep it simple.

Don’t be afraid to tell sales clerks what your budget is, and enlist their help in staying within it. You always want the best equipment you can afford, and it’s definitely true that certain equipment makes it easier to catch fish. But even so, there’s no magic tackle that will outweigh practice.

Respect Nature

When you’re out interacting with the natural world, practice conversation and good environmentalism whenever possible. A good fisher respects and protects natural resources to keep fish swimming for the next angler.

This means paying attention to where you stand or sit; for instance, avoid trampling on nearby plants. Don’t leave any packaging or containers behind, especially plastic.

Fishing line can really hurt other wildlife like birds, so dispose of it properly when you leave. Also, if your local government has catch and release policies requiring you to keep or put back certain fish, there’s probably an ecological reason—it's a good idea to read up on this for your area or talk to a park ranger if you have questions.

Set Reasonable Expectations

Don’t go out and expect to take home the trophy fish on your first try. Like anything, fishing takes practice and time. Rather than simply focusing on outcomes, like the number of fish you want or the size of the biggest, consider making goals that you have direct control over.

Setting the expectation that you’ll begin by learning to casting, how to bait your hook, and practice responding when you feel the tug of a fish. Things like this make success more about the journey than about the destination. Once you feel more comfortable

Stay Confident

This may seem in contrast to the previous tip, but they really go hand in hand. If your expectations are realistic, you can be more confident in anticipating success. Strategies like visualizing the strike of the fish sets you up to be ready to react quickly when it does happen.

Think of Yourself as a Real Fisherman or Fisherwoman

Finally, start thinking of yourself as a fisherman or fisherwoman—which is, by definition, someone who fishes. There’s no minimum number of catches you have to score, or skills you have to master, before “becoming” a fisher.

There are certainly different types of fishers, including some who are novices and some who are more experienced, by all are fishers. If you’re choosing to bring your newly unwrapped tackle to the water’s edge, you belong as much as the professional angler down the way.

You can be humble, admitting you have a lot to learn, while also feeling a sense of belonging in the fishing community. We promise, we’re happy to have you!

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Author Bio
Patrick Author BonfireBob

My name is Patrick, and I am the main Author and owner of BonfireBob.com

I live in a smaller town, very close to a bigger city and I love the Outdoors!

BonfireBob is my outlet, and my escape from the every day lives. I write about fishing, hiking, climbing, gear, camping and much more, enjoy!

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