Rods are classified by two factors: the range of lure weights, and the amount of flex in the rod when it is loaded with the lure.
Rod lengths give you the preferred casting action
The rod weight indicates its strength. There are seven fundamental categories of rod weights: ultra light, light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, heavy, and extra heavy. To choose the right Fishing Rod weight you can use this rule: the right Fishing Rod's weight depends on how big and/or how heavy the lure you'll be using, and/or how big the fish you wish to catch is. The bigger the fish and/or the bigger or heavier the lure, the heavier the Fishing Rod you need. So a heavy action rod would probably have a lure weight range from 1oz and up, while an Ultra-Light may have a lure range from 1/32 oz and up to approximately 1/8oz.
The Rod Action classifies the amount of the rod that flexes when it is loaded with a lure. The general designations are Slow, Medium, Fast, and Extra-Fast.
Slow action rods flex across the whole length of the rod up to the grips. Medium action rods bend over around the upper half of the rod, Fast action rods flex over about one-third of tip, and Extra-Fast rods bend over only about one-fourth of the tip. Each type of action has its application and different people may use different actions for the same purpose.
The weight of the rod relates to the relative strength of the rod all things being equal. A heavy rod is capable of handling heavy lures and it is heavy. A light rod handles small lures, and it is light. A heavy rod is more tiring to use than a lighter rod. You can move fish out of cover with a heavy rod. You can flip baits with a light rod all day. The weight of the rod determines optimal line strength, a heavier rod handling higher line, a lighter rod handling lighter line. You're going to be able to cast a light lure best with a light rod with slow rod action, and if you use a heavy rod with fast rod action that crappie jig will fall far beside you.
If you are jigging, or Texas-rigging you would prefer to use an Extra-Fast tip for the sensitivity. If you are mojo-rigging you would prefer a fast action because it allows the fish to load the rod before setting the hook. If you are a Steelhead fisherman the "Noodle" type rods with a slow action would be considered. They allow the fisherman to use lighter line while fishing because the rod help mitigate the load on the line. However, the slower the action of the rod, the harder it is to get a good hookset because less force is applied directly to the fish.
When you are using crankbaits, you are always casting, and you wish to have as long casts as possible. In order than you can feel accurately what the crankbait is hitting you would want sensitivity. Also you want a reasonable amount of backbone in the rod to set hooks, but you want flex to the rod to keep the treble hooks from pulling out. It means you want to use a medium weight, medium action rod.
Fishing worms or jigs, you want sensitivity in the rod tip to feel fish beating the bait, and you don't want a lot of rod flex because you are pulling a fish out of cover when fishing works, or potentially from deep when jigging. But you will be holding the rod tip up for significant periods of time, means you need a very light rod, you want to use a medium weight, fast action rod.
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A rod is usually also classified by the optimal weight of fishing line or in the case of fly rods, fly line the rod should handle. Fishing line weight is described in pounds of tensile force before the line parts. Line weight for a rod is expressed as a range that the rod is designed to support. Fly rod weights are typically expressed as a number from 1 to 12, written as "7wt” etc. and each weight represents a standard weight in grains for the first 30 feet of the fly line established by the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Association. For example, the first 30' of a 6wt fly line should weigh between 152-168 grains, with the optimal weight being 160 grains. In casting and spinning rods, designations such as "8-15 lb. line" are typical.
A rod's Action and Power may change when line weight is greater or lesser than the rod's specified range. When the line weight used greatly exceeds a rod's specifications a rod may break before the line parts. When the line weight is significantly less than the rod's recommended range the line may part prematurely, as the rod cannot fully flex to accommodate the pull of a given weight fish.
So the next time you have a chance to buy a new rod, consider what rod action and rod weight might fit a fishing condition where you're currently missing a lot of fish. You need to mix the action and the weight in a manner to permit you has the best rod for the fishing condition. Having the right rod for the condition is going to result in more fish hooked.
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The length of the Fishing Rod is also an important factor to consider. Basic physics principles will tell you that a longer Fishing Rod allows you to cast at a greater distance. This also affects your ability to fight against a fish. For instance, a shorter, thicker Fishing Rod will be able to provide better leverage for "pumping" a powerful kind of fish from deeper water.
The shorter rod provides more control and maneuverability, allowing you to flick cast in tight areas much easier. A long-handled rod allows for more casting distance. It covers more open water where long two-handed casts are required. The longer handle also gives you much more power when playing a large fish than a short-handled rod. It allows you to move line quicker. It provides better hook-sets from a distance. It provides a shock-absorber action and also can give you more control on fish during the fight.
Rod length is a personnel preference and the old school was not to use a rod longer than you were tall, but the longer the rod the further you can cast and the less effort is needed to reach that target.
The longer the rod, the greater the mechanical advantage in casting, it allows you to cast further. Bigger rods are used for bigger bait and bigger fish. The bigger the fish, the longer the cast, so the longer the rod should be. A telescoping fishing rod that fits easily in a suitcase or trunk would be great for the traveler who enjoys fishing with a longer rods, longer cast and as a result bigger fish.
A rod's Weight and Length should be matched to the weight of your line. The rod manufacturers determine the best match based on power and stiffness.
Line weights range from 1 to 15. The lower line weights are for smaller fish, the higher line weights are for heavier fish.
Rod length give you the preferred casting action. The longer rods give you more action while shorter rods are geared for tight situations such as narrow streams.
- 1- to 3-weight: Best for Trout or
Sunfish on small to moderate-sized waters, for a delicate presentations with small dry flies and nymph.
- 4- to 6-weight: Very good for Trout,
Smallmouth Bass. A 4-weight is perfect for delicacy and finesse, a 5-weight is for trout whether you want finesse on spring-fed creeks or bigger, wider rivers. A 6-weight works best on big waters or in windy conditions.
- 7- to 8-weight: Excellent for
Smallmouth Bass or light
Salmon fishing. A 7-weight has an extra power needed to land smallmouth bass or steelhead, and bigger trout found in rivers and reservoirs. These weights also work well with bigger flies and bass bugs.
- 9- to 10-weight: Large flies for catching
Pike require a heavier weight line; these weights also work in saltwater for medium-sized fish.
- 11- to 15 weight and up: These heavier weights needed for tarpon, tuna and billfish.
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- Less than 8': Short rods are perfect for fishing in tight areas - narrow streams with overhanging trees or small ponds with lots of brush.
- 8' - 9': These lengths are good fits for
Bass fishing. The longer length will give you more casting range and should improve your line control.
- 9' and Longer: Designed for long casts and better ability to manage line, these longer rods are best for open waters, such as bonefish flats, saltwater bays and big salmon rivers.