How to Select a Spinning Rod

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Continued from: How To Select A Spinning Reel.

By Jeff Burleson

While the spinning reel choice makes a difference in the fishing experience, the spinning rod choice may be a more important piece of the puzzle to consider. Rods enable anglers to cast lures, work the lures, feel the strike, and retrieve the fish effectively.

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Twenty years ago, rods were sold much simpler than they are today, and there were just a few rod choices available. The spinning rod choices we have today allow anglers to dial in on a specific technique and make it easier to work the lure just right and to feel that elusive bite. And spinning rod choice makes a hefty difference!


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On my trip to Florida, I knew I was going to be fishing for bass in a combination of shallow water, deep water, and in and out of heavy cover. I was going to need something stiff to pull fish out of the thick vegetation and a long spinning rod was going to be crucial to enable me to make extensive casts.

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Rod Prices / Manufacturers

Unlike reels, the higher price of rods doesn’t always directly correlate to a longer life span. Higher priced rods are made out of lighter materials and ancillary components that provide less weight and higher levels of sensitivity. More economic models are consequently heavier and are less sensitive than their higher priced counterparts.

Outside of ultra-light fishing, spinning rods need to be at least 6 ½ foot long and longer rods as long as 7 feet are preferred. Long rods provide the angler greater distance on casts and a better hook set. Beyond rod length, the rod action and power are important characteristics to consider when selecting a rod.

When choosing a rod manufacturer, a quality brand does make a difference. Generic fishing rods on the cheap become disposable and short lived. Choosing a quality rod brand is worth the investment. Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) and St. Croix both provide a wide selection of rods for freshwater and saltwater applications. And while some rod manufactures produce lowered end products, both TFO and St. Croix produce quality rods that are constructed to perform in their specified situations and can last a lifetime.

Function / Action

For my Florida trip, I was going to be throwing top water lures and lightly-weighted soft plastics. But, I needed significant rod power to be able to pull the lunker bass out of the thick, Florida vegetation. I chose a seven-foot, medium heavy action IM-7 rod for throwing lures into the lily pads and peppergrass. Most of my casts wouldn’t be too far and the stiff rod would be sufficient to meet all of my needs.

In other situations, rod action and power are less important and a lighter-action rod would be required. I fish for speckled trout routinely throughout the year throughout North and South Carolina and I often use 1/8th-ounce jigs and ¼-ounce D.O.A. Shrimp routinely. The combination of the lightly-weighted lures and a soft-mouthed trout requires a medium to medium –light rod action. The lighter action rod provides anglers the ability to cast light lures long distances.

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However, anglers can’t always bring a dozen rods to meet every situation for each type of lure and fish type. Luckily, spinning rods are quite versatile and can be set up for a wide range of applications. While some heavy and light action rods can be purchased for specific conditions, a good seven-foot, medium action rod can be used for just about anything.

Materials

Rods are either made of graphite or fiberglass. Typically, the fiberglass rods are heavy and more durable, but aren’t as sensitive and lightweight as the graphite versions. The rods themselves are called blanks and the graphite versions made from IM-6 through IM-10. The IM translates to “Intermedial Modulus” and the higher the number, the more sensitive and the lighter the construction.

Beyond rod power and basic blank construction, the spinning rods come with different types of handles and handle construction. Handles are typically made from either cork or EVA and they can either be a full handle or the split-grip style. These differences in handles are equally functional and are just a personal preference between the two. I personally have always liked the feel of the cork handles and all of my rods with the exception of a few are cork handled spinning rods.

Final Thoughts On Spinning Rods And Reels

Choosing the right spinning rod and reel becomes a personal preference based on budget and what type of fishing the combo will be used for. I routinely purchase new rods every few months when I am trying to hone in on a specific technique or when a new type of spinning rod shows up on the market. And when I find a new rod I like, I always buy another one to have two of the same type. If there is one thing that I have learned over the years, a quality rod and reel will improve your experience and make you a better angler.

Bottom line, the rod and reel must meet these basic criteria: get the lure to the fish, detect the bite, set the hook, and get the fish into the boat. As long as the spinning rod combo falls within the budget of the consumer and meets all of these needs, it’s the perfect fit.

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