How to Choose the Right Fishing Rod

Choosing the right fishing rod can be quite a difficult task if you’re new to the sport. There are many variables that you need to take into consideration when searching for the right fishing rod. For starters, it’s best if you know where you’ll be fishing and what species of fish you will be fishing for. Certain rods will do better in streams, while others are designed for heavy saltwater action. Once you decide where you want to fish and which fish you want to catch, it becomes easier to narrow your choices.

With so many different rod styles to choose from, check out our basic rod buying guide as we walk you through the many options to consider.

Types of Fishing Rods

After you decide where and what you’re fishing for, it’s time to choose the style of your rod. From spinning rods to casting rods and everything in between, there are multiple different types of fishing rods to choose from. Each type of rod has a special use that helps set it apart from the others.

Baitcast Rod PhotoBaitcasting Rods: Good for experienced anglers. Meant to be used with baitcasting reels, which are set up on top of the rod instead of underneath. These rods feature a plastic trigger extension that is designed to give your forefinger better control of the reel spool. Baitcasting rods are typically used in lakes, rivers, streams, and saltwater.

Spinning Rod PhotoSpinning Rods: Great for amateurs or beginner fisherman. Rods are typically shorter in length. With a spinning reel extended away, this rod features large guides to allow your fishing line to remain straight from reel to rod tip. Spinning rods are typically used in lakes, rivers, streams, and saltwater.

Surf Rod PhotoSurf Rods: Rod that is designed to be fished on a beach or in the surf with the idea of casting your lure or bait as far as possible. The longer the rod, the further you can cast. Rods are typically 7 to 18 feet long, and feature an extended butt section designed for placement in a beach rod holder. Very sturdy and intended to be used with heavily-weighted lures. Typically used in saltwater along a beach or off a pier in the surf.

Fly Rod PhotoFly Rods: This rod was designed to cast specialized weighted fishing line. Casting a nearly weightless fly requires unique casting techniques that are much different from any other form of casting. These rods are meant to be paired up with a fly fishing reel, and are usually very thin, lightweight, and flexible. Use fly rods in lakes, rivers, and streams.

Fishing Rod Power and Corresponding Fish Species

Fishing rod power (or weight) is designated to the amount of power/weight it takes to flex the rod. Bigger fish need heavier weights/powers than small fish. Rod powers are based on the rod’s line rating and lure weight.

  • Ultra-Light Power Rods: Ideal for small bait fish and panfish.
  • Light Power Rods: Ideal for panfish, bluegill, small bass, crappie, sunfish, small trout, and shad.
  • Medium-Light Power Rods: Ideal for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, trout, snapper, pompano, permit, porgy, grunt, spadefish, sea trout, bonefish, bowfin, bullhead, snakehead, knifefish, tilapia, pickerel, peacock bass, carp, swamp eel, and mullet.
  • Medium Power Rods: Ideal for largemouth bass, catfish, redfish, mackerel, bluefish, jack, triple tail, snook, sea trout, bonefish, gar, skates & rays, wahoo, and sawfish.
  • Medium-Heavy Power Rods: Ideal for pike, musky, snook, salmon, kingfish, Bonita, cobia, Mahi, amberjack, tarpon, shark, grouper, rays, wahoo, and sawfish.
  • Heavy Power Rods: Ideal for tuna, sturgeon, salmon, tarpon, grouper, and shark.
  • Extra-Heavy Power Rods: Ideal for sailfish, shark, tuna, halibut, marlin, swordfish, sailfish, and longbill spearfish.

Recommended Line Ratings & Lure Weights Per Rod Power

Many rod companies provide their own recommended line ratings and lure weights on the rod blank directly above the handle, but the list below will help give you a general line test and lure weight tolerance range for each type of rod power rating:

  • Ultra-Light: 1-4 lb. test line, 1/64 to 1/16 oz. lures
  • Light: 4-8 lb. test line, 1/32 to 1/8 oz. lures
  • Medium: 4-12 lb. test line, 1/8 to 3/8 oz. lures
  • Medium-Heavy: 8 to 14 lb. test line, 3/16 to 1/2 oz. lures
  • Heavy: 15-25 lb. test line, up to 1-1/2 oz. lures
  • Extra Heavy: 25 lb. test line and above, 1-1/2 oz. lures and above

Rod Action/Speed Types

Fishing Rod Action Diagram
Different Rod Flex Points Based on Action Rating

A rod’s action (or speed) affects the overall casting and retrieval experience. Fast action rods are stiffer and able to pick up the slightest vibrations, while slower-action rods are more flexible and able to maintain proper tension more easily. You can check a rod’s action by touching the rod’s tip end to the floor and gradually applying pressure to see where the rod bends. Another way to test action is to see how fast the tip returns to a straight position when released from a load.

While there is no officially recognized rating system when it comes to rod action, the information below will give you a general idea of what to expect from each rod action type:



Extra-Fast Action Rods: Contains stiffer blanks to transmit vibration better. Super sensitive to detect small nibbles; can be difficult to maintain proper tension. Too much tension can do damage to the fish, too little can cause the fish to throw the bait out of its mouth. Rods generally bend at the top 15-20% of the tip.

Fast Action Rods: Less sensitive than an extra-fast rod blank, but more flexible. Better for fighting fish. Rods generally bend at the first 3rd of the tip.

Moderate to Slow Action Rods: Good for multi-hook and treble hook lures. Best to use with lures that require less sensitivity. Easier to maintain proper tension. Rods generally bend at about half of its total length in the middle.

Rod Blanks & Handles

Rod Blank: The the main part of a fishing rod upon which all other components like rod guides and reel seats are placed. Rod blanks are usually made of graphite or fiberglass.

Rod Handles: A fairly self-explanatory term, a rod handle is the handle that you grip when using a rod. Rod handles are usually made out of cork or EVA Foam.

Since each material has a different effect on each fishing application, it’s important to take a look at what a fishing rod is made of and how this can affect performance.

Rod Blank Materials:

  • Graphite Rod Blank: Highly common for bass fishing rods. Provides good tensile strength and stiffness. Less wobbly and more durable than fiberglass.
  • Fiberglass Rod Blank: Great for medium to slow action applications and less brittle than graphite rods. Ideal for using crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and jerk-baits. Usually more affordable than graphite blanks.

Rod Handle Materials:

  • Cork Rod Handle: Tend to be lighter and less slippery when wet than EVA foam handles. Cork is also more sensitive when transmitting vibrations from fish to fisherman.
  • EVA Foam Rod Handle: Generally cheaper than a cork handle, however much more durable. While low-quality cork handles may crack, dent, or chip, foam handles hold together better and revert to their original shape. Foam handles are also easier to maintain and keep clean.

Have questions?

We’re ready to answer any fishing rod or other product questions that you may have. Just give us a call at 1-844-9-FISHIN or drop us a line on our contact page.

5 thoughts on “How to Choose the Right Fishing Rod

  1. There are a number of factors you’re going to want to consider when selecting a fishing rod. This article discusses a few of the factors you’d want to consider. At , we want to make sure you get the most from your investment in fishing tackle. The less time you spend worried about whether you have the right gear, or struggling with the fishing tackle you have, the more time you can spend enjoying the sport of fishing; and hopefully landing that big one! Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions about your tackle selections. We’d rather take the time to help ensure you’re buying what will work best for you than have you fishing with tackle that will only make the process more difficult.


  2. I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of fishing rods for different types of fishing. After reading through the different options I think I would choose a medium-light power rod just because it seems to be able to handle the largest amount of fish. I think that the more I get into fishing I will be able to differentiate the different kinds of rods. I also think that I am going to start fishing with some friends that know a lot more about the sport than I do.


  3. My wife and I are thinking about buying some new fishing rods and are looking for suggestions. I like that you mention surf rods are designed to throw your line as far as possible. Using this with weighted lures on the beach sounds like an interesting way to catch fish. We’ll have to look for some rods like this. Thanks for sharing!


    1. Thanks Derek! We are happy the article was helpful. If you’re on the market for a good surf rod, check out our surf rods page right here. We have over 80 rods currently in stock and we’re always adding more. If you need a suggestion, feel free to drop us a line via email or phone. We’re happy to help if you need it.


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