Best Buying Guide for Fishing Rods 2021

If you’re new to fishing, you might be a bit be wildered by the variety of rods available, after all isn’t a rod just a stick? There’s a number of factors you’ll need to take into account when you pick out a fishing rod however. so we’ll break it all down for you easily that you’ll know how to pick the correct rod for whatever your purpose may be.

how to choose the best fishing rod

Types of Fishing Rod

There’s several varieties of rods available on the market, even before you begin to take into consideration the various other factors to keep in mind.

For most fishing applications you’ll find that you want one of the standard two types of rod, either a casting rod or spinning rod. The reel seats are a little bit different on these so there’s no reason not to match them if you’re purchasing all new equipment. While one can presumably fit on the other, you’ll find that this isn’t highly recommended.

There’s also a number of rods available for specialty purposes which are perfectly suited for their individual applications.

  • Surf Rods: If your particular fancy is wading into the ocean and casting out, you may want to look into a specialty rod made for the purpose. While some anglers just use long spinning rods, the fisherman who specializes in this off-shore method will often invest in one of these. They tend to be extremely long, well over ten feet in a lot of cases, and maintain their strength well over this length. This will allow the user to cast beyond the breakers easily and still utilize a heavier tackle set up.

  • Fly Fishing Rods: These rods are exclusively used for fly fishing. These beautiful rods are long and thin, and are specialized in the size of fish they’ll be able to take on. They are sized from #000 which is perfect for small pan fish all the way to #16 rods which are used for much larger saltwater fish. The best of these rods are generally considered to be those made of split bamboo, this specialty rod material requires extensive maintenance however and is often considered to be quite fragile for a rod material.

  • Ice Fishing Rods: Ice fishing involves cutting a hole in the ice and dropping a line into the water beneath. With no casting involved, you’ll find that these rods are often extremely short often falling to almost the two foot mark. However without the need to be cast and within the tight quarters often utilized by ice fishermen, these rods are a great example of adaptation for a specific purpose.

  • Telescoping Rods: While these rods come in both of the main varieties they’re a commonly used rod for people who are hiking or camping. Some fishermen might even keep one in their vehicle, since they’re rarely over eighteen inches when the telescoping segments are collapsed. These compact rods are great if you’re going to be on the move and weight and space is a concern.

The Traits of a Rod

You’ll need to keep in mind the following when you pick out the rod that you’ll be using. After all, a rod which is well suited for your purposes will make the whole job a lot easier. You’ll want to make sure you take a look at the following attributes:

  • Length: the length of your rod will obviously come into play. With a longer rod, you’ll find long casts come a lot more easily, while a shorter one will allow you to fight more easily while you’re reeling in the big ones. For surf fishing purposes, you’ll most likely want to go with a greatly extended rod to allow you to land your cast well beyond the breakers, while a shorter rod is the thing you’ll want when fighting powerful and large fish. Exceptionally long rods can also often be broken down to make for easier storage, which might seem overkill until you realize that surf fishing rods can often extend to more than twelve feet.

  • Action: the action of the rod determines how far down the shaft of the pole it will bend. An ultra-fast action rod might only bend in the first few inches, while a slower action might bend as far down as the last third before reaching your reel seat. A quicker action is desirable for smaller fish like blue gill, while a slower action is the kind of thing you’ll want if your goal is tuna or shark.

  • Power: The power of your pole is intimately linked with the action, in this case it refers directly to how much pressure it will take for the pole to bend. More power on a rod will allow you to use heavier rigs on your cast, while a lower power rod will react quickly and swiftly to the hits of even smaller fish. Despite the link with the action, they are different properties. Power is how easily a rod will bend and action determines how much of the pole will bend.

  • Material: Most modern poles are made of either graphite or fiberglass. The great majority of anglers will prefer graphite rods as they are offer amazing sensitivity, lighter weight and has an amazing amount of strength. Fiberglass is a bit heavier, and some prefer it because the amazing sensitivity of graphite can lead to acting too quickly for an amateur angler. Fiberglass rods can also be lighter on the wallet, which is perfect for the angler on a budget. A lot of rods are also compromised of multiple layers of these different materials, utilizing the best of both for an overall whole which can be greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Reel Seat: In general reel seats will primarily determine what kind of reel you attach to your rod. Generally you’ll want to make sure that there is some sort of plastic insert under the metal, so that your reel can’t get stained with rust or bound into place as time goes on. This really isn’t an issue of much concern provided you’re buying a quality, name-brand rod but definitely take a look if you’re going for a bargain. The rods are usually designed with one of the two major types of reels in place, either spinning or baitcasting, so you’ll want to make sure your equipment matches up.

  • Handle Material: Handles for fishing rods are generally made of either foam or cork, and which one you want to use is pretty much up to which feel you prefer in your hand. The length of the handle can be an important factor, longer ones will generally help out more with heavier bait and farther casts as you can maintain a better grip. If your particular uses happen to have you working with lighter lures and up close, a split grip or pistol grip is an option that you’ll want to consider.

Brand Overviews

There’s a lot of different brands of rod out on the market today, which can add a great deal of confusion for the seeking consumer. Here we’ll give you a little overview of each brand name and their best traits.


  • Penn: Penn is a legendary name among anglers. Penn’s rods also tend to be quite specialized. However, this quality generally comes with a high price tag, the best Penn rods can easily run into multiple hundreds of dollars and the lowest are still not exactly cheap.

  • Shimano: Shimano offers an extensive collection of rods, including some of the best on the market. They are widely considered by many anglers to be the absolute top of the line for rods.

  • Abu Garcia: Abu Garcia offers great rods at great prices, and are an excellent place to look for the beginning angler.

  • Okuma: Okuma makes a lot of great pieces using innovative technology. You’ll find they make rods suitable for fishermen of pretty much any level of experience.

  • Shakespeare: Shakespeare produces one of the most iconic rods of all time, the inappropriately named Ugly Stik. Their rods are absolutely some of the best for any kind of freshwater fishing.

  • St. Croix: St. Croix also offers a great line of rods using exceptional technology and manufacturing techniques. Their wide variety is sure to please any prospective buyer.

  • Daiwa: Daiwa produces some of the best saltwater fishing rods in the world. If you’re going angling in the ocean this brand is definitely worth a second look.

  • Eagle Claw: In addition to their excellent Laser Sharp hooks, Eagle Claw produces high quality rods which are great for pretty much any fisherman.

  • Fenwicks: Fenwicks produces a great line of fishing rods suitable for fresh water fishing. In addition they produce well-engineered ice fishing rods and fly rods.

  • Pflueger: Pflueger rods are great for the entry-level angler, you’ll find their cheap prices make for a high quality and cheap first rod.



When you’re picking out a proper rod, you’ll want to keep in mind that each rod is suited best for a particular purpose. If you’re just beginning to enter into the fishing world it may be best to go with a cheap rod with middling attributes as you get a feel for your rods.

As you grow in experience you’re certain to find your own preferences and you’ll end up tailoring your equipment to get what you need. It is important to understand the technical aspects of your rods however, as this allows you to be able to quantify nebulous qualities which you desire.

Fishing is an addicting activity, and once you’ve made your first rod purchase you’ll be sure to be making more. Picking out the correct rod will allow for smooth entry into angling, which is sure to quickly become one of your favorite past times.

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Hi! I’m Steven!

I am an avid life long fisherman, having caught over 25,000 fish over the years. My life-long passion for fishing began when my father taught me how to fish at the age of ten. I started to share my extensive knowledge of all things fishing.

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