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How To Buy Freshwater Rods

Finding a good fishing rod starts with three basic considerations: your experience, your preferred way of fishing and the type of fish you are after. You then have a choice of several styles of rods to get the job done.

How to buy freshwater rods


There are two main types of rods--baitcasting and spinning. The type of rod you buy depends as much on the reel you buy as the type of fishing that you plan to do.

  • Baitcasting rods
    • The reel and line are seated on top of the rod
    • A trigger grip lets you hold the rod securely while releasing thethumb bar/line release
    • Spincasting reels generally match up best with baitcasting and casting rods because they sit on top of the rod are are designed to fit this way
  • Spinning rods
    • Spinning rods use a spinning or spincasting reel. These rods have three main differences from casting rods.
      • The reel hangs from the bottom of the reel seat, and the line guides are on the bottom as well
      • The handle length is balanced against the rod's length
      • Triggers are not used on spinning rods

Length and weight

  • This depends of the type of fish that you want to catch
  • Typically, the bigger the fish, the longer the cast so the longer the rod

Lure and line weight

  • The heavier the lure and line, the longer and heavier the pole that you should buy


  • Action describes the way a rod is designed to perform when casting or reeling in a fish
  • It also relates to the lure or bait you need and the strength of the reel that should be used
  • Most manufacturers use terms such as ultra-light, light, medium-heavy or heavy
  • The smaller the fish, the lighter the action that you'll need; the heavier the fish, the heavier the action that you should buy


Most rods today are made from either graphite or fiberglass, or a composition of these two materials.

  • Graphite
    • Graphite has been refined over the years to provide lighter, more flexible rods that give you "sensitivity," a big plus in feeling when a fish begins to nibble on your bait
    • This material is also strong enough to land a larger fish
  • Fiberglass
    • Fiberglass provides more durability than graphite but sacrifices some sensitivity and is heavier than graphite
  • Composites
    • New composite rods give you the best of both graphite and fiberglass--the durability of fiberglass combined with the lightweight, power and sensitivity of graphite


  • Pistol grip
    • A pistol grip is the shortest type of grip
    • It is contored to the shape of your hand with a hook for your index finger
    • This hook helps in casting more accurately
  • Triggerstick
    • A longer triggerstick is used for two-handed, longer casts
  • Materials
    • Materials come in two general styles - cork or EVA foam
      • Cork is a traditional material that has a good feel and solid grip
      • EVA foam offers more durability because it is more resistant to temperature changes and water wear
  • Guides
    • Line guides can be made of plastic, metal or ceramic, listed from least to best quality. These circles are positioned to the rod's shaft to control fishing line.
    • In casting rods, line guides are positioned on top of the rod. They are smaller to reduce the play in the line and allow for easier casting and quicker retrieve.
    • Spinning rods place the line guides on the rod's bottom. These guides get larger toward the base of the rod.
    • The number of line guides is determined by the rod's length

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How to buy combos

  • If you are new to fishing, combos are a great way to start because manufacturers match the right reel with the right rod. They usually even put the right line on the reel for you.
  • All you need to do is determine the type of fishing that you want to do and then find the combo that best suits your needs
  • Like anything else, the more features in a combo, as well as the more quality components, the more you will pay. A good combo, though, can provide a lifetime of fun.

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