Types of Fishing Rods: The Complete Guide
If you’re a fishing novice you might be trying to decide what type of fishing rod you should buy to get started. Depending on the type of fishing you’re going to try, there are many different types of fishing rods to choose from. For example, if you’re going to learn how to fly fish for tarpon you’ll need a very different rod than if you’re planning on going trout fishing. So how do you know which rod to choose? We’re here to help!
In this article, we’ll cover the specific components of a fishing rod as well as differentiate between types of fishing rods and what kind of fishing techniques they are used for. We’ll cover the common types of fish they’re best suited for along with what type of reel you should use with them. We’ll even list our favorites for each and where you can buy them. Get ready to know everything you need to know about the many types of fishing rods on the market today!
If you want to learn more about fishing reels, check out our types of fishing reels article!
The Components of a Fishing Rod
Even though fishing rods may be used in varying techniques, they share basic components across almost all types of rods. We’ll go into each component in detail below, starting from the tip of the rod downward.
The tiptop is the eyelet at the tip of the rod the feeds the line down the other eyelets. It’s often glued or press-fitted on to the end of the rod. Tiptops on smaller rods can be bent or damaged easily and should be handled with care. On larger rods, such as deep-sea fishing rods, the tiptop is much more robust. Sometimes they’re even designed like a pulley to limit the amount of friction that’s applied to the rod and the line.
The rod tip is the very end of the rod that’s the most skinny part of the shaft. Much like the tiptop, the rod tip is delicate and can be damaged easily on smaller rods. Due to extreme flexing when battle fishing, sometimes the rod tip is made out of a different material from the rest of the rod shaft. This is to increase durability and provide sensitivity for tentative fish bites.
The rod eyes are what you thread the line through that then goes out the tiptop. They are usually made of metal (brass or steel). They’re often attached to the rod with fiberglass resin and winding or inserted into the rod then glued tight. Their number and spacing between eyes depend on the type of rod and the quality of the rod. Higher quality rods often have ceramic rings inside their eyes to provide strength and help the line slide through the eyes quicker.
Ferrules are the joints that connect together on rods that are made of multiple pieces. They are often made out of the same material the rod is but in a slightly larger diameter to fit on the other side of the rod. Ferrules come in male and female joints to fit snugly together. Be careful to not bend or jam your ferrules! If they don’t fit you’ll need to get your rod repaired (or replaced).
Often mistaken for an eye, the hook keeper is located at the base of the rod right before the handle starts. The hook keeper is used to store your lure or hook that you’ve threaded through the tiptop. This helps you keep your lure out of the way when in storage and is also easy to unhook for use.
Depending on the type of rod, the reel seat is usually made of metal or hard plastic. The reel seat slides up and down the rod handle and is usually secured with a screw tightener. To attach a reel to your rod, simply unscrew the tightener enough to slide the reel in, then screw it back into place to tighten it. Be sure to check the reel size before trying to add it to your rod! Not all reels fit on all types of rods.
The rod handle is exactly what it sounds like: it’s where you hold onto the rod. Rod handles are usually made out of cork or PVC foam and are shaped into an ergonomic form to help you hold the rod for long periods of time. Sometimes they have an additional bump (like on crankbait rods) that help apply pressure to the rod when casting or setting the hook. Sometimes rod handles slope down at an angle from the rest of the rod (like with deep-sea fishing rods) to provide leverage when battling large fish.
The rod butt is the hard flat end of the rod handle that covers the hollow part of the rod. It’s often made of plastic or rubber and helps you control the rod when casting. It also adds rigidity to the rod and improves its overall strength.
Probably the most common type of rod, spinning rods are great for casting spinning lures long distances. They’re usually built for smaller fish (like trout) in mind, but can definitely be designed for saltwater monsters (like tarpon and snook) too. Their eyes are usually larger which allows for line to flow freely when casting. They also have their reel mounts set up for spinning reels; they’re located on the bottom side of the rod.
Crankbait rods are designed for (you guessed it) crankbait lures! They’re often very flexible to help the crankbait lure action as well as for casting long distances. They often have a bump on the bottom that helps with rod control and setting the hook when you feel a bite. Crankbait rods are usually sized for relatively smaller fish like bass or pike. Crankbait rods are built for baitcasting reels and have their eyes and reel seat on top.
Fly Fishing Rods
Fly fishing rods are longer than normal rods and are built for whipping fly line back and forth. They’re also often more flexible than traditional rods which gives them a sensitivity that’s important for fly fishing. They have a reel seat at the end of the rod handle and can be built for large saltwater as well as small freshwater fish.
Trolling rods are a lot like baitcasting rods but longer and stiffer. They’re designed to catch larger fish that go after trolling setups such as salmon and lake trout. Trolling rods are often longer than spinning and crankbait rods which allows them to flex when a salmon bites down on the lure that’s being trolled. The added flexibility prevents the rod from pulling the lure out of the salmon’s mouth too fast and helps hook the fish. Trolling rods are built for trolling/traditional reels and have their eyes on top.
These are the big boys of fishing rods. They’re the largest in diameter and built for catching the bulkiest of saltwater fish. Many are rated at 1,000 lbs or more and can handle thousands of yards of heavy test fishing line. They often only have several eyes and are shorter than other types of rods. Another feature that is common is having a pulley system instead of traditional eyes. This helps reduce friction on thicker lines and allows the fisherman to put more pressure on pulling the fish out of the depths.
Surf Fishing Rod
Surf fishing rods are very similar to spinning rods except they are even longer in length and have an extra-long handle. This is because they are designed to cast lures far out into the surf away from the shore. The longer handle also allows the fisherman to put their rod in a mounted rod holder and let it sit while they wait for bites. Surf fishing rods are mostly designed for large surf fishing reels and have their eyes on the bottom.
A telescopic rod is usually a light spinning rod that has sections that telescope down for storage. These rods are great for long trips out into the wilderness but are often not built for catching very large fish. Telescoping rods are best stored in a hard tube to prevent their components from bending or breaking inside a backpack.
Ice Fishing Rod
The last rod we wanted to cover is the ice fishing rod. These rods aren’t used very often as many don’t even have a reel seat. They require you to hand retrieve anything that’s hooked on the end. They usually have only two eyes and are short and stubby in length. Instead of buying a dedicated ice fishing rod, we recommend getting a smaller spinning rod that will work just as well.
With so many different types of fishing rods available today, it can be frustrating to know which type to buy. Hopefully, after reading this article, you now know which type of fishing rod is built for the kind of fishing you’re most interested in. Got a favorite type of fishing rod or special type we didn’t cover? Feel free to shoot us a note in the comments below.