Picking The Right Rod Size

When it comes to fishing rods, there are a million different combinations to pick from as well as brands, so everyone I talk to asks, “what size fishing rod should I use?”. That question is easily answered. Well, It just depends. Yes, I know that is open to a ton of interpretation, and it doesn’t really answer the question, but lets try and solve the problem at hand. Maybe you are new to fishing, or have been fishing for a long time, but see everyone out there using different rods and reel combinations, with different lengths, and all sorts of other confusing things, so lets break it down and maybe by the end of this, you will have a good idea of where to start.

Type Of Fish

When it comes to selecting a rod size, it really comes down to this one question: What type of fish do you want to catch?
That answer will automatically narrow down your search and confusion by a huge margin. If you want to go to lakes or ponds and fish for bass, I would suggest a 6 to 7 foot rod that is medium fast action.

If you are going to be fishing for Crappie, Trout, or Bluegill, the smaller fish, I would go with a 5 to 6 foot ultralight rod so you can really feel when a fish is biting. When you get into the heavier fish like Catfish, or Surf fishing, You are going to want a 6 to 8 foot rod with a heavier power and action, so it doesn’t always look like you have a fish on your line because the rod is bent half way over.

The size really will depend on the fish you want to catch, how you want to store it, and where you want to use it. You don’t want to use a 5 foot pole on a monster 20 pound catfish, or you will just snap the rod off. You also do want to use a 6 foot heavy rod, on small trout either, or you could pull the hook right out of its mouth.

catfish in the water

To get you started, I am going to give a few examples that will show you how I started picking my rods, and I hope it will help you. If you have any questions that I can try to help you with, please leave a comment below. Rods come in a variety of different sizes, but they also come in different ways of breaking down, which will also be a factor in your decision. There is three most common types.

The first is a telescoping rod, which breaks down to anywhere between 10 and 18 inches when collapsed. The second is a two piece rod, which is the most common in rods, and that is where the rod breaks down in half and each piece is about 2 1/2 to 3 feet. The third is a one piece pole, and this type doesn’t break down at all, so you have to have somewhere to put it, or you may have a rod sticking out the window of your car.

Casting Distance

When choosing a rod size, it is very important to identify where you want to use it. If you are going to be fishing for bass in a small pond with lots of weeds and trees, then you cant have a 7 to 8 foot rod, or you wouldn’t be able to cast it because you would hit stuff. in a small pond or stream, you aren’t really looking to get out extremely far, so a short 4 to 5 foot rod might be perfect for casting into those little nooks where the big fish are laying.

Shorter rods are also good for kayaks and close quarter areas where you don’t need a huge cast window. When you are out on a boat or big lake where the sky is the limit, a longer 7 to 8 foot rod will allow you to cast farther and really get the bait out where you want it. Since you can cover more distance, you have a better chance of picking up fish further out that right up against the shore line. Longer rods are better for deeper diving baits, or fishing off of a pier. Most people fishing for bass would prefer a longer rod when given the chance because they can cover a lot more water very quickly.

Bend and Stretch

Shorter rods give a lot less bend and stretch in them, so when you are hunting down the bigger fish, you might prefer this. Less bend and stretch means that you wont be bending the tip of your rod over so far that it may snap. Shorter rods tend to be better for trolling because the tip doesn’t bend over as much and doesn’t look like you have a fish on the end of your line.

Even though rods are made of very durable material, there is always the chance of snapping it off when you get something big. I have done it, and so have many anglers I have talked to. Longer rods tend to bend more and also can be better for balancing the pressure when a fish surges or jumps. One thing that really surprised me is that longer rods can actually help newer anglers in mistakes they might make because they pick up more line when setting the hook, so longer rods can give more control to the angler over the fish.

three fishing rod

So that you have some basics on what different size rods are good for and when to use them, I will share with you what I use when fishing in different areas. When I started out fishing as a kid, I would use the normal two piece rod and reel combo bought at any big retailer. There were about 5 feet long, and my dad would basically bait the hook and throw it out there with a bobber. I was born and raised in the mountains of Northern California, so there were lots of lakes, streams, and ponds to fish in, and was mostly going after trout, Crappie and Bass.

When I got older, I kept using the 5 foot rod for lake trout and when I started fishing for bass, things changed a bit. When I would fish in ponds, I would use a 6 foot pole with top water lures, so I could really crank it out to the middle of the pond and have more water coverage. I also would use it with plastic worms and could really have some nice coverage for fishing. In the smaller tucked in parts, I used my 5 foot trout rod and could really get a lighter cast into trees and weeds that were close up on shore.

Final Thoughts

We have covered most of the basics on rod size selection, and it really just depends on where you are going to be fishing, and what you are going to be fishing for. If you are going to smaller areas with not much casting room, I would suggest something smaller than 5 foot 6 inches so that you aren’t getting your line tangled in bushes, or hitting a tree and breaking the tip off.

If you have room to cast, I would suggest something over 6 foot to really crank that bait out there so you have more water to fish. If you are new, and on a budget, try one out that’s under $25.00 and get a feel for a longer rod. When I first started using longer rods, it took a little getting used to, but would not go back unless my surroundings made me. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to get back to you asap.

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