Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rod Selection For The Physically Challenged

This past year I began to explore my options for buying a new fishing rod.  Well, truth be told, I watched one of my favorite Pro's, ran down to a sporting good store and bought what the Pro was using.  Good choice right?  Well...NO! I have missed vast quantities of hook sets and caught 2 stinking fish with that rod.  Who's fault is it - the rods, the Pro's, or my lack of knowledge at the time of purchase? This article will hopefully take away all of the mystery in the world of rods and which one is right for you.

The Pro I was watching was none other than Mark Zona on Zona's Awesome Fishing Show.  He is one of my favorite guys to watch not just because he does give some great tips, but because he is one of the funniest personalities in the Sports and Outdoors TV gig. Zona was flipping weed lines and using a slip-rig.  It is a lot of vertical or almost vertical fishing.  In that scenario, the super stiff rod and heavy line he was using was spot on, and he caught almost every fish that bit.  My problem of missing fish came when I attempted to take a rod like that and use it for all applications.  On top of this, my physical limitation did not help this rod stick a fish at all which I'll explain a little a later in detail.

First let's look at the different rod styles and their applications:

Fishing Rod Characteristics
As you can see in the picture, fishing rods are labeled with language that is based in speed.  This can be confusing to most anglers.  You also notice that the faster the rod is the less it bends in the middle and the more it bends at the tip. This is very important.  The faster (stiffer) the rod is the more feel you have and the better ability to distinguish what your bait is bumping into whether it be rock, moss, tree or fish.  Each rod is really good at their own unique tasks as seen below, and there are all kinds of rods that blend these four basic types:

1.  Extra Fast/Fast - Flipping or vertical cover fishing.  These rods are meant to be used when you need a rod with no give.  It's brute force here.  The majority of the rod is solid backbone and allows an angler to rip a fish from cover and have greater sensitivity.

2. Moderate - Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swim lures, drop-shotting.  These rods are designed to help the angler make long casts.  The action of the rod also aids an angler to drive treble hooks into the tissue instead of ripping the bait out of the fish's mouth.

3.  Slow - Catfishing.  A catfish is caught best by simply reeling up the line and holding tension.  The rod should help a fisherman drive the hook into the corner of the mouth due to it's flex.  It also allows a fisherman to play the fish without breaking the line as often.

So back to my miserable failure.  My logic was if the rod had a fast tip, then that would help me out a lot.  I could use the extra speed.  Not so, in fact it works just the opposite.  The faster the rod tip the more power is needed to drive the hook.  I had taken a fast action rod and was attempting to use it with swim baits and such.  I was missing almost every fish...why?  I was literally pulling the bait out of the fish's mouth or lacked the power to drive the hook and the fish would throw the bait.  Add to the action of the rod the fact that I use braided line which has zero stretch, and it was a wonder that I even caught the two fish that I did. So, I went back and used a rod I had owned forever, I caught almost everything that hit.  The old rod was a moderate to moderate/fast rod.  It gave me enough bend to drive the hook and yet enough strength and stiffness to know when the fish hit and not completely miss it.

So, which is right for someone who is older or disabled in some way?  The strength needed to use an extra fast or fast rod is likely not going to be the best option as I have already illustrated by my failure to connect. The rod is designed a specific way to help you...let it!  Using a good moderate to moderate/fast, depending on your abilities, is likely going to be the best bet.  Trial and error or trial and success may be the only way to know which stick is the best fit for you.  Know yourself.  Know your strengths and limitations and then adjust depending on the type of fishing that you are going to be doing.

Funny, the two fish I caught on that new rod were both right at the bank and it was virtually a vertical hook set...go figure right?

We are pleased to announce our first sponsor -  They have amazing products for hunting, camping, outdoors and leisure with super low prices. Please show your support by shopping with those great people.  Use the coupon code:  HUNT14 for an additional 10% off your purchases.

- Scott Anderson


  1. As an expert freshwater fisherman, I consider the following points to be extremely important when selecting a fishing rod: length of the rod, weight, action, material, and reel. However, I find your guide/experiences to be absolutely informative and resourceful. I recommend this guide to any outdoorsman in need of crucial info on fishing rods. Check out more fishing rods here:

  2. Go for the best quality product possible and research before purchasing one. Wasting money is not something anyone likes, better spend sometimes on research and get the right fishing accessories.