Put thought into selecting your fishing rod

Published 3:48 pm Sunday, March 18, 2001

Outdoors Columnist
I still have a vivid memory of my first rod and reel, purchased at the local hardware store with money earned from cutting grass and pruning shrubbery. The rod came with a reel that for every minute spent casting; I had to allow two minutes for untangling backlashes. The solid fiberglass rod was so stiff I could probably have gotten just as much action if I had duct taped the reel to my grandfathers walking stick and attached guides.
Modern technology has greatly improved the rods available to today's fishermen. There are so many choices that a little knowledge is needed to pick the right one for a particular type of fishing.
The solid fiberglass rods can still be found, but the trend for the last several years has been to the graphite and graphite composite rods. These rods are lighter and are more sensitive, offering better "feel" when retrieving lures or landing a fish. Graphite rods are more fragile though, and won't survive the car door slamming on it like the nearly indestructible fiberglass rods.
Two primary considerations when selecting a rod are action and length. A rods action is determined by thickness and materials used in construction. A slow action rod means a rod that flexes along the length of the rod. They cast accurately, but often are not ridged enough for a good hook set on larger fish. Medium-action rods bend only in the tip half of the rod. They offer a good compromise of casting accurately and are stiff enough for setting the hook. Fast-action rods flex in the upper third of the tip end. They have the best hook setting ability, but do not cast as accurately. They are also less sensitive during retrieval.
When purchasing a rod, check to see what weight lures the rod is rated for. This will usually be listed on the large end of the rod near the handgrip. A rod that lists a weight of 1/2 to1ounce will usually handle a lure 1/4 ounce lighter or heavier with good results.
The length rod needed is dictated by the species of fish an angler is after and where he fishes. Open water fishing with no casting obstructions calls for a longer rod, as they generally cast better. I once saw a surf fisherman fishing with the longest rod I've ever seen. I think he was a land surveyor and had attached a reel to one of his telescoping range rods.
Fishing in small streams from a boat or over-grown bank may require a short rod to avoid hitting limbs as you cast. An old friend of mine, Joe Fail, developed his own version of the ideal "river rod." He cut a long fiberglass rod off at the but end and tip end until he got the right action in a short rod. It wasn't computer designed, but he caught thousands of bass from the small rivers he liked to fish.

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