The Ultimate Guide to Fishing Rods: 2016 Edition

You’re out on the lake. The early morning sun is beginning to emerge over a row of trees in the distance. A cool, gentle wind is rippling the still surface of the water, causing your boat to gently rock back and forth. Peering into the depths, you can make out the shadowy shapes of fish flitting back and forth.

There’s something primal about fishing. It could well be that the urge to fish is built into our DNA. For centuries, the demands of survival forced humankind to figure out ways to capture and consume fish.

Today, most people view fishing as a chance to relax and engage in a hobby that has nothing to do with a computer screen. For solo anglers, fishing is a meditative experience. For others, fishing is all about spending some quality time with close friends or family members.

If you like to fish, you’re in good company. Fishing is popular sport all over the world. Wherever there is water, you’re likely to find a fisherman. In the United States alone, over 50 million people call themselves anglers.

Man Versus Fish

Though fishing is relaxing, it’s also challenging. Any experienced angler can tell you that fish aren’t stupid creatures. They have a keen sense of smell, lightning quick reflexes and instincts that are hard to fool.

Fish have internal ears that can sense even the tiniest vibrations. Additionally, a unique sensory organ called the lateral line allows fish to detect nearby movement. Their torpedo-like shape allows them to slash through the water with ease. Rugged scales and a layer of protective, slimy mucus helps fish defend against attackers.

Fish have millions of years of evolution on their side. We humans, however, can use our brains– and our fishing gear– to lure them into taking the bait.

Fishing Rod Comparison

The Shimano Solora 2-Piece Spinning Rod

The Shimano Solora 2-Piece Spinning RodFull ReviewView Price

ShakeSpeare Micro Fishing Rod

ShakeSpeare Micro Fishing RodFull ReviewView Price

Eagle Claw Featherlight 5/6 Line Weight Fly Rod

Eagle Claw Featherlight 5/6 Line Weight Fly RodFull ReviewView Price

The Abu Garcia Vendetta Series Casting Rod

The Abu Garcia Vendetta Series Casting RodFull ReviewView Price

Zebco Delta Spincast Fishing Rod and ZD2/ZDC562ML Reel Combo

Zebco Delta Spincast Fishing Rod and ZD2/ZDC562ML Reel ComboFull ReviewView Price

The Berkley Cherrywood HD Casting Rod

The Berkley Cherrywood HD Casting RodFull ReviewView Price

The Anatomy of a Fishing Rod

Fishing is an art.  Your fishing rod is your paintbrush.  Just as painters use a variety of different brushes depending on what it is they want to paint, anglers use a variety of different rods to catch different species of fish.

It’s impossible to fish without a fishing rod– well, unless you use a net.  But where’s the fun in that?

Let’s review some standard fishing rod terminology.

  • Next up is the reel seat. This is where the fishing reel attaches to the rod.

  • Some fishing rods come equipped with a handy little feature called a keeper ring. If you’re moving from one spot to another, you can hang your hook on the keeper ring to keep it from getting tangled.

  • Now that we’re moving past the bottom part of the fishing rod, we can talk about the butt. The butt is the thick part of the fishing rod located just above the handle.

  • Moving on up the rod, the next section we encounter is the handle. A fishing rod’s handle should be comfortable and easy to hold on to.

  • Guides help keep the fishing line aligned with the rod. In general, the more guides you have the better. Ideally, you should have one guide for every foot of rod. The guide closest to you is called the butt guide and the one farthest away from you is called the tip top guide. Be careful with the tip top guide– it’s the guide that’s most likely to break.

  • The bottom of the fishing rod is the best place to start as any. The base of the fishing rod– the part that you’ll need to jam into your stomach if you hook a hefty fish– is called the butt cap.

  • Handles are typically made from foam or cork. Some people think that cork handles look nicer. It’s easy to repair a cork handle– just add wood glue if you notice any cracks. It’s impossible to repair a foam handle, but they tend to last a bit longer overall. Go with whatever type of handle feels most comfortable to you.

Fast Action vs. Slow Action

If a fishing rod is made from rigid material, it’ll pull back fast when you exert force on it– that’s why they call graphite fishing rods “fast action” rods. A stiff “fast action” graphite rod is great for reeling in large fish, but it’s a disadvantage when you’re trying to catch smaller stuff.

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Additionally, graphite rods will shatter if you yank on them too hard.

If you want to be able to tell when smaller fish are nibbling your bait, you need a “slow action” fiberglass rod. Fiberglass rods are heavier than their graphite counterparts

Specialty Rods and Reels

Compared to an ordinary lake or river, a tumultuous ocean is a much rougher environment for a fishing rod. If you plan on fishing at sea

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you’ll need a special kind of fishing rod called a surf fishing rod.

Live bait fishing also requires specialty gear. For best results, you’ll need a speciality rod equipped with a multi-gear reel.

Where to Buy Your Fishing Rod

When it comes to narrowing down your choice of fishing rods, information is the key. Luckily, you have the power of the Internet– and the expertise of

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It’s a good idea to read up on various types of fishing rods before you buy, that way you’ll have a good idea about what’s available in your price range. Once you get the knowledge, we advise you to try out a few different types of rods

What Should I Expect to Pay If I Want to Buy an Awesome Fishing Rod?

Though expensive options are definitely out there, you shouldn’t pay more than $200 USD for a fishing rod. Even pros like George Poveromo of George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing fame use rods that cost less than 200 bucks.

On the other end of the spectrum, it is possible to find a cheap $10 fishing rod. If all you need is a plastic pole to stick in the water so that you can hang out with your uncle, go for it. On the other hand, if you intend to catch some fish you’ll need a better quality rod.

If you’re trying to save money, shop around online or browse our review section. If you do your research, it’s possible to get a decent fishing rod for around $20 USD.

What Are the Benefits of Buying a High Quality Rod?

Nothing is more frustrating than having to call off a fishing trip because your fishing rod broke. Low quality “cheapo” fishing rods will get you through one or two days of fishing– if you’re lucky.

On the other hand, well-made fishing rods are built to last. You don’t have to spend much extra money to upgrade to a quality rod.

Plus, quality rods are easier to use compared to second-rate alternatives.

High quality rods are equipped with single piece, stainless steel guides. The more guides you see on the rod, the better off you’ll be. Well-placed guides distribute tension, allowing the fishing rod to curve nicely instead of bend at sharp angles.

All good fishing rods come with warranties. One year is the standard, but some companies offer five year warranties.

Both cork and foam grips work pretty well. Cork grips have a classic look and they last as long as foam grips as long as you remember to wear gloves when you handle your rod. Oil excreted by sweaty hands tends to erode cork handles.

Spinning, Spin Casting and Bait Casting. What’s the difference?

Most beginners start out with a spinning rod  and then graduate to other types of rods after they get the hang of fishing basics.  Spinning rods equipped with a spinning reel are super easy to cast.  Also, spinning rods are lighter in comparison to other types of rods.


Spin casting rodsare even easier to use than spinning rods, but because of their comparatively low gear ratio it is very hard to reel in anything but small fish.  Bigger fish tend to get away because spin casting reels lack gear systems.  Because spin casting rods contain simpler parts, they tend to last longer than spinning rods.  A spin casting rod is a great choice for children and amateurs.


Bait casting rods are ideal for catching heavy fish because they come equipped with thicker fishing line that doesn’t break as easily.  Also, the rod itself is longer and sturdier.  It’s easier to cast long distances accurately with bait casting rods.  The ability to cast from a long distance helps catch some types of fish that are sensitive to vibrations caused by boat movement and talking.

Maintaining Your Fishing Rod

Here are a few simple maintenance steps you can take that will extend the life of your fishing rod dramatically.

  • Wash your rod and reel off with vinegar and water after you fish. This step is the most important one on our list! If you don’t wash your gear, it’ll rust.
  • When you load your fishing rod onto your boat, secure it in a safe place so that it doesn’t get bumped around.
  • Remove your fishing line before storing your fishing rod.
  • Store your fishing rod properly. If you lean it against something, it’ll bend.
  • Look closely at your guides and sand them if you notice any chips or cracks. Chipped or cracked guides are the main reason why fishing line breaks during a catch.
  • Use a toothbrush to pick out any dirt or sand before you store your rod.
  • If you own a portable fishing rod, be sure to keep the joints lubricated. Friction wears out the protective coating that manufacturers apply to the inside of fishing rod joints.
  • Always wear gloves if your fishing rod handle is made from cork.

Trending Fishing Rods

Types of Fishing Rods

The Top 3 Fishing Rods of 2016

Listed below are three of our favorite fishing rods. All three are high-quality yet inexpensive rods that offer a big bang for your buck– but each one is unique. Let’s take a closer look.

Shimano is a good brand to know if you’re shopping for any kind of fishing rod. We like Shimano’s Solora model because it’s reliable and easy to use. It’s a spinning rod, so it’s very easy to cast.

The Solora is a two-piece portable rod, but the joints are solid and will last a long time if you keep them clean.

The only thing that we would change about this product is the stock reel that comes with it. The reel works just fine, but the line is so thin that it’s only good for catching smaller fish. Upgrade the reel before you drive out to the lake if you want to catch bigger fish, and you’ll be good to go. Another attractive thing about this rod is that the price is very nice.

Next up on our list is a bait casting rod. Bait casting requires fishing skill, so this rod is for anglers with at least some fishing experience.

We loved the Cherrywood HD’s mixture of sensitivity and strength. When bait casting, you have to know when you’re getting a nibble or else the fish will eat the bait off the hook and swim away before you can reel it in.

Another great thing about the Cherrywood is that it’s built to last. The Cherrywood HD is a one-piece rod outfitted with rugged SS304 guides that won’t warp if you drop your rod or bump it against something.

Additionally, this fishing rod feels great when you hold it in your hands. It’s lightweight and the cork grip allows you to get a handle on the situation when you need to pull hard and follow through on a catch.

Our final fishing rod recommendation is a spin casting rod from Zebco. Zebco is another name brand that’s good to know if you’re in the market for fishing supplies. Zebco has been around since 1949 and they are known for producing innovative, high-quality fishing gear.

If you’ve used professional gear before, your mind will be blown when you pick up Zebco’s Delta Spincast. The Delta Spincast is a $60 rod that feels like it costs twice as much when you use it. Many pros who use rods that cost $200 or more keep a Delta Spincast around just in case their main rod breaks.

Most Zebco products last a long time, and the Delta Spincast is no exception. The low price and excellent construction make the Delta Spincast a great beginner fishing rod. If you are looking for a fishing rod to give your son or daughter for Christmas, the Delta Spincast is an excellent choice.

Time for You to Pick!

Now that you’ve read through our Ultimate Fishing Rod Guide, you’re armed with enough knowledge to make a wise shopping decision. If you make your purchase now, it’ll only be a few days before you’ll be out in the water with it. So, what’s it going to be?

If you need help picking out a rod, just fill out the form on our contact page. One of our expert will be happy to provide fishing rod shopping advice.