How Do I Select The Right Bass Fishing Rod

Bass Fishing Rods by St. Croix Selecting the right Bass Fishing Rod can be a difficult decision and quite often the decision is made on what can be afforded…factors to consider before purchase.  Even if your budget is limited, there are other factors you should consider before making a Bass Fishing Rod purchase.  For most anglers, purchasing a new Bass Fishing Rod, whether it’s a custom built rod or a production rod, it usually is a decision of which rod will meet a specific technique the angler is wanting to use or it is about trying to select a best all-around rod that balances cost, technique, power, action, sensitivity and comfort. Using the analogy of comparing fishing rods to a set of golf clubs helps clarify the process. You wouldn’t use a nine iron to make a putt just as you would not use an ultra-light powered fishing rod to cast a 6 oz. swim-bait. There are different applications for a variety of techniques and selecting the proper “tool” for the application will increase the probability of achieving the desired results. In the case of fishing, it’s putting more fish in the boat.  There are many specific applications related to Bass Fishing Rods and this article cannot cover all of those unique conditions. However, some generally accepted basic techniques, terms and considerations that hopefully will help you make the best decision when you decide to spend your hard earned dollars on a fishing rod will be provided.

Who Started Building the Modern Bass Fishing Rod

The most important component of your fishing rod is the blank. Most bass fishing rods today are made from graphite, fiberglass or a blend of these two materials. The first fiberglass fishing rods were offered by Shakespeare Rod Company in 1947. The flexibility of fiberglass made casting much more pleasurable and accurate than the wood, bamboo or steel tubing fishing rods that were common during that time. However, the flexibility of fiberglass made it difficult to accurately cast and more importantly, very difficult to put enough pressure on the hook to keep the fish on the line, especially when a lot of line was in the water.  In 1973, the Fenwick Corporation marketed the first graphite fishing rod. This new material was much stiffer than fiberglass and dramatically changed the fishing equipment market. Over the years, graphite materials, blends of graphite and fiberglass, epoxies and company proprietary designs of diameters, lengths and tapers have significantly improved the performance of fishing rods. Graphite’s stiffness-to-weight ratings, known as “modulus count,” is what still drives designers of blank manufactures today. It is worth noting that the 60 million graphite modulus counts being marketed by some rod manufactures today, is at the limit of stiffness-to-weight ratings according to many experts. Who knows what the next material breakthrough will be for blank materials, but it surely is being developed by blank designers today. The first one to bring it to market, will push the design criteria to a new level.

Understanding The Characteristics of Bass Fishing Rods

Fishing rod blanks have two critical characteristics, action and power. Understanding these features is key to the performance of the rod. Each fishing rod should have these ratings marked clearly on the rod. Some fishing rod manufactures infer the action and power of their rods by only listing the recommended line weight and lure size. However it is identified, the angler should understand the limits of the rod being considered for purchase.

What Is The Action Of A Bass Fishing Rod

Using Crank baits for Bass – Fix.comFishing rod action is determined by the point on the blank where the rod first begins to bend. Action designations are slow, moderate, moderate fast, fast, and extra fast. An extra fast action blank will bend in the top 25%, a fast action will bend in the top 33%, moderate action the top 50% and a slow action blank will bend over the entire length of the rod creating a parabolic curve. Each action designation provides a different rod performance and is intended for a specific application. As an example, a slow action rod is best suited for making longer casts in open water. A crank-bait, top-water bait, spinner-bait, etc. are typically fished on slower action rods. The flexibility also allows the rod to absorb the energy when a bass attacks a moving bait. Many experienced bass anglers know that there is no need to set the hook when retrieving a lure using a slow action rod.  An extra fast action rod will not cast as far but is far more accurate since the cast is more direct and the rod is not flexing as much. Techniques such as a Texas-rig, jigs and Drop-Shot utilize an extra fast action where more sensitivity is needed to feel when a fish gently inhales the bait. The extra fast action also creates a faster hook set since the rod does not need to flex as far before the hook is set.

How Do I Select The Right Power For A Bass Rod

The power rating is defined as the amount of pressure it takes to initially bend the blank. Power ratings  are typically ultra-light, light, medium, medium heavy, heavy and extra heavy. Power is the pressure the rod puts on the fish during the fight. A light power blank will provide the sensitivity for a drop-shot technique fishing light lines and baits. A heavy power rod will put a lot of pressure on a fish and can handle higher pound test lines. Higher power rated rods are used in heavy cover or under a dock when it’s important to turn the fish as soon as possible to get it to the boat.

Understanding the Sensitivity Of A Bass Fishing Rod

The balance of action and power result in the sensitivity of the rod. Technically, sensitivity is defined as the rods ability to transmit vibrations (or feel) to the angler. There are other factors to consider when discussing sensitivity. In addition to action and power, craftsmanship, weight, length, handle material, reel seat type and guides all contribute to the overall sensitivity of the rod.

The Comfort Of The Bass Fishing Rod

Another characteristic to consider before purchasing a bass fishing rod is comfort. A serious angler will spend many days and often, consecutive days, fishing. A full tournament day of fishing could require a thousand casts, so comfort definitely is a factor to consider. In the early days of bass fishing, a 5′ – 6′ long, single hand, pistol grip rod was the norm and a cast of 20 yards was the expectation. Today, tournament anglers typically use rods that are 7′ – 8′ long and two hands on a 12″-14″ handle to cast twice that distance. Most anglers over 6′ tall prefer longer rods but some professional anglers who are 6’5″ prefer short rods. Another consideration is the handle material. Many companies are now making rubber, foam or cork handles. In some cases these embroidered and colorful handles are designed more to get the buyers’ attention than to enhance the performance of the rod. Rubber or foam products are used to dampen vibrations, like the tires on your vehicle. That works fine for your truck, however restricting vibration on a fishing rod is not good.  Although, some anglers prefer the softer feel of foam or rubber wrapped handles. Comfort is unique to individual anglers so you’ll need to reflect on your fishing goals and  techniques to determine the most comfortable rod for you.

Related Video

The Difference Between Production and Custom Rod Building

Bass Fishing made easier with the right RodThere are different applications for a variety of techniques and selecting the proper “tool” for the application will increase the probability of achieving the desired results. There are finite differences in rod construction depending on whether you buy your next Bass Rod at a Bass Pro Shop, The Sportsman’s Warehouse or have it custom built.  In essence, manufactures look to hit a happy medium; custom rod builders build it to fit a particular fishing style and species of fish.

Buying A Production Made Bass Fishing Rod

Sportsman’s WarehouseWhen a production company is manufacturing fishing rods, engineers will select a sample of blanks and perform a series of static tests on the sample to determine how the lot of rods will be built. Quite often a rod manufacturing company will build 1,000 rods of one type during the same production run. There are several hand operations related to manufacturing fishing rod blanks which results in variability of each completed fishing rod. If the rod you purchase is statically similar ( +/- 1 sigma) to the blanks tested, your rod will perform as the manufacture intended. However, if the blank on the rod you are purchasing deviates from the statistical mean, it will perform differently. Sometimes these differences in performance and sensitivity are subtle and other times more pronounced.

Buying A Custom Made Bass Fishing Rod

A custom rod builder will start with a conversation about what technique or application the angler wants to master. The angler’s size and physical condition are also characteristics taken into consideration. As a custom rod is built, the rod builder performs static tests which assure spine alignment, balance, and proper guide sizes and locations. A custom rod builder also performs testing called “dry casting”. In this testing, a reel is added and using a properly weighted casting plug, the angler makes several casts to ensure everything meets or exceeds the angler’s expectations prior to any components being permanently bonded.

A custom rod builder is attentive to the smallest details of the fishing rod and also in tune to what the angler is saying. He will also observe exactly how the angler holds the rod and how he casts. Very often, a custom rod building shop has repeat customers who will say something like: “I don’t know what it is about that rod, but it’s the most sensitive rod I own”. Comments like that let a custom rod builder know that he has done his job well.