Types of Fishing Rods and Reels

For many decades the wooden fishing pole was used for catching fish. However, today we have more advanced options available in graphite, fiber glass, and carbon fiber. Rods and reels are valuable components of a fishing tackle and require careful consideration before making a purchase. Having the right kind of rod and reel ensures that you have a satisfying day on the water.  

Selecting the perfect fishing gear depends on many factors such as the fishing technique, the type of fish that you want to catch, the fishing location, and ease of use. Let’s have a look at the various different types of fishing rods and reels.

Fishing Rods standing in a rod holder at a wall

There is no particular fishing rod that can be used to do everything. A fishing rod is meant for a specific purpose. Let us take a look at the different types of fishing rods available in the market.

Casting Rods

A casting rod has a reel seat that places a baitcast or a spincast reel on top of the rod as the rod guides face up. While fishing the rod bends over when catching a fish and the guide faces upward so that the line is pushed down with the force of the fish.

Spincast is generally employed for lightweight fishing and is one of the most inexpensive rods. Its simple construction and ease of operation makes it a popular rod for beginners. On the other hand, baitcaster is slightly difficult to operate and needs more practice for holding it right. Baitcast is generally used for catching large game fish.

Spinning Rods

Unlike the casting rod, in a spinning rod the reel hangs below the rod that is opposite to the top. It requires your second and third fingers to straddle the leg of the reel at the point where it joins the bar. The most important feature a spinning rod is that it helps you build control as you can grip the rod with your dominant hand. Also, spinning rods provide a more comfortable fishing experience as the weight of the reel hangs below the rod.

Fly Rods

Fly Rods serve as great tools for anglers and are available in a variety of sizes and shapes. Their poles have comfortable handles for a firm grip. Fly rods are comparatively smaller and lighter than other rods. As these rods are meant for fly fishing, they are flexible and are available in different sizes that can help to catch smaller fish such as trout and even the larger ones such as marlin and tuna. It is easier to identify a fly rod as it does not have a butt piece after the reel. This makes it easier to angle and cast freely.

Tenkara rod is one of the most popular fly-fishing rods originally used in Japan and has become quite popular in the United States. These rods do not have a reel and comprise only a rod, line and fly. Tenkara rods are easy to transport as they are made up of carbon fibers and collapse to a small size.

Six types of fishing rods at ocean with different types of fishing reels attached to them

Special Types of Rods

Ultra-Light Rods

Ultra-light rods are great for catching small bait fish, or in situations where rod responsiveness is a crucial factor. On the other hand, ultra-heavy rods are used for catching heavy fish in deep waters or while surf fishing. There are also some great options available if you are looking to travel and take your rod with you!

Trolling Rods

Anglers use trolling rods for a type of fishing technique referred to as trolling. Trolling is when a fishing line that has a bait or a lure is drawn through water behind a boat. Trolling is done to catch a variety of fish such as a pike, marlin, salmon. However, trolling for each variety of fish is done at different speeds. For instance, marlin is a predatory fish and is trolled faster so the bait barely stays in the water.

Trolling rods must be durable and tough as they go through extensive wear and tear while trolling. Also, it is important for a trolling rod to have a comparatively faster action as anglers find it difficult to work with a slow and whippy rod. A fast action rod makes trolling easier and more comfortable.

Surf Rods

Surf rods are commonly available in spinning reel and rod combination. They are big and long rods with an average length of 3-4 meters and are used for surf fishing. Surf fishing is fishing in beaches, rocks or shores where waves do not allow the bait to reach out to the fish. So, these rods are long enough to keep the angle of the line high. This is done to prevent the waves from washing the bait back to the shore.

The lure is cast beyond the breaking surf where the fish assemble. Surf rods should be sturdy so that they can cast heavy lures that can stay at the bottom of the shore even in rough waters. Some surf rods are so powerful that they can cast heavy lures over more than a hundred yards.

Telescoping Rods

Telescopic rods are commonly used by surf fishermen. These rods can fold to smaller lengths so that they can be easily carried from one place to another. Even rods as long as thirty feet can be compressed to around two feet and easily transported through cars, buses, and subways. It is important to not open or close the rod in a whipping motion as it may get damaged. One should always close the rod in a twisting motion.

Ice Fishing Rods

As compared to the ice fishing rods used earlier, the modern rods are available in smaller sizes and measure between 24 to 36 inches. These rods are great for fishing in the holes in the cover of ice on frozen ponds and lakes. There are also special ice fishing reels, which brings us to the next topic:

three fishing rods and reels in rod holders on a boat

Types of Fishing Reels

As a recreational angler one should be knowledgeable about the different types of fishing reels as each reel is designed for a specific purpose. Let us take a look at the most common and widely used fishing reels and how each reel is suitable for a particular type of fishing experience.

Baitcasting Reels

These are one of the most popular reels among anglers mainly because the line does not twist as one releases the cast. This makes fishing comfortable. Moreover, if you want to cast for a great distance then baitcasting reels are the best choice as they give more power. Baitcasting reels or conventional reels are commonly used in big game fishing because of their ability to hold the heavier test lines.

As a beginner you may find it challenging to use a baitcasting reel as it requires more skill. However, once you master the art of using it, you will be happy with its accuracy and the control that it provides.

Spincast Reels

Spincast reels are relatively inexpensive and ideal for beginners as they are simple to use. These reels have a push-button release that makes it super easy to operate them. Also, one does not need to worry if the line gets tangled, as you can just open the bail and pull the line and it will untangle in a jiffy. The casting accuracy of this reel is not as good as a baitcasting reel; however, it is decent. Spincast reels are great for catching smaller fish such as crappie, bluegill and other kind of panfish.

If you are looking forward to cast at a longer distance then spincast may not be the right reel as it does not have enough line capacity. Also, you cannot catch bigger fish with spincast reel as it is limited in terms of pulling a heavy test line.

Spinning Reels

Spinning reels are more often used by seasoned anglers as they provide a great deal of versatility. These reels are called spinning reels as they spin when one pulls the line back. When casting a spinning reel, you need to lift the metal bail wire that in turn releases the line for a cast. By pulling the metal wire down you can ensure that the line is locked in its place. Spinning reels or microspinning reels are easier to operate as compared to baitcasting reels and work well for both beginners as well as seasoned anglers. If you are looking forward to use live fish baits or buoyant artificial baits then spinning reels are a good choice. Plus, there are some decent, inexpensive options as well!

Fly Reels

Accuracy is a crucial factor for fly fishing because the line should be casted to the right spot. So fly fishing reels are great for providing precision and also have great retrieval speeds. Fly reels are available in a variety of styles and you can choose the best reel according to the fish that you intend to catch. For instance, the fly reel for catching a salmon varies from the one that is used for catching a trout. When purchasing a fly reel, one should consider durability and reliability. Many fly reels are used for decades as they are very sturdy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You need to consider the following factors when deciding which rod to buy:

  1. Type of fish you are catching: Shorter rods are good when you are fishing in a close combat. So, if you are a kayak angler or are trolling for a walleye then go for a shorter rod. On the other hand, longer rods are great at casting a long distance and are good for catching fish such as bass.
  2. Material: Fishing rods are generally made up of graphite or fiber glass. Graphite rods are lighter but less durable. Fiber glass rods are heavier but provide more flexibility. Rods that are a combination of graphite and fiber glass are more durable and flexible.
  3. Power: Light power rods which bend easily are used more often for catching smaller fish such as panfish and trout. Moderate power rods are good if you are using jerk baits, spinner baits or any other reaction-based baits. Heavier power rods do not bend easily and work well with jigs.
  4. Action: The point where the rod bends is called action. For instance, a fast action rod will bend closer to its tip while a slow action rod will bend near the butt. Fast action rods are great for catching bigger fish and baits that have a single hook. On the other hand, slow action rods are used for catching smaller fish such as panfish and trout.

Deciding a suitable reel depends on the type of bait that you are going to cast and the ease of operation. Spinning reels work well with smaller lures and baitcasting reels are good for heavier baits.

If you are a beginner then you should go for spincast reels. However, if you are a seasoned angler then baitcasting, spinning and fly reels are a good option. Also, if you are fishing in salty water then you should use special saltwater reels that are resistant to corrosion.

So far, we have written articles on the best rod and reel combos for salmon and crappie fishing and are looking to add more later, so check back to stay up to date 🙂

Fishing rods are generally made up of graphite or fiber glass. Graphite rods are lighter to use and so provide a more comfortable fishing experience. However, graphite rods are less durable and break with constant use. Fiber glass rods are heavier but provide more flexibility and are frequently used by seasoned anglers. Rods that are a combination of graphite and fiber glass are more durable and flexible.

There are many great resources for further reading on the basics of fishing. For a start, I would recommend looking at A Basic Guide for the Beginning Angler from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Happy Fishing!

Choosing the right one from all the different types of fishing rods and reels is crucial for a great fishing experience. Follow these simple tips to ensure that you reel in a great catch.