It’s that time of year where the open water itch needs scratching! Time to pull out the gear, reorganize, restock and maybe upgrade or replace some equipment.
Choosing a fishing rod can be a daunting task, given the gazillion choices available due to brands, models, and specifications. So where do we start and how do we get our next fishing rod home?
The first thing is to consider the type of fishing we’re into. Take into account species, techniques, and transport (truck & boat, atv & boat, walk-in, etc.).
Take inventory of existing fishing rods. Make a note of what each rod is used for and it’s best characteristics for that use (eg. jigging, casting crankbaits, etc.). If there’s only 1 or 2 rods in the inventory that makes things easier.
The next rod is probably starts off as a want, but lets’ break it down a bit and turn it into a need. That way we end up with rods with purpose, rather than just a collection.
Start by identifying a fishing technique- say for example, jigging – lifting and dropping a jig off bottom. A very simple yet versatile technique for various species at various depths.
Generally a 6′ to 6’6″ medium-light to medium power spinning rod is ideal when jig fishing from a boat. The shorter length gives better control of the rod. Less blank and less guides means less weight and quicker response. The extra length isn’t needed since typical jig casting is short. This should be your most sensitive (and probably most expensive) rod to feel the lightest of bites from finicky fish. (eg. 13 Fishing Envy 6’3″ medium-light)
That way we end up with rods with purpose, rather than just a collection.
If necessary, the jigging technique could be broken down even more – jigging deeper water with heavier jigs, for example. This would then dictate a need for a longer rod to take up line quicker on the hook set, a bit more performance for the heavier jig, and more leverage/power to bring the fish up from deeper water. For example a 7′ medium heavy rod would fill this need. (eg. Simax Loca 6’6″ medium-heavy)
Jigging with light jigs with live bait in shallow water would mean a lighter rod for more sensitivity with the lighter bait. We might choose a 6′ or 6’6″ light or medium-light power rod for this application. (eg. Simax Exclusive 6’6″ light)
Don’t overlook the line and lure ratings printed on the rod blank. The manufacturers did their research and development to come up with the optimal ratings to get the best and intended performance out of the rod.
The 1-piece vs 2-piece is a matter of convenience. Safely storing and transporting a 7-foot piece of graphite can be challenging. Single piece rods are lighter and generally perform better, but don’t be discouraged by a 2-piece rod – it’s still better than a broken 1-piece!
So for vertical jigging we have determined that we’re jig fishing for walleyes with 1/4 to 3/8 oz jigs in 20-30′ of water. I don’t have a big boat with a rod locker so it has to be transportable. So a 6’6″ medium power, fast action, 2-piece rod would be preferred – this is our next rod purchase! (eg. Okuma Dead Eye 6’6″ medium 2-piece spinning)
That helps us narrow down the search and the fun part is going through the brands and models. These are often dictated by preference and budget.
Take a methodical approach by assessing your fishing needs and choosing your next fishing rod becomes a purposeful task.
Here’s a great video on fishing rod characteristics: