Which spinning rod to choose – every angler faces this question at least once. If you want to by a spinning rod, you should ask an expert angler’s advice. Before going to the store, you should estimate the following: the amount of money you are ready to spend, the size of your future catch, the fishing technique, the conditions, the type and weight of the lure, the casting distance.
You can always try a “universal” spinning rod, say, 8-foot rod with a lure weight rating of 5 to 25 grams. Many anglers, including myself, started with universal fishing rods, but sooner or later came to the conclusion that an angler should have several specialized rods for different occasions in his arsenal.
For starters, let’s figure out what the above “universal” spinnng rod looks like. Its length, 8ft, allows using it with comfort for both boat and shoreline fishing. Although “comfort” is a loose term, because for boat fishing the best rod would be 6 to 7ft long, and for shoreline fishing it would be 9 to 10ft.
The lure weight of 5 to 25 grams allows to cast all kinds of lures: spinners, wobblers, jigs. But lightweight lures (such as Mepps #00, #0 or #1) would not fly far enough, especially if you do not possess a good casting technique, and you will not feel them well. And heavy lures (such as 20-gram or heavier jigs) may overload and eventually break the rod.
The bottom line is: a universal solution is always a compromise, and a “one size fits all” spinning rod is only suitable for certain applications.
Therefore, before buying a spinning rod (or even asking for a seasoned angler’s advice) you should determine where you are going to be fishing most of the time. Answer the following questions:
- What kind of waterbody is it going to be: a deep river with strong currents, a bay, a shallow lake or a water reservoir?
- Will you be fishing from a boat or from the shore?
- What kind and size of fish you are going after?
- Have you already decided on the type of lures to use? In this case, the spinning rod selection should match those lures. Jigs require one kind of rod, wobblers need a much different type, for jerkbaits you must use yet another one.
Now it’s time to find out what to look for when choosing a rod. There are three main parameters: the length, the action and the lure weight.
The length is self-explanatory, most spinning rods are between 6 and 10 feet long.
How to choose a spinning rod for a novice angler
Sectioned or telescopic rod?
If you do not have a way to transport long sections, a telescopic rod would be right for you. For example, if you are going on a business trip, you can bring along a telescopic rod thanks to its compact size. But for any serious fishing I would recommend a sectioned rod.
How to choose the right length of the spinning rod?
If you are going to fish from the shore or from a boat on small to medium rivers, canals, ponds or lakes (100 yards wide or so), my advice is to buy a rod 7 to 9 feet long. A rod longer than 9ft is recommended for those who is going to fish from the shore on large rivers, in deep spots, on large lakes and reservoirs, and for those who need to cast the bait 100 yards and more.
Choosing the rod material
Fiberglass. The advantages of fiberglass rods are relatively low price and low maintenance – that is, they do not require any special care. Their main disadvantage is heavy weight. Actively working your lure with a fiberglass rod will get your hand tired in no time. Fiberglass rods can be used for trolling where you don’t cast the bait often.
Composite materials. Spinning rods made of composite materials have medium stiffness. A composite material is a combination of carbon fibers and glass fibers. You should purchase a composite rod only if you cannot afford a pure carbon fiber one. Today there is a great variety of relatively inexpensive carbon fiber rods to choose from.
Carbon plastic, carbon fiber, carbon, graphite – these are different names for the same thing. Carbon fiber spinning rods are the most lightweight, so I recommend those. Carbon fiber rods differ by the graphite content modulus – M1, M2, M3 and so on. The smaller the modulus, the more flexible the rod is and the more time it takes for the tip vibrations to decay, which negatively affects the casting distance and the reaction speed of the rod. But don’t be obsessed with high modulus. More graphite fiber means greater stiffness, but it also means that the rod is more brittle. In the Internet I have often read opinions about M6 or higher rods becoming brittle and breaking at temperatures below freezing. I have not wittnessed it myself, and neither have my friends, but it is up to you to decide. My advice is to choose a carbon fiber rod with the modulus of 5 or 6 (M-5, M-6).
How to choose the lure weight of the spinning rod?
The lure weight of the rod is the parameter that determines the upper and lower limits of the weight of the artificial lures. When choosing a spinning rod, you should determine the weight of the lures you are going to use. In simple terms, if your lure weighs the same as the lower limit of your rod’s lure weight, you wil feel it well, and if your lure is too light for the rod’s lure weight, you will not feel it at all.
The lure weight is the most important parameter of a rod. The upper limit tells you the maximum weight you can cast with the rod without the risk of breaking it sooner or later. The lower limit is the minimum weight of a spoon (or a jig, or a wobbler) that loads the rod enough to “slingshot” the lure during casting. Keep in mind that the manufacturers are not always truthful with this number, especially the lower limit.
For example, the lure weight of 1 to 5 grams means that the rod is designed for the most lightweight lures. It does not mean you can’t catch big fish with this rod, but it will take more time to reel it in. A properly adjusted reel brake will keep the rod from breaking from strong jerks.
The upper lure weight limit is the maximum weight of the lure you can cast with this particular rod without breaking it. Spinning rods are approximately divided in several groups: ultralight (1..5g), light (5..15g), medium (7..25g) and heavy (over 20g). Some rods are labeled by the line weight instead of the lure weight. For small and medium fish, and for a thrill, I recommend a spinning rod with the lure weight of 0 to 10g. Although I personally think it’s a bit childish. Besides, such a rod requires delicate maintenance. Rods rated for 20g or more are suitable for fishing in small lakes and rivers and casting heavy lures at long distances. For trolling you need heavy weight rods starting at 60 grams.
How to choose the spinning rod’s action
Spinning rods have a characteristic called “action”. An action may be fast, medium or slow. In a fast action spinning rod, the top 1/3rd or 1/4th of the rod bends (works) under load. In a medium action rod, the working part is the top half. Such rods are also called “half-parabolic”. In a slow rod, the bending part is 3/4 of the overall length, those rods are called “parabolic”.
The action of the rod determines the way it flexes under load. A slow action rod flexes all the way down to the handle during casting and reeling. Such a rod is absolutely unsuitable for jigs, wobblers and jerkbaits, but it’s perfect for spinners. All things equal, a slow rod allows to cast the lure further, which is one of the most important factors in shoreline fishing.
In a “fast” or “extra fast” rod, the top 1/3rd flexes under load. Such a rod is stiff and sensitive, perfect for jigs and wobblers. To achieve the maximum casting distance, you should make your throws quick and snappy (you may have to practice this technique).A medium action spinning rod is somewhere in between those two, claiming to be universal.
While in the store, pay attention to the following: the rod must be straight and without cracks. All the rings and the reel axle must lie on the same line. The rings must be firmly attached, the epoxy must have no cracks, the inserts in the rings should be smooth. The nut that holds the reel must turn without effort. It is recommended to install the reel you are planning to use and make sure it is held firmly when the nut is tightened. You should not trust all the fancy labels on a spinning rod, especially if you are not buying it at a factory outlet store.
In the end I will describe a few typical situations to help beginner anglers choose their equipment.
- Shoreline fishing for large and medium fish (pike, bass, perch) on a big river (more than 100 yards wide) – 9ft to 10ft spinning rod, fast or extra fast action, lure weight 7..28g, 10..30g, 15..45g, jigs, spoons and wobblers weighing 12 to 28 grams.
- Shoreline fishing for small and medium fish (pike, bass, chub, ide, grayling) on a small river (10 to 30 yards wide) – 7ft to 8ft spinning rod, fast or extra fast action, lure weight 1..5g or 4..16g, small spoons, wobblers, jigs.
- Boat fishing on a stillwater lake or pond – 6ft to 8ft spinning rod; medium, fast or extra fast action depending on the lure type; lure weight 3..12g, 4..16g, 5..20g.
- Boat fishing in deep waters on a big river for large pike or perch – 7ft to 8ft spinning rod, fast or extra fast action, lure weight from 10..30g to 20..50g, large wobblers (10..15cm) and jigs (18..36g).
- Fishing on a lake from the shore or from a boat with minnow wobblers (twitching) – 6ft to 7ft spinning rod, extra fast action, lure weight 1..7g to 3..14g (3 to 7cm wobblers), 3..14g to 5..21g (wobblers up to 10cm), 5..25g to 7..28g (large wobblers, 10 to 13cm).
The above recommendations are estimates, they may change depending on the angler’s personal preferences and the fishing site details (the water depth, the currents, the bottom profile, the chances of catching a large fish and so on).