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Choosing the Right Fishing Rod
We are all familiar with the phrase, you get what you pay for, but we also know there are products out there that are overpriced for what you’re actually getting. Good fishing tackle is worth a descent investment. Like most things in life, there are the cheap bargains and there are ridiculous priced equipment that are not worth breaking the bank for. Rods and reels are two of the most important and expensive components of your tackle. They should therefore require research and consideration before purchasing. Selecting a quality rod can be a confound experience for someone who wants the best their money can buy. We often wonder if that $300 rod is really three times as good as the $100 fishing rod. With the vast array of good rods available to anglers today, it is easy to find a great rod that is perfect for the application you are wanting to do with it. On the other hand, you could end up with something that is not the right fit and you’d be spending a fair amount money for something that you won’t use. For most anglers, the most expensive rod you own is the one you never use. Even the cheapest rod is a waste of your hard-earned money if it stays at home stuffed in the corner. With that said, you may have the most expensive rod in your collection that is used every time you go fishing and is your favorite, in which case is money well spent.
Most anglers prefer casting rods, with spinning rods being secondary for special techniques and light lures. If you’re just starting out and want a good rod type that handles most applications, my suggestion would be to look at our selection of 6’6″ and 7′ medium to medium heavy casting rods. These rods will work well for most fishing techniques and various lures. Once you progress as a bass angler they will always be useful to you. The golden question comes down to how much you may want to spend on your fishing rod and how often you will use it.
As a rule of thumb, the more spend on your rod, the more sensitive it will be. Therefore the more responsive it will be and the more accurate it will be for your application. Having an expensive rod you will not be able to break, would be a rod would not ever want to fish with it. There are many rods on the market that claim they will not break, but you won’t find them in the hands of serious anglers or any tour pros because they only use rods that are light, sensitive, and powerful. Professional rods cost more, but for those who use them, they are worth every penny.
A high price fishing rod may not make you a better angler from the start, but a low quality rod will be a limited factor for any angler. Your rod is one of your best tools, and any craftsman will always have better and more efficient work with a quality tool. A quality rod will allow you to feel much more action with your lures and baits. With a quality sensitive rod, you will be able to distinguish between dragging your baits through mud, sand, weeds and rocks. Most importantly, if it is a fish strike, which are often the hardest to detect.
As a good guide you should select a rod that will give you the ability to place your lure exactly where you intended for it to land, as quietly as possible. This is where a quality rod will come into play, definitely contributing to your casting ability. With a more responsive graphite and various actions, you can put any bait in place and have the sensitivity you are desiring. The ability to create special techniques only comes from more expensive fishing rods, Poor quality “cheap” will not allow for specific techniques. They generally impair your ability to do such techniques as well as experience great sensitivity,
When in the market for fishing rods, certain terms will be mentioned to describe the materials that are built in rods, which describes it flexes and how sensitive it is. Here we will attempt to explain a few of them for you in this article.
Fishing Rod Definitions
The Action Of A Casting Rod
This is the description of how much of the rod bends when you put pressure at the tip. A fast action rod will bend in only the top third of the rod. Whereas a medium action will bend in the top half of the rod. A slow action will bend starting in the lower section of the rod. Sometimes slow action rods are generally bend similar throughout the entire length of the rod. This description is generally used in casting rods only, or least for this article. There are different rods that may use similar terms such as a fast action fly rod that will bend much lower and more easily than a fast action bass rod or an offshore trolling rod.
Most anglers fishing for bass use rods with actions that are fast to very fast. This is due to better sensitivity and the faster power for setting the hook. The term faster is meant by the bend ends higher on the rod, which means the rod does not have to be moved as far while setting the hook to get into the stiffer part of the rod. Fast action rods are generally best used in applications where a short to long casting distance is desired and using baits such as worm and jig fishing.
For anglers looking to use crankbaits and topwater lures, a medium or medium-fast rods will usually provide a little more casting distance and still provide adequate stiffness for setting the hook. These actions are often used for baits that involve treble hooks and spinnerbaits. A crankbait using a treble hook usually is not as deep as a single worm hook and it is easier to tear the hook from the mouth of the a fierce fish. So a medium action rod is less likely to pull the lure out of the fish’s mouth before it fully set. The selection of rod is usually determined by the type of lure you will use.
Thickness Of A Casting Rod
This is often referred to as the Taper. The taper describes the thickness of the rod and also the thickness of the wall of the casting rod. This means that less blank material is used allowing for more bend. The taper is usually the action of the rod. Light, medium and heavy, describes the taper or how thick the rod is. Pretty much the same as action. As the action is really describing the thickness of the rod.
Strength Of The Rod
This describes the strength of a rods lifting power. When a rod is described as having a lot of backbone, it is meant that it has good power or strength. Strength ratings are usually describes as heavy, medium heavy, medium, medium light, light or ultralight. Strength is related to the line ratings. A heavier strength rod will handle heavy line weights and lighter strength rods will handle much lighter weights and lines. It is important that your line test stay within the limits stated on the rod since a heavy power rod will snap light lines very easily and heavy lines can snap a light rod in two. Strength ratings vary by the type of rod being described. A heavy casting rod and a heavy offshore trolling rod will definitely not feel the same. One could be rated for 25lb line and the other for 80lb line.
The bodies of water that you are fishing in will determine the power of the rod you should select. Thick, heavy cover will require a strong heavy rod to get the fish out before it gets hung on limbs or rocks. Clear open waters will often require light hard to see lines in order to not be seen by fish, which means you will need a light strength rod.
This is the reference of the fishing rods ability of the entire rod to flex under load and release the energy in the cast. Most finished rods are the result of different layers of different materials, which contributes to the responsiveness of the rod. The lighter the rod, especially the tip, the more responsive it will be. Weight is impeding to performance. The higher the strength, the more efficiently it will store and release energy. Which allows you the ability to accurately cast a lower trajectory.
Guides On a Casting Rod
Most guides found on casting rods today feature a metal frame and a ceramic ring that the line glides through. There can be a great variance in price, and one single guide on a spinning rod can cost $40 or as little as a few dollars. Silicon carbide is usually considered the best material today. It offers a super smooth surface that has less friction on the line during casting and retrieving. Less friction means longer casts and less friction, as friction destroys fishing lines.
Alconite is also a smooth material that is much less expensive than Silicon carbide. Aluminum oxide are other ceramic materials that are found on most rods on the market today. They are very inexpensive. Some of the new guides on the market are Titanium wire. These guides bend back into place even if they are pushed flat. Stainless steel guides break instead of bending, which results in expensive repairs. Some rod guides use a ring of stainless steel instead of ceramic. These guides are not as smooth as the ceramic inserts. But they reduce the overall weight of the fishing rods.
The more guides that are placed on a rod will generally make it cast better and cost more than the same rod with less guides. More guides on the rod will allow it to bend more consistently throughout its length. This allows for more power and longer casts and excellent fishing fighting. The Fuji Concept Guide System is the most common example of guides on rods today.
Handles And Reel Seats
The need to have a comfortable and lightweight handle, cork is usually the desired handle. Casting rods have several options, from foam to custom wrapped and cork. Cork allows for sufficient grip, even while it is wet. It also for the feel of delicate vibrations from fish picking up your worm or baits. A fresh, high quality cork grip is a great addition to your fishing rod. Cork quality varies greatly along with the price. Most manufacturers determine the quality of cork used based on the overall cost of the rod. As everything in life, you get what you pay for, so the best cork will be on the most expensive fishing rods.
The reel seats hold the reel onto the rods. There is very little difference in reel seats. Most anglers choose graphite seats with a cutout that allows you to feel the rod closely. Less quality rods will use reel seats that do not have plastic cushions inside the metal hoods that hold the reel onto it. This allows the seats to often rust and can bind up your reel, making it difficult to remove it. Cheaper rods, particularly those made in China, will have cardboard spacers between the reel seat and the rod handle which dampens vibrations and tear very easily. This also allows the reel to rotate around the rod. Which is a huge problem while fighting a fierce fish!
So as you are considering new rods, all these factors need to be taking into consideration to determine the rod that is right for you. It becomes apparent to see why the best rods are much more expensive. This is true of modern casting rods, since anglers demand fast actions and the lightest weight possible. One last thing to consider is the ability to take a beating from your deck, rod locker, or in the back of your pickup.
FCPTackle offers several rods to meet the demands of the modern fisherman. Check out the rods and their descriptions on our site, and buy the best rod you can afford based on what you’ve learned. We offer several rods in different price ranges. Good luck on your rod hunting quest.
As we cleared the Atlantic Beach Bridge dawn was breaking in the eastern sky over the Morehead City channel, on our way out of Beaufort inlet home of the famous Big Rock tournament. After a few minutes running up on plane we turned north and buzzed past Cape Lookout searching for some visible sargassum grass lines to try our hand at some early morning Dolphin (Mahi).
When trolling we will use multiple baits, strategically placed on rods with lines close together to fool the fish. The technique is based on the idea that in order to catch dolphin, tuna, wahoo, or sailfish and marlin you will have to imitate the movement of their natural prey – schools of fish that move in very specific patterns.
Trolling for Multiple Species.
When trolling for saltwater predators, there are lots of considerations to keep in mind starting with your offshore location, the bait you have, the trolling technique you are going to use, and the types of fish you would like to catch. For the most part, sailfish, tuna, wahoo, and dolphin respond to the same trolling techniques so you don’t have to vary your approach much. Still, you will have to ask yourself, what kind of fish can be found in particular area your fishing? If you are pretty sure that there are more tuna than wahoo in the area, then you may have to make some subtle adjustments, like type of teasers or colors you are using. The best way is to experiment with several colors until you can pattern the fish better.
Here are some of my favorite types of trolling methods for aggressive fish.
When it comes right down to it, your technique for handling the boat and setting up your equipment depends on the kind of fish you want to catch and the type of boat you happen to have. Every boat is different so you would want to make careful study of the one you are actually using. Generally, here’s what it comes down to:
High Speed Trolling
High speed trolling involves kicking your boat speed up to 15 knots or more. Most people seem to think this is too fast, but high speed trolling is really the way to go if you want to catch wahoo, dolphin and other fish capable of chasing down fast moving bait. These are used to catching prey that flees off in terror, hence the need to fool them with a 15-knot speed that allows for some chasing.
Slow Speed Trolling
In some instances, of course, slow trolling is more ideal. For example, heavier baits are often trolled at slower speeds so that they would not be tumbling around in the water. You want your baits to assume a steady and straight lined pace because they are supposed to imitate actual schools of fish. When was the last time you saw fish swimming with their tail first?
Another excellent technique is kite trolling which perfectly imitates the way baitfish will scatter towards the surface and fly out of the water. This is ideal for tuna fishing since these deep-sea fish are incredibly fond of the resistant prey. The kite basically gives your bait that eye-catching ‘hop’ that looks a lot like flying fish in action.
Planers are the opposite of Kite Trolling in that they are meant to get your bait below the surface down to a certain level. Wahoo, tuna, dolphin, and other predatory fish might swim close to the edge of the water to eat, but you can be sure that there are lots more in the deeper portions of the sea, just waiting for a snack. Planers make sure that your bait reaches the deeper portions, therefore making it easier for you to dangle the bait in your target’s eyesight.
Generally, the goal when trolling baits is to make them work as a unit – like a school of fish swimming through the water. A clean line of air pockets should be created with each bait, what is known as a ‘smoke trail’. You might have to experiment with speed to achieve this result.
Types of Rigs and Ballyhoo Rigged Baits
Fishing with Ballyhoo rigged baits are best if you want to catch different types of aggressive fish like dolphin (Mahi Mahi), tuna, and other predatory fish. In fact, the ballyhoo doesn’t even have to be a native to the waters you are fishing in – with the right speed and positioning, you will be able to get strikes from whatever fish is in the area while trolling. Ballyhoo baits are a no-fail type of rig if you are after two or more species of fish. Two of the best ways to rig ballyhoo are: the pin rig, pinless rigging, and circle hook.
However, that doesn’t mean you cannot experiment with other rigs. The market is currently filled with different types of rigs that can be used as bait for trolling. In these instances, it is best to choose a specific kind of rig that corresponds best with the type of predator fish you want to catch.
When it comes right down to it, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to trolling. You are going to have to vary your techniques depending on the situation and figure out which of your methods get you the best results. Actually, that is part of the fun of trolling.
As it turns out our day was a mixed bag of trolling techniques especially Ballyhoo rigged baits while trolling fast 8-12 knots, we added some colorful skirts, neon and chartreuse worked best. We managed to get 8 Dolphin (Mahi) in the boat along with several different toothy critters, Wahoo and Barracuda. All in all it was a productive 6 hour trip never venturing farther than about 10 miles off of Cape Lookout.
If you ever have the pleasure or opportunity to fish off of North Carolina make sure you buy some pre-rigged ballyhoo and throw in some bright green chartreuse and neon orange skirts, you might just run in to a few aggressive fish and have a blast.
You can find all the Fishing Tackle and Rods, Reels or Combos at FCPTackle.com. We stock all that is needed to Saltwater Fish, Bass Fish or Surf Fish.
Good Luck and Happy Catch!! Remember to take a kid fishing!!
It will hook them for life!