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A Guide to Fishing Rods




History of the Fishing Rod
Fishing rods were originally made from yew and green hart and later from split cane (Tonkin cane). The rod handles were usually made of cork and the guides (rod rings) were just plain wire loops. In the late 1960's I saw many fishing rods used by sea anglers made from 'tank' aerials. These were very heavy but ideal for casting heavy weights. With the emergence of fibreglass, although still heavy compared to fishing rods of today, fishing rods made from this were a lot more durable and stronger. Nowadays fishing rods are generally made of various compositions which include graphite, carbon fibre or a composite. These rods are far lighter and stronger.

Buying a Fishing Rod.
There are literally hundreds of fishing rods on the market and for a newcomer to fishing this can be very daunting. Before you fork out your hard earned cash on a brand new fishing rod, decide what type of fishing you will be doing and what fish you will be hoping to catch. Have a look around your local tackle shops and see just whats on offer.


Each year many anglers decide they have had their fishing rods, reels etc for a long time or have maybe decided to change from general fishing to carp fishing. This is good for beginners to angling because these anglers sell their old tackle in local shops, therefore, good, cheap, second hand tackle bargains can be found in your local fishing tackle shop.

Also check the classified adverts in your local paper and the tackle stalls at boot sales.

Beware at boot sales though, 1. a lot of stolen fishing tackle has been found for sale at boot sales.  2. always check the tackle is in decent condition and actually working.  Guarantees are not given !


Prices of fishing rods and reels vary tremendously and for a guide to fishing tackle prices so that you can compare the price of rods advertised, have a look around your local fishing tackle shop or online tackle shops.

If you intend going fishing with a friend then he or she will give you information on what rod you will need. If you can, take them with you when you go to buy your rod. You'll also find your local tackle shop owner will be pleased to help you. Tell him, or her, what you will be fishing for and how (float fishing or legering) and where you will be fishing. Also say what budget you have for the rod. You don't want to waste his time by letting him show you £200 rods when you only have £40 !


Remember as with most things in the world - the most expensive is not always the most suitable.


Choosing a Fishing Rod

With such a vast choice of fishing rods for sale, how do I, as beginner to fishing, decide what rod to buy?

When choosing a fishing rod the important factors to take into consideration first are :-

green square  what fish you will be fishing for

It would be no good fishing for a 50lb specimen carp with a light trout rod. The rod needs to match the fish

green square  will you be float fishing or ledgering

green square  what type of water you will be fishing

fishing a fast flowing river with a lightweight through action float rod will bend it double - no good at all. The rod needs to match the venue

green square  choose a fishing rod that is the right length for you

don't try and struggle using / casting a 13ft rod when a 10ft would be easier and more comfortable.


As with all fishing rods, the longer the rod the further it will cast and will give you more control when playing a fish.

Also when choosing a fishing rod, take into account the, 'Action' and 'Test Curve', explained below.


Float Fishing Rods
The term float fishing rod usually applies to rods that are used for general fishing and match fishing. They are usually made up from 3 equal length sections and are either 'through action' or 'tip action' rod and range from 10ft to 15ft long, although the Bolognese rods measure up to around 20ft. The longer the rod the greater the casting distance and the length can act as a shock absorber when playing a fish. As a guide a 12ft to 13ft rod should cover most types of float fishing.

Ledger / Quiver tip Fishing Rods
Leger fishing rods are between 9ft and 11 ft and generally made up of 2 sections. These are used for fishing a bait on the bottom of the river or lake without a float. Bite indication is through the quiver tip or swing tip. A quiver tip is like a small, tapered extension to the rod that is pushed into the end. When a fish bites, the end of the rod 'quivers' before it is pulled round. Some leger rods have a screw fitting in top ring and the swing tip is screwed into this. The swing tip is like a 6 to 8 inch thin stick with a rubber tube fitted to one end and a rod ring to the other. In the other end of the rubber tube is the screw. Line is threaded through the rod as normal and also through the swing tip ring. The swing tip hangs down and a bite is detected when it swings and lifts up as the fish swims away.

Feeder Fishing Rods
Feeder fishing rods range from around 9ft (generally called a 'picker' rod ) to 12ft. As with the leger rod, the feeder rod is used for fishing a bait on the bottom without using a float. The top section of the rod is the quiver tip. Most feeder fishing rods come with extra quiver tips in different sizes (thickness) and these are softer and heavier. These extra tips are  depending on the size of fish you will be fishing for. The water you will be fishing can also determine the quiver tip needed. If fishing for big fish such as barbel or carp then a heavy feeder rod is required. These are in principal the same as described above but a lot stronger.

When buying a ledger fishing rod or feeder fishing rod, bear in mind that one with changeable quiver tips can be used for all types of conditions.  Also with all fishing rods, the longer the rod the further you will be able to cast and have more control when playing a fish.



Specialist Rods - Carp Rods, Barbel Rods
Specialist rods range in size from around 10ft to 13ft and because they will be used for fishing for big carp, barbel and other fish they are obviously a lot sturdier than normal feeder or float rods.

As with all your fishing rods, when choosing one for carp fishing you should choose one that you feel most comfortable with. In the tackle shop ask the owner if you can put one or two together to see what they feel like; do they feel heavy? do they seem too long?
You will probably find a 12ft carp rod feels ok and as mentioned previously, this is a good length for casting and will give you more control when playing a big carp.

Unlike general fishing rods, carp rods are sorted by the test curve. How the test curve is measured is explained below.

A carp rod of 2.5lb or 2.75lb test curve will cover most waters but ask advice from the tackle dealer as he will know most of the waters in the area. Carp rods over 2.75lb text curve are more for the experienced big fish specialists (maybe you in a year or so ! )

As a guide, the longer rods with heavier test curves are more suited to long range fishing and the shorter rods with lighter test curves are more suited for fishing close in.


Spod Rods
A spod rod is a specialist rod used mainly by big carp and specimen anglers. This rod is powerful with a progressive action and is used for casting a spod which can weigh 8 ounces or more - see Spodding for Carp and Specimen Fish - both accurately and great distances


All fishing rods have an 'Action'. This refers to the bending curve of the rod and depends on the type of rod and what it is made from.
Basically there are two rod actions, through action and tip action.

green square  Through action rods bend more from the butt of the rod ('through' the length of the rod.) This action acts as a shock absorber when playing a fish and can be used for most types of float fishing.

green square  Tip action rods bend most in the tip section (bends in the last quarter of the rod). These are good for playing larger more powerful fish on tight lines.


Action can also be referred to as Fast to Slow. An extra fast action rod bends just at the tip. A fast action bends in the last quarter of the rod. A moderate-fast action rod bends over the last third. A moderate action rod bends over the last half. A slow action rod bends all the way into the handle

Test Curve
The test curve of a rod generally refers to sturdier rods such as carp rods. This is the amount of weight that, when applied to the end / top of a rod will cause the rod to bend into a 90 degree curve.
As a guide the longer rods with heavier test curves are more suited to long range fishing and the shorter rods with lighter test curves are more suited for fishing close in.



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Article and images by Jim Boswell





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