All you need to know about buying fishing rods for beginners
In ‘the olden days’ we didn’t have many choices – a fishing rod was a very basic piece of kit. Thanks to new materials and advances in fishing rod technology we now have a much greater variety. There are literally thousands of components to choose from to create your fishing rod, which allow you to create your own unique rod to suit the type of fish you are targeting and of course where you are fishing. In this article we guide you through the minefield of buying fishing rods for beginners
Fishing Rods for Beginners
As a beginner, the choices can be a little confusing. You want to get good value for money and a rod and reel that will suit your needs. When you go to a fishing tackle shop you want to be armed with good information, so you have a good idea of what you are getting. There may otherwise be a nagging doubt that the sales advisor is just trying to get you to spend money you don’t need to or maybe trying to shift last season’s unsold stock. A bit of advance preparation can help you to avoid the rookie errors.
Here, we are going to look at the basic fishing rod types, the different components that make up a fishing rod and some recommendations of what, as a beginner, you should be looking for.
Types of Fishing Rods
Whether you’ll be troll fishing, catching salmon, bass fishing or fishing for flounder, you’ll find the perfect fishing rod for your needs right here.
Spinning rods allow for a long cast with a light lure and are very beginner-friendly. They are also relatively inexpensive. Spinning rods are, for these reasons, the most popular fishing rods for beginners.
A spinning rod ranges from 1.5m to 2.6m in length and has a open-faced reel which is very popular among anglers of all ages, due to its ease of use.
While spinning rods will never compete with bait-casters in terms of accuracy, their ease of use, light weight, robust design, and relative cheapness make them a very popular fishing rod for the keen beginner or intermediate angler.
Spincast Reels – Best For Beginners
Like spinning reels, spincast reels have a static spool. They are widely considered the best reels for absolute beginners and children. Their closed design means that the entire mechanism is enclosed so little fingers can’t get trapped and their design makes them practically tangle-free. Simply push the button at the back of the reel to cast and let go stop the line from paying out. They don’t cast as far and are not as accurate as other types of fishing reels, but for beginners they are a great choice.
Pair up a spincast reel with a fibreglass rod and you have got a winning combination for beginners.
Bait Caster Reels
The bait-caster is a distinctive looking reel, particularly in terms of its operation. Instead of hanging beneath the rod, the bait-caster reel sits on top of the rod, with the reel sideways and exposed. The bait-caster reel looks, and in a lot of ways, is very complicated but it gives the greatest amount of control. In skilled hands, the bait can be placed incredibly accurately in the water, making for a more effective angler. In terms of this article, however, for beginners, the bait-caster reel is very much to be avoided.
Fly Fishing Reels
Fly fishing reels, as the name suggests, are only used for fly fishing. They use a special type of rod that allows the use of the incredibly lightweight lures (flies) used in fly fishing. There are two types of fly fishing – dry fly and wet fly. In dry fly fishing, the fly ‘sits’ on the surface of the water, mimicking the behaviour of a real fly. Because of the water’s surface tension, the light weight of the fly, and the almost invisible line (leader) at the end of the fishing line, the fish are fooled into thinking a juicy fly has just landed on the surface of the water and in the blink of an eye, fish attacks fly, you catch fish. That, at least, is the theory. With wet fly, exactly the same process but the fly is allowed to sink in the water. This type of fly fishing is good when the water is colder and the fish are to be found near the bottom.
Fly fishing is an advanced technique, included here for completeness but not really in the scope of an article about fishing for beginners.
The Best Fishing Rod For Beginners
You must consider many things when looking for the best beginners’ fishing rod. There are a huge number of rods on the market, and with such a wide variety how do you know the best one? We will have a look at the aspects to consider and give you some tips on finding the best fishing rod.
As with any new hobby, it is a good idea to go with someone more experienced the first few times you fish. Just like playing any sport, you only get better by playing with people who are more experienced than you. The same can be said of fishing. An experienced angler will know the best spots, where the fish feed and what bait they like. Once you have a basic understanding of fish behaviour and some success, you can start to mix things up. To begin with, try learning from friends or other anglers with more experience.
The action of a rod describes much a rod bends along its length and how quickly the rod tip returns to a neutral position once flexed. Rod actions range from slow to extra fast. As a rule of thumb, beginners should avoid fishing rods with a fast action as they require a more advanced casting technique Rod action is affected by the rod’s taper (how quickly it narrows), length, and the material the blank (shaft) is made from. A fishing rod’s action not only determines the type of fishing it is best suited to but how it will handle and land a fish.
Recommendation for beginners: choose a fishing rod with a slow or medium action.
Fibreglass, graphite and bamboo are the most popular materials to use in fishing rod construction as well as composite materials. But which is the best for the beginner? Fibreglass is a great material for a beginner’s fishing rod as it offers a good compromise between weight, sensitivity, durability, and price.
Graphite offers a step-up for the more advanced angler in terms of sensitivity, but it is a more brittle material and hence less forgiving for the slightly clumsy angler. As you improve you will start to appreciate the subtle differences and increased sensitivity afforded by a graphite rod. For a beginner, you will definitely appreciate that a fibreglass rod takes more punishment and won’t break the bank to buy.
Recommendation for beginners: choose a fibreglass fishing rod and upgrade to graphite as you improve.
Obviously, the longer the fishing rod, the further the reach and the bigger the cast. You will have seen the super-long rods of 15-20 feet used by beach casters who need to clear rocks and reach the deeper water with their cast. At the other end of the scale, trolling for tuna or other big game fish, the rods are short and stiff. These are trailed from the back of the boat and as such a long cast to clear obstacles is not required.
Recommendation for beginners: choose a rod that is long enough to clear any obstacles and reach the water where the fish are.
A fishing rod’s weight rating is the maximum recommended weight that the fishing rod can take. This is shown on the blank (rod shaft) in kilograms or pounds. A 2kg weighted rod would be appropriate when fishing for fish of 2kg in weight or less.
This does not mean that it will break above that weight, but it gives you an idea of what the rod was designed for. Bear in mind that the thrashing of a struggling fish will add significantly to the weight on the line and rod.
Recommendation for beginners: choose a weight rating that is at least double the weight of the fish that you are targeting.
The rod blank (the shaft of the rod) is only part of the story. The grips, runners and guides are also key components and will be important in developing your personal style of fishing. They are made of many different materials of varying weight, quality and durability – rubber, plastic and metal through to cork, and carbon fibre. The honest answer here is that you get what you pay for. However, the investment in expensive materials for a beginner is not recommended. Firstly, you are just getting started – who knows if you re going to enjoy the sport, so don’t buy all the expensive gear before you know that it is going to get good use. Also, when you are still learning the art of angling, the extra spend is not going to translate into greater success or better enjoyment. The nuances of the more expensive materials will only really become significant once your skill level increases.
Recommendation for beginners: there are many decent beginners’ rods that will be perfectly adequate to learn with, without the expense of premium materials.