Fishing Rod Buying Guide

Landing a trophy fish starts with using the right rod. This fishing rod buying guide outlines the various types and their uses to help you reel in the big one.

Fishing Rods 101

You don’t have to be an expert angler to enjoy fishing, but you won’t get far without the right equipment — most importantly, the right fishing rod. The main things to consider when choosing a rod are where you'll be fishing (lakes, rivers, streams etc.), the type of fish you’re after, and the type of lure you'll be using. The difference in rods come down to length, weight (a measure of the rod's strength), and action (how far it will bend before its ready to spring back).

Shop rod & reel combos
Shop rods
Shop reels

Types of Fishing Rods


Casting Rods

Casting rods, also known as spin cast rods, are designed to hold a casting reel which is mounted above the handle. Casting rods are the easiest type of rod to use, with a simple push-button line release for casting and an enclosed "nosecone" where the line comes out of the reel. They are also the least expensive type of fishing rod, so a great choice for first-time anglers. Casting rods are suitable for most types of lake and river fishing. They are typically more powerful than spinning rods as they can use heavier line and handle heavier cover (weeds, rocks etc.).

Spinning Rods

Unlike casting rods, with a spinning rod the reel hangs beneath the rod rather than on top. They also require a bit more technique, as your second and third fingers must straddle the leg of the reel where it attaches to the rod. The main advantage is that it allows you to hold the rod in your dominant hand which greatly increases control. Also, having the weight of the reel hang below the rod makes for more comfortable fishing over extended periods. Spinning rods are better than casting rods for casting light lures or bait because the line can peel off unimpeded by either a nosecone or the friction of a casting rod’s reel spool. Spinning rods are widely used for sport fish including bass, trout, pike and walleye.

Ultra-Light Rods

Originally produced to bring more challenge and excitement to landing a fish, ultra-light rods are distinguished by their shorter length, lighter construction and lighter lines. They are commonly used to fish for smaller fish species like trout, bass and other types of panfish (fish that fit in an average sized frying pan), though some anglers extend their use to larger size fish as well. The lighter fishing line and small-sized bait are less likely to scare away smaller fish, so they tend to get more small fish bites on average than other rods. Typical bait choices for an ultra-light rod are small spinners, wet flies, tubes or plastic worms. 

Fly Rods

A fly rod is a specialized rod designed for fly fishing, which involves casting a lightweight lure, known as an "artificial fly," attached to a weighted line. The lure is disguised with brightly coloured feathers, fur, hair and other materials to attract the fish, while the heavy line sinks out of site. Fly rods can be used to catch many kinds of fish, including trout, salmon, carp, pike, bass, and even marlin and sharks. The size of the rod depends on the size of fish you're trying to catch — the larger the fish, the heavier the rod required.

Telescopic Fishing Rod

Telescopic fishing rods are constructed to either collapse down to a short length or open up into a longer rod. This is a benefit if you're travelling by foot, bike, compact car or crowded public transit. Telescopic fishing rods are especially useful in surf fishing, which requires particularly long rods of up to 14' in length. If you choose a telescopic rod, take care to keep the joints clean as dirt or sand could cause damage that impairs the rod's telescopic action.

Surf Rods

Surf rods are typically used in sea fishing from the beach, rocks or other type of shoreline. They resemble oversized spinning rods but have long grip handles for two-handed casting. Surf rods are long (3 – 4 m) so you can cast beyond the breaking surf where fish tend to congregate. They are also sturdy enough to cast the heavy lures or bait needed to hold the bottom in rough water.

Trolling Rods

Trolling entails casting from a moving boat and letting the motion of the boat pull the bait through the water. They are mostly used for ocean and Great Lakes fishing: a good spinning rod will usually work fine for most inland lake and stream fishing. Trolling rods are stiff with relatively fast action, as a slow action rod is too whippy for trolling off a faster moving boat. 

Fishing Rod Buying Tips:

• Choose a medium-sized rod for inshore fishing, which generally means fishing in relatively shallow water for fish under 20 pounds,
• When fishing the bottom of a body of water, it’s best to use a shorter rod
• Fiberglass rods are heavier than carbon fibre rods but also generally less expensive
• A casting rod is a good beginner rod because it’s easy to use and usually less expensive than other types of rods


Fishing Rod Length +

The length of the rod that you buy should depend on two factors: the sort of fish that you want to catch and the location in which you’ll be fishing. Shorter rods are best for wooded areas and catching larger fish. Longer rods are best for clear, open spaces and smaller fish.

Fishing Rod Action +

The rod action, or whip, is the speed with which a rod returns to its original position after bending. Depending on the rod, the action will range from slow (whippy) to very fast (stiff). The action you choose should depend on the weight of fish that you want to catch. Heavier fish require faster actions and smaller fish require slower actions.

Fishing Rod Weight +

Also known as the rod’s “power”, fishing rods are classed as ultra-light, light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy and ultra-Heavy. The weight is a good indicator of the size, species or type of fishing for which a rod is best suited. Ultra-light rods are suitable for catching panfish, baitfish and other small fish that require a slow action response. Ultra-heavy rods are used in surf fishing, or for extremely heavy fish. The key to avoiding broken rods or lost fish is to use the rod in the right situations.

Shop Accessories & Related Products:

Fishing Rod Maintenance Tips:

• Lubricate your reels with a corrosion inhibitor such as WD40
• Store your rod in its case to protect it from the elements
• Do not use graphite rods in electrical storms because they conduct electricity
• To avoid damage to your graphite rod, don't place it too close to other metal fishing gear or abrasive objects
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



Store details