It doesn’t take much to be amazed by the choice of fishing rods in today’s market. Any tackle shop boasts rack upon rack of different rods; some short and stumpy, some long and whippy, some cheap, some not so cheap and literally hundreds that fall in between.
Nearly all commercially made fishing rods look appealing flash bindings, matching colour schemes, and glossy finishes but there’s more to a rod than mere cosmetics. Cosmetics are so often deceptive. There’s the rod blank itself. the guides, grips, reel seat or winch fitting, in some cases a ferrule and, of course, the actual quality of those cute looking bindings.
It’s these raw materials and components that make or break a fishing rod. Low-quality components are usually a feature of the cheaper, poorer quality fishing rods. While the once-a-year band of anglers often opt for these sticks, those anglers who are serious about their fishing will be in the market for something that costs a little more, and performs a lot better. Knowing what to look for, and what to avoid, is the first basic step to proper rod selection.
Fishing Rod Types?
Fishing rod materials certainly haven’t escaped the high-tech race of the space age. Boron. graphite, kevlar and composites of these materials and others are the latest innovations in rods.
It’s taken a couple of years for manufacturers to iron out problems such as delamination with the carbons, but the end result is a range of lethal fishing weapons. Boron. although much newer than graphite or carbon fibre, is already carving itself a niche in the world of high class, high-performance rods. Graphite and boron rods are considerably lighter than older rods, yet possess substantially greater fish fighting and casting power which is mainly as a result of their super-quick recovery rate after being ?exed. The specialised field of fly casting, in particular, has taken on a new look with the advent of these materials.
The latest generation high modulus fibreglass and graphite/glass composite rods carry almost as much weight with the angling fraternity as the ‘pure’ boron and graphite models. They remain light but strong. and are very effective casting weapons. They are also tailored to suit most budgets, although it’s best to stick with a rod in the mid or upper price bracket to ensure reliable quality.
Hollow fibreglass rods are still the most popular all-rounders. They are a little heavier than the above mentioned materials. but stand up to rough treatment much better. Nearly all rockhoppers rely on glass for this very reason. Glass blanks and rods come in a huge range of lengths and tapers to suit every angler’s needs and have a long standing reputation as successful fish takers. They remain the everyday angler’s first choice in rods.
Cane is over-shadowed as a rod material in today’s market because of its weight, relative fragility and high demands in the maintenance department. Split cane fly rods still pull the punches with sentimental anglers who have a fat wallet and a love of the old world charm and ‘feel’ of these craftsman-made masterpieces.
Fishing Rod Guides
Rod guides or runners serve the sole purpose of keeping the line path relatively close to the rod. Very small guides will hinder casting while heavy over-sized guides will ruin the rod’s natural action. so size is a consideration. Having a correct spread of guides on your rod number and placement — is crucial to its performance too. if the runners are incorrectly placed then the optimum performance of the rod will be reduced. Excess line wear can also result. Most rod manufacturers a reasonably good eye for guide place though many factory built rods would perform better with at least one extra runner.
Lite rod materials. guides have also kept up with the times. Aluminium oxide and the more expensive silicon carbide guides are favoured for their heat dispersing properties. On fast running fish this ability is claimed to ensure minimum line damage. Both these materials are also extremely hard and resist grooving from constant line friction. Wire or chromed brass guides have their place with some anglers. especially those desiring extreme lightness at a budget price. Some freshwater anglers favour the wire guide especially fly casters who get best results with snake or ‘S’ shaped wire guides.
There are several different rod guide designs on the market. Single foot guides are very light and are preferred for light action. fine taper rods. Two or three foot guides are more durable, yet ?ex with the rod’s action. They are the most popular for all round use. Finally, there are roller guides. These have line carrying wheel, housed in a frame and revolving on a bush to lessen line wear. Roller guides are intended for use on medium to heavy tackle game rods and aren’t a casting guide.
Fishing Rod Grips
Good quality, comfortable rod grips are more important than one may think. Without them, your ability to fight fish or cast is reduced. In the most severe cases, you could lose a rod overboard!
Hypalon or Duralon is a densely grained, synthetic rubber. This material is hard to go past and will prove efficient in all but a few specific areas, though some anglers look no further than a length of cord and a tube of glue, making their own quite functional grips by binding the cord around the rod blank ahead of the reel seat.
Ultra-light rods and ?y rods are often better equipped with cork grips. These grips are lighter and can be shaped to fit the angler’s casting hand. They also offer more feel than rubber. On heavy game rods a leather or felt covered cork grip is sometimes favoured for its firmness and grip when fighting a big fish.
The winch fitting or reel seat is the part of the rod which secures the reel in place. Most have two hoods to hold the reel feet and lock tight with one or more screw rings. A good reel seat is an insurance against losing your reel. Most manufactured rods are fitted with a reliable winch. The grey coloured, graphite reinforced winches are dependable and less prone to corrosion than alloy or light gauge brass winches. Heavier and very robust chrome brass or stainless seats are mainly aimed at game fishermen and other heavy duty saltwater specialists.
Fishing Rod Ferrules
Most anglers prefer a one—piece rod. These are less prone to breakages, have a more natural action and are often lighter in weight than two or three piece models. But it’s obvious that a one~piece rod can be rather impractical to carry.
The vast majority of today’s manufactured two piece rods have built-in ferrules incorporated into the rod design. These are generally a glass to glass or graphite-to-graphite join with the female end ?tting over a solid plug or the blank itself. This form of ferrule is a fine compromise, having relatively little effect on the action of the rod.
Chrome brass ferrules, on the other hand, are bulkier rigid and heavy. They also have a nasty habit of jamming or seizing after a stint of saltwater ?shing.
Fishing Rod Bindings and Finish
Most off-the-rack rods are bound with the same thread size and ?nished with a quick drying varnish. Higher quality rods have a layer of thread beneath the foot of the guide called an under binding, This ensures that the guide foot doesn’t damage the walls of the blank and create a weak spot and also prevents the guide moving or ‘creeping’ under load.
A rod with under bindings and a good thick coat of epoxy rather than thin varnish is a wise investment. However, rods that are completely coated with varnish are a sure-?re problem. It only takes a couple of seasons for an ugly, incurable dermatitis to form!