5 Tips for Choosing the Right Rod
How to Find the Right Rod
Today’s rods are high-tech tools that have moved the industry forward at a rapid pace in the past few years. For shoppers, it’s a bounty unheard of just a few years back but it can also be a multi-headed snake when faced with the task of expanding your arsenal. Even more daunting is the fact that regardless of how light and responsive a given rod is, it may NOT be right for the particular reel, or series of reel, you plan to add to the rod. The RIGHT rod is one that performs at optimum levels for your particular reel and style of fishing. Below you’ll find 5 keys to helping you find a rod that offers excellent performance for your needs and your fishing style. Fuji is the leading provider of quality rod components worldwide and does more research into rod components, layouts and design than any other company. We hope you will look for the Fuji tag on your next rod, but the information here is not specific to the Fuji Brand. It is provided to help fishermen better understand the importance of rod design and the resulting increase in performance when a few simple observations are made.
For further details and complete information on “high performance” fishing rods, we invite you to explore the rest of our site.
NOTE: Some manufacturers using Fuji components have developed their own proprietary modifications to Fuji’s suggested layout techniques. Generally, such rods will bear a close resemblance to those we have outlined below, but some may vary. You may want to experiment with rods that seem to vary slightly from our suggestions, especially if they employ Fuji components
A few tips
The components on a rod and their position are critical in how the rod performs. Shaking, bending and ”hefting” a rod in the showroom will do little to get you closer to the ”right” rod. Here are a few tips that will.
1. DETERMINE IN ADVANCE WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
You shouldn’t shop for a fishing rod like it was a tomato. You’re not looking for good color and nice feel. You’re looking for performance! Consider what it is you want to catch, what pound test line you plan to use, what type of lures you intend to cast, what kind of line you will be using; braid, mono or flourocarbon and finally, consider the length that will best fit your application. We also suggest you visit a few rod websites and become familiar with terms like “action”, “power” and “speed” to further narrow your search.
By taking this first simple step, you can eliminate 90% of the rods in the store. You’ve narrowed your search considerably before you ever leave the house.
2. TAKE THE REEL WITH YOU TO THE STORE
When you need to match a nut or bolt you carry it with you to the store. When you need to repair some plumbing, you have the PVC fitting in your pocket when you hit the plumbing aisle. But, somehow we’re often more prepared to by a 50-cent PVC fitting than we are to shop for an expensive fishing rod! Most of the time you have a good idea of the reel you’ll be using on the rod you seek. Having it with you while shopping is the most important element in locating a top performing rod. Refer to your answers from number 1 above and limit your search to appropriate rods. Check the line weight ratings and lure weight range printed on the rod and choose from the selection that matches your needs.
3. SHOP BRANDS IF YOU MUST BUT LET ”FIT” GUIDE YOUR DECISION
Sticking with established brands is a good way to make sure you get what you pay for. Your favorite ”brand” has obviously given you satisfactory performance in the past and earned your trust and loyalty. By all means look for a rod that works with your reel that is made by a company you trust, but don’t limit your selection to a specific brand and settle for a rod that isn’t built to match your reel. There are plenty of good rods available in a wide range of prices. Concentrate on performance.
4. MOUNT THE REEL ON THE ROD AND CHECK IT OUT
Now we’re getting to the nitty gritty. Spinning and Casting are two completely different animals, so we now come to a fork in the road. Please refer to the section that applies to you.
When you find a rod that meets your criteria, remove the spool from your reel and mount it on the rod. Lay it down on the edge of a counter and align the spool axle with the edge of the counter. Set up properly, there will be a point on the rod where it crosses the edge of the counter and sticks out into the air (see photo). This point is called the ”choke” point and it’s important in the layout. Guides ”on the counter” are larger guides that control and reduce line flow when you cast (reduction guides). Guides ”off the counter” control and channel line to the tip of the rod (running guides). If the top edge of the reduction guides line up along the edge of the counter, the rod will work well with your reel . There are some layout options that will move guides off of this line but generally speaking, reduction guides should follow the angle of the reels spool axle. Since you are dealing with a production rod you may not achieve a perfect match, but the closer you get, the better the rod is likely to perform with your reel. If things don’t match up and angles seem odd, try another rod. At this point you may discover that a lighter, smaller reel won’t ”fit” a heavy blank. Manufacturers build rods for a particular group of reels to better match the action and power of the rod. Let the reel tell you if you’ve chosen the right rod.
Note: Some of the latest Micro-Spinning rod layouts are utilizing a new ”Rapid Choke” layout that will move the ”choke” point discussed above closer to the reel. These reduction guides should still form a straight line, but it will ”point” to the blank closer to the reel than a traditional ”choke” point.
Casting rods have very few of the ”mechanical” issues that spinning rods must address but there are key issues. Because these reels allow line to flow from a spool through a small level wind ‘guide”, the large ”reduction” guides needed on spinning rods are not needed. However, other considerations will have an impact on performance and should influence your decision. First is the height-off-blank of the line. If your reel holds the line high off the blank you will need a larger first guide (called a ”collector” or ”stripper” guide). If your reel style does not disengage the worm gear and the pawl travels left and right when you cast, you will need a larger collector guide. If you fish heavier, stiffer line such as some flourocarbons, you will need a larger collector guide. In these situations, the ”collector” will usually fall between 18 and 25 inches from the reel and be a 10mm ring or larger. If you are using a reel that sits low on the rod and disengages the level wind guide on the cast, your can choose a rod with a smaller “collector” guide. Most rods, however, will benefit from a larger guide in this position followed by smaller guides.
5. FINAL TESTING: WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T TEST CAST WITH YOUR REEL?
If you’ve read this far, we can assume you’re pretty keen on performance and further assume that you didn’t read all of this to prepare to shop for a $30 rod. Chances are you’re about to ”invest” a few hundred dollars. Doesn’t it make sense to put the spool back on your reel (spinning) or mount your casting reel and conduct one final test?
Spinning or Casting, the POWER in the rod you select comes from its ability to transfer the energy stored in the (bent) rod to the guides on the rod and then into the line. The result is pressure on the fish. The closer the line tracks the natural bend of the rod, the more powerful the rod becomes because it is using the available power more efficiently. To test this, a comparison should be made between the ”natural” bend (the shape the rod would assume when lifting a weight attached ONLY to the tip of the rod) and the bend when lifting a weight with the line running from the reel through all the guides. This is a pretty complex test and one you probably don’t need to perform in the showroom. Instead, run your line through the guides, have the sales guy hold the line and flex the rod into a ”deep” bend.
On a spinning rod, there should be enough guides to track the line closely along the blank. Anything that looks like a strung bow (as in bow and arrow) is not good. This ”bowstring effect” is power lost from the rod and should be avoided.
On a casting rod under load, there should be enough guides to hold the line off the blank. Line rubbing the blank in a deep bend situation is a source of wear and once line dips below the blank it can create a loss of power and/or put undue stress on the blank. Note: Some micro guides sit so low to the rod that builders now accept a layout that allows line to just touch the blank under load.
Once you settle on the perfect match you might as well take it outside and test cast before reaching for your wallet. Your choice should be quiet, smooth, long casting and very sensitive.
BUY IT BECAUSE IT FITS:
No matter how ”good” the rod, there is no guarantee that it will work well with your reel choice. Matching a high modulus, ultra-light graphite blank with top quality components and good design that ALSO FITS YOUR REEL is a truly amazing thing to ”feel”. These set-ups are quiet, long casting beauties with plenty of power and sensitivity. Taking the time to match the reel and rod is an enjoyable exercise with a big payoff on the water!
Find your local Fuji dealer or retail store.