There are many types of fishing rods available to meet all your needs. But if you’re just starting out or haven’t learned all of the types available, it can be a little overwhelming. So I wanted to make a quick guide for everyone that goes over every type of fishing rod I know, how to identity each, and what they’re meant for.
So you can read each and determine which type of rod is right for you depending on how you want to fish. There is not one “best” option, they all work great in certain situations.
Once you have know which type you want, click this link to head to Bass Pro Shops which has a great selection of every type of rod at fair prices. Plus if you use my link they share some of your purchase with me at no extra cost to you!
Spincast fishing rod
If you ever went to Wal-mart and bought the Barbie or Spiderman rod, then you have seen a spincast fishing rod. They are identified by an enclosed reel where the line comes out of the top and through the rod eyelets. The reel also includes a button at the very bottom that is used to cast it.
The beauty of a spincast rod is that it’s foolproof. Just press the button and cast the rod, you’ll have a good cast every time. So it’s ideal for very beginner fisherman or children who don’t want to learn the mechanics of casing any other type of fishing rod. But it can handle big fish too, just look at this video below of a giant bass caught on a spincast rod.
But you will suffer if you want to advance at all in your fishing practice with this type of rod. You can’t cast very far, you will eventually get backlashes in the reel that are hard to fix, and it just doesn’t give you the control other rod types do.
So a spincast is great if you want something that works easily out of the box or have a child who just wants to catch a fish or two. But if you’re going to use it for any time at all or try to grow as a fishermen, you’ll want to move away from it pretty quickly.
A great spincast combo you can get started with is available here.
Spinning fishing rod
What many people consider a “step up” from a spincast rod is a spinning rod. The main difference with this type of fishing rod is the reel changes to a spinning reel, which has an open horizontal spool where the fishing line is held. In addition, spinning rods are one of the few where you hold the pole with the eyelets facing towards the ground instead of up towards the sky.
Spinning rods are just great all around rods that the majority of fishermen use. They can work from everything to tiny bluegill to 100 pound catfish or ocean fish. They can cast further than most any rod too. Once you get used to how it works, it’s also pretty easy to use as well. And if you do get loops or knots, you can usually pull them out easier because the reel is open.
I recommend spinning rods to 99% of beginner fishermen as I think they’re the best all around rods you can buy. But they do have a few deficiencies. Pinpoint casting can be hard because of the way you cast them. It also takes a few steps (click bailiff, hold line, cast) and there are some that allow for more efficient casting.
But unless you’re an advanced fisherman, a spinning rod will do you just fine. If you want to look at how you cast a spinning rod, take a look at this article which goes very in depth. It definitely will take a day or two to get comfortable with it – but I promise it’s actually quite easy when you get the hang of it.
If you’re looking for a good spinning rod combo to get you started, try this one.
Casting fishing rod
A casting rod is what most people would consider the “advanced” gear that serious fishermen use. They look similar to a spinning rod with two main differences. Instead of the line spool benign horizontal to the pole, they are parallel or vertical in line with the eyelets. And the reel sits on top of the pole instead of underneath it, like on a spinning rod.
Because the line is “in line” with the eyelets, you’ll notice that everything feels smoother and it leads to increased sensitivity. Surprisingly though because you can’t create the “flick” that comes with a spinning rod, you can’t cast it quite as far. But it makes up for that in accuracy, as you can really pinpoint casts with this rod. And you can also cast much more quickly, making it the most efficient choice – which is why pros like them so much.
But the downside is they take some practice to really use effectively. The baitcast version, one of the most popular for bass fishing, can take months of practicing to really feel comfortable with. And it takes years to actually master. Other ones that are larger models meant for saltwater can be a little easier but aren’t as straightforward as spinning versions.
Thankfully, I have written an article on how to master the baitcaster, which you could read here.
Or if you just want to dive straight in, take a look at this combo from Bass Pro Shops.
Ice fishing rod
We now get out of the more universal types of fishing rods above and into some niche scenario rods. The first is the ice fishing rod, which as you could guess, is meant for ice fishing.
These are usually within the spinning rod type category and you will find the main difference that separates them is they are very short. This is because when ice fishing, you are just dropping your lure down a small hole cut into the ice. So there really is no need for length, which is what gives a fishing rod it’s ability to cast a great distance. Being short also helps you jig while sitting over the hole without being 6 feet away.
An ice rod can technically work with any application where you just drop a lure straight down, though there aren’t many situations outside of ice fishing that require this. Ice fishing rods are also sensitive, lightweight, and are very easy to fight a fish with. So they’re what you want if you decide you want to go ice fishing. Outside of that though, they don’t have much use.
Unfortunately I don’t live in an area where lakes freeze over enough for me to walk on the ice. So I don’t have a ton of history or knowledge in ice fishing. So if you want to learn more, take a look at this article which goes much more in depth.
If you want to try a good ice fishing rod, take a look at this option.
Trolling fishing rod
On to another technique specific rod – the trolling rod. As you may have guessed, this rod is meant for trolling. Trolling is a very fun way to fish if you have a nice boat as you can just sit back and wait for the fish to bite while you cruise around the lake.
Essentially this entails throwing a lure out many feet behind the boat and controlling it’s depth. Then, you just start cruising around the lake at a low rate of speed and let the lure do it’s thing behind your boat. You usually set out several rods with different lures and just watch to see if anything bites.
So while you can do this with about any type of rod, it’s easiest to do with a “trolling” rod which is usually a type of casting rod. They often come with line counters and make it easy to pull out a certain amount of line. They’re also usually pretty beefy as fish you catch while trolling are generally a good size.
Trolling rods are made to not be casted – which makes them very specific and not very useful outside of trolling. But if you have a boat and like to just cruise around a lake or bay – then this is a perfect way to fish and still relax. While you could use any rod to do this, a trolling rod will make it much easier.
If you’re looking for a good trolling rod at Bass Pro Shops, this is the most popular one.
Fly fishing rod
Maybe the exact opposite of the do-nothing approach to a trolling rod is the fly fishing rod. A fly fishing rod is completely different than most any other type of rod as it is more lightweight, with hardly any handle, small eyelets, and maybe the most different – you don’t use the reel to “reel” in line.
Instead of casting out your line and reeling it in, like you would with any other pole, a fly fishing rod is meant to have the line pulled off manually and the angler actually works the line and lure by making whiplike motions over their head to put the line out further and further. Then, the pull it in by hand with twitching motions to initiate a bug on top of the water.
Fly fishing rods even require their own specific line that doesn’t sink and can be whipped around without getting knotted. Instead of the traditional lure, a fly fishing rod uses “Flies” as bait which are all made from different types of colorful hair-like materials to mimic bugs dancing on top of the water.
You can catch many species fly fishing, but in America it is most synonymous with trout fishing or other related species. There is probably nothing as rewarding as catching a fish on a fly rod – but it’s also rather difficult. Fly fishing isn’t something you pick up one weekend and expect to catch fish. It takes years to really master and you’re continually growing as you learn it.
But there is something about it that is so relaxing and makes your feel one with nature. The idyllic nature of wading through a stream with a fly fishing rod, catching trout, just calls many fisherman year after year. So if you want that type of fishing adventure and don’t mind investing the time to learn – I highly recommend it. I can’t fly fish, but I’d love to learn how.
If you’re looking for the suggested beginner fly rod combo, look at this one.
Surf fishing rod
Many of the rods mentioned above are meant for freshwater, so let’s talk about the variations that are meant for saltwater. While you can definitely catch great fish in a lake or river, you can catch some monsters out in the ocean. And you can catch some of the most beautiful fish in the sea as well.
The biggest difference between saltwater and freshwater fishing is that you need larger gear. You can cast to the middle of a lake easily, trying to cast to any depth in the ocean isn’t quite as simple. So getting a much longer pole is necessary to get out a good ways from shore to where the fish are. And you need something beefy to reel in bigger fish that are pulling against the tide.
So this is where surf fishing rods come into play – they are usually spinning type rods but can be casting as well. Theta are noticeably bigger than freshwater rods, usually 8 feet or longer to allow for really long casting distances. And they are very heavy and can be used to catch anything from flounder to sharks!
I love saltwater fishing, but it’s not at all my specialty. So if you want to learn everything you need to look for in a surf fishing rod take a look at this article!
Telescopic fishing rods
One interesting type of fishing rod you may come across is the telescopic fishing rod. These are usually in the spinning category, but are unique because they can collapse into a much smaller version. Essentially, the rod is built in sections where each is a little thinner than the next so it can all fold into itself and only be a foot or so long.
Obviously enough, telescopic rods are great because they are highly mobile. Unlike a 6 foot casting rod, you can fit a telescopic rod into a carry one if you’re flying, a backpack if you’re camping or hiking, or even in a small sedan for a fishing trip. So the real benefit is that they can fit about anywhere you need them to.
The downfall is that they are less sensitive and durable than most other types of rods. So if you have the ability to use a full sized rod, it’s better to go ahead and buy one. But if you want one that you can take camping or something, then by all means it’s a great option. You’ll definitely be able to catch fish even if they aren’t the greatest option.
If you want a great telescopic rod option, take a look at this combo.
So there you have it – 8 types of fishing rods that you might be looking at and why you should buy each. Personally, I think a spinning rod is a great all around option if you’re just getting into fishing that will last a lifetime. But you may have a specific technique or need that requires one of the other rods, so go ahead and get it!
If you want to learn more about fishing, then take a look at the related posts below. I have over 100 articles about different aspects of fishing and a whole section just for beginners. Take a look and you’ll be catching fish in no time!