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A fishing rod or a fishing pole is a tool used to catch fish, usually in conjunction with the sport of angling. (Sustenance and commercial fishing usually involves nets). A length of fishing line is attached to a long, flexible rod or pole: one end terminates in a hook for catching the fish. A 'fishing pole' is a simple pole or stick for suspending a line (normally fastened to the tip), with a hooked lure or bait. In contrast, 'fishing rod' refers to a more sophisticated casting tool fitted with line guides and a reel for line stowage. Fishing rods vary in action as well as length, and can be found in sizes between 24 inches and 16 feet (4.9 m). The longer the rod, the greater the mechanical advantage in casting.
I. Types of fishing rods
- Fly Fishing
- Spin Casting Rods
- Spinning Rods
- Ultra-light Rods
- Ice Fishing Rods
- Surf Rods
III. Modern Rod Design
IV. Fishing Rod "Action"
Types of fishing rods
Fly Fishing rods are long, thin, flexible fishing rods designed to cast a fly (see Fly lure), usually consisting of a hook tied with fur, feathers, foam, or other lightweight material. Originally made of split bamboo, most modern fly rods are constructed from man-made composite materials, including fiberglass, carbon/graphite, or graphite/boron composites. Instead of a weighted lure, a fly rod uses the weight of the fly line for casting, and lightweight rods are capable of casting the very smallest and lightest fly. Typically, a monofilament segment called a "leader" is tied to the fly line on one end and the fly on the other.
Each rod is sized to the fish being sought, the wind and water conditions and also to a particular weight of line: larger and heavier line sizes will cast heavier, larger flies. Fly rods come in a wide variety of line sizes, from size #0 rods for the smallest freshwater trout and panfish up to and including #16 rods for large saltwater gamefish. Fly rods tend to have a single, large-diameter line guide (called a stripping guide), with a number of smaller looped guides (aka snake guides) spaced along the rod to help control the movement of the relatively thick fly line. To prevent interference with casting movements, most fly rods usually have little or no butt section (handle) extending below the fishing reel. However, the spey rod, a fly rod with an elongated rear handle, is often used for fishing either large rivers for salmon and steelhead or saltwater surf casting, using a two-handed casting technique. See Fly fishing.
Fly rods are manufactured by a number of companies and custom rod building is an active form of hobby among fly fishermen. See Fly rod building.
Spin Casting Rods
Spin casting rods are rods designed to hold a spin casting reel, which are normally mounted above the handle (See Fishing reel). Spin casting rods also have small eyes and a forefinger grip trigger. They are very similar to bait casting rods, to the point where either type of reel may be used on a particular rod.
Spinning rods are made from graphite or fiberglass with a cork or PVC foam handle, and tend to be between 5 and 8.5 feet (1.5 - 2.6 m) in length. Typically, spinning rods have anywhere from 5-8 large-diameter guides arranged along the underside of the rod to help control the line. The eyes decrease in size from the handle to the tip, with the one nearest the handle usually much larger than the rest to allow less friction as the coiled line comes off the reel. Unlike bait casting and spin casting reels, the spinning reel hangs beneath the rod rather than sitting on top, and is held in place with a sliding or locking reel seat. Spinning rods and reels are widely used in fishing for popular North American sport fish including bass, trout, pike and walleye. Longer spinning rods with elongated grip handles for two-handing casting are frequently employed for saltwater or steelhead and salmon fishing. Spinning rods are also widely used for trolling and still fishing with live bait.
These rods are used to fish for smaller species, they provide more sport with larger fish, or to enable fishing with lighter line and smaller lures. Though the term is commonly used to refer to spinning or spin-cast rods and tackle, fly rods in smaller line weights (size #0 - #3) have also long been utilized for ultra-light fishing, as well as to protect the thin-diameter, lightweight end section of leader, or tippet, used in this type of angling.
Ultra-light spinning and casting rods are generally shorter (4 - 5.5 feet is common) lighter, and more limber than normal rods. Tip actions vary from slow to fast, depending upon intended use. These rods usually carry 1 to 6 pound (4.5 to 27 N) test fishing line. Some ultra-light rods are capable of casting lures as light as 1/64th of an ounce - typically small spinners, wet flies, crappie jigs, tubes, or bait such as trout worms. Originally produced to bring more excitement to the sport, ultra-light spin fishing is now widely used for crappie, trout, bass, bluegill and other types of panfish.
Ice Fishing Rods
These are typically very short spinning rods, varying between 24 and 36 inches in length, used to fish through holes in the cover ice of frozen lakes, rivers and ponds.
Surf casting rods resemble oversized spinning or bait casting rods with long grip handles intended for two-handed casting techniques. Generally between 10 to 14 feet (3 - 4 m) in length, surf casting rods need to be longer in order for the user cast the lure or bait beyond the breaking surf where fish tend to congregate, and sturdy enough to cast heavy weighted lures or bait needed to hold the bottom in rough water. Some surfcasters use powerful rods to cast up to six ounces of lead weight, artificial lures, and/or bait hundreds of feet.
History of fishing rods and rod design
Judging by stone inscriptions, fishing rods go back to ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. Prior to widespread availability of synthetic materials, such as fiberglass and graphite composites, fishing rods were typically made from split Tonkin bamboo, Calcutta reed, or ash wood, as it was necessary that they be made light, tough, and pliable. The butts were frequently made of maple, with bored bottom; this butt outlasted several tops. Handles and grips were generally of cork, wood, or wrapped cane. Guides were made of simple wire loops or, later, loops with ring-shaped agate inserts for better wear. Even today, Tonkin split-bamboo rods are still popular in fly fishing.
Rods for travelers were made with nickel-silver metal joints, or ferrules, that could be inserted into one another forming the rod. Some of them were made to be used as a walking cane until needed for sport. Since the 1980s, with the advent of flexible, yet stiff graphite ferrules, travel rod technology has greatly advanced, and multi-piece travel rods that can be transported in a suitcase or backpack constitute a large share of the market.
Modern Rod Design
In theory, an ideal rod should gradually taper from butt to tip, be tight in all its joints, and have a smooth, progressive taper, without 'dead spots'. Modern design and fabrication techniques, along with advanced materials such as graphite and boron composites have allowed rod makers to tailor both the shape and action of fishing rods for greater casting distance, accuracy, and fish-fighting qualities. Today, fishing rods are identified by their weight (meaning the weight of line or lure required to flex a fully-loaded rod) and action (describing the location of the maximum flex along the length of the rod).
Modern fishing rods retain cork as a common material for grips. Cork is light, durable, and tends to transmit rod vibrations better than synthetic materials, although EVA foam is also used. Reel seats are often of graphite-reinforced plastic, aluminum, or wood. Guides are available in steel and titanium with a wide variety of metal alloy inserts replacing the classic agate inserts of earlier rods.
Fishing Rod "Action"
Fishing rods are rated in "Action" meaning behaviour of the rod under flex, and "Power" meaning strength of the rod.
A SLOW ACTION rod is best described as a weak rod, which can flex more toward the butt section. These rods are excellent for detecting light bites from small fish and when using light line. With this type of rod the stress from a fish is absorbed in the rod more than on the line because the rod does flex almost completely (parabolic action).
A FAST ACTION rod, if bent, is faster to return to its original neutral position. Better suitable for accurate casts and for animate artificial lures with jerking movements to simulate life of a baitfish. Fast Action rods does flex most in the tip section. Nowadays materials such as high-modulus graphite achieve exceptional strength, sensivity and fighting power.
Power value (light, medium-light, medium, medium heavy, etc.) is about lure weight and line diameter to be used: a fast and powerful muskie rod is very different from a slow and light power rod for trout fishing is small streams...