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Rod Action and Rod Weight

Fishing rod action can be one of the most puzzling terms used in fishing tackle, but also may be one of the most important. In short, the action of the rod is the amount it bends when you put pressure on the tip. When a rod bends only at the tip, it is determined to be very fast, when a rod bends for a large part of it's length, it called very slow.

Not all rods are meant for all purposes. A medium action rod is probably one which provides the least compromise for all fishing situations, and if you could only own one fishing rod, a medium action one might be the best. However when you have the opportunity to expand your rod collection, think of widening the range of rod action you have for different fishing conditions.

A very fast action rod is one where just the tip of the rod tends to bend. The result is that the rod is very sensitive to light taps, and therefore is suitable for worm or jig fishing conditions such as you find in bass fishing. The rod allows you to feel the tap of a fish, and since there is not a lot of bend to the rod, a hard hook set happens faster, since you do not have to move the rod relatively far to move past the rod bend. The main negative attribute of a fast action rod, is that the casting distance is compromised. Since working worms or jigs generally doesn't require a long cast, the short casting limit is not a signiicant restriction.

A slow rod on the other hand, bends over a much longer length of the rod. Hook set is not as quick, which is very suitable for those species with softer mouths, like whitefish, or panfish.

If you used a fast action rod for panfish, you would tend to rip the mouth of your catch. If you used a slow action rod, you'd miss a lot of hits with a jig, and you'd rarely pull a bass out of heavy cover before it became entangled.

The other relevant term when describing a rod is weight. The weight of the rod relates to the relative strength of the rod all things being equal. A heavy rod is capable of handling heavy lures, and is, well, heavy. A light rod handles small lures, and is, well, light. A heavy rod is more tiring to use than a lighter rod. You can move fish out of cover with a heavy rod. You can flip baits with a light rod all day. The weight of the rod determines an optimal line strength, a heavier rod handling higher line, a lighter rod handling lighter line. You're going to be able to cast a light lure best with a light rod with slow rod action, and if you use a heavy rod with fast rod action that crappie jig will fall beside your boat.

So as you've seen the terms used are important, and you need to mix the action and the weight in a manner to permit you have the best rod for the fishing condition. Having the right rod for the condition is going to result in more fish hooked.

When you are using crankbaits, you are always casting, and you wish to have long casts. You also want sensitivity, in order than you can feel accurately what the crankbait is hitting. You want a reasonable amount of backbone in the rod to set hooks, but you want flex to the rod to keep the treble hooks from pulling out. So generally, you want to use a medium weight, medium action rod.

Fishing worms or jigs, you want sensitivity in the rod tip to feel fish tapping the bait, and you don't want a lot of rod flex because you are pulling a bass out of cover when fishing works, or potentially from deep when jiggin. However you will be holding the rod tip up for significant periods of time, so although you want some backbone, you don't want too heavy a rod. So you generally would want to use a medium weight, fast action rod.

So the next time you have a chance to buy a new rod, think about what gap you have in your fishing arsenal, and consider what rod action and rod weight might fit a fishing condition where you're currently missing a lot of fish.

By David Girdwood
Manager, Thefishingnut

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