Fishing Rod Action
The Core Of Fishing Rod Action And Power
Fishing Rod Taper
Fishing rod taper is the reduction in diameter of the rod blank from its butt
to its tip. This is a combination of the actual wall thickness of the
blank as well as the degree of tightness to
which the material is wound on the mandrel when being manufactured.
As amount of material diminishes along the shaft the degree to
which it can bend increases. This taper contributes directly to the
"action" of a rod. That is, a fishing rod's action is
determined not only by the type of material from which the rod is made,
but also from the rate it thins, due to thickness of blank material and
tightness it's wound along the length of its shaft.
Fishing Rod Action
A fishing rod's action is a function of three primary factors, blank material,
taper and thickness of the blank. The best way to explain fishing rod
action is to say action is determined by the point at which a rod
"initially' flexes and where it "stops" bending. This point is
determined by the "taper" of the rod. The higher up the blank the faster
the rods action and the smaller the distance an angler must move the
rod to set the hook.
Another feature of "fishing rod action" is the effect it will
have on your casting distance, even casting accuracy. The more parabolic
the rod the greater it will bend and the more energy it stores
on the back swing before release, when the lure leaves the rod.
The following are descriptions of the features and benefits of the different fishing rod action ratings.
- X-Fast - The tip of these rods will bend little. Only the
uppermost section of the tip in fact. The faster action rods are best
suited for fishing heavier cover. The fast tip enables the angler to
apply more pressure on the bass and horse it out of thick cover and to
do so quickly.
However, the faster the action of a rod the more casting
distance and accuracy is compromised. Fast action rods are well suited
for flipping and pitching as distance to target is short and accurate
casts easier. They also perform well with Texas or Carolina rigged worms
and jigs. They telegraph light bites well and shut down (stop bending)
quick so they need not be moved but a short distance to set the hook.
- Fast - Rods that are fast action have tips
that bend somewhere around a point 25-30% down the rod tip. Since they
are more sensitive, due to their greater flexibility, they are seen as
the best choice when fishing "single hook" techniques. Fast tip rods
will enable the angler to detect lighter bites but while still providing
sufficient backbone for solid hook sets.
- Medium - Medium action rods will bend
around the middle point of the rod. They offer a bit better casting
ability than a fast or x-fast tip as their increased flex allows the rod
to load up more energy facilitating long casts.
Medium action rods are a good choice for live bait and smaller artificial lures.
- Slow - Think half-moon and you'll have a
mental image of a slow action rod bend. Such rods are "parabolic" in
nature. The rod flexes from the tip to the butt.
A soft action rod absorbs the sudden runs and lunges of a bass
enabling the angler to play or work the fish, especially at close
distance. At long range it's another story. In that
circumstance the softness of the rod can actually work against the
angler's control of the bass.
The softness of a rod also allows for use of lighter line. The
slow action absorbs the shock of setting the hook when using light line
reducing the likelihood of breakage. However, It is
also more difficult to set the hook in the tough mouth of a bass with
light line and a soft action rod. Why, because less force is
transferred to the hook.
Because they are parabolic, soft action rods "load up" or store
more energy than other action rods. This means they will cast lures a
country mile but that doesn't do you much good when
you try to set the hook on a lunker 50-60' away and can't exert enough
force to drive the hook into its tough jaws.
Fishing rod power or what is sometimes referred to as rod
weight, is the amount of pressure required to load the rod. By load, I
mean the point along the shaft at which the rod flexes.
The thickness and type material from which a rod is made, which constitutes its blank, determine the rod's power, as they also do its action.
Notably, fishing rod power is closely related to the line
strength, with heavy power rods having the capacity to handle heavier
rated lines and conversely, light power rods best suited for light
lines. Put 50lb braid on a rod rated for 10lb line and you're asking for
The fishing rod power categories correspond roughly to the information in the chart below.
Rod Power Defines Line, Weight Maximums
||15 to 25lb test
||1/2 - 1 1/2oz
||8 to 14lb test
||1/2 - 1 1/2oz
||4 to 12lb test
||1/8 - 3/8oz
||4 to 8lb test
||1/32 - 1/8oz
||1 to 4lb test
||1/64 - 1/16oz
No Industry "Power Rating" Standards
Note that there is no standard power rating measure among manufacturers. What is considered heavy power with one may be medium-heavy with another. The best way to determine the "power"
of a rod is to check its line and lure ratings. Most rods will bear a designation such as LINE WEIGHT 8-12lb. Using line weights that are outside of the range of line weights for
which the rod is rated will increase the chance of your line or even your rod breaking.
Pay Attention To Lure Weight
Pay close attention to the lure rating of a rod. Whatever is on the rod represents the "top end" of the range, not the middle. So, if you have a rod rated for a 1/2 ounce lure and you rig it with a jig weighing 1/2 ounce plus add a trailer, you may well bring the total lure weight to 3/4 ounce.
Some anglers may dismiss this much attention to detail and fail to consider fishing rod action and power ratings. But I've learned from experience that a lure too heavy can cause problems. I've had rod tips and tip guides break when exceeding the lure rating of the rod. Don't know about you, but money comes too hard for me to cause myself additional expense by doing something stupid.
What Techniques Call For What Rod Action And Power?
A "General" Guide
This table reflects a general guideline of what "might" be the best rod characteristics for specific lure categories or techniques. This is NOT a complete, definitive list. It's a starting point, with a focus on fishing rod action, for categories of lure and technique specific rods from which you can apply "fine tuning" to meet your personal fishing styles and techniques.
Since the benefit of various characteristics will be somewhat different depending on water depth, degree of cover and what type and size lure you're using, it's intended merely to give you a "feel" for "fishing rod action". In-depth coverage of the wide variety of fishing rod traits and performance characteristics are covered in other places in this website.
|Jigs and Worms
||Baitcasting, Pistol Grip
*For example, the "topwater" family of lures has numerous different
types such as stickbaits (Spooks), poppers (chuggers), propbaits and
buzzbaits to name the most prominent. For optimum performance each
requires a rod with a bit different action and power. The same can be
said about fishing rod action and the very large family of "soft plastic
baits". There are lizards, worms, craws, creatures, tubes, swimbaits
and soft jerkbaits, all of which can benefit from different fishing rod
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