Fishing Rod Action

Rod Taper

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 trouble.

The fishing rod power categories correspond roughly to the information in the chart below.

Rod Power Defines Line, Weight Maximums

Power Line Rating Lure Weight
heavy 15 to 25lb test 1/2 - 1 1/2oz
medium heavy 8 to 14lb test 1/2 - 1 1/2oz
medium 4 to 12lb test 1/8 - 3/8oz
light 4 to 8lb test 1/32 - 1/8oz
ultra-light 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.

Technique Length Action Power Type
Jigs and Worms 6.5-7.5' Fast Fast Baitcasting
Crankbaits 6.0-7.0' Medium Medium Baitcast/Spinning
Topwater Lures * * * *
Spinnerbaits, deep 7-7' 10" Fast Medium-Heavy Baitcasting
Spinnerbaits, shallow 5-6' Fast Medium-Heavy Baitcasting, Pistol Grip
Swimbaits 7-8' X-Fast, Fast Med-Heavy, Heavy Baitcasting
Drop Shot 6-7' X-Fast Medium Spinning
Shaky Head 6-7' X-Fast Medium Spinning
Carolina Rig 7'-7.5' Fast Med-Heavy, Heavy Baitcasting
Jerk Bait 6.5-7.5' Medium Medium, Med-Heavy Baitcast/Spinning
Frogs 7.5' Fast Heavy Flippin' Stick
Tubes 6.5-7.5' Medium medium Spinning
Flipping 7-7.5' Fast Med-Heavy, Heavy Flippin' Stick
Pitching 7-7.5' Fast Med-Heavy, Heavy Baitcasting

*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 action.

Return To Bass Fishing Rods from Fishing Rod Action

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