Types of Fishing Poles

Fishing is a classified sport—and a popular one, at that. Apart from the serenity that comes with fishing, there’s also that challenge and thrill of catching game. But above all that, fishing makes for an excellent survival skill.

A Must-Read: How To Scale A Fish

So if you have plans to jump the fishing bandwagon, there are some pointers to keep in mind. For this article, we’ll be zooming in on the different types of fishing poles.

But first, is there a difference between fishing poles and fishing rods?

More OptionsMeanings
LengthRanging From 6-12′ in Length
PowerOptions are Light, Medium and Heavy
ActionOptions are Slow, Medium and Fast
Type of Rod

Poles vs. Rods

It’s high time we clear out one of the most common questions asked when it comes to fishing:

Are fishing poles and fishing rods the same?

It actually depends where you’re from. In the United States, it’s acceptable to use both terms interchangeably. But in the UK, anglers describe fishing poles and fishing rods differently. The line, though, is very thin.

Fishing poles are essentially made from natural materials such as bamboo or reed. They usually contain no eyes or guides as well.

Fishing rods, on the other hand, are said to be made from synthetic materials such as fiberglass, graphite, boron, or even a combination of all these.

With that being said, the difference between fishing rods and fishing poles lies more in the material used than their overall functionality. They are more synonymous with each other than they are different.

It doesn’t really matter whether you call it a rod or a pole. However, those in the UK tend to gravitate towards calling their gear a rod. But in the end, it’s all up to which you prefer!

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to discuss the types of fishing poles…

Different Types Of Fishing Poles

Fishing poles can be classified according to their characteristics, functionalities, or even materials. You’ll find many articles about this online but they tend to be incomplete and inconsistent when put all together.

However, that’s only because there is such a wide variety of fishing rods that you cannot simply have a unified version that every article online can agree on.

But in this article, we’ll try our best to make it simple but informative. going in-depth on each of these categories in order to fully understand how fishing poles work.

Types Of Fishing Poles According To Material

Back when technology was still in its early stages, synthetic materials were not an option. And so, our ancestors made fishing poles out of natural elements like bamboo or reed. They used to be basic contraptions, composing merely of a line tied to a simple fishing pole.

Now, we have fishing poles of all types. Most modern fishing poles today are constructed out of heavy-duty elements such as graphite and fiberglass, which are usually perfect for capturing a more diverse set of the game.

Bamboo Fishing Poles

Bamboo fishing rods became popular in the mid 19th century thanks to their elasticity and pliability. They were, and still are, a favorite among seasoned anglers due to their unique and solid feel.

With bamboo fishing poles being a classic, manufacturing them has become a work of art. Many take pride in creating quality handmade bamboo fishing rods. And because of this, they are usually sold at a high price.

But that being said, not even modern fishing rods can equate to the premium feel a bamboo fishing rod gives. It stands the test of time for this particular reason.

Fiberglass Fishing Poles

Fiberglass fishing poles are beginner-friendly for many reasons. One, its price is entry-level, which is attractive for newbie anglers. Two, it’s durable, flexible, and multi-functional. And three, it’s very comfortable to cast.

All these characteristics contribute to the popularity of fiberglass fishing poles to fishing beginners. They do not require much upkeep and financial commitment. Above all, they are fairly straightforward and easy to use.

Graphite Fishing Poles

Graphite fishing rods, also called carbon fiber, is constructed from carbon fiber fabric infused with resin. They are a relatively new material compared to fiberglass and bamboo.

The appeal of these rods is their power and weight—making them a favorite among seasoned anglers. They are lightweight but powerful. In other words, they are more than capable of lifting weighty fish.

Graphite fishing rods are also extremely sensitive; they pick up on the subtlest of vibrations underwater. You’ll be able to feel even the slightest nibble on your bait, allowing you to strike at a moment’s notice and to catch your game off-guard.

Composite Fishing Poles

Composite rods are a mix of graphite, fiberglass, and other fibers. Because of this combination, their functionality falls somewhere in between. A tad bit more sensitive than fiberglass, but less expensive than graphite.

They also incorporate more power than their fiberglass counterparts but not more than graphite.

Major Types Of Fishing Poles By Functionality

Aside from material, fishing rods can also be identified by their functionality—in simple terms, how they work. Fishing poles function in different types in order to effectively catch different species of fish and to adapt to the environment they are in as well.

Under this category, fishing rods generally fall under three common types:

  • Spinning rods
  • Casting rods
  • Specialty rods
  • Combos

Spinning Rods

Spinning rods are the most common type of fishing pole in the market. While they come in an assortment of sizes and materials, all spinning rods share a common feature: the reel rests underneath the rod, which gives the rod a natural feel while fishing.

This is also the main reason why newbies prefer spinning rods. Generally, with a spinning rod, the angler should grip the spinning rod with their dominant hand, while the weaker hand works the reel.

Spinning rods can come in fiberglass, carbon fiber, even composite. Graphite spinning rods are usually sensitive, lightweight, but brittle. On the other hand, fiberglass spinning rods are less sensitive but are very sturdy.

It’s important to learn the difference between a casting rod and a spinning rod because not all reels were made for every rod. They either fit casting rods or spinning rods.

It’ll be quite a hassle to be preparing everything only to find out your reel doesn’t go with your rod. But if you quickly learn the difference between these two, you’re guaranteed to save time and energy.

Casting Rods

When learning casting rods, take everything you know about spinning rods, and reverse it.

Unlike spinning rods, which point downward when they take a bite, casting rods start facing upwards. This mechanism may unsettle newbie anglers due to its unnatural feel, but it’s actually a good process for maximizing the use of eyelets.

That said, casting rods are harder to master, but becomes easier to use over time.

Specialty Rods

Specialty fishing poles are sort of niche rods; they are highly specialized and optimized for certain techniques. Some specialty rods include fly rods, ice rods, surf rods, and troll rods. All these rods vary in size and design. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Fly Rods

As its name suggests, fly rods are specialized for fly-fishing—a kind of fishing that uses artificial flies as bait for the fish.

Since fly fishing incorporates lightweight lures and baits, fly rods tend to be small and lightweight as well, even lighter than spinning rods.

But the most distinctive characteristic of fly rods is what you cast with it. When it comes to traditional fishing, you cast the bait or lure. However, in fly fishing, you cast the line.

Since flies are too light, fly rods use weighted lines in order to help propel your equipment to your desired location.

Fly rods can be used to catch trout, salmon, carp, bass, marlin, and even sharks.

Surf Rods

Surf rods commonly adapt to the spinning rod mechanism as well. The difference? Surf rods are insanely longer than your common spinning rod, spanning at about 3-4 meters. The reason for this is to combat the waves once you reel in your fish.

With a typical fishing rod, it’s simply beyond impossible to secure your game due to the force of crashing waves. Surf rods are designed in such a way that they can combat these waves—and the answer is added length.

Trolling Rods

In fishing, trolling means to cast from a moving boat and allowing the bait to drag through the motions of the boat. Simply put, to troll is to drag the bait with the boat’s movement.

Because the line is constantly dragged through the water, trolling rods must be tough and durable with all the bending and flexing. They also take in a lot of beating from both fish and anglers, so they have to be flexible as well.

Trolling is used for fish such as Marlin and Walleye. Salmon can also be caught with speeds of 3-5mph.

Ice Rods

Ice rods are used for ice fishing—which involves fishing down an ice hole. Ice rods are typically short as ice fishing does not involve casting at all. They also tend to be simple, not requiring any reel at all to catch fish.

When ice fishing, you can catch fish such as the Yellow Perch, Walleye, Trout, and Bass.

Rod and Reel Combos

There are rods you piece together with reels and tackles, and then there are the rod and reel combos. Basically, these fishing rods already come with their corresponding reel and tackle.

The appeal of rod and reel fishing pole combos is their convenience. Not only do you save time by not looking for separate parts any further, but you also have less gear to worry about. This setup is especially attractive for fishing newbies or casual fishers.

Not all Rods are Created Equal

Fishing poles, apart from their types, are also equipped with unique qualities. Seasoned anglers want to maximize their rod performance as much as possible; to address that, manufacturers have come up with modifications that can boost the effectiveness of their fishing rods. These ‘boosts’ or ‘modifications’ can be anywhere from the rod’s length, power, or action.


Fishing poles range from 6-12 feet in length. The reason for this variety depends on the environment and the type of species the angler is fishing in and for.

Beginners are encouraged to start with shorter rods (around 7 feet) because they are easier to maneuver than longer ones.

The general rule is that shorter fishing poles cast shorter distances. So if, for example, you’re just going kayak fishing, a short rod will do just fine. Why? Getting a long one requires more effort and pressure for casting, which can tip your canoe over if you’re not being careful.

Another plus with shorter rods is better grip; having a better grip means stronger fighting power against fish. They are less likely to bend than longer ones, allowing you to have greater control over your game.

Longer fishing poles, on the other hand, are good for casting long distances. They generally work best in rough waters and big fish. In addition, long fishing rods absorb impact better than their stiff counterparts; their length makes them flexible enough to withstand snapping when handling large fish.


In fishing, power refers to how much pressure the fishing pole can handle before flexing. It’s also known as ‘power value’ or ‘rod weight’ and is labeled as ‘wt’.

Anglers, on the other hand, call it a ‘backbone’. When anglers refer to a rod having quite a backbone, this means the fishing rod packs power.

There is no industry standard for a fishing rod’s power. You could both have a lightweight St. Croix or Shakespeare, but they probably wouldn’t match the same power.

Therefore, for every brand of fishing rod, they may have different thresholds on what constitutes a powerful or weak rod.

But these labels can give us an idea of how much power a rod has:

  • Light
  • Medium
  • Heavy

A light-powered rod bends at low pressure—it doesn’t take much effort to flex a fishing pole with light power. In other words, a rod that doesn’t have much power isn’t good for reeling in big fish; the advantage of light rods is in its finesse to lure or bait cautious fish.

Medium-powered fishing poles, on the other hand, are best for tackling fish such as Bass or Walleye. They pack a bit more power than lightweight rods and are less delicate.

Heavy-powered rods are capable of handling larger lures and even bigger fish. They are perfect for catching big Bass, Pike, or Catfish.


Rod action means where the fishing rod bends when pressure is applied to it. A fast action rod bends somewhere at the tip while a slow action rod flexes already near the handle, creating somewhat of a parabolic curve.

Slow or fast, each type has its advantages.

A fast action rod provides the most sensitivity, which means it can easily detect even the slightest nibble from fish. This feature alone makes fast action rods perfect for buck tailing or diamond jigging where you want to strike at a moment’s notice.

Medium action rods work best for longer casting distances. Given that they are not as sensitive as fast action rods, they make up for it with versatility as they are good for catching a wider range of fish species.

Slow action rods are used exclusively for small fish. The parabolic bend created by slow fishing rods helps provide a better fight for the angler once the fish takes a bite and gets reeled in.

If you’re planning to catch Panfish or Trout, you might want to look into slow action rods.

Choosing The Fishing Pole That’s Right For You

All these factors contributing to the making of fishing rods can make it overwhelming for newbie anglers to sneak their foot at the door with fishing; so we’re here to make it a bit more simple for you.

The thing is, choosing the right fishing pole for you all boils down to comfort. For instance, experienced anglers find it difficult to let go of bamboo rods. But if you’re new and you like the feel of bamboo, find a fishing rod made of bamboo by all means.

Of course, you should also consider the other qualities of your rod—such as its length, power, action, and mechanism or function. This is where the tricky part starts, but there are some general guidelines you can keep in mind.

Consider Where And What You Are Fishing For

Knowing your target and what the environment you’re about to step in is a huge factor in choosing the correct fishing rod. For some, it may even be the first thing they consider when preparing for fishing gear.

Will you be fishing on freshwater or saltwater? This is a crucial factor because saltwater tends to corrode metal—the bad news is that fishing rods have metal components.

Over time, if you’ve been using the wrong type of fishing rod on saltwater, this will strip off its durability.

If you’ll be fishing on a boat, a short rod is always a good idea. Aside from requiring minimal force when cast, short rods are also convenient for transportation and storage.

Material, Power, Action, Length

Remember that the types of fishing rods are typically defined by these four factors. A fishing rod’s material is more or less just an honorable mention, but the rest is crucial when you’re in the process of choosing a rod.

Once you’re done thinking about where and what you will fish for, rod action typically comes second. As we have talked about earlier, action refers to where the rod bends.

Knowing what fish you want to target can tell you what type of rod action you should get. But the general consensus is that the smaller the fish, the faster the action.

Rod power comes hand in hand with rod action. It also follows a general rule: the bigger the fish, the heavier the power. Rods that are bigger in power are less likely to bend from pressure, making them perfect for catching heavy fish or even handling heavy bait.

Rod length is also an important feature, but perhaps much less so than power and action. When choosing your rod length, it’s good to keep in mind your own body size and personal technique for fishing.

It’s also worthwhile to consider where you’ll be fishing and what species of fish you’re in for.

Allocate Your Budget

If you’re just starting out, it’s always a good idea to commit to a more economical choice. Newbies generally are encouraged to start out with fiberglass fishing poles; they are the least expensive type of material and are durable as well.

They may be less sensitive than graphite, but they make up for it with flexibility.

Rods intended for saltwater tend to be more expensive than their freshwater counterparts. So, if you’ll be fishing off-shore in seawater, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind.

General Tips for Beginners

Going on a hunt for your first fishing rod may be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a mentor to guide you. The important thing to remember, however, is always prioritizing what you think will work best for you budget-wise or technique-wise.

Everyone has their own fishing style, and going by the book all the time can take the fun out of fishing.

One of the most overlooked scenarios when going on a fishing trip is transportation. If you think you’ll be traveling long distances with your fishing rod, it’s better to get one that is compact and portable.

This is to ensure that you won’t accidentally break your rod (believe it or not, this happens often). Also, it is quite difficult to travel long distances with a long rod, so getting a short one is a good idea if that is the scenario you are in.

Wrap Up

Overall, fishing poles come in various shapes and sizes as different terrain and species call for different specialized rods. But the most important thing, whether you are a seasoned angler or a casual one, is to use the rod you are comfortable in.

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