Choosing the Right Rod (Actions and Powers)

Just like choosing the correct reel is important, selecting the right rod is just as, if not maybe more, important than your reel selection in my opinion. While this topic seems to be a little more confusing than selecting the right reel, I’m going to give you the best information I can to help you make an informed decision about your next rod purchase. Let’s start with some ‘vocabulary’ terms, for lack of a better word.

The first thing we will talk about is the action, or taper, of a rod. The taper of a rod refers to the way the rod bends when there is pressure on the other end. For example, an extra-fast tip will bend mostly at the tip of the rod, while a slow-taper rod will bend much farther down the rod blank. The most common tip-action for a rod would be a fast-action.

Next, we have the power of a rod. The power of a rod directly correlates with the line and lure weight you are able to use with that rod, and it also determines the size and stoutness of the hook I am able to use efficiently. Rods can range in power from ultra-light all the way to XX Heavy, it just depends on the application you plan on using the rod for. For bass fishing, however, people don’t really go any lighter than a medium-light rod.

I am going to go over the four basic rod powers and some of the different tapers for certain lures and applications.

Medium-Light Power: People use a medium-light spinning rod more often than you would think when bass fishing. Even though the rod is pretty flimsy as far as power, if your other gear is adjusted properly, you can land some big fish with this set-up. A medium-light rod with a fast-action or extra fast-action tip is normally used as a drop-shot rod and/or a ned-rig rod (I use mine for both). Because of the fast or extra fast tip, this rod becomes extremely sensitive to detect even the lightest of bites, but also because of flimsiness and overall lightness of this rod, it is very comfortable and able to be fished with for long periods of time without much fatigue. One downside of the light power, however, is you can’t just crank your drag down and bring in fish. When using a lighter set-up like this, you have to really ‘play’ the fish and let it tire itself out before trying to land it, or you may end up disappointed more times than you are happy. When using such a light set-up, you want your drag turned down some to help play the fish, and you also want lighter line and hooks to get better hook-up ratios. Drop-shot hooks and ned-rig hooks are both very light-wire hooks, and if you were to use heavy line, you would bend out the hooks, causing a lot of missed fish (and broken hooks). For this reason, I like to use no heavier than 10-lb test fluorocarbon or monofilament on my medium-light rods.

Medium Power: A lot of people use a medium-power rod for many applications, but I’m going to tell you what I use mine for. While you can use a medium-power rod for many things, my favorite lures to throw with it depends on the size of the hook. If it’s a medium-power rod with a fast or moderate tip action, I love to throw crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater baits with treble hooks. With this rod having less of a backbone and more of a parabolic bend, it lets the fish eat things like a crankbait for just a little bit longer, allowing you more time to react, and giving the fish more time to eat the lure. However, I also throw a decent amount of jigs and Texas-rigs with a medium-power/fast-action tip rod, but only if they have a lighter-wire hook than a standard jig or Texas-rig hook. If the hook is too thick for the rod, I wouldn’t get good hook-sets in the fish, and could possibly break the rod, but if the hook it too thin for a rod, you can bend out and break hooks. So if a jig has a lighter wire hook than normal (like a finesse jig), I will drop down to a medium-power rod with a fast-action tip, but I mainly use a medium-power rod for crankbaits and treble-hooked topwater lures (poppers, walking baits, etc.). For my treble hook baits on a medium-power rod, I will throw anywhere from 8-15 lb test fluorocarbon or monofilament (depending on the lure), and for my lighter jigs and Texas-rigs, I will throw 10-12 lb test fluorocarbon.

Medium-Heavy Power: A medium-heavy power rod is the type of rod that I personally have the most of and use the most. I use a medium-heavy rod with a fast-action tip for almost all of my jigs, Texas-rigs, and topwater frogs that I throw; however, if the medium-heavy rod has a moderate-action tip, it makes for a great medium or even deep-diving crankbait rod! Once again, the power of rod I choose to use for my jigs and Texas-rigs depends on the gauge of the hook, but I throw the majority of them on a medium-heavy power rod with a fast-action tip. Even though a lot of people like to use a heavy-power rod for their frog fishing, I prefer a medium-heavy rod for a couple of reasons. The first is I think it is much easier to walk a frog with a medium-heavy rod, the second is I can get farther casts with this rod, and the third is that I feel like when I set the hook with a medium-heavy rod, I have enough backbone to drive the hooks in, but not so much that it rips the frog out of the fish’s mouth. With a heavy-power rod, I feel like it’s too stiff for trying to set the hook on a long distance cast with a frog, but if I lived in Florida or Louisiana for example, I would probably throw a frog with a heavy-power rod because of the heavy cover they have down South. When I throw my jigs and Texas-rigs on a medium-heavy rod, I like to use 12-17 lb test fluorocarbon, and for my frogs, I like anywhere between 30-50 lb test braided line.

Heavy Power: When I use a heavy-power rod, it’s for just a few things. The first thing I use it for is heavy-duty flipping like flipping jigs in super thick cover (wood, grass, etc.), the second thing I would use it for is big swimbaits (like they do out in California), and the third thing would be a Carolina-rig (but, again, it depends on how heavy-gauge of a hook you use for this application). Since I don’t throw a lot of big swimbaits here in Illinois, I mainly use my heavy-power rod for either the heavy duty flipping or a Carolina-rig. Like I said earlier, a lot of people do throw their frogs on a heavy-power rod, and if I did, I would use anywhere between 50-80 lb test braided line (depending on the thickness of the cover). When I’m doing my heavy-duty flipping with this rod, I like either 17-25 lb fluorocarbon or 50-80 lb braided line. Here in the Midwest, however, I would never really go above 65 lb test braided line because we just don’t quite have the same thick cover that they do down South (or, quite frankly, the size of fish).

As I did with the article I wrote about gear ratio selection for reels, I am going to give you my opinion for the most versatile rod in the line-up. Though it’s tough to decided between a medium-power rod with a fast-action tip and a medium-heavy power rod with a fast-action tip, I have to give the edge to the medium-heavy power rod. I chose this rod because, while it’s not great for throwing crankbaits and jerkbaits, you could get the job done with it, and you still have so many other lures you can throw with ease on this rod.

I hope that everything I have explained here today will help you in choosing which rod is right for you next time you’re on the market for a new rod! Feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail with any questions or comments about this article (or others). Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our page to receive a notification every time we post a helpful article such as this one! Thank you, and have a great day!


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