Deciding which fishing rod to buy can be a daunting task.
You’ve made it through the decision of what type of rod to get – if not, read our article here on what is a spinning rod vs a casting rod?
From 4 feet to 16 feet, rods can come in all shapes, sizes, actions, and weights.
But now, how are you supposed to choose what fishing rod size should I get?
The size of the fishing rod you should get depends on the species you are targeting and the lures you will use.
Let’s take a look at three different scenarios and choose which size rod will be best for each.
Fishing rod size for Panfish
Fish such as bluegill, perch, and crappie are small fish that rarely weigh over two pounds.
While there are different approaches to catching these fish, the cast and retrieve method is the most popular. A 6-foot light action spinning rod should suffice for all of your needs in this situation.
Since this rod has a smaller diameter, it will have a lot of bend when fighting a fish.
A light action rod will have just enough bend to wear out the fish but not enough to pull the hook out of its mouth. This will also help when casting small lures.
When casting, the rod will load up on your backcast and spring forward as you come through, projecting the tiny lure further than you could with a longer, stiffer rod.
A 6-foot rod will be your best option when fighting these small but fun fish.
Fishing rod size for Bass, Walleye, and Other Sportfish
The rod options are endless when looking for a rod to use for these sportfish.
The stiffness of these rods typically comes in light, medium, medium-heavy, and heavy. The most popular of these is medium-heavy. When it comes to length, a popular choice is 7’6”.
This stiffness and length are ideal for maximizing strength and sensitivity.
A 7’6” rod will also prove the best leverage for an effective hookset, which is essential since most medium-sized sportfish have thick lips.
If you were to choose a short rod, you would have more sensitivity but would lose a considerable amount of distance on your cast.
A longer rod would cast further, but in doing so, you’d sacrifice much-needed sensitivity to feel a bit.
Fishing rod size for Catfish, Sturgeon, and Other Large Fish
You rarely need a rod with excellent casting efficiency when targeting these large fish.
Oftentimes, the lure is dropped straight down the boat to the bottom. You can also get by with having less sensitivity because, odds are, you are using circle hooks, which don’t require a hookset.
The most crucial aspect here is to find a rod size that will help you land the fish effectively without breaking or wearing yourself out. A 6-foot, heavy rod should be your choice in this scenario.
If you are lucky enough to hook into a large fish, you will need good leverage to help yourself when fighting it. A longer handle on a rod will provide you with enough leverage to hold the fish when it decides to make a run.
If you are using a rod holder, which is a good possibility, this size rod will have just enough tension to let the circle hook set itself effectively.
Trying to use a shorter rod to fight a big fish will leave you exhausted and a sore back in the morning.
Longer rods would help fight the fish better but sometimes give the fish too much leeway during the fight, and you will risk having your line wrapped around the prop or the trolling motor.
Longer rods also tend to break more often when a bigger fish is hooked.
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Sizes of fishing rods isn’t the only consideration – Other Rod Specifications
The size of the fishing rod is just one important aspect of choosing a new one.
Two other things to take into consideration are stiffness and action.
As mentioned before, the stiffness is rated from light to heavy, but how they behave when fighting a fish changes depending on the rod’s length.
A longer rod will seem less stiff than a shorter one because of the length of the spine, which is where the stiffness comes into play. The other factor is the action of the rod.
Typically, fishing rods come in three different actions: fast, medium, and slow.
A rod with a fast action will have more bend near the tip of the rod, while a slow action rod will seem as if it is bending closer to the handle.
The size, stiffness, and action of fishing rods serve a different purpose, but nothing is written in stone when choosing the correct size.
Generally, the slower the action and lesser the stiffness the better for smaller fish that might be more likely to spit the bait if they swim off suddenly – the flex in the rod will absorb some of the shock.
With larger fish, you may want to consider a stiffer, faster action rod… and just make sure you set the hook!
Taking these three recommendations and tailoring them to your personal preference will surely lead you in the right direction.
Need help selecting a great option for a beginner fishing rod? Click to read our buyer’s guide now.
What Fishing Rod Size Should I Get?
When thinking about what fishing rod size to get – the species you’ll be targeting is a really important factor – you don’t want the equivalent of a crane if you’re only pulling out smaller panfish.
Also don’t forget the other important considerations of stiffness and action – getting these right too will help increase your landing rate for the type of fishing you’re doing.
You’re now equipped to navigate the seemingly confusing issue of how to know what size fishing rod to get – putting the type of fishing you’ll be doing front and centre.