With so many rods on the market, it can sometimes be confusing to know what you’re looking for. Do you need a rod that has a lot of action but low power? How about slow action and high power?
There are so many variations (2,401 variations, to be exact, but who’s counting?) that it can be challenging to know what exactly you need.
To help simplify the process, we developed a chart that classifies rods according to their power (aka weight) and action.
Note the power on the left and the action along the bottom. We’ll explain how the power and weight/action work together more in detail below.
What is rod action?
When we’re talking about action on a fishing pole, we’re referring to how much the rod bends when pressure is applied. This depends on where the rod flexes, giving different levels of flexibility throughout the rod.
|Extra Fast||XF||Bends primarily at the tip. Ideal for long casts and fast hooksets. Used for single-hook lures like jigs and worms. Lighter lures work best on extra-fast action rods.|
|Fast||F||Bends in the top third or less of the blank. Good for most situations, especially if you need to make long casts. Works well with jigs, worms, and spinnerbaits.|
|Moderate||M||Moderate action rods bend starting in the middle of the rod. It is ideal for multiple hook lures like crankbaits and treble hooked baits. You might see a moderate-fast (MF) action from time to time.|
|Slow||S||Bends almost down to the handle. Ideal for reaction baits, including spinnerbaits, crankbaits, chatterbaits, and rattlebaits.|
What is rod power?
Power, sometimes referred to as weight, refers to how much force it takes for a rod to bend. Rods with higher power will require more force to bend than rods with lower power.
|Ultra-Light||UL||Ideal for small species like trout and panfish. These rods are very flexible and sensitive.|
|Light||L||Suitable for slightly larger species than ultra-light. Good for small bass, crappie, and certain types of trout.|
|Medium-Light||ML||Good for medium-sized species like larger trout, walleye, and small catfish.|
|Medium||M||Versatile option suitable for large range of fish species including bass, catfish, and salmon.|
|Medium-Heavy||MH||Ideal for large freshwater species like pike, muskie, and heavy saltwater fish.|
|Heavy||H||Used for large species in both freshwater and saltwater, such as halibut, sturgeon, or shark.|
|Extra-Heavy||XH||Used for the largest species and for game fishing. These rods are designed to handle very heavy line and big fighting fish.|
What type of rod do you need?
It really depends on what you’re fishing for and the type of fishing you’ll be doing. Each rod has its own unique combination of action and power that is best suited for certain types of fish or techniques.
For example, a fast-action and medium-heavy power rod would work well for largemouth bass fishing, where you need more strength to set the hook. Or if you’re looking for something more universal, then a moderate action rod combined with a medium power is a great all-around rod that can also be used for other species such as pike or muskie or even smaller fish such as pan fish.
How do you tell what type of rod you have?
So, how can you tell what type of action and power your rod has? You can usually find this information printed on the rod blank itself, near the handle. It may also be listed in the product description or packaging when purchasing a new rod.
Most fishing rod manufacturers make variations of rods in all powers and actions, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for before making a purchase. Consider the type of fish you’ll be targeting and the techniques you’ll be using to determine the best rod for your needs.
Selecting the right rod.
Understanding the action and power of a fishing rod is essential if you want to level up your fishing game. Most casual anglers don’t really care what type of rod they get, but if you’re taking your fishing seriously, then you will want to be selective.
These characteristics determine the rod’s suitability for different fishing environments, species, and techniques. We recommend having a few different rods on hand to cover all your fishing needs.
Make sure to do your research and ask questions when purchasing a new rod. It may also be helpful to go to a local fishing tackle shop and physically see and feel the different types of rods available before making a decision. Get a feel for the action and power, and think about what type of fishing you’ll be doing. In the end, choosing the right rod can make all the difference in your fishing experience.