How to choose rod length


March 22, 2024


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Looking to know how to choose rod length and buy a few fishing rod? If so, there are several things to think about to ensure you find the best fishing rod for your needs. Rod length is just one of many details to consider, as a rod’s power, action and the lure weight rating also deserve careful thought. Here’s a quick rundown of some important questions to ask yourself when shopping for a new fishing rod, a few rod specifications to consider and tips on choosing the best fishing rod length for freshwater fishing. At the end of this blog is a quick-reference fishing rod length chart with popular options for bass, walleye, musky and trout, as well as the best fishing rod length for beginners.

In this article, you will learn more about:

  1. Important questions to ask when buying a new fishing rod
  2. Navigating power, action and lure weight specs
  3. How to choose the best rod length
  4. Putting it all together - Best rod length recommendations

Important questions to ask when buying a new fishing rod

Before you start looking at specific rods, it’s a good idea to answer the following questions: 

  • Why am I buying a new fishing rod? 
  • What fish species am I planning to use this rod to catch? 
  • What are the fishing techniques I want to fish with this rod ?
  • Are there any other specific needs for this fishing rod not captured by answering the above questions? 

The answers you give are going to give a clear picture of the fishing rod’s purpose, which will make the entire decision-making process a lot easier. 

Now, if you’re new to fishing and aren’t able to get into nitty gritty details about specific fishing techniques that’s completely fine. In fact, this is also great insight to have because it might mean the best rod for you is a universal fishing rod with a mid-range length suitable for catching a varie-ty of fish species using different techniques, such as a 6’6” medium, fast spinning rod.

Navigating power, action and lure weight specs

Navigating power, action and lure weight specs

Whether you’re picking up a rod in the Sail store or browsing rods online, you’ll notice there are several key specifications to consider. Length is one— and we’ll get to this detail in the next section — but power, action and lure weight rating also must be considered as they, too, play a big role in rod performance.

Rod power

Power describes the strength of the rod blank. Typical power ratings include ultra-light, light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy and extra-heavy. At one end of the rod power spectrum are ultra-light and light models designed for fishing light baits on light line for small to medium-sized fish (like panfish and small trout), while the other end of the spectrum is where you’ll find stout, beefy rods for heavy lures on heavy line for big predators, like northern pike and musky.

Rod action

Action describes how a rod blank bends under load. A moderate action rod is going to bend more from the tip and well into the mid portion of the rod versus an extra-fast action rod, which will be much stiffer in its lower half. The best fishing rods for beginners often have fast actions.

The link between action and rod length is an interesting one when it comes to rod performance because a long rod will pick up more line and increase leverage. Many bass, walleye and trout anglers who prefer longer rods tend to gravitate towards fast or moderate-fast actions.

Lure weight rating

One of the most important things to do when buying a new fishing rod is ensuring the majority of the presentations you intend to fish with the rod fall within a rod’s lure weight range. Do this, and you’re pretty much guaranteed solid performance.

If you’re new to fishing and still learning about different fishing lures, jigs and other presentations, the quick reference fishing rod chart at the end of this blog will steer you in the right direction.

How to choose the best rod length

How to choose the best rod length

There’s a reason there are so many different rod lengths on the market — there isn’t an ideal rod length for every fishing scenario. The “best” rod length is going to depend the target species, fish-ing technique being used, and where and how you’re fishing. Individual preferences also heavily influence an angler’s preferred rod length. Let’s look at an example.

Fishing finesse jigs for walleye, bass and trout is very popular in Ontario and Quebec. This includes baits like the Ned rig, but also in-cludes things like a 3” grub or 4” soft plastic minnow on a 1/8- to 1/4-ounce jig. Anglers today are using a variety of different rod lengths when fishing these type of finesse jig presentations. Some who prefer a short 5’4” to 6’ medium-light rod, believing it provides better control and helps impart a subtle action with less risk of overworking the bait. Others opt for a 7’ to 7’6” light or medium-light rod, which helps achieve longer casts, pick up more line when setting the hook, and provide additional fish-fighting leverage and cushioning. In between, there are hundreds of anglers who rely on one of the most universal and versatile rods for freshwater fishing — a 6’6” medium or medium-light spinning rod, which is one of the most popular lengths you’ll find available if shop-ping for a rod and reel kit.

The above example illustrates how the best rod length can be influenced by individual prefer-ences. This is why it’s a good idea to spend time in a store to see how different rod lengths feel in your hand. Be sure to put on a reel as well. 

The combo should feel like an extension of your arm and hand. If it feels cumbersome, it’s likely not the right set-up for you. Generally speaking, beginner anglers may find a shorter rod a bit eas-ier to fish with when learning the mechanics of casting, jigging, retrieving lures, setting the hook and playing fish. 

Where you’re going to be fishing also comes into play when choosing the best rod length. For instance, when fishing for rainbow or brook trout out of a boat, kayak or canoe, a 6’6” to 7’6” me-dium or medium-light spinning rod is an ideal rod length range for many scenarios. Yet, when fish-ing trout from a small stream lined with trees and overgrown brush, a 5’6” or 6’ rod is likely a bet-ter choice for navigating and fishing within the constricting surrounding terrain.

You also need to think about how you’re going to get your rod to and from where you’re going to be fishing. Getting a 1-piece, 7’6” rod into a big SUV is unlikely to be an issue, but ca be trickier in a compact car. Fortunately, there are plenty of 2-piece, multi-piece travel and telescopic rod con-figurations available.

Putting it all together – Best rod length recommendations

Best rod length recommendations

We hope the information above gives you better understanding some of the different things to consider when deciding how to choose fishing rod length. To wrap-up, here’s a quick reference fishing rod length chart listing rod set-ups for various fishing scenarios. It doesn’t cover every situ-ation, but certainly captures many popular general purpose rod choices.

Best rod length for beginners
  • 6’6” medium-light or medium, fast spinning
  • 5’4” to 6’ medium-light medium for children
Best rod length for panfish
  • 6’6” light, fast spinning
Best rod length for bass fishing
  • 7’ medium-light or medium, fast to extra-fast spinning
  • 7’ to 7’11” medium to heavy moderate-fast to extra fast casting
Best rod length for walleye fishing
  • 6’6” to 7’ medium-light or medium, fast to extra-fast spinning
  • 7’6 to 8’ medium, moderate to moderate-fast casting trolling rod
Best rod length for trout
  • 6’6” to 7’ light to medium, fast spinning
Best rod length for musky
  • 7’ to 9’+ heavy to extra-heavy, fast casting rod
Best fly fishing rod length beginners
  • 8’ to 9’, 5-weight, medium-fast to fast

In conclusion, choosing the right fishing rod requires answering key questions about its use, target species, and preferred fishing techniques. Consider the power, action, and lure weight to maximize performance. The length of the rod depends on various factors, including individual preferences and the fishing location.


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