While there are hundreds of different types of fishing rods on the market, there are several that have gained widespread popularity among anglers of all ages and experience levels. Whether you’re a first-time fisherman looking to buy your first rod or an experienced fisherman looking to upgrade your arsenal, these popular types of fishing rods will suit your needs and preferences.
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The Spinning Rod
The spinning rod is the most popular type of fishing pole and works great for both fresh and saltwater fish. A spinning rod and reel setup allows the line to flow freely when casting. The spool does not move, and the line is pulled away from the top of the reel. Spinning rods can be a variety of sizes and weights that give this type of pole a lot of versatility. Longer rods help cast bait or lures further while shorter or lighter rods can increase feel or make it easier in tight spaces.
Spinning rods are an all-around great pole for light-tackle anglers and hobbyists. They are simple to use, inexpensive, and super versatile. Smaller poles are best for fresh water fish such as bass, trout, crappie, or catfish. Heavier and larger poles are great for ocean fishing on a boat or even shore fishing from a beach.
There are tons of manufacturers of these common setups. We really like the Abu Garcia spinning rods that have good construction as well as higher quality reels than you may find with other common spin pole manufacturers like Eagle Claw, Ugly Stick, or Zebco. Abu Garcia to us just seems like a much better construction and feel than these other brands.
The Baitcasting Rod
The baitcasting rod and reel is designed with a very specific task in mind…continual casting and retrieving. Their makeup is different than the spinning rod in that the reel is positioned on top of the pole instead of underneath. This changes the way the line flows and how the line is pressurized both during the cast and during the fight!
Bait casters are not for everyone. The casting method can be a little complicated. The spool on this type of pole is a small spindle that normally requires the fisherman to manually control its flow with their thumb. The spindle spins freely so if the fisherman doesn’t place enough manual drag, the spindle can overspin and cause all types of issues.
If you are used the spinning rod setup (like me), then mastering the baitcasting rod is a totally new skill. It will definitely take some time to get used to.
As with spinning rods, bait casting setups come in a massive variety of lengths and weights. There are setups for both fresh and salt water and sizes to fit any type of fish you may be going after.
A medium sized setup is super versatile. I recently started fishing this fairly inexpensive Ugly Stick Baitcaster Combo. It’s a really good value for your money and works with any freshwater fish I’m trying for.
The Fly Fishing Rod
The fly fishing rod is a specialized rod specifically used for casting flies and streamers. Most often times, fly fisherman are working a stream or river, but fly fishing poles can be used in certain lake situations too.
Key attributes of a fly pole include length and flexibility. Fly fishing is a bit of an art and skill combined. When I first started, I was using a garage sale pole I had purchased for $10. I had a really hard time getting that fly to go as far as I wanted and thought it was my technique. A couple of years of frustration went by and a friend of mine allowed me to use one of their expensive fly fishing setups. The difference was night and day. The whip of a really great fly rod makes all the difference in accuracy, distance, and feel of the cast.
The reels on a fly rod are different from any other reel on this list as well. The are circular and really they are designed to be mostly a line holder. The rest of task of working a fly is mostly handled without a reel involved at all. So in my opinion, the fly fishing reel is an important piece of a fly fishing setup, but it’s not as critical as a spinning or baitcasting reel.
Good fly poles are generally pretty pricey. Quality setups can be in the thousands of dollars. For a fisherman just starting out on fly fishing, I really like this Wild Water Fly Pole Combo. It’s priced fairly, but at 9’ still has the length and action to get you started in a fly fishing addiction.
The Trolling Rod
Trolling rods are generally designed for larger fish and for situations that don’t involve casting. Repeatedly casting a trolling rod is not a very common thing to do. Generally, the line is simply let out of large reels that are specifically designed to have the power you need to reel in very large fish. The reels on trolling rods tend to be more like a baitcasting pole and use a perpendicular spindle to handle the line.
They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and the specialized reels can have features like quick access drag, auto reel, depth measurements, and more.
This Penn Rival Levelwind Combo is a nice medium weight trolling combo that works well for most small to medium sized salt water fish. Beyond that, you can spend thousands of dollars on a trolling setup depending on features and size of the fish you are going after.
Inshore Spinning Rod
An inshore spinning rod and reel is essentially the same as the spinning rods described above but slightly heavier and a little more specialized for salt water fishing. Inshore setups are a medium action and can be a little longer than the types of fishing rod you would use in fresh water. The eyelets on the pole are generally made of stronger and smoother materials to ensure the line stays clean and strong when fishing for those salt water fighters. The poles are heavier weight to make sure they stay strong in the face of any sized fish on the other end.
The Penn Battle II Combo is a nice setup with good quality and features when going after those salt water lunkers.
The Heavy Spinning/Baitcasting Combination Pole
When it comes to fishing, especially from a boat, you need more than one type of rod. One for deep-sea trolling, one for spinning and another for casting. That’s why many fishermen favor a heavy spinning/baitcasting combination pole. The reel on these rods has just enough weight to put some oomph behind your cast, but still allows you to fish with lighter baits and lures. Some even feature 10 bearings on their reels to ensure smooth performance when reeling in your next catch.
We like another pole from the Penn Battle III product line. It’s 10’ and very heavy duty. Sharks, rays, or other large fish are all in for trouble with these heavier types of poles.
The Surfcasting Combination Pole
A surfcasting combination pole is a type of pole that combines two actions: one for fishing from shore and another for fishing from a boat. Some models are especially designed to let you fish both from a pier and from an anchored boat, while others are made to convert into either style. If you want to be able to switch back and forth easily as you move around, these may be your best option. The typical length is 8 feet, with an extended length between 8 and 9 feet; but there are longer options available if you need them. A typical rod weight on a surfcasting combination model is between 6 ounces and 10 ounces.
KastKing makes a nice entry level pole in this category called the Kastking Centron. Under $100, it’s affordable, but still durable and flexible enough to handle fishing in a variety of methods.
Ice Fishing Pole
Ice fishing poles are maybe the most specialized of everything above. They are mini poles that are normally no more than a couple feet in length. They really are amazingly strong and flexible though as they are designed to fight and pull fish from a 12” area. Basically straight down.
The reels on ice fishing poles are of good quality generally, but don’t need to be amazingly designed because there is usually no casting involved. Drop and reel is all that’s needed here.
The biggest thing to look for when buying an ice fishing pole is durability and strength of the small pole.
Shakespeare makes an entire line of Ice Fishing rods that are really great value. This 28” GX2 combo is a perfect versatile setup that will handle most all sizes of fish through the ice.
What Types of Fishing Rod is Best for Me?
There are different types of fishing rods for different fishing scenarios and anglers. Many new fishermen simply opt for a traditional rod with a reel attached. This is all well and good if you’re more of an angler than an ice fisherman; but if you’re looking for something stronger and perhaps a little more fun, you might consider one of the different types of fishing rods discussed above.