A fishing rod is a long, flexible length of glass fibre composite, carbon fibre composite or, classically, bamboo, used to catch fish. At its simplest, a fishing rod is a simple stick or pole with a line ending in a hook (formerly known as an angle, hence the term angling). To entice fish, bait is impaled on the hook or lures with hooks are attached to the line. Line is generally stored on a reel which may assist in landing a fish. There are various types of fishing rods designed for specific types of fishing. Fishing rods come in a variety of sizes, actions, lengths and configurations depending on whether they are to be used for small, medium or large fish or in different fresh or salt water situations. Contemporary fishing rods are constructed of either graphite or fiberglass materials. Their common length may vary between 2 and 23 feet (0.60 and 7.00 m) depending on application.
There are several specifications manufacturers use to delineate rod uses. These include power, action, line weight and lure weight.
Power - Also known as "power value" or "rod weight." Rods may be classified as Ultra-Light, Light, Medium-Light, Medium, Medium-Heavy, Heavy, Ultra-Heavy, or other similar combinations. Power is often an indicator of what types of fishing, species of fish, or size of fish a particular pole may be best used for. Ultra-light rods are suitable for catching small bait fish and also panfish, or situations where rod responsiveness is critical. Ultra-Heavy rods are used in deep sea fishing, surf fishing, or for heavy fish by weight. While manufacturers use various designations for a rod's power, there is no fixed standard, hence application of a particular power tag by a manufacturer is somewhat subjective. Any fish can theoretically be caught with any rod, of course, but catching panfish on a heavy rod offers no sport whatsoever, and successfully landing a large fish on an ultralight rod requires supreme rod handling skills at best, and more frequently ends in broken tackle and a lost fish. Rods are best suited to the type of fishing they are intended for.
Action - Action refers to the speed with which the rod returns to its neutral position. An action may be slow, medium, fast, or anything in between (e.g. medium-fast.) Contrary to how it is often presented, action does not refer to the bending curve. A rod with fast action can as easily have a progressive bending curve (from tip to butt) as a top only bending curve. The action can be influenced by the tapering of a rod, the length and the materials used for the blank. Typically a rod which uses a glass fibre composite blank is slower than a rod which uses a carbon fibre composite blank. Action, however, is also often a subjective description of a manufacturer. Very often action is misused to note the bending curve instead of the speed. Some manufacturers list the power value of the rod as its action. A "medium" action bamboo rod may have a faster action than a "fast" fibreglass rod. Action is also subjectively used by anglers, as an angler might compare a given rod as "faster" or "slower" than a different rod. A rod's action and power may change when load is greater or lesser than the rod's specified casting weight. When the load used greatly exceeds a rod's specifications a rod may break during casting, if the line doesn't break first. When the load is significantly less than the rod's recommended range the casting distance is significantly reduced, as the rod's action cannot launch the load. It acts like a stiff pole. Rods with a fast action combined with a full progressive bending curve allows the fisherman to make longer casts, given that the cast weight and line diameter is correct. When a cast weight exceeds the specifications lightly, a rod becomes slower, slightly reducing the distance. When a cast weight is slightly less than the specified casting weight the distance is slightly reduced as well, as the rod action is only used partially.
Line weight - A rod is usually also classified by the optimal weight of fishing line. Fishing line weight is described in pounds of tensile force before the line parts. Line weight for a rod is expressed as a range that the rod is designed to support. In casting and spinning rods, designations such as "8-15 lb. line" are typical.
Lure weight - A rod may also be described by the weight of lure or hook that the rod is designed to support. Lure weight is usually expressed in ounces or grams.
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