Reviewers say the following about shopping for fishing rods:

  • Experts all agree that knowing what kind of fishing you plan on doing is the key to selecting a rod. Aside from the wide array of rods available, each rod comes in different styles and lengths depending on its intended use. Before purchasing, consider where you plan to fish, how often and which kinds of fish you're targeting.
  • A good all-around spinning rod for freshwater and light saltwater fishing should be around 5.5 to 6.5 feet long and capable of casting 1/4-ounce to 3/8- or 1/2-ounce lures and baits.
  • If you go for graphite, look for a high-modulus model (IM-8 or IM-10). The higher the modulus of elasticity, the more stiffness per ounce of rod weight. High-modulus rods are stiffer, stronger and cast more accurately.
  • Several experts say cork handles offer the most sensitivity for detecting nibbling or soft-biting fish. They also have greater aesthetic appeal. Cork can begin to wear and chip, however, so if you're looking for more durability, EVA Foam handles might work better.
  • Check to see if rod blanks run through the handle, which ensures extra sensitivity. Split-grip handles, which expose part of the blank, offer even further sensitivity.
  • Don't scrimp on the guides through which the fishing line runs from the reel to the tip of the rod. Look for stainless-steel or other high-quality guides that won't rust or chip, thus damaging the fishing line and limiting your casting range.
  • While mutli-section rods are a good buy for travelers short on space, they tend to be less sensitive than single-piece rods, causing many experts not to recommend them.

Fishing Rods Runners Up:

G. Loomis's Bronzeback *Est. $250

3 picks by top review sites.

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G loomis Smallmouth Bronzeback Fishing Rod SMR702CTW
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $239.99
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

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