Experts agree that being specific about what you need is the best way to select a rod. Different rods fit all kinds of different situations, depending on the location, the type of fish and the experience level of the fisherman (or woman). Once you can pinpoint the kind of fishing you plan to do, it will help narrow down the market.
For this article we'll focus on spinning rods, which experts say are generally more versatile than baitcasting rods and can be used by fishermen of all skill levels and ages. Beginners can learn to cast with spinning rods in just a few minutes, yet these models are sophisticated enough for use by seasoned fishermen, and can lure and land all but the largest fish in many different situations. A light- to medium-action spinning rod equipped with a good reel should be able to handle a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater fish. Spinning rods of varying sizes can land fish ranging from two-ounce bluegills to 200-pound blue marlin, but the light and medium models reviewed in this article are best used for fish under about ten pounds.
Anglers can use spinning rods for trolling, bottom-fishing and deep-sea fishing in a pinch, but they work best for casting lures or bait. In fact, spinning rods excel at casting, because they were designed to replace more difficult bait casting rigs, which can easily backlash and cause frustrating line tangles, or "bird's nests." Relative novices can learn to cast great distances with a spinning rod with good control, in only a few minutes.
The rods discussed here aren't sold with a reel, but you can usually find them bundled with a reel as part of a kit.