By Dave Brown
Anatomy of a Fishing Rod
In this article, we will discuss the components of a fishing rod.
What is a Fishing Rod?
First off, is it fishing pole or fishing rod? You will hear both terms interchangeably and they both actually mean the same thing.
A fishing rod is everything from the very tip of the rod down to the very bottom. The rod is what you will attach your reel to and the component that will do all of the heavy lifting for you. It is a very crucial piece of equipment when it comes to fishing.
Breakdown of a Fishing Rod
1. The Blank
The blank is the actual long piece of material that is essentially the rod. The blank can be made of a variety of materials such as Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, Bamboo or a combination of materials. In general, a rod blank will be thicker and wider at the bottom (Butt) section and taper down and be thinner at the top (Tip) section.
A rod blank will have what is called a "Power." A rod power is how much flex a rod has when bent. You will see everything from Ultra-Light to XXXX-Heavy. An Ultra-Light rod is most bendable/flexible and is used for lighter, smaller fish applications. The heavier you get as you progress from Ultra-Light to Light to Medium-Light to Medium-Heavy to Heavy to X-Heavy, etc., the less bend and flexibility there will be in the rod blank. This is good for heavier applications such as big freshwater fish like catfish all the way up to saltwater species like giant tuna.
The next term you will hear on a rod blank is the "Action" or rod taper. A rod action is where the rod bends when pulling on something heavy. If a rod bends directly in the middle it is said to be parabolic and have a Slow action. As the bend starts further toward the tip, the "action" gets faster. A Fast Action rod will bend close to the tip and is something you will find in more bass style rods where setting the hook immediately is of utmost importance.
2. The Components
There are several components that make up a fishing rod. All of these components are attached to the rod blank and ultimately make up your fishing rod.
Starting at the very top of the rod, lets talk about the rod tip and work our way down. The rod tip is just that, the very top of the rod. This is the first place of contact between you, your rod and the fish happens.
The rod tip is attached to the end of the rod. This has a nice smooth surface so that it does not rough up your line as you cast and retrieve.
Moving down the rod, you come across several Guides that lead toward the Butt section. Each of these guides will gradually get bigger and bigger as you move down the rod. Each guide has an insert that can be made of many different materials. Guides are just that, a guide. They will guide your line up the rod and out the tip and keep your line aligned to the rod. The closest guide to your reel is called a stripper guide. This is usually the largest guide on the rod and its job is to collect the line coming off the reel and send it on up and out the tip.
The next component you may come to is the fore grip.
The fore grip comes before the reel when going top to bottom. The fore grip is designed to add comfort to the area right in front of your reel and in many cases, part of your reel seat. Sometimes the fore grip becomes part of the attachment that holds your reel onto the rod. You will see many configurations of fore grip from very minimal and non existent in some trout and bass rods, to very long, upwards of 24" in cases where you use the rod to rest on the rail of a boat when fishing for giant tuna. These are known as rail rods.
Below the fore grip is the reel seat and rod butt.
The reel seat is just that, a place to mount your reel. The reel seat will firmly secure your reel to your rod and will feature either a screw down, or screw up section to hold it in place. In the picture above, it is a screw down reel seat. You will find reel seats in many configurations as well. From very basic looking seats to more fancy seats such as the minimalist, trigger reel seat above.
Right below the reel seat you will find the rear grip. This may be made of several materials as well, but the most common will be cork, neo-cork, carbon fiber or a rubberized or foam material such as EVA or TPE.
You will also hear the term full grip or split grip. They are somewhat self explanatory as the full grip is a full piece of material from the reel down to the butt, while the split grip is usually split into two sections. The use of this is totally personal preference and one really isn't better than the other.
And the very bottom of the rod is called the Butt section. The butt section is a lot of times made out of a durable material as this part is the part that is usually hitting the ground or deck of a boat and can get worn out fairly quickly. You will find several materials in the butt section as well as aluminum on occasion for offshore applications.
Types of Fishing Rods
There are several types of fishing rods and they all serve a purpose. Depending on what sort of fish you are chasing, you may have need for different rods. You have probably heard the terms spinning, casting, fly fishing, etc. Each of these will have their own rod blanks and be set up a little differently as far as components go.
Spinning and Casting rods are designed to be fished with either a spinning or casting reel. For the most part, they will use the same blank, but the components will be set up differently. When you go to a fly rod, they are generally long and feature a slow action meaning they are very bendable as you want that to be able to cast something as light as a fly a long distance.
I hope this gives you a good overview on what a Fishing Rod actually is and the differences between them and the components used.
Dave Brown - Okuma Fishing Tackle