Use the links above to read some of my rod reviews or read below to learn more about what rod will suit you.
OK, for the most part rods all do the same thing … or do they? Yes, they all allow you to cast and fight fish but what does a better quality rod bring to the table that a cheaper rod does not?
To answer this, we need to start with why we actually use rods for fishing. To start with, from shore the rod is used to cast distances you couldn’t with a handline. Secondly, it’s designed to increase your chances of landing a big fish. Both of these characteristics come back to one thing – leverage.
Leverage helps you to load up a sinker and fling it into the distance just as it helps you to tire out a hard charging mackerel or trevally and better rods generally are designed to increase your leverage over the distance of a rod.
A top quality rod will have power in the butt section (which is where you’re applying your power from), some flex in the mid section and sensitivity in the tip. The best rods (trolling rods aside) can cast a small weight long distances while still having power in the butt to stop big fish. The problem, however, is that few rods can actually claim to do both.
Let’s look at rods for different purposes and see where a better product will help you.
Perhaps you think a rod for small fish doesn’t need to be anything flash? Well, this isn’t always the case. By small rod I mean a 2-4kg spinning rod around 6 to 7 foot that you’re going to use off the rocks for herring, the beach for whiting and in the river for bream.
As your skills develop, you might find that this rod has to cast a berley cage full of berley one day then a tiny soft plastic jig the next. One day you’re catching small whiting but then the next you could be landing 2kg tailor from Hillarys.
Yes, a simple rod will get the job done but can it pull hard charging black bream out of snags? Perhaps not. For small fish you’re going to find rods start in the $40-60 bracket. These ones are pretty good and I certainly wouldn’t recommend anything less if you’re going to fish regularly.
Next comes the $100-$150 bracket. All very good rods these because they’ll have decent butt strength and a tip that’s sensitive and good to cast with. I’d also suggest that this is your starting point for a good bream-on-lures rod.
My 2-4kg cost $350. Damn that’s an expensive little rod isn’t it? I never would have thought it would make so much difference until I started using these high quality rods. It’s been used to land huge trevally in the Kimberley and Rowley Shoals, massive tailor off Perth, pink snapper at Dirk Hartog and it’s never let me down.
Use this rod for a month then switch back to even a $150 rod and you will certainly notice the difference. Now, I’m not saying you MUST go out and buy a rod for $350. Quite the contrary, not many people do as much varied fishing as I do and you may not need such a top end product. In fact, there are a good number of quality graphite and fibreglass composite blanks around now that make a $150 investment look very sound. However, when you buy a rod do be aware that you get what you pay for and you should buy the best one within your price range.
Next I’ll move onto rod composition briefly. Early rods were made solely of fibreglass but lately graphite and other high-tech composites have hit the market. Graphite is the one to be most careful of.
Yes, it’s light and it’s strong for its weight but I‘ve had many problems with 100% graphite rods. Firstly, they tend to have too much flex in the butt unless they taper back to a much thicker butt section than the tip section. Too many I’ve seen are almost the same thickness from top to bottom and I find this totally useless. They flex even on herring and landing large fish is tons harder.
The worst problem, however, stems from hairline cracks that form in the black when it’s struck against your boat, car etc. These cause bad weaknesses and I reckon I’ve busted 3 or 4 graphite rods in my time compared to zero composite rods.
for the most part I’ve stuck with fibreglass/graphite composites (Pacific Composites mostly) and they have some terrific benefits. They are supple in the tip yet have the sort of butt strength that gives them ratings such as 1-6kg instead of 1-3kg and 10-24kg instead of 8-12kg. A huge difference indeed.