Fishing Rod Length 101: In-Depth Guide To Choosing The Ideal Rod

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

Share

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on print

Fishing Rod Length

When an angler buys a new rod they’re faced with a bunch of options including; what rod materials, power, and action to go for – what about fishing rod length?

I never considered how fishing rod length would affect my fishing, but once I started to integrate it into my decision making, it made a huge difference.

You might not have thought it, but picking the right fishing rod length is paramount to any angler’s fishing success – let’s find out why.

Why does fishing rod length matter?

Fishermen Sitting at a Riverside
Fishermen Sitting at a Riverside

Fishing rods are made at different rod lengths for a reason and they have a length range of 6 feet long to 15 feet long, and even longer for fly fishing or shorter when surf fishing.

The length of your fishing rod is going to affect a number of things whilst you’re fishing, most of all your casting distance and accuracy, plus the hook setting technique depending on what kind of hooks you’re fishing with.

How does rod length affect your fishing?

As mentioned above, how long or short your fishing rod is affects your casting distance and accuracy, and thus how well you can fish in a given situation.

Take bass fishing for example.

It’s all about putting short accurate casts next to heavy cover, but if your fishing rod isn’t the right size for that, you’re going to struggle.

This is why it’s so important to fish with the right rod length that matches your fishing situation.

Factors To Consider When Picking Your Ideal Rod Length

Accuracy

Shorter rods are typically around 7 ft and will provide you with far more accuracy than longer rods, as long as we aren’t talking about accuracy on long casts.

Shorter fishing rods are much easier to manage and far more maneuverable.

A shorter rod may be a better option if you are fishing around overhanging trees and obstacles. It also allows you to sit close to an ice hole giving you the ability to instantly feel if a fish bites.

A shorter rod requires far less energy to load the fishing rod and thus give you way more control over where your lure goes, except for heavy action rods that need a bit more power because they don’t flex very much.

Casting

Man Fishing at a Lake
Man Fishing at a Lake

Shorter rods are perfect for making short accurate casts and are ideal when fishing to heavy cover like you would in bass fishing.

Longer fishing rods, over the 7ft mark, are great if casting accuracy is less important as you’ll have longer casting distance with them.

If you plan on casting lures for a long time, you should get up to reading more about how to properly cast a fishing pole.

Distance

How far you can cast is also governed by how long your fishing rods are.

This is because a long rod blank gives more power through a larger energy transfer to send your lure much greater distances.

So, in a nutshell, short rods work for short distances, and longer rods are typically better for casting long distances.

  • If you want to cast around 50ft of fishing line, you’re going to want to use longer rods typically around the 8ft mark.
  • If you’re surf fishing and want to throw 120 feet of line with your lure or bait, a good choice among the surf fishing rods is a 15 ft long casting with a medium action is going to get you there.

NOTE

There is pay off you need to be aware of though. A longer rod will have you casting further, but you’ll have far less control over your accuracy and it’s something to integrate into picking the right fishing pole for the right fishing situation.

Leverage

When we talk about leverage, we are talking about the hook setting abilities of a rod.

A longer fishing rod length with a medium-heavy fast action will have more leverage than a shorter light action rod, and thus, generally, be better for setting a hook into the mouth of a fish.

This is because a long rod can move more line more quickly than a short spinning rod, and a faster action rod flexes less than lighter action rods, giving you more power to set the hook overall when a fish strikes.

Hook Set

Having the right rod power for setting the hook also depends on what hooks you’re fishing with.

If you fish with treble hooked baits, you don’t need the same amount of power to set the hook as you would with a single hook.

A powerful hook-set is going to rip the treble hooks out of the mouth of the hooked fish because there are three hooks, not one.

If you need tips on setting the hook, check out the informative video below…

Tips For THE BEST Fishing HOOKSET | TylersReelFishing

Action

Rod action actually trumps size when it comes to hook sets and what hooks to use in your baits. Spinning rods, baitcasting rods or any fishing rod type comes with different actions. Medium-light and light action rods, long or short, will give a softer hook set as they flex more and are best suited for trebles.


Bass anglers tend to use medium, medium-heavy, and fast rods that flex less and give you far more power to set a lure or bait into the mouth of a bass, especially with a longer rod, but short ones work just as well.

Fishing Comfort

A key component for us anglers to enjoy fishing as much as possible is being comfortable with using our gear.

I’m sure most anglers would agree that it’s almost as important as catching fish.

I used to use long 12 ft surf rods as a kid, boy did I get tired quickly and not enjoy fishing as much as I should.

Rod Length

This is where rod length becomes more about you, the angler’s, personal preference than anything else.

A long rod is harder to manage than a short rod, period, and how well you can manage a long casting rod comes down to your build – something many anglers forget.

If you’re 6ft 4 and 200lbs, you’re going to be able to handle longer, heavier fishing poles far more easily than an angler that’s 5ft 10 and 150lbs.

TIP

Make sure to choose your rod based on your size and comfort levels, you’ll enjoy fishing with it way more.

Rod Size

Anglers of any size can handle a 7ft rod for bass fishing or bank fishing, and it’s only when rods start breaking the 8ft mark for casting long distances where the size of the angler comes into play.

NOTE

But, you, or any other beginner anglers, shouldn’t feel limited in your angling career by how long a rod is vs your size, as with practice anyone can learn to cast a 15ft rod in the end, it might just be a tad uncomfortable.

So, how long should your rod be?

Man Standing at a River
Man Standing at a River

This comes down to what size rod you’re comfortable using plus where you’re angling and what fish species you’re targeting.

  • If you’re going after bass on a lake or river, then a short rod around 7ft with a spinning or baitcaster reel is all you need. When you fish for bass, you’re making short accurate shots all day long, and a short light rod is going to be the best in this situation.
  • If you’re going to fish the surf and need to send your line 120ft to get over the breaking waves, 15ft rods with the option of either spinning or baitcasting reels are ideal, as the larger size gives you the ability to throw your line the extra distance needed to put your bait where the fish are.

Long Rods – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Better for long-distance casts where throwing a lot of line is important
  • The extra size makes for a harder and quicker hook set
  • More leverage for fighting a large fish with

Cons

  • Can be a little harder to handle
  • You sacrifice accuracy for longer casts

Short Rods – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Excellent for short accurate casts
  • More feel when retrieving your lure
  • Easier to use

Cons

  • Less leverage when fighting a fish
  • Long casts are not possible

Casting Out

Thanks for reading my article, I hope you enjoyed it and now know how the size of your rod can make a huge difference when it comes to where and what species you fish for.

Balance

Matching rod size with your angling situation is as important as picking the right fishing rod weight, fishing lines, bait, reel, lure weight, action, power, and material, so make sure you consider it when you’re picking your first fishing rod or buying a new rod.

If you found the article useful, please share it with your angling buddies, and you might also enjoy checking out some of my others.

I cover everything from how to choose between spinning and casting rods, to having the right fish finder in your bass boat or when deep sea fishing.

Share

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print
Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
New Course: Casting Mastery Blueprint!
Longer, more accurate casting in just 10 days!