When it comes to buying spinning rods or surf fishing rods, there are quite a few features you need to think about.
I often find my head spinning when looking for a new rod;
What rod action do I need?
Is it the right length?
What fishing rod power do I want?
All of these elements make a difference to what a fishing rod can and can’t do well.
Today we are going to discuss everything about fishing rod power, so you can make the right decision when buying a new spinning rod.
What is fishing rod power?
How much a rod bends depends on the rod blank used to build the rod.
Fishing rods with light power will be made of a thinner blank and bend and flex more.
Fishing rods with heavy power will be made of a thicker blank and bend or flex less when under pressure.
How much your rod bends (rod power) will determine two major things; what size fishes you can catch and what size lures or baits you can use.
How to check the power of a fishing rod?
Every rod will be given a power rating when it’s made and you’ll find these power ratings in the specifications of the fishing rod and sometimes along the spine of the fishing rod.
If you’re buying your fishing rod in a store, the staff will be able to show you how to find the rod power very quickly.
Rods are split up into a total of 7 power ratings ranging from ultra-light to extra-heavy power.
As the ratings get heavier the rods bend and flex less and less.
What Power Fishing Rod Do I need?
In order to pick a fishing rod with the right power you’ll need to think about three things;the size of the fishes you’re going after, the size of the bait or lures you want to use, and how you need to set the hook.
If you have a very bendy rod (low power), you’re going to struggle to land a 50lb catfish, as the rod bends and flexes so much you will never control the fish in the fight.
The opposite applies too…
When using a stiff rod (high power) to catch small 1lb panfish, you’re not going to feel a bite because the rod will not move, and the fight will be non-existent – in fact, you probably won’t’ even notice you have hooked a fish.
Made sure to balance your rod power with the size of the fishes you’re targeting.
Lure Or Bait Weight
The lighter the power the smaller the lures or baits you can use, and vice versa – it affects both your casting distance and how long your rod will last.
If you were to put a heavy bait or lure, say in the 1-2 ounce range, on a bendy low-power rod, you’re probably to damage or snap the rod on your cast, as it can’t handle the weight.
If you put a 1/32 ounce lure or bait on a stiff high-power rod, you won’t have enough weight to load the rod for your cast and will end up casting a distance of 15ft instead of 60ft.
Be sure to check the lure and bait weight rating of a rod before you buy and match it to the target species and the lures or bait weights you want to use.
Usually small fish eat small lures and baits, so they should balance themselves naturally.
How much a rod bends and therefore the power of a rod also dictates what kind of hook sets an angler can do.
This applies to bass anglers more than most, but all anglers should take this into consideration.
The type of hook set you’ll need to do depends on the type of hooks you’re using.
When fishing with single hooks with a jig, for example, anglers need a stiffer rod with more power to drive the hook into the mouth of the fish, practically if they have a hard mouth like bass.
If anglers are using a treble hook with live bait or a jerk bait, there is no need for a stiff rod, as the treble hook in the live bait does all the work.
An angler just needs to keep tight in this situation and if they use a powerful hook set, will likely tear the trebles out of the mouth of the fish.
Power Ratings and When to Use Them
Ultra light power rods are perfect for subtle casting, light line, and light lures.
They are ideal for targeting small species like panfish, crappie, and trout and are best used with a light tackle lure that weighs between 1/32 to 3/8 oz as these will load the rod perfectly for maximum casing efficiency.
A light power rod is a step up and lures weighing between 1/16-1/8 oz will have it casting excellently.
These are also great rods for panfish and trout, with a low test line of around 4-8lbs and can handle large species such as walleye as well.
Their lighter power also means you will feel the bites of these small species and be able to set the hook well.
Medium Light (ML)
Medium-light, or light-medium rods as they are sometimes referred to, are great for medium-sized freshwater and saltwater species such as small bass or bonefish.
Medium-light or light-medium rods work with lures between the 1/8- to 1/2-ounce range and are stiff enough to set the hook into bass with a single hook.
Medium Power (M)
A medium power rod is the middle ground and is very versatile and is quite a step up from a light-medium.
You can fish a large range of bait weights from 1/4 to 3/4 oz and in a wide range of fishing styles from popping on saltwater to casing spinnerbaits for bass.
A medium power rod also has enough stiffness for tough hook sets and can handle larger fish like stripers or pike.
Here’s a quick informative video to better help you visualize the differences…
Medium Heavy (MH)
A medium heavy rod is the most common rod used for bass fishing. With medium-heavy, you have the stiffness to set the hooks and a huge variety of lure weights and fishing styles to choose from.
You can use a lure between 1/3 – 3/8 of an ounce with a medium-heavy and still have the casting accuracy needed to fish close to cover.
A heavy power rod will handle lures in the 3/8-1 ounce range and is ideal when fishing heavier lures like football jigs or when fishing deep on a wreck where you need the rod to stay stiff to haul a fish up from the depths.
They are also great when popping offshore for things like giant trevally or tuna.
Extra Heavy (EH)
The heaviest and stiffest rod in the line-up, this rod is ideal for large creatures like dogtooth tuna where you can’t give them an inch, and for using heavier lures in the 1/2 – 2 ounce range, like huge rooster poppers or heavy bottom jigs.
Power & Rod Material
A rod’s material is also related to its power and most rods are made from graphite or fiberglass.
A graphite rod is much stiffer than a fiberglass rod due to the properties of each of the materials and therefore a rod’s power can be affected by this.
Lighter power rods can be made from either materials, but because fiberglass will flex a lot, it can’t be used to make a stiff rod that has heavy power.
Matching Tackle To Power
You’ll need to match your tackle to the power of the rod you choose, and we are mainly talking about line and the reel when we talk about tackle in this case.
It’s quite common sense really but you need to balance the rod and reel for casting performance or the rod might be too light or too heavy to cast properly.
You should also check the rod’s line rating and match it to the reel as well.
On the spine of all rods will be words denoting the line you should use with them, which you can then find the right size reel from.
Thanks for reading my article and I hope you now understand everything you need to know about rod power and how to pick the right one for you.
Remember to choose your action and length first, and then your power.
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