Main Differences Between 7 Types Of Fishing Rods ( Detailed Comparison)

Different Types Of Fishing Rods

Thanks to the advancement of technology, our tools have been becoming more diverse and effective. Different types of rods are designed for particular types of fishing.

Therefore, it’s crucial to use the proper one for your style of fishing, locations, and target species.

At the moment, there are about seven main types of fishing rods: spinning rod, casting rod, trolling rod, surf rod, fly rod, ice rod, and ultralight rod.

Which one suits you the most? Jump to the section of your preferred rod and find out more.

1. Spinning Rod

Spinning rod is one of the most basic fishing rods for any level of angler thanks to its versatility and user-friendliness. The open-faced spinning reel is mounted underneath the rod, on the same side as the line guides.

spinning rod

Skill Level: 

  • All level


  • Versatile for a wide range of fishing conditions.
  • Capable of casting a variety of species.
  • Quick to master.
  • Adaptable for a wide range of different lengths, actions, and powers.
  • Easy to fix tangles.


  • Not a very precise cast.
  • Not recommended to handle heavy lines and heavy lures.

2. Casting Rod

This rod either comes with a straight handle or the one with a pistol grip

Casting rods and spinning rods are frequently compared since they serve many similar purposes. However, casting is usually heavier, and the reel is mounted on top of the handle, facing the angler.

The guides of the casting rods are available in small to medium sizes. They either come with a straight handle or with a pistol grip, both of which include a trigger hold right under the handle.

Casting rods are divided into two subcategories: baitcasting models and spincast models.

The only little difference between the two variants is in the kind of fishing reel used with them. Generally, spincast rods and reels are much easier to use than baitcasting setups.

Skill Level:

  • With baitcaster reel: Intermediate to advance.
  • With spincast reel: Beginner


  • Able to cast farther and with more accuracy, compared to spinning rods.
  • Able to handle heavy lines and heavy lures.
  • Suitable for casting in thick vegetation or targeting larger species like bass.
  • Versatile in different techniques.


  • Challenging when using baitcasting reels as inexperienced anglers have a higher risk of facing backlash. 

3. Fly Fishing Rod

Fly fishing’s main objective is to deceive fish with any artificial fly composed of animal parts like hair or feathers. Most fly fishermen desire to challenge themselves with a tougher style of fishing and catch as many fish as they can while doing it. 

Similarly, the fly rods come in all kinds of sizes and lengths so the anglers can match almost any target species and fishing situation.

This type of fishing rod is frequently significantly longer than its spin or baitcasting rod counterpart.

While spinning and baitcasting rods usually come in the 6 to 9 feet range, fly rods can go up to 14 feet. 

In addition, the appropriate reels sit underneath the fly rods to align with their line guides. These rods are also extremely lightweight, flexible, and adjustable.

They can be produced in single or multi-piece versions to meet the needs and desires of different anglers

A fly fishing rod can reach more than 14 feet in length
A fly fishing rod can reach more than 14 feet in length

Skill Level:

  • Intermediate to advanced


  • Lightweight, flexible and adjustable.
  • Single or multi-pieces, easy to transport.
  • Versatile, can be used in any body of water.
  • Ideal for catching almost any species.
  • Appropriate for casting large weights and lures.


  • Challenging to master technique.
  • Be impacted in strong wind conditions.

4. Ice Rod

An ice rod looks like a mini version of a spinning rod, as they are the shortest type of fishing rod, sometimes only two to three feet long.

This is simply because ice fishing doesn’t require casting and ice shelters frequently have limited space. Anglers need to lower their lures or baits through a small hole in the ice to catch the fish. 

Ice rods can be paired with spinning reels or any inline reel models designed specifically for ice fishing. They are only well-suited for catching small to medium fish species, up to the size of walleye and pike. Larger fishes could cause the rod to break. 

Depending on the style of ice fishing, jigging, or deadsticking, as well as the target species, anglers will choose between a variety of rod powers and actions.

Skill Level:

  • All levels.


  • Super easy to use.
  • Can be used as a kid’s rod.
  • Inexpensive.


  • Doesn’t cast well.
  • Only suitable for fishing in cold weather conditions.
  • Limited fish species, especially in winter.

5. Surf Rod

A surf rod, known as a sea rod, is designed for use in the ocean. This type of rod usually comes with a durable butt and extra length, which allows the fishermen to lob a heavy bait rig conveniently to the targeted area.

They are great choices for casting from the surf, beach, pier, or other areas along the shore.

These rods are made of durable materials to withstand the relentless assault of ocean waves and corrosion from saltwater.

They are used with large spinning or conventional reels.

Skill Level:

  • All levels.


  • Durable, designed to withstand corrosion.
  • Large casting distance.
  • Capable of fighting very large fish for heavy models.


  • Expensive.
  • Specific to ocean fishing.
  • Big and too heavy.

6. Trolling Rod

Trolling rods are designed specifically for a particular purpose – trolling.

Anglers can either hold onto the rod or mount it in a rod holder while the boat moves slowly through the water, causing the lure to “swim” and catch the attention of any fish in the area.

Trolling rods are usually stiffer with large reels in order to handle lots of lines.

Commonly, they are used for catching larger species of fish such as tuna or marlin, and are only suitable for trolling in big lakes, oceans, or pond fishing.

For more information, to assist the fishing process, anglers can use some line-spreading trolling devices when casting.

For example, outriggers can be used to spread the lines more widely, reducing the chance of tangling while downriggers can be used to keep the baits trailing at the desired depth.

Skill Level:

  • All levels.


  • Best for trolling behind a boat compared to any normal spin-casting rod.
  • Multiple lines in the water.


  • Limited application, only suitable for trolling.

7. Ultra-light Rod

Ultralight rod is the smallest category of adult fishing poles available now in the market. They are commonly five to six feet in length with less power than bigger rods. 

Just like the name, this type of fishing rod is meant to be thin and light, so as to have a delicate presentation and make the fishing process more fun.

The rods are more often useful for freshwater fishing when the targeted species tend to be smaller.

Generally, fishermen choose ultralight rods for trout fishing, small warm water fishing, backpacking or camping.

ultralight fishing rod

Skill Level:


  • Thin and light
  • Great for backpacking trips.
  • Can cast almost weightless lures at a good distance, which is perfect for fishing for trout.


  • Hard to fight big fish.
  • Hard to cast in long distances. 
  • Less durable due to thinner and lighter materials.

Guide To Choose Fishing Rod


Fishing rods are made of four main types of materials:

  • Bamboo
  • Graphite
  • Composite
  • Fiberglass
FiberglassThe longest material
More power and more durable
Ideal for heavy saltwater fishing and trolling rods
The least expensive rods
Flexible for optimum drag
Have slow to medium action, little sensitivity
Reduce accuracy at longer distances
Low power
GraphiteLighter and stiffer than fiberglass
Ideal for applications that require the accurate casting of a lure or a bait
Avoid casting fatigue thanks to lightness.
Super sensitive and powerful.
More brittle than fiberglass, graphite rods break easier than fiberglass ones.
More expensive than fiberglass and composite rods
CompositeCombine both graphite and fiberglass => Combine their strengths while avoiding their individual weaknesses.
Often more expensive than fiberglass rods.
Less accurate than graphite.
Super sensitive
Not versatile
Difficult for all-day use


The overall length of the rod is measured from the tip to the end of the handle. They come in a wide variety of lengths, ranging from 2 feet ice fishing rods to 14 feet surf ones. The most widely used pole types are spinning and casting rods, which are usually 6 to 8 feet long. 

Short rods (around 6 feet long) frequently have less bending abilities so they are only handy when fighting fish that are close by. Besides, most of the short rods are ice fishing rods, where fishermen present their bait right in front of them.

The same is true while fishing from small boats, in vegetation-covered spaces, or fishing in covers. The optimum rods for these circumstances are shorter ones.

Longer rods are better for hunting larger fishes and are mostly used in deep water. These rods are excellent for using certain baits such as crankbaits because they will dive deeper on longer casts. Long rods can create some distance between the anglers and very cautious fish.

In terms of a long rod, rod action is also necessary. Long, fast-action rods allow for more rapid line movement and precise hooksets. Treble hooks work well with long, slow- or medium-action rods as well. 

Action and Power

Rod action refers to the amount of flex the rod has when it is bent.

  • Fast action: bends only at its tip
  • Medium action: bends halfway along its length
  • Slow action: bends along the whole length of its backbone

Generally, fast-action rods are commonly used for throwing lures because they are better at casting long distances and with accuracy. 

Rod power refers to how much force is required to bend the rod. In other words, power is the amount of resistance it takes to bend a rod.

  • Heavy: bends only with great weight.
  • Medium: bends with intermediate weight.
  • Light: bends very easily.

In conclusion, the bigger the fish anglers want to catch, the heavier the power should be.

What rod is good for bass?

When it comes to types of fishing rods, baitcasting and spinning rods are the most suitable for bass. It depends on the fishermen’s personal preferences and fishing strategies. 

However, the majority of bass fishing circumstances call for the use of heavier lines and strong equipment in order to work lures effectively and bring fish to the boat.

Therefore, baitcasters are more likely to be chosen by most bass anglers.

In terms of rod materials, most bass rods on the market now are made of graphite as they are incredibly light, which is a clear benefit for long days on the water. With this lightness comes extreme sensitivity, allowing an angler to feel every strike, bump, or weed.

What rod is good for beginners?

When choosing the material for the rod, unsurprisingly, most novice anglers start out with fiberglass rods as they are tougher, generally more flexible, and relatively economical while graphite is lighter, stiffer, and more sensitive but easier to damage.

On the other hand, spin-casters are considered to be the best fishing rod for beginners, including children, as long as they are under adult supervision.

This is partly because the reel’s design for the rod incorporates an enclosure that entirely conceals the spool and keeps all of the crucial parts inside, minimizing the possibility of the line becoming tangled or stuck.

Relate: What are the pieces of a fishing rod called?

Final Thought

Knowing how to choose a fishing rod doesn’t come easily. There’s a lot to consider, especially when you are choosing your first one. The good news is that you just need to list out your criteria and read our list to find a suitable one.

Whether you are a novice or an experienced angler, I hope you can find the right fishing rod for yourself.

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