Fishing Rod Length Guide For Beginner Anglers (Ultimate Tips & Advice)

fishing rod length guide

The fact of the matter is that most anglers focus a lot on the material and action of the rod. That is necessary, but not all.

They also need to consider rod length. Fishing rods come in a wide variety of lengths, and you should choose a rod length that matches the fishing technique you want to practice and the type of fish you want to handle.

In this fishing rod length guide, we will help you choose the right rod length for you.

So, keep reading!

Why Does Fishing Rod Length Matter?

Does it matter how long the fishing rod is?

The answer is definitely a yes! 

Anyone who has ever gone fishing will realize that enjoyable fishing experiences often come with a suitable fishing rod because it exerts a great impact on fishing success. 

Normally, anglers choose their rods when considering these factors: the target species and fishing techniques that they are practicing, the baits to use, the manufacturing companies, and the advantages and disadvantages of buying a fishing rod. 

However, the rod’s length is a truly vital contributor. The thickness of the line affects the length of a fishing pole. And a thicker line will be more sensitive.

For locating bait, a shorter rod is preferable. For pursuing larger fish, a longer one is more favored. 

When choosing the size of your boat, keep in mind the length of a fishing pole as well.

The fishing vessel should not be larger than four feet in length. 

Though fishers have to consider a lot of criteria when buying the right fishing rods, in this article, we will focus solely on how to pick the right ones by their lengths.

What Length Should The Fishing Rod Be?

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 ability so they are only handy when fighting fish at close distance. Besides, most of the short rods are ice fishing, where fishermen present their bait right in front of them.

The same is applied to 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 throwing baits a long way, setting the hooks, 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. Moreover, 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.

Fishing Rod Length by Type of Fish

Anglers, especially novices, should decide their rod length before making any purchases. The rod’s performance and the angler’s comfort are both greatly influenced by its length. 

Depending on each target species, anglers have to choose fishing rods according to lengths, lures, or baits as well as having their own fishing strategies.

The table below shows information about rod lengths, lures, and baits that are suitable for the target species.

SpeciesRod LengthTop FliesRecommend Lure
Freshwater ( General) 5 to 8.5 feetDries, wet flies, nymphs, terrestrials, streamersJigs, spoons, spinners, plugs, plastic baits, spinner baits, surface fishing lure
Trout 8 to 9 feetSmall poppers, nymphs, terrestrials, streamers Spinners,
Panfish 8 to 9 feetSmall poppers, nymphs, terrestrials, streamersSpinners,
Bass 8.5 to 9.5 feetLarge poppers, deceivers.Surface lure, soft lure, spinnerbaits, jigs and worms, spoons, plugs
PikeAround 8 feet longLarge specialty pike flies, large poppers, diversSurface lure, spinnerbaits, spinners, spoons
Salmon8.5 to 9.5 feetNymphs, streamers, eggsSpinners, spoons, plugs
Steelhead9 to 10 feetNymphs, streamers, eggsSpinners, spoons, plugs, crankbaits
Saltwater ( General) 8.5 to 9.5 feetCrazy Charlies, crabs, shrimp, deceivers, minnows Soft lures, jigs
Striped Bass8.5 to 9.5 feetDeceivers, deep minnowsSaltwater trolling lure, spinners, spoons
BoneFish 8.5 to 9.5 feetCrazy Charlies, crabs, shrimp, deceivers, minnowsSkimmer jigs
Tarpon around 9 feetLarge saltwater popper minnowsJigs
Billfisharound 9 feetLarge specialty, billfish flies, large saltwater poppersTrolling lure
Carp10-13 feet longNymphs, crayfish,
hammerhead, carp bug, headstand carp fly
Top water lures, power bait, floating baits, soft plastic worm
CatfishSmaller catfish in the pond: 6 feet long
Average: 7 to 9 feet
Advanced: up to 10 feet
Big and ugly flies, Sculpin and crayfish patternRattle crankbaits, Stink bait

Type Of Rod

There are several types of fishing rods for different fishing strategies. The fishing rod size chart below will summarize the length size of each type.

Fishing Rod TypeLength RangeCommonly used lengthsApplication
Spinning rod4’5” - 9’5” 6’ - 7’5”Casting lures, bobber fishing, bottom fishing, surf fishing, live lining,
Baitcasting rod5’5” - 9’ 6’5” - 8’Casting lures or rigs
Fly fishing rod6’ - 10’7’ - 9Fly fishing
Surfcasting rods9' - 14'10’ - 12’Surf fishing
Boat rod 5' - 7' 6’ - 6’6”Boat fishing
Trolling Rod9’ - 14’9’ - 11’Trolling
Ice fishing rod20” - 48”28” - 36”Ice fishing

Let’s analyze more clearly the length of each type of rods

Spinning Rod

spinning rod pros and cons

Spinning rods are the most common type of fishing pole in sport fishing. They are versatile and user-friendly as well as can be used in various applications such as casting lures, bottom fishing, bobber fishing, live lining, and surf fishing.

They also come in a wide variety of lengths, ranging from 4’5″ to 9’5”. Short and long rods are designed for specific purposes while medium-length rods are all-around and can be adapted to many fishing techniques. 

  • Short spinning rods (4’5” – 6′): are usually used for kayak fishing because the long pole is difficult to hold in a small kayak. Short models are also used for fishing in small creeks with lots of hanging bushes and trees. In those circumstances, a shorter pole allows you to cast beneath the bush, while a longer model would constantly tangle you.
  • Medium-length spinning rods (6′ – 7’5”): are the most typical rod sizes and types in use. Anglers can use them for numerous fishing techniques, including lure casting, bottom fishing, and bobber fishing. This length is also the most popular for novices. And once anglers gain experience, they can adopt shorter or longer poles for more specific situations.
  • Long spinning rods (7’6” – 9’5”): are frequently used in situations requiring lengthy casting distances, including surf fishing or lure casting in open water. The extra length contributes to a longer casting distance with the sacrifice of accuracy. However, longer rods require more space when casting, compared to short rods, which makes anglers feel a bit inconvenient.

Baitcaster Rod

casting rod pros and cons

Baitcaster rods are quite popular among experienced anglers since they provide high casting accuracy and more control while reeling in the fish. Their length tends to be a bit longer than that of spinning rods on average, though there is a lot of overlap in the middle of the range.

Anglers can utilize these rods by only attaching the line to the baitcasting reel and they are ready to go. Baitcasting rods can be used for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. In terms of fishing applications, they can handle casting lures or rigs as well as trolling.

A baitcaster rod can be any length between 5’5″ and 9′, but the most popular length is between 6’4″ and 8′, which is divided into three clusters as below.

  • Short baitcaster rods (5’5″ to 6’4″): offer greater casting accuracy but are limited to a close distance. They are perfect for fishing with maximum accuracy at a distance of 30 feet or less. The same as short spinning rods, these poles are also ideal for fishing from a kayak or in small creeks with crowded vegetation. 
  • Medium-length baitcaster rods (6’5″ to 8′): are the most commonly used pole sizes for bass fishing. Anglers can use this type of rod for various situations, including bank fishing, kayak fishing, or fishing from a bass boat. They are considered easier to master than long rods while combining both high casting accuracy and long casting distance.
  • Long baitcaster rods (8’ to 9’): are frequently used for power bass fishing, which calls for extra-long poles with medium-to-heavy power and high-pound-test braid (30-60 lb or more). Using these long, heavy poles allows fishermen to catch enormous lunker bass without having to worry about tangled lines in the surrounding cover. Examples of cover include sunken wood fields and overhanging trees.

Fly Fishing Rod

Fly rods are often longer, compared to other types of rods, and typically measure between 7 to 9 feet long. They need to be longer because fly fishing requires casting a very light lure. Therefore, anglers will use the weight of the fishing lines, which is far thicker than other types of fishing lines, instead of using the lure weight for casting. 

Long fly fishing poles are needed in order to cast across substantial distances with this technique. However, in some cases such as fishing small trout streams that have a lot of overhanging trees and bushes, fly fishers need to downsize their rods to shorter 6 feet models.

  • Short fly fishing rods (8’ or less): are used to get precise and short casts in small stream fishing. Sometimes, they are used for chasing after panfish with a light fly line. 
  • Medium-length fly fishing rods (8′ – 8’5”): are used for regular fly fishing in a wide range of situations. 
  • Long fly fishing rods (8’5” – 9′): are suitable for making long casts, using heavy fly lines, or fishing in the wind.

Surf Casting Rod

Surf rods are one of the longest rod types employed by fishermen. They are common for casting great distances from the beach into the surf and come in both spinning and revolving-spool reel versions.

Surfcasting rod length is one of the key factors that contribute to casting distance. A longer rod provides a longer distance in a cast. The length varies from 7 to 14 feet, though most are in the 10- to 12-foot range with long handles. They are heavy in order to cast objects weighing 2 to 4 ounces. 

Surfcasting poles can attain a casting distance of at least 100 yards when used by an experienced angler. Although the world record casting distance for this particular rod type is over 300 yards, we normally don’t need to cast that far to catch a lot of fish.

  • Short surf casting (9’): 9 feet is considered the minimum length for surf fishing. This is the required length to have complete control over the other end of the line as well as to efficiently hookset and fight fish. 

If the rod is shorter than 9 feet, the casting distance will be very limited and anglers will struggle to catch any fish at all when the beach is busy.

  • Medium-length surf casting (10′ – 12′): 10-12 ft is the optimal length for a surf rod. Because it’s long enough to provide a long casting distance and a great hook setting capability, but not that long so it becomes heavy and tiring to maneuver
  • Long surf casting (12′ – 14′): are ideal for larger target fishes such as tuna. The reason is that these species are often found deeper in the ocean, and long rods enable anglers to cast that far, especially when fishing in a crowded beach.

Boat Fishing Rod

Boat Fishing Rod Length

Boat rods typically measure 6 to 7 feet in length, which is shorter than the other pole kinds mentioned above. The main cause is that a long pole is challenging to control on a boat, where there is frequently little room for throwing.

Additionally, anglers don’t need to cast the bait when using a boat rod for deep sea or reef fishing. Instead of doing so, they would descend it vertically into the water, similar to ice fishing.

A lot of different rods fall into this catchall category predominantly devoted to saltwater fishing. These rods are generally stiff and heavy-action rods.

Trolling Fishing Rod

Normally, trolling rods tend to be longer than other rod types, except surf rods. Anglers can find these rods with different lengths ranging from 8 to 14 feet long in the fishing market. Nevertheless, most fishers prefer to use trolling rods that are 9- to 11-foot in length.

Thanks to the extra length, fishers can troll with several rods at the same time without getting their lines tangled. This can be accomplished by extending a long trolling pole to the right and left of the boat, so their lines can be kept as far apart as possible.

Additionally, one more reason why trolling poles are very long is that they are frequently used with down riggers, which require them to be bent all the way down to the water’s surface (for more information, see our evaluation of the finest salmon trolling rods).

The downrigger releases its line when a fish strikes the bait, and the pole snaps up to set the hook. All of this functions far more effectively with a long pole than with a small one.

  • Short trolling rods (9’ or less): are comfortable for most boat situations. They can provide short accurate casting.
  • Medium-length trolling rods  (9′ – 11′): are optimal for trolling. This is because the length is enough to allow the rod to load up while the big fish such as salmon chew on their lures or baits without feeling the rod. 

Hence, they are not too long to become heavy and tiring for all-day fishing, compared to longer ones.

  • Long trolling rods (11′ – 14′): are best in situations where accuracy is not critical. The longer length can help anglers maneuver their rods around the motor and other rods when reeling fish in.

Ice Fishing Rod

ice fishing rod pros and cons

Ice fishing rods are usually very short with a soft tip for use around holes in the ice, mostly necessary for storing and dispensing lines. Regarding length, they are the shortest out of all fishing pole types. 

There is a wide range of ice fishing rod lengths in the market, valued from 20 to 48 inches, but the most commonly used are measured from 28 to 36 inches.

The reason for this short length is that 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 in order to catch the fish. 

In addition, due to the short length of the rods, fishermen may sit close to the ice holes and detect fish bites immediately. Also, pulling a fish through the ice with a short pole makes it simpler to capture it.

Lastly, fishing with short poles is considerably more convenient than using a longer model in the confined space of an ice fishing shelter. Depending on the style of ice fishing, jigging, or deadsticking, as well as the target species, anglers will also have to choose between a variety of rod powers and actions.

Best Rod Length for Child

Best Rod Length for Child

It is great to introduce your child to the world of fishing. However, in most cases, they will have difficulty with the fishing rod. It is wise to give your child a short pole, which is about 3 to 4 feet long.

While these products will not work for you, they will be more than enough for the kids.

Of course, they would not use these rods to catch a catfish.

Whether your kid catches a fish or not, their experience grows bit by bit, making them professional anglers as they grow.

When they get a little bigger, increase the length of the pole. Specifically, you should equip them with a 5 ft or 6 ft rod.

Your kids are old enough to handle a fishing rod and have basic fishing knowledge by this time. These rods will be the perfect starting point for “grown-up” fishing.

Of course, you still need to consider the age of the child.

For example, a 5-year-old should start with a 3 ft rod, while a 12-year-old can use a 4 – 5 ft rod for their first fishing sessions.

Another effective solution for children, or even some adults who prefer simplicity, is to use a short fishing pole.

They are packaged with only one line attached to the tip and have no line guides and reels. So, all you need to do is lower the bait into the water. Furthermore, casting is unnecessary.

For Shore Saltwater Fishing

It is true to say that fishing from the boat is different from fishing from the shore.

If you fish from shore, you will have to cast a bit further away while you can position yourself in the spot you want to cast when you’re on the boat.

Most anglers, including beginners and professional anglers, prefer to use  9 to 12 feet rods. In general, the length of the fishing rod depends mainly on the shore type.

These fishing rods allow you to cast far and control the fish effectively. If you are inexperienced, starting with a 9 ft rod is the best thing.

For Inshore Saltwater Fishing

In most cases, the inshore waters are shallower, and the use of very long rods is not necessary. So, 6.5 to 7.5 ft rods are the perfect choice for inshore saltwater fishing.

Some advanced anglers use longer ones for specific purposes, so never mind that. If you are a beginner, a 7 ft rod should be right for you.

Best Rod Length for Beginner

In the guide above, we have covered the recommended rod length for certain fish species. But what about beginners? As we can see, 7 ft is the best length for your first rod, no matter what kind of fish you want to catch.

These fishing rods are incredibly versatile and allow you to handle most types of fish. However, carp is an exception.

So, it is essential to learn some other fishing experiences before switching to this fish. Practice handling your equipment until it becomes comfortable for you.

Then, gradually increase the rod length until you gain the right length. For a final piece of advice, do not try to fish with a rod that’s too long.

You will get nothing but disappointment!

This chart compares the lengths of the 7 main rod types. It indicates both their overall length range and their most commonly used ones. The length of your rod is one of the factors that significantly affect your fishing success. Unfortunately, many anglers are so focused on power and action and ignore the length aspect. In fact, the length of the rod affects the precision, casting distance, and hook set leverage.

Fishing rods under 7 feet are considered short rods. These rods have greater castability and are more accurate. They are the perfect choice for fishing in areas with a lot of vegetation or under heavy cover. Longer rods are those that are more than 7 feet long.

These rods are better for casting. In addition, they usually cover more ground.  As a beginner angler, casting can be a challenge for you.

Therefore, you will need a pole that is neither too long nor too short. The recommended rod length for beginners is 7 inches.

It will provide the precision you will need for your first fishing sessions.

Does a Longer Rod Cast Further?

Fishing rods work very differently depending on their length. So, it cannot be denied that rod length is related to fishing techniques. Some anglers prefer longer rods, while others prefer shorter ones.

Here is the difference between long and short rods. The length of the rod greatly affects the casting distance.

Specifically, shorter rods provide less power and leverage, making them perfect for closed-off waters. Long bars, on the other hand, provide more power and leverage needed when casting your baits.

Does a Longer Rod Cast Further Next up to sensitivity, shorter rods provide more sensitivity because they are stiffer.

In contrast, longer rods have fast reaction speeds but are less sensitive. In short, the shorter pole is perfect for catching smaller fish as they are more sensitive.

In contrast, longer rods allow you to handle monster-sized fish. The short pole does not provide enough leverage to pull the fish out of the water.

In contrast, the longer model offers more laying levers that allow you to pull the fish into your boat.

In addition to the length, the weight of the rod also makes significant differences in fishing. Check out here for more information.

Pros Of Short Fishing Rod

  • A perfect pick for bushy areas since the casting distance is limited.
  • Short fishing rods offer more sensitivity because they are known to be stiffer. So these rods allow you to feel every movement of the lure and the bites of the fish.
  • Short fishing rods are for you if you are aiming for a specific type of fish. They will help you ensure accuracy by studying the fish and their movements.

Pros Of Long Rods

  • Longer rods offer longer casting distances, making them the perfect choice for open waters. Also, they help you cover more ground.
  • With a bit of experience and ingenuity, you can catch even monster-sized fish.
  • Long rods are less stiff and bend more, resulting in more leverage.
  • This allows the hook holds more on the fish, making them easier to handle.
  • They allow you to reach fish at depths that most shorter rods cannot reach. Thanks to that, you can catch the sweetest species.

Frequently Asked Questions

More and more fishing rods for children are being invented. The length of this pole varies according to the age and size of the child. A 3-4 ft pole is a perfect pick for a seven-year-old. As the child gets a little older, gradually increase the length of the pole.
Rods in the range of 6’6″ or less are perfect for trout fishing.
It works perfectly with spinnerbaits for swim jigs. So, if you want to catch species that get startled easily, this is the best choice.

Bottom Line

At this point, you should have enough insights about choosing the length of a fishing rod for your own purpose. It is essential to find out the kind of fishing that you are interested in first and then refer to the fishing rod length guide above to determine the suitable length for your rod.

Moreover, once you’ve considered so many aspects watch out for when purchasing fishing rods, don’t miss out on the top producers of fishing rods and fishing reel accessories. Since there are many different fishing rod brands, it will be in your best interest to search for the one that increases your chance of success

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