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The Guide to Baitcasting Rods

Baitcasting rods are great for certain types of fishing. Take a few minutes to zip through our 12 Top Tips from local experts.

Baitcasting rods are designed to be used with the reel situated so that it faces the angler (upward). The trigger-style grip is located below the reel seat and ensures control during casting and during the angler's skirmish with the fish.

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Common terminology of baitcasting rods:

Blank -- The basic structure of the rod or its core composition, which is generally fiberglasss composite or carbon fiber.

Baitcasting Reel -- A specific kind of reel designed to be used in conjunction with a baitcasting rod. It is absolutely paramount that you match your baitcasting reel to the rod it is suited for and vice-versa!

Reel Seat -- fitting placed on the blank within the last 1/4 section of the rod that secures the baitcasting reel to the blank. Some of the more modern reel seat designs have a portion of the blank exposed which increases sensitivity, allowing the angler to feel any kind of bite or activity taking place on the other end of the line.

Taper -- The diameter of the base of the rod relative to the tip and often synonymous with its "Action".

Rod Butt -- Also known as "butt section", this refers to the part of the rod held closest to the body when fishing. This is the thickest and heaviest area on the baitcasting rod.

RodTip -- The opposite end of the rod blank from the butt section, this is where the tapered length of the baitcasting rod ends and the line (connected to the reel).

Guides -- Also known as "eyes", these ring-shaped implements run lengthwise up the blank to control the line coming off the baitcasting reel upwards to the rod tip. Guides are made of metal, although higher-end rods use titanium. The interior portion of the guide uses an insert made from a variety of high-tech materials to ensure that the fishing line runs smoothly through the guide. The guide may also be coated to create a smooth surface.

Grip -- Often made of cork or EVA foam, the grip protects the angler's hands and prevents the rod from slipping and transmitting sensation.

The modern baitcasting rod tapers from butt to tip with the numerous guides spaced lengthwise from the reel seat upwards. The guides on a baitcast rod are wrapped along an area known as the "backbone", which pertains to the rod's resistance when fighting fish.

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A well-constructed rod will have carefully placed guides along the backbone, which will remain straight and not twist in either direction when a fish is hooked. Baitcasting rods vary in length from five to approximately eight feet (and sometimes longer). Shorter rods are best suited for quick, short casts into a confined area such as docks or around stumps, mangroves and pilings and the like. Generally these confined areas do not require long casts. They handle strong fish very well due to their stout construction. The most popular size is around 7'6", serving a mid-range and multi-purpose mission. The longest lengths are going to serve best for making longer casts with heavy tackle, to pursue strong fish.

About Rod Qualities

There are three major qualities that describe the capability of a baitcasting rod, and these are: Power, Action and Line Weight.

Power -- The power of a rod refers to how much pressure it takes to flex the rod and defined by a descriptive scale from ultra-light to ultra-heavy.

Action -- The action of a rod is determined by where a rod bends and / or flexes. Faster action rods flex mostly near the tip; moderate action rods flex near the mid-section; and slower action rods flex down into the butt section.

Line Weight -- Describes the tensile strength of the fishing line best suited to the flexibility and strength characteristics of the rod.

Casting distance is one of the important considerations of rod action, describing how fast it takes for the blank to return to the straightened, neutral position after being put under load. A 'slow' blank is going to flex in three-fourths of the total length and is a reference to its range of motion. In describing casting ability, the action of a rod pertains to its available energy; this quality is described as "rod loading." The more the rod loads, the greater casting ability it will offer.

Why use this kind of tackle?

Baitcasting rods use conventional style rods and reels, and are typically in the light and medium weight class. A versatile rod, it allows the angler to vary their casts from overhead to achieve more distance, or to flip or pitch underhand when working in close. As a result, baitcasting tends to produce a more accurate cast.

Most Popular Types:

Durability and affordability make fiberglass rods a popular choice. They are less sensitive than graphite counterparts. Fiberglass is a great choice when pursuing large fish that do not require casting or extreme sensitivity.

Graphite is the most popular modern blank material, enjoyed for its light weight, casting attributes and sensitivity. Graphite is the ultimate material for flexibility and fighting power. Graphite is a carbon-fiber blend; the quality of the finished product depends on the bonding agent and the amount of graphite used in the blend. The term "modulus rating" refers to the graphite's tensile strength, which is calculated by measuring how much it is elongated when a few million pounds of pressure per square inch are applied. Graphite with a higher modulus rating indicates that it will be less elastic and therefore, more rigid.

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Top 10 Baitcasting Tips

  1. Allow about one foot of your rigged line out from the tip of the rod and grip the rod behind the reel with your thumb resting over the reel spool and turn the rod so the reel handles point vertically.
  2. Press the reel spool release button, and bend your casting arm. As you do so, raise your rod until its tip goes slightly past vertical.
  3. Sweep the rod forward until it reaches the "10 O'Clock" position. As you do so, lift your thumb off the reel-spool enough so that the weight of your bait or lure pulls line off the spool as it is propelled toward the target. Use your thumb to stop the bait when it reaches the target. Flipping is used to fish in confined areas with structure.
  4. Let out a small length of line and swing the lure away from you, allowing it to gently set down on the water.
  5. The rod should be parallel to the water and at a comfortable height, with the lure resting on the bottom and just a little slack in the line, generally as near to the bush or tree as possible. Shake or hop the lure for a second or two and repeat. Pay careful attention to the line as sometimes the bite is not obvious. Pitching requires more control, but when executed correctly enables long distance casting and the ability to land the lure in the water almost noiselessly.
  6. With the tip of the rod vertical, disengage the reel and let out enough line so the lure hangs down to the height of the reel.
  7. Holding the lure with your left hand, hold the butt of the rod up near your shoulder with the tip angled downward. Your left hand with the lure should be just about hanging down at your side.
  8. Release the lure and lift the rod tip at the same time so the lure accelerates through a downward swing toward your target. When the lure is traveling parallel to the surface of the water, allow the line to run off the spool.
  9. The lure should be just above the surface of the water when it reaches the bottom of the downward swing. If you time your release correctly the lure will continue traveling parallel to the water.
  10. Don't allow the line to go slack, you're not trying to throw the lure forward but swing it, and don't allow the lure to hit the water during the swing, you'll get a nasty backlash. With practice you'll be able to keep the bait just inches from the surface of the water, stop it exactly above the target and let it slip quietly into the water. Let line out as the bait falls through the water so it will drop straight down instead of swinging back toward you.

Fishing with This Tackle

The baitcasting rod and reel should complement one another. When selecting your gear, purchasing them together, or bring the component you already own to the store when you shop. The rod and reel should be balanced as good ergonomics are essential.

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When fighting a fish, avoid bending the rod in too tight of an arc or it may break if your lure becomes snagged, point the rod at a horizontal level toward the lure and pull straight backwards. This angle lessens the chances of the rod breaking. When fighting or landing fish, keep your hands on or below the rod-grip, but never above it. The grip was designed to distribute the load and by placing your hand above thus creates a single pressure point, which could break the rod.

After a day of fishing in saltwater, be certain to rinse your gear with a gentle spray of fresh water. Wipe down the baitcasting rod with Lemon Pledge on a cloth diaper or paper towel to keep your investment looking good.

TOF Editorial Team



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