Fishing Rods: The Different Types Explained

types of fishing rods

Taking your boat out in the water. Gulping in the fresh air. Spending hours alone in solitude waiting for the perfect catch.

As a sport or activity, fishing offers many unique qualities.

Of course, the joy you get when you catch large fish is the ultimate perk of fishing. But, that’s not what it’s all about.

As Herbert Hoover once said – “Fishing is much more than fish.”  

During the COVID19 pandemic, we saw firsthand proof of this claim. According to a recent study, fishing is great for your mental health.

Amateur & pro fishers find this activity to be “relaxing and unwinding.”

That’s why 1 out of 5 Americans in the post-pandemic world claim that they want to go fishing.

The Importance of Knowing Different Types

So, are you ready to go shallow water or deep-sea fishing?

Ready to conquer new fish species and get “hooked” on this ancient sport?

Before all that, you’ll need the right fishing gear.

More importantly, you need the right fishing rods to kickstart your journey as a fisher.

There are many different types of fishing rods to choose from.

For newcomers, these fishing rod types can feel confusing. Modern-day fishing rods come in various sizes and materials.

They differ in strength, flexibility, and portability.

Different types of fishing rods suit different types of fishing methods.

Over the years, manufacturers of rod equipment have even created specific fishing rods for targeting specific fish species.

The fishing rod you select should be suited to your fishing style and budget. If you plan to attend different types of fishing trips throughout the year, you’ll need different types of fishing rods.

To determine the right fishing rod for you, you’ll have to answer a variety of questions.

  • Are you a land-based fisher?
  • Do you use bait, lures, or both?
  • Are you fishing for large or smaller fish species?
  • Are you casting? If so, where are your casting?
  • Do you go deep-sea fishing or fly fishing more often?
  • Will you fish from a boat or kayak?
  • Will you fish off the beach?
  • Are you traveling for fishing and need to pack a fishing rod with you?

Answering these specific questions will obviously feel challenging for a new fisher.

Don’t worry.

As soon as you get a good understanding of the different types of fishing rods, answering these questions will become easier.

Here’s the in-depth guide on all the major types of fishing rods you’ll find in the market today.

Different Types Of Fishing Rods You Need To Know

rods on wooden floor


From large sea fishing rods to delicate trolling rods – there’s plenty of variety in the world of fishing rods.

Here are the main types of fishing rods you can choose from:

1) Spinning Rods

Spinning rods are one of the most common types of fishing rods in the world.

From professional fly fishing experts to amateurs who are new to inshore fishing – everyone uses them. Spinning reels come fitted underneath these versatile fishing rods.

The spinning reels are designed to make the rods easy to use.

You can use spinning rods to fish for all types of fish species – from speckled trout to panfish.

These rods are ideal for kayak/boat fishing.

They perform at a high level in all weather conditions – be it a rainy or windy day.

Spinning rods are surprisingly strong. You can easily find rods with large guides located very close to the spinning reels. This design style allows fishers to big fish species with relative ease.

Here are the key characteristics of spinning rods:

  • These rods come with varying strength levels. You can easily find an ultralight, travel-friendly spinning rod. You can also find spinning rods that are sturdier and designed for sea fishing.
  • Spinning rods come in two models or styles – one-piece & two-piece models. Two-piece spinning rods have strong ferrules that join their two separate sections.
  • Lightweight spin fishing rods are ideal for less-experienced anglers & fishers. Spin casting reels are easy to use in all weather conditions. These rods give first-time fishers simple introductions to the world of reel-and-bait fishing.
  • You can find spinning rods with varying weights, sizes, and reel & rod lengths. There’s a spinning rod for pretty much any use case you can imagine.

Spinning rods are ideal for teaching kids how to use the spinning reel system at a young age.

However, not all fishers love this fishing rod.

Spinning rods don’t allow for ultra-precise casts.

While this isn’t an issue for beginners, seasoned pros prefer casting rods over spinning rods as they offer more accuracy.

2) Casting Rods

Casting rods are similar to spinning rods in design.

They’re used for similar types of fishing expeditions.

But, the average casting rod will weigh a lot more than a spinning rod.

The reels on casting rods are mounted on top of the handles.

There are two types of casting rods:

  • Baitcasting rods
  • Spin casting rods

Both these rods are similar in design.

But, spin casting rods are generally considered to be the easier to use out of the two.

They have simpler and easier-to-use spin casting reels.

On the other hand, a seasoned fisher will always prefer using a baitcasting rod.

Baitcasting rods cover greater casting distances and offer better accuracy than spin casting rods.

  • Casting poles are used to catch all types of large & small fish species. Their most common use is for bass fishing.
  • These lightweight rods come in a variety of lengths. You can get short, travel-friendly casting rods that are about 7 feet tall. You can also buy long casting poles that are up to 15 feet tall to get maximum casting distance.
  • Just like spinning rods, both bait & spin casting rods come in single or multi-unit models. The multi-unit fishing rods are connected by strong ferrules. Single-unit casting rods are easier to pack and store.
  • Users don’t need to be experts at using spinning reels to use these fishing rods. In normal spinning rods, the reel hangs underneath the rod – making it harder to maneuver. In casting rods, the enclosed reels are on the top of the fishing rods, not the bottom. Hence, they’re easier to use.
  • The enclosed spinning reels are easy to use so fishers get greater casting control and accuracy.

Most people use casting poles to fish small warm-water species.

These fishing rods are beginner-friendly. But, new fishers (especially kids) must be careful not to over-tangle the spinning reels on these rods.

3) Fly Rods

Fly rods are used to cast wet/dry flies.

There are two types of fly rods – slow and fast action rods.

Slow-action rods are the best fishing rods for dry fly fishing.

A slower casting stroke produces less line speed. Hence, less power is transferred through your leader to your flies as they land in front of feeding fish.

However, if you’re catching big fish, you’ll need a fast-action fly rod. Overall, both types of fly rods allow fishers to cast ultralight flies – something that other types of fishing rods don’t provide.

  • New-age fly rods come with fly reels attached underneath their rod handles. Fly rods are usually longer than bait or spin casting rods.
  • The average rod length of these tools is 9 feet. But, you can also find fly rods as tall as 14 feet.
  • Fly rods are ideal for fishing trout, steelhead, and salmon. The sport of fly fishing revolves around these rods.

If you’re planning to fish in “fly fishing only” waters, you’ll need these fishing rods. However, fly fishing with fishing rods is a difficult technique to master.

Wind plays a huge factor in this type of fishing method.

4) Trolling Rods

Technically, you can troll with all types of fishing rods, including custom-created rods.

But, if you’re trolling larger species of fish like tuna or marlin, you’ll need the best possible rod equipment.

That’s where trolling rods are helpful.

  • Delicate trolling rods are designed for one purpose only – to help fishers master different trolling techniques. Whether you are trout fishing or running large lures for marlin – a trolling rod will simplify the process.
  • These long casting poles are ideal for big lake and ocean fishing. They’re also better suited than normal spin casting rods for trolling behind boats.
  • Trolling rods are available in all weights & sizes. You can get a super-short trolling rod for pond fishing. Or, you can get a more extended rod for catching larger fish species like tuna or marlin.

However, trolling rods are very stiff.

They’re also not as versatile as fly or spinning rods. Overall, other than trolling, you can’t do much with your trolling rods.

5) Telescopic Rods

Telescopic rods are designed for new-age fishers. They’re usually made of synthetic composite materials like fiberglass. They’re light and travel-friendly.

  • You can easily store your telescopic rods in your car’s trunk and travel to different fishing destinations.
  • These lighter rods are suitable for catching small/medium-sized fish.
  • Users can shorten or extend these rods with ease. They can use their extended rods during fishing. When it’s time to pack and leave, they can shorten their telescoping rods and store them in their backpacks.

However, professional fishers don’t usually use telescopic rods as they don’t offer amazing casting accuracy.

6) Ultra-Light Fishing Rods

An ultra-light rod is perhaps the lightest and the thinnest fishing rod you’ll find on the market.

These slow and medium-action rods are ideal for catching smaller fish species.

Just like telescopic rods, ultra-light rods are also very travel-friendly.

  • You can easily take them on backpacking trips.
  • People typically use these fishing rods for small warm water fishing and trout fishing.
  • They can delicately present lures to impatient or unresponsive fish.

However, fishing for larger species is usually next to impossible with these thin and light fishing rods. Casting long distances is also harder.

7) Sea Fishing Rods

Seas fishing rods are specifically designed for (you guessed it) sea fishing.

They’re also known as surf rods because all types of surf fishing are performed with these strong fishing rods.

Sea rods are longer than most fishing rods.

  • The extra length enables fishers to lob heavy bait rigs accurately to the targeted areas. If you’re casting from your surfboard or the beach – a sea rod is the right fishing rod for you.
  • These rods come in two styles – casting or spinning style. Both are useful in beach fishing and shallow-water sea fishing.
  • These strong rods and reels are capable of tackling very large fish species like cod or catfish.

If you’re fishing in smaller rivers or lakes, strong surf rods won’t do. You’ll need much shorter and lighter rods.

8) Ice Fishing Rods

Want to fish through hard water?

Then, you’ll need an ice fishing rod. These rods allow fishers to lure weight (live or dead bait) through ice sheets. Ice fishing rods usually have short blanks and handles.

  • Rod makers design these rods to be grip-friendly. That’s because the jigging process can be very taxing on your hands and wrists if the rods keep slipping away.
  • Most ice fishing rods are one-piece models. They may or may not feature in-line reels (similar to fly reels).
  • Most ice fishing rods are super-thin. But, the ones used to fish larger species like lake trout or pike are thicker.

If you’re fishing in hard, icy waters, you can’t do without high-quality ice fishing rods.

Types of Rods Based on Materials

The different types of fishing rods discussed above were all technique-specific. Ultra-light rods are for fishers who like to travel.

Surf rods are for sea fishing.

Fly rods are for fly fishing.

But, that’s not the only way to categorize the different types of fishing rods in the market.

We can also categorize these fishing tools on the basis of their materials.

The material of your rod will determine its overall performance. So, what materials do fishers need to know about?

Technically, fishing rods are made of a variety of different materials.

Since prehistoric times, humans have used different materials to create these fishing tools. From wood to bamboo to fiberglass – there are tens of fishing rod materials to choose from.

Let’s discuss the most common materials that modern rod makers use:

1) Graphite Rods

By far the most popular fishing rods of the 20th century, graphite rods are still used by countless fishers.

Despite being stiffer, Graphite is lighter than steel, wood, & fiberglass.

These two unique qualities make graphite rods ideal for both normal and ultralight fishing applications.

However, graphite rods aren’t as strain-resistant as their fiberglass counterparts. So, if you regularly catch big fish, expect your graphite rods to pick up cracks.

2) Fiberglass

From deep-sea fishing rods to ultralight trolling rods– fiberglass is used to manufacture various types of fishing rods.

Solid fiberglass is one of the break-resistant materials of all time.

That’s why most industry-grade saltwater fishing projects feature the use of these rods.

3) Composite

This fishing rod material is a combination of graphite and fiberglass.

The idea is simple – combine the benefits of graphite and fiberglass rods and nullify their individual weaknesses.

You can find sea rods, trolling rods, casting rods, spin rods, and ice fishing rods made of this ultra-durable material.

Other materials like bamboo, wood, or plastic or less common and less desirable among fishers.

The rod handles on pretty much all types of fishing rods are made of pressed cork or EVA foam.


These are the major types of fishing rods all fishers must know of.

With this list, selecting one fishing rod type for your next adventure will be much easier.

Fishing is ten times more fun when you use the right rods in the right conditions.