Most people think of a fishing rod as being fairly straightforward, and to some extent, that is an accurate idea. A fishing rod is, at its most basic, an implement for catching fish: a casting tool fitted with a line, line guides and a reel for line stowage. However, beyond this basic definition, there is a wide range of the rod variation. The style of rod being used depends on the type of fishing being performed. A fly rod, for example, would be completely useless in an ice fishing situation.
Fishing rods can vary in length from two to twenty-four feet, with the longer rods providing a greater mechanical advantage for casting. Rods are appraised according to a set specifications, which includes power, the weight of the rod; action, the rod’s responsiveness to bending force and the speed with which it returns to the neutral position; line weight, the optimal weight of fishing line the rod can handle; lure weight, the weight of lure the rod is designed to support; and number of pieces, whether or not a rod may be dismantled into two or more pieces.
Spin casting rods, which are quite common, are designed to hold a spin casting reel mounted above the handle. A spin casting reel uses one or two pickup pins and a metal cup to wind the line on the spool. This method reduces line twist and snare problems. Spin casting rods usually have small eyes (metal holes that the line is fed through along the pole) and a forefinger grip trigger.
Trolling rods are commonly used by amateur fishermen. The act of trolling refers to casting a baited line over the side of a moving boat and allowing the motion to pull the bait through the water. This style of fishing does not involve a great deal of skill and is thus quite common. Trolling rods are generally long, heavily built and possessing of relatively fast action. They are appropriate to use when going after fish such as salmon or steelhead.
Ultra-light rods are most often used when fishing for smaller species. However, some expert fishermen will use them when going after larger fish, as these rods create more of a challenge than their heavier counterparts. Ultra-light rods are relatively short, about five feet on average, and more limber than normal rods.
Surf rods are similar to spin casting rods, but these rods have longer grip handles intended for two-handed casting techniques. They are quite long, between ten and fourteen feet, in order to enable the caster to get the bait beyond the breaking surf of the shore. These rods also tend to be of heavy construction, as they must be able to cast heavy lures that will hold to the bottom in rough water.