Newcomers to sea angling can be bamboozled by the vast array of rods for shore or boat fishing. In this second article for beginners we explain the uses of the various general-purpose and more specialised rods on the market.
Shore Fishing Rods
The shore angler has a choice of a number of different types of rod each designed for a particular type of fishing although they may also double up for one of the other categories of fishing:
- Bass Rod
- Spinning Rod
- Float Rod
- Fly Rod
The majority of rods used in sea angling are multi-sectioned but specialised one piece rods and telescopic rods are also available.
Longer length shore rods are generally known as beachcasting rods or beachcasters but they are equally at home on the rocks or pier. With a typical length of 3.3 – 3.9 metres (11-13 feet) the average beachcaster will be constructed from a mix of glass and carbon fibre and have a medium to fast action. The preferred length will vary from angler to angler and depends upon the casting style and individual build of the caster. A fast action rod with a very stiff butt section will give better casting distance in the hands of a competent caster.
Increasing seen on the shore the longer “Continental” style rods, in lengths of up to 5.5 metres (18 feet), tend to have a medium action and generally have a softer, more forgiving feel with basic casting styles.
The rings on the beachcaster are spaced differently depending upon whether a fixed spool or multiplier reel is to be used. The multiplier version requires more rings on the tip section as the reel is fished on top of the rod and the line will gravitate towards the blank when under load.
The fixed spool rod needs fewer rings as the reel is fished under the rod and the line is pulled away from the blank. The butt ring on a fixed spool beachcaster should be higher up the rod and is generally larger than on the multiplier rod to allow the line to flow smoothly off the reel and ensure that a small diameter ring does not choke it. An exception to this is the range of Fuji Low Rider rings which have a comparatively small diameter but still perform well when casting.
Beachcasters are rated by their designed casting weights and usually are marked with a range of weights although the optimal casting weight is usually in the middle. For instance a rod rated for casting weights of between 4oz and 6oz will typically perform best with 5oz.
It is difficult to select an all round beachcaster for the novice shore angler but a good general rod will have a length of 11-12 feet and an optimum casting weight of 150 gm. A quality rod of this type will be able to show bites from small dabs at distance but still have the power to cope with large cod in heavy surf.
This rod is normally used with lines of 15 to 18lb (7-9kg) breaking strain with a shock leader from clean beaches and 30lb (15kg) line over rough ground.
The bass rod gets its name from the fact that it was originally designed to catch bass in the surf at short range. They are generally shorter, softer versions of the beachcaster which are designed to cast weights in the 2-4oz (50-100gm) range. The soft action helps when casting large, soft baits and absorbs the lunges of large fish in the pounding waves.
Lines of 6-7 kg are normally used with this rod matched with a suitable shock leader and multiplier or fixed spool reel.
This is a light rod of 7-10 foot in length designed to cast lures from ½-2oz (10-60gm) in weight. The action of these rods varies from through action for the lower weight rods to tip action for rods casting at the upper end of the range. They are generally fished with fixed spool reels but some manufacturers produce multiplier versions of their rods with appropriate guide spacing.
Lines for use with this rod vary from 2-6 kg depending upon the target species and the weight of the lure.
There are some specialised sea float rods about but in general the bass rod or a spinning rod around 10 feet in length will cope adequately on the occasional float-fishing trip. Coarse fishing rods make an excellent tool for targeting mullet.
Some years ago only expensive saltwater fly rods were available from UK suppliers and the United States but fortunately an increase in the numbers of anglers “fluff chucking” in the sea has opened the market at the lower end. Reasonably priced fast taper rods for throwing large flies are now readily available. Alternatively a 9-10 foot reservoir or seatrout rod casting a number 8 or 9 line will handle the target species which are generally bass, mullet and seatrout. Care must be taken to clean the rod and it’s fittings after every trip to mitigate the effects of saltwater.
Boat Fishing Rods
Several styles of boat rod are available which are suitable for different types of fishing including:
- General Purpose / Downtide Rod
- Uptide Casting Rod
- Stand-Up Stick
- Lure Casting Rod
- Long Match Rod
- Multi-Tip Rods
General Purpose Rod
This is typical boat rod is used for fishing on the drift with lures and baits or when fishing down tide of the boat at anchor. These rods vary in length from around six to eight feet (2 to 2.4 metres) and are normally constructed from a mixture of carbon and glass fibre with a medium to fast action. They are usually rated by line class which gives a general guide to the recommended breaking strain of line which can be used without serious risk of break off when fighting fish with a properly set drag. European line class ratings on off the shelf rods are lower than those quoted on rods from the United States ie a 10kg rated rod from the US will be rated around 20kg in Europe. Ratings vary from 8lb (4kg) used in inshore waters for flatfish, bream and light bass and pollack fishing through to 80lb (40kg) for hefty shark or big conger fishing. A good all round rating for most fishing styles would be the 20lb class rods. These all round rods are used for shad and pirk fishing as well as general bait fishing.
The advent of braided lines has resulted in the manufacturers producing ranges of rods specifically designed to cope with the non-stretch nature of braid. They tend to have softer tip sections which help prevent fish being bumped off when they dive and lunge after being hooked. The rings are characteristically lined to prevent wear and silicon carbide or similar is used to produce hard wearing liners.
The heavier class of blank may be fitted with roller rings for using wire or heavier braided lines. In the UK the rods are generally ringed for use with multiplier reels but they can also be used with fixed spool
reels as distance casting is not involved in this style of fishing.
Uptide Casting Rod
The first uptide rods used were cut down beachcasters and the basic design has remained the same over the years. The tip section on rods designed for uptide fishing is softer than found on most beachcasters to allow the rod to move with the tide without tripping the wire leads normally used in uptide fishing.
The length of these rods is in the nine to ten foot (2.7 to 3 metre) range with a longish but to allow the angler to cast their baits away from the boat. The blank is normally ringed for multiplier reels but continental anglers make good use of fixed spool versions.
The uptider, as it is commonly known is also widely used for bait fishing on the drift although some find the long butt section a hindrance and to combat this several manufacturers have produced rods with butt sections that can be pulled out for casting. Care must be taken with these as they have a tendency to stick if over extended.
The stand-up stick is a short specialised rod used for large fish in conjunction with a harness and butt pad. The rod is generally around five to six feet (1.5 to 1.8 metre) in length and has a long fore grip as it used with a low slung butt pad. The short, effective length of the rod acts as a very efficient lever when under load.
Lure Casting Rod
This rod is commonly used for casting spinning lures, small pirks and leadheads and although few specialised rods exist a 4 to 8 kg down tide rod or a heavy spinning rod can be successfully used. Uptiders can also be used but the long handle can interfere with the effective working of a pirk.
Long Match Rods
Increasing found on the boat match circuit these long rods, up to 15 feet (5 metre) are designed to allow the angler to effectively fish from awkward positions on the boat. The extra length means that the baits can be flick cast away from the side of the boat and bounced downtide even if the angler is not drawn at the stern of the boat. They come in both telescopic and spigot versions and are also available in hybrid types where the section adjacent to the butt is telescopic and the rest of the rod jointed allowing the total length of the rod to be varied.
These rods come supplied with several push fit tip sections each designed to handle differing weights of leads and maximise bite detection.
The tips are usually made from solid carbon or glass fibre although metal versions are available on the Japanese market. The majority of long match rods are supplied with multi-tips.