4 Types of Fishing Rods & Their Uses


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You wouldn’t use a pizza oven to cook an omelet or a hatchet to cut down a tree.

When it comes to choosing the right tools for a job, size, power and design matter. Different fishing rods are designed for different species of fish and different skill levels. Even water and weather conditions come into play.

Increase your chances of a great catch by getting to know your choices in fishing rods.

First Things to Consider

Before we get into specific types of fishing rods, let’s talk basics:

  • How long is the rod?
  • What is it made of?
  • What kind of rod action does it have?
  • How powerful is it?

The longer the rod is, the farther you can cast. A longer rod is ideal for landing fish that like deep waters. However, controlling the cast and aiming accurately with a long rod is harder. Shorter rods give you greater control. They are also better for fish that tend to put up a fight; in a close-up battle, a short rod has less bend than a long one.

Most rods are made of fiberglass, graphite or a mixture of the two. The material dictates durability, weight, rigidity, flexibility, maintenance requirements, affordability and more. In general, fiberglass rods are the strongest. Graphite rods are lighter. Composite rods typically cost more but are light, flexible and durable.

”Rod action” refers to bend-and-flex potential. Where does the rod bend, and to what degree? How quickly does it snap back to its original shape? These things determine whether a rod is fast-action (for stronger fish), slow-action (for smaller fish), or medium-action (for all-around, more versatile fishing). Rod action determines what type of fishing you can do with a particular rod.

You might think the most powerful rod is the best, but that’s not always true. Power, in this case, is the ability to withstand pressure, and rods come in a wide range of powers. Which power you should choose largely depends on what you want to catch.

Most Common Types of Fishing Rods

Now that you have the basics down, we can get more specific. The four most common types of rods are spin rods, casting rods, fly fishing rods and trolling rods. Some are better than others for beginners. Some are not well suited to catching certain kinds of fish. Take a look at each of these different fishing rods below.

Spin rods

Spin rods are great because of their versatility and ease of use, making them the perfect type of fishing rod for beginners.

The reel and guides are located on the underside of the rod close to the end. Gripping it with your dominant hand gives you control and stability when you cast and reel in your catch.


Spin rods come in all sizes, and most are thin and lightweight. They are accurate and easy to control. You can use a spin rod in all types of water, such as lakes, rivers and bayous. Spin rods are up to challenging weather conditions and wind speeds. Anglers of all skill levels, even children, use them.


Thanks to their versatility, spin rods have few disadvantages. Still, they’re not ideal for fish weighing more than 10 pounds; the lines are too light. Also, they’re not the best choice for murky water.

Casting rods (baitcast or spincast)

Casting rods are similar to spin rods, and ease of use is their best feature. A push-catch mechanism releases or locks the line. On most models, you operate it with your thumb. Casting rods differ from spin rods in that the reel is mounted on top.


If you’re new to fishing and are mostly interested in warm-water fish, the casting rod is hard to beat. It doesn’t get much simpler than this. You can cast a little farther and more accurately than you could with a spin rod and catch slightly larger fish. Conditions like heavy vegetation are not a problem.


Tangling doesn’t happen often, but if it does, you’ll have to open the reel casing to untangle the line.

Fly fishing rods

Fly fishing uses a lightweight lure or bait that sits above the water. It typically looks like a fly or another critter that fish like to eat. Fly fishing rods are usually much longer than spinning or casting rods. A thicker line is used, and the weighting is different. These rods are good for targeting certain fish and delivering the bait accurately.


Fly fishing rods are lightweight, and they disassemble for ease of transport. This type of angling used to be largely confined to streams and rivers. Nowadays, anglers fly fish in ponds, lakes and even salt water. The rods are constructed for catching trout, salmon, bass and redfish.


There’s a learning curve here. It’s not so much the rod as it is the art of fly fishing itself. You shouldn’t buy this rod unless you’re willing to master the technique. These rods don’t easily adapt to other kinds of fishing. It’s also worth mentioning that some locales have specially designated waters for fly fishing.

Trolling rods

Trolling (not trawling, which involves nets) is a highly specific type of fishing in which baited lines are dragged through the water, usually from the back of a moving boat. Trolling rods use either standard reels or bait casters.


There are two big advantages to trolling rods. First, they almost do the fishing for you. You can “park” one on a rod holder and slowly wind in the line when you get a bite. Second, where allowed, you can have multiple trolling lines in the water at once. If you’re after larger fish like swordfish, tuna, mackerel or kingfish, this is the method for you. People of all skill levels can troll.


Trolling rods have limited application. Unless you’re a diehard troll fisher, you’ll get more use out of a different design.

Other types of fishing rods include boat rods (for deep-sea fishing), telescoping rods (for convenience when hiking or backpacking) and surf rods (for beach fishing).

Consult an Experienced Captain

If you’re still uncertain about how to choose a fishing rod, reach out to an expert at Louisiana Charter Boat Association. Our knowledgeable captains are committed to your success!