Anglers are, by and large, gear-junkies.
For many anglers, the acquisition of gear is an integral part of the whole process of fishing. After all, one can never have enough rods, reels, lures or fly patterns. So it is inevitable that come this time of year, some people will be contemplating purchasing a fishing rod as a Christmas gift – either for themselves or someone else.
Determining which rod to buy depends on any number of factors. Will the intended recipient be fishing lakes or streams, from a boat or from shore. Will the rod be used for specific species or a couple of times a year – casting or spinning, fly fishing or with a worm and bobber. The simple reality is there are considerably more types and models of rods than there are fish species. My point being that it is as hard to pick out a rod for someone else as it is to give advice – but here goes.
Today’s modern graphite rods are lighter, stronger, easier to cast and much more sensitive. Having said that, there is no one rod that will allow you to fish all waters and situations. Spinning rods are different to casting rods and both are dramatically different in design to fly rods. Then there are centre pin, mooching and trolling rods. Each has their purpose and place.
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Spinning rods, however, are usually the first rods purchased when first getting into fishing. I like the Shakespeare Ugly Stik Lite for a number of reasons. One, it is virtually indestructible. The Ugly Stik has proven itself to be infinitely stronger and more durable than just about anything else on the market. I have an Ugly Stik that is at least 25 years old. Another reason is because it has a soft tip. Most spinning rods are designed to set the hook with a hard jerk of the rod. That may be necessary when you are fishing for species that have hard mouths such as bass or pike, but not for trout which have softer mouths.
The Ugly Stik is a mid-priced, two-piece rod that comes in six-, six-and-a-half and seven-foot lengths. The six-foot version is ideal for younger anglers. The Ugly Stik is but one make and model of spinning rod. There are a lot of other makes and models out there that have their own merits. Some are species specific, others are designed for certain waters.
Casting rods are another subject altogether. They require a certain skill level and are usually used for specific fish species and bodies of water. While I own and sometimes use casting rods for species like salmon and sturgeon, I do not claim to know enough to offer advice. This is one instance where it is probably better to let the recipient pick their own rod.
If I had to choose one fly rod only, I’d have to go with a nine-foot, six weight with a moderate to fast action. A nine-foot, six weight is adequate for most Interior lakes and streams. It will allow even a moderately adequate angler to cast a line a fair distance while still allowing them to present dry flies to cautious fish feeding on the surface. The amount of money you are willing to spend is the determining factor here. Fly rods range from $100 to more than $1,000. Modern technology has given rise to moderately priced rods that will, with a bit of practice, allow most anglers to effectively get their line out to where the fish are feeding. The problem with fly fishing is that you start out with one rod and before you know it you are purchasing your second and/or third or fourth rod.
There is an endless number of rods designed to cast different types of lines on different types of water for different species of fish. The choices are many and varied. That is why it is important to determine, beforehand, what kind of fishing someone will be doing. Before you spend money on a rod, make sure to ask questions. Talk to anglers who have fished the waters the recipient of the rod will be fishing. Talk to salespeople at several different tackle stores. Just as different rods have different casting characteristics, different anglers have different casting needs and different capabilities. In the end, if you are satisfied with your purchase, the recipient of your gift will most likely also be just as satisfied.