Fishing rods come in all shapes and sizes, so finding the right one depends largely on a whole host of factors. What species will you be fishing for? What methods will you be using? How far will you be looking to cast? Somewhere on the market, there is a rod to suit almost every angling need.
Rods have had to advance due to the surge in specialised methods in recent times, whether that's method feeder fishing, pellet waggler fishing, or bomb fishing, the list really is endless. Whilst using a feeder rod for float fishing is possible, it's far more effective using a rod that is built for a job, and it will make the process far more efficient and enjoyable. Similarly, if you need to cast a method feeder over 70m, a 9ft, light feeder rod will be useless in that situation, but it will excel in swims less than 20m wide.
Best fishing rods at a glance:
• Best all-round distance feeder rod -Preston Innovations Distance Master 4.0m 100g rod
• Best multi-faceted float rod - Shimano Aero X5 13ft float rod
• Pound for pound best short commercial feeder rod - Daiwa Matchman Method Feeder rod
• Best multi-purpose mid-range specimen rod - Guru N-Gauge Specimen Twin Tip Duo
In this guide, we will take a look at some of the best fishing rods available for specific needs like lure fishing and spinning, carp fishing, feeder fishing and float fishing, as well as sharing an insight into what to look for when buying a rod for the first time.
This exceptional distance casting feeder rod from Preston perfectly combines fish playing action
- Super tactically versatile distance rod.
- Easily compressed for maximum casting distances.
- Heavier weight than some.
What you need when targeting perch, zander and small pike using lightweight lure tactics - is a
- Very light and easy to carry.
- Plenty of feeling when drop-shotting.
- Actions a little lightweight for big predatory fish.
With five models to choose from, plus two bespoke Spod models, Sonik's mega-popular compact
- A lot of bang for your buck!
- Superb high-quality fittings.
- Restricted casting distances.
The Shimano Aero X5 13ft Float is a very modern rod with a highly traditional set-of credentials
- Light and very easy to handle.
- Built using premium grade guides throughout.
- Hasn't got quickest line pick-up speed.
This classy all-round almost classic old-school Nytron Aryzon 12ft Method Feeder rod is perfectly
- Great eye-catching aesthetics from a mid-priced rod.
- Lovely cushioned fish-playing action.
- Little bit lack-lustre on the casting front.
Representing outstanding value for money, the Daiwa Matchman 9ft Method Feeder has a pencil slim
- Ideal flat-spot-free fish-playing action.
- Very lightweight and easy-to-use underarm.
- No casting potential beyond 20m.
A model that is expertly balanced with a seamless action, featuring Liquid Carbon technology and
- Exceptionally comfortable to use.
- Whippy top end helps fire out accurately even lighter floats.
- Lacks length and power for bigger long-range splasher-type floats.
The lightest actioned of Guru's N-Gauge Specimen rod collection, this is a highly versatile 12ft
- The only rod you will need for specimen tactics on lakes and smaller rivers.
- Glorious action makes the most of the fight given by smaller species.
- Lacks the power needed for bigger feeders and long-range fishing.
The Shakespeare SKP Concept Long-T 14ft float rod is an out-and-out river rod designed for long
- Ideal for anyone looking to try trotting on rivers for the first time.
- Perfect for both fixed spool and centre pin reels.
- A little too cumbersome for fast-paced fishing for smaller silvers.
If you're looking for a good quality space-saving feeder rod, then you've just found it. Daiwa's
- A 10ft rod that folds down the length of a 9ft 2-piece.
- Ideal for all feeder and bomb tactics on smaller commercials.
- Won't fit in a suitcase like a fully telescopic rod.
Blank: The hollow carbon fibre tube that the rod is made from, attached to which are the guides and handle.
Guides: The rings that line the length of the rod that the line passes through.
Reel Seat: The part of the handle that your reelattaches to. Almost all UK coarse rods have screw-down reel seats, where the fore-grip on the handle rotates and closes the seat to hold the reel in place.
Test Curve: Usually measured in pounds, it's the weight that needs to be applied to the end of the rod to make it bend over 90 degrees. The greater the test curve, the more powerful the rod.
Casting Weight: Depending on the manufacturer, it is either the best suited or maximum total weight in grams that you should cast with your rod. You will normally find your rod will perform best at around half its total casting weight. E.g. a 120g feeder rod best suits a 60g feeder.
Quiver tip: The very top (often brightly coloured) section of a feeder rod, used to identify bites, which bends and 'quivers' when a fish moves off with the bait. Like the test curve of a rod, quiver tips are often rated in test curves measured in ounces.
Fish playing action: A way of describing how good a rod performs when reeling in a fish. A rod with a good fish-playing action will provide plenty of cushion to a thrashing fish, preventing hook pulls (lost fish) and line breakages.
Progressive Action. A rod that quickly powers up from its tip through to its middle area, providing the ideal coordinated playing action for powerful fish.
Tip action: This normally applies to traditional three-piece float rods that need a 'tip or tippy action' to be able to whip out light floats when casting, as well as pick-up line very quickly on the strike.
Through action: A rod that has a softer top section but still produces a cushioned bend throughout its entire length, giving a good fish-playing action.
Parabolic Action: A rod that can bend throughout its length but stiffens towards its butt section, providing a controlled cushioning action when playing a fish.
Rod taper: How a rod changes in diameter along its length. A fast taper rod will typically thicken up very quickly as you move away from the tip. Although other factors come into play, like carbon types, weave and construction, typically, a fast taper rod will bend more at the tip than the butt (tip actioned).
FISHING RODS FAQS
Why are rods different lengths?
Typically, the further you want to cast, the longer the rod you should go for, whilst also taking into account casting weight and fish-playing action.
Should I choose a rod that will cast the furthest distance that I will want to fish?
No, you should choose a rod that best suits the distance that you want to fish at. A rod that is too long and powerful will make casting short distances with any kind of accuracy difficult and will have a poor fish-playing action. This is why all rod ranges feature models of varying lengths and powers.
Should I choose a cork or EVA handled rod?
This all comes down to personal preference. Cork is lightweight, transmits more feeling to your hands when playing a fish and looks great. EVA, however, is cheaper and more durable. Many rods have an abbreviated or combined cork/EVA handle, with the material best suited to a particular part of the handle used to give the best of both worlds.
Will a rod with a bigger casting weight or test curve rating cast further?
Yes, when combined with extra length, you will be able to achieve greater distances with the correct technique and a weight that matches the rod. Be aware that the more powerful your rod, the stronger the line and hooks you will need to use to prevent fish losses, which could, in turn, mean you fooling less fish into taking your bait to start off with.
What quiver tip should I use?
The tip should not only match the species and type of bite you are expecting but, more importantly, the tow and movement on the water. Selecting too light a tip will see it bend round too much due to the flow of water pulling on the line, making seeing bites difficult. Too stiff a tip will see fish dropping the bait due to the extra resistance, and shy bites hard to see. This is why most feeder rods come with several different rated quiver tips.
Can I use the same rod for both float a feeder fishing?
Not normally with float or feeder rods, but you can with more lighter test curved Specimen style rods. Some of these will come with both quiver tips for ledgering and a separate hollow top for float fishing.
What is the difference between a pellet waggler rod and a standard float rod?
Often shorter in length at 11ft or less with a little more power, pellet waggler rods are suited to busy fishing and frequent casting when fishing up the water for carp with heavier floats and lines. 13ft is the most popular length with a float rod which gives you greater control over lighter floats and a softer action for smaller hooks, baits and species.
What is the difference between a Method feeder rod and a standard feeder rod?
With some manufacturers, there is no difference at all, whilst others provide heavier quiver tips and more powerful fish-playing actions. Generally speaking, you can use a feeder rod with any kind of feeder or bomb.
What are the weight guides on spinning rods for?
The numbers that are always in grams (gr) on all lure-type rods represent the minimum and maximum casting weights (lures) the blank can cope with
Why are distance-casting feeder rods so stiff?
You can cast miles with this rod, yet it doesn't feel like a broom handle to fish with. The stiffness of all distance feeder rods works in two ways. Firstly it helps to produce lots of casting power, and secondly, it minimises tip recoil aiding casting distance.
Why do anglers use telescopic carp rods?
More and more carp anglers are demanding ultra-lightweight portable rod and reel set-ups that can be stored and transported quickly and easily to the bank. They also suit smaller, more intimate waters- where short rods make getting in and out tight spots easier.
Why do float rods come in some many different lengths?
Float rods, as their name suggests, are designed and built to cast lightweight floats of all shapes and sizes, and to that end, they all serve exactly the same function. The length variations come about as float rods that are, for instance, power float rods commonly used on rivers, will have longer lengths of line to pick up when mending or striking, plus they also require a longer rod length for additional float control in flowing water. Commercial pellet waggler rods are generally used to cast heavier floats, and they are built with progressive rather than tippy fish-playing actions, which are functions best served with shorter-length rods.
What's the difference between a commercial feeder rod and an all-round or natural venue feeder rod?
Most commercial fishery feeder rods are designed with a progressive fish playing that bends at the tip and 'powers up' along the blank as more pressure is exerted, and ideal for carp. All-round feeder rods tend to have softer 'through' or 'cushioned parabolic' fish playing actions ideal for all species of silver fish.
Why would anyone need a 9ft Feeder rod?
They are perfect for use in parrot cage pegs and on venues that don't require long casts but demand pinpoints casting accuracy.
Why do so many pellet waggler rods have short handles?
Because the pellet waggler tacticdemands that you are constantly feeding and casting, having a short handle makes the rod easier to manoeuvre around your body, and it helps with the rod's overall feel and sense of balance.
What are rod test curves, and what do they mean?
Quite simply, it is the weight required to pull a rod tip to a 90-degree angle to the rod butt when the rod is held in an upright position. They can also be used as a rough rule-of-thumb guide for the rods weight casting potential.
Author Dan Webb first became involved in angling journalism in 2015 and has worked as Tackle Tester at Angling Times since April 2021. He is a fanatical all-round match angler and former England Youth International.