Fishing Rods 101: Length, Power, Action Made Easy

Meta Description: Discover the perfect fishing rods as we decipher rod length, power, and action. Elevate your angling game with expert insights.

Understanding Fishing Rods: Length, Power, Action

Picking out fishing rods can be confusing, with different things to consider such as length, power, action. All this information may be intimidating if you’re a novice angler. To add to the confusion, there’s no standard length, power, and action for rods.

So how will you know if you have chosen the right one?

In this blog, you’ll learn what rod length, power, and action is and how they contribute to the success of your fishing journey. If you are ready, let’s start. 

What is a Fishing Rod Power?

Fishing Rod Power

The power of a fishing rod measures how much force is exerted to bend the rod. The power rating indications are ultra-light, light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy, and extra-heavy. To make it simple, the more power given to the rod the less bendable it is.

Based on the design characteristics, the power categories are:

  • UL – Ultra-Light
  • L – Light
  • ML – Med/Light
  • M – Medium
  • MH – Medium Heavy
  • H – Heavy
  • XH – Extra Heavy
  • UH – Ultra Heavy

Why Does Power Matter?

Choosing the right rod power is important for effective casting. This factor also helps improve control and efficiency. When choosing the appropriate power of a rod, you should consider the environment, target species, and lure’s weight. 

Rod Power Matched with Line and Lure

PowerLine WeightLure Weight
Ultra-light1-4 lb Test1/64 -1/16 oz
Light4-8 lb Test1/32 -⅛ oz
Medium4-12 lb Test⅛ – ⅜ oz
Medium heavy8-14 lb Test3/16 -½ oz
Heavy15-25 lb TestUp to 1 ½ oz
Extra heavy25lb Test and Above1 ½ oz and above

When this table guide is disregarded some pitfalls are likely to happen.

  1. If you use a line that is too light for a heavy rod and heavy fish, all the pressure will be pushed on the line and will break.
  2. Using a line that’s too strong on a light rod and heavy fish, all the pressure will be on the rod and will break.

That said, understanding the importance of power matched with line is important and should always be considered. 

Rod Power Matched with Different Species

Power DesignationApplicationSpecies
UltralightSmall jigs, small spinners, small micro baitsPanfish
LightSmall jigs, small spinners, small crankbaitsPanfish
Medium LightShaky heads, drop shots, small crankbaits, small topwaters, jerkbaitsPanfish, bass, walleye
MediumJerkbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, chatterbaitsBass, walleye
Medium HeavySpinnerbaits, jigs, worms, small swimbaits, spoons, buzz baits, deep diving crankbaitsBass, catfish
HeavyFlipping and pitching, frogging, swimbaits, umbrella rigsBass, catfish
Extra HeavyFlipping and pitching, frogging, big swimbaits, umbrella rigsBass, catfish

Rod Power Affecting Presentation

The power of a rod may affect the presentation of lures. If you use a jig with a medium-heady rod, the lure will make quick movements. In contrast with medium rod the lures move smoothly.

Lures like top water frogs create a signature action to drive fishes, so a medium-heavy rod is advisable. A medium-heavy rod transfers the force one time then pops the frog across the water. Using a fast action rod can soften this lure.

A technique called drop shot fishing requires no jigging so a medium rod works better. Medium rod works better since it does not create any jerky or jiggy movements.

Best Rod Power for Beginners

There isn’t a specific rod power made for beginners, but it is recommended to have a stronger and more sensitive rod. Using a less sensitive rod, won’t be able to pick up softer bites. Above all, lighter rods require more expertise and handling skills. Lighter rods need to be protected from sudden pressure spikes which may cause damage.

What is a Fishing Rod Action?

Fishing Rod Action

The fishing rod action determines where the rod is bended and its sensitivity. The three general actions are slow, medium and fast. Fast action rods bends closer to the tip around 20-30%. Slow actions bends closer to the handle around 50% and medium action bends 30-40%.

With fast action being more popular for beginners due to its sensitivity. Medium action has less sensitivity but has great casting distance. Lastly, slow action rods are ideal for casting small lures.

Why Does Action Matter?

The rod’s action affects the casting, accuracy, and how you handle fishes during retrieval. Faster action rod allows for a more accurate casts. Slow action rods on the other hand, allows for far casting.

Classifications of Rod Action

Fast Action Rod

Fast action rods have a pronounced upper bend resulting in a sensitive tip. These rods offer excellent distance casting, with improved accuracy and better hook-setting. It is usually a bit stiffer so it works best for lures that require a hard hook set, like topwaters and jerkbaits.

The bended tip formed by fast action makes them the most sensitive rods. This is beneficial when fishing in heavy cover.

Extra Fast Action Rod

Extra fast action offers a high degree of tip sensitivity. This works best for baits that you want to twitch, and for single hook applications like worming and jigs. 

Medium Action Rod

Medium or moderate rods bend only half way. This type of rod combines the benefits of fast and slow rods to create versatility. These moderate action rods excel in situations that require use of lighter lures and live baits. These rods are perfect if you are eyeing for a fish that is aggressive. They also offer steady pressure that tires out fishes without the risk of line breaking.

Slow Action Rod

A slow action rod bends around the lower part of the blank. These rods are flexible with slow recovery. With the rod’s feature, it performs its best when partnered with light lines and small hooks. Slow action rods are good for fishing with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and lipless crankbaits. These rods are not fitted for baits that need to be fitted with the rod. 

Rod Action Chart

Rod ActionBending BehaviorBest Used For
Extra FastBends only at the tipJigs, worms, live baits
FastBends in ¼ – ⅓ of the rodTexas rig, Carolina rigs, spinner baits, jerkbaits, topwater baits, buzz baits
MediumBends upper half of the rodCrankbaits, jerkbaits, swim baits, rattle baits
SlowBends down to the handleLarge crankbaits and swimballs

What is The Best Fishing Rods Action

Rods with fast to extra-fast action are considered the best for casting accuracy and solid hook sets suited for bigger fishes. However, slow to medium action works best for distance casting and for smaller lures or baits.

Rod Power Vs Rod Action: What’s the Difference?

Rod Power Vs Rod Action

Many anglers confuse rod power and rod action as the same thing, but they are not. To put them into simple words, power is the maximum force a can take without bending, or how much pressure is needed to bend the rod.

While action, refers to the spot where bending happens. For example, fast action rods bend only at the top. While moderate or medium action means that the middle part of the rod is bent. 

How Does Power and Action Interact?

After knowing the definitions and rod power and action. We can now go through how they correspond. Imagine the power and actions like the X and Y axis, operating on a slide scale. For example, a heavy rod is likely to be fast. A slow action rod will fall into medium power. 

What is a Fishing Rod Length?

The length of the fishing rod is the distance from tip to butt. This affects the casting performance, accuracy, and hook. Longer rods cast farther compared to shorter rods. Since longer rods give more leverage, it can be perfect for distance casting. However, shorter rods are ideal for lakes and other small bodies of water.

Why Does Length Matter?

Rod length comes in different sizes, it can be of any size ranging from 4-15 feet. It is important that you choose the right size as it affects the overall performance and success rate. 

In general, longer rods increase the distance in casting while shorter rods provide leverage. For example, you’ll cast with a 12-20 pound line, you can consider a 7 foot fast rod for lures or live baits. 7 foot light to medium rod is good to use in 8-12 pound lines for casting. 

Pros and Cons of Long Rods

Fishing Rods


  • Distance Casting – Longer rods provide great distance casting, this means that it is a great choice if you are fishing on open waters. Longer lengths allow you to get your hook far and deep.
  • Hookset Leverage – Longer length offers more leverage and sensitivity.


  • Less Precise – With the flexibility of longer rods, you might not feel the fish bites specially from distance casting.
  • Heavier – Longer rods are heavier and bulkier.

Pros and Cons of Short Rods

Short Rods


  • Perfect for Tight Spaces – Short rods are built to fish on small creeks where trees and other vegetation are found. 
  • Better Leverage – With leverage, the shorter the better. 
  • Target Fishing – Shorter rods provide the ability to pick up specific species. 


  • Less Sensitive – If you are eyeing on smaller fishes, the sensitivity of short rods may not work. You won’t feel any movement on stiff rods. 
  • Limit on Distance – Shorter rods struggle to throw lures to a distance of around 70 feet. This measurement is known to catch fishes in an open sea.

How to Choose the Right Rod Length

After understanding the pros and cons of both short and long rods, let us discuss some tips on how to choose the right length.

When choosing the rod length, it is important to consider your target species and fishing techniques. If you are casting on streams or rivers surrounded by trees and rocks, the most appropriate length is 6-7 feet. This size is perfect for ease of maneuvering while maintaining power.

However, for longer casting 7-8 feet rod length may be the best option. The longevity of the rod provides leverage for accurate casting and better control.

The way you fish greatly impacts the choice of rod length. For instance, if you prefer finesse techniques like drop shooting or shooting, a shorter rod will offer better sensitivity and control over your bait presentation.

Your technique in fishing also has an impact on choosing the rod length. For example, if you like drop shooting, shorter rods are advisable since it provides better sensitivity and control. If you enjoy flipping into a vegetation structure, a longer rod will be a good choice. As longer rods provide accurate casting and hook setting. 

Length Used for Specialty Fishing

Rod Length for Ice Fishing

The rod length used for ice fishing is 20″ to 48″. The reason behind a short pole is because there is no need to cast, you just need to drop your line into the hole. 

Rod Length for Game Fishing

Most commonly used rod length for catching big fishes are 5-6.5 feet long. Game rods are specialized for massive lures and baits allowing to catch bigger fishes and sharks.

Rod Length for EGI Rod

The rod length varies from 7-9 feet, specially made for targeting squids and cuttlefish. 

Rod Length for Fly Fishing

The rod length varies depending on the location and target species, but mostly measures around 6-10 feet. Shorter lengths are also an option if you are fishing on wooded banks.

Rod Length for Centrepin

The rod length for centrepin fishing comes in 10-13 feet or even longer. The length used targets a broad range of fish sizes due to its sensitivity and shock absorption. 

Rod Length for Baitcasting

The length used for baitcasting varies from 5’5″ to 9′ and the most common 6 ‘5″ to 8’.

Rod Length for Boat Rod

The boat road length is around 7-8 feet, often used for trolling or if extra-long casting is required.

Rod Length for Surf Fishing

Surf rods length are generally 9-15 feet long with the common length of 10-15 inches.


When choosing the ideal length, power, and action for your fishing rod there are a lot of things to consider. As there is no-size-fits-all in choosing, we hope that this blog can help you make an informed decision.

By understanding different factors in choosing the length, power, and action, you’ll have an idea on what fishing rods suits technique. If you have any topics that you want us to touch on, feel free to comment down below.

Additional Resources:

  1. How to pick rod length and action:
  2. Fishing rod action:
  3. Difference between rod action vs power:
  4. Fishing rod action test curves:
  5. What is the power and action of a fishing rod:
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