Saltwater Fishing Rods
We're going to cover Baitcast Rods and Spinning Rods first and then talk about Fly Rods.
If you're buying your first Baitcast or Spinning Saltwater Fishing Rod, my recommendation is that you go to an Academy or another local fishing store and spend $50 - $100 on a Medium-Action, 7 ft. long rod. This will get you a good rod, not break the bank, and work well in most situations.
Popular Rod Brands and Thoughts on Selection
Walk into most fishing stores in Texas and you'll find a half dozen or more different brands of Saltwater Fishing Rods. Some of these companies specialize in rods: All-Star, American Rodsmiths, Castaway, Laguna, Waterloo, and Woodee. And some fishing tackle companies and stores have added rods to their offerings: Fishing Tackle Unlimited, Texas Tackle Factory, and Texas Slam Rods by Academy.
As far as brand and selection, my advice is to pick them up, look at them, give them a good shake, and decide. They all have slightly different actions – and by that I mean how stiff they are and how they are tapered and balanced. Pick one that feels good and go with it.
It's also a good idea when selecting a Saltwater Fishing Rod to bring your reel with you and attach it to the rod to see how it feels. In my opinion, and I'll admit I'm not a rod expert, you can't go wrong with this advice.
Now if you've had one of the above mentioned rods for a while and are looking to upgrade, here's what you'll be getting for the extra money you'll be spending. The higher end Saltwater Fishing Rods have prettier finishes and will be lighter overall. They'll be just as strong, but the lighter weight will reduce fatigue and increase sensitivity. For this you'll spend up to $400. It's a matter of money and preference.
My take is that a $50 - $100 rod will take care of you in most situations, and a higher end $200 rod will be lighter and more sensitive but isn't necessary for most especially if you're just getting started.
When you pick up Saltwater Fishing Rods and look above the handle you'll see a list of specs. You'll see an Action Listing, Line Recommendation, Length, and Lure Weight Rating. These specs will give you a good idea of how stiff the rod will be, what type of lure you'll be able to throw with it, and the type of fish it will fight successfully.
Common Action ratings for saltwater fishing rods will be Medium-Light, Medium, and Medium-Heavy. The Medium Action rods are in the middle and will do most things well when targeting redfish, trout, and flounder along the Texas Gulf Coast. They are a good place to start. The line pound-test recommendations will give you an idea of the type of fishing you should be doing and the size of the fish it will fight well.
Quick Word about "Action" vs. "Power"
For this explanation, I'm using the term "Action" as it relates to the power of the fishing rod. On a lot of rods, it even says "Action" when it comes to the Medium-Light, Medium, and Medium-Heavy that I mentioned above. If you want to be specific, this is truly a Power rating more than an Action rating.
The "Action" of salwater fishing rods is better described as where the initial flex takes place. The faster action rods will initially flex towards the tip, and the medium or moderate action rods will flex in the middle, and slower action rods will initially flex towards the butt.
I recommend picking up the rods and giving them a shake so you can feel this action and see where the rod flexes. (Thanks for this explanation and reminder of the difference in Action and Power go to one of our readers, Jerry P. We really do pay attention to the feedback of our readers!)
More Thoughts on Selection
For example, the Medium Action listing for line weight is usually 10-20 lb. These types of salwater fishing rods will work well catching reds, trout, and flounder. Get into the open ocean or beachfront, however, and you might find yourself over matched if you try to wrestle a 20 pound bull red, jack crevalle, kingfish, or tripletail. Now I'm not saying it won't be fun to try, but you might just break your rod – and have a great story!
The length and lure weight ratings are also important. The lure weight rating will give you an idea how well the rod will throw the lures you commonly use. For example, the common Lure Weight rating for medium action saltwater fishing rods will be ¼ to ¾ oz. So you'll be in business for the standard set up of a soft plastic rigged on an 1/8 oz. head, which ends up being around ¼ oz. And you'll be able to throw large topwaters and corkies.
The 7 ft. length recommendation for your Saltwater Fishing Rod fits right in the middle, and will work for everything from soft plastics to topwaters. The length also gives you the momentum to cast a good distance while not sacrificing much leverage when you're fighting a fish.
If you're expanding your line-up and want rods that will work better in more specific situations, having a longer, lighter action rod and a shorter, stiffer rod is what you'll be looking for. A 6'6” Medium action rod will be better for working topwaters and larger lures like Corkies. It will also fight bigger fish better, giving you more leverage.
Having a 7' or 7'6” Medium-Light action rod will throw lighter lures better and work soft plastics a little better. You'll have a little less leverage for fighting the fish but the the longer rod will absorb a lot of fight from the fish and put less stress on your line.
Fly Rod Selection, Function, and Specifications
My advice here is to choose as many different fly rods in your price range you can find and cast them all to see which one fits your casting style best. They all feel a little different, and we all cast a little different. Find the one that feels the best and go with it. Read on for all the other basic considerations.
Fly Rod selection gets a little more complicated and expensive. Fly rods play a different role than baitcast and spinning rods. Fly rods have to be properly balanced with the fly line and play the primary role in getting your fly to the fish.
They are the most important component of your fly fishing equipment. In my opinion, your largest investment should be in your rod when compared to your reel when targeting reds, trout, and flounder along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Fly Rod Specifications
Fly Rods are classified by their “weight”, length, and action. The weight of the rod corresponds to the fly line they are designed to work with. Whereas the weight of the lure working with the rod is used to get it to the fish when talking baitcast and spinning equipment, when fly fishing the weight of the fly line working with the rod is what propels your fly toward the fish.
An 8 weight, 9 foot rod is the standard for targeting redfish, trout, and flounder along the Texas Gulf Coast. This combination also works well for targeting largemouth bass, and can be a dual-threat. So that is the simple part. It gets more complicated when selecting a rod.
Popular Brands and Thoughts on Selecting Fly Rods
The popular brands of rods are Sage, Orvis, Winston, G. Loomis, and Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO). The higher end Sage, Winston, and Orvis rods can run you upwards of $700. I know that is a lot! If you're wealthy and money is no object – go for it. You'll be getting the lightest piece of equipment possible and you'll enjoy it. The rest of us can get a very good rod for a lot less.
My take is to spend as much as you can on your rod – and at least $100. That will get you a good rod. If you can spend more I think it's a good idea. Generally speaking, the higher end rods have really good warranties, and some are unconditional. Break it any which way and they'll replace it.
Fly rods have different actions. This is the stiffness of the rods. Most saltwater fly rods will have faster actions and be as stiff as possible while still being balanced to throw the line they are designed for.
This is because fly fishing in saltwater means dealing with wind and strong fish. A fast action rod will give you the best chance of putting the fly where you need it and fighting and landing the fish.
I'm not going to attempt to discuss the different brands and what they feel like. I will say that I have used Sage rods for years and have been very pleased. I've also fished a G. Loomis CrossCurrent rod and liked it. Lastly I've read posts from a lot of satisfied TFO owners.
My advice, as I listed above, is to find and cast as many in your price range as you can. Then decide which one feels and works best for you.
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