Purchasing a rod can be one of the most difficult parts of getting started in fishing. There are a dizzying array of options available, all claiming to be superior to the rods next to them. Before you jump into a decision you will regret, it always pays to educate yourself on just what it is you need to, and therefore should, acquire.
The first step in acquiring a fishing rod is to purchase a blank. This refers to the rod proper, which is a shaft of varying materials on which you mount a reel and some line. Shafts can be purchased in three different materials: graphite, fiberglass, and bamboo. Bamboo rods are generally used for fly fishing and can be quite expensive. Fiberglass rods are generally for beginner use, and are the type you find at your local Wal-Mart or other department type stores. Graphite is the material of choice for serious fisherman, and can be found many places online, or at your local sporting goods stores. For this article, we will concentrate on graphite rods.
Fishing rods come in varying strengths and will be measured in terms of modulus. Modulus refers to the density of the weave of the material from which the rod blank is fashioned. Graphite rods generally come with a modulus between 33 million and 60 million. The higher the modulus, the stiffer the rod will be. The higher modulus rods will also be lighter, faster, and more sensitive. As a trade-off however, high modulus rods are more brittle than lower modulus fishing rods.
Sensitivity is also an important factor when choosing a rod blank. As a general rule, the deeper the water that you are fishing in, the higher sensitivity you will want, so that you can feel the more subtle bites. The last thing you want is to have to go home and tell the story about the one that got away!
One factor that affects sensitivity of your rod, besides material of the shaft, is the handle construction. Usually the handles are made from cork or foam. You should ensure that the handle feels comfortable in your hand and that it is not too soft, otherwise you may not be able to feel those aforementioned subtle bites. Also, if you are fishing with any type of artificial bait, it is crucial to be able to feel the movement of the bait through the rod to ensure that you are enticing the fish in the proper manner.