How To Choose A Fishing Rod For Beginners

I remember my first fishing rod. It was blue and no more than four feet long bought at the local tackle store for a short family fishing trip.

So I went to the dock with my dad who baited my hook. I pathetically cast out the line — immediately got a bite.

I heaved against the rod, almost going into the water myself as I reel in a five-pound rock cod out of the water—beginner’s luck at its finest.

The adage that the best fishing rod you can have is one where the fish bite rings true. However, like any sport, making sure you have the right equipment is vital.

However, finding the right fishing rod or pole can be more manageable. You just need to follow some simple guidelines and valuable information for choosing your fishing rod from various options out there.

How To Choose Your First Fishing Rod

When you pick out your first fishing rod, it’s essential to do your research.

If you want to experiment with your fishing style, you’ll want an average rod in action, length, power, and other qualities. While it might seem like you aren’t getting the most incredible options by going middle-of-the-road, the average options will give you the most freedom for experimentation, which is excellent for beginners.

What Kind of Fishing Do You Want To Do?

The type of fishing rod you need depends on the style of fishing you want to do. Some fishing rods are specially made for certain species of fish, fishing styles, and environments.

For example, you’ll want a shorter fishing rod if you’re planning to drop a line straight down from a dock or go ice fishing. Both types of fishing don’t require casting, so shorter rods are ideal.

Or, if you want to fish in the ocean, you’ll need to pay special attention to the rod’s materials. Saltwater can wreak havoc on fishing rods, so check the materials for corrosion and rust ratings.

If you don’t have a particular fishing style in mind, you’ll want a spinning rod with mid-range abilities for the most options when experimenting.

It all depends on your needs and desires when choosing a fishing rod.

Types of Fishing Rods

There are several different types of fishing rods, and each is suited to different fishing. While the rod you’ll choose depends on the kind of fishing you prefer, Spinning rods are usually best for beginners.

Spinning Rods

Abu Garcia Max Pro Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

Spinning rods are considered to be the most versatile type of fishing rod out there in the market. Great for all levels ranging from beginners to the pros. Spinning rods are available in a wide range of lengths usually between 4 ft to 9 ft, flexibility, and materials.

A spinning rod usually has has a large eye on the first guide. This is to minimize friction between the line and guide and prevent the line from snapping. These rods are designed to have the reel hang down the rod with the rod guides pointing to the ground.

This allows the angler to be able to cast the line easily with a flick of the wrist.

Beginning anglers will want a mid-range rod with medium action, power, and length. This will give them the most options when experimenting with fishing styles and species.

Casting Rods

Zebco Omega Pro Spincast Reel and Fishing Rod Combo, 6-Foot 6-Inch 2-Piece IM7 Graphite Fishing Pole, Split ComfortGrip Rod Handle, Size 30 Reel, Pre-spooled with 10-Pound Zebco Line, Black

Casting rods rod generally considered to be used for more precise casting than the spinning rods. These rods are designed to have a spincast reel sitting on top of the rod where the rod guides are pointing towards the sky.

Casting rods are generally used by beginners and pros. Typically castings rods are used with a spincast reel which is perceived to be associated with children because of its easy to use design. However, spincasts are used by many seasoned anglers.

Similar to the spinning rods, casting rods comes in a wide range of lengths, materials, and flexibility.

Baitcasting Rods

Abu Garcia VENGC70-6 Vengeance Casting Rod, 7 Feet, Medium Heavy Power, 7' - Medium Heavy

Baitcasting rods are every similar to design as the casting rods however there are a few small differences.

First you will notice that the baitcasting reels will generally have smaller rod guides near the reel. As the line comes off a baitcast when casting the line does not spin/whip around unlike a spinning or casting rod which have a large first guide. This improves precision when casting.

However, baitcasting rods are not recommended for beginners. These rods are designed to work with a baitcasting reel which can be tricky to learn without bird nesting your reel. This is why its best to start with a spinning rod or casting rod as a beginner.

Fly Fishing Rods

Gonex Magreel Fly Fishing Rod, Fly Rod and Reel Combo with Portable Lightweight 4 Piece Fly Fishing Rod 9ft, Aluminum Fly Reel, 13Pcs Fly Flies and Fishing Line Scissors with Travel Case

Fly fishing is where an ultralight lure shaped like a fly lays on top of the water to tempt fish to bite. It’s relatively advanced, and beginners should get more experience with other types of fishing before attempting it.

Since the lure is very light, most of the weight for casting is in the line. The rods for fly fishing fall on either end of the spectrum: very short, about two feet for maneuvering in cramped areas, and twelve feet long for long casts.

Materials: Look For Quality

There are several different materials fishing rods can be made of. From the sensitive yet brittle graphite favored by pros to the shiny stainless steel used for ocean fishing and even the flexible fiberglass best suited for beginners, the material a fishing rod is made of determines many of its properties.


Fiberglass is strong and flexible, perfect for fishing big game and inexperienced anglers.

The durability of fiberglass means it will last a long time and is forgiving of furious fishing battles. It can be used for hours at a time without wearing out the angler. Rods made of this material are perfect for travelling due to their lightweight properties.

However, fiberglass does have a few drawbacks. Their durability and strength make the line less sensitive, so you won’t be able to feel the fish nibbles and bites as strong as other materials.

Moreover, fiberglass is well-suited to ocean fishing as it won’t get corrupted by seawater as offers better sensitivity than stainless steel. However, it’s not as strong as stainless steel, making it best for surf fishing for smaller species.


Graphite is light, strong, and sensitive. It’s many angler’s favorite materials for good reason. Its acute reactions give the angler a good idea of the fish’s movements and bites, making it the ideal rod material.

However, even though it’s pretty intense, it’s not as durable as fiberglass or stainless steel. Its brittleness can cause it to snap quickly if mishandled. However, experienced anglers understand how to keep it from breaking during fishing battles.

Graphite can still be a good material for beginner fishing rods. It just needs to be handled with care. Understanding the fish and the sensitivity of the pole is perfect for getting beginners adjusted to the sport.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the strongest material fishing rods can be made of, but it’s also heavy and less sensitive than fiberglass or graphite.

However, its strength makes it perfect for fishing huge species of fish. Deep-sea fishing, in particular, is well-suited for this material, as it won’t rust in saltwater and can handle some of the heaviest fish the ocean has to offer.

The strength of stainless steel comes at a high cost, but sometimes you need the most robust material available to fish the game you want.

Rod Action and Rod Power: Average is Best for Beginners

Rod action and rod power are two very different things when discussing fishing rods. Rod action refers to where the pole bends when a fish pulls it, and rod power is how much force a rod can take to bend.

While they’re not entirely unrelated, its essential to keep the differences in mind when selecting a fishing rod.

Rod Action: Flexibility for Different Fish

The rod action refers to where the rod bends. Fast-action rods bend near the tip, mid-action rods bend in the middle, and slow-action rods bend near the rod’s reel.

Fast-action is for lighter, faster, smaller fish. They move quickly and can change directions unpredictably, so the rod needs to respond quickly, so quickly bending at the tip is best suited for these fish.

Mid-action rods bend near the middle, making them perfect for a fish’s wide range. Everything from smaller to larger fish can be fished with these types of rods, making them ideal for beginners and those who want versatile rods, which you can use to fish several different species.

Slow-action rods bend near the bottom, giving the rod plenty of space to flex. It increases the rod’s durability, making it ideal for large fish. While they might not respond as quickly as mid-action and fast-action rods, the extra durability makes up for it.

Rod Power: Punching in Your Weight Class

Rod power is how much force it takes to bend a fishing rod. If the action refers to where to rod bends, power refers to its flexibility.

Rods with less power respond faster but break more easily. Rods with more power respond slower but are tough to break.

Ultimately, a rod’s power set in about the middle is best for various fish, large and small alike. However, if you’re fishing very small or very large fish, getting a rod that suits your game would be best.

Rod Lengths: Different Fish Means Different Lengths

The length of a fishing rod determines the size of your cast, with longer rods capable of casting more than a hundred meters out.

Longer Rods

Longer fishing rods can be eight or even twelve feet long and are capable of incredibly long casts.

However, they’re also unwieldy and take a lot of experience to cast, which is not suitable for beginners.

These long fishing rods are the best for surf fishing or boat fishing where you want to lure to be far away from you to attract more fish.

Medium Rods

Medium rods are typically six or seven feet long and are middle of the road. They can cast further away, but not as far as the longer fishing rods. However, they’re easier to use and are more accurate than the longer rods.

Short Rods

If casting distance doesn’t matter, then neither does rod length. Short rods are built for maneuverability in tight spaces or just dropping a line vertically.

Short rods are usually between two and five feet. Dropping a line directly down is best for ice or dock fishing, and in tight spaces, like when you’re fly fishing in a crowded river, it is excellent for these fishing rods.

Rod and Reel Combos: Everything You Need in One Package

Many manufacturers sell rods and reels together in combos. This is perfect for beginning anglers as they can get a quality fishing rod without mixing and matching rods and reels. Moreover, the rods and reels are cheaper when they’re bought together, making them a great bargain and easier.

The Best Fishing Rods for Beginners

Most of these below are combos, so you don’t need to worry about rod and reel matching. Some even come with additional fishing supplies such as lures and tackle boxes, making them perfect for anglers.

Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik GX2 Combo: Great Rod at Great Value

Shakespeare is committed to quality and has been some of the best fishing gear manufacturers.


  • Best average fishing rod to start with
  • Durable
  • Great price


  • More expensive than other options

Zebco 202 Combo: Best for Kids 

The Zebco 202 is a spin caster made for kids who love to fish. If the 202 is too large, the Zebco 33 line comes in various sizes for all ages of children.


  • Great for beginners
  • The spin caster reel is ideal for children


  • Not great for serious anglers
  • Not accurate

Abu Garcia Black Max Combo: Best for Beginner Baitcasting

Baitcasters may not be suitable for complete beginners. However, those looking to get into baitcasting after gaining experience are welcome to try.


  • Very sensitive
  • Three different sizes
  • Easy for beginning baitcasters


  • Not for complete beginners
  • Expensive

Plussino Telescopic Fishing Kit: Best for Budgets and Portability

Plussino is known as a budget fishing gear manufacturer, but the quality of their products is unmatched at their prices. This fishing kit includes everything a budding angler needs to get started at the same price as a rod and reel combo from other manufacturers.


  • Cheaper
  • It contains everything in one kit
  • Great value for the price
  • Telescopic rod travels easily


  • The telescopic rod needs more maintenance
  • Not as durable as pricier manufacturers
  • Made of aluminum, making it heavier and more corrodable

Penn Battle III Combo: The Best For Surf Fishing

Penn is one of the best fishing gear manufacturers and has retained its spot for decades. In particular, the Battle line is known for its durability and quality.


  • Very strong, meant for large fish
  • It cannot be eroded
  • Longer length means longer casts


  • Not well-suited for smaller fish
  • Metal material makes it less sensitive


Fishing is an incredible sport and recreational activity where the angler and the fish battle over survival. It’s enjoyable for those with the patience and drives to take it seriously.

Do good fishing rods make a difference?

Yes. While even the most crappy fishing poles can net your fish, high-quality equipment improves the experience and skill needed for serious anglers.

Are expensive rods worth it?

Not necessarily. The best fishing rod suits your needs, whether a cheaper rod and reel combo or a dozen customized fishing rods for every occasion. Expensive doesn’t always mean it is the best for your fishing needs.

How much do good beginner fishing rods cost?

Most of the rod combos listed above cost between $50 to $100. This is pretty inexpensive, as buying the rod and the reel together lowers the cost of both.

Are all-around rods better than specialty rods?

Not when you fish for specialty fish. While some manufacturers advertise some poles and rods as excellent for any kind of fishing, those poles won’t compare to those specially made for certain fish species.

However, an all-around rod can be great for gaining experience and experimentation to see what fishing styles and species you enjoy fishing.

Happy Fishing & Tight Lines

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