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Understanding Fishing Rod “Action”

What’s one of the first things people do when evaluating a fishing rod? They typically check the action. Whatever you do, do not grab the end of a fishing rod and bend it or flex it. This will put a direct strain on the fishing rod, which it is not made to handle and you could break the rod. (If you think about it, if you’re fighting a fish, or pulling on a snag, the load is spread evenly throughout the length of the rod).

How to Check the Action of a Fishing Rod

A simple way to check the action of your rod is to flex the fishing rod against the ground. Make sure the guides are facing you (facing upwards), then touch the end of your fishing rod on the ground and apply some pressure. You will quickly be able to check the action of that fishing rod, without running the risk of breaking it.

The Different Kinds of Fishing Rod Action

What action are you looking for? A fishing rod with a “Fast Tip”, “Medium Tip”, or “Slow Tip”. What does this mean? Actually, it’s very simple.

Fishing Rod Action - (c)
The Different Kinds of Fishing Rod Action
Image (c)

A fishing rod with a fast tip means that the tip of the rod is somewhat flexible, while the rest of the rod is somewhat stiff. If you were to divide your rod length by 4, generally speaking, one-quarter of your rod should be more flexible than the rest. Thus, in the case of a 6 foot rod, the last 1 1/2 feet (the tip-end of your rod) should have more flex to it, while the other 4 1/2 feet should be rather stiff.

Should I Use a “Fast Tip” or a “Slow Tip” Fishing Rod?

If you are working a jig or live bait rig, than you most likely will want to use a good quality graphite rod, with a fast tip. The tip will help you detect the bite, while the remainder of the rod (which is relatively stiff) will give you the backbone and power that you need, which will also allow you to set the hook quickly. Fast-tipped fishing rods would also be the preferred choice for ice fishing.

On the flip side, a rod with a slow tip is basically the opposite of a fast tip. A slow tip rod is very flexible, from the tip almost right down to the base. Again, take the length of your rod and divide by 4. In the case of a 6 foot rod, from the tip down about 4 1/2 feet, will be more flexible, while the base of the rod – the remaining 1 1/2 feet – will be stiff.

A slow tip fishing rod would be better suited for casting lures. The slow tip will allow you more time to set the hook and basically the whole rod will bend and flex, which would better absorb any sudden movements while fighting fish.

Until next time, good fishing!

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