Predator fishing rods come in a wide range of sizes, power ratings, and other variables that can be a little overwhelming for us predator anglers. So let’s take a moment to decipher all these pieces of information and figure out how to choose the correct rod for each application. There’s no such thing as a perch rod or a pike rod, but there are only lure rods. It means each fishing rod is designed for a lure family or technique. That’s very important.
Before being more specific, let’s address this very simple question. How should I choose between a spinning combo, where the bail turns around a fixed spool from a baitcasting combo where the line spool turns while casting and retrieving? Let’s start with the latter: being basically a winch, it can horse back efficiently heavy and hard pulling lures. Since the spool is turning it will not twist the line.
But it’s not very efficient at throwing light lures. It also tends to get shorter distances with better accuracy. A spinning rod however is great for light fishing tackle, handles light line better, and has a faster learning curve. So basically, the best advice is to select a baitcasting combo for everything but light tackle. I would draw the line at about 7 gr (1/4oz).
There are no hard rules for predator rod length. It’s a matter of personal preference and availability. Longer rods will provide a better leverage for longer casts while shorter rods are more maneuverable in tight quarters for accurate casting. So, for techniques or situations that require long-distance, such as bank fishing or lures like crankbaits or topwater, a rod of about 7’4” or longer is better. And indeed for small rivers trout or chub fishing, or vertical right under the boat, a shorter rod is easier. The gold standard for all-around everyday fishing is about 7’. Hard to cast heavy lures as big pike swimbait will benefit from the longer leverage of an 8’.
Every lure rod is rated for a range of power weights. It means the lure weight the rod is capable of handling. It’s the value given in grams or a fraction of once. For example, 3/8-1 oz means 10 to 28grs. So any lure that weight anywhere inside that range will be a good match for the rod. If the lure is heavier, the rod will bend making the cast very unpleasant! Don’t do it! Likewise, if a lighter lure is tied on the rod, it won’t flex during the cast enough to propel the lure a reasonable distance. However annoying there’s no real consequence for using too light a bait.
For easier reference, manufacturers attribute a size for power rating. It reads as follows: light (L), Medium (M), Heavy (H), extra heavy (XH), and so on. In and of itself it’s meaningless because there’s no standard from one manufacturer to another. It’s also only meaningful within a specific line of rods. If a manufacturer has a pike or musky line and a bass line, you can have an XH from one line lighter than an M from another line of product. So only within a specific series of rods, at a glance, you can see which rod is heavier or lighter than another.
Most rods also indicate the power of line appropriate for the rod. Frankly, this brings nothing and no one really cares. On paper, it’s the rod breaking strength, it’s expressed in lbs (pounds). So if the manufacturer says max 50lbs, and you use a 40lbs line, you get stuck on the bottom, and you pull, then the line should break before the rod. But if you were to fish with a 60lbs line, the rod will break first.
Now we’re in the thick of things. Until now it was numbers and basic math. The taper is where the rod bends. Fast taper means most of the bend will occur at the rod tip. Slow taper means the bend will occur throughout the length of the rod. The best way to gauge it is to thread a line through the rod, grab the line with your hand and apply pressure progressively and watch where it bends. Most labels will show extra-fast, fast, and moderate. That’s the lowest you’re going to find (usually)!
Predator fishing with lures involves no floats or bite detectors! The angler is the detector! So he needs to know at all times what’s happening at the business end of the line. History has shown that fishermen are willing to spend good money for a little extra sensitivity. A lot of factors influence rod sensitivity, such as guide quality, reel seat and handle quality, balance, and of course graphite density. But no other variable has as much influence on sensitivity as weight. Do you want a sensitive rod? Get a light rod, and a light reel as well.
A lot of fishing tackle companies boast about the rod guides they use on their rods. That’s fine and indeed it’s a quick way to gauge the quality of the rod. But first, it’s not that important, as freshwater fishermen we don’t have GT’s or tuna making a long exhausting run. But also count the number of guides on the rod. Some manufacturers will claim superior guides but cut the corner with too few guides on the rod. I’d rather have cheaper guides but the appropriate number.
Predator fishing rods are an important tool because, unlike other techniques, they are not just for fighting the fish but for actual fishing. They need to cast well, allow for proper sensitivity, provide sufficient hookset, keep the fish pinned and bring it out to you. I hope that these few words are helping in making an informed decision in the tackle shop! If it’s the case, please consider sharing it with your friends.