Fishing & Hunting Tips

How to Choose a fishing rod for saltwater? A Complete Guide

Saltwater has covered more than 97% of the total water volume on the earth. No wonder every angler has had a moment where they were faced to choose a fishing rod for saltwater. So, if you are planning to a saltwater fishing trip, it is imperative that you acquire accurate knowledge on packing the right equipment.

Today, it is fairly easy to choose a fishing rod for saltwater. The power of the internet has granted us to evaluate and compare between products beforehand.

This article also aims to assist you to make a decisive opinion on the process of picking a saltwater rod. However,  if you wanna see probably the best saltwater rod which is also a great bang for the money, check out this UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod.

Choose a fishing rod for saltwater

Purpose of a saltwater fishing rod

A fishing rod is the main structure. Without a well-built fishing rod, it’s impossible to successfully tackle a fish. From mounting the reel itself to line conduction, a fishing rod hold everything together to operate. The rod exceeds the angler’s reach and influence for casting lures or bait and absorb the backlash of a fish.

It is the most essential tool to cast lures or bait to allure fish. The rod is used to set the hook once there is a fish that took the bait. It is also a crucial tool to land the fish properly. The rod also directs the line cast off the spool.

 

Rod elements

Understanding the rods formation is important, and also their individual functioning. The knowledge will be handy if one or a few elements of the rod needs repairing or resetting. Let’s see what elements our saltwater fishing rod is assembled with.

  • Blank ( rod ): This means the pole itself.
  • Conductors/ Guides: It indicates to those loops attached with throughout the rod that helps guide the line. It is made with lightweight yet premium materials. The loops are strong and made of aluminum or titanium. The loops inner side is merged with ceramic or plated chrome to reduce friction and wearing of the line. Large trolling rods and boat rods are planned for heavy duty bottom fishing. They are typically equipped with one or more roller conductors with bearings to make sure the line come off the spool smoothly when a big one gets hooked.
  • Tip-top: This is a little mechanism that is attached to the top of the rod with a ring. It also helps protect the tip.
  • Grip: Grip is located at the bottom portion of the rod, the spot where an angler holds the rod. A premium all-around rod has synthetic EVA foam, whereas the casting rods frequently have cork grips.
  • Seats: This is the spot where the reel is held. The trigger reel seat usually equipped with casting the rod to lodge light and compact reels. The offshore fighting rods are equipped with sturdy lock washers. Heavy-duty saltwater reels are braced to the seat with screws and bolts.
  • Ferrules: The rod building ferrules are used to attach two or more rod blank sections in conjunction. These are typically found on fly fishing and travel rods.
  • Butt: This spot is located at the bottom of the rod where you will see an additional replaceable cap. It is also familiar as “Butt cap”. That’s the spot where you hold on to while fishing. The blank-through-handle construction expands the rod absolute through the handle for extra power and durability. The butts of an offshore fighting rod are cut out and protected by a removable cap so they fit into the gimbal belt and fighting harness.
  • Windings: This component keeps your guides attached to your blank. It sealed over in the interest to preserve them on the completed blank, thanks to their threaded material construction.
  • Hook keeper: Almost all the blanks have a little metal loop close to the reel. There you can keep your hook or lure when not in use. This is called a hook keeper that prevents the lure to be cut off or damage to the reels handle when the rod sits idle. This option is common for almost all types of the rod in the market apart from spinning reels or small traditional reels.
  • Rod handles: The handle consists of the grip, the reel seat, and the butt.

Rod substance

A fishing rod’s performance depends on the material it is made from. A rod builds with the cheap material will never give you the smooth sensation when casting and retrieving your line. That’s why, instead of looking at the cheap rod, look for a rod that is budget friendly yet has a premium built. Choose your preferred rod material from below.

  • Fiberglass: You might wonder what is fiberglass? Fiberglass is a clump of thin sheets of glass fiber. These roll of fiber form the dimension like a fishing rod and it is processed through the resin infusion procedure. Fiberglass sheets have divergent attributes. E-glass is very popular among fishing rod manufacturer. Because it is strong, durable and flexible. A fiberglass saltwater rod can resist any mistreatment whether it’s on the boat or near the shoreline. This all-around fiberglass rod also can withstand the harsh sea. Although some anglers avoid using a fiberglass rod due to its weight which makes it all the more difficult for accurate hits or bait recovery.
  • Graphite: what is graphite? Graphite is a pure formation of Carbon. The ironic thing is, if a fishing blank is made out of pure graphite, it wouldn’t be useful whatsoever. Graphite is a form of coal or raw carbon and its fiber is well-appreciated by a lot of manufacturers. Layers of carbon fiber form a product that is stronger than vinyl or hardest plastic.

Graphite rods are lightweight and extremely sensitive to strikes. It is also easier to recover your lure and this small diameter blank is capable to absorb any fighting fish backlash. The rod is excellent for some of the saltwater game fish. Be sure to avoid frequent impact on your boat or other obstacles when fishing with this blank, because It will weaken structural integrity thus becomes prone to break at the point of impact.

  • Carbon Fiber: It is also known as Graphite fiber, because, carbon fiber rods are a more refined and reinforced version of graphite. Along with several advantages, it constitutes high stiffness, strength, lightweight, chemical resistant and extreme temperature tolerant with lower thermal expansion, which is absolutely perfect for saltwater angling. The only downside of this rod is the higher cost.
  • Modern composite: In thermoplastic materials, curve self-reinforced composite is a new idea that links the space between essential plastics and conventional fiber reinforced materials. The material is mentioned as being “self-reinforced because It incorporates high-performance thermoplastic fibers in a pattern of precisely the identical material. It is 100% polypropylene but more rigid and powerful, nearly 5 times than regular PP.

Composite blank is resistant to high impact and heat, which allows it to have a longer lifespan. These blanks are lightweight and have higher strain resistant in a small diameter. Composite blank has the combination of both fiberglass and graphite, the strength and rigidity of fiberglass and the responsiveness and lightweight of graphite. That’s why some of these premium quality rods have the capacity of 200 pounds of the line at a 20-pound spinning or baitcasting reel.

Length

The typical saltwater fishing rod length starts anywhere between 3-15 feet, sometimes exceeds up to 20 feet. A longer rod can cast the line further. But shorter blank has superior leverage. Beware if you want to choose a longer rod because bigger fish will put up a severe resistant. In that case, compact rods are better. Consider these facts before investing on a rod.

  • Understand your casting range
  • Consider buying a rod that is compatible with your height. A less tall person might find it harder to use a longer rod.
  • Whether you are comfortable with the extra weight of a longer blank.
  • A place with obstacles whether it’s people or object, the shorter blank is suitable.
  • Decide if you want to cast the line or just drop down on the water from near the shoreline or a boat.

So if you want to go with a 12 to 20-pound line, you may want to obtain a 7 foot fast or extra fast action fishing rod utilizing live bait or lures. When you’re looking to cast 8 to 12 pounds of line, again try and get a 7-foot rod but with the exception of the light or medium weight and medium action.

For greater distance, go for 8-foot blank or higher. But a shorter rod is recommended when it comes to trolling or jigging. For this particular task, a 6-foot rod is a conventional length regardless to stand up fishing as well.

For those big boy hunters, who want to cast 50 to 100-pound lines then you will need to get a 6 to 6 ½ medium heavy rod with fast action.

Rod action

Apart from blank’s substances, broadness, and length, the action which determines how far the rod’s bend will extend from tip to bottom. The bend action of the rod is the main contribution to the overall performance. Below, we will try to classify the action into three sections.

  • Fast: Fast action rod is well suited with solid hook sets with large bait and lures aimed for a bigger catch. It also has great cast accuracy. This kind of blank can accommodate premium reel with higher line capacity. The lack of flexibility makes it an ideal rod especially when it’s windy. The rods bend deficiency allows the angler to cover a greater casting distance with the exception of a heavy lure. Although, a rookie user may find it difficult to handle the blank. This rod is more stiff on the tip with less flex.
  • Medium: This kind of rod is stiffer at the bottom half portion of the rod than with more bend and flex to the tip. This blank might not have the ability to cast long distance like fast action rod, but still, the range is commendable enough with superior accuracy. Another advantage the blank have over fast action is the ability to cast in shorter range more fluidity.

The stiff base of the blank creates resistant against the wind. But be sure not to tackle extreme resistant fish, whether it is big or small. So, when it comes to choosing a fishing rod for saltwater, beginner angler should take this blank to their consideration.

  • Slow: This blank has an insane level of bendability, means the curve happens from top to bottom. It’s more like a kid blank which is suitable for small fish with lighter reel and lures in fair weather. Apart from good casting accuracy the range is relatively short. An angler who has never held a blank before should feel comfortable and confident using this rod.

Occasionally pro angler uses allegorical action, that mobilizes power for extensive casts, which can be mistaken with fast and ultra-fast actions. But it’s absolutely the opposite. A fast action rod under stress will bend only at the top which allows it to tackle bigger game fish. The large live bait of certain fishes includes sailfish, hearings, blue runners etc are very much compatible with these rods. It is also effective for trolling with conventional sizes live baits of the same type of breeds.

The castability

For superior castability and accuracy, fast and extra fast action blanks produce more velocity and strength to deliver a lure on target, apart from any wind-related digression. The fast action rod may produce more speed upon casting lures but the distance is reduced compared to medium/slow rod unless you use a heavier lure or bait with your fast rod.

  • Imagine you are pairing a large topwater chugger or a live bait with a 7-foot, fast action spinning blank. The heavier weight of that lure will grant you to cast at a higher range compared to smaller lure.
  • While fishing shoreline, sometimes the noisy sound of a live lure might scare off nearby fishes. In this case, if you use a medium action lightweight rod which will allow casting lighter lures and baits.
  • As I mentioned that medium and slow action blank will have more bend from tip to nearly at the bottom portion. With this extra bend, the rod is capable to cast further as it sends and loads itself. Due to less stiffness at the tip of the rod will make the cast inaccurate.
  • Typically the combination of the softer delivery is recommended when casting live bait from distance. You won’t have to worry about your lure flying off the hook when casting in this way.
  • For light jigging, medium to slow action rod is perfect enough.
  • With hook sets, medium to slow action blank works great. Yet with fast action blanks, anglers sometimes get their bait pulled away due to the stiffness of the rod.
  • While fishing, if you can stay patient with your medium action rod, the chances to hook a fish are really high.
  • Medium/slow action rods prevent the fish to pull apart from the hook and reducing the possibility to snap off the line from those sudden tugs and stresses, especially when the fish is jumping off the water.Power factors

Rod power is different from rod action. It actually determines the power of the pole classified by the strength in the line. As an example, a heavy rod is suitable with 80 to 130 pounds of line. These are more often utilized for jigging Mahi, tuna, marlin and huge trevally (ULUA). These kinds of rods are particularly a section of the hybrid/new generation composite rods. Excellent for tackling blue and yellowfin tuna.

  • Ultralight rods: These are compatible with 8 pounds of line type which can tackle sea trout, striped bass and other types of game fish.
  • Light rods: These blanks are suitable for 10 to 20 pounds of line.
  • Medium rods: These kids are more adaptable with 20 to 30-pound lines.
  • Medium-heavy rods: These rods are used with 30 to 80-pound lines.
  • Hybrid/new generation composite: These premium rods are capable to conduct 130 to 200-pound lines.

Now you realize that the rods power may vary depending on the manufacturer and materials of the rod.

Fishing Style

Certain types of rid will function better with specific kinds of fish. It’s up to you to decide what kind of fishing you will perform. Just make sure to buy the right fishing rod to get the optimal result.

  • Surf: The surf style fishing means, you will stand near the shoreline cast your line beyond the obstacles.
  • Pier fishing: It’s simple to indicate that you cast your line from the pier or any other structure that protrude from shore above the water.
  • Inshore fishing: When you are fishing in shallow water where the depth is less than 30 meters. Generally a mile or two from the land.
  • Offshore: This means fishing in deep water, probably 30 to 130 miles away from the land.
  • Jigging/Trolling: When outcast your line from a moving boat instead of a fixed spot.
  • Ice fishing: Just a cut a hole on the frozen lake or river, drop your line, Wala, ice fishing.

The experience

Some blanks are well suited for rookies, and some are for pros. But not all rods are equally effective even though it has the reputation of being the best in each specific fishing style. As an example, A-rod known to be good for pier fishing, might not be convenient for certain anglers. Maybe the design itself is an inconvenience for someone and the weight balance as well.

So, when you are new and want to choose a fishing rod for saltwater, pick one that will allow you to adept the fundamentals, rather than one that demands more practice to get used to. For novice anglers, it’s better to seek for “combos”, which are designed for each type of fishing and include not only to blank but the equipment that is compatible, such as a reel, line, and lures.

Visit nearby retailer

It’s really easy to sit back, relax, and browse for a discount and deals online. But what better way to actually visit a fishing equipment retailer nearby (if there is any), and learn some authentic product reviews and details from the store stuff. They will help you determine your suitable blank based on your preferred fishing styles, the type of fish you are looking to hunt and your level of experience.

Not only they will assist you to get the right rod, but also with the rod compatible equipment. Most probably retailer will offer you combos. Because that will most likely to fit in with your demand as well as your budget.

Types of rod and reel

The rod will vary upon your preferred fishing type. So, pick up a rod that is compatible to your fishing style for a bountiful outcome.

  • Surfcasting: This type of rod tend to be longer and have reels with higher line capacity. The casting range is also higher. Being a shoreline rod, the intent is to surpass shoreside obstacles to reach into the water.
  • Spinning: The spinning rod has a fixed spool mounted at the bottom portion, that utilized by a spinning reel. The spool of the spinning reel remains stationary, that’s why it’s almost impossible to tangle the line upon casting. For this advantage, spinning rod and reel combos are one of the popular options for novice anglers. The spinning rod has wider guides to grab the large coils of the line leaving the spool during the cast. Check out our latest review article on Best Saltwater Spinning Reel . You will definitely find some of the best saltwater spinning reel there folks!

Spinning reel has the ability to cast lighter saltwater lures and baits which other conventional reels can’t do. It also accommodates continuous casting and retrieving option.

  • Conventional: This kind of rod is more eligible to tackle bigger catch. The structural integrity is resilient and durable.
  • Baitcasting: Baitcasting reels have a higher line capacity with a smoother drag. With this rod and reel, you need to do some practice before you master the proper technique. The baitcasting rod has a revolving spool which is mounted on the top with smaller eyes than spinning reel. Check out our new article on Best Baitcasting Reel Under 200. You can see some amazing real life saltwater baitcasting reel there!
  • Trolling: Saltwater trolling rod is more like a muscled version of Baitcasting rod. It also has a revolving spool which is mounted at the top of the blank. Saltwater trolling rod has some characteristics:
    • It uses a lever drag system
    • Higher line and backlash capacity.
    • Shorter rod with a notched bottom to fit into a gimbal on a fighting belt or chair
    • High-strength round eyes or roller guides for line support.
    • The rod can tackle while catching medium to heavy fish.
  • Ice fishing rod: These are one of the shortest rods since it doesn’t require any casting.
  • Fly casting: Fly casting reel has the simple mechanism which operates more to store the line than mechanically assist playing game fish.

Whatever the type of saltwater rod you are looking to use, it will tend to be pricier than freshwater. Premium materials like anodized aluminum, shielded stainless steel, or bronze bearings forged aluminum spool and features like corrosion resistant sets the fishing blank apart from the others. A quality reel will also have sealed ball bearings for a smoother drag. A rod and the reel is like an overall system, beware of the compatibility. Otherwise, it might fail to deliver.

Braided line ready

Choose a rod that is braided line friendly. Even though it’s one of the earliest lines, yet it remains popular to this day, especially for baitcasting. The excellent strength, flexibility and abrasion resistance with lack of stretch, makes it ideal for solid hook set and deep sea fishing where bite sensitivity also plays a major role for a bountiful fishing session.

Manufactured from premium fibers such as Spectra, Dacron, and micro-Dyneema, braided line sometimes has breaking strength greater than their test rating. This allows you to opt for the lower-rated line for added sensitivity. There is also braided line available specifically for inshore and offshore fishing.

Line capacity

It is imperative that you pick a rod and reel combo that has higher line capacity especially when you’re planning deep water fishing. But for inshore fishing, you don’t have to opt for a heavier line and capacity like deepwater.

Use a lighter line for offshore fishing as well. The reason is, a lighter line will allow you to fish for a long time and without you becoming tired. Less stress on your body means a more enjoyable fishing trip.

Weight

Everyone expects a rod that is comfortable to cast and retrieve. Before purchase, take a few swings with the rod to locate your comfort zone. The materials of the blank play a major role in weight balancing. Note that most of the rod is made from graphite or fiberglass.

  • Choose graphite if you want the lightest rod with sensitivity.
  • For rookie anglers, fiberglass will be much satisfied with its durability and less maintenance hassle.

Rod compatible equipment

No matter what kind of angler you are and what style of fishing you do, I strongly recommend that you match your rod, reel and tackle for an enjoyable fishing experience. Lighter set up will equal more fun for longer. Note that if you use oversized line than the rods recommendation, it could bend or break off the rod under pressure. On the contrary, a lighter line on heavy rod won’t work either because the line will snap or entangled on the spool.

My suggestion

The reason you are here because you are most likely picking up your first saltwater rod. So, I got some suggestions that might meet your expectations.

  • Consider the length, power, and action of a rod.
  • Pick a medium action rod.
  • Saltwater rods are graded by the pound-test line and compatible lure weight.
  • Avoid extra heavy blank for your first experience.
  • Pick a graphite rod because it’s lightweight will be a convenience, and the sensitivity will provide you a more practical sensation.
  • Pick a reel with switchable high and low gear ratio. In that way, you will have more experience in a short time.
  • Look for a higher line capacity mark on the reel. It is wise to have a more spare line since you’re on a saltwater adventure.
  • Drag stress is measured in pounds and can be adjusted to one-third the breaking strength of the line.
  • Match your reel with the given line weights marked on the rod.
  • Pick a combo offer for less chance of a mismatch.

Consider the handle design

The design of the handle plays a major role in overall rods performance. You need to pick up a blank with a comfortable and secure handle. When you are tackling a resistant fish, it is the handle which allows the whole event smoother. So please, don’t underestimate the power of a handle.

Maintenance

  • After each fishing session, thoroughly wash your blank with fresh water and wipe it dry. Even though it has the corrosion resistant, but avoiding the saltwater to stay and dry itself on the rod will increase the lifespan
  • Remove and lubricant reel seats, fasteners, and other roller guides periodically.
  • Check the guide and guide wraps for corrosion, pitting and signs of wear.
  • To check for nicks, pull a thin piece of sock through each guide to find if the sock hangs. If you find even a bit, this indicates a guide is damaged.
  • On the boat, keep your rods stacked where it won’t get smashed by the surfaces or other rods especially in the rough sea.
  • Nowadays, modern blanks have excellent finishing touches, to keep the rods looking sleek and shiny, use wax every so often. Bowling wax could be more effective.

 

Conclusion

It is easier for an expert angler to pick up a fishing blank to his preference. He can even assemble his own rods and methodically customize it for his style, needs, and liking. But for a new angler, it can be hard to choose a fishing rod for saltwater.

There are a few things to consider, which I tried to cover with relevant information throughout this article. My experience has taught me something valuable, no matter what kind of rod do you pick up, cheap or expensive, the skills and technique of prolonged fishing will always prevail in the modern mechanism.

Nicholi Wyto

Hey I'm Nicholi Wyto is a professional sports fisherman and hunter, love to enjoy spending time in Michigan’s rugged northern forests. I love to explore my experience and help others who are interested in fishing and hunting.

Add comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.