You want a good rod and reel to catch fish, and more expensive rods will generally give you more features and better quality. However, there is much more to choosing a rod than just going for higher-end models. There are so many choices in terms of rods today, and choosing the right one for you is just a matter of deciding when, where and how you want to fish, what you want to fish for, and what features are important to you.
- Spinning fishing rods. This is the most common rod used by anglers in Australia and one of the best all-round fishing rods. They come in various sizes and lengths, from children’s rods to surf-spinning models, and are generally paired with a suitable spinning wheel.
- Baitcaster fishing rods. These are designed for accurate casting and increased pulling power, giving anglers everything they need to catch a big fish like Barramundi. They should be paired with a baitcaster reel.
- Surf fishing rods. Designed for those who enjoy beach fish, the rods are tough and long and also come in lightweight pieces that allow for longer casts with heavier fishing tackle.
- Overhead fishing rods. This is the Australian offshore angler’s preferred fishing rod, particularly if you enjoy bottom fishing or trolling from a boat. They are extremely strong and solid and won’t let you down if you’re hooking a huge fish from the ocean’s depths.
- Travel fishing rods. These are fantastic rods to keep in the back of the car for an impulsive fishing trip. They are typically compact in design and are telescopic or multi-piece rods that you can easily throw into your car boot, luggage or backpack.
- Fly fishing rods. Fly fishing involves casting a lightweight fly fishing lure into the water to imitate baits or insects that fish feed on. They are typically used for freshwater sport fishing to catch bass, trout and other species, but can also be used for saltwater fishing.
- Jigging rods. These are suitable for jigging fishing lures or artificial jigs, general bottom reef fishing, and great for Australian offshore sports fishing.
- Squid fishing rods. Lightweight and responsive, these saltwater fishing rods have the ability to cast a long distance while being made to withstand the repeated jerking motion used to make your lure or “jig”.
What to look for in a fishing rod
Rod action is how much a fishing rod bends when you put pressure on the tip. There are three basic types:
- Fast-action rods – will bend in only the top third or even less. These are often used for bait and lure fishing where you need the best where you need the best sensitivity and less “give” in the rod so you can set the hook fast. They are ideal for short and mid-range casting.
- Medium-action rods – will bend in the top half. These rods usually provide more casting distance but still give good hook-setting power. They are great for bait fishing.
- Slow-action rods – will bend from the lower third of the rod. They are generally used on boats or where you want to set it in a rod holder and let the fish hook themselves! The soft action of these rods also gives fish plenty of play and acts as a shock absorber, so the line is less likely to break.
Rod power is its lifting power and rods are usually described as heavy, medium-heavy, medium and so on. Power is matched to line strength — heavier rods will handle heavy line weights, and lighter ones are better for lighter lines. The fishing line should match the limits recommended for your rod, which will stop light lines from being snapped on heavy rods and light rods struggling with heavy lines.
The type of water you are fishing in is the best indicator in terms of the power of the rod you should use. On a boat, in the surf or deep water, you will need a heavier rod if strong forces are at play. Slow rivers, still water and smaller fish will all suit lighter rods.
Graphite. This is manufactured under processes that create both stiffness and strength and generally use composite material made up of layers of fibreglass or layers of different graphite. Lighter and more expensive graphite rods will allow you to feel everything that is happening to the lure or bait.
Fibreglass. Noted for its toughness and soft actions, these rods have been around for a long time. Some fibreglass rods may have some graphite added, which gives them more “feel”, so you have a tough, flexible tool that will keep you in touch with your catch!
These are the rings on a rod that the line slides through, and silicon carbide (or “SiC”) are the most common and very smooth. Smoothness obviously counts because the less friction involved in the line hitting the guides, the further you can cast. Quantity is also a factor. A rod with more guides on it will perform better as it will bend more evenly throughout its length, which will help you use the full power of the rod to cast and fight stronger fish, particularly if you use a lighter line.
You have three basic choices:
- EVA foam. These are generally tougher and cheaper than cork handles (see below). Cork handles may chip or dent with rough handling, whereas a foam handle will keep its shape — which is vital when held in a beach spike or rod holder for long periods. EVA foam handles are also very easy to keep clean.
- Cork. Cork handles are very light and great to fish with when you want a comfortable handle and need to feel the delicate vibrations of a “picky” fish. So if feel and sensitivity are a key part of your fishing experience, then cork is your go-to.
- “Extended blank”. This is essentially the rod material, and the feel and super-sensitivity transferred through the line is excellent, especially when using braid — this is an extra bonus for lure anglers. Cost is the downside here, so if your rod will sit in a rod holder most of the time, you might want to consider EVA foam.
A short rod or a long rod — which is best? If you want a top fishing rod, the answer is … it depends on the fishing you’ll be doing. A longer rod will help you cast further, allow better pick up of line to strike, and keep more fishing line out of a strong current. Shorter rods are easier to handle, better suited to lure casting light weights, and better in restricted areas like in boats or under trees, so it all depends on the fishing you will be doing.
As a general rule, start with a shorter rod that has a fibreglass/graphite mix. As you become more experienced, you can move onto a stiffer, longer rod with a higher graphite content. They will probably be more expensive, but you will have the experience to use them to their full potential.
The reel you choose needs to match your rod in weight, break the strain of the line and balance well on the rod so it feels comfortable in your hand. You need to consider the type of fishing you’ll do, whether it’s on lakes, rivers, boats, piers, bays, in surf or a combination of these. And think about other factors like how deep the water is, whether you’re going to fish in fresh or salt water, how far you want to cast, and the biggest fish you might catch. Our recommendation here is … to do your research!
Top fishing rod brands in Australia
In terms of the fishing rods in Australia by brand, the one below are our pick of the best fishing rods currently available in Australia.
Shimano continues to produce some of the best freshwater and saltwater rods available. Since 1921, Shimano has been a top provider of engineering technologies for fishing products of the highest quality. Their product range includes advanced reels, rods, accessories, apparel, lures, and much more and they cater to both professional and recreational fishermen.
With a history dating back to 1955, Daiwa fishing rods range from entry-level models ideal for beginners to premium models that are on par with other fishing tackle brands. Their range includes light tackle fishing rods, offshore fishing rods, surf/beach fishing rods and electric fishing rods.
Abu Garcia is the pinnacle of fishing rods because they are strong, light, and provide angles with additional benefits due to their comfortable performance and free-flowing lines that are designed for extended use.
Oceans Legacy is renowned for its jigging series of rods and its long-cast and offshore rod range. Their range of products has been developed in partnership with highly skilled and experienced anglers from Australia and South East Asia
Okuma with a history dating back to 1986, is known for their precise and lightweight fishing rods for anglers of all ages and skills. Their range of fishing rods includes Bass Rods, Freshwater Rods, Saltwater Rods, Surf Rods, Jigging Rods, Big Game Rods, Fly Rods, Telepole Rods, Bolo and Tele Spin Rods, and Carp, Match and Feeder Rods.
The PENN Fishing Tackle Company started in 1932 and produces boat, jig, casting and surf spinning rods for whatever conditions you prefer. Whether you need a spinning rod that can handle Giant Trevally on the reef or Mulloway from the surf or Kingfish in the deep, PENN is sure to have the right fishing rod for your needs.
Since 1897, Shakespeare has been the leader in quality, affordable fishing tackle. They offer something for every angler, including a great selection of budget-friendly rods for the kids.
Samaki has an extensive selection and outstanding technology for wonderful action, precise casting and sufficient strength to assist in tricky situations. You can fish for anything from Barra to Bass as they offer a wide variety of rods from super-heavy to extra light.