Choosing a spinning or baitcasting rod can be a challenge for new anglers. Generally, your skill level and the species of fish you enjoy catching will determine which type of fishing rod you should select.
The two basic types of rods are casting and spinning rods. Casting rods are designed for baitcast and spincast reels whereas spinning rods are matched with spinning reels. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two types and how to determine which one you should choose for your style of fishing.
A casting rod is equipped with a reel seat that positions a spincast or baitcast reel above the rod and all the rod guides face upward. When fighting a fish on a casting rod the rod bends over with the guides facing up so the force of the fish pushes the line down on the eyelets and the rod blank. This prevents a big fish from pulling the eyelets off of the rod. Long casting rods with straight handles are designed for power fishing bass tactics and trolling or surfcasting for large fish such as blue or flathead catfish, salmon, striped bass and many powerful saltwater fish. These rods usually have larger rod guides to handle the heavier line of baitcast reels. Shorter casting rods with pistol grip handles and smaller rod guides can be matched with spincast reels filled with lighter line. This combination is ideal for beginners because it is easier to cast than the baitcast combo. The spincast outfit works best for catching panfish, trout and other smaller fish species with artificial lures or live bait.
Unlike the casting rod, a spinning rod holds the spinning reel under the rod with the rod guides facing downward. So when you are fighting a fish, the force of the line pressed against the eyelet is pushing away from the rod blank and could lead to a big fish pulling an eyelet off of the rod. Spinning rods vary in lengths and actions for catching a variety of fish. You can use shorter ultralight or light action spinning rods with thin line for panfish or trout. Medium and medium-heavy action 6- to 7-foot rods are ideal for finesse bass fishing tactics. Long heavy action rods with elongated grip handles for two-handed casting are best for surfcasting for saltwater fish or steelhead and salmon fishing.
Spinning rods are also popular for trolling or fishing with live bait for catfish, panfish and walleye.
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