March 7, 2016

How To Choose A Rod And Reel

Need advice on how to choose a rod and reel?

Your Magic Wand (Rod)

To a BassHole, a fishing rod is a magic wand.

pretty-angler-1431589-1280x1920You wave it around in the air, flick your wrist, material comes shooting out of the end, and before you know it, a big bass magically appears.

And then you are engaged in a tug of war with that bass, listening to your drag whine when the bass goes deep, watching the big fish leap up out of the water to shake it’s head to throw the hook, hearing the splash as it lands back in the water over your mumbled prayer of “still be on, still be on, still be on.”

Choosing Your Magic Wand

So, you want to be a BassHole, but you don’t have any equipment yet. I’m going to discuss both rods and reels (especially since there is definitely a connection that requires you to choose BOTH at the same time).fishing-2-1551793

Now, because you’re starting out, and especially if you’re on a budget (i.e., you’re married), you are hoping you only need ONE rod and ONE reel.

Well, you’re right. And, of course, you’re wrong.

What Are The Options?

Endless. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of fishing rods (aka “Magic Wands”) to choose from. And almost as many reels! For those of you interested in learning everything there is to learn about rods, simply Google “How to choose a fishing rod” and you’ll get tons of information.

Here’s a quick list of the options:

  • Rod type
  • Rod length
  • Rod material
  • Rod weightfishing-1419670
  • Rod action
  • Rod color
  • Rod maker

Why So Many Choices?


  • Different people like different things.
  • Different techniques require specialized tools.
  • Different fish need different rods.
  • Different abilities in casting.

What Are The Variables?

  • Water: fresh or salt (BassHoles need fresh water)
  • Type/Reel: spinning, bait casting, and spin casting (spinning and spin casting are easy to learn quickly)
  • Pieces: one, two, or more (if you need to pack your rod into a tight space, for air travel or in the car, a multiple piece rod makes that possible)
  • Weights: ultra light, light, medium, heavy, and many more in between and beyond (for the first rod a medium weight is probably best)
  • Length: 5 1/2 foot to 8 foot or 9 foot (6 1/2 foot or 7 foot is good for starters)
  • Handle cover: cork, foam, or combination (I prefer cork, but I am intrigued by the new polyfoam handles that allow for greater sensitivity)
  • Guides: for the beginner, only a real issue if you choose braided lines, though admittedly the better the guides, the better (and pricier) the rod

Can This Information Be Simplified?


First, your goal is to become a BassHole, so you’re going to want a rod and reel and line that will let you catch bass. Sometimes small, but sometimes BIG!

You have 3 different types of rods (and their reels) to choose from:

  • Spinning
  • Baitcasting
  • Spincasting

Spinning Rods & Reels

A spinning rod and reel (the rod and reel go together) are a type of rod that you cast, reel, and fight fish with the line tight against the rod guides.reel-funny-1542005

To cast, you open the “bail,” hold the line with your finger, and then make your cast (more on correct casting in a future post). The line spools off in big loops and gets straighter the further from the reel it travels.

When you want to reel the line in, you close the bail (better to manually close the bail rather than start cranking and let the reel close the bail, as this will shorten the life of your reel), and crank the handle.

Baitcasting Rods & Reels

A baitcasting rod has a “pistol grip” for your finger when you cast. The spool is oriented 90 degrees from a spinning rod, so the line shoots directly off the spool in a straight line. let-s-go-fishing-2-1505999

This allows for greater distance and accuracy when casting. The downside is that learning how to cast the reel without fouling up the line (with “bird’s nests”) takes a lot of time and practice. Now baitcast reels come with magnets to reduce the problems of snarling lines, but still, practice is required (I gave up!).

Spincasting Rods & Reels

Finally, there are spincasting rods and reels. An easy way to describe them as a hybrid between spinning and baitcasting. Though that analogy only goes so far.

  • First of all, the line is oriented the same as on a spinning reel, and so comes off in loops replace zebco photoinstead of a straight line.
  • Second, the line is enclosed in a metal or plastic case, so these reels are also called “closed face reels.”
  • Third, spincast reels made modern “sport fishing” (as opposed to commercial fishing) possible, since before Zebco introduced it’s reel in the 1940’s, fishing reels were very expensive and difficult to use.

Here is an excellent description of the three reels from

Over the next few posts, I’ll discuss each one of these options.

And I’ll provide  reviews of each type, together with recommendations from me AND Bass Pro Anglers!

Until then, why not let me know what YOU like to use, and why?

Tight lines!

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

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Fishing Log: First Fishing Trip, April 5, 2016

The Smiling BassHole

I'm a BassHole!Kickin' Bass and lettin' them go.

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Hi, I’ve been looking for a fishing rod for my step-father who’s birthday is coming up. It’s been a bit tricky since I know nothing at all about fishing. I’m so glad I found this site. Thanks for all the info.

    • You’re most welcome, Dawn!

      You need to find out if your step-father uses a spinning reel, baitcasting reel, or a spincast reel. OR a fly reel, which is a whole other can of worms!

      A spinning reel looks like this:
      Spinning Reel

      A baitcasting reel looks like this:
      Baitcasting Reel

      And a spincast reel looks like this:
      Spincast Reel
      Then you would choose the rod that goes with that type of reel. He may have all types.

      The other question is: what type of fish does he fish for? Bass require a heavier weight rod with backbone, while trout would use a lighter reel with more give.

      Let me know what you find out and I’m happy to advise! (Plus, if you purchase from someplace like Amazon or BassPro Shops, then you could always exchange the item).

      And of course there is always a gift card!

      Good luck, let me know if I can be of any further help, and tell your step-dad, “Tight lines!”

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

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