Academy Sports and Outdoors Logo
Academy Sports + Outdoors
Academy, LTD
skip to main content
Main content starts here.

8 Best Types of Fishing Rods Every Angler Should Know

WriterAubrey McShan
ContributorJacob Wheeler
15 min read
Man Casting Fishing Rod Into Water - types of fishing rods

When it’s time to get a new fishing rod, you may be overwhelmed with all the choices. These days, rods of all lengths, builds, and styles line the shelves of your local fishing aisle. Most have a very specific purpose or use case, which can help narrow the process down a little.

Today, we’re sharing our best tips when it comes to the different types of fishing rods so you can decide on which is best for you.

Types of Fishing Rods

Choosing a fishing rod should be a very intentional selection. You’ll need to think about the type of fishing you want to do, your personal skill level, and even the pros and cons of each type of rod if you plan to partake in different types of fishing.

Swipe Right Icon
Different Types of Fishing Rods Chart
Rod Type Skill Benefits Trade-Offs Best Used For
Casting rods Moderate to advanced skill
  • Better casting distance, accuracy and control
  • Can handle heavier lines
  • Can have cumbersome tangles
  • May be pricier than other types
Bass fishing
Spinning rods Most skill levels
  • Easy to use
  • Versatile for different species and conditions
  • Compatible with several fishing styles and preferences
  • May struggle to accommodate heavy lines
  • May not be the best first rod for children
Almost any fishing use and condition
Trolling rods All skill levels
  • Accommodates multiple lines in the water
  • Specialized for one purpose (trolling)
Bigger bodies of water
Boat rods All skill levels
  • Durable enough for heavier species
  • Shorter rod length
  • Bulky/heavy to use and transport
  • Not the best rod for children
Deep sea fishing
Surf rods All skill levels
  • Longer range of casting distance
  • Can handle larger fish species with heavier rods
  • Bulkier to travel with or transport
  • Not ideal for smaller bodies of water
Beach or shallow sea fishing
Fly fishing rods Moderate to advanced skill
  • Flies greater distances quietly
  • Casts lightweight flies long distances
  • Requires more distance to cast out a fly
  • Demands more skill and practice
Fly fishing-only bodies of waters
Ice fishing rods All skill levels
  • Smaller rod length — perfect for ice fishing shelters
  • Suitable for one type of fishing (ice fishing)
  • Minimal cast
Small species ice fishing
Telescoping rods Most skill levels
  • Easy to pack and transport
  • Versatility with average-sized species
  • Typically very affordable
  • Easily damaged when improperly handled, opened, or closed
  • Not suitable for large species
Backpacking, traveling, day hiking

While there are many types of rods, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The type you choose depends on a few factors: the type of fish you're trying to catch, the expected size and weight of the fish, and the conditions in which you plan to fish.

We cover each type of rod in-depth further in this article. Use the following list to navigate to the ones you’re interested in learning about:

Casting Rods

Casting Rod Diagram

Casting rods are most obviously best paired with a casting reel (either a baitcasting reel or spin-cast reel — depending on your skill level). They boast a higher casting accuracy and distance than spinning rods.

Also powerful enough to handle powerful fish and bait in freshwater and saltwater areas, many bass anglers prefer using these rods! Using light lures and lines with a casting rod can lead to tangles, so always use larger diameter lines and lures.

Our Picks:

Spinning Rods

Spinning Rod Diagram

Spinning rods a are the most versatile and widely used type of rod! Anglers of all skill levels use them for a variety of fishing conditions and applications. Spinning rods feature reels that spin where it’s attached — beneath the handle with a large, fixed spool that releases the line and guides that face down.

The casting technique is easy to learn, which is why these rods are good for children and novices. However, the accuracy and sensitivity of a spinning rod are not as great as a casting rod, which is why spinning rods work best with lighter lines, lures, and smaller diameters.

Our Picks:

Trolling Rods

Trolling is a method of fishing where the lure or bait is cast out of a moving boat and is pulled through the water by the movement of the boat. They are used solely for this purpose and are suitable for catching large fish because of their heavy-duty construction.

Mounted in a rod holder at the back of a boat, trolling rods help present the lure that ensnares a fish’s attention. The best perk about this type of fishing rod? You can have multiple lines in the water to catch more fish!

Our Picks:

Boat Rods

A boat rod is designed for deep-sea fishing. They are usually shorter in length because you don’t need to cast the rod. You only need to lower your hook and weight over the side of the boat. Boat rods typically feature a heavy-duty, solid fiberglass construction since large deep-sea fish require dependable power to reel them in.

Our Picks:

Surf Rods

Surf rods are similar to boat rods. They’re designed for heavy-duty saltwater applications and reeling in powerful fish. But a key difference is that they have a longer handle and design, which gives anglers more control when reeling fish in and casting farther distances.

Featuring a heavy-duty and durable design that withstands corrosion from saltwater, they can be used for fishing from shore, boats, or piers. However, their heavy-duty design is big and bulky — making them a less-than-ideal choice for beginner anglers.

Our Picks:

Fly Fishing Rods

Fly fishing rods are great in both saltwater and freshwater areas and are perfect for capturing almost any type of fish because they come in various sizes, lengths, and weights. Lightweight, flexible, and easy to transport, they’re optimized for specific fly fishing techniques that are more difficult to master than traditional fishing.

Ultimately, these rods are better suited for experienced anglers than beginners. They are used with fly reels that feature thick, weighted lines for casting and may have a shorter casting length. However, they can cast large weights and lures, which are good for catching trout, salmon, and other types of fish.

Expert Tip:

Make sure you choose your fly fishing rod based on which fish species you plan to catch most. For your first fly fishing rod, a 9-foot or even a 10-foot rod and reel combo can be the best option to grab — especially if you know you’ll fish a lot in creeks, rivers, or small lakes.

Our Picks:

Ice Fishing Rods

Ice fishing rods allow you to fish through the ice on a frozen body of water. Shorter in length than most other rods, they look similar to spinning rods. When it comes to ice fishing, though, always mind the size!

There’s limited space in ice shelters since you don’t need to cast. Instead, you simply lower your lure or bait through a small hole. You should use these rods to catch small- to medium-sized fish. Large, heavy species can cause the rod to break.

Telescoping Rods

A telescoping rod is collapsible and easily portable. The unique design means the length can expand and contract as needed — making them perfect for backpacking trips, hikes, travelers, and anglers with little space.

Although they boast a lightweight design, they are still able to handle moderately heavy fish due to the evenly distributed weight along the pole. They are also affordable, but the casting isn’t as dependable as other non-telescoping rods.

Our Picks:

How To Choose the Best Rod for You

Now that you understand the basics of each type of fishing rod, you can learn more about choosing the best rod for your unique circumstance. This will depend on a few features, including size, material, action, and power.


Rod length is an important factor in choosing a fishing rod because it affects how far you can cast. Measured from the end of the handle to the end of the rod’s tip, longer rods generally cast longer distances while shorter rods cast shorter distances.

The longer the rod, however, means the more difficult it is to maneuver and control; they are typically better for more advanced anglers. For beginners, a rod length of around 7 feet is generally recommended since it offers a good balance of casting distance and accuracy.


Fishing rods are constructed with three main materials. Each material has different advantages and disadvantages. Knowing the differences can help you choose the right rod material for your preferences:

  • Graphite: These rods are newer, lighter, and stiffer than fiberglass rods. The lightweight design is good for long hours of fishing, but it is also more brittle than fiberglass options. They boast high sensitivity and fighting power but tend to be on the pricier side.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass rods have been around the longest and are sturdy, durable, and powerful. They are beneficial for trolling and saltwater fishing because of their heavy-duty construction and weight. They require little maintenance and are less expensive than other types, but can be heavy, especially for beginners or children.
  • Composite: Composite rods are made from a mixture of graphite and fiberglass to offer a combination of both types’ characteristics. These typically offer performance between fiberglass and graphite rods and are good for anglers who want one rod for use in many situations.

Action & Power

Diagram Of Fishing Rod Actions

The action and power of fishing rods are often confused because they both have to do with the bending of the rod. Refer to the graphic below for a demonstration of both action and power — in action!


The action of a fishing rod is the amount of flex the rod has when it is bent. It can also be thought of as the place on the blank where the bend occurs and can be slow, medium, or fast. These parameters refer to how quickly the blank goes back to its original position:

  • Slow action: Bends the whole length; good for trolling and saltwater uses
  • Medium action: Bends halfway; good for moving baits
  • Fast Action: Bends only at the tip; good for throwing lures


The amount of force required to bend the fishing rod is known as power and can also be thought of as the amount of resistance a rod has to become bent. It ranges from ultra-light to ultra-heavy. The lighter the power, the smaller the species of fish it should be used for. This makes sense because you will need more power to reel in more powerful fish.
  • Light: Bends easily; good for trout, panfish, and other small species
  • Medium: Requires intermediate weight to bend; good for bass, pike, etc.
  • Heavy: Difficult to bend; good for salmon, catfish, and other large fish

Next Steps

Now that you’ve read all about the different types of fishing rods and the factors that can affect each rod, it’s time to decide on one! Browse the wide selection of fishing rods and rod and reel combos that is best for you.

Still looking for even more ways to improve your angler instincts? Check out our beginner fishing tips guide as well as learn all about the different types of fishing reels. Have fun out there!