Fishing rods: understanding lengths, powers and actions
While power refers to the force required to deflect or bend a rod, action describes where that deflection takes place along the rod. A fishing rod is more powerful in its butt section, and that power gradually decreases as you get closer to the tip. Different actions move these transition points. The faster-acting rods flex mostly near the tip, providing quick access to the powerful middle and lower sections of the rod. Moderate-acting canes are more forgiving, bending past the toe and toward the middle, while slower-acting canes flex all the way to the heel. The actions of the fishing rod range from slow to super fast. Since the action is expressed as a function of time, think of the action of a rod as the speed at which you can access the power of the rod when you apply force, whether to cast, move the lure in. water, set the hook or change a hook in the direction of the fish. Another way to visualize the action of a rod is to think of the time it takes for a rod to recover – or straighten up – after applying such force.
Ultra-fast acting rods deflect near the tip, then narrow very quickly to a stiffer mid and lower section. This design typically offers maximum sensitivity, great throwing precision, and the ability to create fast and powerful hook sets. Extra-fast rods can be used in a variety of fishing situations, but are more popular with single hook applications like deworming and jigging.
Fast-acting rods are popular with anglers because of their versatility. They do a lot of things well, offering great sensitivity, precision, and quick hook sets, while providing an extra “forgiveness” that comes from a little more deflection in the upper section of the shank. Why would a fisherman want a little more detour here? There are many reasons, but an example would be walleye jigging using a braided line in deeper water. Since the braided line does not stretch, a little more deflection in the shank could easily make the difference preventing a walleye from tearing the hooks on a powerful head movement.
Moderate action canes bend past the tip and into the middle section of the cane. For this reason, moderate-action rods are even more forgiving, making them an excellent choice for presenting mobile baits or “reaction” lures like crankbaits – especially those equipped with treble hooks. As well as providing good casting distance, a moderate-action rod does a great job of absorbing and softening the often violent shock a fish inflicts on the line and rod when hitting a moving bait. Ultimately, it’s that softer forgiveness – bending down the middle – that keeps the hooks in the fish’s mouth not only when hitting, but throughout the fight as well.
This one – moderate-fast acting – appears out of order in the rod’s hierarchy of action, but it is important to understand fast and moderate actions independently before dividing the middle. This is exactly what a medium-fast acting rod does – splits the middle between fast and moderate. It bends farther from the tip than a fast-acting cane, but not as deep into the midsection as a moderate-action cane. This is another very popular action with anglers, again, because of its versatility. Moderate-fast acting rods offer better sensitivity and hook adjustability than a moderate action rod and are excellent choices for presenting mobile single hook lures like spinnerbaits, swim jigs, swim baits and blade jigs, as well as surface wake baits.
The slow-acting rods bend down into the butt section. This action was very popular in the past when rods were primarily made from bamboo and fiberglass, but are relatively rare in today’s fishing applications due to the use of rod construction materials. in carbon and modern composites. Slow-acting rods are ideal for tackling large fish on light lines and are typically only seen in certain specialized ultra-light and fly fishing applications.