Picking Your Catfish or Carp Rod.
The rod you want is dictated by what you want to cast, where you want to cast it, the type of reel you want and the maximum tensile strength achieved during a fight. Those factors are dictated by what you hope to catch.
Spinning Rods vs. Baitcaster Rods (Multiplier Rods)
Most rods are designed for either spinning reels or bait casting reels (called multiplier reels in the UK). You can tell the difference between the two rods by the handle and the largest eye (or line guide). Spinning rods tend to have very large eyes that get progressively smaller towards the tip. The bait casting rods’ eyes tend to be close to the same size throughout rods length. So if the guide or eye on the butt end of the rod is big its a spinning rod. The grip of a bait casting also has a finger horn. Spinning rods never have these.
Spinning reels are simple to use, more versatile, require less skill to operate, require less maintenance, are cheaper and can usually hold more line than the average baitcaster. Baitcasters are stronger, have greater maximum drag strengths, are much lighter and when used by someone who knows what they are doing they are very accurate when casting.
Spinning rods are the ideal choice for beginners. Bait casting reels require special tuning each time you change the lure weight and can very easily turn into massive tangles of line if not tuned and used correctly. Bait casting rods are best for trolling and are not bad for boat fishing were little casting is needed (such as jigging). Some experienced long distance experts prefer special tuned bait casting rods, but in all other situations spinning rods are generally a smarter choice.
There are rods of all lengths. The size you want is dictated by convenience and casting distance. The shorter your rods are the more convenient they are to pack, transport and use. The longer a rod is the farther you can cast your lure.
Fishing from a boat is lot easier with a shorter rod (4 to 6 feet long). Fishing from a boat doesn’t require much casting distance but fishing from a boat can be cramped and swinging around a long rod can be a big hassle.
Fishing from wooded shores and along small rivers and ponds requires casting 80 yards or less but overhanging trees often limit a fisherman’s ability to swing around a long rod. When casting room is limited and or a long casting distance not mandatory, a 6-7 foot rod will do just fine. It’s easy to cast, you can cast it in reasonably tight spaces and still hit fairly good distances.
Fishing the shores of big rivers, lakes and reservoirs often grants a cat or carp fisherman plenty of space to cast but comes with the need to chuck a piece of bait 80-130 yards. If you are fishing big open water, a long distance rod is the best. 10-13 foot rods are a good fit for these conditions.
Rod length also effects the “feel” of the rod. A long slender rod is really fun to play fish on. The added length gives the fish leverage and makes it feel bigger and makes the fight fantastic. Small rods are so easy to cast and maneuver in tight places they are a joy in tight places where long rods are frustrating.
Rod Line Weight:
If you look at the spine of a rod just above the reel seat you will see the statistics of a rod written in small print. Many rods list the rods’ “line weight”. (For example: 10-20lb). The recommended line weight has to do with the rod’s ability to take stress without breaking. How much stress your rod will experience is a function of your line’s test line strength and your reel’s drag.
The reel’s drag is what lets fishing line be taken by the fish rather than letting the line break. Your line cannot undergo more tension than the drag allows or the line allows. The rod’s line weight is the maximum tension that the line on your rod should undergo without breaking the rod. So your line weight and your reel max drag should not both exceed the rod’s max line weight. Ideally, match your rod, reel and line to all have about the same max strengths.
In the UK and Europe rods line weight is described as its “test curve”. A test curve is how many lbs it takes to bend a rod tip 90 degrees to the handle. Test curves for carp and catfish rods typically range from 2.75 lbs to 3.5 lb’s and are ideal for 15 to 20 lb drag and line.
Rod Lure Weight:
On the spine of the rod, there should be written a range of lure weights (for example: 1¼-2 oz). The combined weight of a hook, lead weight and bait combined should not exceed the max lure weight of your rod. Most rods perform best when used with lure weights that fall within the middle of the rod’s lure weight range. Too heavy and the rod cannot generate enough spring to achieve maximum distance or it will break if casted to violently. Too little weight and the rod tip won’t bend enough to load properly.
In the UK and Europe rods line weight is described as “test curve”. A test curve is how many lbs it takes to bend a rod tip 90 degrees to the handle. Test curves for carp and catfish rods typically range from 2.75 lbs to 3.5 lb’s and are ideal for 2-5 oz of lead.
The action of a cat fishing rod or any rod describes how much of the length of the rod will flex. Action is described as “fast”, “moderate”, “slow” ect. Fast action rods only tend to flex in the last 1/3 of the tip. Moderate action rods bend in the end first ½ of the rod and slow action rods bend up to the last 2/3’s.
The action of the rod affects how the rod feels when casting and playing fish. Fast action rods feel powerfuland ridged. Slow action rods make playing a fish more exciting as the fish puts a dramatic bend in the rod.
Fast action rods lead to more hooks getting pulled out or lines broken when using thin line and small hooks. The slower rod actions act as a shock absorber. Without that shock absorption sharp tugs by the fish or fisherman are more likely to tear out the hook or break the line.
Setting a hook is another situation where action plays a part. Fast actions deliver a lot of power to the hook when the fisherman sets the hook. When a fisherman jerks the rod to set the hook of a slow action rod, the fisherman has to set it more aggressively to deliver the same setting power to the hook.
In the UK rod actions are described differently. A “fast taper” is a stiffer rod that bends more at the tip. A “through action” bends through the length of the rod.
Power or “backbone”
refers to the rods ability to lift or pull an object. It affects the max lure weight and max line weight. Power is measured by such descriptive terms a: “Heavy”, “medium”, “light”, “ultra light” ect.
If the rod’s line weight and lure weight is known, use that to find your ideal rod rather than worrying about power. However, if power is all you have to judge a rod by, get more power if you want to throw heavier lures and stronger line. Most catfishing rods are medium or heavy.
In the UK and Europe rods power is described as its “test curve”. A test curve is how many lbs it takes to bend a rod tip 90 degrees to the handle. Test curves for carp and catfish rods typically range from 2.75 lbs to 3.5 lb’s.
The more pieces make up your rod the more convenient it is to transport and store. The fewer pieces make up your rod the lighter and stronger your rod will be. One piece rods are a dream to hold, cast and catch catfish on. Get as few rod sections as possible. 2 piece rods are standard for most rods. 1 piece rods tend to be higher end and 3 to 4 piece rods are generally for taking on planes or backpacking.