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A fishing rod is a long, flexible rod used by fishermen to catch fish. At its simplest, a fishing rod is a simple stick or pole attached to a line ending in a hook (formerly known as an angle, hence the term angling). The length of the rod can vary between 2 and 50 feet (0.5 and 15 m). To entice fish, bait or lures are impaled on one or more hooks attached to the line. The line is generally stored on a reel which reduces tangles and assists in landing a fish.
Traditional rods are made from wood including Ash, Hickory, and bamboo, while contemporary rods are usually made from fibreglass or carbon fiber. In contrast with nets, which are usually used in subsistence and commercial fishing, fishing rods are more often used in recreational fishing and competitive casting. Fishing rods come in many sizes, actions, hardness, lengths and configurations depending on whether they are to be used for small, medium or large fish or in different fresh or salt water situations. Various types of fishing rods are designed for specific types of fishing. Fly rods are used to cast artificial flies, spinning rods and bait casting rods are designed to cast baits or lures. Ice fishing rods are designed to fish through small holes in ice covered lakes. Trolling rods are designed to drag bait or lures behind moving boats.
In theory, an ideal rod should gradually taper from butt to tip, be tight in all its joints (if any), and have a smooth, progressive taper, without 'dead spots'. Modern design and fabrication techniques, along with advanced materials such as graphite, boron, magnesium alloy and fiberglass composites as well as stainless steel (see Emmrod) – have allowed rod makers to tailor both the shape and action of fishing rods for greater casting distance, accuracy, and fish-fighting qualities. Today, fishing rods are identified by their weight (meaning the weight of line or lure required to flex a fully loaded rod) and action (describing the speed with which the rod returns to its neutral position).
Generally there are three types of rods used today graphite, fiberglass, and bamboo rods. Bamboo rods are the heaviest of the three, but people still use it for its feel. Fiberglass rods are the heaviest of the new chemically-made material rods. They are mostly popular with the new and young anglers, as well as anglers who cannot afford the generally more expensive graphite rods. They are more commonly found among those anglers that fish in rugged areas such as on rocks or piers where knocking the rod on hard objects is a greater possibility. This may potentially cause breakage, making a fiberglass rod preferable for some anglers due to its higher durability and affordability compared to graphite rods. Today's most popular rod tends to be graphite for its light weight characteristics and its ability to allow for further and more accurate cast. Graphite rods tend to be more sensitive, allowing the user to feel bites from fish easier.
Modern fishing rods retain cork as a common material for grips. Cork is light, durable, and keeps warm. EVA foam and carbon fiber grips are also used. Reel seats are often of graphite-reinforced plastic, aluminium, or wood. Guides are available in steel and titanium with a wide variety of high-tech ceramic and metal alloy inserts replacing the classic agate inserts of earlier rods.
Back- or butt-rests can also be used with modern fishing rods to make it easier to fight large game fish. These are fork-like supports that help keep the rod in position, providing leverage and counteracting tensions caused by a caught fish.
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