How To Choose Your First Fishing Rod
Research is Important
Too many beginner fishermen just pick a random rod at their local Big 5 Sports and expect to start catching fish. There is a chance you may get lucky, but for consistent results, you want to do some more research. I compare the sport of fishing to starting a business. When entrepreneurs start a business, they must first figure out a product/service to sell. It's difficult to have a store that sells computers AND cars. That's what is called finding your niche.
Where are you fishing?
The first step is to figure out where you are fishing. Most people fish at their local bodies of water, whether it is a pond, river, lake, stream, or bay. There really isn't much of a science in figuring this out. It's really up to your preferences. Some people prefer going to the closest lake. Others may want to make it a fun camping trip for their families. It is a good idea to go to your state's Fishing & Wilderness website, because they often give you information about good lakes to fish. Some websites may also offer ideas, such as forums or blogs. Once you decide which body of water to fish at, you can move onto the next step.
What Types of Fish?
The next step after you decide your water of choice is to research what the best fish are. You can do this in a few ways. First, you can research online. The internet has an abundance of information on nearly every lake. Second, you can ask the local fishing tackle stores. Not only will they know a lot about the lakes in the area, they are also full of useful information, such as techniques, seasons, and laws.
Learning about the types of fish is important, because you will have more of an idea of how to target those fish with your presentation. The presentation is how you set the hook, bait, lure, etc.
When is the best time to catch fish? Sometimes the answer is so obvious, but people don't think about it. The answer is, of course, when they feed! When the fish are feeding, that's the best time to cast your bait out there and let them feast. If you go fish when they are sleeping, that's obviously not a great time. When fishing, you must understand when fish feed, where they feed, how they feed, what they feed on. If you are able to answer these questions, your fishing experience will not just be a "luck of the draw" type of experience. It will be an experience of technique, using specific targeted skills.
Choosing the Rod
Now that you understand everything there is to know about the feeding habits of your target fish, you can finally choose the rod. As you can tell, there is a lot of due diligence involved in fishing. It's easy to see that the best fishermen are very skilled in understanding the environment. They are masters.
For beginners, I recommend looking for a rod that costs between $20-50. This is a relatively low cost, but a good price for a quality rod. With your first rod, you can learn your preferences, including the length, the action (stiffness), and the weight that feels most comfortable in your hands. It is recommended that beginners use medium action rods. These rods are not so stiff that you don't feel the bite, but not so sensitive that you sense a fish bite too early (resulting in a premature set of the hook, thus losing the fish).
Choose your Reel
Understand which reel is best for your purposes. Are you fishing for bigger fish, or smaller fish? Do you need to cast a large lure, or small bait? Are you fishing from a boat, from a pier, or from the river bank?
All of these things are necessary to consider when buying your fishing rod. For example, if you are fishing for bigger fish, you may want to get a spinning rod or a baitcaster rod, which allows you to cast larger reels. If you're fishing for sturgeon from the riverbank, then the baitcaster reels are great to use. In contrast, if you are fishing from a boat, you may prefer a spinning reel.