When we refer to action, we are describing how and where the rod blank flexes when a force is applied. Alternatively, the action is how smoothly and the distance from the tip a rod will bend. Actions are typically similar among most rod manufacturers. But rod manufacturers generally use different terms to rate these actions and that can make it unnecessarily confusing for many anglers. We have found that most companies tend to use the same three categories they use for their rods power ratings: light, medium, or heavy. Some other manufacturers tend to use variations of speed to describe action: moderate fast, fast, extra fast. Variations of “fast” greater describe the speed of which the rod stops bending and transfers the power to the blank of the rod. When referring to an action (heavy) rod they will bend three to four inches before transferring power to the blank, which is considered fast. Where as a moderate fast (or light action) will bend nearly a third of the way down the rod blank and that is considered slow.
Anglers must consider that the action balances the power of the rod for casting and fighting the desired prey. The rod’s action will directly influence how the rod casts, how sensitive the tip is, and the rate at which it transfers the hook set to the bait at the end of the line. A lighter, slower action will generally cast lighter baits while a heavier, faster action is better suited to heavier baits. The action is also advantageous when battling a fish once it has been hooked.
When using baits with treble hooks, a lighter action will give when a fish makes a surge, which stops the hooks from pulling free. Yet, a lighter or slower action will also make it more difficult to set the hook when a fish strikes. Generally with treble-hooked baits, an angler will find themselves leaning into a strike rather than set the hook. A heavy action allows for an angler to drive a hook into a fish’s mouth instead. Heavy or fast actions are better suited to baits with single hooks, including a spinnerbait, jig, or Texas rig soft plastics where a strong hook set is needed.
The easiest way to explain how the difference that power and tip actions can make to improve casting baits and landing fish, is to compare two fishing rods specific to techniques: first, a rod designed for fishing crankbaits and second, a rod designed for fishing spinnerbaits. Both baits having very different aerodynamics for casting and distinct hooks used to land a fish.
When using crankbaits with treble hooks an angler requires a variation of a medium power and action rod. The lighter action will allow for more flex, in turn allowing for increased hook ups once a fish strikes and prevents fish from tearing loose after it has been hooked. Treble hooks have shallow throats, which leaves minimal space for the hook to penetrate the jaw of the fish. They are also designed to grab the skin on the inside of the mouth of a snagged fish. Commonly crankbaits have a minimum of two treble hooks and up to three hooks per treble, increasing the anglers changes to six opportunities to get a hook stuck in the fish’s mouth. Added with the medium power and action rod will allow for bend, allowing for fish to have more time to take a lure deeper inside its mouth during a strike. This action will also bend each time a fish surges or jumps, again preventing the hooks from pulling free.
While a lighter action rod also assists in casting by tensioning (flexing). As an angler pulls forward to cast, the weight of the lure flexes the rod’s tip. This action builds energy in the flex and is referred to as load. The load is then released when the rod is thrust forward and continues until the bait releases, allowing for an increased cast. Action must be balanced with the lure weight, eg. a light lure will not flex the rod tip and assist in casting unless it has a light action. But it is possible to overload the rod when casting and that occurs when a lure is too heavy for the rod’s action, preventing the rod from using the load correctly. We strongly recommend that for heavier crank baits that anglers select a heavier action. Our advice for the best results is to use the lightest action possible to effectively cast the bait.
If fishing with spinnerbaits, you should be using at least a medium/heavy power rod as it will have a larger single hook. They are designed so that when a fish strikes, a strong hook set is able to drive the large single point hook through the jaw of a fish. This generally requires quite significant force to achieve. As the spinnerbait’s lack of aerodynamics will negatively affect casting distance, you must balance the action with a variety of factors. The most controllable element is the size of the bait and similar to the crank bait rod, using a lighter action will allow for more load and further distance casts. But spinnerbaits can be heavy and in the event the the action is too light, the rod may become overloaded, which drastically reduces the accuracy of casts. Our recommendation is to use a medium/heavy rod with a fast action as it provides a great balance for most spinnerbaits up to half an ounce and if using fishing baits greater than half an ounce, than an extra fast action will offer a better casting.
ROD ACTION, WHEN?