Understanding rod action for better fishing
A rod’s action describes the amount of bend in its blank. Rod action is also referred to as taper. Extra-fast, fast, moderate-fast, moderate and slow are the different rod action categories. Below is a rundown of rod actions, and taper suggestions for specific presentations and species to help you catch more fish.
Rod action categories are general descriptions, not industry-regulated specifications. Anglers may notice differences comparing tapers between brands. For instance, the 13 Fishing Omen Black Gen III, Rapala R-Type Musky and Rapala Walleye Team Issue casting rods all have fast actions, but there are variances as each blank is customized for superior performance for certain techniques and species. In short, take the descriptions below with a grain of salt, always considering your preferences and fishing style when deciding on rod action.
The chart here is a basic breakdown of how rod actions, and rod power can correlate. Once again, this is a general outline, and like mentioned above, should be a simple guideline to find what is the best for your angling needs.
Extra-fast rods bend the least of all rod action categories. The degree of bend in the upper tip section varies, but flexes enough to deliver the sensitivity and response for detecting a strike. Most of the blank is relatively stiff for quick power transfer when setting the hook and staying in control of a fish. The 13 Fishing Envy Black, Muse Black and Omen Black medium-heavy casting models are examples of popular extra-fast rods, which are especially favoured for jig and Texas-rig presentations for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Note: Power describes rod strength (e.g., heavy, medium, light) and is different than action.
These blanks have a pronounced bend in the upper section. This ranges from a quarter to a third of the way down.
Fast spinning rods are excellent for jig and live-bait walleye tactics. Bass anglers like fast rods for finesse presentations (e.g., Neko and drop-shot), and some prefer the added cushioning when power fishing with medium-heavy and heavy rods.
All but one of the Rapala R-Type Musky Casting Rods have fast actions. Like all R-Type rods, the musky series have Rapala Custom Tapers for maximized performance with specific baits, including bucktails, cowgirls, bull-dawgs, swimbaits, jerkbaits, glidebaits and crankbaits.
Fast rods are well suited for panfish. The 13 Fishing’s Defy Silver spinning rods’ soft bend delivers excellent efficiency and accuracy when casting light baits. The taper’s cushioning also helps keep soft-mouthed crappie and scrappy jumbo perch hooked.
This action category provides more bend than a fast action rod. A moderate-fast blank gives increased cushioning, among other perks, making them popular for trolling, battling powerful fish and certain reaction bait applications. Here are some examples.
The RSC Solid Boat rod is another moderate-fast rod. Its flex and shock-absorption, along with loads of power, are needed for battling strong, giant fish.
Long, moderate-fast rods also have a following among salmon, trout and steelhead enthusiasts. The 11’6” and 13’ R-Type Float / Drift Rods are designed for this group of anglers.
With a moderate rod: “the bend is your friend”. The blank’s upper half easily flexes under load, an important characteristic for several techniques.
Moderate rods are often preferred for crankbait presentations for bass and walleye. For example, an Envy Black Cranking rod easily bends when a fish strikes, ensuring it gets a mouthful. The taper then cushions and provides shock absorption, so treble hooks stay pinned.
Helping a fish eat a presentation is also why the Rapala Walleye Team Issue Bottom Bouncing Trigger rod has a moderate action. After the hook set, the forgiving taper is just as important for softening the jarring force from the heavy weight and a walleye’s head-shakes.
Similarly, several R-Type, Magnum and RSC big-water trolling rods have moderate actions. These customized tapers deliver superior performance with downriggers, Dipsy Divers, and leadcore, copper or wire line presentations.
As you’d expect, a slow action rod flexes more than moderate blank. This high-degree of cushioning is purposely built into the Luhr Jensen Mooching, Downrigger, Kokannee/Trout, Hali’ Rig, Speed Jig, Sturgeon and Bar technique-specific rods.