Should you buy a $300, $400, or $500 fishing rod?
A question that I hear frequently is, “Do I need to buy an expensive rod?” Today, we can spend $100, $300, or $500-plus on top fishing equipment. Price tags like that make people wonder if they can afford the sport of angling.
First, you can enjoy great fishing with a $20 rod, and that $20 rod is going to perform much better and probably last longer than a $20 rod from 40 years ago. As technology improves, prices come down, and you can purchase fine equipment at affordable prices these days.
That said, the most important equipment in hammering home a hookset into a monster walleye isn’t your $45,000 truck or $35,000 boat-and-trailer rig. It’s the rod, reel, and terminal tackle you’re using – whether it’s from shore, a dock, or the seat of a old, 12-foot wooden boat.
In my view, it probably doesn’t make sense to invest $30,000 in a boat and motor, then lose a good walleye because of the poor sensitivity in a $12 rod. Ask yourself, “How much do I fish?” If the answer is twice a year and you’re not independently wealthy, don’t buy a $300 rod.
But if you fish frequently and have the dollars, then I can confidently say that you’re not throwing your money away purchasing a more expensive rod from a reputable manufacturer.
A quality rod does make a difference. The extra money buys you more sensitivity, graphite construction, and longer rods that enable us to cast further, control fish better, and drop our lure with pinpoint accuracy.
A rod needs to meet specific needs, so when purchasing any rod, always try and match lures, species, and style of lures. There are trolling rods, jigging rods, casting rods, even rods that perform best with plastics.
Me, I generally err on the side of longer rods, 7-foot-plus units and beyond.
It’s difficult to take a rod for a test drive, but try rods that belong to friends and determine what feels good in your hand. Experience counts, but even new anglers might be surprised how different a $20 or $100 or $300 or $500 rods feels in your hand.
Consider the species you’re fishing. You probably don’t need a $300 fishing pole for catching bluegills. When I’m on the Mississippi River, I use long graphite casting rods with three-way swivel rigs and a light bell sinker, and that soft tip helps me detect delicate bites. Texas rigs, wacky worms… anywhere I expect a tough, soft bite, you’ll see me deploying my top sticks.
Fiberglass rods are returning for casting crankbaits, and I find them more forgiving because of tip construction. That real soft tip will allow you to maintain a solid hookset.
There’s a rod for every style of fishing at every price point. Use the best you can justify, but what’s most important is to get out fishing.