The Power of a rod especially during a battle with a gamefish is the single most important factor to landing the fish. Without the pressure resulting from the parabolic bend of the rod its a hand line game which turns out to be a hand to hand combat with no leverage, end result is lots of pain and most likely a lost fish. “Without the rod there is no pressure on the fish.”
The fishing rod is a very unique piece of equipment once you start to better understand its function as part of your fishing outfit(Rod, Reel, Line) it will help you catch more fish. When people look at fishing rods it is extremely important to understand the function in which you will be using the rod. There are a variety of gamefish people are targeting and the first thing is to identify what your target species is going to be. The variety of rods that exists is mind boggling especially since they are now making rods species specific which includes the likes of Bass, Trout, Bluegill, Calico Bass, Yellowtail, as well as Inshore, Offshore, Rail rods, Jig rods, Jigging rods, and the list goes on.
Important thing to understand is the rod when not bent is what they refer to as potential energy which is very similar to a rubber band before it is stretched. Once the rod is bent the energy aka power is put into motion which gives you the lifting power and constant resistance to slow down and initially stop a gamefish so you can begin to slowly keep him coming your way. Without the rods ability to put continuous pressure on the fish it would be extremely difficult to slow down your opponent and keep him headed in your direction.
The desired action of a rod is developed through diameter of blank, Thickness of the blank wall, and length of the blank. When looking to develop more parabolic rods less material is put into the wall of the blank up towards the tip then methodically put back into the wall to stiffen the blank towards the butt. The parabolic action of the rod once loaded applies the pressure on the fish. It is key to always keep the rod bent applying constant pressure while wind ing the fish up. If you keep his head up coming your way you will land him. Actions of rods are often designated by XF(Xtra Fast), F(fast), M(Medium), and S(Slow). This is how the rod shuts down form the tip with XF being quickly and S taking more time to reach the loaded state.
The other important factor in a rod’s successful design is the power of a rod. Rods come in what they call powers and actions. A power of a rod is the built in strength of the rod. This relates to how much power it takes to load the rod and bend it into loaded action. They talk about a power of a rod being designated M, MH, H, XH, XXH, XXXH which also correlates with the size of the line you are fishing on the rod. This lettering is all dependent on what the rod is designed for i.e. Freshwater, Bass, Trout, saltwater, rail rods, troll rods, inshore, tuna, etc. The line rating will come into play once you have the specific rod you are looking to use for your fishing needs. An example of the way the power of a rod is shown on a specific stick comes into play with Stand up rod. They will look at a rod as a Heavy action for lines rated from 60 lb to 100 lb test line.
Two basic things to understand about rods and their function is the action gives you the ability to set the hook and keep the line tight while fighting a fish. The power of the rod gives you the lifting power or strength to continually keep the fish coming your way. The bigger the fish the heavier power rating you will want in the blank and most likely less action in the upper half of the rod. The same with smaller fish targeted there will be probably more action imparted in the blank and the lifting power will be on the back side of the action towards the handle of the rod. The variety of action and power combinations in todays blanks is mind blowing and can confuse the best of anglers.
Some basic things to keep in mind is the bigger the gamefish lets say tuna the more you want to have some parabolic action in the rod but power for big fish is important also for lifting the fish through the battle. What action in the tip does, it transfers power back from the angler to the fish. Years ago Mark Sosin a writer for Saltwater Sportsman discussed the Fulcrum and lever dynamics of the rod. As you find your comfort spot for your hand on the fore grip of the rod, or on the rail for a rail rod, this location becomes your fulcrum and the portion of the rod in front of your hand or the rail needs to have some action bending wise. The amount of action a rod has once loaded will take pressure off of you and transfer it to the fish. A rod with little or no action will keep all the pressure on you resulting in a beating and possibly a lost fish. The key to a functional rod is dependent on the action. If the rod has the right action coupled with a reel with decent line pick up the whole fishing experience is a lot more positive and the amount of energy put out to land the fish is considerably less. The action of a rod has to be just right. If its too limber the angler will not be able to lift the fish resulting in a prolonged battle, if the rod is too stiff its going to be very painful trying to hold the rod butt in your middle section and you will be fighting the tackle and not the fish.
There are a couple different thoughts to working a rod while catching gamefish. One is what they call the short pump where you wind down with the rod loaded while keeping enough drag on the spool till the rod is in a horizontal position then lift the rod to a 10 or 10:30 position while holding line. Key is to keep the rod loaded and bending all throughout the fight. Lots of guys like doing the short pump but those not doing it right and letting the rod go straight have chances of losing fish due to coming unbuttoned and having the fish getting its head down making the battle that much more difficult. The other thought is to use a rod with a little more parabolic action that will compensate for the no stretch braid.
Once the rod is loaded find a comfortable spot either in a harness, with a your straight arm holding rod, or on the rail, then just wind through the rod action keeping it bent the entire time. If it comes up a couple inches wind back down until it is loaded. This technique is super basic, very easy to do and keeps the fish coming towards you the entire time. It works excellent for women and children but many of the guys not looking to get beat up adopt the technique and catch plenty of big fish doing it.
Constant pressure by the rod and using the drag to advantage cuts your time on the fish down as well as keeps you from exerting a bunch of energy during the fight. End result catch more fish with less physical effort and enjoy your fishing experience.
Remember, key is finding the rod that is right for you with the right action and power. Plenty of information on the internet as well as rod manufacturers websites. Gather the information, review the data, and figure out what rod is best for your fishing needs. Rods are like golf clubs so you will need more than one so figure out what species you will be targeting and get the rod or rods that fit your technique and feel comfortable to use.
We hope this article helps give you a basic outline of rods and their usage. Have fun and take your kids fishing when you can.