Fishing Rod Power and Action Explained

fishing rod power and action explained

Fishing rods come in different sizes and shapes and vary depending on the species and fishing technique. The manufacturers ensure a specific model matches your required power, length, taper, and action. Remember, the type of rod you choose will determine the performance you get.

So, are you new to fishing and need to know the right fishing rod to choose? Here, we will explain rod action, the different types of rod action, and things you should consider when buying a rod.

Ernest Grey

I love to test new fishing gadgets and share my opinion.

Table of Contents

What Is Rod Action?

Fishing rod action refers to where your rod bends along its length. The rod bending action also determines how your rod returns to its original position. When choosing a rod, I recommend you check the action ratings first. The most popular ratings of fishing rod action include fast action, medium fast action rods, and slow action rods.

As an angler, it’s essential to consider the rod action as it determines your fishing success. For example, fast-action rods are extra sensitive and ideal for anglers fishing in deep waters.

When you target heavy species, you should use medium-action rods as they support moving lures and baits. If you target species like panfish and trout, choose slow action rods as they work well with light lures, and you can fight with your catch without breaking your rod.

Remember, the type of fishing rod you choose will affect its performance. For example, the higher the rod blank, the smaller the distance you have to move your rod to set the hook and the faster the rod’s action and vice versa.

Additionally, your fishing rod action will affect your casting accuracy and distance. A slow action casting rod has a greater casting distance and accuracy than an extra-fast action rod.

Types of Fishing Rod Action

3 main types of rod action - fast, moderate, slow

Fast Action

Rods in this category have a responsive rod tip and are fast, especially when setting the hook. Unlike other action rods, fast action rods provide the best sensitivity and are the best option if you’re fishing in deep waters. You can use fast action rods to pull your jig along the bottom.

When the fish bites when doing bottom fishing, fast action rods are sensitive and will notify for faster retrieval. I recommend fast action rods to all beginners trying different fishing techniques.

Fast action rods, such as backpacking fishing rods, are effective, especially if you’re casting your lure into tight areas which require you to move your bait quickly. This action pairs well with a medium heavy power rod and is perfect for bass fishing.

Moderate-Medium Action

Spinning rods with medium or moderate action work well with lures that require more casting distance, like chatterbaits or spinnerbaits. They are also ideal for anglers doing straight retrieve type of fishing.

Medium action rod pairs well with lures weighing around 1/8 to 3/8 ounces. I like how rods under this category provide longer flex, giving you greater casting distance.

Unlike other action rods, medium action rods pair well with medium or medium light power. You can use rods with this type of action if you target larger species like catfish, black bass, and walleye, among others.

Slow Action

Rods in this category offer a less responsive, softer feel. Most anglers don’t like these types of rods as they can get spongy and slower when casting and retrieving the lure. Slow-action rods like crankbait rods pair well with lures like crankbait, which require you to make longer casts.

Only choose slow action rods if you are casting small baits for fish species like trout or panfish.

What Is Rod Power?

The rod’s power refers to the rod’s stiffness when flexed or bent. The thickness and material of the rod determine the rod’s power. They come in different power, designed to handle different ranges of line sizes and lures.

To make your work easier when selecting the rod’s power, check the kind of line sizes and lure weight you will be using.

Rod power is crucial as it helps in determining the hookset and casting. Remember, a heavy-power rod is harder to cast, while a light-power rod offers better casting.

Heavy power rods are ideal for casting heavy lures like swimbait, while light power rods are best for casting lures like crappie jigs. You can check any fishing rod power chart for guidance to determine the power and action you need.

Types of Fishing Rod Power

3 main types of rod power - heavy, medium, light


Heavy power rods are thicker than other rod powers and are the best option for anglers targeting larger species. I recommend heavy power rods if you are doing offshore trolling.

Remember, the heavier the power, the more your rod can handle heavy weights and lines. When choosing a rod, it’s essential to know some rods in the same category may fail to have the same feel.

For example, heavy surf fishing rods feel different from heavy bass fishing rods. So ensure you check the recommended fishing line as they support different thicknesses.

Additionally, heavy rods work best in areas with thick, heavy covers. This is because fishing in such areas requires a strong rod that can easily remove your catch before tangling your line.

Choose a fast-action heavy rod if you target species like muskies, striped bass, blue and flathead catfish, and largemouth bass.


Rods with medium power ratings pair well with fishing lines with a rating of 6-12 lbs. Also, they can support a lure of up to 5/8 Oz. Ensure the spooled line matches the weight of your lure.

A medium power rod works well with different lures like crankbaits, jerkbaits, chatter baits, and spinnerbaits. Use them to target larger species like walleye, black bass, and channel catfish. Always pair it with the best baitcasting rods if you plan to go bass fishing.


Light rods like ultralight fishing rods are designed to support light lures of up to 32 ounces and a line of up to 6 pounds. I recommend this rod if you’re fishing in the open, clear water requiring a thin line to induce a bite.

Light power rods work best for anglers targeting fish species like bluegill, trout, and crappie. To enhance your experience, pair it with a fast action spinning rod.

A Small Test Before Buying Fishing Rod

When buying a fishing rod, it’s good to test it before buying. You need first to determine its power and action to ensure it meets your needs.

You can test the power of a fishing rod by checking the pressure you put for the rod to bend. Generally, heavy power rods require you to apply more effort for it to bed, while lighter rods require a small action.

Choose medium power rods as they are versatile. You can use them for various fishing techniques, and works well with light lures. They also work well with heavy action rods that support bigger lures, thus ideal for landing larger species.

Additionally, when choosing a fishing rod, ensure its length matches your preferences. Remember, your rod’s size will impact its bending, thus affecting its action. Longer rods offer fast action and are ideal for species like bass, salmon and steelhead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fast action rods have enough backbone and tips that affect the action of your lure. They provide the best sensitivity and are the best option if you’re fishing in deep waters.

Fast action rods are effective, especially if you’re casting your lure into tight areas which require you to move your bait quickly. Fast-action rods are suitable for pulling your jig along the bottom.

Moderate action rods work best for anglers who need a rod that can provide a good hooking point. They work best with lures that require more casting distance, like chatterbaits or spinnerbaits. They also offer longer flex, giving you greater casting distance. Remember, medium action rods pair well with medium or medium light power.

Slow action rods are ideal for anglers fishing with baits that require treble hooks. These kinds of rods transmit vibration perfectly and pair well with lures like spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and chatterbaits. Use them when casting small baits for fish species like trout or panfish.

Experienced anglers can use almost all types of rods. However, if you’re a beginner, using a spinning reel and a spinning rod is good, as they are easy to use and are offer different fishing options.