Though quite expensive, graphite rods are renowned for their outstanding sensitivity and lightweight construction which make them suitable for a wide range of fishing applications. If you find the price intimidating, you can consider a composite rod made of graphite and fiberglass such as the Ugly Stik spinning combo.
A short guide for graphite rods
Nowadays graphite is one of the most common materials used when building bass rods and it was introduced in the 1970s by Fenwick. Today, graphite rods are very common and they are produced using a two-part process that involves extremely high temperatures, one to create tensile strength and the other one for the characteristic stiffness of the material.
The process can reach temperatures as high as 3000 degrees and as a general rule, the hotter a furnace is, the more tensile strength and stiffness the fibers will have. This technique allows rods built of graphite to require less material which in turn will make them lighter and more sensitive.
The stiffness of a rod is known as tensile modulus or simply modulus while the high tensile strength can sometimes be called high strain. A rod that has high modulus without high tensile is very brittle, and when purchasing graphite rods you shouldn’t let yourself fooled if a brand advertises high modulus.
It is not uncommon for manufacturers to skip some of the expensive steps required in the graphite making process and while that helps you get a cheaper product, the results will never be as good as those offered by a proper graphite rod.
High-quality graphite rods are by definition quite pricey, and this is one of the main disadvantages of this type of fishing rod. The performance is far superior but chances are that not everyone will be able to afford it. While some manufacturers may be able to offer their products at a cheaper price, you must be wary since you risk getting an inferior rod.
As always, if you are uncertain about the quality of a product and you don’t have the option of testing it first hand, the customer reviews section is a good way to start. Low-quality graphite rods are easy to spot even by untrained customers, and as long as you keep an eye for what previous customers have to say, it’s easy to make a purchase you will not regret.
As mentioned above, any product that is made of graphite is very expensive and that is because of the high temperatures that are employed during the manufacturing process. Once the heating process creates the parallel graphite fibers, they are incorporated into sheets with a special resin.
Manufacturers can reduce the cost of the product by using less graphite and more resin which in turn will produce a rod that is much softer. Rods that are softer can be useful in certain fishing conditions and the best rods on the market are those that use a variety of materials to get their specific action.
While it is true that you need to be extra careful when purchasing cheap graphite rods, the amount of resources required to produce this material is only going to go down as the years go by. Because many of the graphite rods we now see in stores are built offshore, most of them in huge plants in China, it can be difficult to judge the quality of some of the options on the market.
There are many loopholes that can be used to trick the customer and a manufacturer can say its rod is made of graphite, even if it is a low-quality version that does not exhibit the low weight, toughness, and sensitivity that characterizes some of the best graphite rods on the market.
The top features of a graphite rod
Fishing for small fish such as bluegills or crappies requires enhanced sensitivity so that you can feel those soft bites. Graphite rods are preferred in these scenarios since they have a lightweight and flexible design that can transfer the vibrations through the rod from a fish biting the hook.
When compared to fiberglass or bamboo, graphite is much more sensitive. In fact, its outstanding sensitivity is the one feature that this material is best known for and many professional anglers prefer graphite rods because of it.
With that said, extreme sensitivity can be a problem as well since it can make anglers react too fast which in turn can cause them to lose the fish. It all depends on the personal preferences of the user, but if you want to get the most sensitive rod on the market, graphite is the way to go.
There are also many fishing rods on the market that use a combination of fiberglass and graphite blank. These options are perfect for customers who need more sensitivity but don’t want the rod to react to the smallest nudge.
Graphite is also much lighter than bamboo or fiberglass, and that makes it in turn much more comfortable to hold for extended periods. While most anglers praise this feature, it is still worth noting that there are some who prefer the heavier feel of fiberglass or bamboo.
The disadvantages of a graphite rod
While graphite is lighter than fiberglass or bamboo, it does offer less durability and toughness. If you want to catch larger fish such as walleye, pike, or muskie then you will need a heavy and durable rod capable of retrieving the fighting fish.
In these situations, fiberglass rods are preferred over the stiff and brittle graphite. Even so, it is not uncommon for professional anglers to use graphite rods for almost every fishing situation, but for amateurs it can be difficult to handle heavy fish without breaking the rod.
The high price is another big disadvantage since out of all the materials used for fishing rods, graphite is by far the most expensive to produce and it can make even bamboo seem inexpensive by comparison.
One way of dealing with the disadvantages that this product offers is to go with composite rods which incorporate both graphite and fiberglass, or other fibers in their designs.
The composite takes what’s best from both materials to make the rods perform better by eliminating the disadvantages of both materials and enhancing the areas in which they excel. While composite rods cost more than classic fiberglass rods, they are less expensive than a pure graphite construction.
As we mentioned briefly above, composite rods are more sensitive than fiberglass but less than graphite. They are also better suited for catching large fish since they are less likely to snap in half under sudden or heavy loads.
Get the best rod for the job
It is important to keep in mind that choosing the right fishing rod is not an exact science since they are much like clothes and personal preferences play a very important role. Choosing a rod has just as much to do with practicality as it does with personal preference.
The best rod for the job is the one that can accommodate your specific applications while also feeling right in your hands. You can start by matching the rod type to the technique for which you will use it. Once that is out of the way, you will need to match the rod’s power to the strength and size of the fish you intend to battle.
While it is possible to pick a good rod by simply running all these factors through your head, a hands-on approach is recommended. You can either visit a local tackle shop or ask some of your fishing friends for bits of advice.
Tips on how to protect your graphite rod
Graphite rods are very versatile and you can use them to fish from a boat, cast from the bank, or even to go waist-deep in the waters. While quality graphite rods won’t break easily and they are built to last, fishing on a boat can easily push your graphite rod to its limits.
When you are fishing on a boat, you will need to be organized and have all the fishing equipment, including the rods secured when you are not using them. This way you can easily avoid having people stepping on them or getting crushed by heavy objects.
Bruising the rods and the insertion caps or joints can lead to breakage eventually. The same is true when fishing from the bank or waist-deep in the water. You will need to avoid overhead impediments like wires or hanging branches.
Smashing your graphite rod against hard objects such as branches may not damage it right away, but repeated impacts will shorten the life of your product considerably even if the damage may look minimal at first.