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Understanding the fishing-rod basics covered in this chapter will go a long way toward both finding the best rod for your purposes as well as using it efficiently.
Because fishing rods must be straight at rest and bend to a certain degree when pressure is applied at the tipand also must be reasonably lightweight enough so that an angler can cast one without tiring quicklythey can't be made out of just anything. The earliest prehistoric fishing rods were likely tree branches, as they exhibit these qualities. Kids throughout time have noticed this, and have used tree branches to fish with as well.
Fishing rods have been made of many substances over the yearsnotably cane, bamboo, and even steelbut most all of today's models are constructed of either fiberglass, which has been used to make rods for scores of years; or graphite, which was first developed for rod manufacture by the Fenwick company in the 1970s. Some rods are made of a combination of the two. Both of these substances are excellent for fishing-rod use, because after various construction methods (and secrets), the finished rods are lightweight and stiff. They will bend easily under pressure yet have excellent memory, meaning they will go back to their original form when pressure is removed. The rods will accept necessary hardware, such as grips, reel seats, and guides. Finally, the materials are not expensive, which makes the rods affordable. Graphite is lighter and stiffer than fiberglass, and is the more popular choice of rod material.
Rod Actions: The Wiggle Factor
The action of a rod, which is noted on the rod itself, identifies when the rod begins to load, or resist bending when under pressure, given the same amount of pull. Rods stop bendingthat is, the rod displays a curve at a certain place under a certain amount of pressureat a certain point along the rod shaft, depending on the type of action. Although exact determinations vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, there are four general, recognized action types in fishing rods, which hold true for all rods used in all fishing. These are described in Table 4.1 and illustrated in the figure that follows.
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