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Different actions have advantages for different applications. Generally, a fast-action rod has more sensitivity than a slow-action rod. This is advantageous because it lets the angler feel a fish taking a lure or bait, which sometimes is so delicate that the line hardly moves at all. A fast-action rod also clearly transmits vibrations of the lure, so the angler can easily tell when his lure is hitting bottom. Fast-action rods also allow quick hooksetting, because less of the rod has to bend before the line becomes taut. Some anglers believe that fast-action rods are best because of all these important reasons.

However, slow-action rods have their place as well. For instance, many baits, such as worms, minnows, and salmon eggs, are soft and need to be cast gently, or the bait might tear off from the hook. A slow-action rod allows a soft cast, while a fast-action rod might snap the bait right off. Also, a slow-action rod is preferable when casting a substantial bait or lure with very light, narrow-diameter fishing lineagain, a fast-action rod with its unforgiving give, as it were, might snap the line. Finally, because some fish sometimes mouth a lure or bait before deciding to eat it, a slow-action rod prevents the angler from jerking the offering out of the fish's mouth.

So, which action for you? Personally, I don't go for either extreme, because I might change a bait or lure dozens of times on one fishing trip, and often the optimal action will change from extra fast to slow and back to extra fast again. For the beginner, I suggest going with a moderate-action rod, no matter what the species or conditions. Such a rod is still sensitive enough to feel what's going on at the end of the line, but is forgiving enough when you're learning how to cast lures and baits of different weights. It's also rewarding to see your rod bend mightily, even when you've only hooked a 6-inch bluegill.

Rod Weights: From Ultralight to Heavy

The weight of a rod, which also is listed on the rod itself, is different from the action of a rod in that it defines the rod's strength rather than its flexibility. Some manufacturers use the term power when referring to rod weight.

There are seven basic rod-weight classifications: ultralight, light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, heavy, and extra heavy. Basically, the bigger the fish you are going after, and/or the heavier bait or lure you will be using, the heavier the rod you need within a particular style. (These stylesspinning, spincasting, baitcasting, and flyfishingwill be detailed in later chapters.)

The following chart details the information that is listed on fishing rods, including the size of the rod, its weight, and the recommended weight of lures and strength of line to use with it.

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Fish Recipes

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