Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

How do you compare lure rods ?

If there is one thing that confuses the hell out of me it's rod actions and how they are described - fast, ultra-fast, medium, moderate, through, soft, progressive, tippy, you name it, there's a collection of words that are used when talking about how a rod behaves that seem to me to mean a whole range of different things. I was (very kindly) lent an American spinning rod for example out in Martha's Vineyard last year that said "Fast" on the blank, but I can't remember fishing with a softer stick of spaghetti for a long time - to the point where I was having real problems trying to work an easy to work lure - the Xorus Patchinko. It felt to me that the rod simply collapsed on me when I tried to make the lure walk across the surface - yet it was described as having a fast action. Now if I was asked to describe the action of the rod I would have said "soft" or "through" - confusing eh ?

I was asked the question the other day if I could compare the Tenryu Injection SP73M and this new Graphiteleader Tiro 832M-MR, and of course this is a perfectly reasonable. When we are thinking of buying something as important to us anglers as a rod that we are going to potentially spend a lot of time fishing with we naturally want to know as much about it as possible. If there is one thing that I know I am struggling with it's getting my head around rod actions and then how I describe them, and as such I think it can be hard to try and draw comparisons between rods that at first glance might seem to be pretty similar.

Aside from the difference in lengths, these two rods essentially are built to deal with pretty similar casting weights - the Injection SP73M is rated 5-28g and the Tiro 832M is rated 7-28g. There are of course lots and lots of rods out there that fall into these categories, so please bear in mind that I am talking about these two rods purely because I have spent a bit of time with both of them and they help to illustrate my point. Plus I was asked that question about comparing them. So let's say you are leafing through tackle catalogues and you note that here are two lure rods that look like they might be pretty similar because of those casting weights. OK, the angler who knows all about this is going to have a clue what is going on, but how about the angler who is coming into this and perhaps quite rightly assumes say that the Fast action spinning rod that I used in the US must be pretty similar to a Fast action rod French or Japanese rod. And especially so because those casting weights are so similar. See what I mean about the confusion factor ?

So again, lengths aside, these two rods bend completely differently. I am not about to get into the specifics of rod actions and what they actually mean because I tend to end up tying myself in knots, but to me (and note "to me" - I could well be wrong here) I see this Tiro as having a very fast action and the Injection a kind of modern progressive action (thank you to a certain somebody who knows a lot more than me), whereby in essence the Injection is actually a very powerful through action rod - but not remotely close to what most of us perceive a "through action" as being. A through action to me tends to imply a pretty soft rod that bends the whole way through and can feel like cooked spaghetti, but the Injection I think is a very powerful, "progressive" kind of through action whereby it feels incredibly powerful to cast and fish with - yet there is no discernible tip action like on the (fast) Tiro. See how I end up trying myself in knots ??!!

Now how does one go about comparing these two rods when they could not bend more differently ? See what I mean ? I read and hear all manner of different things about how one kind of rod action is meant to be better for so and so kind of lure fishing and another rod action will help you fry an egg at the same time as working a surface lure, and I suppose that over time I am beginning to get my head around how a specific action on a rod can lend itself more to certain things - but what this does not do at the end of the day is to allow for what you and I might actually prefer. Sure, what we prefer in technical terms might not be completely correct, but considering that fishing is all about trying to get one up on Mother Nature - when did technically correct actually mean that much ?