Smiling father in grey hoodie and vest holding a fishing rod with grinning son dressed in short-sleeved plaid shirt beside him pointing at the water

Landing a trophy fish starts with using the right rod. This fishing rod buying guide outlines the various types and their uses to help you reel in the big one.


Fishing rods 101

If you are looking to reel in a big one this season, Walmart Canada has you covered with all your fishing needs, starting with your most important ally on the water, your fishing rod. Choosing the right one has a real impact on your enjoyment and success at the lake.

A fishing rod might seem like something simple enough to purchase, but the size, materials and durability have a significant impact on long-term use and results. We’ll be breaking down the different types of rods to get the most out of your next fishing trip, whether it’s a solo or family adventure.


Types of fishing rods

Casting rods

It’s best to start with a casting rod as a beginner; they’re easier to master, and less expensive up front. I did a lot of my early fishing straight off a dock with smaller, easier to wield rods like Zebco’s Dock Demon.

The pre-spooled, lightweight rod is a great way to test out a potential new hobby in fishing. Even if you decide to purchase more advanced rods in the future, you’ll still want to hold on to the Dock Demon as it makes a great shallow-water fishing tool. Its 30” length is great, letting you fish in a tight spot and easily bring with you on your next vacation.

If you are looking for a great youth option, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Youth Spincast Combo is a great choice.

I grew up using Shakespeare rods, and whether it was for hours casting off the dock or hot summers on the lake, they’ve been a great rod to grow with. I have always found them very dependable, and easy to use for those just getting their feet wet in the sport of fishing.

Once you become more comfortable with your technique, and the feel of the rod, you can upgrade to a spinning rod which requires more technique but offers a lot more control in the process.

Zebco Dock Demon Spincast Combo fishing rod

Spinning rods

As you grow as a fisher, you might decide to graduate to a rod with more control and skill required. A spinning rod features a reel that hangs beneath the rod rather than on top, needing more technique, as your second and third fingers must straddle the leg of the reel where it attaches to the rod. The main advantage is that it allows you to hold the rod in your dominant hand which greatly increases control.

For a great fishing rod and reel combo, the Zebco Splash Spinning Combo offers a lightweight 6′ medium rod. Spinning rods can also be used for sport fish including bass, trout, pike and walleye, allowing you to scale between smaller and bigger fish that can handle more stress on the end of your line.

Zebco Splash Spinning Combo four fishing rods

Ultra-light rods

If you have a very young angler in the family, many youth options are available, even some adorned with their favourite characters like Marvel’s Spider-Man or Disney’s Frozen.

Children’s rods are a great way to get the entire family in on the fishing fun and to create fun memories at the cottage over the summer.

Now that you have a key element of fishing figured out don’t forget to cast your line toward  fishing products and accessories.

Shakespeare Spiderman kids fishing combo fishing rod and reel

Fly rods

A fly rod is a specialized rod designed for fly fishing, which involves casting a lightweight lure, known as an “artificial fly,” attached to a weighted line.

The lure is disguised with brightly coloured feathers, fur, hair and other materials to attract the fish, while the heavy line sinks out of site.

Fly rods can be used to catch many kinds of fish, including trout, salmon, carp, pike, bass, and even marlin.

The size of the rod depends on the size of fish you’re trying to catch — the larger the fish, the heavier the rod required.

Lixada Portable Carbon Fiber Fly Fishing Rod Pole Fishing Tackle

Telescopic fishing rod

Telescopic fishing rods are meant for life on the go as they are constructed to either collapse down to a short length or open up into a longer rod. This is a big advantage if you enjoy hiking or biking to your fishing spot, as the rod can shrink down as you travel.

Telescopic fishing rods also come in handy when it comes to surf fishing, which requires longer rods of up to 14 feet in length.

The Zebco Ready Tackle Telescopic Spin Rod fits the bill quite well if you are looking to save space and expand a pole just about anywhere for a great fishing experience. The Zebco Rod extends to 5-feet 6-inches and when it’s time to pack up, it collapses down to fit in most day bags.

The rod is durable enough to handle larger fish but features enough sensitivity to feel the subtle nibbles and motions happening at the end of the line.

Zebco Ready Tackle Telescopic Spin Rod

Surf rods

Surf rods are typically used in sea fishing from the beach, rocks or other types of shoreline.

They resemble oversized spinning rods but have long grip handles for two-handed casting. Surf rods are long (3–4 metres) so you can cast beyond the breaking surf where fish tend to congregate.

They are also sturdy enough to cast the heavy lures or bait needed to hold the bottom in rough water.

Okuma Longitude Surf Rod medium

Trolling rods

Trolling entails casting from a moving boat and letting the motion of the boat pull the bait through the water.

They are mostly used for ocean and Great Lakes fishing; a good spinning rod will usually work fine for most inland lake and stream fishing.

Trolling rods are stiff with relatively fast action, as a slow action rod is too whippy for trolling off a faster-moving boat.

Okuma Great Lakes trolling rod and reel medium

You might also like: Fishing Tackle Essentials


Fishing rod buying tips:

Choose a medium-sized rod for inshore fishing, which generally means fishing in relatively shallow water for fish under 20 pounds. When fishing the bottom of a body of water, it’s best to use a shorter rod.

Fibreglass rods are heavier than carbon fibre rods but also generally less expensive. A casting rod is a good beginner rod because it’s easy to use and usually less expensive than other types of rods.


Fishing rod features

Fishing rod length

The length of the rod that you buy should depend on two factors: the sort of fish that you want to catch and the location in which you’ll be fishing. Shorter rods are best for wooded areas and catching larger fish. Longer rods are best for clear, open spaces and smaller fish.

Fishing rod action

The rod action, or whip, is the speed with which a rod returns to its original position after bending. Depending on the rod, the action will range from slow (whippy) to very fast (stiff). The action you choose should depend on the weight of fish that you want to catch. Heavier fish require faster actions and smaller fish require slower actions.

Fishing rod weight

Also known as the rod’s “power”, fishing rods are classed as ultra-light, light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy and ultra-Heavy. The weight is a good indicator of the size, species or type of fishing for which a rod is best suited.

Ultra-light rods are suitable for catching panfish, baitfish and other small fish that require a slow action response. Ultra-heavy rods are used in surf fishing, or for extremely heavy fish.

The key to avoiding broken rods or lost fish is to use the rod in the right situations.


Fishing rod maintenance tips

  • Lubricate your reels with a corrosion inhibitor such as WD40.
  • Store your rod in its case to protect it from the elements.
  • Do not use graphite rods in electrical storms because they conduct electricity.
  • To avoid damage to your graphite rod, don’t place it too close to other metal fishing gear or abrasive objects.