Rod Action: Rod Building Tips with Larry Dahlberg

Watch Larry Dahlberg review rod action to learn how a rod’s action will bring different benefits and results to various fishing applications.

The Definition of Rod Action

Even some of the most experienced anglers can still have a hard time ironing out and explaining the details of rod action.

Rod action is defined by how and where the rod bends under pressure.

Essentially, a fast blank under load will flex in the top one-third of the blank, but a slower, softer blank will have a more parabolic bend that extends from the tip down to roughly the top three quarters of the rod.

This also takes into account the relative time it takes for a blank to load under pressure and then unload to return to a resting position.

For example, an extra fast or fast action rod will take very little time to flex under load and then return to rest, while slow rods will have a much larger range of motion and take longer to flex and return completely.

This is how and why the designations for fast and slow blanks came into play.

What’s the Difference: Rod Action vs. Power

While rod action refers to where the rod flexes, rod power is determined by how much pressure it takes to flex the rod. The rod power primarily comes from the butt and mid-sections of the rod blank.

Each rod power is engineered to efficiently handle a certain range of lure weights and line sizes.

The Range of Rod Actions

From extra fast (XF) and fast (F), to moderate (M) and slow (S), these actions refer to flex and ultimately the relative time it takes for the rod to flex under load and return to its resting state.

Read more about each action so that you can choose the right blank and build the best rod for your fishing application.

Extra Fast Action Fishing Rods

An extra fast blank is known as much for its sensitivity as it is for its lightning fast reaction time when setting the hook and activating the power of the blank to fight fish.

These extra fast blanks are rather stiff and this stiffness conducts vibrations from the line and tip straight to your hand. Extra fast rod blanks are excellent in single hook applications that require superior sensitivity to detect the slightest strikes and then swiftly set the hook.

Extra fast blanks are incredibly popular when fishing spinnerbaits, swimbaits, jigs, and of course, worms.

Fast Action Rods Fishing Rods

Like extra fast actions, fast blanks feature excellent sensitivity to efficiently transfer vibrations and allow you to set the hook on even the most subtle takes. Although similar in sensitivity, a fast action blank differs in that it brings a bit more flex to the equation in order to help fight the fish once the hook is set.

Since the tip of a fast blank is more flexible than an extra fast, fast actions work to better absorb the shock of fish as they surge, lunge, and even jump. Fast rod blanks are championed in applications that demand a better balance between sensitivity and fish fighting ability.

For instance, if you are throwing jigs around cover and need more power to move through vegetation and out of vegetation, a fast action rod will suit your needs the best.

Other examples of applications where fast actions accel include, buzzbaits, jigs, shakey heads, spinnerbaits, and worms.

Moderate Action Fishing Rods

As briefly mentioned earlier, blanks with a moderate action bend towards the middle of the rod.

When compared to extra fast and fast actions, moderate blanks have more flex that runs deeper down the blank. This increased flex coincides with an increase in casting ability because moderate rods will load up with more energy which then translates to longer casts.

In addition to casting distance, moderate actions are also known for keeping hooked up fish pinned as they lunge and try to shake the lure free. Moderate actions are popular when anglers want sensitivity yet need to keep fish buttoned up with multi-hook lures like crankbaits, jerkbaits, and rattle traps.

The increased flex of a moderate blank expertly absorbs the shock of surging fish and keeps treble hooks pinned to safely reel in fish without any added injury.

Slow Action Fishing Rods

Slow action rod blanks are mainly targeted for multi-hook applications, such as crank baits, rattle traps and jerkbaits, mostly due to the deep flex that keeps fish hooked up.

These multi-hook lures don’t demand much from sensitivity, but put more emphasis on maintaining the hookset in the fish. Since treble hooks are generally thinner than single open hooks and there are more of them, it takes less pressure to get a good quality hookset yet more flex to keep lighter hooks adequately in place.

Slow action rods are also popular with these treble hook lures because they can cast a country mile and casting distance is a huge plus in these applications. Since a longer cast allows for the bait to sink properly and then maximize its potential strike zone, a slower action rod is perfect for boosting bites and keeping those fish pinned.

Watch Larry Dahlberg Explain Action on Rod Talks

The Top Takeaways from Larry Dahlberg:

  • Flatter compression from a slow action rod blank will throw lure at higher trajectory since it takes longer to get to top acceleration (baitcasters will need control to avoid backlash, but it doesn’t make a difference for spinning rods)
  • The greater the amount of holdout, the faster the rod stops bending going up to the tip top
  • A long holdout point paired with fast tip, will get 20 lb. of pull at handle and likewise at the tip when pointed directly at the target
  • Leverage begins to work against you as you raise the tip of the rod, causing the parabolic bend to compress the tip and eventually lead to breakage
  • A fast tip and real fast holdout point create potential for high-sticking and breakage when pulling at 90 degrees, especially with today’s high performance fibers

Browse Rod Blanks at Mud Hole

The most important thing to remember is that there are necessary compromises between action, tip flex, and holdout, that you need to consider before picking the best performing rod blank for your fishing application.