Fishing Rod Action Explained

Fishing Rod Action

Hey there! Welcome to my post about fishing rod action!

I have been fishing for the last 25 years, and still, rod action and power are factors I need to consider every time I set out to fish or purchase a new fishing rod.

Fishing rod action describes how much a fishing rod bends in response to applied pressure when fishing. Another way to describe rod action is how much a rod blank flexes before returning to a normal position. Action is critical to understand because it will directly impact fishing tactics and can be the difference between success or failure when fishing.

When considering which rod to choose, it’s important to know the terminology, so let’s first go over the most common levels of rod action.

Types of Fishing Rod Actions

Rod manufacturers will refer to rod action using the following terms or something similar. Before considering the technique, it is essential to know what each type of rod action means.

Extra Fast Action Rods

Extra fast fishing rods have a very stiff blank, and the rod tip will bend only at the very end.

When you use an extra-fast rod, you’re more likely to feel a fish nibble and can fight the fish better because of the quick response time.

With superior sensitivity and a strong backbone, you have the advantage of deploying instant action but are at a disadvantage when fighting fish because the tip will make it difficult to control the fight.

Extra-fast rods are perfect while using a single hook because of their incredible sensitivity to even the smallest baits. Not only that, but it has instant power to set the hook as soon as you feel a strike.

Extra Fast action rods should only be used when fishing vertically as opposed to horizontally.

Extra-fast action rods are best used with soft plastics, jigging, or live bait fishing.

Species such as Yellow Perch, Bluegill, Crappie, or Smallmouth Bass are examples of fish to target with extra-fast action rods.

Fast Action Rods

Fast action rods bend around the last quarter section of the rod.

A fast-action rod is an excellent balance between sensitivity and power. You’ll be able to control the fight better with a fast-action rod because of its ability to bend closer to the butt-end instead of just at the tip.

The downside of a fast-action rod is that you won’t feel as much when fishing with this type of fishing rod.

Fast Action Rods

A fast-action rod will gradually bend throughout the entire fishing rod, with most of the bend being around the last third section.

This level of action allows you to feel more bites and have enough power to set a hook. This level of rod action also provides for horizontal fishing because of its ability to bend throughout most of the fishing rod (not just at the tip like an extra-fast fishing rod).

I like to use fast-action rods while deploying Carolina and Texas rigs and soft plastics on a jig head.

Medium/Moderate Action Rods

Medium action rods are the most versatile rods. A medium or moderate action rod bends in the top half of the rod and provides ample hook-setting power.

Medium action rods also relay more casting distance compared to the action classes previously mentioned. These action levels allow you to fish for many species that range in size.

While it is not optimal to fish for smaller species, medium action will suffice and provide just enough sensitivity to feel a nibble. On the other hand, medium-action rods are perfect when fishing for larger species in the 20-40 lb. range.

Whether you are targeting Tarpon, Striped Bass, King Mackerel, or Gag Grouper, a medium action rod will provide the hook-setting power and backbone needed to fight the fish.

Slow Action Rods

A Slow action rod bends throughout the rod blank and provides the most significant amount of flex.

Slow-action rods are suitable for smaller fish as they provide sufficient flex to absorb shock, especially when a dramatic hook set is required.

The slow tip returns the blank to its original position, making it easier to keep tension on the line and hooks in fish.

Additionally, the rod is more responsive to sudden movements by the fish.

How to Choose the Right Rod Action and Power

Refer to the chart below to find out which action and power to choose based on your target species. I have listed my rod preferences for some of the most popular saltwater and freshwater game fish.

SpeciesAction RatingPower Rating
Bluegill, Crappie, Freshwater TroutExtra-fastLight
Largemouth BassModerateMedium Heavy
Striped BassModerateMedium Heavy
Speckled TroutExtra-fastMedium-light
Surf FishingModerateHeavy

Next, I will answer some more common questions related to fishing rod action.

Questions Related to Fishing Rod Action

My neighbors and readers often ask questions related to fishing rod action. I have answered some of the most common questions below.

What is the Difference Between Fishing Rod Action and Power? 

Rod action describes the amount of flex a fishing rod has, while fishing rod power refers to the resistance a rod has to bend. As you can tell, the two are closely related.

The action also relates to sensitivity, with lower-action rods providing more sensitivity than higher-action fishing rods.

It’s crucial to understand fishing rod action and power together when selecting fishing rods, as they play a significant role in how the fishing rod will perform.

What Should I Look for When Choosing a Fishing Rod Action? 

When deciding between activity levels, you must consider the type of fishing you plan on doing and the fish you will target.

A slow-action rod is usually better if you plan on fishing for smaller fish. If fishing larger fish like Tarpon or Grouper, choose a fishing rod with a faster action to provide enough power and backbone to fight the fish.

When selecting a rod, it is also essential to consider fishing techniques such as trolling, bottom fishing, or casting.

For example, extra-fast and fast fishing rods are better suited for fishing techniques that require quick hook sets. Medium-fast and slow fishing rods are best when you need a more gradual bend throughout the fishing rod.

What action is best for casting?

Medium-fast fishing rods provide a good balance of flex and power while retaining distance in the cast. The rod will also have some flexibility to absorb shock when a fish is hooked. This makes medium-fast fishing rods perfect for casting lures and bait.

What action is best for bass fishing?

Fast-action and medium-power rods are typically the best bass rods when fishing for bass. This fishing rod action provides a good balance of sensitivity to feel strikes from bass and the power needed to fight them when hooked.

Which rod action is best for trout?

When fishing for trout, you should look for a slow-action rod. This allows you to feel the strikes of small trout while still having enough power to set the hook and fight them when hooked.

What action is best for topwater?

When fishing topwater, you want to choose a fishing rod with a medium-fast action. This allows you to make quick hook sets fishing with topwater plugs.

Do fast action rods cast further?

Yes, fast-action fishing rods do cast further than slower fishing rods. This is because the fishing rod has less flex throughout, which will create more power when casting.

A fast-action heavy power rod will give you the most casting distance.

What action is best on a fishing rod?

The fishing rod action that is best for you depends on the type of fishing that you plan on doing.

Refer to the chart above for my recommendations for some of the most popular freshwater and saltwater fish species.


Fishing during sunset

Fishing rod action and power are important factors when selecting fishing rods.

Different fishing techniques and fishing for other fish species require different fishing rod actions.

Typically speaking, slower fishing rods are better for fishing smaller fish, while faster fishing rods are better for more extensive and robust species.

Choose the right fishing rod action and power depending on what kind of fishing you plan on doing and the fish you will target.

For more guides to help you choose the right rod, check out the pages below:

Captain Tyler Brady

Captain Tyler Brady

Hi, I'm Captain Tyler Brady, founder of A Fellow Fisherman. Thank you for reading this post and visiting my site. I strive to provide the best information when it comes to fishing, whether it is myself or A Fellow Fisherman that is part of my team. Now stop reading and GO fishing!

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