This can be a confusing matter with so many available on the market. You will find various makes and models in a variety of different lengths, test curves, actions and ringing patterns as well as their usages. Here is a quick breakdown explaining the different, most common variations available and what is best suited for the different styles of carp fishing that you may be faced with.
Rod length: This is measured in feet (ft). This can range from as little as 6ft to as long as 13ft; the length is usually dictated by its use. A rod as small as 6 – 9ft would normally be used as a single rod for stalking amongst trees and vegetation; on the other hand, a 13ft rod is generally used on vast waters where distance casting may be needed. The common size for a general all-round approach is 12ft; this is the length favoured by most for all situations you may encounter when targeting Carp on a variety of different waters.
Test Curve (TC): This is the rating that is given to a rod when the rod blank is bent/ curved to its full capacity. It is generally rated from a 1.75lb to 3.75lb TC. The TC is used as a guide to the rods strengths and usage, for example 1.75lb TC is a rod that would generally be used for very light or small Carp work or targeting various species to specimen size such as Tench and Bream. The extreme to this is the 3.25lb - 3.75lb TC models which are capable of casting further using heavier leads and pulling in larger Carp from weedier waters. For general Carp fishing needs, a rod of about 2.75lb - 3lb TC is ideal; these models are more than capable of being used in various situations, with various rigs and waters where a general all-round approach is needed.
Action: The rod action can be quite different depending on its uses although this is normally related to its TC. The general rule for instance is a rod that can be used for light work and small waters has a ‘Through Action’ and is common on rods rated from 1.75 - 2.75lb TCs. A rod that is required for larger waters and casting to the horizon with large leads has a ‘Fast taper or responsive action’ and is commonly rated from 3.25 – 3.75lb TCs. Whereas the more common rods with a 2.75 – 3lb TC are normally based on a ‘progressive action’, again these will suit various situations, with various rigs and waters where a general all-round approach is needed.
Rod rings/guides: The rod is fitted with a number of rings which can vary in size and number, this again is usually dictated by the rod’s TC and action. Lighter TC rods which are used for the smaller Carp and mixed specimen fish come with smaller eyes that are better when fishing lighter lines at closer range. Rods of this type will have more rings that are spaced closer together and are commonly sized from a 30mm butt ring to a 10mm tip ring. This allows the line to follow the more dramatic curve the rod is capable of making. A rod that has heavier TC or ‘Fast action’ can come with as little as 6 rings that are a lot larger in size - 50mm butt to 16mm tip. This is so that when casting further the less and larger ring provide less friction on the line and allows for less complications during the cast such as wind knots. For more common use, the multi use rods generally have approximately 8 rings that size from 40mm butt to 12mm tip. Again these will cope with all situations faced by the angler.
Cosmetics: All Carp rods can come in various forms with different reel fixings and butt types but all cosmetics are generally personal choice and what’s available at the time by the rod manufacturer. These do not generally affect the rod other than by looks.
Rods for other uses: The main types of Carp rod have been covered in the above but there are other rods made for the purposes of baiting and feature finding, known as Spod and Marker rods. Further in depth information will be covered in future issues on these tools.