What Does Fishing Rod Action Mean? [Explained]

Fishing Rod Action Explained

When choosing a fishing rod, especially if you are a beginner, you will encounter all kinds of confusing information.

Fishing rod action, length, power, different types and other features are really important.

Of course, you will have to decide what kind of fishing you want to practice and choose accordingly.

Having a proper rod will make the experience better and increase your chances of successful catch.

Fishing rod action describes how much the rod will bend when the pressure is applied. They can be fast, medium and slow.

This is one of the most important features, and here I am going to explain more about it, in the following chapters:



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Fishing Rod Action Meaning [Explained]

When you put a certain amount of pressure on the rod, the rod will bend. Depending on a rod construction and material, bending will be different. In some rods, only the tip will bend. Others will have the upper half bended while the third option is that the rod will bend from the bottom third all the way to the tip. This also gives you the idea how fast the rod will recover and get back into the original position.

So here is the fishing rod action explained:


Fast action means that when the pressure is applied, only the upper third or fourth of the total length will bend. You can find extra fast types too, and these will bend only at the top.

This means that the tip is flexible and rest of the rod length is stiff. These rods are more sensitive than slow ones.


Medium action rod will bend on the half of its total length. You can also find rods that are declared as medium-fast, and those have properties of both medium and fast. They will bend somewhere in between half and the upper part.


Slow action fishing rods bend in the bottom third. These are softer and not as responsive, but they have certain advantages, like using live bait.

Rod action determines flexibility and the result is the control you have over the fish when fighting it. When only the tip bends, it takes less time for it to get back into the starting position, than when the whole rod bends. That is why action is described like “fast” or “slow”. And if you are asking how to use these, read the following chapters.

Difference Between Fishing Rod Power and Action [+Chart]?

As already mentioned, rod features can seem confusing ...

And it frequently happens that anglers don’t know the difference between fishing rod action and power.

Fishing rod action meaning has been explained, but what about power?

Fishing rod power is defined as the rod’s resistance to bending when the pressure is applied.

When it comes to power, rods can be light, medium, heavy and a mixture of those, like light-medium.

Fishing rod power vs action is confusing because some of these share a common name, like “medium” and both are used to describe a feature related to bending, but these features are definitely not the same.

Fishing rod power and action are important when buying a rod.

Power should be in accordance with the fish size and weight, while action has a lot of influence on casting distance and control.

Of course, action too is important when it comes to fish size.

Power is important for hooksets too, because if the rod bends a lot, hooksets will not be that precise.

So here are the powers and their explanations:


As the name suggests, these are meant to be used with small fish like crappie. They go well with light lines and very light lures.


If you are fishing for panfish or a smaller trout, light is the way to go. These can withstand a bit more than ultra-light and enable precise hooksets for lighter fish.


These can be used for medium fish in both saltwater and freshwater. Lures up to ½ ounces can be used and they are a bit stiffer. You can use soft plastics and jigs with these.


These can be used with all kinds of lures and are good for spinnerbaits too. You can use them in various situations an they are extremely versatile.


These rods are for a bit more serious fishing experience. Bass anglers frequently use them. It is stiff which enables usage of jigs and wider hooks but still “soft” enough to precisely work the lure or even use soft plastic lures.


These stiff rods are ideal for heavier fish and 1-ounce lures. Fishing around deeper structures is one of the common usages.


These are the stiffest you can find. Hooksets are quick and precise, as they should be for larger game fish.

Fishing Rod Power Chart - Easy

Fast vs. Slow Action on Fishing Rod

So, let’s get back to the fishing rod action.

Many anglers ask what is better, a fast action fishing rod or a slow action fishing rod?

The answer is not simple and they are all used for a different purpose, which I am going to explain here:

Slow action rod

Slow action rods bend the most and create a “bow” when you cast. This enables great casting distances but the movement is slow and controlled which is good for using live bait. Because of the softer motion, live bait will not fall off a hook. These are often used in smaller and shallower waters. If you are catching smaller species, this is the way to go. For inexperienced anglers, this is also a god rod to practice casting.

Medium action rod

These are extremely versatile. Medium action rods enable quite good casting distances and are responsive enough for a quick and precise hookset. When it comes to hooks and lures, you can use crankbaits, spinnerbaits, topwater lures and much more.

These can be used with treble hooks too, because they are slow enough not to pull the hook out of the fish mouth before the fish bites it.

Fast action rod

For bass anglers, these rods are the best.

Fast action rods give a better feeling on what is happening, they are very responsive and enable quicker hooksets. These are frequently used for single hooks and in techniques where extremely long casting is not necessary. They are very sensitive and when you hold the rod, you will be able to feel what is happening with the lure.

For a beginner, who is still learning about fishing and different techniques, a medium rod is the best choice.

With small adjustments in technique, you can use in in various situations and gain some experience before upgrading to more specialized fishing equipment.

Those who want to fish just occasionally for smaller fish, can save a lot of time, and instead of trying to find a perfect rod while comparing action, power, and similar features, can get a fishing pole. Difference between rods and poles is that basic poles are much easier to use, they go without reels, and the fishing is done by simply lowering your bait in front of a fish.

Easy Understanding: Fishing Rod Action Chart

All of this writing about fishing rod action can be easily summarized in a simple fishing rod action chart.

Numerous versions are available online but they all show a picture of a bended rod with the explanation on the side. These charts can simplify all the theory to make the understanding of it easier.

Some, more complicated versions, have additional information about recommended usages of all types of rods. Again, these shouldn’t be confused fishing rod power charts, where you will frequently find the lure weights too.

Fishing Rod Action Chart

If you have a fishing rod, and you are not sure about the action, there is an easy way to check it. Put the rod on the floor with guides facing upwards. Hold the rod handle and pull the top slightly up. Be gentle, don’t break it.

When you do it, even if you apply just a little bit of pressure, you will se where it bends.

And that is how you will determine the action of your rod. If you are unsure, try to find information about a specific model.


Fishing rod action is an important feature to consider when choosing a fishing rod.

Fishing for larger predators like pike and small species like crappie is not the same, and the equipment should be chosen accordingly.

To make a right choice, familiarize yourself with all rod features and be aware of their differences.

For those who want to have just one fishing rod, go with the medium one. And remember to use a suitable fishing line and reel too, because everything has to match.

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