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Rod Ratings and What Do They Mean

One of the more enduring myths about rods is the weight required to break a rod.

“My rod is rated for 15kg (30lb) line but it broke while I was lifting a 10kg (20lb) snapper out of the water. What gives?”

Here is the non-myth. The line ratings on most rods do not indicate how much weight the rod will lift. The rating on the rod indicates the most suitable breaking strain line to use on the rod, with a correct drag for that line set on the reel. The rating is designed to achieve a working curve in the rod, without reaching a lock-up point.

To explain further – a rod should be designed to achieve two tasks:

  • One task is to act as a shock absorber. The rod should bend and flex as the fish lunges and darts in its efforts to escape. This shock absorption helps to guard against hooks pulling out, or line breaking.
  • The second task a rod should achieve is to provide lift. This is a rod’s working curve. A bent rod tries to recover its shape, i.e. straighten up. This provides lift, helping the angler recover line.
  • The lock-up point is the point at which a rod will bend no further without breaking.

USA Rod Ratings

There is sometimes a problem with some rod ratings printed on the rod. Rods designed primarily for the USA market use a different rod rating system to the rest of the world. Most USA rods will show two line weights, low and high. For example 10 to 40lbs. This range will show the full range from working curve to lock-up point. In most cases the upper line weight is too high for practical fishing purposes.

The One True Test

There is one infallible way of determining the true line breaking strain that is ideal for any rod. Run some line through the rod, and attach a scale to the end of the line. Pull down on the scale until the rod has a good working curve. Read off the weight on the scale and this will give you the drag setting on the reel.

The drag setting should be 25 to 30% of the breaking strain of the line, so working out the line to use on the rod is simple. Multiply the working curve weight by four. For instance if the working curve weight is 5kg then the line you should be using is 20kg, with a drag setting of 5kg. An excerpt from 'Fishing Even Smarter'

For more complete information on why rods break and how to avoid it can be found here.



Article written by Tony Bishop

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