Carp Fishing Rod

What to Look for in a Carp Fishing Rod

One piece of equipment I never thought about when I first began carp angling was a quality Carp Fishing Rod. I had mainly targeted bass and pike in my previous years of fishing. When I noticed what a great carp fishery we have here in Canada I decided to see if I could catch one of these large fish.

Needless to say, when I hooked into my first carp I quickly realized my six-foot rod and reel combo for bass fishing wasn’t up to the task at hand.

What is the Best Carp Fishing Rod?

The best carp fishing rod for beginners is a 10-foot rod with a 3-pound test curve and a medium action. Most of the big carp fishing rod manufacturers make rods with these characteristics. Choosing the right brand for you is more of a personal preference.

If you wish to know more about carp fishing rod terminology and what to look for I will delve deeper into the subject below. If you’re simply looking for some recommendations check out our Recommended Best Carp Fishing Rods.

Carp Fishing Rod
Sonik Vader X Carp Fishing Rod

There are many different characteristics to look for in a quality carp fishing rod. Different rods will have different characteristics to suit the many situations that carp anglers are challenged with. From baiting, spodding, spombing, casting long distances, casting accurately and fighting fish efficiently. The characteristics listed below will help you determine which rod type is best for your situation.

Carp Fishing Rod Length

Carp fishing rod length is mainly based on what feels most comfortable for the angler. After using different length rods one will quickly figure out what works best. Most carp fishing rods come in 10′ to 13′ lengths.

The main advantage of a longer rod is that it casts farther. Casting distance can be an important factor when bank fishing, especially here in North America where most carp fishing locations are on large bodies of water. If you have a greater area to fish, a longer rod will most definitely increase your chances of catching fish. Aside from longer rods casting farther they are also more accurate when casting and aid in fighting fish around obstacles such as snags or weed beds. The longer rod will allow an angler to apply greater side strain to fish, steering them away from snags easier and tiring it out quicker in the process.

Although the majority of carp fishing rods are longer, there are still specialized shorter rods for certain situations. When stalking carp an 8′ to 10′ rod comes in handy for the close-quarter situations, it is less likely to become snagged on trees or underbrush and the longer rod is not necessary due to the shorter casting distances on smaller bodies of water.

Another feature to consider about rod length is how long the rods are when broken down. I didn’t take this into consideration when I purchased my first set of 13-foot carp fishing rods. It became quite cumbersome to transport the rods in my truck and boat. Different brands of carp fishing rods can be broken down into three categories of how they can be stored.

Two-Piece Carp Rods

These rods have one join in the middle and can be broken down into two pieces. The majority of carp fishing rods are designed in this fashion. These will be the biggest rods to transport as 13′ rods even when split in two are still over 6′ tall.

Three-Piece Carp Rods

A few brands of carp fishing rods come in three sections with two joins. This characteristic makes it very easy to break down the rod and transport it. They fit quite easily in rod sleeves, backpacks, barrows and vehicles.

Telescoping Carp Rods

Designed for the stalking angler these rods are a must for any angler that is always on the move scouting and testing out new waters. They usually come in 2 pieces but the butt section of the rod telescopes and retracts into the rod handle itself.

I have two different sets of rods for actively fishing and one specific rod for baiting and marking.

  • I have two 13′ 3.5 lb test curve rods for long-distance fishing from shore. I find if the carp are found at range, it is easiest to target them with these rods.
  • I do a lot of fishing from a boat. I found the 13′ rods were too cumbersome in the boat and were hard to fish effectively. I ordered two 10 ft rods which are much more practical.
  • My single rod for baiting and marking is a 12′ 3 lb test curve spod and marker rod. It has the proper action to effectively cast heavy loads long distances.
Long Carp Rods

If you want to know more about Carp Fishing Rod Length, read this other article which delves deeper into the subject of why Carp Fishing Rods are so long.

If you’re new to carp angling and are using 10′ to 13′ rods for the first time, be sure to do some practice casts. It is completely different than using a 6′ to 8′ rod that most North Americans use to target other popular sport fish.

I always get a kick out of handing one of my friends a carp fishing rod and watching them cast for the first time. Their cast almost always ends up hitting the water about two feet in front of them. It can take quite some time to hit long distances accurately, but once you do master a big carp fishing rod you will notice a spike in your catch rate.

Carp Fishing Rod Action

Carp fishing rods are categorized by three main actions – Through action, fast or tip action and medium action.

Through Action

As the name states the action is throughout the length of the rod. It will bend from the butt or handle of the rod all the way through to the tip of the rod. These rods have a lot of give in them to greatly prevent hook pulls when fighting fish. Due to their easy ability to bend they are not very well adapted to casting great distances.

Fast Action or Tip Action

This action is often found on longer carp fishing rods. These rods are quite stiff and only bend near the tip of the rod, this allows for greatly increased distance while casting. The way the rod bends and flicks at the tip when under pressure provides greater propulsion and when used in conjunction with heavier weights can easily produce casts over 100 yards.

Medium Action

Medium Action rods are the best all-around carp fishing rods. They provide good casting distance and accuracy while also providing great fish-fighting abilities.

Carp Fishing Rod Strength

The strength of a carp fishing rod is measured by its test curve. The test curve of a rod is determined by the amount of weight it takes to bend a rod from a horizontal position to 90 degrees. Rods are then classified by pounds.

For example, if it takes 2.5 pounds to bend a rod tip into a 90-degree position then the rod will be classified as a 2.5-pound test curve.

1.5 to 2.5 – Pound Test Curves – These rods are suited to fishing for smaller carp in smaller bodies of water. The lighter test curve will prevent the hook from pulling from the small fish’s softer mouths.

2.5 to 3 – Pound Test Curves – These rods are great for an all-around carp fishing rod. They work well for big and small fish while also allowing for decent distances when casting.

3 – Pound Test Curves – Any rod with 3 lbs test or greater are mainly for reaching great distances and casting heavier leads. Most baiting and marking rods have greater than 3 – pound test curves to allow heavier loads to be cast greater distances with ease.

Carp Fishing Rod Reel Seats

The reel seat is the portion of the rod near the handle where the reel is attached to the rod. These can be made up of different materials depending on the price and quality of the rod. Reel seats are mainly made out of hard durable plastic, graphite or metal.

Carp Rod Reel Seats
Carp Fishing Rod Reel Seats

Reel seats on carp fishing rods need to be quite strong. The reel seat threads were the first thing to strip on my bass rod and reel combo when I hooked into my first carp. Be sure to tighten the rings on the reel seat occasionally, although it can be quite humorous to fellow anglers, it is not a pleasant experience having your reel fall off and over the side of the boat mid-battle!

Carp fishing rod seats will fit the majority of reels but be sure to double-check the measurements before pairing up a rod with a reel. Manufacturers list the length of rod seat and reel specifications on their websites. This is especially important if you decide to upgrade to a Big Pit Reel. These larger carp fishing reels will require a bigger reel seat to accommodate them.

Carp Fishing Rod Handles

When looking at carp fishing rods the handle can mainly be chosen by anglers’ personal preference. When you pick up your first carp fishing rod you will notice that the handle section differs greatly from regular fishing rods.

The butt section of the rod behind the reel seat is much longer than other rods. This characteristic helps carp anglers in casting further. The hand that is positioned at the butt of the handle can increase the torque and speed at which the rod is moved.

Sonik Vader X Cork Handle 2
Sonik Vader X Cork Handle
Carp Rod Shrink Wrap Handle
Fox Shrink Wrap Handle
Carp Rod EVA Handle
Daiwa EVA Foam Handle

Rod handles are usually made out of three different types of materials. Cork, EVA Foam or Shrink Wrap. These handles can be either full-length or split grip. Most carp fishing rods with longer handles create greater leverage to increase casting range and come in the split grip variety.

Carp Fishing Rod Line Guides

The line guides on a carp fishing rod can be one of the most important aspects. Often overlooked by some anglers, the size and material of the line guides can greatly affect casting distance and the ability to fight a fish.

Rod Line Guides
Carp Fishing Rod Line Guides

The material line guides are made out of can affect line durability, casting smoothness, rod sensitivity and rod weight. They can come in stainless steel, plastic, fibreglass, aluminum oxide or a variety of other materials. The price of the rod will depend on the quality of materials used. Fuji is one of the top Line Guide Manufacturers, you will quickly note rods equipped with these line guides will carry a hefty price tag.

The size of line guides on a carp fishing reel are another important factor. The majority of carp fishing rods are equipped with a 50 mm butt ring. The bigger ring will allow your line to play through the eyelets much easier, increasing the distance of your casts.

The number of line guides on a rod depends on the length and action of the rod. Rods with a through action will have a greater amount of line guides to ensure the line bends at the same rate the rod does.

Line guides are mounted directly to the rod with either 1 or 2 feet. Lightweight rods for smaller species only require one foot but the stronger carp fishing rods are usually equipped with two feet. The length of the feet is an important factor. Longer casting rods usually have extended line guide feet, so the line casts freely without coming in contact with the rod itself.

Carp Fishing Rod Line Clip

Line clips on carp fishing rods are another important factor to consider when choosing the perfect carp rod. Not all line clips are the same. Some rods aren’t even equipped with built-in line clips so you will have to purchase additional clips if you wish to use them.

Unsure if you even need a line clip on a carp fishing rod? Check out this in-depth article on The Importance of Using a Line Clip on a Carp Fishing Rod.

Carp Fishing Rods for Baiting and Marking

Spodding, spombing and marking may require the use of a heavier rod. These specialty rods are usually 12 feet long with a test curve over 3 pounds. Some rods even have test curves of up to 5.5 pounds to deliver more substantial amounts of bait long distances.

Marker Rod 1
Fox Marker and Spod Rod
Marker Rod 2
Marker Rod 12” Mark
Marker Rod 3
Marker Rod 6” Mark

These rods are usually equipped with a 50 mm butt ring, anti-frap tip plus one and two-foot marks just in front of the reel seat. These marks aid in determining water depth when using a marker lead and float setup.

When I first heard of spod and marker rods, I thought it was just a gimmick. Carp fishing manufacturers were renaming rods just to make an extra buck, now after using one for quite some time, I can attest to their usefulness. On long carp fishing sessions when the fishing action is heavy, it can become tiring casting spomb after spomb with a regular carp fishing rod. With rods specifically geared towards casting heavier loads, it is much easier on the angler.

Aside from casting long distances these rods also need to be sensitive to feel each knock when retrieving a marker lead while scouting a swim.

Marker and Baiting Rods are made by all the major companies such as Daiwa, Fox, Shimano, ESP, Wychwood, Drennan, Etc. Depending on which brand of carp fishing rod you choose, there is almost always a spod and marker rod available to match the set.

The biggest advantage to these rods is that they are usually about half the price of regular carp fishing rods. They can take a lot of punishment and more than pay for themselves after a few long sessions on the bank. For more information on Spod Rods and Marker Rods specifically, check out these articles that explain Carp Fishing Spod Rods and Carp Fishing Marker Rods in detail.

Brands of Carp Fishing Rods

There are many different brands and manufacturers of carp fishing rods, this can make your choice of rod difficult due to the sheer amount on the market. Although it can also be a good thing due to more competition and more competitive prices.

Carp Fishing Swing Arms Feature
Sonik Vader X 13′ 3.5 Test Curve Carp Fishing Rods

Most manufacturers target each section of the market with their lines of carp fishing rods. They basically market three main types.

Entry-Level Carp Rods

In recent years most carp rod manufacturers have come out with a budget line of carp fishing rods to help beginners to the sport afford quality carp fishing rods. I am quite amazed at how well these budget rods perform. Most have all the main characteristics of the top-quality rods but are just made with cheaper materials.

Mid-Range Carp Rods

If you’re lucky and have a little more money to spend on a good carp fishing rod there are many great mid-range choices out there. Although they perform quite like the budget rods the quality and durability of the mid-range rods will increase the lifespan and last longer.

High-End Carp Rods

These rods are made with premium materials, and no detail is overlooked in their design, function and durability. Usually made with premium Fuji Line Guides and Reel seats these rods will take a lot of use and punishment before failing. If you can afford these rods, they will perform flawlessly for many years.

If you’re looking to find the best carp fishing rod manufacturers, I will include a small table of trusted brands below to aid in your search.

Top Carp Fishing Rods: (by Brand / Manufacturer.)

ManufacturerRod NamePrice Range
ShimanoTribal TX-1Budget
Tribal TX-4Mid-Range
Tribal TX UltraHigh-End
DaiwaBlack Widow G50Budget
Basia AGSHigh-End
Sonik SportsVader XBudget
Dominator XMid-Range
Gravity XHigh-End
Black OpsHigh-End
JRCContact RodsBudget
Extreme TXHigh-End
Terry HearnHigh-End
Horizon XHigh-End

This table represents only 10 carp fishing rod manufacturers and as you can see there is a large range of rods to pick from. Each manufacturer or brand has made great efforts to provide a choice for each type of angler.

Carp Fishing Rod Storage

Unfortunately, a lot of carp anglers (myself included) learn the hard way when it comes to proper carp fishing rod storage. When I first purchased my rods, I briefly looked into padded cases to transport the rods and thought to myself “Nah, that just seems like a waste of money, I will be careful.” It was a costly mistake, instead of spending a few extra dollars on a padded sling, I ended up snapping the end off one rod and breaking the graphite eyelets on the other.

This mistake resulted in having to buy brand new rods. You can be sure I purchased a proper carrying case the second go around! Not only does it protect your rods and reels, but it also makes transporting things so much easier. Before I would have to load everything separately into my vehicle and then again to my fishing spot, now I can load all rods, reels, net, sling, etc. all into the rod sleeve and carry it easily over my shoulder.

Sonik SK Tek Rod Sleeve
Sonik Sk-Tek Rod Sleeve
  • I purchased the Sonik Sk-Tek 12′ Carp Fishing Rod Sleeve, with my Vader X Carp Fishing Rods and am very happy with it.

Storage at home is another important topic. I used to just prop my rods up in the corner of my garage when not in use. After having kids and a crazy dog, I realized I needed a better solution. Time and time again they would knock the rods over onto the hard concrete floor. Luckily they didn’t break, but I still decided to get them up and out of the way. I built a DIY fishing rod storage rack out of cedar.

I simply ripped a cedar plank into three lengths, drilled holes (evenly spaced through two of the planks then attached the undrilled plank to the bottom of one of the drilled planks. I mounted the boards horizontally on the wall about 5 1/2 feet apart. Now I can easily slide my rods up through the higher piece and rest the butt ends of the rods in the holes on the bottom two pieces I attached together. A simple project that can be completed in under an hour for less than $10.00.

What reel to use with the rod of your choice can be an important factor. The two go hand in hand when balancing out the perfect set of gear. You need to ensure that the reel fits in the reel seat on your rod and you want the length of your rod to balance out the weight of your reel.

For more information on reels check out this other article on What to Look for in a Carp Fishing Reel.

It will take some time and careful research to match up the perfect set of gear but the rewards will pay off quickly.

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