Fishing Rod Action Chart: Fast, Moderate & Slow Rods

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A lot of anglers get confused about what we mean by the “action” of a fishing rod, but it is not that hard to understand.

We created this simple fishing rod action chart to explain the differences between fast, moderate and slow action rods.

These rod action concepts apply equally to spinning rods and casting rods.

It is important to get the right rod action for the kind of fishing you enjoy, or get a medium action rod is suitable for a range of different lure types and fishing methods.

Fishing Rod Action Chart

Fishing Rod Action Explained

The first thing to understand is that action is different to power. Action describes how far up the blank the fishing rod begins to bend when force is applied – ie when a fish takes the lure.

Fast Action Rods

A fast action rod bends near the tip when it is loaded

Fast action rods begin bending near the rod tip giving the angler great sensitivity and feel.

A fast action rod will bend in the top third of the fishing rod.

These rods are great for flipping and pitching jigs and other single hook lures such as topwater lures.

The added stiffness of a fast action rod means you don’t have to move it very far on the hookset until the rod locks off and doesn’t bend.

This helps drive the hook point home, which is important when fishing a lure with a single hook.

(For more on rod action, check out our companion piece here.)

Moderate Action Rod

A medium or moderate action rod will bend in the top half or so. These are versatile rods that provide reasonable casting distance and good hook-setting power. You can use a moderate action rod for a wide variety of lures – either single hook lures such as topwater frogs and spinnerbaits, to a range of lures with treble hooks. A medium action rod is a versatile piece of fishing gear.

Slow Action Fishing Rods

A slow action rod bends deep down into the blank

A slow action rod will bend starting in the lower third of the rod and into the handle

These are great for fishing with crank baits and jerk baits with treble hooks. The supple bend in a slow action fishing rod means you won’t rip the treble hook out of the fish’s mouth before it has grasped the lure. It also provides better cushioning on hookset and when you are fighting the fish to avoid straightening these narrower gauge hooks.

These rods in light power ratings are very whippy and can be great for casting light lures as you can achieve long casts with this kind of fishing rod action.

Rod Bends Explained: Rod Action vs Rod Power

As we have explained, the rod action denotes where on the rod blank the bend starts.

The power of a fishing rod relates to how much it bends when a given force is applied. Fishing rod power can be donated in pounds, which gives you a suggested fishing line weight to use with the rod.

Fishing rod power can also be rated as: ultra light, light, medium or moderate and heavy in terms of power.

You can see from the chart below that a light power fishing rod bends more for a given weight, than a medium power or moderate power rated fishing rod, or a heavy power rated fishing rod, which deflects least of all.

To put it simply, in terms of rod power, the bigger and stronger the fish – and hence the line – you are using, the heavier the power rating of the rod you should use.

Fishing Rod Power Chart

Final thoughts on fishing rod action

As you can see when buying a fishing rod it is important to pay close attention to both fishing rod action and fishing rod power in choosing the right rod. The perfect rod for you will depend on what kind of lures you like to fish, how you like to fish them and the size and type of fish you are pursuing.

Fishing rod action is probably the most important thing to consider. You get away with a rod that is a little underpowered or overpowered, but using a slow action rod in situations where it is difficult to detect the bite, won’t work well. Conversely, using a fast action rod with crankbaits with small trebles is not ideal either unless is it is a light or ultra light rod.

Medium action rods or moderate action rods offer a bit more versatility and are a good choice for those who fish in a range of different ways and don’t want to have a different action fishing rod for each type of fishing.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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