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How are Fishing Rods Rated?

Fishing rods on display on the shop.

Fishing rods are rated using three rating systems. These three ratings include fast, moderate, and slow. In addition, these ratings measure the rod’s strength in terms of how much weight the rod can pull before it switches to the lock position.

However, it is important to note that strength, action, and power are great and necessary factors to use when rating fishing rods. However, you should note that not every country has the same fishing rod ratings. Here in the U.S. A.  market, there are primarily two fishing line weights, low and high.

The explanation is that if your line weight is 10 pounds to 50 pounds, your rod should accommodate a fish within the range without breaking. If your rod does not accommodate this range, you might consider doing a line test. The test will determine the true validity of your lines’ resistance. A common mistake can be made if you try to read the fishing rod rating if you are in another part of the world.

Although the United States has its fishing rod rating system, so do countries such as Japan and Australia. Japan uses a PE line rating system that determines the diameter and not the line’s strength. If you wanted to go fishing and catch a fish as large as a bass, you would need to use a #PE 1.

The PE 1 has a high-quality eight rating and can support weights anywhere from 14 to 18 pounds. A  rod rating of PE #1.2 also has a high-quality rating of eight and can support a weight up to 20 lbs.

In Japan, the PE system does not determine or identify the line’s breaking point. If you choose to go to Japan to fish, you need to learn the country’s fishing rating system and how to use it to do your best fishing.

What Do the Ratings Mean?

Golden fishing reels on display on the store.

Depending on where you reside, your fishing rod might have three to four sets of numbers imprinted on the rod. Each number gives specific information relating to that particular rod. For example, the first set of numbers identifies several pieces of vital information, such as the length and number of pieces.

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To clarify further,  if the numbers 3,4, and 5 are imprinted on the rod, here is a breakdown of what it means. The number 3 represents the length of the rod, while the last number, the number 5, tells us how many pieces make up the rod. So, for this particular rod #345, it tells us that the rod is 3 feet 4 inches long and, number 5 tells us that it is a five-piece rod.

Some rods contain letters and this may be a bit confusing if you are only familiar with the number ratings. The first letter in the letter system gives two pieces of important information. First, it tells how powerful or how much weight resistance the rod can tolerate, before reaching its breaking point. The lettering system includes six sets of letters. The letters used in rating fishing rods are {UL}, {L}, {M}, {MH}, {H}, and {EH}.

What Do the Letters Mean?

Golden Fishing reel as trophy display.

The ratings determine how much weight is needed to bend the rod. If you want to catch a small fish, you should use an ultra-lightweight or lightweight fishing pole, since smaller fish do not harness the same amount of forceful resistance as a larger fish. Each letter on the fishing rod is specific as to its power and resistance.  Let us begin with the first letter in the set:

The first letter {UL} represents a rod that is designed for light fishing. If you prefer catching really small fish from a local pond or stream, this type of fishing rod is perfect. The types of fish you can catch are panfish and trout. If they weigh anywhere up to four pounds, your line is fine. If you are a beginner and want to practice a bit, then this fishing rod would be the most logical choice.

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The second set is represented by the letter {L}. The L stands for a lightweight fishing rod that can support the weight of fish that weigh four to eight pounds. These types of fish are small bass, trout, and perch. Although you might be somewhat familiar with fishing and want to catch something a bit larger, this rod is a step above the ultralight fishing rod.

The third letter set in the rating system is the letter (M). This letter identifies a fishing rod that supports a medium-lightweight. The types of fish this rod can support must weigh six- 12 pounds. These fish include; bass, walleye, pike, and lake trout.

You might have been fishing now for some time using an ultralight or light fishing rod, and now you want to try your fishing skills on a larger game. If so, the medium-light weight fishing rod will give you that challenge.

The fourth set of letters in the rating system is the letters {MH}. The MH stands for medium-heavy. If you want to use a rod-type to catch any fish other than salmon, pike, and catfish (casting), you need a stronger rating rod.

However, if you are planning to catch any of the already mentioned fish, be sure they weigh between eight to 14 pounds. The bigger the fish, the stronger the line must be to accommodate the size and weight of your catch. Be sure your rod can handle these kinds of fish before you cast your rod.

A man casting his fishing rods on the river.

The fifth letter set in the rod rating system is the letter {H}. The letter H identifies a rod that can support fish that weighs anywhere from 15 – 25 pounds. The type of fish this type of rod supports are salmon {trolling}, pike, and muskie.

An experienced fisherman such as yourself should be familiar with the different types of fishing rods and what they can and cannot do. As long as your line can support fish from 15-25 pounds, you should be fine maneuvering your rod, so you can get the best fishing experience.

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The sixth set of letters in the rod rating system is {EH for extremely heavy.}. This is the heaviest of the heaviest in this category. If you live on the wild side, you might want to try your fishing skills with this type of rod.

Your catch should be at least 25 pounds, but there is no specific limit on pounds, as long as you know your pole line’s strength and your pole’s breaking point. The last mistake you want to make is overestimating the strength of your line, rod, and reel.

Follow the Rules…Have Fun

A man holding his catch with his fishing rod.

Fishing is an all-time favorite of millions of people. Whether you fish for fun, as a hobby, or as a professional, the benefits are great. If you are looking for the perfect fishing rod, you might not find it, but you can find one that will work best for you. Determine what type of fish you want to catch, and then choose the best fishing rod to complete your adventure.

Remember, fishing rods and fishing reels and poles were invented long before you were born. Early fishermen invented their fishing rods, and they developed their rating system. They knew exactly how large of a fish their line could hold.

However, they probably did not get it right the first time nor the second time. Sometimes, it takes trial and error to perfect anything the way you want it.

If you want to have the best experience of fishing,  just remember to fish by the rules. Use precaution and common sense when choosing a fishing rod. Ask questions if you are not sure about the type of rod you need, and relax, enjoy the day and catch plenty of fish.