Fishing Rod Power: A Complete Guide

When choosing a fishing rod that matches your specific fishing style there are many things to consider. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics to any fishing rod is its power.

If are new to fishing or are looking to purchase a new rod you might be wondering what does power mean on a fishing rod and what type of power will you need for your favorite angling method

The power of a fishing rod means the amount of pressure or force that is needed to bend the rod. Or in other words a fishing rod’s power is the rod’s stiffness or resistance to bending when force is applied. The most common rod powers are ultra-light, light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, heavy, and extra heavy. The heavier a rod is rated the more power or force it takes to bend it. The lighter a rod is the less power it has and the more the rod will flex when pressure is applied.

Understanding and selecting the right rod power for the baits, lures and techniques you’ll be using will help you get the most out of your fishing rod.

The information you’ll learn this this fishing rod power guide will help you understand how fishing rods are built and will help you choose the right power and action that best matche your fishing applications.

Let’s get started.

Fishing Rod Power Explained

When selecting a fishing rod there are two things that really matter: power and action. The right combination of these two components will help you fish certain baits and lures effectively.

  • Power: how much weight or force a rod can handle
  • Action: how fast a rod bends or in other words where on the blank the rod will bend

The power of a fishing rod is a measure of how much force it takes to bend the fishing rod. Or in other words a fishing rod’s power essentially describes how much weight a fishing rod can handle. It refers to the stiffness or resistance to bending when weight is applied.

As you might have guessed heavier powered rods are typically used for throwing large baits and when targeting big fish. Lighter powered rods are most often used for smaller lures and when targeting smaller fish.

Here is a basic guide of the most common rod powers and when each one is typically used.

Fishing Rod Power Chart


Ultra-light powered rods are ideal for subtle finesse presentations when using light line and lures. Ultra-light rods are popular to use when targeting panfish, crappie and smaller sized trout.


Light rods are a small step up from a ultra-light and are best to use when using lures in the 1/16- ounce range. These rods are also best to use when targeting panfish, walleye, and most trout.

Medium Light

A medium powered rod is ideal for lures in the 1/8 to 1/3-ounce range. These rods are used by both fresh and saltwater anglers. These rods will stiffen up quicker and allow for a faster hook set when using jigs and soft plastic baits.


A medium powered rod is one of the most versatile rod powers and gives anglers a lot of options. They are ideal in bass fishing when throwing spinnerbaits, crankbaits and other moving baits, but are also popular in fresh water when popping corks. In general, they are good to use when throwing lures and baits in the ¼ to ¾ ounce range.

Medium Heavy

If you ask most bass fishing anglers what their favorite rod power is it would be a medium heavy rod and is one you would see the most on the deck of their boat. They are a little stiffer and more powerful than a medium rod which makes it easier to fish around vegetation and structure. If you are looking for your first bass fishing rod than a medium heavy powered rod is a great choice.


A heavy rod is built to handler larger and heavier baits around the 3/8 to 1-ounce range. As a result, its ideal for heavier jigs and lures and deep structure fishing. It’s a popular rod power in bass fishing as well as for other larger harder fighting fish.

Extra Heavy

The stiffest and heaviest built rod in most rod lineups is an extra heavy rod. These rods are built for heavy line, large baits, and big fish. When you bust out an extra heavy rod you mean business and you are after a large bass, muskie or lake trout.

One thing to keep in mind when you are thinking about a rod’s action and power is that there is not a uniform or standard rule across all brands. Sometimes even the same brand models may vary on how a power or action performs on a rod.

What this means is that a medium powered rod from one brand or model may be slightly different than a medium powered rod on from different brand or model.

For this reason, it’s best to feel and see how a rod’s action and power is before making a purchase.

Choosing a Fishing Rod Power

Now that you have a basic understanding of what the power means on a fishing rod, selecting the right powered rod is pretty simple.

Before choosing a rod you first need to decide what type of fishing you are going to be doing, the caliber of fish you are targeting and what are the size of baits and lures you’ll be using.

The most universal fishing rod power is a medium powered rod. If are not sure which one to get than a medium power is a safe bet. A medium powered rod works well for a variety of fishing techniques.

From there you can either go up or down in power depending on these three things:

Lure and Line Size

Each rod power is generally rated for a certain lure size. You can usually find this rating on the rod blank near the handle. If you are using large lures for big fish, you’ll want a rod blank that has more power. Something like a heavy or an extra heavy would your best bet.

On the other hand, if you are planning on targeting small fish with light lures than a rod that has a light or medium light rating is the best fit.

Size of Fish

Another important thing to consider is what species and size of fish you are planning on catching. For example, if you are targeting catfish or muskie you’ll need a rod with a lot more power than if you are fishing for crappie.


Don’t forget about the cover and structure you might encounter on your bodies of water. For example, if you are wanting a rod that will allow you to throw a frog and pull bass out of heavy grass and cover you are going to need a rod with a lot of power.

 If your rod is too light you’ll have a hard time getting them out of cover when you set the hook and will end up losing a lot of fish.

After you have an idea of what kind of power is going to be required for your fishing rod it’s time to start thinking about its action.

The action of a rod is where the rod blank bends. The faster the action of a rod the closer is bends at the tip. The slower the action the farther down a rod will bend on the blank.

In general, faster actions are used for bottom contact baits and when more powered is required. Moderate to slow action rods are used more for treble hooked baits and in fly fishing where you need more bend to cast and keep the fish pegged.

Here is a complete guide to help you make sure you select the right action: Fishing Rod Action: A Complete Guide

How to Check Power On A Fishing Rod

Checking or finding out the power or action of a fishing rod is really easy. Some rod manufactures will print the power of the rod near the handle. They will also include things like action, recommended lures and line rating. All of which are important factors that can impact your rod’s performance.

Another easy way to check the power of a fishing rod is to simply flex it against the ground. Just make sure the rod guides are facing upwards and that you don’t apply to much pressure. By flexing it against the ground you can get a feel for how much force it takes to bend the rod.

You can also see what kind of action the rod has. The higher or closer to the tip of the rod it bends the faster the action the rod has. If it bends more towards the middle of the rod blank it’s a moderate or medium action rod. If it really flexible and bends more towards the middle and below it’s a slow action fishing rod.

If all else fells and you are still not sure what power or action a fishing rod has you can always look it up online and you’ll be able to find the product details so you know exactly he type of rod you have or are looking to purchase.

Fishing Rod Power Vs. Action

A fish rod’s power and action are two important components that work together to create the right amount of bend and power of a fishing rod.

As I mentioned before a fishing rod power is how much force it takes to bend the fishing rod. The action of a fishing rod is where the rod bends. Each fishing rod will have both an action and a rod power.

Fish rod manufactures will create different combinations of rod action and power to create the ideal rod for each fishing application and techniques.

Rod Power FAQ

What is the best all round fishing rod? The best all-around rod for general fishing is a medium powered rod that has a moderate action. This type of rod is ideal for most fishing applications and techniques. You can throw most baits and lures and catch the majority of freshwater fish on it.

What is a medium power rod good for? A medium powered rod is versatile and effective all around rod. It can be used for most fishing lures, techniques and applications. You can catch bass, trout, panfish, walleye and other medium to small species. If you are not sure what rod to use start off by using a medium powered rod. They are pretty universal and easy to find.

Final Thoughts

A fishing rod’s power and action are important things to consider when choosing a fishing rod regardless of your target species and fishing method.

The right power and action of rod and equipment needed will depend upon the size of the fish and the flies, baits and lures you’ll be using.

To ensure you fish with and choose the right rod it’s important that you familiarize yourself with all of the rod features and be aware of their differences.

Feel free to reference this article anytime you need to make a rod decision so you’ll be confident you fish with and choose the right rod for your next fishing adventure.

Tight lines

Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

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