The fishing rod is probably the most important piece of fishing gear for either fresh or salt water. Rods have evolved over the years from bamboo to fibreglass and now graphite, or carbon fibre. Fibreglass fishing rods are usually stronger, more durable and less expensive. They are not as sensitive or powerful as graphite rods, but will hold up under more abuse. For that reason, fibreglass fishing rods are more suitable for beginning fishermen.
Fibreglass fly rods are made by wrapping cloth, which contains glass fibres, around a dowel. The rod is then baked at high temperatures in an oven. When it's finished baking, the rod will have a hollow core surrounded by the fibreglass. Graphite rods are made of graphite, a fibre composed of 94 to 99 per cent carbon, which produces a lighter rod with less diameter than fibreglass.
Because the material and production costs are higher, graphite rods are more expensive than fibreglass rods. There's also the rule of supply and demand. Fresh and saltwater graphite rods are more popular than fibreglass rods, so the prices tend to remain higher.
When it comes to toughness and durability, fibreglass rods of any type beat out graphite rods. Graphite rods are more brittle than those of fibreglass and will fracture more easily if stepped on or caught in a car door.
Since graphite rods are thinner and lighter than fibreglass rods, they work well for casting. Most fly rods are made of graphite because they're easier to cast, are more accurate, and due to their sensitivity better for detecting light bites. Surf casting rods, in particular, are almost all graphite. On the other hand, fibreglass, being tougher and stronger, is suitable for deep sea fishing where the quarry is a marlin, sailfish or tuna.
The Bottom Line
Cost aside, graphite rods get the edge because of their versatility, lightness and casting ability. However, for the novice or deep sea application, a fibreglass rod is the right choice.
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