An Angler's Buying Guide to Carp Fishing Rods

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An Angler's Buying Guide to Carp Fishing Rods

The carp discipline has perhaps seen the greatest progress in development of new techniques and technologies, of all the fishing niches. If you're new to carp fishing, you will be forgiven for thinking the learning curve is steep, there are a lot of tackle items on offer. The following paragraphs focus on the basics, from all the different types of rods available, to the feature to look out for that can give you an advantage on the bank. 


Carp Rods

First things first, you want to consider the length of your rod. More often than not, the carp rods you’ll see on our site will be 12ft in length. This is generally accepted as the prime length for carp fishing, as it offers you a mix of casting ability and fish playing potential – allowing you to tackle any swim with complete confidence. It also perfectly complements most landing nets, which tend to have handles of approximately 6ft. If you’re fishing on a variety of venues, with standard water heights and snag zones, then a 12ft rod will be ideal for your needs. However, we do also stock longer 13ft rods, which have been growing in popularity over the years. 13ft rods are ideal for tackling the largest carp waters, both here and over on the continent. This is because they offer the benefit of long distance casting, which is an area of the sport which has been growing in popularity over the last decade. Longer rods are also preferred when water levels are high, when fishing with a zig rig, or when you’re casting over an especially snaggy spot.


One feature which tends to differentiate 12ft carp rods from 13ft carp rods is the size of their butt rings. As a general rule of thumb, 12ft rods will be fitted with 40mm butt rings, whereas 13ft rods will be fitted with 50mm rings. This is because the larger the butt ring is, the less friction a line with experience as it comes directly off the reel and the longer the cast is that you can achieve. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule and, thanks to the growing popularity of distance fishing, more and more 12ft rods are being fitted with 50mm butt guides. You will also find the odd 13ft rod fitted with 40mm rings, too. When you’re investing in a rod with a 50mm guide, chances are you’ll want to consider the size of your rod sleeve, quiver, or holdall. Some luggage, particularly if you’ve owned it for a number of years, won’t be kitted out for the larger butt rings.


Test curve refers to the weight required in order to bend the rod tip at a 90-degree angle to the butt and you’ll generally find carp rods offer test curves between 2.75lbs and 3.5lbs. However, this isn’t to say that you won’t be able to find carp rods with test curves outside of these parameters. The test curve that you look for will be determined by the kinds of waters that you fish and the size of the carp that you’re targeting. If you’re fishing fast flowing waters, with a heavy rig, or for large carp, then you’ll want to go for a rod with a heavier test curve. However, if you’re fishing still waters, with lighter terminal tackle, or for smaller carp then a rod with a lower test curve will be better suited to your needs.




The action of the rod will be determined by a combination of the test curve and the materials at use in the rod blank. The rod blank is the main body of the rod, before any reel seats, guides, or other additions are included. As a general rule of thumb, most top end rods will offer a high modulus carbon fibre blank. Modulus is a stiffness rating, so if carbon fibre has a high modulus rating then it means it is a stiff rod that can perform well under pressure. The methods used to achieve the highest performing rod differ between manufacturers and techniques include super heating the blank and putting the blank under extreme pressure in the production process. All of these different methods are to ensure that the rod can hold its own under high-rotational pressure (or torque) – which is essential when you’re looking to achieve highly accurate distance casts, as well as when you’re retrieving a hard fighting fish that is attempting to kite into snags. Rods on the cheaper end of the spectrum will often use a carbon composite, rather than pure carbon fibre, in order to achieve the desired action.


The handle of the rod is another factor which is worth considering. Traditionally, cork has been used in rod handle manufacture and it is the favoured material of the classic carp angler. Cork does have some benefits over modern alternatives, including its heat retention (for comfort when cold weather angling) and its grip in wet conditions. However, as with all materials, it does have its drawbacks. Some anglers will find that that cork wears and crumbs more quickly than modern synthetic alternatives. Cork is also difficult to clean, so it will show the dirt early on. If you’re an angler who likes to look smart on the bank, cork might offer you the bespoke look you’re after for its first couple of uses but you may find yourself annoyed at the grime it picks up. The second most popular material used in carp rod handles is EVA. This is a plastic composite material which is favoured for its lightweight. It can also be precision manipulated, ensuring that you can enjoy an ergonomic hold on your rod. Like cork, it offers good grip in all weather conditions, however, it is also significantly longer lasting that cork. This means it will last much longer before it begins to show signs of wear – as well as being easily cleaned to preserve the spotless appearance of your tackle. Your rod handle will be finished with a butt cap, which is usually manufactured from stainless steel and engraved with the brand logo. This is designed to protect the blank from damage, as well as to look good!



Spod Rods

Spod rods have a higher test curve than traditional carp rods as they are designed to cast out heavy weighted spods. A spod is a rocket or torpedo shaped container that holds boilies or groundbait. These burst open upon impact with the water, releasing your freebie carp bait directly over your rods. As they are able to be quickly filled, cast, and reeled in, they are a really effective way of getting huge quantities of bait out to a feature, quickly and accurately. To accommodate your heavier tackle, spod rods can have test curves up to 5lbs, ensuring that they won’t falter under the pressure of casting heavy baits over long distances. 




Marker Rods

marker rods often have a stronger test curve than traditional carp rods and you will find that some rods are listed as both spod and marker rods. The purpose of a marker rod is to find features and position a float near them, giving you somewhere to aim when you’re casting into open water. This ensures your casting accuracy over long periods of time, so you can target the water with precision. Most brands who design main carp rods will also design rods for spodding and marking.



Stalker Rods

When fishing in tight spots a stalker rod can be really handy. A standard sized rod can be a hindrance and stealth and speed can be the difference between success or failure, so, tackle manufacturers developed smaller, 6ft stalker rods for those tighter spots.


The short length on the rod means its perfect for fishing at close range in the tightest swims. The length is not a hindrance on its power as many stalker rods are more robust and are capable of dealing with carp of all sizes.



If you want to learn more about carp rods on a brand-by-brand level, check out Angling Direct's handy guide to the Top 10 selling carp rods of 2021




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