The Fishing Rod: Parts & Terms

Posted by nick under Fishing Beginners Guide

So you want to get started fishing, but don’t know anything about rods, reels, line or terminal tackle. You don’t know what terminal tackle is, you say? Not to worry. I’m going to break it all down for you. I’m going to explain basic tackle to you: what it’s called and what it does.

Let’s start with the basic fishing rod:

fishing rod diagram

There are different kinds of fishing rods on the market; different sizes, made of different materials for different purposes. But the terms you see above are common to all fishing rods.


*By the way: its called a fishing rod not a fishing pole. Fishing rods have guides and a way to attach a reel to it. An old fashioned fishing pole is made of cane, has no guides and the line is attached to the tip (it has no reel).

The basic parts of a rod:

Butt Cap: This is at the bottom of the handle: sometimes made of rubber, sometimes of cork. This is the end you might press into your stomach if you’re fighting a good fish.

Handle: Referred to as a Grip, as well. This is where you hold the rod; can be made of foam or cork.

Reel Seat: This is where your reel gets attached to the rod. There are different mechanisms available to attach the reel. Some rods will have rings that go over the reel foot (see the reel diagram below to see a reel foot). Most rods have some sort of hood mechanism that screws either up or down on the foot of the reel to keep it in place. See the picture below:

reel seat photo

Hook Keeper:

Also called a Keeper Ring. This little ring is a big convenience, as it gives you a place to hook your hook so you wont impale yourself when your on the move.


Butt: This is the thick part of your rod that closest to the handle.

Ferrule: If you have a rod that breaks down into 2 pieces or more, the ferrule is the joint where sections of the rod fit together. See below for a close up of what ferrules look like.

fishing rod ferrule

Butt Guide:

This is the guide closest to the handle end of your rod. Its located on the thickest part of the rod (butt), that’s why the call it the butt guide.


Guides: These are the rings you see going all the way down the rod, they "guide" the line down the length of rod to the tip. The number, spacing, and size of the guides depend on the kind of rod you are using. But, generally speaking, the more guides the better. A higher quality rod will have at least one guide for every foot of its length (i.e. 6 foot rod should have at least 6 guides).

Windings: Those windings are how the guides get and stay attached to the rod. It’s basically string that gets wound around the foot of the guide, and is then painted over with a kind of glossy enamel to protect it. See picture below for a close up.

fishing rod windings


This is the uppermost part of the rod, the thinnest and most flexible, nearest the tip top.


Tip Top: This is the guide at the very tip of your fishing rod, its also the smallest, and probably the most important. This is the guide you are most likely to break off. When you are not watching, it likes to get caught in car doors and the like. See picture below.

fishing rod tip

Learning new terminology can be a bit of a pain. But, learning this stuff is important: knowing the names and purpose of tackle will help you compare equipment when you’re ready to buy your first fishing outfit, and make it easier to get your questions answered when you need help (because people will know what you’re talking about).


Before moving on, there is one more term you may hear about when trying to find the right rod and that term is Action.

fishing rod action diagramAction: The action of a rod refers to the flexibility of the rod. The action of a rod describes how much and where a rod bends when its "loaded" (bent). There are three main actions:

  1. Fast Action: This type of rod is generally stiff, and most of the bend happens at the tip part of the rod.

Medium/Moderate Action:

This rod bends a little deeper, so it has flexibility in the tip and in the middle of the rod.


Slow Action: This rod is the most flexible, it bends well into the butt end of the rod.

The type of action you need depends on what you plan to do with it; what kind of fish you are targeting and what kind of technique you plan to use.


Hot Technique Alert: Have you ever heard of the fly and bubble technique? It’s an awesome and versatile fishing tactic that every spin fisherman should know… read about here.

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79 Responses to “The Fishing Rod: Parts & Terms”

  1. New to this Says:

    Does the string need to be put through the “butt guide”?

  2. israel lopez Says:

    I need parts ,call me my num.. is 703 870 6886

  3. STEVE Says:

    Where can I find these items; Most rods have some sort of hood mechanism that screws either up or down on the foot of the reel to keep it in place. I think they are called clamp & screw. I have been looking for these for a long time.

  4. Ashton Says:

    Me and a friend are planning on starting a fishing club here at school. We both have been fishing since as long as we can remember but unlike me… he was taught the ways of “fishing”… Thanks to your website I am finally able to understand the lingo”language” that all bass fishers speak. A very helpful website and will be posted for all members of the club to see. Thanks…

  5. adam Says:

    What is the purpose of having two diffrent lines on a fly reall

  6. adam Says:


  7. Greatdane Says:

    The first line on a fly reel is a weighted line.
    The weight of this line is what helps cast out the fly as you cast it into the water. Thus the back and forth “whipping” motion of the rod and line.
    The second line is called backing…originally caddyhunk “sic”. This was tied to the weighted line and was fed out (unspooled) and used to allow the fish to run when hooked. Especially helpful for large salmon species etc.
    Hope this helps.
    My technical jargon is probably not the best.

  8. aj Says:

    I inherited a bunch of fishing rods and I was wondering if there is any way to tell what kind of action they were?

  9. The Amazing Supply Chain of a Fishing Rod | Inventory & Supply Chain Optimization Says:

    […] guides, including the “top guide”, are also mounted to the pole. The small guides lead the fine line from the reel to the upper […]

  10. THY OUTDOORS Says:


  11. Amin maulani Says:

    provide an overview of fishing easily on every article on this website thank u

    Media Pancing

  12. ini Says:

    How is of used

  13. Nick Says:

    Thank you!

  14. Everything you need to know about fishing rods | Must Byt Says:

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  16. Nicholas Says:

    You have got me started well. Good and clear lesson.

  17. Says:

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    ?ould test th?s? IE still iss the mardket leader and a l?rge prt of
    folks will pass oer yyour wonderful writfing ?ue to thi ?roblem.

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  18. Jonathan Edwards Says:

    can we get a type of fishing rod? cause all rods are used for different things. :/

  19. Brian B Says:

    Your explanation was informative, however most people just want to know what rod to use and when to use it. Possibly break down what fish you are targeting and then establish whether they should use a spin casting, bait casting or trolling rod and what test line to use on each. . . Just saying might be more useful.

  20. ryan Says:

    I lost the screw thing the holds the reel handle in place and I am wondering where I can get one

  21. scott V. Lenz Says:

    I had a nice idea on how to make a custom home made fishing rod by bamboo.

    I’ll share it recently…


  22. The Amazing Supply Chain of a Fishing Rod – Inventory & Supply Chain Optimization Says:

    […] guides, including the “top guide”, are also mounted to the pole. The small guides lead the fine line from the reel to the upper […]

  23. Patrick Says:

    Great introduction to fishing, Nick!

    The whole 17 part series is probably the most comprehensive getting started guide for all the fishing newbies out there.

    I especially like the rod graphics on this one. Did you make them yourself?

  24. Charlie Alf Says:

    This is such an excellent article for beginners who just want to get into the art of fishing! All great fishermen (or women) started out learning just like this. I love that there’s a diagram too, makes it much easier to visualize. Definitely expanded my vocabulary by reading this post!

  25. Joe 2nd time Newbee Says:

    I thought I knew about fishing as a kid many decades ago. After a long absence, I’m getting back into it (I’m retired now). I am amazed at how much I thought I knew, don’t know and have yet to learn. Thanks for all the good info. I’m making good use of it.

  26. Irv Says:

    Thank You!
    Thank You!
    Thank You!

    Very helpful info!

  27. jim watson Says:

    There is a lots of way of fishing. Using fishing rod and reel is much more smarter than using net.

    And this way fishing can be really fun. That’s why its being so much popular now a days.

    You are right there is lot of different types of fishing rod out there.
    Fly rod, baitcasting rod, spincasting rod and surf rod.

    Among all i like baitcasting fishing rod , but i have a several other rods too.

    Thanks for the awesome info you share with us.

  28. Fishing Terms Says:

    Good guide on fishing terms Thank you

  29. George at TackleCrafting Says:

    Thanks for a very informative article. Understanding some terms will help me a lot when I will write the next article on my fishing blog.

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