Fiberglass vs. Graphite Fishing Rods

Are fiberglass rods outdated? Will high modulus graphite take over? Can a graphite rod challenge fiberglass’s authority in cranking?

These are all common questions I bump into when discussing rod blanks with passionate anglers. And they are all pretty normal questions since fishing rods are tending to become more sophisticated day by day.

They aren’t just tools for landing fish anymore. Rods need to provide comfort, extreme sensitivity and amplify the adrenaline rush during fish fighting. That’s why they are becoming specialized, each one having a certain application in fishing.

Let’s have a look at some of the most important characteristics of a fishing rod, and see for ourselves if high modulus graphite will really make fiberglass disappear.

1.Blank Design and Presentation

The first thing you notice when you put your hands on a rod is the blank. Fiberglass blanks have a higher overall diameter, which means they are thicker. Being used to graphite blanks, you might find this unattractive. Get over it. You’ll find there’s more to fishing rods than just looks.
Besides, if you plan to go for a custom rod, there are many ways to hide this and transform the blank into an incredible looking rod. Split grip is just one option.

Two Seeker fiberglass blanks turned into beautiful split-grip rods

2.Sensitivity

This is graphite’s territory. Graphite rods are known to be extremely sensitive and delicate. In many situations this is a huge advantage. But sometimes, this extreme sensitivity can be fatal. Many tournament anglers complained that sometimes graphite can make you react too fast and lose fish.
It happened to me in many cases, when fishing for pike, asp, zander (wallaye), chub, even bass. Graphite made me set the hook too early.

In these conditions, fiberglass is the right move. It won’t loose you any fish plus it gives you the right amount of sensitivity so that you don’t feel like fishing blindly.

If you still feel like you need more sensitivity, you can go for a combination of fiberglass and graphite blank. This is meant to increase the sensitivity of the whole system.

3.Weight

Many people say fiberglass blanks are heavier that graphite. Technically, in most of the cases, this might be true. But for me this isn’t really an issue. I like to fish with custom built rods. In this case, a good rod builder will balance your rod in such manner that the extra weight will vanish.

Andrei working on a Lamiglas Skeet Reese blank

I have fished with old fiberglass rods that seemed lighter than other fancy graphite rods. We measured them on a scale and of course the graphite was lighter. The secret relies in balancing the rod. If your rod is balanced correctly, those extra grams won’t disturb you anymore.

Many of the new fiberglass series rods are built in the same manner. They’re not feather light, like you’d expect from graphite, but they won’t stop you from fishing comfortably.

4.Action

There is a common confusion made regarding the rod action. Fiberglass rods, because they seem soft, people put them in the moderate action range or below. This is very far from the truth. There are fast, moderate-fast, moderate or slow action fiberglass rods. And the same applies to graphite. Action has little to do with material, it depends more on the construction parameters.

A difference between fiberglass and graphite blanks is the comeback rate. Fiberglass has a slower comeback rate. This translates in more vibrations after the cast. I don’t recommend fiberglass to beginners, because it can take some time until you master the casting technique. But once you do, the advantages will start to show.

Fiberglass are wonderful rods for landing lightly hooked fish. You have less chance of pulling away the treble hooks out of a fishes mouth. Besides, it will help you tire a fish very quickly. It will absorb all the jerks in the fishes battle and turn the balance your way. This is one of the reasons why fiberglass rods are making a huge comeback among bass fisherman.

Lately I started using a fiberglass rod more often when stream fishing. There are some medium sized rivers near my home town, where I usually fish for zander, asp or catfish.

The Lamiglas blank did a great job tiring this catfish

I started out with… of course… graphite rods. In the strong current the fish weren’t able to absorb the lure well enough and this resulted in a lot of missed fish or bent hooks. When you wait a whole afternoon for that big one to strike, it can get pretty ugly when it gets away. No picture, no believers.

River zander gives up to the fiberglass baitcasting rod

The fiberglass rod helped me hook and land more fish. The fights were shorter and the number of hooked fish increased. Plus I lost fewer lures, due to line breaks. And this gets us to…

5. Applications:

What are the main applications for fiberglass? Fiberglass rods are recommended for crankbaits, spinnerbaits or suspending jerkbaits. You normally fish this lures in spring or late autumn, but the fiberglass applications range is much wider.

For example spoon fishing is amongst my favorites with fiberglass rods. It gives my lures a more natural presentation. Trout and pike are the main target when fishing spoons.

Beautiful trout I caught in Norway using a 6'6'' Seeker fiberglass rod

Professional bass anglers usually use fiberglass when throwing crankbaits. Some say that graphite cranking rods are also an option. I think this mainly depends on the fisherman. Try them both and see which one fits you best. Me, I’m all fiberglass for the above applications.

I also suggest you try jigging with a fiberglass rod. Sounds crazy, right? It is, a little bit. But you might find it interesting and useful in certain situations. I first tried it with a friend’s Seeker rod. We were on a lake with a lot of perch and zander. I had missed a lot of fish, because they didn’t attack my soft baits decisively. All I felt in my graphite rod were small taps. Every hook setting was a disaster. No fish at the end of the line. You can easily get frustrated after a while.

First cast with the Seeker, a perch. Sheer luck, I said. Second cast, bang…a 3 lbs zander. Damn! The graphite rod was just too stiff for the light, finesse presentations needed in that particular case. The 3” grub on a light jig was more successful with a fiberglass rod. The fish reacted immediately to the more natural and appealing lure presentation.

This situations are pretty rare though. Normally a graphite rod is all you need for jigging. Just keep an open mind, there are other options too.

5. Toughness

Every fisherman loves his tackle. I try to be very gentle with mine. But accidents do happen. And fishing rods are not immortal. There are a lot of cases when you drop your rod on the ground, fall on it or hit it hard with different objects. Usually with graphite, after this happens, you end up with a travel pack rod. You have no option but to buy a new one.

Seeker, Lamiglas and Batson, some of the fiberglass rods manufacturers out there

High-modulus graphite is more brittle than fiberglass. If you’re pretty clumsy, like I am, then buying a fiberglass rod can be a good decision. It is by far more resistant than graphite and I strongly believe the two of you will have a long journey ahead.

6. Price

Price is one big advantage that fiberglass has over high modulus graphite. Fiberglass is inexpensive. You can easily find fiberglass blanks at prices that range between 40-70$. I even bought some Batson blanks which I really enjoy fishing with, for less than 20$. Bottom line, fiberglass is more affordable than graphite.

This is another reason why I think you should give this material a try. It’s not a big investment, and even if you don’t like it, you can make someone happy by giving it as a gift.

Remember:
One of the most important things in the whole fishing experience is your rod. Try to match the material with the type of fishing.

Give fiberglass rods a second chance. They are far from the old fiberglass rods our grandparents were used to, which felt lifeless and insensitive. If you decide to use quality components, they can make fishing more pleasant than most graphite rods.

Do you fish with a fiberglass rod? Which type? Are you planning to get one?
I would love to hear from you in the comment section bellow.

About Adrian

Professional angler, web enthusiast and tackle fanatic. Always in search for new things that can improve his fishing.
This entry was posted in Featured, Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

33 Comments

  1. Sam
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi there can I ask you where have you bougth that (red-orange) chestpack, that I can see in the pictuture?? I would like to buy one, es pretty cool,

    many thanks.
    sam

  2. Posted March 17, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Hi Sam,

    The chestpack is a William Joseph, Watermark series. From what I’ve heard they are no longer produced. Maybe if you’re lucky you can still find them on Ebay or some niche online stores.

  3. Sam
    Posted March 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks, very nice trout and good picture

    Take care, regards.

    Sam

  4. Frank
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article. I thought I was alone out there. Love fishing glass rods. I had an old Browning Silaflex glass rod that I gave away to follow the trend of fast action graphite rods. Wish I had that back.
    Now I’m looking for a 6′ glass casting rod to match a new Shimano Caenan 101. Any ideas?

  5. Posted March 28, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    You could either go custom, and trim a Lamiglas Skeet Reese blank, or use a Seeker Blank, or try any of the manufacturers like: Lamiglas, Dobyns, even Daiwa had some 6′ fiberglass casting rods that were awsome, but i guess they discontinued them.

    There might be other manufacturers out there, but these are the ones I recall in this moment. Lamiglas might offer you the 6′ you need, but Fiberglass rods in that length are pretty rare.

  6. Adrian
    Posted March 28, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Hi Frank,
    Don’t worry, you are not alone out there :) . From my recent surveys the number of fiberglass fans is increasing rapidly. As Andrei said, my advice also will be to go for a custom rod, one that you can shape to fit your needs.
    As for blanks, all the companies mentioned in this article design really great ones.

  7. Posted May 9, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article Adrian.

    I like to stay adaptable in my fishing, as you have mentioned there are many variables to consider from the fish you target, the body of water, even weather all the way to the rod, reel, lure and line used. I have done very well within the range of graphite rods I own. Now I wonder if I might have done even better. I will have to look at purchasing a fiberglass rod now and see what I’ve potentially missed out on.

    Thanks,
    Brad

  8. Posted May 10, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Brad,
    Yes, give fiberglass a try, you might get hooked pretty fast. I sure did :)

  9. jeremy airey
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi Adrian
    I’m the one in the ‘fishingmagic’ trackback.
    Here’s what I posted and can you help with blank suppliers and retailers in UK or even Europe?
    Hi Chaps
    Now I need your help with a ‘project’ for a new rod I am building.
    I am wanting to build a glass/carbon hybrid not composite 7 foot-ish light lure rod consisting of a carbon handle of about 2 feet and a fast taper ‘S’ glass tip.
    Why glass you might ask – several reasons – 1) I want to try out the action of glass which is slower and more forgiving compared to carbon.
    2) I think this attribute might be a help with my light spinning for perch and other ‘softer’ mouthed species like perch (present fav.) and pollack.
    3) Being a total tackle tart I really WANT a honey coloured glass tip / black parralell or a preferably slight reverse taper carbon butt all whipped up in a claret / black tippings with a modern Japenese domestic market style handle (google jdm for pics). I saw a pic online of a rod in this colour scheme based on a honey coloured ‘s’ glass lamiglas blank and it totally blew me away.
    Yes aesthetics are important and black is a very boring colour.
    The link (http://fishinglifestyle.net/2010/12/fiberglass-vs-graphite-fishing-rods/ )
    Does anyone have any ideas re. a supplier in the UK (yes I know I could go yankee) or if a suitable honey coloured glass rod exists that could be adapted (chopped)?

    Any help appreciated

    regards and thanks
    Jeremy

  10. Posted October 26, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Hello Jeremy,
    The yellow honey blank don’t think will fit your criteria. They are very powerful blanks, unlike what you want. They are made by Lamiglas, the Skeet Reesse series. They discontinued the lighter version of the blank.

    The only US manufacturer that has blanks made out of fiberglass so light that they meet your needs, is Seeker.

    They make the S-Glass as well, but they are even more powerful than the yellow honey blanks from Lamiglas, and they only come in a nice greenish color. They can be made in the yellow honey color as well, but you need some hard cash for that.

    The type of blank that would meed your desires ate solid carbon tip blanks, that is much softer than tubular carbon, a glass like feeling if you ask me.

    All of these blanks are in the light category, with a fine softer tip and backbone depending on the model.

    I usually go ahead and order these blanks from Matagi. You can find them on page 19 ( http://matagi.co.jp/2011pdf/p19.pdf ). All the blanks which end with “solid carbon tip” are what you mainly desire.

    For a certain fee, Mr. Mamoru from Matagi can help you paint the blanks in whatever color you desire.

  11. Posted March 14, 2012 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Great writeup. I’ve had recent discussions on graphite v fiberglass. Full disclosure: I fish Conolon Gold series glass rods almost exclusively along with a few Narmco ultralights. I’ve a feeling the older glass rods people refer to are the middle of the road rods and not the higher end, hand made rods.

    I guess it’s not the weight of the rod for me, it’s the balance, the taper and the feedback. I like the spring in a fast taper Gold Light rod that I can’t seem to find in a graphite rod. Maybe it’s just habit (I’m 59) but I can’t get used to graphite. They all seem too full of so many vibrations that I can’t get a feel for the fish, when to set the hook, when to play and when to back off.

  12. Najeeb
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Could you let me know, which rod would be most suitable for shore jigging in ‘saltwater’.. Keeping in mind, for a beginner… :)

  13. David
    Posted December 8, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I live in British Columbia, and have done lots of salmon fishing in local rivers. Just purchased a centerpin reel for steelheading and have the opportunity to purchase a custom made Lamiglas Skeet Reese rod in the 11 to 14 foot range for a very reasonable price. Friends say i should go with store bought graphite. Steelheaders out here use floats with various artificial presentations along with cured roe drifted in current. My concerns are with the hookset of fiberglass compared to that of graphite. Endless hours hunting steelhead in sub-zero temperatures to bag a winter steelhead just to lose it due to a slow hook set is not something i hope to experience. Thanks in advance to your reply

  14. Adrian
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Hi David,
    Try using braid when fishing with fiberglass for a better hookup ratio. To eliminate the visibility of braid underwater you can use a fluorocarbon leader.

    The Lamiglass Skeet Reese blank is pretty sensitive and combined with braid it will give you the perfect setup.

    I’d say go for it, especially if the price is good and the custom rod is nicely balanced.

  15. David Rose
    Posted January 26, 2013 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t disagree more. The issues you gave about more natural lure presentation because graphite is too stiff means your fishing a rod that is too heavy and probably tapered wrong. You can fish the same action as fiberglass with much less weight and sensitivity. The sensitivity issues you mentioned are shortcomings of the fisherman. Patience my friend. You have to learn to handle all that power. It’s like choosing a Mustang over a Indy car for a road race because you can’t handle the power and spin out. If your serious about your equipment try some St. Croix Elite series. They slow cook the resin and have great casting and dampening characteristics. Loomis will certainly hook you as well.

    Any good rod must have Carbon in the areas not meant to flex. Sometimes cheaper rods will use fiberglass in the tip for dampening and weakness but the better way is proper orientation of the graphite.

    Most custom rods using off the shelf blanks can’t match the technology of the major high end manufacturers who modify the structure of the element carbon to meet the special needs of the rod..

  16. Posted February 22, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

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  17. Matthew
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Being a budget fisherman I have never paid full price for a fishing rod. A couple of years ago I found a graphite rod on sale. After using this rod I dont think I’ll ever buy another fiberglass pole again. Mabey some day if I get to handel an expencive pole I will go back to fiberglass but till then I will enjoy my super sensitive graphite. My favorite thing is the way it casts.

  18. Posted April 21, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Thanks , I’ve just been searching for info about this topic for a long time and yours is the best I’ve came
    upon so far. However, what concerning the bottom line?
    Are you certain concerning the source?

  19. Posted April 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    It’s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I am satisfied that you shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Lars
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    Well at least it seems you given up the nylon line.

  21. juan
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Hey , nice stuff. I just started fishing and i started off a shakespear micro series 4’10″(graphite). its pretty freakin cool. i hope i catch me some fish this year huh.

  22. Archie
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the useful info. Have heard a couple of scary stories of Graphite and lightning anyway. You have made up my mind for me. Fibre it is!

  23. David S.
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    When it comes to graphite vs. fiberglass a lot of it will come down to preference. I prefer my graphite over fiberglass and I will say it’s purely a personal preference. My preference is based on a few things one of them being the reel I use. I use a Shimano Guarado 200GS bait caster and the action with graphite over a fiberglass rod for casting is much better.

    When it comes to setting the hook I have had no issues with using a graphite, I agree with David Rose that it is the error of the fisherman not the rod. On the contrary my experience with graphite is less fish lost and quicker sets. This, in my opinion, is due to the graphite rods sensitivity I am able to judge when to set the hook more accurately.

    As for fiberglass being more affordable this is not necessarily true, if my graphite rod ever breaks I just bring it to the store and exchange it for a new one. A good rod will be backed by a great warranty thus saving you money in the long run. I have had this rod for 3 years and caught a wide range of fish with no breaks. It has been dropped, hit on a door, jammed into the ground (made my heart skip), and there are no cracks, chips, or any signs of damage. Fiberglass rods… well lets just say I have broken the last 4 I have had and two were in the same year.

    Now this does not mean fiberglass is inferior just because my experiences, it only means graphite is what I prefer fishing with. This article is an interesting read but to me it seems heavily biased towards fiberglass rods. I would like to see a more point to point comparison of two rods (one of each) that are from the same manufacturer and/or within the same class. Without that type of comparison the critique ends up being biased in one way or another.

    Cheers

  24. Posted July 15, 2013 at 1:55 am | Permalink

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  25. Ivan
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    Hi, what’s the reel on the bottom rod you can see in the picture with three. Also what braid is that?

  26. Adrian
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Hi Ivan,
    The reel is a Shimano Stella and the braid is Sunline Super PE.

  27. Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    I literally grew up on the river bank fishing for Salmon. River fishing where I lived (Idaho) for Salmon is different than most other fishing. Fishing large holes required a feel for the Salmon inhaling the roe, smashing it, and then spitting it out rather quickly. No “bite” could be felt. In it’s place you had a very subtle feel when the fish mouthed the bait. I fished with a 9′ Fenwick fiberglass rod for years. I broke my last one a couple of years ago and have used every Graphite rod made trying to replace the Fenwick. I would love to have the old Fenwick back but….they made the “Classic Glass” for a couple three years and they were very close to the old Fenwick. Unfortunately they quit making it. Where can I find a Glass rod in the 8.5-9 foot spinning or bait casting model, either works fine. Thanks for the help!

  28. Charles Salekin
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    Just a note to say that I too much prefer tubular fiberglass spinning rods over the highly rated carbon graphite. Also and while I’m at it, I will say that the finest fly rod that I’ve ever used was a tubular steel model and manufactured in the U.S.A. in the 1930′s. Nothing I’ve ever used since performed as beautifully.

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2 Trackbacks

  1. By A very special rod - FishingMagic Forums on October 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    [...] scheme based on a honey coloured 's' glass lamiglas blank and it totally blew me away. The link ( Fiberglass vs. Graphite Fishing Rods | Fishinglifestyle.net ) Does anyone have any ideas re. a lamiglas or other supplier in the UK (yes I know I could go [...]

  2. [...] Shakespeare Wild Cat Spinning Rod (no reel) is made of a tubular fiberglass blank. This means that this rod is flexible and very strong. Many of the older rods are made of [...]

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