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Are fiberglass rods outdated?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.

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    Hi, I am 58 and have taken up angling after a lengthy break, my first foray into a shop was an eye opener, as everyone seemed to have learnt a new language! I am lucky in that two great rivers, the Severn and the Wye are close to me, and I fish for Pike and Zander mostly. I went for the stuff I could not afford as a kid, Mitchell 410′s and Hardy fibalite rods, and on ebay and car boots I found at good prices (£40 for a mint 10′ Hardy spinner) the kit I had lusted after back in the late 1960′s / early 1970′s.

    Had some great days over the last 2 years, but you know how it is, and at my last trip to the tackle shop I was tempted by a 10′ 2.75 TC high modulus spinning rod at a big discount over new, by a well known and well reviewed modern make.

    Initially I was blown away by it’s weight, I had to check the bag to make sure both sections were indeed present, and first trip out I caught a couple of medium Zander…BUT side by side testing against the Hardy, with the same reel / line / lure combo was interesting, I had thought the carbon rod was casting far further, but after a spell of alternating casts, I realised it just FELT different, the Hardy is softer in feel, but can match the distance of the other rod, but goes about it in a different way (which I now realise I prefer!).

    I read your write up smiling to myself as I agree with every word, I will keep the carbon rod in my “toolbox”, but my first reach will be for my older fibreglass ones.

    Best regards, Ed

  14. Dag Gammelsaeter
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    Hi, I am 50 and I have always used fiberglass rods. I don’t trust carbon rods under ruff conditions. Too many times the results have been broken rods. The fiberglass rods take a lot more beating and hard handling.

    Regards, Dag

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