Surf Casting RodsCheck out my new site at Catfishing.tv
This is by far the most important component in casting distance. The rod must fit your body and muscle structure when catfishing at dams or anywhere else that distance is important. A lot of people think you need a long rod for putting more power on the fish and this just isn't the case. The importance of a long rod when fishing is forgiveness and casting distance. It's a lot easier to put massive amounts of pressure on the fish, hook and line with a short stiff rod than it is with a long stiff rod. The reason is because of the fulcrum in comparison to the rod tip. If you're thinking you can pull harder on fish with a long rod then you need to back up a little cause it just ain't so. In order to pick up a 10# weight with a 14 ft rod you'd have to put about 30 lbs pressure on the handle above the reel where if you were picking up a 10# weight with a 4 ft rod you'd only have to put about 14 lbs pressure on the handle above the reel. The reason is because the fulcrum, which is where your hand is above the reel, is not as far from the rod tip on the short rod. You can also break heavy line a lot easier with a short rod than you can with a long one. Try breaking 20 lb test with a surf rod when it gets hung up using the rod and then try breaking 20 lb test with the short rod. It's about 3 times easier to break the line with the short rod so this means that if you put 30 lbs pressure on the rod with the short rod it'll translate into about 23 to 25 lbs pressure on the line where with the long rod you put 30 lbs pressure on the rod it'll translate into about 13 to 15 lbs pressure at the rod tip.
The long rod is forgiving and helps you to cast further. When a fish lunges or takes off running you can allow the fish to make those short runs to 5 or 6 ft with just the rod. This allows you just that much more control on the fish and allows you to use lighter line with a longer rod. It's important to use heavier line with shorter rods. Using heavy line on surf rods defeats the purpose ... it kills casting distance and is senseless since you can't break 20 lb test with a long, stiff rod anyhow. My average line size on my reels is usually around 15 lb test ... when fishing flood water I'll use 20 to 25 just depending on the amount of turbulence there is. I also use a shock line for casting because I can't cast with anything less than 50 lb test.
I use Breakaway 2pc/1pc rods for fishing below Keystone Dam and they're just a little too much rod for the average caster. Most people would do well with an 11' 9" breakaway or a 2pc/1pc lite just depending on your body structure. I'm talking about these rods mainly because they're the best I've found for distance casting. There are others and I will mention a few. Their advantages and disadvantages as well.
The Fenwick 1pc 14ft rod used to be my favorite rods. The 16810 blank was bulky and I used these for years before I had my heart attack but I wouldn't recommend these for anyone that wasn't over 250 lbs and stout as an ox. They're heavy and fat and don't cut through the air very good but are some stout rods.
The lamiglas tuna stick is also another rod like this ... they're not as big around but have some serious backbone but they're heavy. This is the rod I took to my first casting competition and cast 629 ft with it and a stock 7000c3 levelwind. They have serious and even backbone like the Fenwick 16810 but the weight is the main drawback. They're also a little bit like an unglystick surf rod ... feels like you've got a piece of rebar in your hand.
The Uglystick surf rod is just an all around bad throwing rod ... it's cheap and that's what makes it more attractive to people just starting out surf rod catfishing. The backbone of the Uglystick is very uneven as it's stiff then limber in several points along the rod making it cast funny too. max distance for these in an experienced caster's hands is about 40 to 50 yds less than any of the previously mentioned rods.
The zZiplex is not really what I'd call a fishing rod but is the most popular tournament casting rod. They're an English rod that has pretty much dominated the Tournaments. The Conoflex is also in this category. They're very expensive and not many dealers in the US carry these rods.
You can find out a lot more information about surf rods at these links.
Breakaway Surf Fishing Board
Woody's Bait & Tackle Local Rod Maker
Hatteras Jack'sRod Maker
St Augustine Florida Fishing
Hatteras OutfittersRod Maker