Can a Fishing Rod Bend Both Ways?

Picking out the correct rod and reel is key to catching fish.  But if you are getting ready to move up to buying a rod and reel separately, you might have some new questions.  Along with having to decide which kind of rod and reels to buy, now you need to know how to put them together. Does it really matter where you put the reel or how the rod will bend?

So, can a fishing rod bend both ways?  No, a fishing rod is not meant to bend both ways. The spine of a fishing rod is placed on one side of the rod. So when you do a spine finder test, you will discern which side the spine rests on. This will also reveal the rod’s natural arch length, as well as where to place your reel. 

Basically, if you are building a spinning rod, the reel will sit on the underside of the rod’s spine, and if you are building a conventional casting rod, the reel will be on the topside of the arc of the spine.

The most important thing to understand when examining the bend of your fishing rod is where each type of rod naturally bends (finding the spine), what type of gear works best with which rod, and what the difference is between rod action and rod power.

General Fishing Rod Knowledge

Beginners typically buy a fishing rod with a reel already attached.  This is an excellent way to start because it eliminates having to make decisions a beginner is not ready to think about.   There’s plenty of choices already—what kind of reel, what type of tackle, what kind of fishing line, and so on. Getting an all-in-one package is much simpler.

Blank Rods

When you have a blank rod, this is where you might get confused as to which way the rod bends. Fishing rods come in a plethora of shapes and sizes, and the right rod depends entirely upon its owner’s needs. Longer rods are ideal for a lighter line, whereas a shorter rod is more suitable for heavier lines.  Another way of looking at it is if you plan to catch small fish, get a longer rod.

As mentioned earlier, the spine of a rod is located on one side of the rod. Performing a spinning test will reveal its location. This will then help you to know where to attach your reel. A spinning rod’s reel sits on the underside of the rod’s spine, and a casting rod’s reel sits on the topside of the spine.

How Do I Find my Fishing Rod’s Spine?

Since most fishing rods are graphite or fiberglass wrapped around a steel mandrel, often there is a slight difference in the sides of the rod (one side stiffer/sturdier than the other.) This stiffer deviation of the rod is what is referred to as ‘the spine.’ Every rod has a spine, but they are not always easy to find. Below is a set of steps to help you find your fishing pole’s spine.

  • Step 1 – Place colored tape in the middle of the rod. This will be where you mark the side of the spine (the flap of the tape will either hang down or up naturally. This tells you which side the spine is on.)
  • Step 2 – With an open palm securing the rod near the top, rest the rod blank at a 30-degree angle
  • Step 3 – Using the opposing hand, push down (apply pressure) to the rod blank as you roll the blank on an even surface.
  • Step 4 – Where the color tape lies, you’ll begin to notice where the blank ‘pops’ into a noticeable curve.  The rod will then want to straighten itself out of the curve.
  • Step 5 – Woot, there it is! THAT is where the spine is, my friend.

If you are a visual learner, this video from Mud Hole Rod Builders is an excellent way to watch and learn. They use a rod as an example, using two different methods of spine finding, and are great at explaining where the reel should go for which type of cast.

How do Different Rods Bend?

As previously mentioned, casting and spinning rods are built in different ways as according to how the spine is fixed on a blank rod. Rod building manufacturers test the rod blank to find the spine and then build upon the rod according to the bend. A blank rod will become a casting rod or a spinning rod based upon the build of the spine.

For this reason, it is essential to understand the distinct difference between a casting rod and a spinning rod.

Casting Rods

Casting rods are made to accommodate casting reels, also known as bait-casters, conventional reels, and level-wind reels. It may sound odd, but some rods are not made for the purpose of casting out bait, for some rods sink very low and slow and thus don’t want bait attached. 

Generally speaking, casting rods tend to be the preferred fishing rod when an angler is out on a boat vs. on the shore. They also allow for a more controlled release of the line to get the reel out slowly, instead of the spinning rod reel, which shoots out quickly. Casting rods allow for more precision.

Spinning Rods

Spinning rods are often the best type of rod for beginners who are learning to cast bait.  These rods are less likely to tangle. Spinning rods do require larger guides for the lines to come off the spool, whereas casting reels do not require as many. This is due to the fact that the line on a spinning reel is pulling underneath the rod (or spine) when fishing. Whereas the casting rod pulls from the upper side. This type of rod allows for a more consistent and easy fishing experience.

Can I Use a Spinning Reel on a Casting Rod (or Vice Versa?)

Technically you can use a spinning reel on a casting rod. However, you may experience a loss in your casting distance as well as potentially compromising the rod. This same theory applies when you are attaching a casting rod to a spinning reel. It can technically work – but you will be sacrificing some of the advantages of each kind of rod and reel. If you want the absolute best chance at a successful fish, it does not make sense to mix up rods and reels that are made for different purposes.

The Key Takeaway

Each blank rod contains a spine, which indicates the proper bend of the rod. However, when you outfit your rod for either normal casting or for a spinning reel, the location of the spine is imperative to note, so that you know where to place your reel correctly. Also, you should ideally use a spinning reel on a spinning rod and an overhead casting reel on an overhead rod. To risk stating the obvious–that is what they are indeed designed for!

While it isn’t the end of the world, if you swap reels and poles, you must be cautious as some elements may be sacrificed.  If you want to get the best performance from your fishing rod, you want to know how it is designed to bend. When in doubt, contact your local rod builder – if you are unable to ascertain the location of your fishing rod’s spine, someone at your local shop will be able to assist you.

And once you get their help, there’s only one place left to go—your favorite fishing hole!

Recent Posts