What Is Your Rod Made Of? Fishing Rod Materials Explained

What Is Your Rod Made Of? Fishing Rod Materials Explained thumbnail

Many of the fishing rods in the old days were made from bamboo or steel, but most of today’s rods are made from graphite, fiberglass or a combination of both materials.

I remember buying a boron bass rod back in the 1980s when boron rods were popular. But boron fibers were extremely stiff and expensive so the amount of boron in so-called boron rods was usually less that 25 percent. Now boron is used merely in the butt end sections of rods and some rod blanks will have a layer of boron with graphite or other materials wrapped around it. The boron adds to the power and strength of the rod, and its stiffness generates a fast recovery from a bend of the rod.

Photo credit to Wagner Rods

Fiberglass Fishing Rods

Fiberglass is highly flexible and heavier than graphite but it is also less sensitive and weaker. Fiberglass rods flex in a parabolic arc so that the entire rod bends from tip to butt when you lift a weight at the end of the line. The distance of the area from the tip of the rod where a rod flexes when loaded determines the action of the rod.

Fiberglass rods are usually slow- or medium-action rods. The slow action of the rod tip gives fish more of an opportunity to get the bait before you pull it away from the fish. Fiberglass rods are ideal for novice anglers because the rods are less expensive and more durable than graphite models.
Graphite is a more sensitive and stiffer material than fiberglass.

Graphite Fishing Rods

fishing rod and reel

Graphite rods are available in different degrees of stiffness referred to as the modulus, a measure of applied stress that it takes to deform or bend a material in its finished process state. The higher the modulus the stiffer the material, which means rod manufacturers can use less material to get the same stiffness. So a rod with IM8 graphite is lighter in weight than a rod of IM6 graphite, yet both rods will have the same amount of stiffness. The sensitivity of graphite rods allows you to detect strikes easier and the stiffness of the rods produce stronger hook sets. With less flex in the material, graphite rods are rated as fast or extra-fast action.

Composite Rods

fishing rod

Composite rods are constructed from fiberglass and graphite or other fibers. The combination of materials makes these rods more sensitive than fiberglass but less powerful than graphite when lifting heavy fish.

Gear Review: LiveTarget Commotion Shad

LiveTarget Commotion Shad

If a topwater plug and a spinnerbait — two sure-enough big bass baits — had a baby, it might look like the LiveTarget Commotion Shad. Indeed, this innovative design combines the best of both categories with surface dancing and lots of flashy, attention-grabbing racket. Notably, this bait maintains the familiar profile of a shad and adds in the illusion of an injured baitfish thrashing and splashing at the surface.

The Commotion Shad boasts three-dimensional, anatomically accurate features including scales, pectoral fins, gill plates and eyes. The tail end sports a Colorado spinner blade connected to the body with a durable swivel. When the attraction triggers a bite, the soft hollow body effortlessly collapses to expose the twin hooks that are angled slightly outward for maximum efficiency. The Commotion Shad comes in two sizes: 2 1/2-inch model that weighs 1/2 ounce and the 3 1/2-inch, 5/8-ounce bait.



The Commotion Shad’s design affords anglers the ability to work it with a twitches and jerks that yield an erratic plunking sound from the tail blade, or reel it in a straight retrieve that produces a trackable bubble trail. Seems like a good option for spicing up your topwater game in any scenario, but I’m seeing a real winner for shad spawns and the fall feeding frenzy when schooling activity is off the charts. And come spawning season, dancing this intrusive bait around the perimeter of the bedding areas will likely draw the ire of a big territorial fish with bad intentions.


COOLER ICE RETENTION TEST: YETI, Otter Box, and Igloo thumbnail

Cooler companies love to make ice retention claims, stays cold claims, and many other claims. I’ve seen claims of up to 96 hours and at the same time have never seen a cooler hold ice that long. It was time to do a controlled test and figure out, in a side by side comparison what some of these coolers like YETI, Otter Box, and Igloo.  The four coolers tested in this test were a YETI Tundra 45 ($299), the Otter Box Venture 45 ($299), the Igloo Amadeo Bachar Limited Edition BMX 52 ($249), and the Igloo Leeward 50 ($199).

It is financially restrictive to test all the coolers that the readers would like tested. It would cost potentially several thousand dollars to test them all. If you have a cooler you’d like to be tested, contact that company, show them this test, and recommend they send one to me to test. If I didn’t test your favorite brand of cooler, know I am definitely not opposed to it, I’m just not going to be able or willing to buy tons of coolers so every contingent is happy.

Additionally, there are thousands of ways to test ice retention. People will mention precooling, level of ice, draining off water etc in the comments. Trust me I know it’s coming and that is okay. I will only be reporting the results of this test, the way it was performed, and the measurements in between the start and final measurement.

How the Cooler Ice Retention Test was Performed

Cooler Ice Retention Test YETI Otter Box Igloo Payne Outdoors
The testing location but the garage door was closed.

I chose to use an ice weight measurement at all of the checked intervals after draining the water. I weighed all of the coolers on a scale with nothing in them (no accessories, baskets et al). After measuring the coolers’ dry weights I added 20 pounds of ice to each cooler and reweighed them to verify that indeed 20 pounds of ice was added. Each of the four coolers were kept in my garage in Texas (average temperature in the garage was 90 degrees) for the duration of the test. They all sat on the ground, not stacked, side by side at the same proximity to the garage door. No precooling was done.



Cooler Ice Retention Test YETI Otter Box Igloo Payne Outdoors
Igloo Leeward at 53.5 hours. (zero ice)

At each measurement throughout the test the water was drained off through the drain plugs and then the cooler was weighed. Once a cooler reached its dry weight and I confirmed no ice was left, that cooler was then eliminated and marked zero ice. I can’t speak to the actual moment when the coolers reached zero ice. I can only speak to the cooler going to zero ice sometime between the last two measurements.

Cooler Ice Retention Test YETI Otter Box Igloo Payne Outdoors
Igloo BMX at 53.5 hours (zero ice)

One cooler still had ice at the last measurement and was declared the winner. All other coolers were at zero ice.

Cooler Ice Retention Test YETI Otter Box Igloo Payne Outdoors
YETI Tundra at 53.5 hours

Again I will remind the readers that all possible scenarios were not exhausted here. This is a controlled test with equal variables for all four coolers. Draw from this test what you will. The data is the data for how this was measured. I chose to not remove and weigh the ice because I was afraid of loss due to external heat. I also did not open the coolers except to take a picture of the ice.

Cooler Ice Retention Test YETI Otter Box Igloo Payne Outdoors
Otter Box Venture at 53.5 hours.

Results of the Test

I’ve included a chart and two tables in graphics to show the ice degradation at the measurement points. What is hopefully clear from the data is that both the Igloo Leeward and Igloo BMX went to zero ice at some point between 28 and 53.5 hours. The YETI went to zero ice between 53.5 and 77 hours. At 77 hours the Otter Box Venture 45 still had one pound of ice in it.

Cooler Ice Retention Test YETI Otter Box Igloo Payne Outdoors
Showing both the combined weight and ice weight over the tested time intervals.


Cooler Ice Retention Test YETI Otter Box Igloo Payne Outdoors
Ice weight over time by each cooler. Notice the plateau of the Otter Box which represents good cold retention while others on a steady decline.

Cooler Ice Retention Test Final Conclusions

The winner in this particular test was the Otter Box Venture 45. After 77 hours it still had ice. Pretty impressive for temps in the high 90s through the duration. I’d also like to point out how well it held ice through the 53.5 hour mark. If you look at the weight of ice left at that juncture, 9 of the 20 pounds of ice were still in the Otter Box at 53.5 hours. The only other cooler still with ice, the YETI, only had 4 of the original 20 pounds still present.

Cooler Ice Retention Test YETI Otter Box Igloo Payne Outdoors
Otter Box Venture 45 is the ice retention winner!


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Bluegill vs. Bream: Different Name, Same Fish

Bluegill vs. Bream: Different Name, Same Fish thumbnail

Throughout my travels across the country, I have heard anglers give a common sunfish different names. In the South, some anglers call the sunfish a bream and others dub it a perch, while in the North and Midwest it is called a bluegill.

What Should We Call This Popular Panfish?

Well here is Wikipedia’s definition of this panfish: “The bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) is a species of freshwater fish referred to as ‘bream’ or ‘brim,’ ‘sunny,’ ‘copper nose,’ or incorrectly ‘perch.’ It is a member of the sunfish family Centrarchidae of the order Perciformes. It is native to North America and lives in streams, rivers, lakes and ponds.

Lepomis macrochirus is a mouthful to say so its common name became bluegill because of its blue coloration under its chin and lower part of its gill cover. You can also identify a bluegill by its slab-sided body and small mouth with the upper jaw not reaching past the front of its eye. The Bluegill has a spinous dorsal fin with 10 spines connected to a soft dorsal. Its pectoral fin is long and pointed and the fish has a prolonged ear flap.

Identifying Bluegill/Bream

In addition to the blue coloring around the gills, the bluegill has dark olive-green colors on its back and sides with yellow or reddish-orange on its breast and belly. The sunfish’s sides are often marked with dark vertical bars.

How Big Do They Get?


Bluegill commonly reach a length of 9 inches and a weight of about 12 ounces. If left alone, bluegill typically live between 6-8 years but can live up to 11 years old. The all-tackle world record for bluegill is 4 pounds, 10 ounces.

How To Target Bream


Targeting bluegill is an excellent way to introduce children and novices to fishing because the fish bite a variety of small natural and artificial baits. You can catch bluegill on crickets, grasshoppers or worms set below a bobber with a cane pole or fly fish with wet flies, dry flies or popping bugs.

Bluegill can be caught throughout the year, but my favorite time to catch these sunfish is during the spawn when the big bull males are protecting their nests. Casting a cricket or worm on a bobber to the nests is a guaranteed catch then.