This month Lee Reid from Cheshire asked; “How do I choose the best test curve for me and my lake? I don’t want one too soft or too stiff.”
Check out Matt, Ian and Rich’s response…
Choosing the right test curve rod for you and the venue you’re fishing really depends where you’re fishing and how you want the rod to behave.
If you are going to be fishing a weed and snag free venue at short to medium range there is no need to go for something at the heavier end – a rod of 2.75 or 3lb test curve maybe fine. The enjoyment you will have playing fish on the softer rods is unrivalled. If you regularly want to fish further out then it’s worth increasing on that. I used 3.25lb test curve for my all round fishing for years and found distances up to 120 yards comfortable. More than that and it is definitely worth stepping right up to the top and going with either a 3.5 or 3.75lb test curve. Do remember that when stepping up to gain distance you will be sacrificing playing action and you will need to be more careful when playing a fish at close range. It is slightly less enjoyable but with a bit of experience it shouldn’t be a problem.
If you are going to be fishing near weed and snags then I would also certainly be looking at something in the higher test curve range. If a hooked fish attempts to find sanctuary in an underwater tree or thick weed bed you will need the power to turn its head to give you any chance of landing them. For this I would say a rod of either 3.25 or 3.5 would be most suitable.
If you don’t want something to soft or to stiff then it is also worth looking at a rod with a ‘through action’ rather than a ‘fast taper’. The fast taper is more associated with the distance fishing giving a much stiffer, more powerful rod where the bend is mostly in the tip and is probably the action most people are unhappy with. The through action, as its name suggests will be a progressive bend right through the rod down to the butt section, even in the higher test curves.
Choosing a new rod can be very difficult with so many test curves, rod actions, ring sizes and lengths to choose from. A simple way to look at what rod would suit you would be to first of all think about what type of venues you will be fishing. If the venue you are targeting is a smaller style lake with a stock of double figure Carp with a few twenties, then a rod with a lower test curve like the Chub Plus Outkast Smallwater or a Chub Outkast Plus 2.5lb test curve would offer a perfect balance of playing action and casting capability.
If the venue is a large lake that requires you to cast at range or you intend to cast solid PVA bags then a higher test curve rod capable of launching a heavy load at range would be better suited, depending upon the range a 3.25 or 3.50 lb test curve rod is better suited. This higher test curve rod would also be a perfect tool if the venue you are targeting is weedy or snaggy. The Greys GT5 in a 12′ 3.5 lb test curve is a light agile rod despite the high test curve. Typically rods in this higher test curve are supplied with 50mm but eyes to assist in reducing line friction during casting to help achieve the longest cast.
Let’s have a look at rods and rod terminology and try to explain a few elements that should help you choose a new rod:
The test curve is the weight required to bring the tip to a 90 degree angle to the butt while the butt is held horizontally. This measurement provides a guide to the stiffness of one rod compared to another. The test curve on its own is not an indicator of casting capability however. Of more influence on a rod’s casting potential, is the action of the rod. For example a fast-taper 2.75 lb test curve rod will have greater casting capability than a through-action 3.5 lb test curve rod, but the through-action rod will have other benefits over the faster-action rod.
For simplicity, only three types of action tend to be referred to in the press:
• Fast taper
However, there is a whole spectrum of actions between these, and there are points in the spectrum where the definition of the action is a matter of opinion. For example some people may describe the same action as either a semi-fast or a through-action. Also semi-fast and fast-taper actions become confused. The result is that the action of a rod described in the angling press is sometimes misleading.
Through-action rods are a dream for playing fish as the rod can be allowed to play the fish without the angler having to continually adjust the clutch or back-wind. They also minimize the chance of hook pulls, allow the use of lighter breaking strain main lines and hooklink materials and are the best action rods for accurately casting at shorter range. They also perform well when using light leads. Through-action rods are not a good choice if distance casting could be necessary and only the higher test curve models are suited to method fishing and PVA bag work.
Semi-fast-action rods are also referred to as “medium action” have a progressive action and are normally a compound-taper or parabolic by nature. Most general carp rods are built to have this action. These rods generally play fish well and cast small and medium PVA bags and method balls dependent upon their test curve accurately with ease. They do not require specialist casting techniques to achieve good casts. Please note semi-fast rods do not cope well with extreme-range, continual long-range or large PVA bags or heavy method feeder work. A semi-fast-action is therefore an all-rounder’s action. There are many variations on this theme so it is always well worth asking advice from people who use the rods the internet forums and local tackle shops so seeking knowledgeable advice is important.
Fast-action rods are best for extreme- range or long-range casting, but require a good casting technique to realize their full potential. They are at their best when casting heavier weights such as larger PVA bags or method balls. The action of these rods is often been called wooden or like fishing with a broom stick and therefore is the least enjoyable action with which to play fish. The stiff unforgiving casting biased action creates a greater chance of hook pulls or hooklink breakage and relies upon the stretch in the main line whilst at range and good clutch control to minimize these problems. Fast-action rods are also difficult to cast accurately at shorter range (under 70 yards) because a little extra effort on the cast results in a lot more distance, generally making it difficult to place a baited rig under an overhanging tree line for example.
The action and test curve both affect the character of a rod, but there are other factors that influence the feel, balance and recovery rate and therefore change the character. The type of carbon cloth used, the position, number and type of rod guides, the position of the reel seat, the type of handle and other factors can all have an effect.
50mm Butt Rings – Pros & Cons
50mm butt rings have become more popular in recent years because they reduce the chance of the line grabbing the butt ring during casting – a problem that is more evident when using reels with large diameter spools. However the benefit of the 50mm ring needs to be weighed against other considerations: they may fit awkwardly in your present luggage. Also because of their size, 50mm rings are more vulnerable, so need care to avoid damage.
A compromise is always needed with fishing tackle and you will always get a lot more fun from the fish you hook and catch if your tackle is well balanced. To give you an rough idea of what rods should be able to achieve
Test curve Casting weight Venue or fishing style
2.5lb 2-2.5oz Small lakes little or no snags
2.75lb 2.25-3 oz Small-medium lakes slightly snaggy.
3.00lb 2.5-3.5 oz Medium lakes, snaggy.
3.25lb 3-4 oz Medium large lakes, solid PVA bags or method
3.5lb 3.5-4.5oz Large lakes, solid PVA bags or method
Take your time and look closely at the Greys and Chub rods and choose the right rod for you and your style of fishing and the venues you are targeting. Spend as much money as your budget will allow and get a set of rods that will perform well for you for years helping you change your dreams into realities. Tight Lines, Ian.
To give you a generic answer is always tricky but the things I would be looking at are firstly the size the water you are fishing. For example, in a larger lake I would always be looking for a heavier test curve as you could be looking at a lot more long range fishing whereas a smaller water of a couple of acres I would much rather go for a softer more forgiving rod. The biggest factor in this instance in my mind is the stiffer the rod the more chance you have of losing fish and pulling hooks. The only other time I would be looking at a heavier test curve is in really weedy waters as it gives you the extra backbone should a fish get its head down.
It’s really hard to give a definitive answer with so little information, but if you are wanting a do it all rod, I would be looking at a 12ft 3lb test as this will cover pretty much any situation. I have used the Greys Isoflex in that spec for nearly all my fishing over the past year, this has ranged from a small two acre lake, a weedy 20 acre gravel pit, fishing at 120 yards on Brasenose, a 40 acre water in France and most recently chucking 6-8oz leads on the Trent. That is about as varied as you’re going to get so for a do it all rod that would be my recommendation.
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