Fishing Rod vs Pole: Which Is Right For The Situation?



Back in the day, poles were the sole preserve of competition match anglers (and Europeans). They generally meant two things… A seriously empty wallet, and a bad back. Fortunately, they have become a lot cheaper, and due to innovations in materials, they are a fair bit lighter too. But why use a pole in the first place? This article is going to look at some differences and why one might be preferable to the other

What is the difference between a fishing pole and rod?

Quite a lot actually, aside from the fact they are long, thin and catch fish they are quite different in their philosophies.

A fishing rod, as we are sure you are aware has a reel and line, which is used in order to play the fish. A pole on the other hand is very much a ‘fixed’ system. The line is attached to the interior of the pole, and a fish is played with a mixture of the pole’s action and by means of stretchy elastic inside the pole.

But how do you cast a pole?

You don’t. To get the bait out into the swim you ‘ship in and out’. This means that you slide the pole over your lap and either take a piece off a section at a time or add it, depending on which you are doing.

Why use a fishing pole?

There are a couple of reasons why a pole could be considered superior to a fishing rod, and is the reason they were used exclusively by match anglers: –

Perfect bait presentation and consistency

How many casts would it take you to land your bait in an area the size of a teacup? 10? 50? We’ll tell you how many it takes with a pole. One. And if you used a pole you could repeat this feat again and again, as many times as you like. Like we said, you don’t cast your bait with a pole… You place it. Whether you are fishing 15 metres away, or want to be up tight against a reed bed or drop off, a pole will have you covered.

Because of the way you place the bait, you can also ensure consistent presentation. The bait always goes in first, the float last. If something isn’t working, it is easy to change your setup ever so slightly, as you always have a consistent baseline to work from.

As a final aside in a poles favour, even if you miss a bite, it’s no big deal. You can literally drop the float back in the water in exactly the same spot, ready for round two. If you miss a bit with a rod, good luck trying to get the bait back to the exact same spot, in the exact same way with a rod.

So why use a fishing rod?

Poles can also be quite limited. If you have a 16-metre pole, and the fish are 17 metres out, you’re out of luck. Also, poles take a bit of getting used to and are quite technical. They are can be pretty delicate, if you don’t know what you are doing, it is really easy to break them. Often a budget pole will still be much more expensive than some premium fishing rods too.

And it doesn’t stop there…

Poles require all sorts of paraphernalia, you’ll need elastics, floats, rigs, rollers, bars, socks… All to achieve exactly what you could with a rod (if you are good).

A rod is flexible (pun intended) and dynamic. You can easily switch up your style in two minutes flat. You can fish at longer distances or shorter distances, or if you want to move to a different swim you can literally just reel in and go.

If you happen to catch a bigger species with a rod, you might be able to use a combination of drag and the occasional pressure, to ‘push it’ and successfully land fish. With a pole if you are only fishing light, you have two options, either you’ll be extremely lucky, or you’ll be putting on a new elastic.



Both poles and rods have their ‘pro’s and cons’. For consistency and bait presentation, a pole is better, hands down. However, a rod gives you much more scope to change things quickly and adapt. As to which catches more? Give us 5 different days and we’ll give you five different answers. Like all things in fishing, when asking fishing rod vs pole, which is better? It all depends on who you ask.