The Complete Guide to Buying a Fishing Rod on eBay

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The Complete Guide to Buying a Fishing Rod on eBay

Fishing is a very popular hobby, and fishing rods have been used since the 2nd century to catch fish either for food or for sport. Individual types of rod, reel and line are designed to catch different types of fish, and to be used on different kinds of water. As a result today’s anglers have more choices than ever, which can be confusing, especially for a new angler. eBay offers a full range of fishing rods, including fly fishing rods, coarse fishing rods, and beach casting rods. This guide is designed to help you decide what kind of rod will best suit you.

For a new angler, the best advice is to keep it simple. Spinning rods or casting rods either with spin casting reels or spinning reels are ideal for novices, so will be easier to use, and will help master the techniques quickly. By clicking on the links above, they can be compared and evaluated.

Factors to consider in buying a fishing rod include

  • Level of experience – for a new angler, the best advice is to keep it simple. Simple rods will be easier to use, and will help new anglers master the techniques quickly. Also, for those just starting their fishing adventure, it is sensible to budget less money on the first rod, with a view to upgrading once there is a clearer understanding of exactly what fishing is most enjoyable and will be continued.
  • Type of fishing – specific types of fishing require specialist rods, whether fly fishing or carp fishing or beach fishing.
  • Type of fish – carp are big, well-muscled fish, and because they fight very hard when you manage to hook them, a carp fishing rod needs to be big, strong and reliable. A wild trout from a Scottish hill loch, however, will need something altogether more sensitive both in terms of landing the fly, and in terms of fighting and landing the fish.

Rods are usually made from a hollow carbon material, which is both enormously strong and extremely light. There is no single “best” rod and every year, manufacturers produce new lighter, stronger, longer-lasting rods as technology advances. What was top of the range just a few years ago has already become no more than average in terms of performance.

Types of Fishing Rod to Buy

The type of rod and reel you need will depend whether you are coarse fishing, sea fishing, beach fishing or game fishing.

  • Coarse Fishing: Casting rods

On eBay it is possible to buy either a spin casting rod or a bait casting rod. They are very similar, and the difference is mainly in the choice of reel attached to the rod. A modern casting rod can be used with either a spin casting reel or a bait casting reel, each of which has advantages and drawbacks, and both of which sit above the handle. Spin casting rods have small eyes and a forefinger grip trigger.

Despite the similarity in names, spinning rods are different from spin casting rods, though they also have small eyes. They are made from graphite and range from 5’ to 8’ 6’’. There are between 5 and 8 guides underneath the rod, which decrease in size as they get closer to the tip. The eye nearest the handle is the largest, which has the advantage of reducing the amount of friction as the line comes off the reel. It also handles the large loops of line that come off the spool. Unlike the casting rods, a spinning reel sits under the rod.

This chart summarises the key characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of these three type of rod.

Type of Rod and Reel




Casting rod and reel – Bait Casting

Longer rod, casting heavier line & tackle

Line leaves the reel straight

Ideal for heavy fish or long distance casting

Greater casting accuracy; reduced need to replace line

Requires more skill from the angler

Casting Rod and Reel – Spin Casting

Spin casting reel spooling system

Larger spool

Prevents line tangling in the reel

Allows fish to be reeled in faster

Less accurate casting than bait casting rod

Spinning Rod

Spin casting or spinning reel

Reversible reel handle allows rod to be held in dominant hand

Comfortable fishing for extended periods

Increased control and feeling from rod

Versatile – saltwater, freshwater, salmon, trolling and live bait

Less powerful that casting rods

Salt Water Fishing Rods

There are two main kinds of salt water rod available on eBay. The first is used to fish from the beach, the other from a boat, where there would be a reasonable expectation of catching larger fish or sharks.

Beach casting rods (or surf rods) are a larger version of spinning or casting rods. To reach the fish, they need to be able to cast the bait long distances, specifically beyond the breaking surf which is where the fish lie. In addition to strong winds, they also need to be able to cast very strong line with heavy baits or lures, and weight enough to keep the bait on the bottom even in rough water conditions. As a result, surf casting rods are significantly longer than spinning rods, ranging from 10’ to 18’. These rods are ideal for fishing from the beach, rocks or shoreline.

Boat rods

Boat rods need to be able to cope both with huge fish and the power of the sea. They are long and enormously thick, with heavy tips and eyes. Sea rods include a range of specialist rods, from deep sea fishing to shark fishing, and including those used for big game fishing like marlin and sailfish. The largest rods tend to be used on big game fishing boats, and even they need the power of the boat’s engine to help draw in these monster fish.

Fly Fishing Rods

If you intend to buy a fly fishing rod  there are a number of key factors to consider before choosing the perfect rod.

Unlike the rods described above, in fly fishing it is the weight of the actual line that loads the rod like a spring. This then catapults the fly or lure out over the water. For that reason the line weight is one of the first considerations. This depends largely on the size of the fly. For example, a tiny dry fly needs to be cast by a light line or the fly will simply crash into the water and frighten the fish. The same result will be achieved by trying to cast a very heavy fly on a very light line.

There are broad guidelines on the relationship between size of fly and line size, but these are impacted by external variables. For example, the level of expertise of the fly fisher, and whether a single fly or team of flies is being cast. As a rule of thumb, novices will find it easier to cast a heavier weight line, particularly in windy conditions.

The chart below provides some guidance to the relationship between size of fly and weight of line, and demonstrates the considerable overlap of fly and line size.

Type of Fish and Fly

Fly Size

Weight of Fly Line

Trout, tiny flies, small streams


1, 2, 3,

Trout, small flies, medium rivers


4, 5, 6

Heavier trout, heavy flies, larger rivers and lakes


5, 6, 7

Pike and bass, heavy flies, rivers

3/0 - 8

7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Salmon flies, rivers and lochs

2/0 - 14

7, 8, 9, 10

Tarpon, Striped bass, bluefish

4/0 - 8

10, 11, 12

Sharks, Barracuda, Tuna, Sailfish, Marlin

6/0 - 2

12, 13, 14

What Length of Fly Fishing Rod Should be Selected?

Fly fishing rods have a number printed on them that identifies the manufacturer’s view of the best line weight to use in combination with the rod.

Single-handed fly rods are ideal for streams, brooks, small rivers, some lakes, lochs and reservoirs, and for brown trout, rainbow trout, grayling and grilse. Most single-handed rods are between 8’ and 10’ feet long.

Rod Length

Length of Cast



6’ - 7’ 6’’


Small streams, brooks and overgrown waters

Small trout, grayling

8’ – 9’ 6’’

Short to medium

Average rivers and small still waters

Medium to large trout

8’ 6’’ – 10’ 6’’

Short to long

Larger rivers, still waters

Grilse, sea trout, Arctic char, bass

11’ – 16’

Medium to long

Large rivers, saltwater


Double-handed fly rods are ideal for salmon, whose flies are heavier than those used for the smaller fish. This means that they need heavier lines to cast them, and heavier lines need stronger, longer rods. Double-handed salmon fly fishing rods typically range from 10ft to 16ft in length, which is ideal not only for delivering the fly, but also in effectively playing and landing these larger fish.

How to Select the Right Rod Action

There are four types of action in fishing rods:

  • Slow
  • Medium
  • Fast and extra fast

Action basically means how much the fishing rod bends when pressure is applied to the tip, and the speed with which the rod returns to its normal position. Two factors to consider when deciding on which action is most suitable are the experience of the angler, and the casting benefits.

Fishing Rod Action

Characteristics and Benefits

Slow action

Maximum bend throughout the rod – more forgiving and less inclined to lose bait from the hook

Medium action

The rod bends from the middle to the tip - greater distance of cast

Fast action

A stiffer action, with bend at upper third of the rod – more sensitive, greater feeling for the position of the bait, lure or flu

Extra-fast action

Very stiff action with tip bending – can apply greater pressure on the fish

Buying a Fishing Rod Combo

It is possible to buy a combined rod, reel and line (already wound onto the spool). This is an option for beginners that has two benefits:

  1. A guarantee that the set-up is completely balanced
  2. Cost savings

How to Check the Quality of a Fishing Rod

Generally the more you pay, the higher the quality of rod you can buy. There are various things to look for in a rod. Joints are critical and should fit perfectly. A perfect joint will feel smooth all the way round. Ideally, the male portion of the joint will “mate” in its entirety, and all joints should be in perfect alignment to avoid wobbling during the casting process.

Rod fittings are also important. The handle, fitting on which to attach the reel, and rod rings which guide the line the length of the rod. The quality of the rod rings is important as, if they become pitted or grooved, they will increase friction and both reduce the angler’s casting distance and damage the line.

What Rod Repair Costs Should Be Considered?

It is important to review the information listed from a used fishing rod seller carefully and with particular reference to any damage which may involve repair work either by yourself or through an independent repair shop with additional costs. Similarly a new fishing rod could come with a replacement or repair guarantee, with some manufacturers offering lifetime repair or replacement guarantees. These should be checked before purchase.  

Budget Considerations When Buying a Fishing Rod

Before setting out to buy a fishing rod on eBay it is advisable to consider the maximum that can be afforded. Generally a more expensive rod may have a better quality, durability and last beyond the average lifetime of a fishing rod. Reviewing the budget carefully and buying a fishing rod up to the maximum could guarantee years of enjoyment.

Buying a Fishing Rod on eBay

eBay offers a wide variety of brands, styles, prices and choices of fishing rods including new and used rods for different uses, and at a wide range of prices from used fishing rod (which may have been outgrown or no longer required) to new fishing rod options.

Payment and Search Options When Buying a Fishing Rod

To look at the fishing rods available to buy, visit the category Sporting Goods, then click on Fishing. The search box provided can be used to type in specific information to refine the fishing rod requirements. Photographs should be checked from all angles of the rod, and questions asked about parts of the rod that have not been photographed. The search box can also be used to search for a specific brand and model in mind. eBay’s search tips provide more advice.

A good item listing should include full equipment specifications and manufacturer information. To obtain any missing information that you need, email the seller by clicking “Ask the seller a question” under the seller’s profile.

You can also shop in eBay Shops or post your requirements on Want it Now. There is also the option to “Save Search”, in which case eBay will send an email when a match becomes available.

Are Fishing Accessories Included With eBay Sales?

Sometimes additional accessories are bundled and included within the sale price at no extra value.

Any components should be checked to assess whether they are missing or would need to be purchased separately. Examples of these may include a line, a reel, bait, lures, weights, flies, leader etc. It is important that, before purchasing, there is no uncertainly over what else may need to be purchased before the fishing rod can be used.

eBay Buying Basics

More information is available on the Buying Basics pages. Once a fishing rod has been selected, it’s time to consider how to buy. There are three choices:

Place a bid in order to buy at auction by the date that the seller has advised if you are the highest bidder

Buy It Now allows immediate purchase of the fishing rod

Best Offer means the seller is prepared to accept Best Offers from buyers, possibly at a lower price than the Buy It Now price

Delivery and shipping information is provided by the seller and needs to be considered at point of bid or purchase, along with delivery insurance information.

Bundles are sometimes offered where the listing on eBay may include the specific main core product such as the fishing rod with one or two accessories offered to be included and built-in to the purchase price.

It is recommended that you only purchase from sellers who are authorised through eBay. For greater comfort, research the seller’s Feedback rating and buyer comments, the number of completed transactions, and the percentage of positive responses.

It is always good to buy through PayPal who will ensure the transaction proceeds directly between the seller and buyer. eBay users are protected by the Buyer Protection Programme.

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