What Do The Numbers & Letters Mean On A Fishing Rod?

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If you’re in the market for a new fishing rod you might be a little confused by all the numbers and letters. In this post, I’m going to be talking about what the numbers and letters actually mean on a fishing rod.

The numbers and letters on a fishing rod will tell you the model of the rod, what the length is, the power of the rod, and what type of action it has. MJC68MXF, for example, is telling you that the model is MJC, the rod is 6 feet 8 inches long, it’s a medium power rod, and the action is extra fast.

There might be a few extra numbers and letters but pretty much all rods will have these three markings. The first few letters will all depend on the make and model of the rod and aren’t all that important to look at. The length, power, and action will all be different. Sometimes a rod will end with a “2” and that will tell you the rod is a 2 piece. We’ll cover all the potential letters and numbers and what they actually mean.

Length

The length of the rod is usually going to be the first set of numbers after the model letters. It’ll either be two or three digits and would look something like 76 or 760. What this means is that the rod is 7 feet 6 inches long. Sometimes there’s a zero at the end and sometimes there isn’t. It could also be 5 or 50 (5 feet) or 106 (10 feet 7 inches).

The length you decide to go with will all depend on what type of fishing you’re doing. You can get shorter rods with a heavier power and you can get longer rods with lighter power.

rod length

If you’re going to be fishing in smaller creeks and streams then you’ll probably want a shorter rod. It’ll be much easier to cast and you’ll have better accuracy. A longer rod will probably hit trees or bushes when you go to make a cast. I also use a shorter rod when I’m fishing out of a kayak. Longer rods make it way too hard to land fish. Anything under 6.5 feet should be perfect.

If you’re going to be fishing off a pier or trolling a lake then you’d probably want a medium length rod. Anything between 7 and 8.5 feet should work well. Shorter rods can work but you’d get better results if you’re able to get your rod out away from the boat or pier. A 7-foot rod is probably the most versatile and I’d recommend that for your first rod.

If you’re fishing using a downrigger or you’re fishing a river for steelhead then you’d want something longer. Somewhere between 9 and 10 feet long should be ideal. It’ll just give you a bit more room to work with and should perform better. You’d also want a longer rod for surf fishing because it’ll let you cast a long distance.

Rod LengthRod Usage
Under 7 FeetCreek, stream, kayak, and tight area fishing.
7-8.5 FeetPier, trolling, open water fishing.
Over 8.5 FeetSurf, big river, downrigger fishing.

Power

The next one or two letters on the rod will tell you the power rating. This is pretty much how stiff the backbone is. If you’re fishing for small fish then you won’t need anything very stiff. If you’re fishing in lily pads for bass then you’ll need a rod you can really yank on.

rod power

The first power rating is ultra-light. These rods are usually shorter (under 6.5 feet) and are ideal for small fish such as rainbow, bluegill, crappie, etc. These rods will bend really easily and will let you feel the smaller bites right away. They won’t have enough backbone if you need to set the hook.

The second power rating is light. These rods are a little stiffer and can be a little longer (around 7 feet). They’re still going to be for smaller fish such as trout and crappie but they’ll work a lot better if you’re going to be trolling.

The third power rating is medium-light. These rods will be a bit stiffer than the light power rods but won’t be as stiff as a medium power. These rods come in all different lengths and would be perfect for super finesse bass fishing. You could still use it for trout fishing as well if you’re using a heavier lure (jerkbait, spoon, etc).

The fourth power rating is medium. This is probably the first type of rod you should get because it’ll be able to do almost everything. It won’t be able to cast smaller baits and lures like worms or spinners but it’ll be sensitive enough to feel a rainbow bite and it’ll have enough backbone to land a steelhead.

The fifty power rating is medium-heavy. If you’re going to be fishing for bass using heavier lures (jerkbaits, crankbaits, etc) then this is probably the action you’ll want. These rods will give you the backbone you need to really set the hook and will be stiff enough to troll if you’re using weights or downriggers.

The final power rating is heavy. These rods would only be ideal if you’re going after some really big fish or you’re fishing for bass in heavy cover (grass, lily pads, brush piles, etc). The reason is that you’ll be able to rip your lure out if it gets caught.

Rod PowerMeaning
ULUltra-light.
LLight.
MLMedium-light.
MMedium.
MHMedium-heavy.
HHeavy

Action

The final set of letters you’ll see will tell you the action rating of the rod. This is going to tell you where the rod will bend when you put pressure on the tip. Some rods will bend very close to the tip while others will bend more towards the middle. Each has its advantages and you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right one.

rod action

The first type of action is slow. These rods will start bending much closer to the reel. These types of rods are suited for smaller fish where you don’t want an aggressive hookset. If you use a fast action rod for kokanee then you’d probably rip the hook right out of its mouth.

The second type of action is moderate. These rods will start bending a little closer to the tip of the rod. This is kind of your do-everything type of rod because you’ll still be able to fish for bigger fish but you’ll still be able to land smaller species without ripping the hook out of their mouth.

The third type of action is moderate fast. These rods will be a little stiffer in the bottom half of the rod but will still give you a decent amount of bend in the top half. These rods are suited for someone who wants to catch bigger fish using smaller hooks on jerkbaits and crankbaits.

The fourth type of action is fast. These rods will bend much closer to the tip and will give you a bit more sensitivity and will let you set the hook harder. You won’t need to move the rod as much to really set the hook and that’s why these rods are used for bass fishing.

The final type of action is extra fast. These rods will have very little bend in the first 3/4 of the rod. This will help you get a really good hookset in without moving the rod too much. The ideal time you’d use these rods is when you’re fishing with a single hook.

Rod ActionMeaning
SSlow
MModerate
MFModerate fast
FFast
XFExtra fast

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. This site is where I test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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