Everything You Must Know About Saltwater Fishing Rods [With TFO’s Jim Shulin]


Do you know what to look for when purchasing a saltwater fishing rod?

Do you want to know what sets a good saltwater fishing rod apart from an average one?

There are so many options and rods out there that it can be daunting to even know where to start.

A good quality fishing outfit can cost a little bit of money. You want to make sure that your rod is worth the price you pay and that you get what you need out of it.

So what are the main things you need to consider when looking for a quality rod?

To shed some light on this subject, we decided to talk to an expert — Jim Shulin of Temple Fork Outfitters.

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Temple Fork Outfitter’s Jim Shulin

temple fork saltwater fishing rod

Jim Shulin is an executive at Temple Fork Outfitters. He’s been at the company for nearly 17 years and is in charge of all the sport fishing rods that TFO makes.

For those who aren’t familiar, Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) is one of the most successful and best fishing rod companies in the world. They make everything from inshore bass and walleye rods to saltwater inshore and offshore rods and even fly rods.

We own a ton of TFO rods and have used them for some of our most memorable catches — like when Luke sight fished a snook from a third-floor balcony

To be frank, Jim knows his fishing rods — no matter what size, power or type of fishing they’re made for. He’s a bonafide expert on what makes a great saltwater fishing rod.

We decided to have Jim on the podcast so he could share what makes a great saltwater fishing rod with you.

In this podcast, we go over:

  • What to look for when purchasing a fishing rod
  • How to determine what reel to put on a fishing rod
  • What goes into making a fishing rod

Have any questions or feedback about this podcast episode?

Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page!

Note: Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to the Fish Strong podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

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Jim Shulin On The Fish Strong Podcast

Jim Shulin and his daughter

Check out the video below to watch this week’s episode of the Fish Strong Podcast.

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Click the play button to listen right here on our site or click either button below to go directly to iTunes or Stitcher to download the episode.

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Note: Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to the Fish Strong podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

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What You Want In A Saltwater Fishing Rod

Saltwater fishing rods

Jim joined us and identified his top aspects to consider when getting a saltwater fishing rod, which are the following:

1. Corrosion Resistant Parts

You want to make sure your guides and locks on the rod are corrosion resistant and can hold up against saltwater. Rods that can’t handle saltwater will corrode and either break or alter the way your rod performs.

2. Guides

Saltwater fishing rods are built to have specifically designed rod guides. This is what distinguishes saltwater rods from freshwater rods, as most rod blanks for freshwater and saltwater are the same.

3. Proper Action

You want to make sure the action on the rod is right for the kind of fishing you do. If you throw live bait, you probably want a rod with a light tip so you can feel the subtle strike. If you fish plugs, you want a stiffer rod that will allow you to pop your lures more.

4. Durability

You want a rod that holds up over time. Check out some online reviews from customers and see what they say about how a rod’s quality has held up after many uses. This could help you save another trip to the tackle shop three months from now.

5. Shock Absorption

Shock absorption is key for saltwater fishing to make sure you do not come unglued from the fish you hook. A rod with good shock absorption will help keep tension on your fishing line, aka your fish.

6. High-Quality Cork Grip

You want a rod with good high-quality cork for the grip. This is the part you’re going to have your hand on the most, so you want it to be able to hold up over time.

7. Proper Power

Rod power (aka how stiff a rod is) is an important aspect to consider when purchasing a saltwater fishing rod. You want to make sure your rod has enough power to handle the fish you’re chasing. If you target tarpon, you’re obviously going to need a more powerful rod than if you fish for pompano or other smaller species.

8. Outfitted With A High-Quality Reel

Jim says that he likes to spend as much money on his rod as he does for his reel. That way he has a high-quality, complete fishing outfit.

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How To Pair A Reel With A Saltwater Fishing Rod

Balacing a saltwater fishing rod

When determining what reel to put on a fishing rod, the most important aspect is to make sure the rod and reel are well balanced together.

A reel that is too heavy for a rod can change the angle your fishing line goes through in the guides and affect the performance of the rod.

If your reel is the correct size for your rod, you should be able to balance the entire outfit on your index finger just above the reel on the rod.


Saltwater Fishing Rods Review

Remember, different fishing rods are made for different kinds of fishing. It all depends on your personal preferences.

Considering the aspects of fishing rods mentioned above will help you find the perfect saltwater fishing rod for you.

Check out the Temple Fork Outfitters website here to see all the great fishing rods they offer.

If you have any questions about this article, let us know in the comments. We’re here to help!

Tight Lines!

Related Post: 

1. Independent Review Of Inshore Fishing Rods [Best Value & Overall Performance]

2. How To Pick A Great Inshore Spinning Rod At Big Stores Like Bass Pro Shops

3. The Top 10 Tips to Catch Big Trout in the Surf [With Kayaking Kennedy]

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Antonio Garcia Jr
3 years ago

Which of these rod and reel combos will cast the furthest ??? I would like to see a comparison test !!! Like the test you did with the different lb Braids. The results of that test would be of great. help with Choosing A Inshore Rod & Reel Combo that One Could Possibly Cast For long periods of time, with the greatest distance. Thanks again for all that You ,the Salt Strong Team And Member’s Do to Bring So much Information To ALL

Tim Broeseker
3 years ago

I like to walk the beach for blue fish, lady fish, mackerel, jacks, red fish throwing lures in the 0.5 to 1.5 ounce range. I need some power (biggest fish would be large jack or bull red) but mostly casting distance with a spinning rod, but not a big “surf” rod. What power/action/length combination will be best for this, and any specific brands/models appreciated.

Steven Kurtz
4 years ago

Selection of best fishing rods makes your fishing day more joyable. Here you shared info about fishing rods is very important and useful. I will use this technique on my next fishing trip.

Raleigh Thomas
4 years ago

Man, that was a GREAT blog discussion! Very good info on the different aspects of rod materials makeup and how they are built. I learned a lot!

Gregory Ramko
4 years ago

I have the TFO GIS SWC 694-1. What is the difference between this rod and the new GIS TAC series?

Mel Bledsoe
4 years ago

That was super informative. Thanks for all the great info.

Dave Wolf
4 years ago

Great discussion.
Appreciate your providing such experts to the Salt Strong Nation.
ALSO – excited about the upcoming fly fishing course. I was at a fly fishing lodge in Alaska and a guest asked about using spinning gear to catch some salmon because he was having a hard time fly casting. The owner of the lodge stood up raise his hands in exasperation and yelled, “Evolve man EVOLVE!”
But, when I was 6 or so my dad would sit me on a rock in the middle of a stream while he caught fish on his fly rod. Then, he would make a cast and had me the rod and I would just hold the fly in the current and caught my first fish and many more that way. No wonder I love fly fishing.

4 years ago

what is high sticking?

Raleigh Thomas
4 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

‘High sticking’ is fighting a very large hard pulling fish that is very close to you, and putting an extreme amount of bend in the rod by holding the grip end nearly or actually vertical, making an upside-down ‘U’ shape. This is usually followed very quickly by a loud ‘pop’ and a lot of cussing.

Phillip McLeod
4 years ago

Hey guys, just want to hopefully solve the pole/rod dilemma. If the fishing rod/pole is designed to have a reel attached to it with eyes to control the line, it is know as a fishing rod. If it is a simple device such as a “cane” or “bamboo” pole where the fishing line is cut to a predetermined length and merely tied off at the tip of the pole with a hook, cork, and small sinker attached to the business end for spat fishing, it will generally be known as a fishing pole. I hope this helps you guys out a little and thanks for the continuing education of fishing.
God Bless, :))

David Fitch
4 years ago
Reply to  Phillip McLeod

“Eyes” are to see with , but “guides” are what controls the line on a “fishing rod” . . .

A “pole”, on the other hand, sometimes made of Brass and bolted to the ceiling and floor of an “entertainment establishment”, is another thing entirely – LOL !

Raleigh Thomas
4 years ago
Reply to  David Fitch

Regarding ‘poles VS rods’ , a cantankerous old local legend ( now deceased ) fly fisherman built flyrods on the side, with primo blanks at nearly zero profit to his flyfishing students ( that he taught for free ) so they could have a great affordable rod. A newbie once asked him about getting ‘one of his good poles’, and he snapped back ‘ you’re in the wrong place, God makes poles, I build RODS!’ ????


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