Go to your local sporting goods store, look at all the rod options and tell me you don’t sometimes get overwhelmed with indecision.
We often do too. That’s because picking out a good rod is like making a new friend. You shake hands, size each other up and hope for a mutually beneficial relationship that ends up catching lots of fish. And like a good friend, a good fishing rod supports your angling addiction.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for dedicated anglers is the not so trivial matter of deciding between a one piece or two piece fishing rod. The choice isn’t always obvious and it often leads to this question. Which is better?
That’s precisely what we will answer in this article. Stick around and see how one piece rods compare to two piece rods and why you might choose one over the other.
The answer in a nutshell
If you’re at your local tackle shop right now trying to figure out which type of rod is better, then you might need a quick answer to break the tie between one piece and two piece rods. So, here it is in a nutshell.
One piece rods are generally considered superior to two piece rods because they offer improved sensitivity and are less likely to separate or break when casting or fighting fish. However, when it comes to portability in a vehicle or boat, two piece rods are the obvious winner.
What does all that mean? Well, depending on your fishing needs, a one piece rod could be your best option. But only if you are not limited by space in your vehicle or boat. After all, there is no point in buying a one piece rod if you can’t even get it to your fishing destination.
Like all things in life though, the simple answer won’t suffice. So, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each type of rod to help you decide which type to buy.
Advantages of 2 piece rods
Two piece rods are the standard tool for the vast majority of anglers. As such, it stands to reason that there is a lot to like about two piece rods. And there is no doubt that they catch lots of fish. In fact, almost every rod we own is a two piece rod. That’s because there are some major advantages they have over one piece rods. Here are a few to consider.
- Easy to transport. By far, the biggest advantage two piece rods have over one piece rods is their portability. A 7’6” long rod that separates into two pieces ends up being less than 4 feet long. Which means it can easily fit in any vehicle or boat with ease. Whereas, a one piece rod of the same length isn’t going to fit in the trunk of your car or the cab of your truck.
- More buying options. Two piece rods are very common, so finding a quality two piece rod that suits your application at your local tackle store is much easier. There are fewer options in most stores for one piece rods, so you are often limited to shopping online.
- Easier to repair or replace. More than likely, every angler ends up breaking at least one fishing pole in their life. And the most common break is at the tip of the rod. On a two piece rod, you can often contact the manufacturer for a replacement tip section at a lower price than the entire rod. If instead, you break the tip off a one piece rod, you are forced to replace the whole rod.
- Less expensive. Because two piece rods are ubiquitous, they are often less expensive than their one piece counter parts. Also, one piece rods tend to cost more because they are marketed towards specialized applications or pro level anglers. However, the price difference is not universal across the board, so that advantage is more limited.
Disadvantages of 2 piece rods
Not everything about a two piece rod is all sunshine and rainbows though. There is plenty to dislike and a few good reasons to opt for a one piece rod instead. A few of the more notable disadvantages are as follows.
- Lost sensitivity. We have some very sensitive two piece rods but they all lack the ultra sensitivity of a one piece rod. Unlike a two piece rod with a separating joint in the middle, a one piece rod has an uninterrupted rod blank that transmits the tiniest vibrations all the way to the handle. It’s possible that we miss more subtle bites with two piece rods.
- Functionality problems. Two piece rods do the job without issues most of the time but occasionally they cause anglers some grief. The biggest functionality problem is the separation of pieces when casting or fighting fish. It happens to the best of us when we fail to check for loose connections on two piece rods. A related problem is misalignment of the pieces. Not having the guides all lined up results in shorter casts.
- Reduced durability. The connection point of a two piece rod is called the ferrule and it’s often the weakest link. Anytime you are casting or fighting fish, there is a huge amount of strain along the length of the rod. And the ferrule tends to be the failure point. It’s more common on lower quality rods with poorly fitting connections. But it is also a weak point on high end fishing rods as a result of micro fractures at the ferrule caused by normal wear.
Advantages of 1 piece rods
After looking at the disadvantages of a two piece rod, the advantages of a one piece fishing rod are pretty obvious. However, the main question is do those advantages give one piece rods the edge over two piece rods? Take a look at some advantages we see based on our fishing experience.
- Increased sensitivity. When it comes to fishing, sensitivity is huge. Quality one piece rods are some of the most sensitive out there. And that’s because they are made with one continuous rod blank without any joints to break the connection between rod tip and handle. However, the boost in sensitivity over a two piece is modest so only anglers in specific fishing situations will really appreciate it.
- Durable build. While one piece rods are not invincible, they are significantly less likely to suffer the same weakness as two piece rods. With no connecting ferrule, stress on the rod is spread evenly along its length. Barring any external damage, a one piece rods can handle major stress without failing.
- Always ready to use. The ability to pick up a rod and start using it without re-aligning the guides or checking the connection at the joint is a benefit often overlooked by casual anglers. Yet, competitive anglers need that edge. Imagine a competitive bass angler having to pause to ensure a two piece rod is ready to use every time they switch between tactics. Even worse, imagine if they didn’t check and it cost them a winning fish.
Disadvantages of 1 piece rods
If you only looked at the advantages of a one piece rod you might wonder why everyone doesn’t simply throw their two piece rods away and make the switch. But as we mentioned a couple times already, one piece rods have some drawbacks that are deal breakers for many anglers.
- Difficult to transport. Without a doubt, the lack of portability is a major drawback of owning one piece fishing rods. The average rod length is around 7 feet which won’t easily fit in a smaller vehicle. Plus, storing a one piece rod at home presents some challenges too. So, unless you have a pickup, SUV or a place in your boat to transport long rods, most of you will appreciate the packability of two piece fishing rods.
- Limited selection. Go to any tackle shop and it quickly becomes apparent that a large percentage of rods on the shelf are two piece models. In my estimation, around 90 percent. Which means your choices for one piece rods are slim at best. Finding a one piece rod within your price range and that perfectly matches your fishing application is much harder. You can find more options online but you’ll be giving up hands-on testing.
- Prone to accidental damage. Yeah, I know we just said that an advantage of one piece rods is its intrinsic durability but that doesn’t mean they aren’t prone to external damage. Whether it’s slamming the tip in a car door, smashing it in your tailgate or stepping on it in the boat, a one piece rod is cumbersome to keep around. This makes them vulnerable to accidental damage. Especially, if you are not equipped with a rod locker on your boat.
Who should get a 2 piece rod
Now that we’ve covered the pros and cons of one piece vs two piece rods, we can decide who will benefit from fishing with one over the other. To start, which anglers should opt for a two piece fishing rod?
To be honest, just about all anglers, novice and experienced, should buy two piece fishing rods. When it comes to portability, selection and convenience, it’s no contest. Two piece rods are all most anglers will ever need to be successful on the water.
I understand that two piece rods sacrifice a little sensitivity for the sake of portability but here’s the thing. Two piece rods are generally sensitive enough to detect even the lightest bite with practice. Especially, if you buy a high quality rod with excellent materials and the right action. Put a one piece rod in one hand and a two piece rod in the other and you might be able to feel a slight difference in sensitivity. However, translating that into more fish isn’t guaranteed.
The truth is, most anglers won’t be more successful or suddenly experience trouble-free fishing by switching to a one piece rod. There are so many other variables that factor into our ability to catch fish that any benefits a one piece rod has won’t even register as an improvement in success.
And that is why we still use two piece rods for almost every fishing situation we encounter. We don’t fish competitively and we buy quality rods with nearly equal sensitivity to one piece rods. Plus, I personally have snapped off enough rod tips to know that one piece rods are at risk in my care.
Who should get a 1 piece rod
At the end of the day, the type of anglers that benefit from buying one piece rods make up a very small minority.
Competitive anglers, specifically bass anglers, are among the only group of anglers that will actually utilize the full spectrum of benefits a one piece rod offers. If you have the ability to safely transport a one piece rod and your skills are such that the increased sensitivity makes or breaks your success, then by all means, get a one piece rod.
In most other situations, the difficulty of transport renders a one piece rod impractical.
For those of you trying to decide between a one piece rod or two piece rod, the decision may not seem easy. But hopefully you now have a bit more knowledge to make an informed selection. Too many anglers jump to the conclusion that buying all the best gear and going for one piece rods is a guaranteed way to catch more fish.
Instead of making fishing more enjoyable, they create more of a hassle for themselves without any boost in success. So, when it comes to one piece rods versus two piece rods, think honestly about your needs, skill level, how often you fish and the right choice for you becomes clear.