Medium vs Medium-Heavy Rod

So you are in the market for a new rod, but you aren’t sure which weight to buy.  The most important thing to consider is the species of fish that you are after.

Let’s take a deeper dive into all of the factors that will determine whether you need a medium or medium heavy weight rod.

What Is Rod Weight/Power?

Medium vs Medium-Heavy Rod

The weight, or power, of a rod is a rating based upon how easily the rod will bend, not to be confused with a rod’s action.  A medium weight rod will require less force to bend than a medium heavy rod, which will be stiffer.

Each weight class of rod is going to have a recommended line weight and lure weight, which are usually printed on the blank of the rod towards the grip, these will correspond with reel size. 

These are ranges, determined by the manufacturer, that will allow the rod to perform at its best.  

That being said, these values are not set in stone.  They will vary between brands and the intended use of a rod.  They are more like suggestions that you as the angler will have to consider when selecting a rod.

Medium vs Medium-Heavy Things To Consider

What Species Of Fish Do You Want to Catch?

The type of fish you are looking to catch is one of the most important things to think about when considering rod weight. 

Fish within the same species can vary largely in size, between the fingerlings we throw back and the ones we mount on the wall. 

If you strictly fish for walleye or bass, a medium weight rod is your best bet.  If you prefer to spend your time casting for salmon, northern pike, or monster catfish, a medium heavy rod would be better suited to you.

This is not to say that you can’t catch smaller species of fish on a heavier rod, or vice versa, but fishing outside of a rod’s weight class can hinder its casting performance or even end up breaking the rod altogether.

If you are like me then you enjoy catching a variety of different fish, which can make selecting a rod weight somewhat tougher. 

What if you are an avid summer walleye angler that also enjoys casting for northern pike in the spring and pulling in spawning salmon in the fall?

This is where you have to really weigh your personal preferences to consider what type of fish you will be primarily catching.

Style of fishing

Medium vs Medium-Heavy Rod

Not only what, but how you are fishing can make a big difference in the rod you should select as well.  

Things such as casting for bass around cover or trolling deep water for lake trout will exert more force on your rod, which may warrant using a heavier line, lure, and therefore heavier rod.

A lighter rod is advantageous in situations where sensitivity is paramount, like when you are fishing in shallower water with finicky walleye, when feeling those super light nibbles is important.

Quiver size

Before purchasing a rod you should also consider how much you will be using it.  Are you looking to buy a rod that you can use for all of your fishing trips, or is this going to just be one of many in your quiver?  

If this is going to be your only rod then you want to consider buying something that will work for most or all of the species you like to catch, in this case something that is heavy enough for bass, salmon, and everything in between.  

If this rod is just another in your collection then consider which species you specifically want to catch.

Differences In Rod Weight

Line Weight 

Medium vs Medium-Heavy Rod

The line weight of a rod refers to the range of lines that will work best with the rod.  It is usually rated in the weight of monofilament line that should be used, though you can run a slightly heavier braided line as well.

Using too light of a line on a medium heavy rod will put extra tension on the line because the rod will not flex as easily as its lighter counterpart, making the line prone to breakage.  

On the other hand, if you load up a medium weight rod with a line that is too heavy you run the risk of the blank snapping instead of the line, especially when you hook a lunker.

Stick to 6-12lb mono for medium rods, and 8-14lb mono for medium heavy rods.

Braided lines can be beneficial when fishing for pike or other species that are notorious for slicing through light mono lines. 

However, they don’t stretch like mono which means more force is going to be exerted on the rod when a fish makes a break for it.

The only worse feeling in the world than having your line break after hooking the big one is having to throw away your favorite rod, so don’t stray too far from the rod’s recommendation if you choose to employ this technique.

Lure Weight

Lure weight corresponds with the size of lures that your rod can handle while still casting optimally.  

Trying to cast a lure that is below the recommended range of your pole will result in very short casts.  If you can’t get your tackle in the right spot, don’t expect to catch fish.  

Casting lures above the rod’s weight class can result in line and blank breakage.  Using larger lures very often catches the attention of larger fish, which can be a dangerous situation for your gear.

Make sure to use ⅛-⅜ oz lures on a medium rod, and 3/16– ½ oz lures on a medium heavy rod.  

Reel Size

Medium vs Medium-Heavy Rod

Reel size is represented by a number that corresponds with both the weight and capacity of line it can hold.  A 25, or 2500, size reel will hold much less and lighter line than a 55, or 5500.

For a medium weight rod, look for a reel in the 25-40 range, which is supposed to hold 6-12lb test.

For a medium heavy rod, something in the range of 35-55 which holds around 8-14lb test will be your best bet.

Because braided lines have smaller diameters than their monofilament counterparts, you can fit more braided line of the same weight on a reel, or put a slightly heavier braided line on that matches the diameter of the monofilament line that the reel is rated for.

Specifications of both weights

Here are some general recommendations between medium and medium heavy rods based on the factors we discussed earlier, keep in mind these are approximate ranges. 

Companies will list different ranges based on what they intend or think the rod will be used for, medium weight bass rods or medium heavy pike rods may differ slightly between companies.

Mono Line WeightBraided Line WeightLure WeightReel SizeRecommended Species
Medium6-12lb8-20lb⅛ – ⅜ oz25, 30, 35, 40Bass, Walleye, Pike
Medium Heavy8-14lb10-25lb3/16 – ½ oz35, 40, 45 50, 55Lake Trout, Salmon, Catfish

Conclusion

The weight of your next rod should reflect the species of fish that you are looking to catch.  There is some overlap in the specifications of medium and medium heavy weight rods, so you will want to strongly consider exactly what type of fish you will be searching for.

Strictly fishing for bass and walleye?  Go with a medium weight.  Strictly fishing for salmon and northern pike?  Go with a medium heavy weight.

Enjoy fishing for all of the above?  It would probably be a better idea to go with a medium heavy rod.  Sacrificing some sensitivity and casting performance is always better than snapping a brand new rod, but always consider what techniques you will be using to catch fish.

Adhering to the correct line and lure weight will ensure optimal casting performance and pairing the correct sized reel will make sure you don’t lose that next trophy fish when it decides to take off swimming.

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