There are fishing rods out there for surf fishing, trolling, fly fishing, ultralight angling, and use with either baitcasting or spinning reels. Unless you have a car rack, though, all of these rods can be a pain to transport.
That’s where collapsible telescopic rods come in handy. Nothing beats them for travel, but are telescopic fishing rods any good at catching fish? Read this guide to find out how they work and whether telescopic rods suit your fishing needs.
Telescopic fishing rods are made of a series of tubes of varying diameters. The widest diameter is near the handle, and the slimmest tube is the tip section so that the sections collapse into one another like a telescope.
A mechanic from Bristol, Connecticut, named Everett Horton, invented the first telescoping fishing rod and patented it in 1887. In a possibly apocryphal account, Horton was claimed to have invented the telescoping fishing rod so that you could keep it down a trouser leg and sneak off fishing whenever you want.
The main appeal for modern anglers is that the collapsed rod is easier to transport and carry through woods and vegetation. Back in the day, they were made of steel and were notorious for tip sections that snapped under pressure. Modern telescopic rods are made of better material so they can stand up to big targets as well as single-piece rods.
You don’t even have to take the line off the rod to collapse it. All you need to do is start from the lowest section and make sure there is enough slack for the tip not to run into your lure when you’re extending the rod.
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What Are Telescopic Fishing Rods Made Out Of?
Although it’s one of the most durable rod materials, fiberglass also tends to be a bit heavier. Manufacturers sell them at comparably shorter lengths to keep the overall weight of the rod down. A comparably slow casting speed works best with fiberglass.
Fiberglass rods aren’t as sensitive as other rod types, but they are great for precision casting. Anglers who like to trek out to small streams and inlets to fish usually love fiberglass tele-rods for their convenience and accuracy.
Graphite/Carbon Fiber Rods
Carbon fiber and graphite blanks are more lightweight and sensitive than fiberglass. They’re some of the most popular types of rod blanks for anglers because they cast a great distance and hold up against a strong fish target.
Graphite by itself is actually very brittle - far too fragile for use in a fishing rod. While it varies by manufacturer, rods marketed as graphite are usually just made of material that can’t correctly be referred to as carbon fiber.
Rods blanks made out of a graphite and fiberglass composite provide the best of both worlds. They’re strong and durable like fiberglass but sensitive and powerful like graphite and carbon fiber rods.
Other materials are sometimes used to improve the performance of composite fishing rods. Composite rod actions can be slow like a fiberglass rod or fast like graphite. Since they blend more expensive carbon fiber with fiberglass, composite rods are a great way to get high-performing rods for less.
Are Telescopic Fishing Rods Any Good?
With new advances in technology, many modern telescoping rods are as good as entry-level single-piece rods. Though many anglers think the sections of collapsible tele-rods make them too vulnerable for use, these rods are typically plenty strong for hauling in fish.
Maybe you’d need a stronger rod to go hunting monster targets offshore or deep-sea fishing. But for anglers who are chasing salmon, bass, walleye, or even surf fishing, these telescopic rods pack a punch and cast as far as you need your lure to go.
You can leave your line on the rod when you collapse and extend it, which makes these rods great for people who like to stop for a quick bit of fishing on a backpacking trip. When you want to extend the rod, just flip your bail or hit the thumb bar and let your lure out so the rod tip won’t hit the lure. Always move the rod sections by the body and not the line guides.
Casting is just as easy as with a traditional rod, although you might not be able to cast quite the same distance because telescoping rods are frequently shorter. Quality collapsible rods don't feel any different, so beginners can learn on them and graduate to more sophisticated rods later.
The main reason anglers choose these rods is for their convenience and portability. Most of the time, these people aren't hiking to remote areas to catch a hidden giant - they're chasing panfish, bass, or trout. Topwater lures, spoons, and jigs are all great uses of a telescopic rod, and you can hit small out-of-the-way bodies of water with them as well.
Particularly with carbon fiber and composite blanks containing graphite, telescoping fishing rods have the flex needed for wenching power. Improvements on the tip section give anglers the action needed for a fast, clean hookset.
Perhaps best of all, though, these rods are lightweight so that casting fatigue won't set in. Of course, lighter lure setups are ideal, but line ratings often go up high enough for mid-range and even fairly heavy test.
Can a telescopic fishing rod catch a 30lb fish? Yes, in the hands of a skilled angler, it certainly could. Despite a few drawbacks, these highly portable rods are as effective at catching the kinds of fish most anglers chase as any other type of rod.
Learn More: Types Of Fishing Rods & Poles Explained
Advantages & Disadvantages Of Telescopic Rods
Telescopic Fishing Rod FAQs
How do you extend, adjust, and close a telescopic rod?
Whenever you touch one of the sections of a telescopic fishing rod, you should grab it just behind the line guides so they don’t snap. To extend or close the rod, start with the lowest section and slowly move it where you want it before moving to the next section up. Make sure you have plenty of line out before you make adjustments.
How long does a telescopic fishing rod last?
Some anglers have telescopic rods for decades on end. If you clean them and don’t chase bigger targets than they can handle, some telescopic rods can last for a long time. Of course, many are made to help anglers get out on the water at a low cost and probably won’t last more than a few seasons, but you can always extend the life of a fishing rod with the proper care.
What is the longest size of a telescopic fishing rod?
The most common size for a telescopic fishing rod is seven feet long, but they can get up to around 9 feet long at most retailers. There are also specialty models that can extend as long as twenty feet, but they're hard to find and nowhere near as convenient to transport as the shorter models.
Can I surf fish with a telescopic rod?
Plenty of anglers surf fish and pier fish with collapsible tele-rods. But, even with a seven-foot rod, you can cast out and catch sunfish, smelt, sardines, and other species that hang out in the surf and around a dock. Saltwater won’t hurt them as long as you take care to give them a good wipedown to prevent corrosion after each use.
How much does a telescopic fishing rod cost?
Different manufacturers sell these rods at different price points, but except for some high-end brands from Japan, you typically don’t see telescoping rods selling for much more than $100. Naturally, some of them can sell for $125 or so, but the majority cost less. Look out for the ones with special features like ceramic line guides that will drive the price up
Can I take a telescopic fishing rod on a plane?
According to the TSA, you can take fishing poles in carry-on or in a checked bag on a plane. You might need to check the sharper bits of your tackle, but at least your rod will be safe from damage in the cargo hold when you have it sitting neatly in your carry-on luggage.
Telescopic fishing rods have improved since their invention in the late 19th century. These days, you can find a dependable, durable, portable telescopic rod for a fraction of the price of a regular casting rod, and it will still have plenty of power to bring in some serious fish.