Rods made for bait-casting reels are usually heavier, longer, and stronger. Casting reels can handle the heaviest line of any so the rods made for them range from fairly light to extremely strong and tough. And you can find them in any length and taper for your specific needs.
A bait-casting rod.
Bait-Casting Rod Quality
A smooth blemish-free finish is a sign of a good bait-casting rod. The higher-quality rods have a deep glow to them from the finish applied to the rod blank. Look for a rod that is perfectly straight, has numerous guides on it, and is not tip heavy. A bait-casting rod should balance right at the reel seat because rods that are tip heavy will tire your hand.
The Bait-Casting Rod Reel Seat
The reel seat on a bait-casting rod must be very strong for heavier uses. It can be any arrangement that grips the reel foot and tightens down to hold it securely. Most are some kind of screw and foot arrangement because they tend to be the strongest. There should be no protrusions on it, to hurt your hand while fishing.
A popular type of handle in recent years is the through-handle. Rather than the rod attaching to the end of the handle, this type has the rod blank run all the way through it. Some even have cutouts exposing parts of the blank. Through-handles are supposed to transmit feel to your hand better than others. They can be found on all kinds of rods.
Never buy a rod until you put a reel on it and feel its balance and weight. When holding the rod with the reel on it, grasp it just like you would while fishing and make sure it's comfortable and you will be able to hold it for long periods of time.
Guides on a Bait-Casting Rod
Guides should be straight and in line with each other on bait-casting rods as with all other kinds of rods. They're not much bigger at the handle end of the rod since line comes off bait-casting reels in a straight line. The first guide needs to be big enough to handle the sideways movement as the line comes off the spool, but it doesn't have to be large like a spinning rod guide.
The thread wrapping bait-casting rods should be tight and smooth. There should not be any bumps or tag ends of line showing if they're wrapped correctly. No knots are used in wrapping a guide so you should see no evidence of one. The transition from rod surface to wrap surface should be smooth and not have a sharp edge to it.
Hard guides made of metal or those with ceramic inserts should be used to prevent damage to the line. If you plan on using a braid or other abrasive line, check the rod documentation for information about the guides. Make sure they can handle these types of lines.
Single-footed guides are also found on bait-casting rods. They're lighter and work just as well as double-footed guides. They should be solid and tight, without any movement. They should also be perfectly aligned with the rod blank. Check this since they're a little harder to line up when putting on the blank.
The more guides on a rod the better, up to a point. Quality rods may have a guide every six to eight inches to keep the line away from the blank when fighting a strong fish. If a six-foot rod has fewer than six guides you should consider another rod.