Continental Style Rods

What is considered the optimum length of sea fishing rods has changed considerably over the years, with differing theories put forward as to what length of fishing rod provides the best length to maximise casting distance while still being useable as a fishing tool. Today, we are seeing the rise of longer and longer fishing rods being used on British beaches, with rods of 14 – 16 feet in length now seen as nothing unusual. Read on to find out why this is the case, and why these types of fishing rod are catching on.

Changing Trends in Rod Length

In the 1970s the trend was for shorter sea fishing rods, with popular books such as The Fisherman’s Handbook, published in 1977, stating:

“The average man casts 6oz further and more easily by exchanging his 12ft rod for one nearer 10ft”.

(Page 205)

This may be because heavier glass-fibre rods were still popular at this time, and switching to a smaller, lighter rod did indeed help anglers reach greater casting distances. However, by the 1980s the vast majority of fishing rods were made out of carbon fibre, and even anglers with modest budgets could afford a rod made out of this material. By the 1990s fishing rod construction was getting increasingly complex with materials such as Kevlar and graphite being added to the manufacturing process, with these advances leading to rod lengths growing to an average of 12ft, and today a 12ft rod and multiplier reel is seen as the classic set up for British sea angling. However, since the year 2000 we have seen rods which are substantially longer begin to appear on the market. Today most manufacturers make a number of ‘long rods’ which are 14, 15 or even 16 feet in length.

The Growing Popularity of Long Continental Type Rods

The increasing use of long rods in the UK has been driven by lessons learned from European anglers who have used rods up to 18ft long for many years. Despite being longer these rods are lighter, more sensitive and have a softer action than the traditional 12ft British beachcaster, as they are designed to fish the sub-tropical sandy beaches or the calmer waters of the Mediterranean. Many of these ideas have found their way into UK rod design, as the longer rods available in the UK share the lighter construction and softer action of the continental rods which they are influenced by.

Mediterranean Beach

Continental rods are derived from rods used in much of Europe to fish calmer waters, such as the Mediterranean Sea.

The longer length and softer action of these rods means that casting distances are increased. Anglers casting with simple overhead casts will see their distances improve, while anglers using off the ground casting styles will see distances increase considerably. Almost all continental rods are designed to be used with fixed spool reels and casting distances can be further improved by using braided line. Indeed, a 15ft+ rod, fixed spool reel and braided line is fast becoming a well-recognised set up for fishing many marks around the UK, and could possibly rival the popularity of the classic12ft beachcaster and multiplier reel set up. While additional casting distance from simple casting styles is very tempting for most anglers the advantages of continental style rods are tempered by a number of disadvantages which are inherent in their design.

Advantages of Continental Rods

One of the main advantages of continental rods is the additional casting distance which can be achieved with simple overhead casting styles. These rods also usually offer good sensitivity and bite detection, especially if braided line is used. Many anglers enjoy the simplicity of fishing with fixed spool reels and basic casting styles and yet still being able to reach good casting distances. Many continental rods also have soft/sensitive tips which register even the shyest bites very well. A further advantage of long continental rods is that they are always three-section rods, meaning they can be transported much more easily than a traditional two-section beachcaster.

Disadvantages of Continental Rods

Continental rods work best on clean, sandy, snag-free beaches. They will cope with areas with mixed ground and a few snags but are not designed to fish properly rough or snaggy ground. Many anglers fishing traditional rough winter cod marks which feature big seas and plenty of snags would do best to avoid continental rods for this type of fishing.

Stormy Seas

Continental style rods will struggle with stormy seas and rocky fishing marks which are familiar to many UK anglers.

Furthermore, while they excel when used to perform overhead casts (and most can handle off the ground casting) they are not designed for pendulum/power casts and should never be used for this type of casting. A final issue to remember is that longer rods obviously require more space to cast successfully – some anglers have found that pier walls breakwaters which had sufficient space to cast with a 12ft rod are too tight on space to cast a 16ft rod, so anglers should bear this in mind before making a purchase!


Long continental-style rods are having a big impact on UK sea fishing and the number seen on British beaches looks set to continue to rise. Continental rods are not all rounders – they are designed for mostly clean beach work and calm seas. However, anglers who mostly fish these type of marks (or those looking for an additional rod specialised for fishing this type of mark) should seriously look at a continental rod due to the features this type of rod offers. In particular anglers struggling to cast long distances or those who cannot get to grips with pendulum/power casting should certainly consider a continental rod, as it provides a way of reaching further casting distances for very little additional effort or technique.

Suggested Rods

All are three-section and designed to be used with fixed spool reels. The links will click through to Amazon where these rods can be viewed and purchased.

Abu Garcia Hellbender 14ft – This is an ideal continental-style rod which retains many of the capabilities which UK anglers need for fishing around the British coast. This rod is built to the high standards anglers would expect from a top-end manufacturer such as Abu Garcia and features a high modulus carbon construction and tri-SIC guides. Great casting distances can be achieved with this rod and a useful range of 3oz to 7oz weights can be used. Bite detection is excellent and this rod also has a three piece construction making it easy to transport. The price of the 14ft version is around £160. View and purchase this rod on Amazon by clicking here. A 15ft version is also available, although this has a more limited casting weight range of 4-6oz.

Iridium Surf Dreamer 15ft Beachcaster – A continental-style fishing at a cheaper price the Iridium Surf Dreamer DR4503 15ft Beachcaster is ideal. This rod is the perfect length for continental casting and features SIC LC guides and a screw winch type reel seat. Casting weight is rated at 100-200 grams (approx. 3½-7oz). Like most continental rods this rod breaks down into three sections making it easy to transport. Being available for around £50 this is a perfect rod for anglers looking to get into continental-style fishing without breaking the bank. View and purchase this rod on Amazon by clicking here

Lineaeffe Carbo Cast 14ft – Italian manufacturer Lineaeffe have produced the Carbo Cast which is a 14ft rod which is ideal for continental-style fishing. Although lightweight this rod can handle both sandy beach and light mixed ground fishing around the UK. Coming in three sections and offering longer distances with basic casting styles this rod usually costs around £50. However, it is often heavily discounted, offering anglers to chance to get a continental style for for around £25-30.View and purchase this rod on Amazon by clicking here

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