Telescopic rods have got a lot of bad press for being a cheap substitute for a 2 piece rod. Well I for one love using my telescopic rod and have caught lots of fish on it without any problems. I believe that telescopic rods have a special place and fulfill a specific role that cannot be replaced by other expensive, custom made 1, 2 or even 3 piece rods. They make excellent travel rods (especially for air travel) and portable rods easily stowed away in cars or a backpack. Those into kayaks or canoes would also find them very useful. As with a normal rod, choosing a good telescopic rod is very important and generally you get what you pay for. El cheapo telescopic rods are responsible for most of the bad experiences fishermen have with them. So far I have found that Shimano, Abu Garcia, Shakespear and Jarvis Walker make good and affordable telescopic rods and they often come with well balanced reels. A nice Shimano 7 foot rod and reel combo costs about AUD35-40 which will not break the bank. But choosing a good telescopic rod is tricky and here is a basic guide I have found useful.
1. The most important part of a telescopic rod are the guides. Good quality guides are important as they also play an important part in connecting the different sections. Cheap metal guides rust easily and even loosen and come off easily. There should be at least 5 to 6 guides. I clean and coat them with protective oil once in a while to keep them working well. When extending the rod, it is important also to make sure the guides are in line and firmly in place. If not the rod can collapse when you get a fish on the line which is not something you want to happen.
2. Rod length and action depends on what sort of fishing you want to do. For soft plastics I use a 6.6 to 7 foot rod with medium action for a line weight of 2-4kg. Generally those lengths are the safest to get unless you are into surf fishing. Generally telescopic rods are medium action as if they are too soft it puts too much stress on the joints.
3. A balanced set up requires a correct reel which is not too big, appropriate to your line size. To enhance it's portability I like reels with a collapsible handle. Make sure the reels fits securely into the rod butt.
4. The rod butt section should not extend past your elbow when you hold it. I find that the soft foam grips are very useful for keeping your jigheads when the rod is in it's shortened configuration. In this way it only takes me a few seconds to extend the rod with the jighead already attached and get straight into fishing. This is also useful when you have to move around to a new fishing spot when the fish stop biting. For soft plastic fishing this allows you to move around easily. 5. Rod Composition. I prefer graphite over alluminium as graphite is generally lighter and move flexible. Sometimes the rod tips are made of solid fiberglass which is more durable.
You know when I walk up to the pier and set up my telescopic rod, most other fishermen give me that "look" and would comment on the durability of telescopic rods. However when I end up catching more and bigger fish, they generally change their minds. Packing up is realy easy as I just compress the rod back into it's foot long configuration and thats it. Give it a go, a good telescopic rod is a joy to use and can be surprisingly handy. After all the best rod is the one you have with you when the opportunity to fish comes along. Good hunting!