Ultralight Rods vs. Light — Which is Better?

It gets confusing sometimes when you shop for fishing rods.

In this blog we focus on ultralight rods vs. light fishing rods and give you the verdict.

First things first!

The word “weight” in this blog means the amount of pressure needed to bend the rod.

Stiffer rods have heavier weights.

So an ultralight rod will bend easier than a light rod, which will bend easier than a medium-weight rod, etc.

One more clarification — “action” is all about where the rod bends when it is engaged.

Both lightweight and ultra lightweight rods tend to have fast action and bend mostly at the tip.

An example of a heavyweight rod is on that forms the letter “C” when engaged.

The bend is in the middle, not at the tip.


What is a light fishing rod?

A lightweight fishing rod is one that is idea for lures that are under 1/16 of an ounce.

These are small lures or flies.

Many fly rods are also lightweight.

A lightweight fishing rod also is light in weight meaning it does not weigh very much.

What are light rods used for?

Generally, you fish for smaller fish with a lightweight rod.

Small trout, panfish, blue gill, even small bass.

That does not mean you cannot catch larger fish on a light rod, you can.

The deal is it takes a lot more skill and more time, but it is very doable.

What is an ultra light rod?

An ultra light rod is both light in weight and light in action.

Many times the weight range of lures defines the weight of the rod.

We mentioned above that weight had to do with how much force it took to bend the rod, here we are going to discuss the lure weight also.

You could not put a two pound weight on the end of the line with an ultra light rod and cast it.

The rod or the line would snap.

For those reasons, we classify rods by the weight of a lure.

A light rod is good for lures in the 1/16 of a once range.

An ultralight rod will handle lures in the 1/32-1/16 ounce range.

What are ultra light fishing rods used for?

Generally, ultra light fishing rods are for fishing inshore, small creeks, quiet lakes, where you target smaller fish such as brook trout, Another key feature of light weight and ultralight weight rods is that you feel more of what goes on around the hook, lure, or fly.

So, you would use a light weight or ultralight weight rod wherever you needed to feel the smallest of bites.

Shy fish, and there are many species of fish that are shy, are a good example of why an ultralight fishing rod is useful.

Ultralight Rods vs. Light

One key difference is accuracy.

When you dial in a ultralight weight fishing rod your casting becomes more accurate.

That fact is a slight improvement over the results with a lightweight rod.

If you need to improve your fishing game, reach for the ultralight weight rod over the lightweight rod.

Both offer amazing accuracy, but you will find you become a little more accurate with the ultralight rods over the light rods.

The reason for that is how the tip bends.

An ultralight weight tip will bend easier giving you a better arc when you cast over that of a lightweight rod.

You will handle smaller flies or lures on an ultralight rod vs. a light rod.

A light rod will handle a 1/32 of an ounce fly or lure, but not as well as the ultralight rod.

So early, nymph fishing on a backwater lake or remote creek will require the use of tiny lures and flies.

In that situation, the ultralight weight rod will shine over the light rod.

Both are made of lightweight materials, usually graphite or a hybrid mix.

Both are easy to carry, hold, and fish, even for a long day of fishing.

Big heavy clunky rods can wear you out after a few hours.

What about ultralight vs medium light rod?

The more you gain in weight in a fishing rod, the less accurate they become.

You also lose out on the use of smaller flies which means they are not as good in some fishing situations.

You’d want a light or ultralight for smaller fish, such as brook trout, crappie, even smaller arctic grayling.

You’d want a medium light rod for bigger fish such as big bass.

Another key difference is in what you feel.

The ultralight will allow you to feel the smallest of nibbles — a trout that takes the bait but does not strike.

A medium weight rod has a tougher resistance to bending, so you feel less of what happens around the hook, fly, or lure area.

Which costs more?

Generally the ultralight rod will cost more than the light rod. There is also the aspect of brand.

Is light or ultra light better for trout?

The ultra light rod is better for trout simply because you use lighter rigging, line, flies or lures.

You will do just fine with a lightweight rod, but in general, an ultralight rod is perfect for most trout.

Do ultra light rods break easy?

Ultra light rods are sturdy if you care for them.

One consideration is that the banks are thinner, and therefore you can nick them easily and cause a fatal weakness.

If you care for your fishing rods, this should not be a problem.

Can you catch bass on an ultralight rod?

Absolutely, though traditionally, ultra light rods are for smaller fish.

You can rig light rigging and catch bass with an ultralight pole.

How big of a fish can you catch on an ultralight rod?

Back in 1992, a record was set by Rip Collins who caught a 40 pound four ounce brown trout on lightweight rigging.

He used a four pound line to land that lunker.

What is the best length for an ultralight rod?

The length of the rod also includes the fish you target.

A 5-6 foot range is good for ultralight rods, but they are also perfect for fly-fishing or long casting with a 7-foot length.

Conclusion — Which is better?

It’s a close call but overall you gain more accuracy with an ultra light rod over a light rod.

The ultra light rod will also help improve your angling skills.

Will you see a difference in fish you catch?

You shouldn’t. Is this a hands down victory for the ultra light rods?

Sort of it is. However, the deal really is about  how much skill you have, what you target, and environmental factor too.

Still, the ultra light rod ekes out a narrow victory over the light rod.