The choices can be bewildering.

Walk into any tackle shop and say something as seemingly direct as “I want to buy a fishing rod” and be prepared to get peppered with questions.

What kind do you want? What will you be fishing for? How will you use it? What baits or lures do you plan to cast with it, in what sizes?

The questions can seem endless.

Considering a few basics will help you narrow things down, though.

Think about length, for starters. Most rods range from 6 to 12 feet. The longer the rod, the father it will cast, generally.

So, if you fish large lakes or rivers, especially from shore, and need the ability to get a bait out there, perhaps a longer rod is better. But if you fish from a boat, especially a small one with multiple people on board, where you’ll drop your bait or lure over the side as often as not, shorter might be better. The same is true if you fish small streams with lots of vegetation alon the banks.

In general, a 6- to 7-foot rod is a good starting point.

Consider, too, what a rod is made of.

Graphite rods are lighter and more sensitive, making it easier for you to detect subtle bites. But they’re often more expensive and tend to be brittle, as well.

Fiberglass rods are less expensive, easier to maintain, and more forgiving. But they’re also heavier and less sensitive.

What about “action?” Rods are labeled slow, medium or fast. That refers to where along the rod it bends.

A “slow” action rod bends closer to the handle, making the rod whippier. A “fast” action rod is more rigid, so that they bend only from the tip about a third of the way down. “Medium” action rods are a compromise of those two extremes.

Choose the action of your rod based on how you’ll fish.

If you expect to yank heavy fish out of thick weeds, a fast action rod is a necessity. If you plan to fish small finesse baits, a slow action rod is the way to go.

Of course, a medium action rod is a good all-around choice.

Finally, examine the guides, those circles along the length of the rod that contain your line.

They are generally made from metal, plastic or ceramic. Look at how they’re attached to the rod. Make sure they are held on well.

Feel them with your finger, too. They should be smooth.

Guides that have even the tiniest of nicks can fray your line – often at exactly the wrong moment, when you’re fighting a big fish.

So make sure the guides are sturdy and well made.

And then?

Well, pick a rod and go fishing, of course.