The rod, otherwise called a pole or perch, is a unit of measurement that surveyors use to measure length. A rod is a useful unit of length because whole number multiples of it can form an acre of square measure. How long is a rod?
The rod’s length is 16.5 feet (5.03 meters). The rod is a quarter of a surveyor’s chain and 1/320 of a surveyor’s mile. In the early days, farmers laid out lands every 10 rounds with a rod or plowshare measuring 16.5-feet.
That was where the rod measurement originated. Up to this day, US surveyors still use rods to measure portages and pipeline easement acquisitions.
As modern measuring devices replaced older materials, some people put rod measurements on the back burner.
Nevertheless, rod measurements are here to stay, as there are special measurements that rods could measure accurately.
Read on to learn more about the rod’s length compared to other units of measurements. We’ll also look at the length of fishing rods, which typically are about 6 to 12 feet long.
How Long Is a Rod?
Modern US customary units define the rod as 16.5 US survey feet or 5.03 meters. The rod is equal to a quarter of a surveyor’s chain or 1/320 of a surveyor’s mile.
The rod is 16.5 feet (5.03 meters) long and can produce one acre of square measure due to its whole number multiples. This unique property made farmers use it to layout their lands every 10 rounds with a rod or plowshare, measuring16.5 feet.
Nowadays, surveyors may not use the rod as a common measuring tool for length, but there are still significant rod uses. Examples of these are when they cannot use a laser or optical measurements for rough terrain. Rods come in handy during these cases.
Rods are also used for the following:
- As a measure in canoe portages
- Measuring pipeline easement acquisitions
- Legal measurements
- Real estate measurements
- Division of farming lots
The rectangular perfect acre measures 40 rods and 4 rods; hence, it is 160 square rods or 10 square chains. The acre also measures 43,560 square feet (4046.86 square meters), with both sides 660 feet (201.17 meters) long and with a width of 66 feet (20.12 meters).
History of the Rod
Early Days of England
In the early days of England, the unit of length measurement was the perch. The perch recorded lengths were 18, 20, 22, and 24 feet (5.49 meters, 6.1 meters, 6.71 meters, and 7.32 meters).
Eventually, land surveyors made use of chains and perch-length rods built into detachable stiff chains. These chains measure 66 feet (20.1168 meters) or 4 rods (20.1168 meters). Thus, ten chains or 40 rods is a furlong or an eight-mile unit.
In 1536, England’s king, Henry VIII’s seized the Roman Catholic Church’s land and wanted to sell it quickly to finance his wars. So, surveyors quickly divided the land into squares using rods and chains. The acre was then established as an area of 10 square chains.
Afterward, Edmund Gunter standardized the rod as a survey measure in England in 1607. He equated the rod to a quarter of a chain of 66 feet (20.12 meters) or 16.5 feet (5.03 meters) long.
The rod could measure a perfect acre of 43,560 square feet (4046.8564 square meters), bounded by sides 660 feet (201.168 meters or 1 furlong) long and 66 feet (20.1168 meters) wide. These values are equivalent to 40 rods and 4 rods. Thus, a perfect acre is 160 square rods or 10 square chains.
Land surveyors measured this perfect acre using the rod due to the rod’s ability to form whole number multiples to produce an acre.
In 2020, the National Institute Standards and Technology and U.S. National Geodetic Survey planned to replace the previous units with the internationally accepted value of one foot, exactly 0.3048 meters.
The United Kingdom Phased out the Rod as a Legal Measurement Unit
Consequently, the United Kingdom phased out the rod as a legal measurement unit during its metrication process since 1965.
Although the rod is no longer commonly used, surveyors still use it to measure length. Examples of these lengths are portages where people have to carry canoes. Also, the rod is used in legal descriptions or for pipeline easement acquisitions. 
The Rod Compared to Other Units of Length Measurements
1 rod = 16.5 feet
= 5.0292 meters
= 0.0050292 kilometers
= 198 inches
= 502.92 centimeters
= 5.5 yards
= 0.003125 miles
= 5029.2 millimeters
= 1.3310748220099 rood
= 1 pole or 1 perch
= 1 furlong
160 square rods = 1 acre
The Rod and Similar Units in Europe
The rod is similar to some measurement units in Europe, such as:
- Perche and canne (France)
- Canna (Spain)
- Ruthe (German)
- Pertica and canna (Italian)
- Canna (Morocco)
- Ruthe (Sweden)
- Canna (Sicily)
- Pertica (Venice)
Why Is a Rod Equal to 16.5 Feet?
The rod is 16.5 feet because it is convenient for farmers to finish a land every 10 rounds with a 10-inch plowshare. The plowshare is about 16.5 feet long. Additionally, real estate surveyors and farmers have used a rod or pole, measuring 16.5 feet long, when laying outlands.
The Rod as a Unit of Area
You can use the rod, pole, perch, and rood as area units and the perch as a volume unit.
A square rod as a unit of area is equal to a square perch, 16.5 feet (5.5 yards). The square rod is also equal to 30.25 square yards (25.29 square meters or 0.00625 acres).
One rood is equal to 40 square perches. Hence, the area of one acre is 40 rods x 4 rods. This value is equivalent to 160 square perches.
However, in some countries, 1 square perch is equal to 42.21 square meters. Queensland, Sri Lanka, and Jamaica used perches and roods in real estate listings.
The Perch as a Unit of Volume
A perch is a traditional unit of volume for masonry. In masonry, a perch is the volume of a stone wall that is 16.5 feet (5.03 meters) long, 18 inches (45.7 centimeters) high, and 12 inches (30.5 meters) thick.
What Does 80-Rod Length Mean?
80 rods are equal to 1,320 feet because one rod is equivalent to 16.5 feet. You multiply the number of rods, which is 80, to the conversion factor, 16.5, to get 1,320 feet.
To manually convert rods to feet, you multiply the number of rods with the conversion factor, 16.5, to measure feet.
For convenience, you can always use your calculator or the online conversion apps to convert your units to rods or vice versa.
What Is the Difference Between a Rod and a Furlong?
A rod is 16.5 feet or 5.5 yards, while a furlong is from 660 feet or 220 yards. The rod was the fundamental land measurement unit.
On the other hand, one furlong is equal to 40 rods. An acre measures 4 by 40 rods or 4 rods by 1 furlong. Since 1 furlong is equivalent to 40 rods, there would be 160 square rods per acre (40 rods x 4 rods = 160 square rods). In simplest terms, 1 rod unit = 0.025 furlong. 
How Big Is a 10-Rod Allotment?
A 10-rod allotment is equal to 10 square rods. This rod-value is equivalent to 253 square meters. The area is about the size of a tennis court for doubles matches. The court is 78 feet (23.77 meters) long and 36 feet (10.97 meters) wide.
This area size was ideal for farmers to cultivate perennial crops and tend to some livestock. Thus, they also use this measurement with the acre measurements to divide lands among people, especially during the olden times.
How Many Perches Are in a Rod?
There are 5.5 yards in one perch. One rod is equal to 0.86 perch. However, ‘perch’ is also another term for rod or pole in other countries. This occurs because they have almost the same value. The rod is only 0.14 more than the perch value.
Next, let’s proceed to fish rods and the length measurements recommended for various types of angling.
History of the Fishing Rod’s Length
The fishing rod started as a simple pole with a bait. Then running rings appeared that allowed anglers to have better control of the cast line. The jointed rods came next, and then the spinning reels. These reels were introduced to prevent the twisting of the lines.
They also promote ease of reeling in the catch. This practical feature made fishing fun and more convenient for beginners.
Anglers use traditional fishing rods in competitive casting or recreational fishing. Manufacturers build the traditional rods from wood, such as bamboo, ash, and hickory. On the other hand, they make contemporary rods from fiberglass or carbon fiber.
Fishing rods come in various lengths, sizes, and configurations. These aspects would depend on whether you will be fishing in freshwater or seawater. Furthermore, your type of fishing rod would also depend on the fish size you plan to catch.
The fishing rod typically measures from 2 feet to 50 feet (0.5 to 15 meters), depending on your purpose. The rod is flexible and features a hook at the rod’s end where baits are attached. Often, reels are used to prevent the twisting of the lines and ensure easy fishing.
Different Types of Fishing Rods
- Trolling Rods – Rods that are placed behind boats
- Fly Rods – Designed to cast artificial flies
- Ice Fishing Rods – Used to fish in ice-covered small holes.
- Baitcasting Rods or Spinning Rods – Used to cast lures or baits
How to Choose a Fishing Rod’s Length
You should choose a fishing rod depending on your fishing area and the size of your prospective catch. Moreover, you must also consider the lure weight, line weight, rod speed, and the number of pieces.
These are the recommended lengths for these rod types:
- Trolling Rods – The ideal length ranges from 5.5 feet (1.6764 meters) to 10 feet (3.048 meters).
- Fly Rods – The length would depend on where you want to fish. The ideal length is between 8 feet (2.4384 meters) to 9 feet (2.7432 meters). You can use the longer rods in big spaces while the shorter ones in smaller bodies of water.
- Ice Fishing Rods – The ice fishing rod’s length is shorter at 28 to 38 inches (0.7112 to 0.9652 meters).
- Baitcasting Rods or Spinning Rods – The rod length ideal for panfish and trout is 6 feet and 6 inches (1.9812 Meters). Meanwhile, the best rod length for salmon, bass, and steelhead is 7 feet (2.1336 meters).
Conclusion – How Long Is a Rod In Feet and Meters?
A rod is 16.5 feet (5.03 meters) long. It is a unit of length measurement usually used in land surveys or real estate listings.
In the early days, farmers have laid out lands every 10 rounds with a plowshare or rod measuring 16.5 feet (5.03 meters). The rod is also 1/320 of a surveyor’s mile or a quarter of a surveyor’s chain.
Rod measurements are not commonly used nowadays due to the influx of updated measuring devices, but it is still useful in special measurements. Examples of these are legal proceedings, real estate, and portages measurements.