10 – Like new. This rod is very close to a new rod. The cork may be a little darker than brand new, but no different than a rod that was cast in the parking lot a few times
9 – Almost New. This rod has seen the water a few times. The cork may be slightly darker than new and may have a few small scratches
8 – Great. This is a very lightly used rod. Think of it as a rod that saw a week on the water for a certain trip. The blank and reel seat may have more frequent scratches. No structural damage to any portion of the rod.
7 – Very Good. This rod has seen its days on the water. The cork will be dark and could have some scratches through the rod that are visible. Small cracks in the epoxy are possible. This rod is ready to fish and makes a great back up or new rod for targeting different fish.
6 – Good. A rod that has seen many seasons on the water. The rod may have dark cork, and missing some filler in the cork. The rod will have scratches and damage to the epoxy around the guides. Bent guides are possible. The rod is 100% fishable but will look like a heavily used rod.
5 and Below – Any rod rated 5 and below will not be fishable. Most of these rods will need some sort of repair to get on the water.