We investigate functional capabilities of large arrays of gold and silver nanorods as elements of plasmonic devices. The samples were fabricated by electron beam lithography and lift-off techniques on glass substrates. The areas patterned by the nanorods or other nanoparticles can be large, with dimensions of up to about one centimeter. Structural and optical characterization has allowed confirmation of a high homogeneity of the fabricated ensembles of nanorods, and a high sensitivity of their longitudinal extinction bands to the variations of the nanorod length and the refractive index of the environment. Applications of nanorods as refractive-index sensors is discussed.