Fishing Rods

Ever read those fishing magazines or watch those fishing shows where the guys try and tell you what kinda rod you should be fishing with, for a certain type of fish, under certain conditions? Sure, we all do, because they all do. Unfortunately they aren't smart enough to realize, that we are smart enough to realize, that they're counting on us, not being smart enough to realize, that they're getting paid to sell all those rods they fish with! Because, under the same circumstances four weeks apart, they'll be using a totally different rod, to fish for the same fish, on the same show! Odds are, the show was filmed on the same day, and they simply ran back dockside to fill the boat with the other folks goodies, change shirts, and run back out to film next week's 30 minute info-mercial.

Now it's pretty obvious these rods are given to them by the manufacturers, and they either auction them off at year's end, or give them away on a regular basis, either that or each of these guys has several 40 x 80 warehouses in his backyard strictly for fishing tackle. Of course if every major manufacturer of fishing tackle in the nation were to see this website, and started giving me tackle, and rods & reels, and boats, and such. I'd probably be inclined to offer a suggestion or two to my viewers, and  build myself a 40 x 80 garage in my backyard! (If I had a backyard, to build one in.)

At any rate, what I'm gonna do here instead, is make a few common sense recommendations for a good all around, general purpose rod and reel, for all applications, so you can quit running down buying two or three rods a week, trying to keep up with everyone in publication land.

First, let me say, that I do have several rods adorning the wall of the garage, but it isn't 40 x 80, and they're all in one little corner. All of those rods have their time and place, and were each purchased for particular needs in angling, but there are a couple that are favorites, simply because they fit the bill in just about any circumstance. They're both, the kind of rod you'd want, if you were only allowed to have one fishing rod in your life! And, both are 5 1/2 footers. They are furthermore, a well rounded pair, selected in hopes that I could maybe talk them into letting me keep two rods, to catch most anything that swims in ND, should the one rod per person day, ever come. One is a medium action spinning rod, the other a medium-heavy baitcast rod.

Now I'm sure there are just bunches of folks out there in the world, that will argue that a rod of only 5 1/2 foot, is too short for anything short of ultra-light status, so just back up for a moment folks, and listen to my reasons why.

First, I think we can all agree, the longer the rod, the more tip heavy it becomes. And, if you can't agree with that, you need to go back to about 9th grade geometry class and start over, because it is. It simply works that way, what with the laws of physics in regard to fulcrums and leverage applied, and all them happy road apples. Thus in order to offset this weight, and balance the Rod & Reel Combination, the longer the rod, the further forward the reel seat is moved, giving one a great deal more handle for your money or, weight is added to the butt end of the rod, to offset the tip weight.

This is all great if you like particularly long handles, or butt heavy rods. And, to be honest with you guys, as you get older you're subject to find, much as I did, that you actually begin to enjoy things a little butt heavy, in certain respects. But, fishing rods simply ain't one of 'em! The only thing I find less enjoyable, than a butt heavy rod, is a rod with an eighteen inch handle, because the extension of handle length is typically found behind the reel seat, thus adding weight to the butt of the rod. The additional length is a bit cumbersome at times, when you cast, not to mention, that the additional length, serves not the intended purpose, when added to the handle.

Unfortunately when seeking a 7 to 7 1/2 foot rod, you will find, that you won't find one with much less than 16 inches of handle, and if you do, it'll have a brick tied to the butt of it. It has to be that way or it would be so tip heavy, that you wouldn't buy it no how. And, thus it is a bit awkward for casting purposes, on the average lazy afternoon fishing trip. I won't deny however, that it does have certain advantages, in circumstance where one needs a little extra distance and applies a two handed, all you've got to give her oomph, to get it out there a ways, like when trying to cast a small crank into a stiff breeze. You can make a lure sail, a great deal further with it.

My 5 1/2 foot rods on the other hand, are light in all respects, both overall and in the butt, and they are extremely well balanced. One holds them like you'd hold the hand of a small child, gently cradling them in your hand, thus affording you a greater sense of feel for all that happens on the end of your line. Both are moderate to high end quality combos, and quite simply put, they are a joy to fish with! Those who've been blessed with the privilege, are amazed at the feel and the sensitivity they offer.

Since a great deal of my fishing consists of running bridge to bridge, casting cranks on the McClusky Canal, up here in Central ND, they offer a few added advantages as well. First, fishing under the bridges, one is typically confronted with limited over head room, as only one bridge on the canal is high enough to avoid this problem, and thus a longer rod often gets a wee bit scuffed up about the tip, when setting the hook or pumping the rod on retrieve of a fish. Thus a shorter rod sees less damage in this circumstance.

Also when traveling bridge to bridge in mid-summer, the gravel roads are quite often dusty, and rods lying in the back of the pickup are constantly in need of cleaning, unless stored in a confined space, whilst traveling. Considering a full-size pickup toolbox is only about 5' 10" wide, a 5' 6" foot rod fits real comfy therein, with the handle lying on one bedside shelf, and the rod supported center over the sliding tray. Anything 6' in length travels with the tip slightly bent, against the opposite end of the box, again wearing on, and/or causing damage to the end guide, and tip of the rod itself. And, beyond 6' they simply won't fit, unless they're two piece rods, which aren't even in my vocabulary, let alone in my rod line up! (I must admit I do have a couple of seldom used [by me] 2 piece rods, but they were freebies, or were purchased second hand on auctions, meaning that they were typically thrown in with what I was bidding on otherwise, and are typically reserved for use by rug rats that don't respect my good rods.)

Now, one could say, "Well if you put them inside the cab...." Well, I typically transport the entire lot to and from tournaments riding comfortably in the passenger's seat, out of harms way. And, having been there and done that on more than one occasion, I can tell you without the least bit of reservation, that a 5 1/2 footer works much better in that respect also. So the point of putting them inside to keep them clean is moot.

And, there will no doubt be other arguments, that we may likely have succumbed to, such as the additional leverage needed to haul in a bigger fish. So let's look at this realistically! Were such the case, given the rod we fresh water fishermen use seeking the typical 2 - 10 pound fresh water fish, those guys out there fishing for 1,000 pound marlin would need at minimum, 47 foot fishing rods, right? Sure they would given the laws of physics, leverage, and all, as applied by them guys trying to sell you 7 foot rods to haul Bass out of the grass.

Actually, if you look at in that respect, the longer the rod, the more advantage the fish has, because the fulcrum in the leverage factor remains relatively constant, your hand on or just above the reel seat. Thus, from a realistic standpoint, one is far better off with a shorter rod. In example, the aforementioned Marlin fishermen, anchor the rods to their body, butt in the groin, (get your mind out of the gutter there, we're talking fishing rods here), belt around their waist, and hold the rod well forward of the reel seat, moving the applied leverage further up the rod, and effectively shortening length of the rod guys.

If you really want to argue the application therein, and don't want to believe this, or listen to salt water fishing application logic, it's easily demonstrated in your garage or living room as well. Simply tie a brick on your line, place the butt of the rod under your belt, and lift the brick off the ground, holding the rod in varying degrees of distance in front of the reel seat. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which run will result in the greatest ease in lift here guys. The further your hand is up the rod, and thus the shorter the rod, the easier it gets. And thus, if you want to avoid having the neighbors question whether your spool's back-lashed on you, watching you trying to land bricks through their living room's picture window, simply take my word for it.

And, yeah I know, regardless of the demonstration, you're all used to fishing with 6 foot rods, or longer, and wouldn't have anything shorter, because I used to be of the same schooling, until one fateful day I found myself badly in need of a rod, (as in mine got broke in the back of the truck, in route to a favorite fishing hole, thus the ride in the cab to tournaments these days out of harm's way), and I wound up in a small town bait shop where I found only one rod in the store that suited my taste, and thus purchased my first, but certainly not my last, 5 1/2 footer.

There will also be those that state you need the extra length for, "more powerful hooksets!" Well, I don't know about the rest of the world, but I'm not into inflicting whiplash when I set the hook, or attempting to launch fish into the next county, and this little problem can easily, and more effectively be resolved with lighter and sharper hooks, and line with less stretch. Furthermore folks, there is in reality, little to no advantage in rod sweep on a long rod over a short rod, regardless, because the rod tip effectively winds up in the same position, given the extra give in the tip of a longer rod, unless you're fishing with broomsticks. I own both folks, and I'm telling you, my short medium action rod's tip don't allow as much give as the long ones comparatively, or for that matter period. The hook is set a foot or more quicker on the short rod.

There are in fact, but a few reasons, I own anything more than a 5 1/2 foot rod -

  1. They are little softer tipped even given the same action, what with the extra length. Thus, allowing a little more give for the utilization of super lines, which I do prefer in trolling applications.  

  2. They allow you to troll your lure a little further away from the boat, thus spreading the lures a bit in multi-line trolling applications, without the use of planer boards or divers.

  3. And... as stated above you can wing a lure a great deal further with them if need arises.

Does it all truly matter? No not really, because each of us seems to have a little different feel for things when it comes to rods, or there wouldn't be 10,000 versions of them out there in the world. But, if one were forced to select only one rod to fish with for the rest of their lives, I personally would recommend a 5 1/2 foot rod. It's lighter, and better balanced, thus giving you greater feel for what you're doing. It doesn't give the fish any added advantage in leverage, and it works a great deal better in tight spots, both in fishing and in transporting it.

When coupled with a moderate to high end quality reel, it will give you a feel like you've never experienced in fishing longer rods. But that's just my professed angling opinion. And, you're certainly entitled to yours.




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