Monday, February 20, 2023

What Brand Of Rod Should I Buy

Well that depends…

Some rod manufacturers seem to make rods more geared towards one type of fishing or another. Others make a hand full of models across a range and then try to shoe horn them into every niche.

I was looking for a particular action of rod some years back so I emailed several manufacturers. St Croix never responded. To be fair I already knew St Croix made a rod that was exactly what I wanted. The reason I was looking was because I had broken my St Croix, but didn’t have the mega cash to buy another one. Some others just plane lied to me, or tried to ask questions to direct me to something they sold instead of what I wanted. Quantum/Zebco’s Al Mohr told me straight up, “Sorry Bob. We don’t have what you want right now.” It turns out Daiwa and Penn both made a rod with the exact action I was looking for. Both are a lot cheaper than the St Croix but modestly fragile. The Daiwa is a lot cheaper than the Penn. Yes they have exactly the action I wanted.

The answer in my opinion is probably not to be loyal to any brand of rod. The answer is to ignore rods form companies that do not seem to be honest about their products and those who do not have good customer service… unless they are cheap enough to just throw away if you have a problem. The answer is to find the speed, power, and length of rod you want and ignore the name on the side of the rod. Unless they are sending me rods for free, I am buying what fits the application at the best price.

The problem is many people don’t know what speed, power, and length of rod they need or want for an application.

What length should you get? I tend to like most rods around 7′ except for flipping. The reason is I always have a feel for where the rod and bait is in the space around me. There are certainly reasons for other length rods, but for general use 7′ rods suit me. If I fished a lot of cypress swamps in close proximity to a tree in every direction from the boat I might want a shorter rod. If I was walking the bank floating a minnow out past a weed line I might want a much longer rod. You have to make that call for yourself. For flipping I like a 7′10” rod because it give a little more distance when flipping cover. I might like a longer rod, but I learned to flip with 7′6” and 7′10” rods because most tournaments had an 8′ max rod limit when I was learning to flip.

The following is my opinion based on the way it was explained to me by a professional rod builder. The action of a rod is the power and the speed of the rod. The power of a rod is how much pull/weight/power it takes to load up the rod. So its bent to the point where it starts to take significantly more to bend it more. The speed of a rod is the length of rod that bends the most to load the rod. A very short bend to load the rod is a fast action rod. A very long bend to load up is a slow rod. Your typical flipping stick is a heavy fast or extra fast rod. A crank bait rod may be medium power moderate speed. Atleast my favorites are. A medium light or light rod might be easier to cast lighter weight baits. A fast rod will set the hook quicker.

Sensitivity is a combination of factors. I think all rods should be, “sensitive,” for their application, but that means different things for different applications. A medium light fast action rod might be great for bumping a tiny bait along the bottom, and it might be totally overwhelmed slow rolling a 3/4 colorado blade spinner bait.

This is where manufacturers can be your friend or lie to get your money. You may not know what rod you will like best for a particular application. Maybe you want to fish a normal small to medium size crankbait. Depending on its size I’d probably use a medium moderate rod, but for ones on the smaller size I might opt for a medium light rod. You may well find where a manufacturer has slapped the label CRANK BAIT on the side of their medium heavy fast rod so they can sell you something. It might work for a crankbait, but its not going to be the best choice in my opinion.

So with all of that how do you learn what you need and decide what you want? Ask people. NICELY. If they are talking with you about it they are doing you a favor, so be nice. Say thank you, and don’t order them to KEEP IT COMING when they offer their opinion. Tell them if you have any of your own preferences already, explain what your application is, and ask if they would mind sharing their opinion. One thing to bear in mind is no matter how knowledgeable they are its still their opinion. Listen and use it to help guide you towards what’s best for you. It may well not be what is exactly best for them. Maybe ask them, “Why do you think its best for that application?” Even if you disagree, say, “Okay. Thank you.” Don’t say, “OKAY GO GET IT AND SHOW ME. I DON’T BELIEVE YOU.” Maybe you can get away with that on a forum where you are shotguning dozens of people for info, but its rude as hell.

If somebody says, “Buy iROD rods!” or “BUY DOBYNS RODS!!!” Look for that company’s decal on their boat. If they are sponsored by or pro-staff for that company they have an obligation to try and get you to buy that brand of rod. Respect that. Say, “Thank you,” and try to guide the conversation back to the action of the rod for the application. If you like the rod they are hawking or appreciate the person for being helpful there is nothing wrong with buying that brand rod, but if you are going to spend your money with their sponsor try to learn something for it. Maybe don’t just, “BUY THIS ROD,” but ask (nicely) why that particular model is best for the particular application you are asking about.

The more you learn the more you will be able to make your own guided decisions about what you want.

If I was to recommend just one brand for most of the types of fishing I do and money were no object I’d probably say St Croix. I have a pretty decent idea of what I want for every application I fish and while St Croix doesn’t always respond to emails their rods are accurately labeled as to speed and power. That being said I haven’t bought a St Croix Rod in a very long time. Why? Because they are freaking expensive. For mid price rods I like Quantum Zebco because when I have asked them questions they told me the truth even if it didn’t make a sale. For cheap rods. I check the action and I don’t care what the name on the side of the rod is.

Buy what you like based on action, honesty, price, and customer service. Balance those factors as you see fit.

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