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Author: Frank Ross
The actions are what really set these rods apart from the rest. I tried to weasel some secrets out of Cabela's design staff. I wanted to know how they design a rod with such flexibility and sensitivity while maintaining enough backbone to horse up big fish. They're as tightlipped as a politician appearing before a Senate subcommittee hearing on ethics.
When I left for the northern reaches of Canada, in pursuit of big lake trout, my assignment was to catch one at least 30 pounds, and put Cabela's Fish Eagle II rods to an extreme test. When you consider the outcome, I think we both exceeded expectations.
When I checked out the rod Tom Rolls, Cabela's rod expert had told me to see if I could break it. When I first hefted the 7-foot, two-piece model before sliding it into a traveling rod case, it seemed a little light to be used on such a formidable species. However, in truth, I was hesitant to venture forth with "you think this one is big enough?," not wanting to be so bold in predicting my fishing exploits.
I've caught a lot of big saltwater fish and a 50-inch muskie but I had never tackled a lake trout, so I was really making a leap of faith. I was also under the mistaken assumption that 30 pound fish were the upper limit of the lake I was destined to fish.
Once we hit the water, it didn't seem likely that I would test the rod beyond even its bare minimum of capabilities. I'd paired up the Fish Eagle II with Cabela's Tournament II Plus TP3000, which is a finely crafted, nine-ball bearing reel with a silky smooth drag. The largest of the first dozen or so fish that I brought to the boat was only a 12-pounder and neither rod nor reel were challenged.
We began by throwing spoons, which was a lot of fun. The GS 705 rod has a medium heavy action, but a very responsive tip. After getting a feel for its heft I was making precision casts with impressive distance. Cabela's big Five Diamond spoon makes an excellent projectile when you want distance.
In 1989, Cabela's introduced their IM6 graphite rods with the appropriate moniker, Fish Eagle II. I say appropriate because when a fish eagle sinks its talons into a meal it seldom gets away. In that initial year there were only 4 models and all were designed for walleye fishing. Now, 13 years later, an impressive lineup of 54 models stands ready to equip an angler for every species. From ultra light models to rods ready to break the run of the most obstinate muskie, these rods are without question the sturdy workhorse that trampled the competition. After my field test, I agree with the in-house experts who maintain that they are the most sensitive, well-designed rods available. With their recently upgraded, 38-million modulus, CX2 IM6 graphite blanks, they are stronger, lighter, and more powerful; and at the price they are a value beyond compare.
High-grade Portuguese cork handles, Fuji® Hardloy guides and the highest quality of CX2 IM6 blanks make the Fish Eagle II one of the world's premier rods. The actions are what really set these rods apart from the rest. I tried to weasel some secrets out of Cabela's design staff. I wanted to know how they design a rod with such flexibility and sensitivity while maintaining enough backbone to horse up big fish. They're as tightlipped as a politician appearing before a Senate subcommittee hearing on ethics. I knew that each model was custom designed by members of Cabela's staff with input from some of the most knowledgeable professional anglers in the world, so I was somewhat reluctant to come back with a hand full of pieces, but when the first big fish hit I really didn't care.
During the last week of August and early September, lake trout move up onto rocky areas to spawn and it was in just such a location that we nailed our first behemoth. My guide was fishing with a spoon, but I had tied on a Castaic soft swim bait. We decided to troll a heavily rocked area and only had baits in the water a few minutes when Greg's rod doubled over. It looked like a nice fish. I wanted to clear my bait from the area before it got tangled in the fray. I drew my rod back slightly and had just started to reel when it was almost jerked out of my hands.
After fifteen minutes of back and forth action, it was obvious that we had doubled up on two very large fish. Greg got his to the boat first and I considered it with mixed emotions. His fish looked to be somewhere in the 30 plus category, and was quickly stashed in a cradle net, but mine was still out there sounding in the depths.
As I continued to put pressure on the fish, my rod at times was bent double and I anxiously waited for the tell tale sound of graphite fibers coming apart. This was clearly a fish that was beyond its designed limits. As this unseen laker continued to defy my attempts to bring it to net, I opted to increase the pressure and tightened the reel's drag until the line sang in the wind like a fiddler looking for the intro to "Turkey in the Straw."
Some thirty minutes after I felt its powerful attack, it rose reluctantly to the net. After a quick tape measurement and photos we released it back to spawn. The tale of the tape, when compared to charts provided by the Canadian game and fish biologists, revealed its total weight at 50 pounds. I sat back in the boat's seat, exhausted but ready to do it again.
On subsequent days I boated a 39-pound beauty and a number of smaller fish, but on the last day I lost what could have been the fish to beat them all. When it hit I thought I was snagged in the rocks so I slacked off on the pressure for an instant then retightened my line when I realized the rock was moving. After a five minute tussle the fish spit the lure, but I'm confident that it was bigger than my first. As I wound in the line it seemed appropriate on the last day. That's what keeps us coming back - the big one that got away.
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