It’s also the time of year when I discover that the gear that I broke last year and meant to replace, or the gear that I found out I really needed hasn’t magically appeared. Like most outdoor enthusiasts, when it gets close to the beginning of hunting season, and the end of fishing weather I change modes. In the fall, later is the watchword for my fishing gear, but hey, this is spring and it’s time for the flip-flop.
Looking over this year’s rod offerings, there are a number of items worthy of consideration. Much of what is new is a subtle improvement in technology, and not highly visible to the eye although there are some real eye poppers as well. A trend you’ll find in all of the major lines is specialty rods, created specifically for individual techniques. Certainly there is no law to prevent you from using a flippin’ stick for casting crankbaits, but after fishing with some of these highly specialized rods you’ll find that each technique is far easier to execute with the right tool. It’s a lot like trying to drive a screw in with a hammer. You’ll get it flush, but the results won’t be pretty.
Recently I wrote about Cabela’s new XML Ti
, which definitely falls into the category of technology worth spending a buck on. These rods feature innovative nickel-titanium Recoil® line guides that can be bent flat against the rod and will spring back to their original shape, hence saving a lot of high blood pressure over a ruined rod and trip. The XML Ti is available in both spinning and casting models, in a weight and action design that is sure to meet any specialty angling needs.
has now introduced a line of Bass Jig n’ Worm rods
that feature these same guides. If you’re a devotee of these splendid rods, you’ll want to check out this line. G. Loomis has covered the gamut with these technique-specific designs, from a 6’8" extra-fast power, medium action model for 1/8- to 3/8-ounce lures, up to a 7’11" flipping model; they’ve got the full range of needs covered in both spinning and casting versions.
Not to be left out of the innovation spotlight, St. Croix
has also introduced the Tournament Legend
, a new line of rods that uses the technology from their top-of-the-line rods, offered at a much-reduced price. They have taken their Advanced Reinforcing Technology™ (ART™), and Integrated Poly Curve® tooling (IPC®) technology and applied it to three spinning and baitcasting rods.
is St. Croix’s proprietary manufacturing process that adds strength in critical parts of the rod blank without the negatives of added weight or increased diameter. Being proprietary, the details are sketchy, but what they do in a simplified explanation is wrap the blank with a very thin layer of special graphite fibers, at right angles to the fibers running the length of the rod and bond the two together with secret stuff. This gives the blank a significant upgrade in hoop strength that resists crushing when accidentally stepped on by all but your heaviest fishing buddies or other extreme loads that a rod was never intended to endure.
is the first process of its kind. This technology creates a continuous curve taper from the rod tip to the butt, thereby eliminating any transition points that weaken the blank. The ultimate result is a stronger rod with actions that cast remarkably smooth. St. Croix®. Hardware includes Fuji® Alconite® Concept Guides, frosted-silver-hooded reel seats and a lifetime warranty for about $100 less than their high-end models.
One of the most innovative introductions in the rod market this spring is the Shimano® Crucial® line
. Shimano pioneered this design in their Asian market and won overwhelming approval from anglers. These rods are designed with a combination of high-modulus IM-9 graphite construction and streamlined Fuji® reel seats in a diverse range of techniques and sensitivity in mind, which speaks to both bass and walleye anglers.
You’ll find a special design for every technique from throwing crankbaits to drop-shotting and jigging to rigging. Crankbait rods have a sturdy backbone and a soft tip that allows the fish to inhale the bait before the hookset. You can opt for the traditional long, power shaft or the latest open blank handle. Also, some models have an exposed-blank reel seat that enables you to have your finger in direct contact with the blank for a dramatic increase in sensitivity.
The Crucial® line is outfitted with Fuji Alconite® guides, which are some of the lightest and toughest guides available. The ceramic material Fuji uses for these guides is 20% lighter than aluminum oxide with an added bonus of 80% greater compression strength. By wrapping the guides with Gudebrod™, additional strength is added to the entire package, and it looks pretty sharp as well. All rods have comfortable, shaped Grade-A cork handles and a limited lifetime warranty.
No matter what rod you decide to buy, the best things about buying new fishing gear is the overwhelming urge that you get to wet a line. You can’t go wrong with any of these rods, so pick one out, mount a reel, spool it up with fresh line and forget about your worries for a weekend, or two.