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Spare the Rod

With unlimited offerings how do you figure out which rods to have and which to take with each time you head out to the water? Anglers are bombarded with ads for every type of equipment including fishing rods. Simply stated rods are like golf clubs, there’s specific uses for certain ones but you can probably find a few that will match your style and needs. (Needs are different than wants) When the question is posed to me about how many fishing rods I own I plead the fifth rather than incriminate myself. I have species specific rods, technique-oriented poles and just sentimental favorites. Space limitations in a kayak help in minimizing the number of rods that ride with me.

Spare the Rod
Typically for me is to game plan where I’m kayaking, what type of what I’ll be fishing and what I’ll fish for that day. From a storage standpoint I stage my rods at my feet and off set to the side in my kayak. Five is a little crowded but manageable and normal is three or four. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Always at the ready a jig rod, if I’m in bass waters (that’s essentially everywhere) a jig or soft plastic, usually a Texas rig is in the mix. Both bass baits offer versatility and are proven to produce anywhere there’s water and a specie of bass. A seven-foot medium heavy rod with a baitcasting reel is a constant companion on the deck or in my hand. I want that length to facilitate the hook set and given me the winching power to play a fish in quickly.
  • Another fishing rod familiar to me is an open face spinning rod. On those windy days this rod is your friend. Unaffected by the gust of wind, long casts and lighter lures are the advantages of having this combo with you. Six and a half feet long, medium action and still enough back bone to get a solid set and launch the lures like smaller crankbaits, lightweight jigs or small spinners. As a side note I’ve migrated to braided line on most of my spinning equipment (no more of the line memory causing that aggravating (loop off).
  • For the chores of normal crankbait casting, heavier spinners and topwater I keep a medium action seven-foot baitcasting rig. The flex in this rod allows the fish to really take the bait and efficiently pull the hook (s) securely into the mouth of a bass. A seven-footer can add distance to your cast and take up line a few seconds faster. This reel, generally with a retrieve ratio of 6.3:1, is spooled with monofilament for the extra stretch to work in concert with this rod to maintain the hook set and control of any size fish. I’ve found line of 12 to 14-pound test to be the best match for the style of fishing.
  • Froggin’ – Certain techniques do call for a specialty rod. When there is heavy aquatic vegetation nothing is quite as exciting as seeing a giant fish crash the lily pads or bust through the duck weed or “part” the reeds to get after a floating frog. Because of the heavy cover a heavy duty set up is necessary to present, hook and land the frog feeding fish. A Heavy action rod, strong braided line and stout reel will be of great assistance in winching a big fish from heavy cover. There are also other seasonal or specific techniques that can cause you to add a rod to your kayak fishing collection.
  • Optional: ULTRA LIGHT for ULTRA FIGHT – Fishing for food or fun the panfish family offers a great opportunity to small fish feel big. Bluegill, crappie and even small bass are suckers for the small soft plastic you can present on the shorter / light spinning rods. About six foot will serve you well, just a mini version of the previously mentioned spinning model, this can save the day when the bass bite is tough. The smaller spinning reels should again be spooled up with lighter test braid and with the addition of a fluorocarbon leader allows for working small soft plastics in the form of tubes, grubs, finesse worms or spinners, miniature crankbaits and other downsized offerings. * solid knots and good drag set are important for this style of fishing. Bigger fish will test your skills and medium size fish will put a bend in the rod before making their way to your stringer.
  • Try the Fly – During spring multiple species will feed heavily and eventually go into spawning mode, time to blow the dust off the fly rod. Bass bugs cast around shoreline cover or sponge spiders for bedding bluegill will challenge you casting accuracy and also give you the always exciting visually stimulating top water “blow up”. With a length and weight for everything from freshwater sunfish to giant saltwater species the flyrod is addictive. When conditions are right i.e. shallow water fish, actively feeding on a major moon phase this type of fishing will have you missing sleep waiting for the next days sunrise.

Spare the Rod

You can make a case for many other models and having multiples of your favorites is not uncommon, you can also switch out with the only limitation being space and you bassin’ bankroll.

Spare the Rod
A few cosmetic tips: Clean the handles of the rods periodically, cork cleans up nicely with warm soapy water and squeeze dry with a few paper towels and let the air do the rest. When reeling you baits in down reel all the way to the top eye, the constant slam of a leadheaded bait will weaken the top section of the rod and often result in the tip breaking off. Don’t transport or store your baits within the inside eye of the rod, instead put the point through the footer that attaches the eye to the rod. Inside the eye will eventually crack the insert. (*see photo) Stage your rods toward the sides of the kayak to avoid the stepping or standing on any part of it. Inspect the rod eyes with a Q-tip, if cotton becomes snagged inside the eye there is a crack in the material. Have the eye replaced or the crack will damage your line during use.

Spare the rod, spoil the fishin’
Match rods with your intended target and use the ones that you find to be the most fun. If you’re fishing and it’s not fun…you’re doing it wrong!