Are your weapons right for the job?
The answer to this question is not always as straightforward as it may seem. With the recent developments in braid and spinning reels, there has been an increase in the popularity of artlure angling. As this a relatively new trend, there is a learning curve that we are all going through. As much fun as this may be, it comes at a price. Tackle is expensive and quality tackle even more so. The trick is to try and buy the right gear from the start. The purpose of this article is to give the angler a broad understanding of the questions that he or she should be asking when considering the purchase of a new rod.
The aim of this article is to provide readers with enough information to ensure that they are able to evaluate the alternatives that are on the market and so make a clear and informed choice when deciding on their next rod acquisition. Below is a detailed list of points that one should take into consideration when deciding which rod will suit you angling requirements best.
Rod length – your preferred angling situation will normally determine this. As a general rule, the longer the rod the further that it will cast. When one requires distance, it pays to select a longer rod. I like rods from 10ft to 11ft for this purpose. The downside of a longer rod is that the angler sacrifices pulling power. For heavy land-based situations where pulling power is required, I like rods from 8ft 6in to 10ft.
Casting weight range – one needs to be very sure of the range of lures that you want to throw with the rod. Spinning reels and braid allow us to fish much lighter lures than we did previously, with multiplier setups, and one’s rod selection needs to reflect this change. Many manufacturers seem also to overstate the actual specs of their rods. The image (above right) shows two rods of similar length but very different abilities, with similar casting weight ranges.
Braid breaking strain – this is very important as it will determine the size of the reel that you select. The heavier the breaking strain braid that you select, the larger the reel that you should select, and this then translates into a heavier rod to ensure a more balanced rig.
Species – the nature of the species that one intends to target will, to a larger extent, determine the rod that one selects. Species like garrick or kob are clean fighters and even large specimens can be targeted with seemingly light tackle. Cape yellowtail or giant trevally are a completely different proposition – they require heavy, specialised tackle due to the territory in which they are found and the tactics to which they will resort when hooked.
Action – rods come in a variety of different actions that range from slow/parabolic to very fast. Fast-action rods are great for casting but have limitations when it comes to pulling power. A parabolic rod is not the best casting rod but it is great for pulling. This is based on simple mechanics.
As the rod bends, the length from tip to butt shortens. The shorter the lever – the harder one is able to pull with it.
Lure selection – different types of lures require different rods to ensure that the correct action is imparted on the lure. When using open-face poppers for species such as GTs, a rod that has a fast action with a strong tip is important to ensure that one is able pull the lure through the water with enough force to allow the cup to generate the desired splash. If a stickbait is your lure of choice, a rod with a slower action is better as the tip is more forgiving, thus allowing a more realistic action on the stickbait.
Angling platform – In the interests of simplicity, I will keep this to three of the most common types. These are: off the boat, off the beach or off the rocks. As a rule, if you are fishing off a boat, casting distance is not as important as it would be when casting from the shore. The result is that a shorter rod becomes more applicable as it becomes far more manageable on the boat. Rods for this application would (to my mind) be 7ft to 8ft 6in. Fishing from the beach generally requires distance, which translates into a longer rod, i.e. 9ft 6in to 11ft. When fishing off the rocks, one often has to find a balance between casting distance and pulling power, with the result that I like rods between 9ft and 10ft.
Budget – I put this at the bottom of the list – not because it is the least important but because it is the most self-explanatory.
From the above, it is clear that there is a lot to think of when buying a new rod. It also becomes evident that one rod is seldom perfect for all angling situations. Here is a list of rods that have earned their stripes, combined with the reels that balance with them and the angling situation for which they would be suitable.
Shimano 7ft Trevala ML – 4000-size Shimano spinning reel with 10lb to 20lb braid; for light estuary spinning from boat or kayak
Shimano 6ft6in Trevala MH – 5000- or 6000-size Shimano spinning reel with 20lb to 40lb braid; for medium offshore spinning from boat with lures of 50g to 90g
Shimano Aerocast or Vengeance 8ft XH – 4000- or 5000-size Shimano spinning reel with 15lb to 30lb braid; for light offshore spinning with lures of 30g to 60g
Shimano Aerocast or Vengeance 9ft and 10ft – 4000- or 5000-size Shimano spinning reel with 15lb to 30lb braid; for light beach and rock spinning with lures of 30g to 60g.
Daiwa Exceler or Megaforce 8ft – 4000- or 5000-size Shimano spinning reel with 15lb to 30lb braid; for light offshore spinning with lures of 30g to 60g
Daiwa Exceler or Megaforce 9ft and 10ft – 4000- or 5000-size Shimano spinning reel with 15lb to 30lb braid; for light beach and rock spinning with lures of 30g to 60g
Composite Developments Graphcast 3 9ft 6in – 5000-size Shimano spinning reel with 20lb to 30lb braid; for medium beach and rock spinning with lures of 40g to 75g
Shimano Exage 8ft – 6000- or 8000-size Shimano reel with 30lb to 50lb braid; for medium offshore spinning with lures of 50g to 90g
Shimano Exage 10ft M – 6000- or 8000-size Shimano reel with 30lb to 50lb braid; for medium-heavy beach and rock spinning with lures of 50g to 100g
Composite Developments Graphcast 3 9ft 6in with 4mm tip – 6000- or 8000-size Shimano reel with 40lb to 50lb braid; for medium-heavy beach and rock spinning with lures of 50g to 90g
Yamaga Blue Sniper 100H – 6000- or 8000-size Shimano reel with 40lb to 50lb braid; for medium-heavy beach and rock spinning with lures of 50g to 90g
Composite Developments Graphcast 5 9ft 6in – 8000- or 10000-size Shimano reel with 50lb to 60lb braid; for heavy rock spinning with lures of 70g to 120g
Assassin Shore Game 11ft 2XH – 8000- or 10000-size Shimano reel with 30lb to 50lb braid; for heavy rock and beach spinning with lures of 70g to 120g
There are many more options on the market that are also wonderful rods, but these above I have either fished with or fished with anglers who do fish with them, with the result that I am able to speak from experience.