How many thousands of dollars do you have invested in your fishing gear? If you fish for a living, your investment may be well into the six-figure range. But even people who fish for fun spend big money on performance bass boats, luxury tow vehicles, the latest electronics and enough baits to make a big sporting goods store jealous.
So why do people still try to save a few bucks by buying inferior rods? Better yet, how can people expect to catch the fish of a lifetime or cash a tournament check when they don’t correctly match their rods to their bait selection. With rods, one size (or action) does not fit all. If the fish are hitting spinner baits during practice but are smashing jigs during the competition, you have to have the right gear to be able to make the transition. Here’s a short list of bait scenarios and the kind of rods you need if you want to maximize your fish-catching potential.
Crankbaits: A 7-foot rod with a light action is ideal. The looser the action you have on the rod, the less likely the fish is to shake the lure loose because there will always be tension on the rod. Also, a light rod will allow fish to eat the lure better, making for better hook sets.
Texas-rigged Worms and light jigs: This is the most used rod, so if you only own one, make it a good one. I like the distance and leverage of a medium or medium heavy power 6 ½-foot rod, like a Berkley Series One. In lakes with heavy cover, try a 6-foot rod for added accuracy.
Carolina rigs: Use a heavy 7 ½-foot rod. The length allows you to cast long leaders in open water and set the hook even if the fish has your leader off to one side.
Spinner baits: For shoreline cover a medium heavy 6-foot rod works well. If you throw the ¼-ounce size and consider 3/8-ounce a big baits, then a medium power will be more to your liking. For open water slow rolling, a 6 ½-foot rod will give you added distance and help set on monofilament line in deep water.
Flipping and pitching: At least a heavy 7 ½-foot rod is standard gear but you may want to drop down to a medium heavy power for getting jigs 20 or more feet away from the boat. For these presentations, I prefer the Fenwick Techna AV Flippin’Stik, a 7-foot-9-inch rod that is based on a custom design I’ve used for years.
When there’s big money on the line, pros will keep as many different, specially matched bait-and-rod combinations on their boat as they can. That’s because matching your presentation to your rod can result in a better strike-to-catch ratio and bigger paychecks.
Larry Nixon is a former Bassmaster Classic winner with more than $1.5 million in career earnings on the BASS Tour. Nixon lives with his wife and three children in Bee Branch, Ark.