Lure rods for boat bassing
Make your choice a pleasure, not a lottery
Make your choice a pleasure, not a lottery.
Tackle shops and the internet are awash with quality lure rods of all lengths and strengths. There are carbon-coloured ones, red too, and if you look hard enough, even yellow rods. There are short ones and long ones, and everything in between. Some cast 200g poppers, and others 2g LRF jigs.
There are so many rods out there that making the right choice can be more of a lottery than a pleasure.
As is often the case in life, the best shortcut to finding the right tool is to seek the advice of those who do a lot of what you want to do. If it’s lure casting from a boat for bass, pollack and wrasse, among others, that you want, then I am probably your man.
The rods I have cast with over many years have been numerous and well used, abused, often replaced, many times broken and in the end binned. They have cast countless millions of times and, through hard-won experience, have taken me on a journey of essential learning.
Incredibly, my charter boat 3 Fishes is in her fifth season; doesn’t time fly? She accommodates six people for lure casting, and in the bass season she is doing so every day of the week. She is a lure-casting, tackle-testing ground like no other and, consequently, I have learnt.
I had to learn, and quickly too, because not only do I need my customers to catch bass, but also I need them to do it with great tackle that passes the business-driven tests of reliability and cost.
The vast majority of the lure casting I do is with either hard plastic or soft plastic lures; never with metal. While I acknowledge that the shore-based lure caster needs metal lures in their armoury in order to take on those days when only a Dexter Wedge will fly into a fierce breeze sufficiently far enough, on my boat they are surplus to requirements because casting distance is never the issue.
My hard plastic lures are generally within a weight range of around 15-30g, and my softies much the same.
Most soft plastic work from a boat is done using paddletails, such as the HTO Artic Eel or Savage Gear Sandeel. These lures, with weighted heads, are generally heavier than non-weighted softies. I don’t fish these often from the boat as they are not typically suited to being fished on the drift, which is pretty much all you do when lure casting for bass afloat. So I require a rod with a casting weight of around 15-35g, acknowledging that, at times, the rods may be called upon to cast either slightly lighter or heavier lures than that range.
I have grown fond of rods with lure casting type hand grips, rather than one length of hand grip, and I like rods with a fixed position to seat the reel. Casting with and holding on to a lure rod for what is likely to be a few hours across a fishing session can become very wearing.
Holding a rod handle that fits comfortably into your hand is only going to help your fishing. The rods that are currently aboard 3 Fishes have black neoprene-type grips, which are both soft in feel, slightly spongy to the touch, and non-slip when wet.
If you are a braid user (and you should be if you are lure casting for bass) then a check on the rod ring materials is essential. They need to be suitable for braid; most are these days, but it’s still worth the check.
Acknowledging that you will be operating in a saltwater environment, it’s worth considering stainless steel fittings, but these are not always easy to get when most rods are manufactured for the freshwater environment. The rods available on 3 Fishes do not have stainless steel rod rings, so I dry them after each session and give them a squirt of WD40 at the beginning and end of each season.
Then there is the thorny issue of length, which is a much-debated subject and many will have their own opinions. These often firmly held views and beliefs are formed through the successes and failures of use and experience. They are also manifestations of the environment that an individual fishes in, and even the stature of the person who is using the rod.
For me, the rule is as simple as it is golden. A two-metre lure rod is about perfect when lure fishing from a boat. Any longer and it becomes increasingly impractical to cast efficiently while afloat; boats have things like wheelhouses, antennae and fishing buddies close by, all of which have a knack of getting in the way.
The very best way to work or animate a lure is to have the rod held downwards on a vertical line that mirrors your body position. Try that with a longer rod and much (or indeed all) of the tip will be under water.
Much is written about longer lure rods better enabling the lure caster to bang out a lure at distance. That’s a logical argument when casting from the shore, but one that has no merit at all on a boat. Distance is far less of an issue and, frankly, if you cannot hit a bass mark from a boat with a two-metre long rod, then it is your casting that needs changing, not your tackle. While I find long rods pointless for lure casting while afloat, I am less argumentative about shorter rods.
For the last four or five seasons, I’ve been using Okuma Safina-X Spin rods. They are 210cm long, rated to cast 15-40g lures with ease, and walk a surface lure better than any rod I have ever owned. Some mail order companies still have a few remaining in their stocks at some bargain prices.
For many years I was fortunate to have as customers a father and son who enjoyed casting with 6ft American-style singlehanded lure rods and casting multipliers. Dad boated one of the biggest bass that I have had the pleasure of seeing a customer take on a surface lure. He fished a Luckycraft Sammy into shallow water right at shore edge, and that little rod was more than man enough to get the required distance from boat to shore.
The numerous lure rods I have used over the years have taken me on a journey of essential learning