Lure rods for boat bass­ing

Make your choice a plea­sure, not a lot­tery

Sea Angler (UK) - - Contents - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy by Tim Har­ri­son

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

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