The Winning Sticks
BEST OF THE TEST: MUSKIE
OKUMA SCT MUSKY
Serious muskie anglers have leaned on Okuma rods for years. The new SCT (Spiral Carbon Technology) Musky is the company’s finest creation yet. Its quality is obvious the second you pick the rod up and feel the lightweight blank, which somehow exudes power. A carbon spiral helix runs through the length of the rod for added strength and durability. Sensitivity is superb, especially for a muskie stick, and it loads up and casts beautifully. The SCT Musky was also the bestlooking rod of the bunch.
BEST VALUE: MUSKIE
OKUMA EVX B-SERIES MUSKY
It’s a clean sweep for Okuma in the muskie division. Our test rod put up stiff competition against other models costing twice as much, making this a phenomenal value. All rods in the series are built from responsive 24-ton carbon blanks with double-foot, stainless-steel Sea Guide frames. Okuma’s blankreinforcing technology increases tip strength and overall lifting power. All in all, considering you can easily drop $300-plus on a dedicated muskie stick, the EVx BSeries rods are a total steal at $120.
BEST OF THE TEST: PANFISH OR TROUT FITZGERALD RODS VURSA
Designed for finesse bass fishing, the spinning models of the Vursa series make stellar panfish or trout rods. With a fast tip and moderate taper, our test model cast a 1⁄8 -ounce weight beautifully, and was able to transmit even the tiniest signals in our test—a critical asset when targeting smaller species. American Tackle AirWave guides add casting distance and are virtually indestructible. A nicely finished stick, with a comfortable reel seat, the Vursa is well worth its $130 price tag—and then some.
BEST VALUE: PANFISH OR TROUT LEW’S WALLY MARSHALL SPEED SHOOTER
You are going to either love or hate the Speed Shooter’s blueand-neon-green finish. Cermele and I thought it looked sharp and scored accordingly. Like the Vursa, the Speed Shooter uses American Tackle AirWave guides, whose spiral shape facilitates line flow and helped the Speed Shooter fire a 1⁄8-ounce weight right beside topof-the-line rods in this category. For $50, the IM8 graphite blank also had very good sensitivity, making the whole package a killer bargain.
BEST OF THE TEST: WALLEYE DOBYNS SIERRA SERIES
This maker has become hugely popular among serious bass anglers, but many of its models make phenomenal walleye rods. Our 6-foot 9-inch, medium-light Sierra test rod is one. The whole series features high-modulus graphite blanks, Fuji Alconite guides, Fuji reel seats, and quality cork handles. Our test rod tallied near perfect scores in several categories, including casting, sensitivity, blank quality, and feel and finish. And given what you can pay for high-end walleye rods, the Dobyns Sierra is reasonably priced.
BEST VALUE: WALLEYE LEW’S MACH SPEED STICK
At $80, the Mach Speed Stick is not quite dirt cheap, but its priceto-performance ratio makes it a standout value. With an incredibly lightweight IM6 graphite blank, the rod excelled in our sensitivity test. Cermele and I both gave perfect scores for feel and finish, too; the Winn Grips are a huge plus, providing for a solid, comfortable hold. The Mach Speed Stick also dons the American Tackle AirWave guides for longer casts, which once again translated into a top score in the casting test.