The Perfect Rod for Paddle Fishermen E-mail
Tuesday, 13 October 2009 07:10

The Perfect Rod for Paddle Fishermen

The Perfect Rod for Paddle Fishermen. Some 30 years ago, I began building fishing rods. The motivation was to make a rod do exactly what I wanted, and nothing else. No fancy thread art, no decals -- all function. It did not occur to me at the time that the design I was working on would result in the perfect rod for sitting fishermen until I bought a float tube. I was fishing lakes and ponds in Northern Vermont at the time for smallmouth bass, and the rod was extra long to give me the casting distance I wanted. The extra short butt was very handy when fishing from the float tube or the canoe, and equally nimble in a kayak.

I started out by extending the butt of a cheap fly rod and replacing the snake guides with something that would stand up better to the constant friction of cast and retrieve with monofilament. Using a small spinning reel I had finally found a rod that cast my lure selection, which was fairly light.

This occurred just as graphite was beginning to replace fiberglass as the material of choice for fishing rods. Graphite offered several advantages. It was lighter with a smaller diameter than glass rods of similar strength, but more importantly it was much stiffer and more sensitive. It was this giant leap forward in blank technology that replaced Tonkin cane as the choice for top of the line fly rods.

Four or five years ago I finally refined the design to the point where I was totally satisfied. I start with a nine foot seven weight rod blank and trim it back to 8 ½ feet. I tried building the rod full length and it was a bit unwieldy. It’s amazing what adding or subtracting a few inches to the rod tip will do to the action.

Besides the overall length, the most distinctive feature of my rod is the short butt. I arrived at a length of five inches through much trial and error, not with paddle fishing in mind, but for ease of repetitive casting. The short butt was also designed to keep it out of my rib cage and shirtsleeves. The paddle-fishing application occurred to me from memories of fishing out of the float tube.

When I began to sell a few rods to friends, the universal comment was “I really like the short butt.” Many of them bought a second or third rod, and suddenly I was selling 50 rods a year.

The most recent change in design had little to do with performance and much to do with convenience. I went to a three piece blank for ease of transport, and ease of shipping. The way modern rod blanks are ferruled there is no way you could tell the difference between a one-piece rod, and a multi sectioned one.

Every kayak or canoe fisherman should instantly recognize the advantage of the short butt. When fishing from the sitting position the last thing you want is a rod with a cumbersome handle. Even a 10-inch handle – short by most standards -- would get in the way if you were fishing seated. Cork is still the best material for a rod handle because of its lightweight and sensitivity. Foam handles are best suited to trolling rods.

I use more guides than what you will find on conventional spinning rods to achieve a nice bend in the rod under the pressure of a fish. The nine guides are also smaller to keep the line closer to the blank. No decorative wraps – extra thread and epoxy all add weight to the blank, and that ultimately inhibits rod performance. I tie my rods sparse, using the absolute minimum of thread. I do tie in some gold wraps so I can measure my fish by holding them against the rod – I have nothing against eating redfish. I also tie in a hook keeper, as hooks should be kept off the guides and out of the cork.

So the final version of my kayak rod is a very nimble eight and one half-foot rod with lots of guides and a short butt. It should be fished with 8 or ten pound monofilament, or fifteen pound braid, with lures between 1/16th of an ounce and 5/8 ounce. It will cast a 3/8-ounce jig to the outer limits, and land some outsized fish on open water. However, the long rod is not unbreakable. You always want to leave the fish a rod’s length of line from the tip. This way you can point the rod tip straight up and grab the leader with your other hand.

This is an open water flats rod, and is not meant to pull fish away from structure. It will handle big jack crevalle if there is nothing in the way, and every other fish you will encounter in two feet of water. It’s not available in any store, as far as I know.

You can buy the components and build it yourself for about $130, and five or six hours of your time. Or you can order one from my website at www.Tampabayfishingguide.com for $195 delivered first class US Mail.

 

 

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