Overboard Ultra Light Spinning Rod E-mail
Written by Andy Cameron   
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00


OverboardMartyHughes Wade through a kayak fishing forum long enough, and you will soon come upon a tale of gear lost to the clutches of Neptune. Neophytes and fastidious leash users alike, it seems that nearly all of us have witnessed a prized possession instantly pass from boat to abyss. The folks at Overboard Fishing Rods have, however, parlayed their frustrations into a solution. Bringing to the marketplace a variety of floating rods, Overboard has set out to provide anglers with highly functional fish-catching units that are also capable of protecting valuable reels and tackle. From their Bobber Series line-up, I chose for testing the 6’ Ultra Light fast rod, which seemed to match perfectly with my penchant for small stream and lake trout fishing.

Removing the rod from the box, I was immediately struck with a juxtaposition of aesthetics. The rod itself is a handsome graphite grey, and fits, with regard to looks, within the expectations of the price point (around $100 USD). The long butt of the rod, however, is adorned in a bright (some may say garish) yellow, a color scheme far removed from my normal preference for cork or black foam. To the rod, I affixed a decades old and highly sentimentally valuable Shimano ultra light reel. Said reel weighs in at around 7 ounces; the float capability of this rod is a hefty nine ounces. The mechanisms comprising the reel seat are solid, and my reel sits firmly against the butt. The line rating for this rod is 4-8 pounds; my normal preference falls at the lower end of that range, and I spooled the reel with four pound test.

Upon arriving at the testing grounds, I placed the rod butt into a standard rail-mounted Scotty rod holder. The fit was snug, and it soon became apparent that the diameter of the butt was greater than that found on members of my non-floating ultra light collection. Nonetheless, this rod fits into my usual rod holder and, when necessary, can still be rapidly removed for hook setting or other tasks. Medium and Heavy-sized rods, though, may present a problem with some typical rod holders. I next set out to dial in a range of suitable lure weights, and first attached to my line a 1/10 oz crank bait. During the initial cast, the lure fell short of my expected target, and I reeled in to again attempt a cast. Time after time, the tenth-ounce lure came up short with regard to distance. This very crank bait is often attached to an early 90s era Ugly Stick, a rod quite similar in dimension to the current Overboard. The Ugly Stick tends to permit, for this particular lure, a cast 15-20 feet in excess of the one allowed by the Overboard. I did, however, next attach to the test model a larger spinner of 5/16 oz. When casting this heavier piece, the Overboard far surpassed my beloved Ugly Stick in terms of distance and accuracy. I made my way through my tackle box, tying and casting, and one thing became quite clear – the performance of the Overboard is best when it is paired with lures weighing over 1/8 oz or so. For casting the not-so ultra light denizens of my collection, the Overboard has become my go-to rod. I personally tend to fish with lures topping the usual ultra light weight range, and thus do not mind the rod's tendency to favor a similar pattern. Aficionados of truly light gear should, however, be advised that sub-1/8 oz presentations may fall shorter than expected.

Subsequent trips to the testing ground had me exploring the trolling-based capabilities of the test rod. Like many anglers, I pay particular attention to the speed at which I present my go-to set of trolling lures. In short, I often spend a great deal of time worrying if I am maximizing the movement of my presentation. The trout of the testing lake have a particular taste for a faux-crustacean that, when properly towed within a narrow speed range, oscillates in a rapid side-to-side motion. The rods of my ultra light collection, including my beloved Ugly Stick, have all failed to provide visual feedback on the state of the lure’s movement. In order to determine if the lure was oscillating correctly, I’d often have to remove a hand from my paddle, place it upon the rod butt, and feel for the tell tale vibration. This is, happily, not the case with the Overboard. When trolling said lure at the correct speed, the sensitive rod tip offers to the angler’s eye a slight vibration of its own. When the tip fails to vibrate, I simply alter my paddling speed until the visual cue resumes. This may not be a feature for which the Overboard was built, but I found it to be a major selling point.

Overboard Fishing Rods Though “action” can be a misused and even subjective measure, the rod exhibits what is classically described as fast. When a fish hooks itself upon a trolled lure, the rod is quite quick to bend, and the curvature is largely located in the tip-most third portion. Even when snagged upon a rock or log, it is nearly impossible to achieve any bend in the lower half of the rod. When fighting trout in the 12-15” range, the rod is responsive and full of the pulsating life that makes ultra light fishing so fun. With even the smallest of catches, I felt connected to the fish, and often found myself exhibiting a new and more passionate grin as I reeled.

It must be noted that I am notoriously hard on gear. Many are the eyelet-less rods awaiting my repair; most stem from the ultralight category. In the few months of testing the Overboard, I subjected the rod to numerous trials that tested its structural integrity. On two occasions, a rather beefy SOT kayak was set upon the tip of the rod. No damage occurred, and I was left feeling mighty impressed with the build quality of the pole.

Overboard seems to have found an excellent compromise between performance and function. Sure, they could have mass-produced a rod capable of floating the beefiest of reels (and, for what it’s worth the test rod did float a 9.25 ounce spinning reel, as well). They could have skimped on the weight capacity and required anglers to use expensive reels from the sub-six-ounce tier. The resulting rod, however, should meet the needs of most kayak anglers. With many mid-range ultra light reels topping $100 dollars, the Overboard can be thought of as an incredibly cheap insurance policy, and one that comes in the form of a fishing rod performing above most members of its price point.

Note:  Overboard has since discontinued the 6 foot version of their ultra light rod. They instead offer a 5 foot ultra light and a 6' "light" model.

 

 

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