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A New Rod

By Bob Jensen - March 1, 2002
Winter and early spring are times when many anglers discover they need a new rod. Actually, many of those anglers don't really need a new rod, they just want one. For most Midwest anglers, the open water-fishing season is still several weeks away, so now is a good time to get out to the tackle shops and shake some fishing poles. If you start now, you'll be able to narrow your selection down to just a couple by the time you're actually ready to buy the rod that will best fit your needs. Following are some ideas as to rod selections.

Remember that fishing rods are kind of like golf clubs: There is usually a rod that will do a certain job better than another. You wouldn't tee off with a putter, and you shouldn't try to throw half-ounce jigs on an ultra-lite rod. Before you start shaking rods, you need to determine how you will be using it.

Everyone wants one rod that will be good for any style of fishing. Unfortunately, that rod doesn't exist. However, I have found that a medium action seven-foot casting rod with a long handle will do quite a few things well. They're great for pulling crankbaits, drifting with bottom-bouncers, and for use as a dead rod with jigs or live bait rigs. The only thing it won't do well is cast lightweight jigs. If I was limited to one rod to use for walleye fishing, it would probably be a seven-foot medium action casting rod with a long handle.

If you're looking for a spinning rod, I would again suggest a longer rod, six and a half to seven feet in length, in medium or medium light action. This would be just about right for most jigging and live-bait situations, and the medium action would be good for throwing or pulling crankbaits or minnow baits that don't pull too hard.

Regardless of whether you want a casting or spinning rod, graphite is the way to go. Graphite rods are sensitive, tough, and cast well. And you can get a good graphite rod without spending a lot of money.

Speaking of the cost of a rod, there seems to have been a trend toward expensive rods the past few years. That trend now seems to be reversing. Don't misunderstand: Those two and three hundred dollar rods are great pieces of fishing equipment. However, you can spend a lot less money and still have a very, very good fishing rod. The Professional Series of Lightning Rods are the perfect example. They are available in a wide variety of lengths, actions, and with several handle designs. They are extremely sensitive, yet tough. The guides that the line runs through are lightweight yet extremely durable. They're a great value.

If you are willing to spend a little more money for a very nice rod that will be perfect for a certain situation, check out the Fenwick HMG AV series of rods. These rods are designed to excel at a particular type of fishing, and they do. When you have narrowed your choices down to a couple of rods, be sure to attach the reel you will be using. Make sure the rod feels good with the reel.

Buying new stuff should be a fun part of fishing. It's important to buy your stuff at a store where you can get expert advice. You'll enjoy your new rod even more when you know it is a good choice for how you want to use it. Now is the best time to start with the choosing process.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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