CORRECTION: After last weeks story about advertisers not depicting fishing properly I was told by my friend Kirk Immens (a Board Member of American Sportfishing Association (ASA) that fishing is indeed the Number One Sport in America, not number 3. Seems that fishing participants are Greater than Golf and Tennis participants Combined! My apologies for understating and underestimating all of the fishermen out there! You ALL rock!
Now this weeks Story:
You know, I really like some red wine with a nice big, juicy steak now and again. But I am not a winemaker. I have no idea how to make fine wine (is a $12 bottle of wine fine? Hmmm….). I know you ferment grape juice with sugar and yeast, but that’s about it. I leave fine wine making up to those who make that their life’s work. I like an occasional cigar as well. But I wouldn’t know where to begin as far as blending different tobaccos that would ultimately make something that I would enjoy smoking. I wear New Balance running shoes and they are damn comfortable and wear like iron. But I couldn’t tell you how the design and production come together and make them one of my favorites.
So let’s talk about fishing rods. You and me and probably about everyone else we know loves fishing. After well over 60 years of fine tuning my fishing skills I think I am indeed a pretty good fisherman. I know about lures, line, techniques, boats, motors, reels, fish finders, you name it. I think I’m fairly knowledgeable and, if I do say so myself, fairly up to date on what’s hot and what’s not. And occasionally I catch some pretty nice fish!
I can put together a great outfit that, in the proper hands, will yield some decent results. Tell me what specie you’re going after, something about the lake and structure, the time of year, how you intend to fish, etc. and I can come up with the perfect rod, reel, line and set up. But you know what? I couldn’t design and build a rod that would even be close to a G. Loomis or Dobyns or 13 Fishing or Sage or Denali or……OK, you see where I’m going, right?
Most of us start out with a fishing “outfit”. Some folks call it a “combo”. A rod, reel, and often line all matched together (and sold together). It’s a good way to get started in the great sport of fishing. It’s usually inexpensive and works well for any beginner. Take that to any body of water with some bait or lures and minimal support equipment such as a net and some hooks and terminal tackle and you’re in business. Add a little patience and a positive attitude and you’re very likely to catch some fish.
Sooner or later, though, you’re ready to step up to better equipment. And I have to tell you, a good, well designed fishing rod is absolutely key to improved fishing success. And just like wine, cigars, or running shoes, there are lots of bad, poorly designed products, all trying to pry that hard earned money out of your jeans pocket.
Simply put, a great fishing rod isn’t something that happens by accident. Why? Well, there’s just too much to consider. The blank modulus and material determines rigidity, sensitivity, response, loading, and power. The blank taper design action and response. The guide quality and placement along the blank are paramount to performance. The reel seat position and quality can mean a fish landed or a fish lost along with how well the rod casts. The handle design, length and placement can mean the difference between a tough day fishing or a great day fishing.
Maybe you’ve never given this a lot of thought, but trust me, it’s not only important, it’s absolutely vital. Honestly, there are a heck of a lot of rods out in the market today that are nothing more than great big compromises. Compromises between performance, price, and appearance. And none of them work much better than those “starter” combos in my mind. They do OK, but folks, people are paying hundreds of dollars for something that often only works marginally at best. And they never know because they have never had anything different. The cost of hype and marketing by the manufacture subordinate rod performance. And that just doesn’t seem fair, especially when for near the same money you can have a rod that’s truly a piece of design art. One that maximizes the rod designer’s skill to the great benefit of any angler.
Here’s a little secret: most fishermen equate rod performance (and quality) with rod weight. Yep, the lighter the rod the better it must be. Sorry, but that’s definitely THE biggest misperception, the biggest fallacy, the biggest misunderstanding in fishing. The best rods are not necessarily the lightest. Period. The best rods are rods like G. Loomis rods designed by Steve Rajeff who, in case you don’t know, holds no less than 15 world casting championship titles. Or Dobyns rods that all come from Gary Dobyn’s designs. I can assure you that Gary is, shall we say, overtly obsessed about anything that bears his name. Other brands such as Shimano, 13 Fishing, Castaway, Denali, etc. all have rod designers behind them who not only have the experience and expertise, but the field time as well to make sure whatever you acquire will perform beyond your expectations, not barely meet them. But they may not be the lightest out there. But they are the best.
Like I said earlier, enjoying a product is one thing. Designing that product is a completely different skill set. The next time you pick up your Loomis or Shimano, or Dobyns, or 13, or any other perfectly designed rod take just a few seconds to consider all that went into its design. It’s a lot more than most of us realize and it’s the reason we so enjoy our great sport of fishing.
As for me, I think I’ll head home for a nice big t-bone and a glass of fine Napa Valley Cabernet. And I’ll probably have one of my occasional after dinner cigars as well while I’m enjoying just how good my New Balance 1080 running shoes feel!
Thank you for your wonderful friendship and support. All of us here at American Legacy Fishing truly appreciate your continued loyalty. We are so fortunate to have so many friends who share our joy and obsession with two of the world’s greatest sports. Thank you once again for all you do!