I've been writing a rod trends column for Ontario OUT OF DOORS Magazine for several years. Without question we are fortunate as anglers to have so much cutting-edge technology infused into our fishing sticks. Light-weight, strong and durable while still sensitive, and tons of features provided at competitive prices are a handful of themes.
Another significant trend in rod design is that most companies catalogue rods as technique specific. That is, a pole is engineered for a precise application and performs this specific task extremely well, which in turn assists consumers in finding the perfect rod to fill a specific need. But here's the thing: Many rods work extremely well for more than just one application, and company representatives aren't shy about sharing these virtues either.
Shimano America/Shimano Canada's marketing manager, Bob Mahoney, urges anglers to "think out of the technique-specific box when looking for a rod because there's lots of room for multi-species crossover. Many of the 2013 Shimano Cumara or G.Loomis GL2 rods are designed for bass but will perform extremely well when used for certain walleye applications or techniques."
Over years of interviewing Chris Hockley, brand marketing manager - Berkley/Pure Fishing, he is always keen to mention cross-over applications for the company's rods. He's a strong advocate that consumers should consider rod length, action and power, and not solely focus on the predominant species or technique that's printed on the blank.
Recently he gave the example of Abu Garcia's new Volatile series that, although primarily designed for inshore tactics, is a great fit for various pike and certain muskie casting and jigging techniques. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other examples from my own collection.
Recently, I boated dozens of black crappie using a 6 1/2-foot rod that although branded for trout is an absolutely stellar stick for tossing small hard-baits, jig and soft-plastic combos, and spinners for panfish. My bass rods also get a lot of water time. I use heavy power 7-foot, 2-inch bass flipping sticks and frog rods to cast plastics, swimbaits, and spoons for northern pike. This said, muskie/pike rods still get the nod when it comes to casting bulky, heavy, 7-plus-inch baits for these apex predators. My favorite smallmouth bass finesse rod is a 7 1/2-foot medium-light rod that's branded for walleye. The length and crisp action of the blank performs extremely well for distance casting a 4-inch Senko, split shot rig, and jigs that are 1/8-ounces or less.
Avoid the temptation of pigeonholing a pole based on its technique-specific classification the next time you're in the market for a new rod. Think of what you want the rod to do, and then look for the appropriate length, action, and power. Do this and you'll have a well-rounded and versatile collection of rods that will serve you well for years to come.