Everyone Needs Short Fishing Rods – Wired2Fish
It looks lighter and longer is the new trend in bass fishing. So much so that professional tours now allow 10ft rods when the standard maximum length was 8ft. There is no doubt that rod length has an advantage, especially when long casts, more power, heavy coverage and heavy line prevail. New materials, load power and a wide range of actions have dynamically increased the efficiency of these longer sticks.
That said, however, there are still techniques where shorter rods are useful.
For me, it started a few years ago when I was fishing the St. Johns River while living in Jacksonville, Florida. Florida is big stick country where heavy cover and big fish go hand in hand, but I soon learned that there were places where a 5 foot 6 inch pistol grip or a spinning rod of 6 feet eclipsed a split handle or more rod. I’ve used them for tighter, more accurate casting and putting more action on offer, especially around large docks and undercut banks with overhanging trees and bushes.
Pistol grip rods were definitely a mainstay in the early years; a 5 foot 6 inch rod was the rod of choice for most anglers. If you watch old fishing tournaments on YouTube, you’ll notice this identical rod in almost every shot.
I still find it hard to believe that we caught the worm with that same rod. Setting the hook on a worm was an art and more fish were missed than ever hooked. Go “on point” before your hook actually starts with this rod. Anglers almost needed longer boats so they could run backwards when hooking a fish to get enough leverage, but I found there were some techniques where it shone. One in particular was minnow imitators like a Rapala Original Minnow 11S or surface poppers like the Pop-R.
Throwing the potato chip-like Rapala Minnow seems like child’s play with the pistol grip and at the time we fished it over eelgrass pockets and around brush tops, especially during pre-spawn where I could put a cast in the quarter size and jerk it into place without moving the bait too much. Today I still fish it on undercut banks and around heavier cover. That subtle tic just sniffing the bait underwater and letting it settle is always enough to attract a bite. With the popper, a slight roll cast allows me to place the bait precisely on the edge or even the center of the bush. I saw one of the greatest of all time, Craig Powers, use the popper with a pistol grip and his success is legendary. He can throw it into a thimble, and the pistol grip is an integral part of it.
Hook sets with any of the aforementioned techniques are as easy as a snap of the wrist and winching with the spool. Both techniques work particularly well on monofilament line. I generally used 12 pounds or less.
Casting other baits like spinnerbaits while reel casting also works well with a pistol grip rod, especially when fishing under overhanging trees and in tight spaces. Paralleling undercut banks with the current is an excellent technique for extracting large fish from the junk. This type of rod is versatile and still has its place in our arsenals.
Short casting rods have fallen out of favor in recent years, but if you have a lake full of docks, you better find one. Short casting rods are ideal for jumping and you can get closer to the docks with a longer pole. A flick of the wrist in close quarters allows the bait to fall into areas where other anglers may not be able to get them. Small Worms, Ned Rigs, Small Crayfish, Tubes, and Senkos mounted on 1/4 ounce WOO Tungsten weights do the trick and are great bait choices. I believe a faster spinning reel is a must with the shorter rod. Finding a 6.4:1 or faster works best for this style.
Another advantage of the short rod is that it requires a fast carabiner and getting the fish out of the junk seems to work better. This is close combat at its best. When you master the flick jump technique, you can put the bait on a dime every time. Most anglers can’t do this with longer rods.
Much like a toolbox full of tools, not all rod choices are created equal. Each provides a way to do a certain job. Not all screwdrivers are the same shape or length and the shanks are the same. Hooks, terminal tackle, baits, rods and reels are all designed for a specific technique. Although the rods seem to be getting longer and longer, there are times when “going short” can pay huge dividends.