We've all seen it...two guys in a boat fishing for walleyes. It's springtime on the river and jigging has been the pattern that's catching fish. Although the "Hot" bite has tapered off, the walleyes are still very catchable, but they're hitting light. Angler #1 is struggling, while angler #2 is putting fish after fish in the boat.
Three weeks later, the same two fishermen are working a series of points on a major reservoir with bottom bouncer- spinner rigs. Again, angler #1 is having a tough day while angler #2 is popping walleyes right and left.
Flash forward to late summer. Our two fishermen are on a sunken hump on a natural lake using live bait rigs and leeches. Fishing has been tough, but Angler #2 is again out- fishing Angler #1 four to one.
Three different walleye fishing situations faced our two anglers. Both were using the same techniques, bait and fishing the same fish. One struggled while the other consistently put fish in the boat. What was the difference? Maybe it was luck, but chances are Angler #2 had some sort of advantage. All the situations described called for the anglers to "feel" what was going on at the business end of their fishing line. That leads us to believe that Angler #2 was simply feeling the bites while Angler #1 wasn't. The difference had to do with the equipment each fisherman was using.
When it comes to improving "feel" in walleye fishing, few pieces of equipment are as important as the fishing rod. Having a good rod, designed specifically for the presentation being used, makes all the difference as to whether you struggle, like Angler #1, or "bring home the bacon" like Angler #2.
So what makes a good walleye rod? That was our challenge when Bass Pro Shops asked us to design a line of walleye rods for the Walleye Angler Catalog.
To know what makes a good fishing rod one must understand a little about the materials that rods are made of. Graphite has been the material of choice in the fishing rod industry for several years now, but graphite comes in many different modulus ratings. Modulus is the measurement used to describe the strength of the fibers used in the rod. The higher the modulus rating, the stronger and more dense the fibers are that make up the rod. Therefore, a rod with a high modulus rating can be made using less material, making the rod lighter and more sensitive while retaining it's strength. This also allows rods to be built with more defined tapers and very precise, fine-tuned actions.
Something else to consider when looking at a good quality rod are the guides. Guides should be made of a hard ceramic, like Fuji's Hardloy or Silicon Carbide. This will cut down on friction and ensure durability with either monofilament or new-generation lines like FireLine. While the guide material is important, placement of the guides is critical. Guides need to be of sufficient number and properly spaced on the rod to compliment it's action and keep the line off the rod blank when it is at full bend.
Let's look at a couple of examples. Jig fishing demands more "feel" than most other techniques for catching 'eyes. A top notch jiggin' rod should be about 5' 9" long, super sensitive with a forgiving tip section and strong backbone. A shorter rod allows you to have better control of the jig's action when fishing vertically over the side of the boat. The strong backbone lets you get good hook sets and the forgiving tip section acts as a shock absorber when fighting fish. If you do a great deal of jig fishing, you'll appreciate a rod that is light weight and comfortable. A rod like the Walleye Angler Signature Series HM85 Jigging Rod fits the bill perfectly.
Rigging rods too demand more "feel" than most rods. The primary difference in a rigging rod vs. a jigging rod, is that the rigging rod will generally be longer (6'6") with a softer over all action. This is important because although you want to feel the fish as he takes the bait, you don't want the fish to detect you at the other end of the line. Since most live bait rigging is done in deeper water and with more line out than in jigging presentations, the extra rod length is helpful in picking up line slack and driving hooks home.
That describes just two types of rods that should make up a walleye angler's arsenal. A good set of walleye rods, like those in the Walleye Angler Signature Series, will also include rods designed for trolling, bottom bouncer fishing, casting and slip bobber fishing.
Be more like Angler #2 and equip yourself with a versatile set of walleye rods designed with quality that you can "feel"...and the "feel" you need to put more walleyes in the boat time after time.