Rods that Double Down
By: Mark Romanack
Believe it or not, the same rod that caught this magnificent St. Joe River steelhead is also the same rod the author uses for bottom bouncer fishing walleye. Finding rod length and actions that work well for several different presentations and species help save money and keeps the boat organized and ready for action.
In this world of technique specific rods and reels, it may seem like everyone has a certain rod and reel for every fishing presentation. Perhaps, but a lot of us have figured out how to get double or triple duty from our favorite rod/reel combinations. Not only does this save lots of money in the family fishing budget, it helps keep the boat organized and ready for action.
BOTTOM BOUNCER/PLUGGING/THREE WAY RIGS
When it comes to bottom bouncing for walleye, we have a ton of faith in the Daiwa Northcoast series of conventional rods. The 8’-6” medium action model is our “go to” bottom bouncer rod and has been for several years. This same rod is available in a 9’-6” and 10’-6” medium action for guys who want a little more rod length.
All three of these rods were actually developed with plug fishing for river steelhead in mind. I also use the 8’-6” models for targeting spring brown trout using a three-way swivel rig with a wobbling plug at the terminal end. This set up is very effective when fishing in shallow water, out to about 40 feet.
I own one set of downrigger rods and I use those rods for every species commonly targeted with downriggers. The Daiwa Great Lakes series 7’-0” Medium/Light rod is perfect for chinook, coho, steelhead, brown trout, lakers, ciscoes and walleye. I set my rods up with a Saltist 20 reel and 20 pound test fluorocarbon line.
The idea that you need a heavier action downrigger rod to target larger fish like chinook is simply an urban legend. A medium/light action downrigger rod will whip anything that swims in the Great Lakes region.
It’s also a misnomer that you need to use light line for smaller species like coho or walleye. In my experience, downrigger fishing is not a finesse presentation. The only time I use lighter line than 20 pound test is when I’m fishing the smallest spoon sizes. Small spoons such as the Wolverine Tackle Jr. Streak have better action when fished on 15 pound test than they do on 20 pound test.
The author uses just one downrigger fishing rod/reel combination for literally every species he commonly catches on downriggers. This list of species includes chinook, coho, Atlantic Salmon, walleye, brown trout, lake trout, steelhead and ciscoes. A 7’-0” medium light action rod is perfect for all these species and more.
A seven foot medium/heavy action baitcasting outfit is perhaps the best rod an angler who wants to target bass and also pike can own. I fish the Daiwa 7’-7’-3” Medium/Heavy Tatula XT rods. At about $99.00 each they are among the best value you can find in a baitcasting rod. I team my rods with a Tatula 200 series baitcasting reel and 20 pound test fluorocarbon for casting applications.
The same rod and reel combination is also commonly used to jig for mid-summer lake trout. The only change is I load the reel with 10 pound test low visibility braid and then add a 15 pound test fluorocarbon leader at the terminal end.
JIG PITCHING/JERKBAIT/SLIP FLOAT/DROP SHOTTING/SLIP SINKERS
A 7-6” medium light spinning rod is the perfect action for a host of presentations including pitching light jigs to walleye, tossing jerkbaits for trout and bass, using slip float rigs for walleye, drop shotting for bass and slip sinker rigging for walleye. Now that’s a versatile rod!
I like the Tatula 7’-6” medium/light and also the Kage 7’-6” medium/light rods teamed up with a Tatula 3000 series spinning reel. A little larger spinning reel is important because it allows me more line capacity for long casts, slip sinker rigging in deeper water and also drop shot fishing in deeper water.
Spooling the reel up with 10 pound test braid works well for all the presentations outlined here. I tend to favor a high visibility braid as it’s easier to detect subtle strikes when pitching jigs. To compensate, I’ll add a fairly long “six foot” fluorocarbon leader that matches up to the presentation at hand.
For example, if I’m pitching jigs or slip sinker rigging for walleye, I’ll go with a six or eight pound test fluorocarbon leader. If I’m jerkbait fishing for bass or trout, I’ll bump up to 12 or 15 pound test fluorocarbon.
Another trick to consider is when using high visibility braids, take a sharpie and blacken five or six feet of line at the terminal end before tying on your fluorocarbon leader. This helps to reduce the chances fish will pick up on the line and get funky.
The author uses a 7’-6” medium light action spinning rod to pitch jigs for walleye and this same rod is also ideal for a wealth of other presentations including drop shotting, slip sinker rigging, slip float pitching and even tossing swim jigs for lake trout such as shown here.
RIVER WALLEYE/TROUT JIGGING
My preferred rods for river walleye jigging are fairly short and stiff models. The Daiwa RG series in a 6’-0” Medium/Heavy action is absolutely perfect for jigging up walleye with 1/2, 3/4 and even one ounce jigs. I use a 25 series spinning reel loaded with 10 pound test fluorocarbon line for all my vertical jigging applications.
This same set up is ideal for jigging up deep water lake trout during the summer months. This rod/reel outfit is also ideally suited for the new “twitch jigging” presentation that uses maribou and hair jigs for coho and chinook salmon.
The new Daiwa Kage 6’-6” Medium/Medium Heavy action rods are a little lighter action than the RG Medium/Heavy rods, but still heavy enough for 1/2, 3/4 and one ounce jigs. The extra length of these rods makes them ideal for picking up line fast on the hook set.
SUMMING IT UP
Every brand of fishing rod/reel on the market has gone towards presentation specific rods, but that doesn’t mean the creative angler can’t use one rod for a multitude of fishing applications. Finding a handful of rod actions that work for a wealth of different fishing presentations is part of the fun and also skill set of anglers who consistently sit down on fish!