​ "Freshwater Striper Rods"

   Since the launch of the Lateral Line Charters website the plan has been to include a blog as part of the website. The topic of this blog being all things striper related.

   With all of us anxiously awaiting the transition into spring and the resulting increase in activity of striped bass in our lakes & rivers. There’s no better time to take a look at gear as we prepare for the upcoming season.
That being said rods are the topic of this 1st series of posts "technique specific rods" in particular.

   Much like a mechanic building a engine the serious striped bass angler should have a selection of tools at their disposal. Can an angler get by with "all around" or "general purpose" rods?  Yes but for the serious angler looking to stack the odds in their favor where ever possible, the right rod for the job is one way to do that.
     Just a few examples of how they do that are more solid hook ups, longer casts and greater ability to land quality fish once they are hooked.

   Below is a list of techniques commonly used in a season by anglers in the southeast.
Over the course of this series of blog posts I will talk about my preferred rods for these techniques and the benefits using technique specific rods over general purpose rods.

1. Planer boards
2. Down lines
3. Flat lines/free lines
4. Top water
5. Jigs

   The first hurdle an inland striped bass angler will encounter when looking for technique specific rods is that there are none being produced by any of the major rod manufactures!
  The sad truth is that we are the red headed step child of the freshwater angling world. Walk into any tackle shop or big box store and you will find no shortage of technique specific rods for large mouth and other species. Catalogs and online stores are no different. Large mouth, Small mouth,  Musky, Trout, crappie and a rod made for every technique used to fish for them but nothing specifically for freshwater striper much less technique specific striper fishing.

   So what do you do? You have two choices repurpose or custom. Repurposing is what most anglers do, selecting rods from manufacture line ups that where designed for other species and technique specific applications for those species.
I often see anglers using rods designed for light to medium lake trout & salmon trolling. They work fine for schooly  fish in open water conditions. For anything more this is the worst choice in my opinion. These rods are little more than someplace to mount a reel. They are typically parabolic in action having little or no backbone and severely limit an angler’s ability to fight a fish of any size much less keep a good fish out of any kind of cover like tree tops.


 The best advice I can give an angler looking to repurpose a factory rod is to look at the "inshore saltwater rods" offered by manufactures. These rods typically offer the best range of lengths, actions and line ratings for freshwater striper applications. You will also find inshore saltwater rods to fit any budget. Entry level rods starting at $69.00 and going up from there with some high end rods selling for well over $300.00

    As I mentioned earlier the other option  is a custom built rod. It’s hard to compare a factory rod with a well-built custom rod.  A custom rod can be fine-tuned for both the intended use as well as being tuned for the angler using it.
    There are many factors that come into play when building a custom rod to ensure it performs at its full potential. It's a fairly simple process if the angler already knows what blank, components & relative specifications they want used in the build. This usually isn't the case, more often than not the angler is relying on the knowledge of the rod builder to help them make these decisions. For that reason it is very important to choose a custom rod builder that has plenty of experience building rods for the targeted species.


 The first rod I'm going to discuss is for planer board fishing.

   When looking at rods for use with planer boards the 1st thing to take into consideration is the purpose of a planer board. That purpose being to get the bait away from the boat. Every board has limitations based on its particular design but whether or not you can run that board to its max potential all comes down to line drag.
   The steeper the angle of the line from rod tip to board the less line you have dragging in the water. For this reason I prefer a rod length of 8'-8'6"
   The 2nd point of consideration for me is that the fish I'm targeting when using boards are typically larger fish. I want a rod with enough power through the mid-section and butt to handle these fish. The 3rd and no less important point than any of the others is a soft tip. As with most live bait rods the soft tip absorbs the power of the initial strike allowing the hook to make solid contact without pulling as commonly happens when using a stiffer rod.

So what I'm looking for is
1.  8''-8'6" rod
2. Fast -X fast action

   When determining what line rating or power rod you want. You must look at your specific application. Taking into consideration the size of the baits your fishing and the preload they put on the rod also the size of the fish you’re going to be dealing with.

   My go to planer board rods

Small baits 4"-7",  20-40 LB fish
Calstar 196-8
This rod is 8' Fast action and rated for 12-20 LB

Med- LG baits 8"-16", 30-50 LB
Calstar 270H-B
This rod is 8' fast action and rated for 15-40 LB

   Ultimately will these or any other technique specific rod revolutionize your fishing? No....but on a tough day when you wish you could get the boards out a little further or the difference between another take vs a solid hookup or a picture of you and the fish of a lifetime vs a long ride home replaying in your mind the feeling of line grinding in timber before it goes dead. In those times it can make a difference.

   The next rod we will be taking a look at is the Down Line Rod.

Welcome to the L.L.C blog...

   Each month you will find posts here covering a full range of striper related topics from gear selection and reviews to tips & tactics.

Please E Mail me with any questions or comments.
Rod Salyers


(423) 930-7682

Lateral Line Charters.