by Bob Jensen
Anglers are always in search of the perfect lure or the perfect fishing partner or the perfect body of water. You know, the lure that always catches fish or the partner that always lets you catch the most or biggest fish or the lake where the fish always bite. The truth is, those things don't exist. Just like the perfect fishing pole: There is no such thing. However, by considering how we do most of our fishing, we can come pretty darn close to finding a rod that will do an outstanding job most of the time. Here are some things to keep in mind.
If you go golfing, you don't take just one club. You have different clubs to perform certain tasks. Fishing is kind of the same way. You wouldn't use a light action jigging rod to pull planer boards, and you wouldn't use a planer board rod to present a tiny jig to panfish. It could be done, but you wouldn't be very efficient in your presentation and you probably wouldn't catch much.
Let's say that you fish mostly for walleyes. Walleyes are perhaps the most popular fish in the Midwest, and there are lots of ways to fish for them. We want to select one rod that will enable you to employ as many walleye techniques as possible. What would that rod look like?
First of all, we're going to want a rod that will enable us to jig. We'll be using sixteenth, eighth, and quarter ounce jigs the most.
Next, we want to be able to use live bait rigs, and slip-bobbers are something we throw out there every now and then also.
And don't forget that we want to be able to use hard-baits, baits like Frenzy Firestick Minnows and Flicker Shad. Not the real big stuff, just the #5 and #7 sizes, the sizes that are most popular.
For most walleye anglers in the Midwest, jigs, rigs, slip-bobbers and smaller hard-baits make up most of their arsenal. For these techniques, a seven foot medium action rod would be a great choice. Some anglers might prefer to go the 6'6" route, and that would be good too. Seven foot rods are just a little more versatile and forgiving.
Now you need to determine how much money you want to spend on your rod. There's a pretty broad range when it comes to cost. For the most part, the more expensive rods will have better actions and sensitivity. However, you don't need to spend a ton to get a very nice rod. The new Fenwick Elite Tech Walleye rods are top-shelf but are reasonably priced. Fenwick HMG rods and Berkley Series One rods are also very nice. Berkley Tactix and Lightning Rods are an outstanding value. Shop around and you'll find something that fits your needs and budget.
Some folks say the fish don't care what rod you're using, they'll bite on a lure regardless of what it's attached to. That's true, but your ability to detect the strike, and your ability to present a lure is enhanced when you're using the appropriate rod. Next time you're in the rod-buying mode, consider how you will most be using that rod, and then select a rod that fits those needs. By doing so, you'll be able to come very close to selecting the perfect rod.
Watch all the 2009 episodes of Fishing the Midwest television on walleyecentral.com in the video section and on MyOutdoorTv.com.