DALLAS — When the average angler walks into a well-stocked tackle store, he is faced with rows of fishing rods in various lengths, actions and configurations. They cost from $50 to $500, and the most expensive rod may not be the best rod for the job.
The following is a question and answer on bass fishing rods with Rick Pope, president of Temple Fork Outfitters, a Dallas company that started building high-quality fly rods at bargain prices and expanded into other fishing markets.
Pope is a serious angler whose design team includes two legendary anglers — Lefty Kreh and Gary Loomis.
Though TFO is best known for its fly rods, the company offers about 35 casting and spinning rod models suitable for bass fishing. Most of them cost about $100 and are flying off the shelves at dealers across the country. In many areas, you can find them at Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and Fishin’ World. You can see them online at www.tforods.com.
Q. How do you go about selecting a good bass rod?
A. Length, action (where the rod bends) and power (how much it bends) are the fundamental issues. Price is a major consideration for most.
Q. Is a $500 rod better than a $100 rod?
A. Some believe so, and I like side lock 20-gauge shotguns, but my Remington 870 pump performs just as well. Components influence price more than rod blank construction. From a pure performance standpoint, most find it difficult to see price and performance as universally linked.
Q. What do you do other than pick up the rod and feel the action (without a reel, line or lure) to determine if the rod will suit you while fishing?
A. Balance, tip lightness (a sensitivity indicator) and overall weight certainly influence me the most. Wiggling a rod can give some insight into recovery speed (damping), and the tradition of bending a rod on the floor or ceiling can help predict both action and power.
Bottom line is that there is no good substitute for fishing with a rod.
Q. Does everybody offer warranties for rods these days and how good are they?
A. All of the branded rod companies I know of have some form of “limited” warranty. With conventional rods, it is usually a replacement offer at a greatly reduced price. Warranties are often stated to be lifetime, but that can be the lifetime of the owner or the rod company, whichever is shorter.
Q. Is there a website where anglers can see definitive comparisons of fishing rods?
A. We all pay close attention to fishing forums, but they are generally very regional and species specific.
For a good Texas bass forum, I like www.texasfishingforum.com. As long as you appreciate that anglers can be a highly opinionated bunch and are willing to do some filtering, there is a lot of good knowledge shared there.
Q. If you had only one bass rod, what action would you choose?
A. A fast-action, medium-heavy seven-footer.