The little 14g lure left the rod tip with a snap of the wrist and flew out towards the school. A few quick turns of the handle and the little Marauder Metal was stopped dead in its tracks… a couple of head shakes were transmitted up the line and a feisty salmon of around 3kg left the water, gills flaring as it tried to shake the lure free. Line quickly disappeared from the reel as 4lb Fireline traced the fish’s retreat.
Salmon fights are great. They can be stubborn contestants on light line – they fight clean, jump plenty, pull hard for their size and can be counted on for some last minute antics before they come to hand.
Like many that we had taken since the sun had chased away the night, this fish ducked and weaved around the boat as I tried to lift it that last 3m to the net. Each time it would race to the other side of the boat or swing around the motor. I was glad that I’d brought the 7’6” Nitro Distance Spin rod along for this session. That extra length sure helped keep the line from rubbing off on the boat, something I’ve seen plenty of times in the past when slow-reacting anglers are caught short in the rod length department.
There has been a real resurgence in the use of longer rods in boats over the past few years and with good reason. Not only do the longer rods offer the necessary reach to hold line away from the boat in the closing stages of the fight, but there are definite advantages in casting, working lures, hooking fish and fighting fish.
So why is it that we are only just starting to see these longer rods popularised?
For starters, technology has finally started to make rods physically light enough that at the longer lengths they are still fishable for the whole day. In the past, making a rod over 7ft long that was still comfortable to fish with for any amount of time meant that rod was only capable of handling very light lines and generally had a very soft action. The introduction of graphite saw the game turn around somewhat, but it has taken quite a while for the quality of rod blanks to get to a point where they are light yet powerful while still being affordable.
There has also been a drive within the fishing ranks of late to fish with ‘finesse tackle. This drive has come mainly from tournament bream anglers, but has had an overflow effect on all fishing areas. The use of lighter lures, leaders, finer gauged hooks and thinner diameter lines has helped to highlight and remind us of the benefits of the longer rods. So what are the advantages?
The advantages in casting distance are fairly obvious if you imagine your rod as a simple lever. With the lure being thrown off a longer lever it will travel through a greater arc before being released, which will give it more speed and, consequently, distance.
It’s not that big a deal when casting heavy lures in the 40-100g range, but you’ll see a huge difference when you’re at the lighter end of the casting spectrum. For some, fishing distance is of little consequence but there are plenty of situations that an extra metre or so can make all the difference – and with the right set-up we are adding several metres, not just one.
That said, everything else needs to be right in your set-up for the rod length to make a noticeable difference. Ensuring the casting weight matches the rod; that you are using suitably thin line; and that your reels are filled to their proper level will set you on the path to maximising the benefits.
Here, the extra length will deliver greater action to your lures with less done at your end. With lures like soft plastics where the rod imparts most, if not all, of the action this can have a major effect on how your wrist is feeling at the end of a long day’s fishing. That rod length can also aid in giving a lure a boost of speed at a critical moment by sweeping the rod – a great little trick for high-speed predators like tuna and mackerel further north.
Once a fish has actually eaten a lure or bait an extra foot in rod length will also help pull the slack out of your line quicker than a short rod. This will make hook-sets far more positive, giving better hook-ups and more fish in the boat.
Another factor that will greatly improve your hook-ups is the use of fine gauge chemically sharpened hooks. With the finer diameter these hooks set to the bend with less pressure than thicker gauge hooks. Of course, the finer metal also means you lose a bit of strength and here the shock absorption qualities of the longer rod will help by taking some of the pressure off the hook.
Once you’re hooked into a fish you’ll appreciate the extra length for different reasons. Here you find that the longer rod will hold more line out of the water keeping you in more direct contact with your fish as it heads for the horizon.
When the fish gets closer to you and becomes stubborn or locked into a fighting pattern (as they often do) it’s much easier to break the fish’s routine by changing the angle of pull. The longer the rod, the more effect this will have. This is quite a neat little trick and can really help when fish are being chased on light line. By simply changing the direction from which you are pulling the fish, you can often get a reaction from the fish that will wear it out a little. When the line to fish ratio is big, the boat can be employed to help with this manoeuvre as well.
The rod also works as a shock absorber and the longer rod generally does a better job so you will have less problems with bust-offs when fishing light lines. An bonus of the shock absorber is that if you are using lines with very low stretch you will find that you will pull hooks far less during the fight. This is even more noticeable when using small lures with little trebles as they have such a small gape that they haven’t got a lot to hang onto in the beginning. Switched on anglers will find that spending the time and swapping across to a single hook will also help with this.
So what is a good rod length? Like most things, it’s ‘horses for courses’. Fishing from a boat chasing pelagics I find a rod of 7’6” to be the perfect length, without being too cumbersome. It allows plenty of reach around the boat to keep line away from sharp edges at the end of a fight and gives awesome castabilty while offering plenty of protection for the low-stretch ultra thin lines that I use. At this length I also find the rod makes for an awesome light tackle beach spinning tool… but more on that another time. For now, I’m going to load the car, grab my trusty Nitro Distance Spin and a handful of metal lures and chase some more sambos!
1. Micro plastics + ultralight jigheads + Australian salmon = a need for long rods.
3. Chasing striped tuna on mini metals can be demanding fishing. Every centimetre of distance is needed in the cast and long rods make all the difference.
4. The author with a nice salmon taken on a micro plastic and a long rod.
5. The use of long rods (in the 7’-7’6” range) can make chasing salmon in the surf a whole lot of fun.
10. Australian salmon a mainstay for Victorian anglers. Long rods will give you the reach around the boat when these hard-fighting speedsters make that last ditch effort close to the boat.Reads: 2014