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mastertangler
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04/15/2018 11:23AM
I have had several members reach out to me inquiring about using these specialty rods and have expressed interest in acquiring one. Perhaps we should toss the subject around a bit more.

When I read the cult classic "Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers" some 35 years ago I instinctively knew that my fishing equipment, mainly 6.5' sticks chucking spinnerbaits, would need to change. I went to my local tackle shop and started digging around for a longer type of rod which would be capable of handling the light line that the method called for.

The rod I chose was a Steelhead rod. More specifically it was a Shimano SST rod (SST > Salmon, steelhead, trout). The rod was fiberglass and 8' long and was fairly heavy but a love affair soon developed. Coupled with the old Zebco Cardinal reel (Steelheaders loved that reel) and 4lb Green XT line I was able to cast an original rapala further than I have ever seen done before. A decided early springtime advantage in the clear shallow marshes of Lake St Clair. Lots of big bass came to hand because of the ability to load and fling the light balsa lure a considerable distance. Add in that the Rapala comes alive on super light line and success was measured in how many largemouth over 20" came to my hand. Setting the hooks and watching the big swirl as the fish reacted in the shallow water will always be imprinted on my main frame.

I kept exploring the long rods capabilities and soon learned that in the private gravel pits that we used to sneak into (yes I was a trespasser back in the day) a Charlie Brewer 1/16 oz slider head and a little 4" straight tail Brewer worm presented on 4lb green XT was devastating.

Fast forward a bit and now I use the long rod for chub fishing with slip bobbers on Lake St Clair with spectacular results. The long rod aids in collecting slack line and setting hooks while being able to use a bit heavier lb test line.

Then I tried it for trolling in canoe country and was very impressed with the results. I could fish lighter line and still be able to troll fast all while the long rod protected my oft meager lb test from parting.

A few thoughts now on rod styles. I am no rod guru despite having a ridiculous amount of rods (50 plus at last count). If I were a rod Guru I would have 1/2 that number as I would of purchased the correct one the first time (instead of the second, third or fourth time ;-). So, bear that in mind when considering my advice. I have 2 steelhead rods now, a loomis and a St Croix.........the aforementioned SST rod is laying on the bottom of a Louisiana bayou but I digress.

Steelhead rods.........think about the fish they are designed for. Often finicky feeders when in rivers and streams thus requiring finesse presentations (light line/small baits/small hooks)) but also very powerful fish which require a rod with backbone, especially in current, to be able to move them off the bottom. Enter in a specialty rod. A rod which is designed to be able to protect light line but with the backbone to move a big fish.

As for canoe country selection I would lean towards 8' length and would probably want a MH (medium hard) power rating. If you go with medium you would have a real bender. Fine if all you want is to slip bobber fish with very light line. But if versatility is important I think a fast taper, MH power, rated for 6 to 12lb test would be ideal.

You will find the long rod a delight to slip bobber fish with. Just hold your rod high in the air to help feed line through your bobber. Plus the sweep on the hook set is ideal.

As per trolling I am very particular as to how these rods should be employed. If you fish the rod at a 90 degree angle out from your canoe you will load primarily the flexible portion of the rod. Not so good..........the rod will flex upon a strike and absorb much of the hook setting power needed to insure a good hook up. If you angle the rod back at about a 45 degree angle back you start to load the beefier butt section of the rod. The entire set up is much like a steel trap, coiled and ready to snap shut........there is very little in the way of rod flexing before the hooks are driven home. After that the big rod bounces quite a bit. You must be certain that your drag is set correctly. I will often observe the fish for 5 to 10 seconds and see what sort of head shakes I have. Small fish can pull hard but only big fish can have big head shakes. There is no need to grab the rod quickly..........the fish is securely hooked I can assure you and not going anywhere provided the rod is bent. You do NOT need to grab the rod quickly and you certainly don't need to yank again to set hooks which are already deeply embedded.........only bad things happen when you do that. Remember, you are more than likely still traveling forward via your canoe for at least several seconds after you stop paddling. Take a breath, allow the boat to slow, allow the fish to stop panicking before you grab the rod. Next pull upward and get a deep bend in the rod and pause........how is the fish reacting? Did he come forward at all (smaller fish)? Or is it just dead weight (big fish)?

Be advised, with a long rod bent full the line is contacting each guide and resistance is increased. Also be advised that if you set your drag with a full spool and then let out a bunch of line the drag will consequently be tighter as the diameter of the spool diminishes. Throw in a tightly bent rod with lots of eyelets and you could risk breaking off if you are fishing light line and a big pike or walleye decides to burst. Just something to consider. Which is, of course, why after I hook up I tend to turn my anti reverse off so I can just back reel or let go of the handle if things get dicey.

FWIW this past Friday I used my Steelhead rod while awaiting some repairs to be done on my van at a dealership. They have a pond of sorts in the back of their lot which is loaded with bass. I caught quite a few little guys up to 1.5 lbs but I often would just let go of the handle on my Stradic 3000 and just feather the spool with my forefinger because I was to lazy to back reel. It works, try it sometime.




 
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Mad_Angler
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04/15/2018 05:55PM
My steelhead rod is pretty beefy. It is an 8'6" St Croix Wild River steelhead rod. It is a heavy power rated for 12-25 lb test and 1/2 to 2 ounce lures. I bought it for striper fishing in Rhode Island. It worked masterfully for that task.

I have taken this rod to the BW for the last few trips. I like the ability to throw heavy lures VERY far. It also has a great sentimental value and it is fun to use it again.

Is this the kind of rod your talking about? I don't troll much with mine. wild river
old_salt
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04/15/2018 08:19PM
I use an 8’ salmon rod when fishing for waldos or jigging up lakers. I started using it a few years ago when I bought tackle for Alaska. It’s a 2 piece Ugly Stik so it works well for travel and portages.
mastertangler
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04/16/2018 05:52AM
Mad_Angler: "My steelhead rod is pretty beefy. It is an 8'6" St Croix Wild River steelhead rod. It is a heavy power rated for 12-25 lb test and 1/2 to 2 ounce lures. I bought it for striper fishing in Rhode Island. It worked masterfully for that task.


I have taken this rod to the BW for the last few trips. I like the ability to throw heavy lures VERY far. It also has a great sentimental value and it is fun to use it again.


Is this the kind of rod your talking about? I don't troll much with mine. wild river "


Your rod sounds like what I use for snapper fishing. Yes I could see how it would excel for striper fishing........that would be an excellent fishery and one that I was always envious of having never done it.

You should think about getting some Shadzillas, getting a really good rod holder and trolling for pike. I think you will be surprised at the results. You have the rod to do it with.

I checked out your link and the only rod which would interest me was the first selection. The line rating (which I don't always put much stock in) is 8 to 12 with a moderate action. Maybe I am wrong about wanting a MH power rating?

OK.......I went out to my shop and retrieved my St Croix............it is a 9' Medium power rated for 8 to 12 lb test, fast action, 1/4 to 3/8 oz lure. I wouldn't hesitate to use 6lb line with it but not so sure about using 4lb line. It is in the Avid selection of St Croix steelhead rods and is the first selection. A little bit pricey but I really like it.

I compared and contrasted the Wind river vs the Avid that I have and they appear to much the same rod.........both are the first choice in their respective categories. The only difference seems to be 1/10 oz heavier and $60 less in the Wind river version.

The Loomis I have is shorter and lighter action and fully capable of handling really light line. Both rods excel at trolling crank baits but I am probably partial to the St Croix for canoe country.
mastertangler
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04/16/2018 05:57AM
old_salt: "I use an 8’ salmon rod when fishing for waldos or jigging up lakers. I started using it a few years ago when I bought tackle for Alaska. It’s a 2 piece Ugly Stik so it works well for travel and portages."

I wasn't aware that Ugly Stick made a salmon rod. I generally like 1 piece rods but the 8' sticks are the exception and that translates to easy portaging.

Jigging for lakers with an 8' Ugly Stick. The thought wouldn't occur to me.......One decided advantage is just how big a jump you could get with a jig. I had a pal who couldn't buy a bite jigging for smallmouths in Sylavania unless he radically jigged his rod from the water surface to over his head over and over again very rapidly.
Lotw
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04/16/2018 06:54AM
I have 6 10'6" Okuma steelhead rods that I use for big channel cats and sturgeon. they also get used for pulling cranks for lakers and walleyes.
lundojam
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04/16/2018 07:08AM
Back in my Mille Lacs days, we used to bobber fish mud flats a lot. So, 22 - 30 '.
High-vis main line with light flouro leader on an 8' steelhead rod is the best set-up I'e seen for that particular application. That big swing, coupled with being able to see where your line is heading, is fool-proof (luckily for me.) Handles big fish well, too.
mastertangler
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04/16/2018 07:12AM
Lotw: "I have 6 10'6" Okuma steelhead rods that I use for big channel cats and sturgeon. they also get used for pulling cranks for lakers and walleyes. "

Dang! Until you use a long rod folk don't quite understand just how much upward force you can apply to get a fish off the bottom. I have popped some nice channel cats in my day but never a sturgeon.

Does anyone remember the Predator series rods that Cabelas came out with? I have 2 of them and I think they are 10' long. I never really found a niche for them. I blew one of them up on a snag offshore on a party boat.......it literally exploded with shards flying everywhere. They sent me another one but I don't think I have ever used it since. I have tens of thousands of dollars of fishing stuff sitting around in boxes and on shelves. Thats the problem with owning a business.........you suddenly never have any time to do anything else and you keep thinking that day will arrive but its always just slightly out of reach. Somebody has to make the doughnuts!
Lotw
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04/16/2018 08:01AM
Those Okumas are tough, I haven't broken one yet and the channel cats put a ridiculous amount of stress on them. The sturgeon, although much larger aren't near the fighters that those 20 pound channels are. But sturgeon fishing requires a soft tip to see a bite so those steelhead rods are ideal. I see guys fishing big glass cat rods but that's a serious handicap.
Theres no screwing around on the cat bite but the softer tip lets me keep an eye on bait stealers!
Mad_Angler
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04/16/2018 09:35AM
mastertangler: "...
You should think about getting some Shadzillas, getting a really good rod holder and trolling for pike. I think you will be surprised at the results. You have the rod to do it with. ...
"


Ok. I have been following the Shadzilla threads with interest. Let's say that I am going to buy two Shadzilla's to try this spring. What brand and color should I get? Should I get 2 of the same color to have a spare or should I get two different colors?
mastertangler
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04/16/2018 11:33AM
Mad_Angler: "mastertangler: "...
You should think about getting some Shadzillas, getting a really good rod holder and trolling for pike. I think you will be surprised at the results. You have the rod to do it with. ...
"



Ok. I have been following the Shadzilla threads with interest. Let's say that I am going to buy two Shadzilla's to try this spring. What brand and color should I get? Should I get 2 of the same color to have a spare or should I get two different colors?"


I would get a light and a dark one.........Black Zombie and Rugen Destroyer come to mind. Reread the threads...........safety is a really big deal with these lures. 2 8/0 razor sharp trebles spaced far apart as well as a top hook. Bad Hombre'

Make sure you have some super glue or "Mend it" (Tackle warehouse) along as you can fix the majority of the tears which occur. Don't glue your fingers together (for that reason I like the Mend It). Also be advised that after a fish you might need to straighten the internal wire back to get it to swim straight. I have yet to miss when I put these out.......just put them back and paddle around. You don't have to be on the bottom, they will come and get it. Tossing them around is doable but you really need the right gear.
MrBadExample
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04/16/2018 02:22PM
How about a 9 ft medium light St Croix? Rated 4-8 lb test.

How would you set that up?

Too noodley for trolling?

mastertangler
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04/16/2018 02:40PM
MrBadExample: "How about a 9 ft medium light St Croix? Rated 4-8 lb test.


How would you set that up?


Too noodley for trolling?


"


Sounds like a nifty rod for live bait fishing with the "Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers method" especially tossing a nose hooked crawler with a little split shot a decent distance without ripping it off the hook. It also sounds like an awesome slip bobber rod.

Do you fish any really clear hard pressured lakes? Using 4lb line and the aforementioned 1/16 oz Charlie Brewer slider head and a 4 inch rubber worm (I like the Brewer Motor oil with orange tip tail or a Robo worm) is flat out deadly. Of course the weed growth needs be sparse and your certainly not pulling any out of timber but fish will generally hit that when all else fails.

As per trolling? I dunno..........seems a bit weak to run larger deep diving cranks. And when you get the inevitable good pike it might take quite a while to get them in. Is it a steelhead rod or just a long limber rod? Steelhead rods usually have that beefier butt section designed to have a bit of authority over bigger fish.

I met some guys who left a distinct impression on me one early spring at a boat ramp. They stated they had been fishing shallow mud bottom bays off Lake Erie with some kind of small jig type lure but the secret to their success was long noodle rods and really light line. They claimed to have caught several walleye in the 8 and 9 lb class.
MrBadExample
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04/16/2018 07:00PM
I purchased a St Croix blank. It was an old model. Medium Light. They used to make a steelhead rod out of this blank. I had read about folks using them for slip bobbering. Having a friend finish it off for me. The idea initially was for strictly slip bobbering. But, why not learn what else it is capable of?

I live on a very weedy lake. We do a lot of slip bobbering for panfish.

I have a copy of Lunkers Love Nightcralwers somewhere. Great book!



Thanks


mastertangler
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04/17/2018 05:56AM
Mr BadExample...........why do I get the feeling your not a bad example at all ;-)

In any event your going to LOVE using that rod for slip bobbering..........it is peerless, there is no equal IMO. Loading and tossing a finesse/stealth type bobber with a gentle wave of the arm resulting in a fish attracting sploosh is very satisfying. It is also nice to be able to keep the majority of the line off the water if you desire. And of course feeding the line through the bobber is much easier from on high.

But what you will find eye opening is just how much pressure you can exert with the long rod pulling the fish UPWARD and off the bottom instead of just pulling a fish sideways through the water column. Getting a fish off the bottom and out of trouble is usually a good thing.

If it is a Steelhead blank then you will likely still be able to troll with it as the butt section should have some beef to it. Why choose the Steelhead rod over a more traditional rod? The primary reason I choose it is so I can roll with light line if I desire.

I typically fish as heavy lb test as I can........and keep dropping until I get bit. Naturally some presentations demand heavier lb tests because the lures themselves demand it.......big spoons and large swimbaits come to mind for example. But if I want a crank bait to really shine there is nothing quite like fishing them with lighter line........and to do so you really need a rod which will cushion and protect that line and give you some insurance and a bit of time to react.

Of course using light line to troll with presents its own difficulties prior to getting hooked up and counting on the long rod to protect the line. Knots need be 100% and without that all else is a moot point. The last thing I want is for someone to follow my advice, instantly get broke off and mutter "why did I ever listen to that know nuthin MT".

I like straight mono or fluorocarbon (that invis X line seems promising) when trolling light line because if has some stretch to it. Throw in a rod which has considerable bend to it and the combination just works and that surprisingly well. But back to knots.........you cannot tie 6 or 8lb mono to split rings and expect a good connection. Not happening.......The double wire split ring creates an oval shaped tie off which is thicker than the line. Not only is the oval shape bad physics (generally speaking) but the overall diameter will be thicker than your mono. Mono likes to join itself to other like diameters. So you must bridge the gap..........ditch the split ring and use a small snap. Not a snap swivel but a tiny little snap. I use fas snaps and recommend them highly. VERY unobtrusive. Do not take them on and off a lure which opens them permanently but rather keep them on and retie each time you change a lure (which is not a bad idea anyways > I will often test and retie lures especially if I am trolling fast with light line which puts considerable stress on a knot).

The last item i will mention with the long rods.........is that they are just funnerer to catch fish with. Something about the big bounces which occur which makes things a bit more exciting. "whoa, this is a nice one ;-)"
Selfsuffi
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04/17/2018 08:19AM
WOW! This took me back a bit. My dad passed away I my brother and I inherited his extensive rod and tackle "collection". One rod I received that I couldn't recall him ever using with me was a 10' long two piece noodle. This had a small spinning real with 4 lb mono. I spoke with a couple of his buddies he used to go on fishing trips with and found one who saw him use that rig. He used it for walleye and smallmouth with crawlers and slip bobbers or small jigs. He didn't know much of how or why he did that other than my dad used to say it was a ton of fun to fish that way. I think I will have to pull that one out and try it out when I have the grandkids out in the boat. If you have ever had young kids out in the boat you will understand how it takes some time to get back to your rod on a strike sometimes....lol Thank you for the information.
overthehill
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04/17/2018 08:15PM
I ran into a St.Croix Wild River 9' or so about ten years ago for dirt cheap on clearance-so I bought it for crappie. Then it became my crawler rod too. My main go-to style has always been a crawler on a hook and usually no split shot or a bb. It is amazing how far it will cast that bare crawler with 4 or 6# XL line and the rod length and design keeps that line from breaking. It is long but I love it. I keep big crawlers and this rod is a Godsend to use them on just a bare hook. They will also cast an F13 or an XRap a country mile. This rod allows me to use 4-6# instead of 8-10# for shy days and you don't need a big sweep to set the hook. I have yet to use it for steelhead.
mastertangler
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04/18/2018 06:23AM
MrBadExample: "I purchased a St Croix blank. The idea initially was for strictly slip bobbering. But, why not learn what else it is capable of?
"


Was kicking around your rod blank and may of hit on what it might excel at.........it might not do so good pulling hard diving big crank baits like Tail dancers but I bet a shad rap with 6lb test would be a slay 'em set up.

The shad raps are typically balsa (I think they make the glass raps as well) and they really come alive on the lighter lb test. I like a clear co-polymer line for this due to better knot strength and Gamma fits the bill (no pun intended ;-) Again ditch the split ring and use a very small snap to get 100% knot strength.

OTH sounds like we are in simpatico (a small town in Mexico? ;-)
You point out the key advantage of the long rod, you are able to fish lighter lb test. Not always a requirement but I know of no faster way not to catch fish > that being, over tackling and using to heavy of line.
overthehill
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04/18/2018 10:10AM
Finesse is key. I use to fish a 6'6" shimano buggy whip with 4# and got laughed at by my buddies who all used 8# and up. I had an occasional break-off on big fish; but was envied on days when "they just don't seem to be biting. I like light line a lot. At least you get to hook some. ;)
mastertangler
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04/18/2018 10:53AM
overthehill: " Finesse is key. I use to fish a 6'6" shimano buggy whip with 4# and got laughed at by my buddies who all used 8# and up. I had an occasional break-off on big fish; but was envied on days when "they just don't seem to be biting. I like light line a lot. At least you get to hook some. ;)"

Ah yes.......reminds me of one of my favored sayings....... "Better to have hooked and lost, than to not have hooked at all"
carmike
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04/18/2018 11:09PM
I have one high-end steelhead rod that is a thing of beauty--many of the benefits of this style of rod have already been elucidated.

For the kind of fishing I do while in canoe country, it gets left at home. I tend to use braid (often, with a mono/flouro leader), so the need for a softer, slower-action rod isn't as great. I tend to not use live bait and I prefer to fish aggressively, so I'm not often using finesse techniques. If I do use a slip bobber, I tend to fish specific pieces of structure that don't require long casts, and I just use the reel, not the rod, to take up slack. And if I'm casting, I tend to use larger lures for either big pike or lakers. And I don't like bringing super-expensive rods to canoe country. :)

Plus,I think ya'll's emphasis on the benefits of light line is overstated (not wrong, just overstated), but I think that's already been discussed in previous threads. I just think it's more likely that a fisherman's lack of success is caused by something *other* than "excessive" line diameter or visibility (there are certainly a few exceptions to this). I don't think too light a line hurts you all that much--if everything goes right; I just don't think its benefits are as great in canoe country as advertised.

Just my .02.
mastertangler
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04/19/2018 06:20AM
All true Carmike.........the long rods are definitely not for every situation and certainly aren't as versatile as other options. I typically fish the Quetico so the long rod usually doesn't get packed that often (although my line counter is mounted on a 7' 6" stick).

I will probably quibble and split hairs a bit with on line however. It probably doesn't make lots of difference for the most part........up to a point. I have met folk from Texas in canoe country who were fishing like they would down south, pounding the banks with heavy line / spinnerbaits and naturally they were doing terrible at catching fish and were complaining bitterly. I tried to help them but they wouldn't listen.

And my first trip in to canoe country I think I was a fishing 10, 12 and 14lb test and my buddy who was fishin 4, 6 and 8 gave me an education real quick.

Lures, particularly balsa type crank baits, just look so much better on light line.

And of course one just doesn't really know how things will pan out with one line class vs another. That big walleye that turned away at the last second because it didn't like something leaves you still thinking all is well.

The best walleye fishing I have ever had in canoe country was over a big reef and for two hours straight I was catching quality fish on every pass with most being between 4 and 6lbs including one over 7 (all weighed on a certified scale). The ticket was 8lb green XT and a tail dancer. I was back two weeks later, marking fish but went with straight braid and Bomber (little bigger lure) and could not buy one strike. Maybe they just weren't chewing, but it will always make me wonder. I need to get back to that spot someday and spend a few days there.
Frankie_Paull
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04/19/2018 08:23AM
Haha this winter I have been on the fence on getting a steelhead rod And this post put me over the top
 
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