There’s a battle taking place in the bass tackle world. If you haven’t caught on yet, then its time to come out from under that rock. The stars have aligned and major players have brought their soldiers to fight. The ultimate goal is to satisfy the demands of the angling masses with quality and performance, at a price all can afford.
If by now, you don’t know what I’m talking about now, just take a look at the domestic rod market evolving around you. Chances are if you’re a fan of new gear, then you already own one or more of the “budget” sticks that have inundated the market over the past year. Most are built with “new school” styling cues and components that deviate from standard fare.
The ~$100 rod market has existed for a while now with various players above and below the price point. Some of these rods even carry distinguishable reputations and are held in high regard. Such rods from major manufacturers include the Shimano Compre, Bass Pro Extreme, St. Croix premier, Daiwa TD-S, All-star ASR, Quantum Energy, etc.
Over the years it seems that market trends, rising material and manufacturing costs, as well as, mark up has continually driven the prices in the premium rod market into a realm many anglers don’t care to venture. However, with the recent economic downturn and the resultant tighter discretionary budget, many anglers have found themselves wanting more bang for their buck (rightfully so).
While normally an advocate of the statement “You get what you pay for”, the value minded angler inside of me can’t help but wonder if these new “budget” sticks are all hype? Or are they legitimate fishing tools that can help the weekend or even hardcore bass angler enjoy quality gear without breaking the bank?
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most recent contenders of this ensuing battle:
St.Croix Mojo Bass
The Mojo bass rods made their debut at ICAST 2008. There are 10 casting and 4 spinning metallic black cherry colored technique specific models currently available which carry a retail price point of ~$100 to $130. Predominant features include St Croix SCII blanks, Fuji ECS/DPS reel seats, Batson forecast aluminum oxide guides, and split grip cork handle.
These Cabela’s rods made their debut back in the beginning of 2009. With styling cues reminiscent of the Shimano Cumara lineup these rods feature 54million modulus graphite blanks, proprietary reel seats with woven graphite spacers, Pacific Bay Hialoy guides, EVA split grips, and custom weight system. There are currently a total of 9 casting and 11 spinning models coming in at $99.99 each.
Falcon’s value rod made its debut early summer last year and was designed to catch a “beaucoup” of fish. Currently available in 7 casting and 3 spinning models, these rods tout sub a 4.0 oz weight for any model with performance to boot. Predominant features include all Fuji components with split EVA foam grips. Retail starting at $99.
Abu Garcia Vendetta
One of the most recent and intriguing entries into the value priced rod market. The Abu Garcia Vendetta rods made their debut at ICAST 2009. FLW Tour pro Stetson Blaylock attributed much of his success en route to win the FLW rookie of the year title to these sticks. There are a total of 10 casting and 7 spinning models designed to be paired up with Abu Garcia’s Revo and Soron reels. Design features include: Factory balanced, 30 ton graphite blank construction, Fuji soft touch ACS/VSS reel seats, Pac Bay DPL and APL frame guides with tiCH inserts, EVA split grips, anodized aluminum reel lockdown, and laser etched butt cap. Retail on these rods ranges from $79.95 to $89.95 depending on the model.
Wright and McGill Skeet Reese Signature Series
These rods, released at ICAST 2009, were designed in conjunction with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Skeet Reese. Two proprietary blanks are featured in the series, S-Curve and Tri-Gressive S-Glass. Their S-Curve blanks are utilized on majority of the casting models tout a proprietary process that combine various combinations of T-Glass, carbon yarn, PBO fiber & carbon tape to make a strong yet lightweight blank. Whereas, the Tri-Gressive S- Glass blanks utilize three layers of connective directionally opposed fibers bonded with environmentally friendly resin. Other prominent design features include zirconium oxide guides; split grip molded rubber handle construction, as well as, Skeet’s signature black and yellow color scheme. There are a total of 6 casting and 2 spinning models with a retail of $89.99.
Lamiglas Excel Bass
Lamiglas’s foray into the ~$100 market touts an American made construction with an unadvertised IM blank construction. Components includes American Tackle Halide Guides, Fuji reel seat, and split grip cork handle construction. There are a total of 7 casting and 3 spinning technique specific models available at $99.95.
Temple Fork Outfitters Gary Loomis Signature Freshwater Series
Designed in conjunction with Gary Loomis himself TFO set out to make a quality fishing tool that all anglers can afford. There are a total of 9 casting and 11 spinning and 1 spin/fly rod available retailing at $99.95. These rods are all fast action and feature SIC guides, split AAA cork grip with synthetic rings, and color coded butt sections which denote rod power at a glance.
USA Custom Camo Stix
These unique rods took home the “Best of Show” award in the Freshwater Rod category at ICAST 2009. Comprised of 5 casting and 2 spinning models these USA custom rods feature Mossy Oak camouflage break up or duck blind pattern (applied using an innovating liquid graphics process), American engineered blank, Pac Bay guides and reel seats and premium cork handles. Retail $99.99-$109.99.
Bass Pro Shops Carbonlite
These new BPS branded sticks are hitting the shelves supplanting the now discontinued Prolite finesse line. Predominant design features include carbon fiber blank (~IM9), Pac Bay DLC stainless steel frame guides with titanium carbide insert and Physical Vapor Deposition coating, Split grip PTec Poly foam grips, two piece soft touch reel seats, and custom hook keeper. There are a total of 9 casting and 7 spinning models ranging from $89.99 to $119.99.
As one can see, the value rod battle field is getting crowded and there certainly are a number of interesting options. For someone who is in the market for such a rod it can be difficult to weigh in on the multitude of rods available. In the coming months I look forward to putting a number of these sticks to the test. The goal? Sort through the fan fare and “hype” and discern which features and sticks are “legit”.
Looking for one of these new sticks?
Many can be found at: Tackle Warehouse ($10 next day shipping!)