I purchased a new fishing rod the other day. Not that that is any earth-shattering news. Members of my family are used to my occasional splurges on a piece of equipment to further my enjoyment of the outdoors.
But any logical-thinking person who were to look at the four rod-racks in my shop, packed with fishing rods of all colors and lengths, would wonder about my sanity, or at least my intelligence.
They are right, of course. A person can get by with one or two fishing rods for pretty much any of the kinds of fishing we do around here. Maybe a spinning rod for fishing the creeks and rivers, and another rod, built with a little more backbone, for the larger fish we pursue, would suffice.
I, like many other anglers, have fishing rods that, at least to me, are more finely-tuned to the various types of fish that we try to catch in the Northwest.
Yes, for trout fishing I have a spinning rod. Well, actually I believe I have four spinning rods. And I have a lighter spinning rod that I have designated just for fishing for shad in the Columbia. Would one of my trout rods work for that? Yes, but it is nice to go to one of the rod racks and know I have a spinning rod ready to rock when the feisty shad start swimming up the Columbia by the millions.
Same goes for walleye rods. I am sure one of the trout rods would work. But I like using a level wind reel for trolling for walleyes, so I have a couple of rods rigged just for that. Again, when one of my buddies calls and says “let’s go find some walleyes,” I can walk out to the shop and grab my two walleye rods, rigged and ready to go. No switching reels, no running line through eyes, no tying on terminal gear, just throw them in my truck and we’re off.
Speaking of off, my wife Terri thinks I might be just that. When she looks at the plethora of poles, she asks, “do you really need that many rods?” Of course, the truthful answer is no. And I tell her so. But then I start explaining about the trout rods and the walleye rods her eyes kind of glass over and she wanders back to the house.
Over the years, Terri has learned it is best not to ask. At least I’m not one of those guys who has 30 rifles and shotguns in the gun safe. Oh, wait. That’s not a good example. At least I’m not one of the people who has a garage full of golf clubs.
The new fishing rod recently purchased is not a fancy, expensive thing. In fact, it might be described as mundane, humdrum, unexciting, or even boring.
I own some high-dollar rods made by G. Loomis and Shimano. I have several Lamiglas rods. But to a one, they’ve not stood the test of time in the hands of a somewhat clumsy angler who will trip and fall while walking down a trail to the river, or set a 25-pound anchor on them or, well, you get the idea. Even the expensive rods will lose the insert in an eyelet or break when trying to pull a seven dollar lure off of a sunken stump.
Because I fish for salmon and steelhead more than anything else, I’m proud to say I have LOTS of different rods just for fishing for those species. I know a few people who have way more salmon rods than me, but that’s their problem.
The main reason I like having several salmon and steelhead rods is, I often-times take people in my boat who don’t have a bunch of salmon rods. In fact, they don’t have any, so I provide them for them. And, in today’s world of finicky fish, you need extra-long rods to handle all the extra flashers and divers and sliders and stuff that is on the line ahead of the lures. And you need medium-length rods to fish with plugs and other baits.
Believe me, it’s a thing. Again, think about it like golf clubs. You need one club to hit 275 yards and you need another to hit 100 yards.
My new salmon rod is a Shakespeare Ugly Stick. It is eight-and-a-half feet long, and from what I have experienced with two of the smaller Ugly Stick rods I own, this one should be virtually indestructible, even in my hands.
When we fished with a guide up in Alaska this past summer, he used nothing but rods like the one I just bought. He uses them for salmon and halibut and they worked great. No, they’re nothing to brag about with your highfalutin friends at your highfalutin dinner parties. But, luckily I don’t have or attend any of those.
So, did I need a new fishing rod? Nope. But ever since I hauled in a 40-pound halibut with the Ugly Stick last summer I have wanted one. Believe me, the new rod will get a good workout in the months ahead. We’ll see just how indestructible it is.
Next on my list to purchase, is another rod rack. Evidently, I’m going to need it.
• Rob Phillips is an award-winning freelance outdoor writer who has written the Northwest Sportsman column for over 30 years. He can be reached at email@example.com