Gerald and Robbie Olive took the win in the local “Fishers of Men” tournament this past weekend with a stringer of five smallmouth that pulled the scales down to a little over 26 pounds. The tournament was held on Wilson Lake in Alabama.
GSX Titanium Casting Rod Split Grip
These are some of the best feeling and sensitive rods I’ve ever used. I personally own eight of these rods now. They are no longer available!
One Piece Frame
70-million modulus linear graphite blank
Titanium solid strips help strengthen the butt
Fuji “Soft Touch” exposed ACS/IPS reel seat
Fuji Concept aluminum oxide guides
Machine double anodized aluminum locking hood
Lengths available: 6’6″ – 7’6″
This is a one piece rod!
In this article it will try to explain the difference in a lot of the rods out there on the market. Hope this will help you understand a little more about them.
Rod Construction and Actions
What is Graphite?
Carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer or carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic is an extremely strong and light fiber-reinforced polymer which contains carbon fibers. The polymer is most often epoxy, but other polymers, such as polyester, vinyl ester or nylon, are sometimes used.
The composite may contain other fibers, such as Kevlar, aluminum, or glass fibers, as well as carbon fiber. The strongest and most expensive of these additives, carbon nanotubes, are contained in some fishing rods.
Although carbon fiber can be relatively expensive, improved manufacturing techniques are reducing the costs and time to manufacture, making it increasingly common in small consumer goods as well, such as certain fishing rods.
Carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer weighs less than steel, aluminum, or titanium. The choice of carbon-fiber weave can be carefully selected to maximize stiffness and minimize the chance of failure.
While carbon-fiber frames and components can be both lighter and stiffer those made of traditional metals, under some circumstances they have shown significant rates of cracking and failure.
Graphite is the most common rod material today, and is the lightest and strongest material. However, there are many varieties of graphite, depending on manufacturing quality and process, and thus graphite rods range widely in cost. Graphite rods, especially higher-end models, tend to be thin and a susceptible to breaking if they are chipped, scratched, or cracked. Lower-end graphite rods, these days, are probably almost as durable as fiberglass rods. Most high-end rods have lifetime warranties, partly because they do tend to break more often.
- IM = Intermediate Modulus
- HM = High Modulus
(One thing you should know is there is no industry standard for IM6, IM7and IM8)
It’s a “range” that manufacturers use to classify their rods according to the “modulus” or “tensile strength”.
Modulus is a term that describes the stiffness to weight ratio of the graphite that’s used to create the rod blank.
Here’s how it works….when you cast a lure, the rod flexes with the weight of the lure, storing energy as it flexes. When the motion of the rod stops, the rod flexes and releases all of its stored energy to propel the lure.
When you increase the modulus of the graphite, you increase the ability of that graphite to store and release energy. You also increase the speed that the rod releases the stored energy. That in turn, increases the lure speed that is generated in the cast. Increase the modulus and you increase the reaction speed and power of the rod blank.
The higher the modulus of graphite, the higher the stiffness to weight ratio will be (i.e. lighter and stiffer). a 57 million modulus graphite rod will be lighter and stiffer (therefore more brittle) than a rod rated at 44 million modulus.
- Standard Graphite – 33 million modulus
- IM6 graphite is approximately 33 million modulus
- IM7 graphite is approximately 44 million modulus
- IM8 graphite is approximately 51 million modulus
The higher the modulus, the more expensive the rod will be.
IM 7 graphite offers a nice compromise being light, sensitive and not overly expensive for the type of fishing you do.
Below is a general example of modulus ratings using (G Loomis) rods for example.
- IM6 – 38 million modulus
- GL3 – 47 million modulus (IM8)
- GL2 – 42 million modulus (IM7)
- IMX – 55 million modulus
- GLX – 65 million modulus
Increased modulus results in increased costs.
(The highest modulus graphite material costs as much as ten times more than standard graphite.)
The drawback with increased modulus is the rod blank tends to be somewhat “brittle” and more likely to break from impact fracture, such as dropping the rod on a hard surface. If you tend be abusive with your gear, it would be wise to back away from the top modulus rods and choose something in the mid range that will offer more durability. (Before you purchase a rod, especially the high priced, high modulus, be sure that it is backed by a lifetime warranty.)
Below are some explanations of rod materials:
When a bar is pulled in tension, it has to get longer. The tensile modulus is used to calculate how much longer it will get when a certain load is applied to it. Units are normally millions of pounds per square inch. Higher numbers indicate materials which will not elongate as much as others when they are being compared under equal tensile loading conditions.” That elongation, or elasticity, is what allows the rod to spring and bend back.
So (grossly over simplifying) a rod made of IM6 can be built with similar strength and flex characteristics to a rod that uses cheaper material, while making the tube wall thinner, which in theory makes the rod lighter and more sensitive. On the other hand, just because a rod is built using IM6 does not mean it’s a great rod.
Exactly how the material is laid up in the blank, whether any other material (other graphite composites, fiberglass, aramid and gel-spun polys for instance) the taper, length, all go towards making a good blank. These things also affect the action (fast or slow taper). Then to make a good rod, you have to worry about the seat and handle, and how it’s connected, guide material and so on.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both fiberglass and graphite, depending on what they are used for.
Fiberglass (for example – Ugly Sticks) is much more flexible and can handle abuse (usually inflicted by the angler, seldom by the fish) much better than graphite, although it is a little heavier and less sensitive.
Fiberglass rods are much better suited where the rod is under constant pressure and sensitivity is not really an issue. Most other applications are better served by graphite rods (although many anglers still prefer fiberglass for all of their fishing).
IM6, IM8, HM, Titanium. What does it all mean?
Companies like St. Croix, Shimano, for example believe it or not, are still built by hand, rolling graphite material on to tapered steel mandrels. They have dozens of models; it means having a lot of different size and tapered.
It should be noted here that most of the rods sold under store names (Gander Mountain, BPS, etc.) are not made by the companies that have their name on them, but rather by rod manufacturer’s to their own specifications.
A little more about graphite constructed rods. Graphite is rated by “Modulus of Elasticity,” referring to the relationship between stress and strain. It usually defines the stiffness to weight ratio of the fibers used to construct the rod blank.
The higher the modulus of the fiber used to make the blank, the lighter the resulting blank can be for any given stiffness. A graphite fiber called IM6, you had a high modulus, high strain rate graphite that made it possible to produce a lighter, more sensitive rod.
The modulus of graphite used in rods keeps getting higher and higher, making for more sensitive, lighter and more efficient rods. With that comes a trade off. There is no doubt that the higher the modulus rod, the easier it is to break and the less (angler) abuse that it can take.
Graphite in of itself is very strong and the increasingly high modulus of top end graphite enables rod blanks to become lighter and more sensitive due to the ability to make blanks with thinner walls.
The downside to this is thin walls just cannot stand up to rough handling they are much more susceptible to breakage because of angler misuse. The type of fishing that you do and the way that you treat your equipment should determine your rod choice.
- (Q): Is there any benefit to using a high-modulus, top of the line rod for using one for jigging?
- (A): Only you can decide if the benefit increase can justify the large cost increase.
There are a couple of things to look for when purchasing a new rod (in addition to the blank itself)
Check out the grips. Not all cork is created equal! Quality cork rings are VERY expensive and other than a few of the top companies, few use them.
Guides are another area where corners can be cut by manufacturers. There are 3 main guide manufactures, Fuji, PacBay and American Tackle, that are used by the top end companies. Many manufactures cut corners by using cheap components.
Look at rods made by St. Croix, for example and compare the guides components on the other rods to them. You will be amazed at the difference, not only in the quality but the number, size and spacing. There are some very good less expensive quality rods out there that use the same components as these.
Look for quality of workmanship.
Guides: You want to inspect the guide wraps closely. Make absolutely certain that the epoxy coating completely covers the base of the guide foot. If water gets down in, it’s only a matter of time before the guide will fail.
Action and Power
Action is used to describe the flex point of a rod, not its power. Generally, a “Fast” action rod will flex in the upper 1/3 of the blank, a “Medium” or “Moderate” action will flex in the upper ½ of its length and a “Slow” action all the way to the butt.
Action and Power, when used in connection with fishing rods, are often misused.
Action is simply put, the way a rod or blank bends.
This is described by four different terms:
- Extra Fast: Flex in the upper 1/4 of the rod blank.
- Fast: Flex in the upper 1/3 of the rod blank.
- Moderate: Flex in the upper 1/2 of the rod blank.
- Slow: Flex is from the lower 1/3 of the rod blank.
Power of a Rod
Power is best described as the amount of energy or force that is needed to make a rod blank bend. Power generally refers to a rod’s stiffness or resistance to bending and is usually defined in terms like Ultra-light, light, medium, etc.
You can have light power with a fast action rod which is light and flexes in the upper third or a light power with a slow action rod which would be the same power but flexes all the way into the butt. Again, this should be determined by the type of fishing that you will be doing with the rod.
For most bass fishing, a “Fast Action” is the general purpose, with some slower actions for treble hooked lures and some “Extra Fast” for real specifics techniques.
Power is usually going to be related to what you are throwing.
A stiffer rod can handle a heavier lure. Sometimes there are stiff rods with light tips so you can get a workhorse rod that will throw a small lure.
One manufacturer (CastAway) uses the following power ratings to rate its rods.
- Power 1 – Ultralight
- Power 2 – Light
- Power 3 – Medium Light
- Power 4 – Medium
- Power 5 – Medium Heavy
- Power 6 – Heavy
- Power 7 – Extra Heavy
For more info check out this article from On Track Fishing.
How to Fish the LB Lure’s Bloom’n Jig®
By Larry Brackin of LB Lure’s
I eased up on a small underwater hump I found in practice for an upcoming tournament on famous Lake Guntersville. I got out one of my favorite big fish rigs and made a long cast towards the middle of the hump. The lure settled to the bottom and I slowly lifted the rod in a slow smooth arch. About a third of the way back to the boat I felt the rod load up and I reeled in the slack and set the hook hard. I could tell from the strain on the heavy rod that this was a very good size bass. After about a 3 minute battle I slowly slide my hand onto the lower lip of this Guntersville hog. It topped the scales out at a tad over 9 pounds.
Looking for a big fish lure that most fish have never seen before? Then you’ve found the perfect bait. It all started when I kept noticing I was getting bites on my Carolina rig, but when I set the hook the fish were hitting the lead weight instead of the lizard I normally used. I knew they were hitting the lead weight, because I was seeing teeth marks on the sinker.
First I designed a proto type lure in which I ran a hole through the jig to use as a weight. I still had a few hits but it was very hard to get a solid hook-up. I though “If I could come up with a floating jig that might be the answer”.
So back to the work shop I went, I tried all sorts of floats, Styrofoam, cork, plastics and finally hit on the head I’m using now. I have them especially made for me to use on the Bloom’n Jig®. I finally got all the bugs worked out and now have the perfect floating jig for a Carolina rig.
The Bloom’n Jig® is a semi-suspending jig that weighs virtually nothing. There is not really any difference in fishing the Bloom’n Jig®, than fishing with a lizard, worm or creature bait, on a Carolina rig.
I use a 24” to 36” leader most of the time (I actually prefer a 30” leader). I use 3/4 oz. lead weight, #8 bead and a #7 barrel swivel. You can use any size swivel and sinker you prefer. I prefer the long round slender finesse weight from BPS. They seem to hang less than the standard worm weights normally used in Carolina rigged fishing. Let the bass tell you which you’ll need to use for that fishing trip.
I use a heavy action 7’ to 7’6” high quality graphite rod. The reel needs to be a high speed 6.3:1 gear ratio. Line size varies, but a 17 pound main line and a 12 to 14 pound leader should do in most cases. I like any type of the “Fluorocarbon” lines. Since the bite is usually very light.
Trailers, Trailers, Trailers
There are a ton of different plastic trailers on the market today. For the Bloom’n Jig® I usually have a few favorite. The Zoom® “Super Chunk Jr.” plastic chunks are very good. I also use the NetBait ® 4″ Baby Paca Craw. The one problem with the “Paca Craw” is that when you get a hit on the jig, one of the pinchers will usually be torn off.
Try to keep the plastic trailer on the small size to enhance the slow floating undulating fall of the lure. I’ve also had good success on the 3” to 4” twin tail grubs. As for colors, try to match the trailers with the head colors.
Fishing the Bloom’n Jig®
Most bites you get on the jig, you will not feel. If you do feel the bite, it is generally a small fish. Most bites are the type where the fish swims off with the lure or your line just gets heavy. I would say fish the jig like you normally fish any other Carolina rigged lure.
I lift my rod in small amounts, not letting my rod get very high. Sometimes I fish the jig by keeping my rod low and reeling line in very slowly. Your hook-set can be the same as with other Carolina rig fishing. Smallmouth and largemouth both seem to like the jig. It seems to catch larger fish rather than small fish. The jig will hang up, but it normally doesn’t hang as bad as plastic rigs.
I think if you will give the lure a chance, especially as the water gets warmer, you will be glad you did. It’s important to be patient with the lure and not give up on it too early. It took me a few fishing trips to master the rig before I really started catching fish on it. But now it is one of my favorite rigs to use, especially in the warmer months. Give them a try and get hooked on them as I did.
Good fishing with whatever you use.
Contact LB @ email@example.com
I received this photo today from a good buddy of mine Richard Moebes with a nice “HAWG” he caught on “The Alabama Rig” He stated he caught it and the other bass back in December on Lake Guntersville. This one went 8.5 pounds and his best five that day weighed 29.5 pounds. All were caught on “The Alabama Rig” in about 8 feet of water. They came from the mid section of Lake Guntersville.
Check out this limit of bass caught this past weekend on “The “Big Doug” spinnerbait from a local tournament on Pickwick Lake. These five bass weighted in at 32 pounds! While everyone else was throwing the hottest lure around for cold water big bass (The Alabama Rig), Tony Morgan and his partner caught this limit and won the tournament they were fishing with the “Big Doug” spinnerbait.