Pinnacle Tournament Class Perfecta DHC5 Rod / Performa XT
By John Francho
Have you ever wanted a spinning rod with just a bit more oomf?
Often when fishing for smallmouth in places like Lake Erie, Oneida Lake, or Chaumont Bay on Lake Ontario, I wondered why it's so hard to find a rod with the right oomf. What the heck is oomf? I have several models - medium, medium light, fast, slow, moderate - but certain techniques seem to sit in the middle. They need more oomf from the rod. I have casting gear that will handle lighter baits, but it's not as practical. When you are fishing in forty feet of water, it's easier to just flip the bail open, and let the bait drop than deal with paying out line on casting gear. Spinning gear seems to handle lighter line better as well.
The baits I am referring to? The ones that need some oomf! Football jigs in smaller weights, like 5/16 oz. and 3/8 oz. and bigger. That might not sound like a lot of weight, but add in a big old spider grub, and you get the picture. Tubes that are bigger than usual sizes, like ½- or even ¾-ounce are no issue. Ever try to get a grub down 20 feet in 20 mph winds? That’s what those ½ ounce ballheads are for – this rod can do it. When it’s really windy, and I'm dragging a drop shot, I'll use up to 3/4 oz. weight to keep my bait on the bottom. Lastly: suspending jerkbaits. I prefer casting gear for this, but in spring and fall faced with fishing points into the wind, I'll take a spinning rig any day.
That is a tall order. I'm looking for an extra fast taper with slightly better than just plain old medium and in a spinning configuration. Pinnacle. Yep, they have one, and it's pretty sweet. Their new Tournament Class Perfecta DHC5-681SPM spinning rod is the answer. The moment I unwrapped this rod, I could tell it was a little bit different. "Really fast, and stout," I thought to myself. The detailing this rod is very nice, from the knurled check on the fore grip, to the simple matt finish on the blank. There is quite a bit of bling to this rod considering it retails for $159.99. Pinnacle labels this as a Finesse, Tube, Grub rod, and they couldn't be more on the money. I would add that it makes a fine jerk bait rod on windy days. The rod uses light weight components, and is every bit as sensitive as other rods in my locker costing $300 or more. I would put right in there with St. Croix's Avid series in the bang for the buck category. That's nice company.
I paired this rod up with their Performa XT PEF30. Spooled with 6-pound fluorocarbon, this was a perfect match with the Perfecta rod. For $99.99, this reel has a few features that surprised me. One, a sealed multi disk drag system not unlike what is in reels costing $50 more might have. It isn't the lightest reel at 9.9 ounce, but feels great paired with the Tournament Class rods. It has a very unique oversize line roller. I am in the crowd that manually flips the bail back and seats the line on the roller rather than simply turn the handle to engage the reel. This arrangement is by far the most trouble free operation I've ever encountered. It does seem to reduce some twist, though I've only really fished two tournaments with it. The coin slot for easy maintenance of the roller bearing is a nice touch. So often, this little bearing gets neglected is probably the most oft replaced bearing in spinning gear. The whole mechanism is just two parts - the cover and bearing, and the roller sleeve. No little parts wandering under the fridge when doing winter maintenance.
Together on the water, this setup performed without issue in two tournament settings. I fished the combo nearly 90% of the time for practice days and tournaments on both Oneida Lake and Chaumont Bay, Lake Ontario. I really can't count how many smallmouth I caught on the combo, including a 5.05 pound smallmouth in Chaumont Bay. The rod felt like it been in my arsenal for a long time, and the more fish I caught, the more confident I was using it.
I started with 5/8 ounce spider jigs, and later moved up to some heavier tubes. As I described earlier, this rod is stout and I had no issue making two handed snap casts with over ½ ounce weight tied on. On some of my lighter, whippy rigs, that would have resulted in me going to the ER to remove some fishing jewelry! As far as handling fish, like I said I whipped a big girl to submission without much ado - a few nice jumps, and into the net.
Later, we found the jerk bait bite to start to turn on, and after backlashing twice with my usual casting stick, I tried the Perfecta/Performa combo. Perfect! Strong enough to whip a Pointer 100SP into westerly Lake Ontario wind and with a nice fast recovery for that twitch-twitch-twitch-pause retrieve we like.
Overall this is a rod and reel that I might have overlooked, just reading the stat sheet. In hand, it is a highly valuable and versatile tool. It's got oomf!