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NewRiver

What's your favorite River smallmouth Rod and WHY?

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The why is the important part of this thread. I've been on a quest to find that perfect soft plastics rod because that is what I primarily fish and I have it narrowed to two different rods.

Rod number one is a 7'6" ML spinning rod.

Rod number two is a 7' M spinning rod.

The 7'6" ML is a good all around river Rod. When I can only carry one this is the Rod I carry. It really excels at casting small lightly weighted plastics a long ways. The Rod has a fast tip and can detect real light takes, but has enough backbone to set a hook effectively.

The 7' M is also a good river rod. I've never really liked M action rods for River smallmouth. I felt they were just too stiff feeling and not as sensitive as a ML action. On my search for that perfect Rod I've changed my mind. I've noticed I lose significantly more fish with the 6'9" ML I previously fished with due to poor hook sets. I feel the M power really helps drive the hook home and as a result less fish throwing the hook. I feel I lose a little sensitivity with the M power but it more than makes up for this tiny flaw due to more landed fish.

All rods are not created equal. The 6'9" ML doesn't have the same backbone as the 7'6" ML even though it's the same model/brand of Rod. I lose less fish with the longer Rod as opposed to the shorter Rod. 

I fish primarily tubes, senkos, flukes, and hellgramites. I've fished for River smallmouth since I was a kid and to me it's the perfect gamefish.

Sorry this is long winded but it's my passion. I'd like to hear other opinions and suggestions on the subject. I'm always eager to learn from others. 

 

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For all around soft plastics I would go with a Medium power rod in whatever length suits your needs. I personally like something around 6'6" out of the yak.  With the medium you you are less likely to have a jig and plastic overpowering the rod.  At the same time you can throw a "weightless" Texas rig as well.   For wacky rigs I personally like a ML rod.

Edited by Frenchman83
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Depends on the amount of current. All medium or medium light rods are not created equal. Some have more power, a faster tip, less progressive action, etc. I like a rod around 6'10 with a fast tip, yet a blank that has a nice progressive bend to it rather than shutting off really quick. I no longer do spinning gear,but once upon a time I had a Falcon Cara T7, 6'9 medium that was river magic - river made. 

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Mine is a AVS69MLXF st Croix avid spinning rod... This rod has been the best, most sensitive rod I've ever owned. I actually bought it for walleye fishing and found it handled everything great... Love it!

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For clarification here are the specs for the Medium spinning rod that I mentioned above. Extra Fast, 6-12lb line, 3/16-5/8oz

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3 hours ago, The Young Gun said:

Mine is a AVS69MLXF st Croix avid spinning rod... This rod has been the best, most sensitive rod I've ever owned. I actually bought it for walleye fishing and found it handled everything great... Love it!

Those avids are a nice rod. The 7' M action rod I have is the avid x. 

The 7'6" ML I'm fishing with is a fenwick HMG and it's a lot of rod for the money, but not quite as sweet as the avid.

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I have a few that I really like for jigs and soft plastics in current, but use them for pretty different things.  

I have a Rage 6'9 Med F (or XF, I forget offhand) casting Rod that is a great for anything I plan on keeping on the bottom.  Typically, this stick has a jig/craw, heavier weighted fluke, etc tied to it.  When I'm throwing tubes 1/4oz or more or football/rugby heads this is a great Rod.  

I also have a 6'9 MLXF Avid X that is just killer for fishing grubs, weightless soft plastics, light poppers, drop shots, etc.. It's really become one of my favorite rods and I can't recommend one enough for anyone fishing smallmouth in rivers.  

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G.Loomis PR844S/ Stella 2500FD/ Yo-Zuri Hybrid #4/ Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Hooks #6. This is my split shot rig used for fishing live minnows.

For weighted soft plastics St. Croix LES70MF/ Stella 2500/ Yo-Zuri Hybrid #4.

Weightless soft plastics, especially Senko and Fat Ika, custom build by DVT, MHX-SJ843/ Stella 1000FA/ #4 Hybrid.

Grok Custom Rainshadow Immortal IMMWS72ML/ Stella 2500/ #4 Hybrid for light lures and especially the Megabass Ito Vision 110.

:fishing-026:

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I fish a river for smallmouth bass most of the time and I have one spinning rod and one casting rod I use.  If I'm bank fishing I take both of them, if I'm wading I only take one and it's usually the casting rod.

Spinning rod - G. Loomis GLX WPJR 821S. This is a walleye jig pitching rod. 6'10" Mag-Light power/XF action, 1/16-5/16 ounce lure weight. I use 10# braid with 8# fluorocarbon leader. This rod is used for small jig heads and plastics, or light t-rigged plastics. This is my most effective rod. I've never used a more sensitive rod, I can feel everything. Despite the Mag-Light power, with the braid when I set the hook it's solid and I rarely lose a fish once I set the hook. But my casting rod is my favorite river smallmouth rod...

Casting rod - G. Loomis NRX MBR 842C.  7' Med power/Fast action, 1/8-3/8 ounce lure weight (other rod manufacturer's ML??).  This is my favorite rod because I enjoy using a casting rod more than a spinning rod, but it's not as effective as my spinning rod. At least not yet... I'm using 10# fluorocarbon mainline and have tried 5 different lines (Red Label, Invizx, Abrazx, Sniper, Gander Mountain) and I lose about 50% of my fish after I set the hook. I'm using primarily finesse jigs and t-rigged plastics, normally 3/16 ounce. When I reel down and set the hook straight up it feels like there is so much stretch the rod keeps going past my head and I have to quickly reel and see if the fish is still there. The only time I get a solid hookset is if the fish is very close to me. The 10# GM fluorocarbon didn't have as much stretch but is MUCH thicker than the other brands and harder to cast light baits with. So I've just about come to the conclusion that with this rod I need to use braid for better hooksets so that it becomes my favorite and my most effective river smallmouth rod.

Sorry for the rant, this is my passion too... :)

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Hmm...That makes no sense to me. Although line stretch can be bothersome, it really does not have that much impact on most fishing techniques that involve relatively short casts (<30 yards). Try using a snap-set so that you maintain constant pressure during and after the initial pop. I suspect you are losing the fish due to slack line before you recover from your power set. I have a GLX MBR842C that might be my favorite rod, too! I don't think the problem is with the rod.

:fishing-026:

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50 minutes ago, roadwarrior said:

Hmm...That makes no sense to me. Although line stretch can be bothersome, it really does not have that much impact on most fishing techniques that involve relatively short casts (<30 yards). Try using a snap-set so that you maintain constant pressure during and after the initial pop. I suspect you are losing the fish due to slack line before you recover from your power set. I have a GLX MBR842C that might be my favorite rod, too! I don't think the problem is with the rod.

:fishing-026:

Thanks RW! It really doesn't make any sense to me either but line stretch is all I can come up with as my problem. A long hook set for me might be 20 yards at most (I am wading though so angle is low to the water). I feel the bite, reel in slack until the rod starts to load up and set hard straight over my head. The rod goes past my head and I reel like crazy until the rod loads back up again and fight the fish. Half the time the fish comes off after a few seconds. I never have this problem with my lighter-powered spinning rod with braided line. When I set the hook with my Mag-Light spinning rod it's solid.

So you are saying I might be setting the hook too hard and I should just snap my rod tip up? I'll definitely give that a try.

My apologies to the OP for hijacking the thread!

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6 hours ago, Steveo-1969 said:

Thanks RW! It really doesn't make any sense to me either but line stretch is all I can come up with as my problem. A long hook set for me might be 20 yards at most (I am wading though so angle is low to the water). I feel the bite, reel in slack until the rod starts to load up and set hard straight over my head. The rod goes past my head and I reel like crazy until the rod loads back up again and fight the fish. Half the time the fish comes off after a few seconds. I never have this problem with my lighter-powered spinning rod with braided line. When I set the hook with my Mag-Light spinning rod it's solid.

So you are saying I might be setting the hook too hard and I should just snap my rod tip up? I'll definitely give that a try.

My apologies to the OP for hijacking the thread!

Your not hijacking the thread, no worries. I figure the problem with the casting rod is not using braid. When I made the switch to braid with my spinning rod I lost significantly less fish. I think your right with the line stretch issue. I fish the yellow power pro on streams with a 6-8lb flouro leader and it works well. The bright yellow braid helps me really see the line and really be able to follow my bait. I just adjust the length of the leader depending on water conditions.

Roadwarriors suggestion seems pretty solid as well, might just be getting a touch of slack in your line.

 

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7'0 medium light fast st croix rod. I do alittle bit of everything with it. It might not be the best for any of the applications I use it for but it's the most fun. Nothing like have the rod bent in half and a angry smallmouth pulling some drag under the boat. 

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14 hours ago, NewRiver said:

Your not hijacking the thread, no worries. I figure the problem with the casting rod is not using braid. When I made the switch to braid with my spinning rod I lost significantly less fish. I think your right with the line stretch issue. I fish the yellow power pro on streams with a 6-8lb flouro leader and it works well. The bright yellow braid helps me really see the line and really be able to follow my bait. I just adjust the length of the leader depending on water conditions.

Roadwarriors suggestion seems pretty solid as well, might just be getting a touch of slack in your line.

 

I agree that using braid with my casting rod will probably fix my hook set problem, but I'm going to give fluoro mainline a try for a little bit longer and play with my hook set technique some more as RW suggested.  If I can't get it to work for me then braid it is. I break off often in my rocky river and don't want to be tying on leaders all the time but I'll do it if it means more fish landed.

On my spinning rod I use 10# Sufix 832 in neon lime for visibility and 8# fluoro for a leader. I love that system and would never use mono or fluoro mainline on this rod.

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2 hours ago, Steveo-1969 said:

I agree that using braid with my casting rod will probably fix my hook set problem, but I'm going to give fluoro mainline a try for a little bit longer and play with my hook set technique some more as RW suggested.  If I can't get it to work for me then braid it is. I break off often in my rocky river and don't want to be tying on leaders all the time but I'll do it if it means more fish landed.

On my spinning rod I use 10# Sufix 832 in neon lime for visibility and 8# fluoro for a leader. I love that system and would never use mono or fluoro mainline on this rod.

 

I'm a very big braid advocate, but rivers especially shaped my opinion.  It just has too many benefits to ignore and use it as main line on both, spinning and casting gear, but I think there is a learning curve, too. 

First, I like the responsiveness and lack of stretch.  Especially while fishing current seems where current changes direction, speed, or intensity, I like knowing that the fish won't likely out run my hook set or allow the current to botch the tension so long as you pay attention to my second point.  

Two, braid floats.  This is a curse and a blessing.  The blessing is that it allows you to watch line as you would with a fly rod.  The curse is that wind, changes in current, etc can all cause bowing in the line, creating slack and effecting your drift.  I'm more recent to fishing with the fly, but it's helped my fishing with braid also in the sense that I've learned to better place casts (when possible) and also the importance of learning to mend line (for this, I actually favor longer rods on the river than most kayak guys). 

Three, it allows you to alter your leader pretty easily to match conditions.  Fishing grass lines in moderate current? It's easy to tie on 4-6' of InvisX.  Fishing nasty boulders and snaggy snags? You can easily prep a leader of 12lb Hybrid which is d**n near indestructible in rocks and wood. Do you want some stretch for treble hooked lures? Pick up a spool of Cortland mono that normally fishes like a bungee cord. It's a nightmare for long hook sets as a main line, but as a 5-6' leader it adds a little functional stretch. 

Four - it saves me a fortune.  If I can get a solid 2 seasons out of a spool of braid and only use 4-6' lengths of leader line, spools of mono, floro, copolymer, etc last d**n near forever so long as they stay dry, cool, and relatively dark.  

Five - With a good connection knot, I have very few knot problems, even with microguides on most of my rods and I just use simple double uni knots.  

For river fishing, in 90% of applications, I'll take braid over anything else.  

 

 

 

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Thank you for your comments Mr. Sandwich.  Well thought out arguments for the advantages of using braid in rivers. It's very possible I will end up there.

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Thank you.  It's not perfect, and there are situations where straight FC makes more sense, but braid has been really good to me on rivers. 

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I just picked up an nrx 852c and it is definitely my favorite river smallie rod.  Its just so versatile.  So far my favorite techniques on it are senkos, Ned rig, grubs, poppers and jerkbaits. 

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the nrx 852s. hands down the most sensitive rod I have ever used with perfect power and action for non treble baits < 3/8oz.

 

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This isn't gonna help much...but my favorite river (small rivers up here) is a 9 ft TFO Axiom 8 wt. fly rod with a Rio Outbound Intermediate sink tip on it.  It's got a Nautilus CCF No. 8 Reel on it...and it rocks...

Followed very closely by a Cabela's L-Tech 8 Wt. with a Airflo streamer floating line on it...it sports a Lamson LiteSpeed reel...it also rocks...it can chuck a little yellow gurgler 60 ft. with ease (if needed) and pick up fish like this all day:

56B2F43A-1047-43C5-A267-C95917B1CA9E_zps

There's a Scott S4S in the rotation too....Lamson Guru 3.5 HD with a Scientific Anglers transparent sink tip on it...this is the finesse rod of finesse rods...

...but if I'm limited to spinning/casting gear...

Spinning: St. Croix 6' 10" Legend Extreme with a Quantum Exo sporting 28# Gliss this season...with a 6' - 8' ft. leader or Lake Forks Co-Poly 10# as a leader.

Casting: St. Croix Rage 7' 1" ML with an Abu Garcia LTX with 30# Suffix 832 in bright green so I can see the line move...same leader set up as above.

IMO, on my rivers here, fly rods out produce gear, most days.  I could be wrong, but as a dedicated non-purist...that's how I roll here.

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Smallmouth on the fly are a blast!  I have a Sage VXP 6wt and I'm likely to pick up either an Orvis Access or St Croix Legend Elite 8wt for heavier weighted flies and heavy streamers.  I'm slowly getting less terrible with the whippy stick, and it's a lot of fun.  

*Orvis Recon, rather. 

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9 hours ago, Turkey sandwich said:

Smallmouth on the fly are a blast!  I have a Sage VXP 6wt and I'm likely to pick up either an Orvis Access or St Croix Legend Elite 8wt for heavier weighted flies and heavy streamers.  I'm slowly getting less terrible with the whippy stick, and it's a lot of fun.  

*Orvis Recon, rather. 

They are - I've found 8 wt. rods are better for me with the bigger flies.  I think you'll like the heavier line weights.  

As for getting better...like everything else it's all about practice.  I spend about 20 - 30 minutes lawn casting most days.  I'm building muscle memory.

I work my way around the house so I have to deal with the wind from every direction.

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That's my thought process, only Philly makes yard casting hard.  The 8wt will also work for stripers and bonefish.  

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