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Paul Roberts

Rod Balance and Sensitivity

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How do you like your rods balanced, off your rod hand? Dead center, slightly tip heavy, slightly butt heavy? Do you think there's any detectable difference? About to glue down a handle, and I'm at the nit-picky stage. Opinions?

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I have no right or wrong on this, other than I know when I don't like the feel.  I had a typical MH/F rod that was awful feeling with one reel on it.  Put another on, and it was great.  Hard to say what the difference was.  On my centrepin rods, I generally tape the reel on the Tennessee grip where it's comfortable to fight a fish, and still have leverage behind the reel.  I guess if I were you, I'd be taping it in several positions and testing it out.

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I like all my bait casting rods to balance right where my middle finger rests on the underside of the rod when I palm the reel.  My spinning rods and fly rods, I balance the rod where my index finger rests on the underside of the rod.  As J Francho said, there is no real answer to this as it is a personal preference to what you like. 

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There's no right or wrong. It's 100% personal preference. Personally, it pains me add weight of any kind to a high end blank we pay dearly for due to its light weight. Since mine are all customs I can get a good feeling rod without resorting to added weight. 

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If you haven’t finished the handle it king of depends on what you want it for. If your fishing with your rod tip down always with a certain combo it might be nice to have it a little tip heavy. All around I like it ballenced right where my pointer finger is because it makes it easier to hold the rod all day without getting soreness. But a lot of it is just personal preference.

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tip heavy on my moving bait rods and like Lucky Craft Man said I like the rest of my rods to balance so that when I am palming the reel the balance point is near my middle finger.

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When buying a complete rod, take your reel with you when shopping and put it on the rod.

 

If building, and if what most want to avoid, tip heavy, is important, then buy the lightest blank you can afford, keep it short rather than long, buy the lightest guide train you can find, and do the longest length behind the reel you can live with ergonomically.

 

I agree with DVT, build for ergonomics, add no weight, and it will balance where it balances.  If you build the butt too long, going for balance, you may easily get so long it hangs up on your clothing.  That is much worse than being a little tip heavy.

 

Add a half ounce lure to any rod and it will be tip-heavy.  Also keep in mind that tip-high techniques minimize the importance of balance-all balance when vertical.  And for the cast, add a half ounce lure to . . . .

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I like what Mike did with my rod, he actually had me measure my forearm, and created a rod length between the end of the butt and the casting trigger that goes the length of my forearm without being annoying or getting caught inside of my short sleeves while fishing. When fighting through cover or in a difficult situation having a handle length like that makes the balance point moot since you can hold the rod directly against your forearm as leverage, so even while using it for fishing 25LB salmon out of Wisconsin I had no issues. But when it comes to preference for casting, I prefer it to be dead even right at my reel for balance, or slightly forward. In my opinion it helps me while skipping, and long casts with leverage going into the cast, and fatigue thorough the day.

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Thanks all. I won't be adding weight. This is a Ned/light jig rod so it's all about sensitivity. It's a NFC 6' 0-power XF (Mag-Light) so there's already plenty of mass at the butt end. Going with a cork Tennessee handle, split. I have been taping the reel on in different places to get a feel for it. I'll work my way there. Just wondering what opinions are out there. Thanks again.

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Good grief, that's gonna be sweet!

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1 hour ago, J Francho said:

Good grief, that's gonna be sweet!

That's the plan. Been working my way up to it -upgrading my UL/L sticks.

 

I've been taking my winter fishing a bit more seriously this year, in shooting my winter video fishing journals. First there was buckling down and finding those winter bass, then there were the tackle "upgrades". What I had were 1980's UL's; Not bad rods, just too soft/light for the job. Nice thing about those ElazTech grubs though, the bass will chew on em long enough for the rod to load enough to know what it is that's holding up your retrieve. :)

 

Needing something quick, I took a 6ft IM6 Dick's spin-cast rod I've always liked out of the rack in the garage -no more spin-casters in the family- and, rather crudely, turned it into a spinning rod. Some of those IM6 rods you could find at Galyan's, Dick's, and Wally World were pretty fishable -in shorter lengths. This one was rated MH 8-15lb which is patently ridiculous. It's a 4-8lb F -period. Adequately functional too.

 

Next up I found a Berkley Tactix ("IM7") 6'6" L at Good Will for $4.00 and 40% off. I took it home, cut 3" off it (too soft in the tip) replaced the tip-top and first guide with Alconites. Stripped off the over-sized, and ugly, handle and seat and replaced it with a graphite Tennessee Handle, split. Perfectly functional rod, and much nicer to look at, if you like the tech look. I do.

 

However, my NFC rig will be organic: burnt cork, black Minima guides, nano-light 1st and tip-top (slightly over-sized rings). Either cocoa brown or taupe ("Largie" kind of olive) wraps. Should be pretty, and about as functional as I could wish for. Will post pics when I'm done with it.

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Paul, love your outlook. (on rebuilds) Some older blanks really spring to life with a little modern thinking and some TLC. I think that's more rewarding sometimes than a new build. Your new build sounds great also.

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1 hour ago, Lyman X said:

Paul, love your outlook. (on rebuilds) Some older blanks really spring to life with a little modern thinking and some TLC. I think that's more rewarding sometimes than a new build. Your new build sounds great also.

Yes! Agreed. Rebuilds can be truly rewarding. I really do enjoy bringing out the diamonds from the rough. I must say I'm pretty tickled with that Tactix rod -just a great little blank -just over an ounce with the Minima guides installed. And plenty crisp for sensitivity. The $2.74 price (with a Shimano Sonora -not sure what to do with that) takes it over the top.

 

Yes, good rods have been made for quite some time. I still fish some of my 80s rods regularly. One of my favorites, if not my favorite, is a Skyline 6005 (6ft M) I bought in 1981. It was the most money I'd laid down for a rod at the time, and I could barely afford it. It's been fished hard ever since; I've sure got my money's worth, and then some. I finally gave it a face-lift a couple years ago, replaced the old Fuji's with Alconites, and stripped off all the old Skyline orange (sad to do it as I'm still proud to own that rod) and went all black. And I've just started kicking around the idea of replacing the old EVA and aluminum handle with... something else. Hmmm.... Whatever it is, it'll have to do that wonderful old rod justice.

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Done. Ready to fish. Both are slightly tip heavy. I've come to suspect that detection has most to do with rod movement in the hand, and less to do with mysterious "vibrations transmitted to the hand" -which is why I no longer care about "direct contact with the blank". The most sensitive rod I've fished is my Kistler Helium which is also the lightest (to power) rod I own. Watching takes from fish in slow motion video I can see that the rod moves visibly just before I react -and the Kistler is most easily moved by a fish. It's largely about the weight, I believe, a rigid blank that does not dampen/absorb the all important movement, and then possibly fine-tuning balance. My thinking is that being slightly tip heavy may make the rod easier to tip toward the fish when weight is applied by the fish. This is speculation as I have not devised any objective testing.

 

So.... here are my latest upgrades:

 

On the left is the Berkley Tactix re-build, now 6'3" MF 2-8lb: Gold weave graphite Tennessee handle, split, rubber butt with brass accent ring.  

 

And the NFC XF 4-8lb: Burnt cork Tennessee handle, split, three tone butt, brass accent ring at top of handle, dark cocoa brown wraps, Minima guides, Nanolite tip and first guide, slightly over-sized (7) to help deal with icing.

5a6a058f49f2c_LtJigRods.thumb.jpg.968cd9fcbad11cabd83505af7eef632a.jpg

 

I think I'd have chosen the burl cork over the burnt, for a bit more character. And made the butt piece a bit larger. Guess that'll wait for the next rebuild. Or... I could save that for the next upgrade. :)

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Goodness gracious, those rods look sick!!!

 

Harkening back to my snowboard days with the use of the word sick, a good 20 years ago, lol. 

 

Beautiful work. 

 

 

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I can confirm that "sick" is still a thing.  My 10 yo son said so.

 

Paul, the rods look really nice.  Do you use black tape to attach the reels? 

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19 minutes ago, islandbass said:

Goodness gracious, those rods look sick!!!

 

Harkening back to my snowboard days with the use of the word sick, a good 20 years ago, lol. 

 

Beautiful work. 

 

 

Thanks, islandbass. And I thought 'sick' was new! :) 

 

13 minutes ago, J Francho said:

I can confirm that "sick" is still a thing.  My 10 yo son said so.

 

Paul, the rods look really nice.  Do you use black tape to attach the reels? 

I use double sided tape, vinyl tape, then cover with hockey tape. The latter is new; Thought I'd give it a shot.

 

Rig.jpg

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Hockey Tape?  Hmmm.  I tape the reels on my centrepin rigs.  There's sliding rings there already, but I don't trust them, and tape over.

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Yeah, with steelhead I can see not trusting just rings. Things can get crazy fast.

 

I'd always used double sided tape, then black vinyl (electrician's). Some suggest fiber tape under electrician's. I recently found hockey tape, which is soft, offers a good comfortable grip, and has a nice organic look to it. Not sure if it will stay put. 

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Sweet looking rods Paul. I have two of the old G Loomis 720 SJR IMX rods. They are a mag light power extra fast action. I think they are probably highly similar to your NFC blank. I use them for perch & fun time with smallies. 

https://www.americanlegacyfishing.com/g-loomis-classic-spin-jig-fishing-rod-sjr720-imx.html

 

If you remember Fish Chris that is the rod he used for casting live bait to sight fish.   

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Thanks, Dwight.

 

Yes, it's considered to be the same design, if not material. It's a popular rod amongst light jig fishers for walleye too. I thought it should make a good Ned/hair jig rod. Not sure I'd really want to hook into many truly big smallies with it though (much less DD largemouths). I ran into some big 3-5lb smallies in the Thousand Islands one year and with my M Skyline and 6lb it took forever to get them to give up. There's something to be said for balancing rod to fish size.

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