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bwjay

Semi-newbie looking for minimal midrange canoe/kayak rods (warning: long!)

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Hey everyone! Let me give you a little background so you know what experience I have and maybe some incorrect assumptions I have. I'm sorry for all of the length, but I want to explain the context because I think my situation is a little uncommon.

 

I am getting into fishing after a pretty long hiatus; after I graduated high school I didn't touch a rod for probably 9 years, until last year when I went on a canoe trip to the Boundary Waters.

 

I was never that big into fishing, but I usually enjoyed it. When I did go fishing, it was usually with my dad, and we'd vertical jig for walleyes from an anchored boat (no trolling motor, not specifically a fishing boat). He used to fish for pike and muskie when he was younger, but I never went fishing for these with him, and he wasn't big into catching bass either. Of course I caught little panfish like sunnies and crappies on tiny little rods as a kid as well. Now that I am older, have more freedom and disposable income, and have gotten back into outdoor activities (like hiking and canoeing), I found that I really do enjoy fishing and I really want to do more of it.

 

Before my canoe trip last year, I went to Cabela's with a friend with more experience, and he and the salesman got me a 6'3" St Croix Eyecon, Medium power Extra Fast action, vertical jigging spinning rod, and I paired it with a Pfleuger Presidential XT spinning reel. The line I chose (based on recommendation) was 15lb PowerPro braid to 10lb P-Line fluoro leader (but intend to switch to 10lb Sniper fluoro for a little more stretch). The reel could be smoother for sure but the drag seems to work well, and the rod was used for everything obviously. I've caught some lake trout on it (vertical jigging and casting lipless cranks), walleye (casting lipless cranks), and a single smallmouth trolling a crankbait. I didn't think it did particularly bad for anything, though the smallie while trolling wasn't immediately obvious due to the lack of bend deeper down in the rod.

 

I picked up a bunch of lures (probably too many lol), with a handful of spoons (five of diamonds, red/white stripe), medium depth Shad Raps, some Husky Jerks, some Jointed Minnows, a couple lipless cranks in various colors and sizes, 5" tubes, a couple size 3-5 Mepps, soft plastics (ShadZ/ZToo), and a few topwaters like a Super Spook, Torpedo, and Skitter Pop.

 

I want to catch everything I can catch up in northern Minnesota, which is mostly gonna be SMB/LMB, pike, walleye, and lake trout. I enjoy eating walleye and lake trout so they are sometimes a focus if my friends and I want a fish fry in the wilderness. Largely, though, I intend to focus on SMB and walleye, knowing I will probably get hit by plenty of pike using the lures I typically would for those two species.

 

SO.... there is my fishing experience, the gear I currently have, and what I want to catch. Here are the caveats that limit the rods I can use (or so I think):

 

* Most lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) are super clear, with 12-30ft visibility. I have not been on a BWCA lake that had less than 10ft visibility unless the lake itself was really shallow and muddy, and even then, there was maybe 6-8ft of visibility. I intend to use braid to fluoro 100% of the time due to the water clarity and responsiveness of braid.

 

* Sitting low in a canoe is like being in a kayak, so long rods are unwieldy. Walking the dog would be rough with a long rod while sitting - heck it already seems less than ideal with my 6'3" rod, and most are much longer than that.

 

* I have yet to paddle a solo canoe, and plan to do trips in tandem canoes, which means I have to share the space and won't be able to pivot my body much, so I need a shorter rod for that reason as well.

 

* I also need a short-ish handle because of the sitting position; I'm concerned about the rod being so long that it requires careful handing around my friends when fishing in the canoe, and the handle getting in the way of me handling it properly (like having clearance for good hook sets).

 

* Due to wind and no motor, I've done more trolling than casting in the canoe, but want to do more casting, and am getting an anchor bag. Still, trolling will be frequent for me as we paddle around a lake or on travel days.

 

I'm willing to invest a decent chunk of change to have TWO or THREE decent rods and reels. I have been watching lots of videos and doing lots of reading and here is what I THINK I want my setup to look like:

 

* Soft plastics, tubes, vertical jigs

St. Croix Eyecon 6'3" MXF spinning + Shimano Stradic CI4+ (I grew up with spinning, haven't learned baitcasting yet, figured I'd invest into a nice spinning reel)

 

* Crankbaits, jerkbaits, tubes (for quick switching), spinners, spoons

Dobyns Sierra 683 6'8" MHF casting + Shimano SLX (would go 6'6" Fury but the handle is shorter on Sierra + more sensitivity for $40 more)

 

* Backup and hiking rod (all purpose)

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Elite 2-piece MF/MHF + Pfleuger Presidential XT (not sure which length of the Ugly Stik but on the short side)

 

I don't know that the Eyecon is the best finesse rod but I found it very sensitive with bottom dragging and rocks feeling like bites and I'd rather not replace it right now if I really don't have to. The Sierra seems nice but it's more expensive than I want, and slightly longer than I want, but has a shorter handle than the 6'6" MHF Fury. I'm willing to step down a little if I can get a shorter handle/rod but I really don't want to go above the price tier of the Sierra (~$150 max) especially since I'm very inexperienced with casting rods and may end up using the spinning setup more.

 

If anyone knows the perfect short casting rod with a short handle, that has a decent backbone for hook sets, but is sensitive enough for lighter/finesse baits (without being a specialty finesse rod), and won't break the bank, please do let me know. I looked at many but I can't find many with less than a 13.5" handle and even then they're usually 6'8" or 6'10" at a minimum, and I absolutely want to stay under a 7' rod.

 

If you made it this far, THANK YOU for reading!!! I appreciate any and all criticism you have. I have 2 BWCA canoe trips coming up this year, one going hunting for brook trout for a few days, and one for grand slams (SMB/pike/walleye/lake trout) for a week. I really want to slay 'em, and I know I don't have to spend a ton of money to do so, but I want to invest in some setups that I can grow into.

 

P.S.

If anyone knows if a good float solution, in case the canoe tips or the rod goes overboard, to keep it from sinking, I'm all ears. I was thinking some dense foam plus a short Dyneema wire or something, tied/rubber banded to the bottom of the handle.

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First, welcome aboard.

 

I fish out of a hybrid kayak/canoe, the Native Ultimate 12. And I prefer

shorter rods, anywhere from 5'9" to a max of 6'6", with 5'9"-6' preferred.

 

I've also shortened butt-ends on my 6'6" Bass Pro Carbonlites. That takes

them down to about 6'3" total. But my fave rods are the formerly 6' (now 5'9")

St. Croix Premier, a 5'9" Shimano Compre, and a 5'9" St. Croix Walleye 

Tournament spinning rod that was 6'3".

 

That said, the Carbonlites are excellent rods, super light, very sensitive and 

pair well with my Stradics (FI, FJ, FK, CI4+). You can put floats on each rod

like these:

https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/bass-pro-shops-rod-buoy

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Thanks! It seems some people don't mind long rods in canoes/kayaks and others say short rods make a big difference for them. You clearly like the shorties! I don't know that I would go below 6' simply because I don't quite understand how the mechanics would be different for such a short rod. I would need to set the hook harder, and wouldn't be able to cast as far, basically? Or is there more to it?

 

I don't want to be cutting the bottom off a brand new rod so I am probably gonna have to find a rod with a short enough handle right out of the box.

 

I don't see such short St Croix rods on Tackle Warehouse but I haven't looked at every brand on multiple websites, so it's possible they just don't carry it. I know Tackle Warehouse doesn't stock the Eyecon rods. Would I be more likely to find shorter rods with shorter handles if I just headed over to Cabela's? I've got one about 30 minutes away.

 

Thanks for the float link! Do those absorb vibrations? I'd be concerned about losing sensitivity by putting the foam above my hand. But it would depend on the type of foam and density and how tightly it's attached, I suppose, so maybe it wouldn't be a big deal.

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16 minutes ago, bwjay said:

Thanks! It seems some people don't mind long rods in canoes/kayaks and others say short rods make a big difference for them. You clearly like the shorties! I don't know that I would go below 6' simply because I don't quite understand how the mechanics would be different for such a short rod. I would need to set the hook harder, and wouldn't be able to cast as far, basically? Or is there more to it?

 

I don't want to be cutting the bottom off a brand new rod so I am probably gonna have to find a rod with a short enough handle right out of the box.

 

I don't see such short St Croix rods on Tackle Warehouse but I haven't looked at every brand on multiple websites, so it's possible they just don't carry it. I know Tackle Warehouse doesn't stock the Eyecon rods. Would I be more likely to find shorter rods with shorter handles if I just headed over to Cabela's? I've got one about 30 minutes away.

  

Thanks for the float link! Do those absorb vibrations? I'd be concerned about losing sensitivity by putting the foam above my hand. But it would depend on the type of foam and density and how tightly it's attached, I suppose, so maybe it wouldn't be a big deal.

TW doesn't cater to shorter rod fisherfolk by my checking. If I couldn't find stuff

 in-store locally, I've ordered from BPS, Swanson's Bait & Tackle, etc.

 

As far as the physics go, it really is not much different than a 6'3" or 6'6" rod. 
I never think about that when I'm on the water. I just make sure my drag is

set properly, and I've got a leader tied on my 10 or 15# braided mainline.

 

What do you define as a short handle/butt-end? 12" from butt to top, more, less?

I didn't modify my Carbonlites when new, was a few years later when I'd concluded

what I like/don't like when on the yak. I like the stock handle for the 6' Premier. 

Works just fine for my needs.

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I see Cabela's has the shorter St Croix rods so I'm checking those out. A 6' Premier MHF looks like the handle might actually be decent. I'm thinking a trip to the store might be in order, so I can try it in person. Maybe they will have the 6'6" BassX MHF as well which is the other possible contender (even though I'd be using it to catch many other things than bass).

 

If the physics/mechanics aren't really any different, that is quite comforting. I know a shorter rod would be much more manageable in a tandem canoe. I have seen people saying you might not be able to reach around the bow if the fish runs under the canoe, but I'm not toooo concerned about that. I'm 5'10", my arms aren't super long by any means, but I don't think a 6' rod would be too much of an issue.

 

I was using TW's rating for rod length, which is from the butt of the rod (very bottom, I'm new to these terms), to the top of the foregrip, which as I understand it, is where any foam/cork/etc stops and it's just the rod blank from there on up. It is possible that I am incorrect in this understanding so I'm glad I posted here! I think 12" would constitute as short; my Eyecon has a 12.5" handle but I think spinning rods generally have shorter handles than casting rods? So I'm not sure what I'd consider short, but I've seen thread where people recommend going shorter than 13" if possible. I just won't pay for a $350 Dobyns to get that short, lol!

 

Another question since you didn't say anything about it - does my choice of baits for the combos I listed make sense? Am I trying to use the wrong rod style for the wrong thing? And do you think I could feasibly run any bait on the Eyecon/Premier (let's say) and not really be at a big disadvantage? From what I've read, even weightless Senkos or soft jerkbaits should be fine with a MHF rod. I ask because I might have a tube tied on the MHF rod as a follow-up to soft plastics on the MXF rod, but realistically I will probably have a lipless or spinnerbait as a search bait on the MHF and a tube/plastic on the MXF rod. Probably will use a snap on the MHF rod to switch search/followup baits easier.

 

Thanks again for your advice, I really appreciate it! There's so much to know and so many options that I'm overwhelmed with trying to figure out what is best for my situation.

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I use a leash on the rod in hand instead of floats. The rods stored on the yak are on adjustable rod holders that can be secured.

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15 hours ago, kjfishman said:

I use a leash on the rod in hand instead of floats. The rods stored on the yak are on adjustable rod holders that can be secured.

Hey, that might solve my concerns about sensitivity loss, and then I don't have to worry about not having enough foam/buoyancy. Plus I can use elastic tethers for other things like my tacklebox (only a single "large" Plano insert). I found the NeverLost tethers which aren't cheap, but I like that they come in many different colors. I might have to buy a few of those!

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It seems my post may have been too long. :) I appreciate the feedback from those who provided it. Maybe I thought my problem was more complex than it really was.

 

I was looking at the St Croix 6'6" MHF Premier or the 6' MF Premier. I really wanted MH instead of M since I have a MXF spinning rod right now and I want to be able to throw heavier lures with the baitcasting setup. I went to Cabela's yesterday and reeeeally liked the 6' rod. It's so short and maneuverable! The handle was nice and short too and I think would be no issue with a PFD on. I was tempted to buy it but I just couldn't bring myself to buy another M power rod. So I said oh well and bought the 6'6" MHF. The handle isn't as short as the little 6 footer, but I think I will manage.

 

I also got my Shimano SLX spooled up with 20lb PowerPro so I'm ready to start practicing my cast with 1oz weights. This rod cost more than the Eyecon and I may end up using the spinning setup more, but I'm willing to invest time and effort into mastering baitcasters and figured I can sell the rod if I end up not liking it or whatever the reason may be. I'm really looking forward to getting out with it.

 

Hopefully this information helps someone in the future looking for a canoe-kayak-specific rod! I will try to remember to update this thread in a few months after I've had a chance to cast it (it's the dead of winter here right now) and ideally provide feedback on sensitivity and ergonomics.

 

Thanks again to those who were able to point me in the right direction.

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