Selecting the Best Striper Rods
Rods are generally rated by their “action” and their “power” and also include specifics such as lure weight range and recommended line strength, also known as “pound test.” An entire book could be written about rod and reel combos and their nuances, but we take a very basic approach at Hogy where we focus on just a few outfits that will suit the angler well in any situation you can think of when targeting stripers with artificials.
The industry uses the term “action” to describe where and how a rod will bend once it is loaded. Understanding a rod’s action is important in that a rod with right action with the right lure will make it far easier to accomplish what you are trying to do, whether it’s casting distance or imparting the fishiest action to the lure. Rods can be broken into three actions; each has its place in modern striped bass fishing:
- Fast Action: A fast action rod is relatively stiff and has a lighter tip, where only the top 1/3 of the rod bends when casting or under light strain. Orvis refers to this a “Tip Flex” in their fly rod series.
- Fast action rods are good for hook sets because the rod loads to the stiff portion of the rod quickly
- They allow for more accurate casting
- Fast action rods are good for casting lighter lures on relatively heavy gear as you can cast a light lure by mainly using the tip portion of the rod.
- Fast action rods do not overload (meaning lures that might be slightly too heavy for the rod) very well. Not sure what you mean by this
- Fast action rods require an advanced caster, as it can be more difficult to feel the point at which the rod loads, or bends enough, to allow for an effective cast.
- Fast action rods are not ideal for vertical jigging
- Fast action rods are ideal as part of a light or ultra light set up and work well with Hogy Epoxy Jigs, Hogy Originals, and smaller plugs such as poppers and sliders. I use mine for early spring fishing and during albie season.
- Moderate Action: A moderate rod offers a more parabolic bend when loaded, so when there is a load on the blank, it bends through the top half of the rod when loaded. Orvis, refers this more descriptively as “Mid Flex” when referring to their brand of fly rods.
- Moderate action rods are great for casting larger softbaits, plugs and heavier lures where much of the rod is supporting the lure in the cast.
- If you are “overloading” the rod, you can “lob cast” and use much more of the blank.
- Moderate action rods are easier to cast.
- They are more enjoyable to fight big fish as the rod will bend farther down towards the angler’s hands, providing more “feel” when it comes to deciding how much pressure to apply at different points in the fight.
- They will do a reasonably good job switching over from casting to vertical jigging.
- Moderate action rods are ideal for larger Hogy Epoxy Jigs, larger Hogy Originals, and medium to large poppers and sliders. I use moderate action rods for the bulk of my fishing with larger lures in the late spring, throughout the summer, and into the fall. This rod action is probably the most versatile in terms of a lure casting set up for the weekend angler.
- Slow Action: A slow action rod has the greatest parabolic action as it has uniform bend throughout the entire rod blank. As soon as the rod is loaded, it bends throughout the blank from tip to butt. Fiberglass rods were known for their slow action, but with the advent of graphite blanks, this action is not as common today in rods used for casting. They are, however, an excellent choice for other applications.
- Slow action rods are ideal for vertical jigging and trolling where the strikes are often sudden and violent. The rod absorbs some of the energy, which helps avoid popping the hook.
- They are also good for live bait fishing where the bites are sensitive and you want a slow pick up paired with a soft rod.
- Slow action rods are a good choice when using vertical jigs or trolling tubes, umbrella rigs, and jigs, both on wire and lead core.
A rod’s power refers to how much weight or load the rod is designed to handle. You’ll often see ratings such as ultra light, light, medium, medium heavy, heavy, extra heavy. This rating will also come with line test and weight size ranges.
Unlike a rod’s “action” where you know where it will bend when flexed and tends to be consistent within the industry, “power ratings” vary greatly from one rod maker to another. Power ratings can even be inconsistent among the rod models offered by a single manufacturer, thereby making it very difficult to select a rod without holding it a shop or a show. As a general rule of thumb, the most versatile power ratings when striper fishing will be medium and medium heavy.
Typical Striper Casting and Jigging Rod Powers
Light: Lure from 3/8oz to 5/8oz. Up to 10lb test.
I use light power rods in the early spring when I am casting to very small stripers, possibly those that have spent the winter in the deeper portions of local bays and rivers. I will pair this rod with a 3000 or 4000 class reel. I typically use a 10lb. test monofilament/fluorocarbon hybrid line for the lightest outfits and tie directly to my lures. Light jigs and the smallest soft baits, such as the Hogy Skinny Series and the smallest Pro Tails or Paddles, are ideal for this outfit.
Medium: Lure from 5/8oz to 1oz. Up to 30lb Braid
I get far more use out of a medium power rod over a light power rod as it can handle keeper-sized fish taken that can medium size soft plastics such as the seven and ten-inch Hogy Originals and a variety of top water plugs. I typically would recommend pairing a medium power rod with a 4000 or 5000 class reel filled with 30lb test braid and a 12 or 15lb test fluorocarbon leader. This is an excellent spring rod for casting small to medium sized jigs, plugs and softbaits.
Medium Heavy: 7/8 to 1.5oz
I use a medium heavy powered rod as much as I do a medium, but I tend to do so later in the spring for me, where on Cape Cod) bigger bait moves in with bigger fish and larger softbaits, plugs and jigs are called for. I would pair this rod with a 5000 or 6000 class reel with 40lb braid and a 20lb or 30lb fluoro leader.
Heavy/Extra Heavy: 2 to 4oz
This is the rod for the biggest soft baits, jigs and plugs. This rod might be called a “club” by some anglers, but it is capable of casting the largest lures for stripers. This outfit could do double duty as a small tuna outfit. The down side to this outfit is that it is tiring to cast with.
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