A relatively new player in the surf rod market has been turning a lot of heads on beaches up and down the Striper Coast the past couple of seasons. CTS Rods are being used by a growing number of hardcore surfcasters from Cape Cod to the Jersey Shore, and many folks have been raving about their performance.
I had the opportunity to fish one of their Vapor Trail rods over the past two seasons and I have to say that I have been very impressed with the feel and casting ability of the 11-foot VT-1104. The rod is rated for two to four ounces and while it comfortably handles the upper range, it can also deliver much lighter payloads than two ounces with ease. I had no problem slinging 3/4-ounce bucktails at stripers intent on small bait along Montauk’s south side, and the rod has delivered lightweight five-inch swimming plugs along the backsides of Long Island’s South Shore bays with equal effectiveness. At the other extreme, three-ounce pencil poppers and bottle plugs were no problem, and I felt there was still room to push a four-ounce payload if the need arose.
Despite all of the power built into these rods, there is enough softness or “give” to compensate for unyielding braided lines while fighting plug-hooked fish, resulting in less pulled hooks.
The first thing you will notice with these rods is their light weight and thin diameter. The VT-1104 blank weighs in at just 6.1 ounces, but despite its lightness, it is surprisingly powerful. It is a pleasure to cast, and there was a marked difference in the distance I was getting on my casts. You will also notice the ease at which the rod moves forward during the cast due to the fine diameter resulting in less resistance. The light weight and balance also provided some relief for aching shoulders and elbows that have been worn out by too many pitches and casts over the course of a lifetime.
The Vapor Trail series of rods, which consists of six blanks in medium, heavy and extra heavy models from 11 to 12 feet in length, feature a moderate, parabolic action that I have always preferred for working the surf. The rod loads evenly down the length of the blank, but there is enough flex in the tip to work pencil poppers with ease.
CTS blanks are manufactured in New Zealand and feature a carbon helix core with 100 percent non-woven fiber, which provides exceptional hoop strength. A single carbon spiral is at the core of the blank. It helps minimize cross sectional deformation during loading, which provides the additional power and resultant longer casts.
Rich Hedenberg of RH Custom Rods based in Galloway, NJ 08205, was the first to import these blanks from New Zealand, and several other custom rod builders in our readership area are now also building on CTS blanks. If you take your surf fishing seriously, you owe it to yourself to check these rods out. You might come away as surprised as I was at their overall performance.