Surf: Know Thy Stick - The Fisherman

Surf: Know Thy Stick

SUNRISE-CAST
Consistency comes with familiarity and matching your rod to casting style. Mario Santos Photo.

Know your rod and surfcasting consistency will follow.

When I first started surf fishing, there was no YouTube and there certainly weren’t any surfcasting influencers, and my first surf-stripers were caught on a Quantum combo that I bought at the same sporting goods store where I bought all of my childhood baseball gloves. I fished it until it wouldn’t turn anymore and then I upgraded to a 10-foot Ugly Stik with a low-end Penn reel; they don’t make that reel anymore, but I fished that thing until it begged for mercy as well.

When I moved to the coast in 2002, I met a few locals who were knew a whole lot more about rods than I did and they all had custom rods made at the same tackle shop; for our New England readers, they were made at CMS in New Bedford, MA. Oh, how I wanted a custom stick like that, I would have given almost anything. One of the guys could see the envy in my eyes and actually gave me one he didn’t use; even though we haven’t crossed paths in a decade, thinking of that kind gesture puts a smile on my face every time and I will always be thankful for hid generosity.

Skip ahead a few years and I had a couple customs made by my fishing partner at that time. These were the first rods that I ever tried to match to my casting style. I was a very ‘wristy’ caster, which meant that faster rods did a better job of ‘keeping up’ with my baseball wrists. And this match-making move was a landmark change in my fishing; suddenly I went from a proficient caster to someone who could usually keep up with anyone as far as distance and accuracy were concerned. The problem with a fast rod is that they are often ‘all power and no finesse’ and I was pulling too many hooks and even broke one of those first customs, which almost made me sick to my stomach.

This was around the time that I met my second fishing partner and he introduced me to Lamiglas rods; he swore by them and pretty much never deviated from their GSB line of blanks. When I tried to cast his rods, I felt like the laws of physics would temporarily cease to exist, I just couldn’t time the release, and the thing felt like a giant Twizzler in my hands. But I could also feel the power of the rod and how it was distributed through the entire blank. I had GSB1201M wrapped and set my mind to changing the muscle memory of my own casting motion. A slower, more calculated (or even choreographed) motion, it felt like tai chi. But soon I was back to firing frozen ropes to the horizon and the moderate tip absorbed those powerful head shakes and whipped strong fish in half the time. It wasn’t long before I had an 11-footer made as well.

Maybe a year or two later I met another surfcaster who would become a great friend. He was a bit of a gear junkie, and had easily a dozen surf rods, all of them the latest and greatest. But he was one of the most inconsistent casters I have ever seen. It took a while to figure it out, but the fact that he was using a different rod every night seemed akin to using bats of random weights and lengths for your entire baseball career. Consistency will never come if you don’t know your tools.

These days, I still fish and love my GSBs, but I also use other brands. I have some ODM rods, I have some Century rods, I have a Tsunami Forged I’m excited to fish this season. But I chose these rods because they have a similar feel to what I’m used to. It may sound strange to buy rods that all fit into the same basic niche, but I don’t want to use rods that are going to throw me off my game, I choose the newer sticks because I feel they have a possibility to enhance my game or to fit into a special situation. Whether I’m casting or fighting a big fish, I want my rod to act and react the way I expect it to.

Said another way, I’m done adapting…but I still want to see how rod manufacturers are innovating and I want to know how that can affect my game in the surf. Find a rod that works for you, don’t get caught up in the influencer chatter. Match the rod to your casting style and your fishing style and then lock in that feel, consistency will follow. I promise.

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