W A L L E Y E   H U N T E R
Fishing Articles by Mike Peluso
Fishing Rods and Hockey Sticks
By Mike Peluso
Fishing and playing hockey most of my life has given me the chance to handle a lot of makes and models of fishing rods and hockey sticks. In the game of hockey, sticks break quite frequently. In the sport of fishing, on the other hand, you hope your rods don't break very often! During a hockey season, a player can go through hundreds of sticks. Hockey sticks carry a certain "feel" that fishing rods possess as well. Both these tools have a certain job to do, and are made accordingly. So when one breaks, you feel an emptiness inside. Yes, even hockey players have feelings!
While growing up, I spent most of my time on the water jig fishing. My dad figured if you couldn't catch fish on jigs, they weren't biting! He recently has come to grips, and occasionally has been known to pull a crankbait from time to time. But in the past, that jig fishing left us using the same types of rods for years - usually around six feet in length with a fairly soft tip. As the years wore on, I fast realized there was more to fishing walleyes than just jigging. I started to experiment with all sorts of different techniques. The problem was, I was still using our jigging rods for these new presentations and that made it very hard to be effective. This led me to purchase different rods for different methods of fishing. Every new rod I bought took some explaining to dad. My dad was brought up in a very conservative way, so when he started seeing new rods in the boat, he wanted an explanation.
I used hockey sticks, as an analogy, to help explain new rods to my dad. Since my father was an ex-hockey player, I knew this was terminology he could understand. I would compare every rod to a different type of hockey stick. Every hockey stick is different. You can choose your curves on the blade, length, stiffness, sensitivity, and material. All of these options are available when picking out rods. It amazes me how similar these two pieces of equipment are. Dad is now well-versed in fishing different techniques using all the different rods made specifically for certain desired applications.
Now I am not going to claim that I am an expert on fishing rods, but I do have a few rules I follow when it comes to buying and using them. I have found the old saying "you get what you pay for" is true. Well, from my experience anyway, this seems to hold true for both my fishing rods and hockey sticks. That doesn't mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars on each rod, but I would suggest to anyone to make a pretty good investment towards them. Since a lot of rods have lifetime warranties, you will most likely have them a long time.
Another rule I have is that I like to use cork handles for all of my rods, except my trolling rods. I feel cork handles give me better feel and sensitivity. For my trolling rods I choose rods with foam handles, because most of their time is spent in the rod holders. Cork has a tendency to get chewed up in the holders. Like I mentioned earlier, each rod has a specific job it can do better. Jigging rods should be light, and really no more than 6 1/2 feet in length. This will give you better control of the jig.
Good stickhandlers in hockey choose short sticks for better control. Live bait rods, or rigging rods, should be a little longer and have a soft tip. I like my rigging rods to be 7 to 8 feet long. These longer rods help in getting the bait farther away from the boat. They also assist in fighting the fish. Bottom bouncer rods can vary from person to person. Some people like to have a stiff short rod for this presentation. For bottom bouncing, I use a rod around 7 feet in length. I also like the tip to be fairly soft, and the backbone of the rod strong. I also prefer the baitcasting types. Trolling rods are also a personal choice. These rods don't need to be all that special. Look for rods that are 8 feet or longer with a good tips on them. Again, cork handles are not the best way to go, although some anglers still prefer them.
When it comes down to finding the right rods for the right jobs, it's all a
matter of personal preference. I use a hockey stick that is not practical for
most hockey players. It's something that I have gotten use to and feel very
comfortable with. Don't be afraid
to try different things! Remember, each rod and hockey stick has it's own
Dump the puck in the corner and forecheck!
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