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Thread: Trolling rod lengths, long or short?

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    Default Trolling rod lengths, long or short?

    I've got 8 foot medium heavy rods for my downplaners and 7 foot medium heavy rods for my downriggers.

    I had a young lady a couple weeks ago who caught a nice king on the 8' downplaner rod, it tripped the deep6 downplaner but she just didnt have enough arm strength to do the pull-up-and-reel-down thing against the fish, the residual motion of boat, the drag of the flasher, and the drag of the planer.

    I didnt realize she was having troubles until I noticed that she had the rod tip pointed straight at the fish and was just cranking him in.
    I started encouraging her "Pull up and reel down!" & "Keep tension on the line so he doesnt spit the hook!" and she angrily snapped back "I CAN'T!". She got the fish in finally, but she was plumb wore out by the time we boated her fish (and then she was all smiles).

    It got me to thinking that maybe a shorter 6'-6" pole would be better for the downplaner rods since the mechanical advantage is all to the fish and the gear drag with the longer poles.

    I went with the 8 foot poles to get the lines up and back a bit from the lines/rods in the downriggers but the planer lines go back at such a shallow angle it really doesnt matter much how long the poles are.

    Whatcha think?
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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    I had a similar situation this past weekend with a 9 year old, who just plain struggled with the 8 1/2 ft rods. I use them on the downriggers as well as the planers. I'm also interested to hear what others think. Shorter, stouter rods?

  3. #3

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    Just my preference but I hate short rods for trolling. Most novices pull the shorter rods up too high losing tension on the line which loses more fish. Happened a lot on my boat before I could convince my dad that using longer rods would help. I would say we lost 40% less fish with the longer rod.

    If the person was struggling with an 8' rod, I imagine they will also struggle with a shorter rod. Maybe use lighter line instead as the person might not be able to keep enough tension on say 30 lb line but could on 20 or 25. Just a thought.

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Very good point AKBronco. As I worked with the little guy on his technique, he did quite a bit better. His main problem was that the butt end of the rod was so long he couldn't reach the forgrip very well, so to compensate, he had the rod between his legs and the reel was in his gut eliminating all his leverage. Maybe I could set up a standard trolling rod with a shorter butt grip.

  5. #5

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    I run 8.5' rods for downrigger trolling in a light action...maybe too soft for some but most like them. As for diver rods, I would go a bit more stout and probably 7' at the shortest....Like AKBronco said, the short rods create a problem with slack line if brought up too high. You just plain have more drag with all of that hardware be it sinkers, planer boards (widens spread), or a combination with a flasher. That`s alot of junk to haul on a 8-8.5' medium/light rod. A quick remedy for rigger use is to hook your release up above the ball 18"s (if you have the rubber leash on there hook at it`s swivel) and trail the ball with a flasher...nothing on the mainline for those people you think will struggle.

    Just my .02...opinions will vary.


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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Honestly I think the leverage benefit of the shorter rods is overblown. I'm more concerned with having a long enough rod that can be loaded up and keep tension on the line.

    A big fish putting on a fight is going to tire out an angler.

  7. #7

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    Well, this is an interesting question!!!! So, I referred it to the admiral (code name for wife) and she said a long rod is better than a short one. Unless that is, that you are really skilled with the short one. So, there you have it I didn't bother to ask anything else just in case you are wondering.......

  8. #8

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    Long rod provides a lot of forgiveness when you have a big king next to the boat and it surges.. If all you catch are feeders kings and cohos, you can use a bass rod and be fine.

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    Long rod provides a lot of forgiveness when you have a big king next to the boat and it surges.. If all you catch are feeders kings and cohos, you can use a bass rod and be fine.
    That particular king weighed out at 22 lbs, and the silvers have been averaging 9-11 lbs. I had 8 foot medium power ugly sticks but they were bending over too much, which is why I switched to medium heavy rods.
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  10. #10

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    I don't use Ugly Sticks for my salmon fishing. I use G Loomis and Lamiglass for my salmon rods. An 8'6 or a 9' high quality rod is heaven for salmon of all sizes.

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.R. Bauer View Post
    Well, this is an interesting question!!!! So, I referred it to the admiral (code name for wife) and she said a long rod is better than a short one. Unless that is, that you are really skilled with the short one. So, there you have it I didn't bother to ask anything else just in case you are wondering.......
    Isnt that kinda dangerous telling your wife you've been trolling around with your rod? She might take exception to your activities and shorten the rods in question.
    2696 Sea Raider Pilothouse
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maast View Post
    Isnt that kinda dangerous telling your wife you've been trolling around with your rod? She might take exception to your activities and shorten the rods in question.
    It is, you're right! What was I thinking? At least you got the humor in it all. Where is Lorraina Bobbit these days anyway? She's not for hire is she?

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    Member AkTrouter's Avatar
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    This is an interesting question and probably just comes down to what folks are comfortable with using. I recently built a 12 float/trolling rod for a customer and it was used behind a boat trolling for silvers in Seward. That rod outfished the shorter stick 5 out of 6 fish. I am not sure if the hootchies were different color or just a coincidence, but it make for an interesting debate... I have another one just like it on the Kenai for backtrolling behind a drift boat. The customer says it is the Bomb!!!!

  14. #14

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    I use 7 ft. med.-heavy Ugly Stiks exclusively for trolling for everything (even halibut). You can't find a better all-round trolling rod in my opinion.
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    Downrigger fishing means a long, slow action rod - better for loading up against the release and pulling out as much slack as possible when the fish trips the release. Better also for dealing with big fish surging at the boat. My short downrigger rods are 8', and I don't like them that short, but the wimmin and chitlins do. The go-to rods for kings are 10'6" shimano talora.

    As for a diver - use whatever the voices tell you to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vek View Post
    Downrigger fishing means a long, slow action rod - better for loading up against the release and pulling out as much slack as possible when the fish trips the release. Better also for dealing with big fish surging at the boat. My short downrigger rods are 8', and I don't like them that short, but the wimmin and chitlins do. The go-to rods for kings are 10'6" shimano talora.

    As for a diver - use whatever the voices tell you to.
    I'm with Vek and AK2AZ. My favorite is an old Heddon fiberglass noodle rod-12ft long with light line. I like to play the fish sans dodger, so the dodger is attached to the downrigger ball. Have not put this outfit in the hands of a child so I can't comment on that application.
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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vek View Post
    Downrigger fishing means a long, slow action rod - better for loading up against the release and pulling out as much slack as possible when the fish trips the release. Better also for dealing with big fish surging at the boat. My short downrigger rods are 8', and I don't like them that short, but the wimmin and chitlins do. The go-to rods for kings are 10'6" shimano talora.

    As for a diver - use whatever the voices tell you to.
    Hmmm. Think about it. Long, slow action---rod has a lot of slack in it to take up before the hook sets and has a lot of play in it that the fish can fight against. Short, fast action---hook sets instantly and the fish fights the drag of the reel as the action of the rod acts as a shock absorber. A fishing rod is essentially just a large shock absorber, or spring. The quicker the action of the absorption the quicker the hook is set and the fight is on.

    I'll take the 7 ft. med. heavy Ugly Stiks. I've caught way too many kings on them in the last year to go to anything different.
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    Long rods all the way 9 or 10 footers on the kenai. 8 1/2 in the salt. The rod does several things for the fisher person of most importance it TIRES the fish or plays it out. Think fly rod 12' why????? and no reel that has a drag,the rod fights a fish. Fighting big kings on the kenai that long rod really tires them.

    There is other things a rod does to help fight a fish. One is keep the line tight,also keep pressure on the hook. All making it easier if you have a little more rod to help you. I use mostly G Lomis rods they seem to have it really figured out on the balance of a rod, use one and compare, you can tell what I'm talking about. There is other good rods on the market I just prefer those. Short rods are for cranking fish in,tight drags, sore arms and stiff backs.

    Put a spinning reel on a fly rod and catch a king in salt, back the drag off and have some fun. Caught maybe 4 dozens this year moochen in the salt, lots of fun.Hard to go back conventional to a 9' pole.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Muttley Crew Fishing View Post
    Hmmm. Think about it. Long, slow action---rod has a lot of slack in it to take up before the hook sets and has a lot of play in it that the fish can fight against. Short, fast action---hook sets instantly and the fish fights the drag of the reel as the action of the rod acts as a shock absorber. A fishing rod is essentially just a large shock absorber, or spring. The quicker the action of the absorption the quicker the hook is set and the fight is on.

    I'll take the 7 ft. med. heavy Ugly Stiks. I've caught way too many kings on them in the last year to go to anything different.
    Hmmm. I have thought about it. I have a 15-30# 7' ugly stik set up as a "boat rod" for mooching and pulling deep sixes. I've had it on a rigger once. I'll stand by my assertion that a long, slow action (not necessarily "noodle") rod loaded tight against the release will do way more to ensure good hookups than some shorty. A whole lot more slack is taken out of the line at release by the long rod, and that's a good thing, allowing for a quicker reel-down and hookset. Often on a good fish, the rod will be pinned to the rail before you can get to it. I don't see a real advantage to hookset from a short pole versus long. I see tremendous advantage in fighting big fish, particularly when they're tired and close to the boat, using a long rod.

    But, don't take my word for it. Observe the gear used down of the coast of BC and Washington, where downrigging is a way of life. The overwhelming majority of rod seen are longish and slow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Muttley Crew Fishing View Post
    Hmmm. Think about it. Long, slow action---rod has a lot of slack in it to take up before the hook sets and has a lot of play in it that the fish can fight against. Short, fast action---hook sets instantly and the fish fights the drag of the reel as the action of the rod acts as a shock absorber. A fishing rod is essentially just a large shock absorber, or spring. The quicker the action of the absorption the quicker the hook is set and the fight is on.

    I'll take the 7 ft. med. heavy Ugly Stiks. I've caught way too many kings on them in the last year to go to anything different.
    There is a reason most downrigger specific rods are in the 8'6"+ range. When the line comes out of the clip, the hook is set much easier because of the rod picks up a lot more line. Fish fighting the reel, especially if they are big kings, is never a good thing. That puts much more strain on the line itself, rather than the rod which is intended as a "shock absorber". It also tires out fish much faster than a shorter rod.

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