• Anthony Watson

Built Rods and Bull Reds

About a month ago or so, I started building and repairing rods. It’s something I had always been interested in, so I researched it, ordered a starter kit, and began experimenting. I fixed and rebuilt 2 rods I already owned and ordered 3 blanks and built 3 rods. Jake and I decide we would take a tournament rod and a new build each and go catch reds. The goal was to bow the new rods, test handling, performances, and see if we could break them on a fish. We brought a tournament rod with us so if we ran into rod failure. I used a Navy 7’6 MF CRB Blank, Fuji Eyes, Fuji Seat, and Cork grip, throwing a 1/8th oz jig with a 4” Sea Shad. Jake used the rod I made for my wife, light Blue 7’0 MF CRB Blank, Fuji Eyes, Custom seat, and split cork grip; throwing a 1/8th oz jig with a 4” Sea Shad.

We decided to head to a popular tournament spot in East Bay that we don’t fish normally. We found the wind direction, deployed the trolling motor, and began working the bank for reds. We were both casting the shoreline, with a double pump jig method anticipating the bite. I casted a point, double jig, felt the thump, set the hook, my drag ripped, and then the bait flew by. I loosened the drag when I rigged the new rod and may have forgot to set it when we started fishing. I was irritated I didn’t get to the new build, but it was my own fault. We continued that same pattern, I felt thump again, set the hook, and landed a 22’ trout. Then, what seems to be normal in Bay County now happened. A boat saw us catch from the bank directly across, motored over on a plane about 30 yards ahead of us, and began fishing. We pulled and moved.

We moved to a new spot that we have done well at this year. Used the wind to push us and the trolling motor to guide us. We used the same techniques as before, throwing the shore line. I jigged twice, felt thump, set hook, and the drag peeled. This time the drag was tight and it peeled from a fish. Landed a 24” red that probably weighed 4 to 4.5 pounds. The rod seemed to handle okay, a little less spine then my G. Loomis, felt more like a Croix. We continued the flat, and I see the red follow the bait to the boat, I drop the bait to the bottom to mimic the bait fleeing into the grass. As soon as it hit the grass, thump and the drag peeled. Landed a twin to the other red. Now we wanted to see how the rods handled and headed for the Bridge.

Rigged with a ¼ oz jig and a 5” Die Dapper from Saltwater Assassin. We would throw at the bait popping and into the current and bounce the bait. We were moving by the pilings, casting the bait schools and working the current and I see Jake set, and the drag is peeling, he probably stripped 35 yards and headed for the pilings. Jake fought it, and landed a 36” red that probably weighed roughly 15-20 pounds. What I didn’t realize until he landed the red was he was using his tournament rod that was already rigged for the bridge from the last trip we went. We continued for about another hour, working the baits and the currents by the pilings. We had three more hook ups and hook pull, with 2 of the hooks bent like the shape of an L.

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