Hunting, Fishing, and Deer Camp

Southern Sky Outdoors

Cold Water Trout Fishing: Choosing the Right Rod

Southern Sky OutdoorsIt’s the middle of January and for most of us hunting season is nothing more than a memory or quickly winding to a close. After a long season we can all use some rest to recover from the past few months but that rest will soon turn to cabin fever. The weather is getting worse and won’t get better for some time so whatever you decide to do you will have to deal with some difficult elements. At Southern Sky Outdoors this is the time of year when we start breaking out the trout gear and going after some cold water, cold weather, trout.

Fishing for trout in winter conditions can be challenging at best. (I can recall one specific trip where the mercury didn’t move past 12 degrees all day) Conditions like that make it important to maximize every opportunity and to be ready for whatever conditions you might encounter. One important step in that preparation is choosing the rod that you will carry with you that day. There are a few different options when it comes to picking trout rods and at Southern Sky Outdoors we don’t always agree on exactly the right presentation. Nevertheless, each one has its own merits. For the purposes of this analysis we will be focusing exclusively on spinning rods of different lengths and actions. We’ve broken down some of the pros and cons of each one below:

Ultralight Spinning Rod

This is the staple for many stream fishermen. Small spinning rods 4’6” to 5’6” with an ultralight action are capable of presenting a tremendous variety of lures and baits in many different situations. They offer a more delicate presentation than almost anything except a fly rod and can handle very large fish if the fight is handled appropriately. Ultralights offer good casting ability with timber lined banks and the sensitivity to detect even subtle strikes.

The somewhat delicate nature of the ultralight also exposes it to some of its most limiting factors. In an area with heavy cover the liberal drag pressure required to fight large fish on such a small set-up will allow fish to run into snags. Many fish will be lost to broken lines when fishing in heavy cover with an ultralight. Hooksets can also be tricky. If long casts are necessary, it is critical to have as little slack in the line as possible. (without affecting the drift of the bait) Too much slack line will prevent the hook from being driven home when setting the hook. Although this is true of all rod types the whippy nature of the ultralight makes it even more unforgiving on the hookset.

Medium Action Spinning rod:

This is certainly a less obvious option on most trout streams and would be far more common to bass or walleye fishermen. The fact is that the longer rod (6’+) can cause a lot of issues when fishing near brush or in the tight casting quarters found so readily in most trout habitat. That being said, the heavier action and longer rod can benefit you in a few specific scenarios. If you are fishing an area that requires fairly long casts, and has a decent amount of overhead space the longer rod will allow you to make better casts and offer better hooksets. This set-up will also accommodate a larger spinning reel which can handle bigger fish. If you fish in an area with a fair amount of space and bigger trout, this might be the outfit for you.

Heavy Action Spinning Rod:

Southern Sky OutdoorsOne of the least common outfits on the creek the heavy action spinning rod has several unique benefits that make it a viable option in certain situations. To clarify, we are talking about very short (5’ or less) rods with a heavy action. These rods shine in tight fishing quarters with heavy cover and larger trout. A rod with a medium or medium fast tip will have enough flex to get your bait out quite well and will still have enough backbone in the short rod to handle even the biggest trout. Fishing near very heavy cover often requires an angler to move the fish quickly away from potential snags and hang-ups. Such maneuvers are made much easier with a heavier rod.

The downside to the heavier rod comes in the form of sensitivity and enjoyment. If fishing in situations where the bite is delicate the decreased sensitivity of a heavy action can come into play. Likewise, if you are catching smaller trout typical of many put-and-take trout streams the heavy action is overkill and doesn’t relay the fight of the fish as well to the angler. You should also keep hooksets in mind when casting further than normal. Although the heavy action is better suited to the hookset than an ultralight it can still doesn’t have the ability to take up line the way a longer rod does.

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