Deep sea fishing from a boat in the Gulf of Mexico
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The sea angler’s boat fishing rod is simply an extension to his arm. The rod acts as a lever, converting the pulling power of a handline to lifting strength. What has happened, over half a century or so, is that anglers have applied sporting techniques to the business of deep sea fishing.

No standard boat rod

There is no standard boat rod, nor can there be, for fish vary tremendously in size and the conditions under which they are fished for alter constantly. A rod of the 20 lb class is suitable for small species in sea areas with light tidal flow and allows the use of light leads of 28oz. This means that the rod blank is balanced for use with a 20 lb line. It will have a test curve of around 4 lb, which means that a pull at the rod tip of this weight will bend the rod at right angles. It does not mean that the rod is only capable of handling a fish that weighs or pulls to 4 lb. In any case, a fish weighs only about one third of its true weight when in the water. The test curve given for a sea rod is multiplied by five to arrive at the correct b.s. Of line to match it.

Selecting a boat rod

When selecting a boat rod it is very misleading to wave it about in the manner usually adopted with freshwater rods, which do have a flexibility that can be assessed, even if not accurately. A boat rod only proves its worth under the stress of a sizeable fish coupled with the dead weight of a pound lead in a moderate run of tide.

The head of a porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus)
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A 30 lb class rod will cope with fish up to 50 lb, leads up to 20oz and quite hard tides—anything up to four or five knots—when fishing from an anchored boat. The rod is intended to be used for tope and big shoal fish such as cod, pollack, ling, and rays, but would still handle the smaller species. A 50 lb class rod will enable anybody to hook, fight, and land most of our larger species. Porbeagle shark, all but the largest of common skate, and the average deep sea conger, are all within the competence of a rod of this strength.

Boat rod lengths

Rods are becoming longer. At one time a 5 or 6ft rod was normal; now 78ft rods are commonplace. The longer rod gives better control of a fighting fish, especially when it comes close to the boat. At the same time it possesses more travel during compression, absorbing the wild lunges that can break a line when the angler is fishing with lightweight fishing tackle.

The rod’s fittings

No glassfibre blank can perform as a rod without the right fittings. The quality of the glass and its design must be matched by a perfect winch fitting and rod rings. Ensure that the length of the handle is right for you, and remember that the winch fitting position is critical. Make sure too that you can reach the reel handle and control mechanisms. The choice of rings depends on the type of line that an angler prefers. Plain bridge rings are fine for use with monafilament nylon line but use at least a roller tip ring if the line is of braided Dacron or Terylene. There can be a lot of friction as these lines pass over the tip rings, and a roller will help to reduce this.