by Walker Smith
Of the many intricacies in bass fishing, I have always been a firm believer that an angler’s rod is, by far, his most important tool. While good line, hooks, baits and reels are essential to maximizing your efficiency on the water, a fisherman’s rod is the backbone of his performance. With that rod, you get the bait where it needs to go, feel every piece of submerged cover and most importantly, immediately feel a hungry bass chomping down on your lure. Without a quality rod, you are putting yourself at a significant disadvantage.
As a collegiate angler at Georgia College and State University, I frequently heard my teammates talking about Big Bear fishing rods. At the time, Big Bear was a young company in the initial stages of its startup, and I was relatively uninformed about the company’s product. During an early spring fishing trip to Lake Eufaula in 2009, I finally got my chance to try one, and frankly, I was impressed from the moment it touched my hands.
You’ll probably raise an eyebrow when you first lay eyes on a Big Bear. With its big synthetic rubber grip, it doesn’t look like your every day fishing rod. Believe me, though—when I made my first cast with this rod, every rod grip I’ve ever used became second-tier. The big grip gave me unmatched control when fighting big fish while making accurate casting a breeze. Whether you need to sling a squarebill right next to a dock post or fire a lipless crankbait 40 yards, this grip gives you the hand control necessary to do it.
In addition to the added control, the Big Bear grips are outstanding when fishing in inclement weather. The grip design channels water underneath your hands and keeps them warm on those cool mornings. Perhaps my favorite feature of the Big Bear grip is its ability to keep my hands dry when casting and fighting fish, because having slippery hands when you’re in close combat with a big bass is always a substantial liability. This rod allows me to throw a bass in the livewell and keep firing casts—no more drying wet hands on my pants in-between casts.
Certain aspects of a rod are hard to translate to others, but when you pick a rod that fits your style of fishing, it just feels “right." Big Bear‘s high-quality Pac Bay blanks are extra-light and provide great sensitivity for fishing around cover. This particular 7-foot, medium-fast model is ideal for smaller crankbaits, jerkbaits and walking topwater baits as it has the perfect amount of tip and backbone to ensure a solid hookset while not ripping the hooks away from the bass during a fight. The soft, responsive tip quickly snaps back to jerkbaits, producing an enticing slashing-action while making “walking-the-dog” with topwaters effortless.
I’m a power fisherman at heart, and when I’m chunking-and-winding small squarebills searching for active fish during this time of the year, I can feel every wobble of my crankbait and every collision with submerged cover. When I get a bite, this Big Bear allows me to feel the bite quickly, ensuring a quick reaction and drastically reducing short-strikes. This model is perfect for all treble hook baits, but due to the ultra-fast tip, you may want to upgrade to a medium-heavy action rod for single-hook baits.
If you’re a hardcore angler like us, you’ve probably had plenty of ceramic line guide inserts fall out in the middle of a fishing day. How annoying is that? When it happens, it renders a rod absolutely useless—you may as well use it as a push-pole for the rest of the day. To combat this frustrating issue, Big Bear introduced a stainless steel line guide with a chrome, stainless steel ring stamped into the frame—no more loss of line guides or line-fraying scratches. While ceramic guides may be a little smoother, it is important to keep in mind—ceramic guides are also much heavier and can crack. In the world of fishing rods, anytime a rod’s weight is increased, its sensitivity is decreased. I’m super-rough on my gear, so the durability and dependability of the chrome, stainless steel stamped rings makes the very small sacrifice in smoothness a non-issue in my book.
Big Bear rods are all about efficiency, so it comes as no surprise that each rod has its LPA (length, power and action) printed largely on the handle of the rod, which proves tremendously helpful when fishing in time-sensitive situations. If a bunch of bass start schooling in front of your boat, you don’t want to be stuck digging through your rod locker searching for your topwater rod. With Big Bear’s large, easy-to-read print, you always have quick, easy access to the rods you need.
I’m having a blast with my Big Bear rod and catching more crankbait fish in the process. If you’re looking for a new rod for reaction bait fishing this fall, you need to get your hands on a Big Bear. Priced at $174.99, Big Bear gives you high-end performance for an easier-to-swallow price.