Whenever I heard the term "putting the wood to 'em" growing up I would shudder. The phrase has held several meanings over my lifetime. When I was young, it meant a severe paddling was coming from a disciplinarian. Later in my teenage years when I was getting into fishing, that phrase came back into my vocabulary.
Putting the wood to them meant setting a wicked hard hookset on biting bass. I had grown up watching my father rip back on the rods while fishing a plastic worm and seeing bass fly out of the water, rods break, coffee mugs spill over and even sometimes anglers fall into the lake on a hookset.
After testing some new rods, the phrase has a new meaning for me. Now it's one of more refinement, like a beautifully crafted piece of woodworking, stained and dressed for display in your living room. When I first got the Denali Rods Shadow Series Michael Murphy Jerkbait/Topwater rod
the first to catch the eye is a beautiful rosewood foregrip above the reel seat.
It's a signature piece of the rod obviously, but it gives the rod a stylish appeal and feel while holding the rod and fishing. The rod is 6-foot, 8-inches long and features 10 American Tackle Ringlock guides with Nanolite inserts for reduced weight and durability with heavy line like braid. The guides actually can hold more glue which keeps guide inserts from every popping out.
The rod incorporates a high modulus BSTI-9 blank wrapped with high-grade cork that is extremely light and well balanced. They stylish wraps around the guides, split handle but and hook hanger add to the overall aesthetics of the rod.
But how a rod looks and feels really isn't all that great. I've held plenty of rods that felt and looked good but fished more like the paddle I used to get spanked with than a quality fishing rod.
With all these features, the feature that impressed me the most was the action of the rod. It's got a tip with a lot of action but enough backbone to set the hook on a long distance cast. You feel like you can really fling a small jerkbait effortlessly with a simple roll cast because the rod loads so nice with the taper built into it.
I paired a Revo STX with rod and also a Lew's SS1H for testing purposes and both reels felt great on the rod. The balance was good on both combos but I really loved how you could cast the bait with one hand around docks and objects. That will make it really nice when casting topwaters to visible targets like laydowns, docks, and grasslines, where accuracy is everything and you don't have to stay way off the fish.
The rod is shorter than most of the rods I fish, but I still felt like I could grab the split grip and get a good fulcrum to snap cast with two hands. I was able to cast a small Lucky Craft Pointer 78DD SP well, and the Spro McRip rocketed out on two handed casts on the rod. I felt like it was a good go between rod for long two handed casts and also short underhand roll casts to close targets.
But the action on the cast was not the only great part of the taper and action built into the rod. While jerking the jerkbait and pausing, I felt it was not too long where I had to worry about slapping the boat or the water with a hard downward jerk of the rod. I could feel the bait pulse well in the rod as I ripped it. And I could feel the subtle wobble on a slow pull.
The rod is extremely well balanced, and Denali got the action perfect for jerkbaiting from the cast to the retrieve. I fished 8 and 10-pound monofilament for the tests, but the high-quality guides will work great with fluorocarbon and braid alike.
We really liked the simple ring hook hanger near the rosewood foregrip on the backside of the rod. We didn't have any line wrapping issues on the hook hanger like is evident with several rods these days that employ open hook hangers on rods in which you impart action to the lure. It's a small wire that is tucked out of the way but is strong enough to hold a bait in place without worrying about it popping loose.
The rod retails for $179. That makes it a middle of the road purchase for most of us. But I've talked to several anglers who've been fishing with the rod more than a year and said it still performs like new without any chipping of guides or tip replacements or dried cork. If that all holds true than consider us fans of the new Denali Rosewood line of rods. We're currently testing a Jadewood crankbait rod and a couple from the Rosewood Matrix Series
. We eventually hope to get our hands on the Noirwood series as well.
We like that Denali offers a low cost rod, a medium priced rod and a top-tier rod in their lineups. We are extremely pleased with the obvious attention they paid to the actions in their rods. It's evident each rod was designed with a specific bait and purpose in mind and not just making an action and then trying to make it fit an application after the fact.
For more information on the Denali rods, visit denalirods.com
. To purchase the rods, check out tacklewarehouse.com