The Ark Catalyzer Series Casting Rod is the best rod I have ever personally used for the money. At $59.99, this is a great rod for the up-and-coming angler that wants to level up his or her bass fishing gear. If you’ve been chucking small baits with a Zebco or your confidence has only carried you so far as a spinning rod up to this point, this is the perfect next step for the price.
But what you’ll find even more surprising than the price is the quality. Though this rod has an entry-level price point, it’s one that will likely hold its own in your arsenal for a very long time. Let’s take a look at what all Ark packed into their lineup of Catalyzer rods.
CATALYZER AVAILABLE IN 3 SIZES
The Catalyzer Series is made up of three different rod size and strength combinations. There’s the 7-foot medium heavy, the 7-foot, 2-inch heavy and the 7-foot, 3-inch medium heavy. With these three rods, the bass angler can fish 90% of the baitcasting techniques out there. (There’s also a 7-foot medium action spinning rod in the Catalyzer lineup).
I spent my time testing the 7-foot, 2-inch heavy action casting rod. It’s a solid option for flipping, pitching and frogging. The 7- foot medium heavy action rod would be a better all-around size, giving you a serviceable option for everything from a shakyhead to a squarebill. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and jigs would work well on the 7-footer too. But if you move into more cover or deeper water with these same baits, the 7-foot, 3-inch rod is a better option, with a little more power and length to set the hook and fight the fish.
GREAT VALUE IN FISHING RODS
If Ark offered the Catalyzer in more sizes, they would have really done themselves a disservice. I’ve been testing several of their products simultaneously the last 6 months, and while I can certainly tell the difference between this rod and their high-end Reinforcer series, the ratio of price to the ratio of quality is vastly different. You could buy about five of the Catalyzers for the price of one of the Reinforcers, and this rod is far more than 20% as good as the Reinforcer.
What the Reinforcer and other offerings from Ark do have over the the Catalyzer is more options in size and power. But still, I can’t help but return to the price of $60. To have three quality rod options that cover the majority of the spectrum for baitcasting presentations, that’s impressive. Let’s look more at the quality.
FEATURES OF ARK CATALYZER RODS
The Catalyzer is a touch on the heavy side, as compared to a lot of higher end rods. This is understandable as there had to a little bit of a drop-off somewhere between this rod and those that cost twice to five times as much. But even then the difference in weight is negligible, as this rod is still far lighter than most others that I’ve used coming in at or below the $100 mark.
The EVA foam grips, the stainless steel guides, the custom reel seat and the reinforced hook keeper are as high in quality and durability as the components you’ll find on almost any other rod on the market.
- 36-Ton high modulus graphite
- Stainless Steel Guides
- High-density EVA grips
- Custom reel seat
- Reinforced hook keeper
- Limited 90-Day Warranty
PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH ARK CATALYZER RODS
I went with the 7’2” heavy Catalyzer for testing and spent most of my time fishing a frog on this rod. It’s an ideal rod for frogging in most situations, with the exception of heavy mat frogging which would require a near 8-foot extra-heavy rod.
But for all other frogging, this rod is long enough and strong enough to wrestle big ones out of fairly thick cover, while still being short, light and soft enough at the tip for accurate little roll casts and back casts as well as precise skipping of baits around and under docks and bushes. Really a top notch frogging rod if you’re looking for a rod you can dedicate to that bait type and rely on under pressure. But again, numerous baits would work well on one of the three sizes in the Ark Catalyzer Series.
I’ve been pleased with the overall durability and performance of this rod. The EVA foam grips are comfortable, as is the reel seat. I like the open bait keeper for a rod like this. Since the Catalyzer would work well with lots of weedless-rigged soft plastics, an open hook keeper like this allows you to store your bait without pulling the hook out of the plastic each time. And the guides are a good size, especially for braided line like the 40-pound Sufix 832 I used while testing this rod.
The Ark Catalyzer Series Bait Casting Rod is a solid option at a ridiculously good price. And that makes it an easy recommendation for me to make to any angler looking to enter the bait casting world or even to a veteran just looking to add another workhorse to the stable.