After 15 years of testing, reviewing and even helping design tackle, not much “blows me away” so to speak. We see a lot of new ideas every year, but many are just someone else’s version of someone else’s idea. But we occasionally run into companies and folks who really try to do things different and better and try to separate themselves from the knock offs.
We love to see enthusiasm in new companies and that is best shown in how they design fishing tackle and how their tackle is introduced. A new company to the fishing industry will be making noise we feel over the course of the next couple of years. 13 Fishing is a new brand that takes laid back and cool and mixes it with highly functional and original design concepts to make interesting products that we think anglers will love.
We spoke at length with Matt Baldwin, who heads up marketing for 13 Fishing, and he ran us through some of the features of their rods at ICAST, so we had to get one to test. I’ve spent the last 3 months testing the medium-heavy 7-foot, 1-inch Envy Black rod. 13 Fishing launched this, their flagship rod line, at ICAST, and it hit store shelves literally this week. So we figured it was time to give our two cents on the rods.
Cosmetically the rods definitely have a cool factor. The grips are not only uniquely shaped with a great combination of EVA and cork but they also conform beautifully to your hand. We love the intricate detailing and forethought on the grips themselves. They incorporated a unique through blank design on the side because when you hold a rod, your finger tips are on the side of the grip. Most manufacturers expose the blank underneath where you touch the rod blank with the back of a finger joint. I don’t know about you, but when I touch something to see what it feels like, I touch it with the pad of my finger tip. That’s where you touch a 13 Fishing Envy Black rod blank as well.
The reason they have unique grips, foregrip nuts, handles, rod butts and cosmetics is because they build everything. They not only build the grip and the butt, but the plan is to build everything from tip to butt. The first generation of the Envy Black Rods have REC Black Pearl Recoil guides on them. But the next generation will have a proprietary guide system to go with their proprietary grips, rod butts, foregrip nuts, triggers, reel seats, etc.
Many manufacturers make the blanks or the grips but then add several other companies’ guides, reel seats and more. That’s why many rods on the market look alike. 13 Fishing wants to be known for their design and manufacturing. So much so that they also make their own hats and apparel. They make their own ice fishing equipment. They make their own kids rods. They don’t outsource to other companies. They just design and build their own. We like that because that will give them a lot of flexibility to keep designing original and functional products.
Back to the rods, they build with action in mind it appears. The medium-heavy action rod had a lot of backbone, but I was pleasantly surprised at how the tip loaded and enabled me to place baits in tight corners either on a roll cast, skip, pitch or bombing cast. They aren’t building broom sticks. The rods were light, felt great in a hand, and had enough oomph to drive a hook and swing 3-pound bass easily into the boat.
The Japanese 40-Ton Toray blanks they use are thin but powerful. I like that because they can design rods that look good, feel good and react fast and accurately whether it’s placing a small bait in a tiny opening or rapidly firing casts to a target and burning baits for reaction strikes.
I fished mono, fluorocarbon and braid with three different reels on the rod. I tested it while frog fishing, pitching, throwing deep diving crankbaits, big worms, football jigs and more. The rod has a lot of tip action, so it made fishing a frog a lot of fun but didn’t feel too noodly that I couldn’t snatch a bass up out of the grass.
I’ve been known to break a rod or two in my testing because I try to put a lot of force on a rod to make sure an angler will get his money worth on an investment. Good rods are made to last for many years and I can honestly say I’d have no problem reloading my sticks with 13 Fishing Envy Black rods. I plan to get a few more actions because I’ve been so happy with the rods thus far.
They are currently available at TackleWarehouse.com and will be in other retailers very soon. The rods range from $225 to $260 depending on length and action. But for the quality of the components, the sensitivity of the blanks and the uniqueness of the rods, we’d call the price point very fair.
We’re currently reviewing their Ambition line of rods for kids and the Omen Black rods for anglers on a tighter budget. The mantra for 13 Fishing is “Make your own Luck!” We like that philosophy in fishing because we base consistent catches on skill, planning and adapting, not luck. We demand dependable equipment to achieve consistent success on the water.