When it comes to bass fishing gear, my purchasing behavior is probably a lot like yours. If I have repeated positive experiences with a particular brand, I tend to stockpile gear from that manufacturer because I’ve gained a lot of confidence in it. I’ve done this quite a bit with my fishing rod collection; I have a lot of rods, but only a few brands. But I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to branch out a bit more lately and try some rods from other companies.
Case in point: Ark Rods.
I’ve heard some good things about them over the past few years, but never had an opportunity to actually fish with them. For the past several weeks, however, I’ve been using their new Lancer series on both large and small bodies of water. These rods are priced at just $89.95 and I’m telling you, they offer some legitimate value for anglers. Here’s exactly why I say that.
I’ve been testing the 7-foot, medium heavy-action Ark Rods Lancer. It’s designed with a graphite reel seat that allows you to have constant and direct contact with the blank throughout your entire retrieve. Whether you’re fishing a squarebill, spinnerbait or Texas rig, even the smallest changes in vibration or bottom composition are made evident.
The weightlessness of this rod is also very impressive, especially given the $89.95 price point. Many of the rods in this price range feel clunky and tip-heavy, but at the risk of sounding painfully cliché, this particular rod feels like an extension of your arm. It’s balanced wonderfully and if you like to pitch and flip shallow cover, I’m sure you will agree with my assessment within the first few casts. You won’t experience any of the wrist or shoulder fatigue that’s so common with poorly balanced rods.
If you’ll notice in this photo, the trigger is fairly blunt, which is something I’ve began looking for in my rods. When I’m fishing moving baits, I very rarely retrieve them without making erratic movements with my rod-hand. Over the course of a weekend, I’ve had a lot of these triggers rub my fingers raw, but the Ark Rods Lancer has proven to be incredibly comfortable.
One of the more unique design elements of this rod is the custom high-density EVA grip. It looks pretty awesome with the Ark Rods logo, but more importantly it gives you a solid grip, even with wet or slimy hands. It also seems to repel dirt and grime much better than traditional cork thus far.
Wrench on ’em
Durability issues have also been fairly common for me when testing rods in this price range. I’ve snapped my fair share on hooksets and there’s nothing that’ll ruin a day faster.
The Ark Rods Lancer has proven itself to be a true workhorse, however. On my first outing with this rod, I caught a 20-pound limit fishing laydowns and the bites were very subtle; I’d lift my Texas rig over a branch and feel the slightest “tick” and when I reeled down and set the hook, these bass would practically go insane. Not one time did I get wrapped up around the cover, though. The IM-8 Power Graphite blank made quick work of the fights and got ’em in the boat quickly.
When this rod is under a load, you won’t hear any of those worrisome “popping” or “cracking” sounds that you’ll sometimes hear when using inexpensive rods. It’s a solid stick and has quickly made its way to the front of my rotation.
The 7-foot, medium heavy-action model I’ve tested has turned into one of my more versatile setups. It’s excellent for spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, squarebills and Texas rigs. If you’re looking for a do-it-all rod and you’re on a tight budget, I have no hesitations recommending this rod to you.
When you’re using it for moving baits, the Lancer transmits vibrations very clearly throughout your retrieve. This means if they’re biting funny on a particular day, you’re able to detect when your bait does something “different”, which is often the key to getting those fish in the boat. When the vibration stops or the tension changes just the slightest bit, this rod will let you know.
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s also an excellent option for bottom-contact presentations. Bite detection is no problem and power leaves little to be desired.
Another one falls to the Lancer
This nice bass tried her hardest to get free, but this rod’s powerful backbone didn’t give her much of a say. I was able to stay totally in control of the fight at all times. By the way, it’s pretty tough to get a one-handed fish photo with a fishing rod!
The guides are holding up well
The coated stainless micro guide system allows for some really impressive casts. They’re not as small as other micro guides in my collection, but I actually kind of like that. I catch some of my biggest bass in the winter months and I think these guides will resist freezing a lot better than the smaller ones.
I’ve put these line guides through the wringer and they still remain largely unblemished. I’ve accidentally stepped on a few in my boat and banged ’em around in the bed of my truck and they seem to be holding their own without any issues.
I want to get some more Ark Rods, to be honest. This is certainly one of the more impressive budget-minded rods I’ve tested this year and if you were to blindfold me, I’d have a hard time telling the difference between it and a few of my $200 rods. It’s a legitimate choice for both tournament and recreational anglers; I really think you’re going to like this one.
For more information, visit ArkRods.com.