I’ve said it many times: I’m a little worried that parts of the fishing industry is getting too expensive for the average angler. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with expensive products, it’s also important to consider the less expensive options as well. I’m a big believer that the $99 price point is the “magic price” in regards to fishing rods. At this price point, manufacturers can still include nice features for better performance, without sacrificing fishability.
The Ark Viper casting rod is an excellent example of this. I’ve been using it for several months and don’t let its reasonable price tag fool you; it’s a great stick for anglers of all skill levels.
I’ll go through my favorite features so you can make a more informed purchasing decision.
It’s balanced very well
While I do own lighter rods than the Ark Viper, the balance they’ve incorporated into this design seems to make up for any lack of weightlessness. I’ve tested a lot of rods in this $99 price point and balance problems seems to be the most recurring issue I run into. A lot of them have been fairly tip-heavy, which can hurt your casting accuracy and cause undue fatigue after a long day on the water.
This rod, however, is one of the most well-balanced rods I’ve tested in the past year, regardless of price point. It’s not tip-heavy and it’s not butt-heavy, which makes it feel awesome in your hands. Whether you’re dragging a football jig or flipping and pitching to shallow cover, it feels fairly effortless. It’s not an awkward rod like some I’ve experienced; I can fish the entire day without any hand cramps or forearm fatigue, which can be tough to find at this price point.
It has some serious shoulders
I’ve been using the 7-foot, 6-inch medium heavy-action Viper and to put it plainly, you can flat-out cross their eyes with this rod. Even on a long cast with a Carolina rig or football jig, the responsive tip quickly transfers into a powerful backbone that makes insanely quick work of long-distance hooksets.
This model would also be a great choice for shallow-water anglers for applications such as flipping, pitching, swim jigs and bladed jigs. It has plenty of tip that allows for excellent bite detection and vibration transmission, but when it’s time to lay the wood to ’em, you can wrench ’em out of thick cover with about half the hook-setting power of some other rods I’ve used.
Sensitive when it matters
You’ll run across some rods that are sensitive, but not powerful and vice versa. It’s difficult for manufacturers to achieve a perfect balance between the two; that’s exactly why you hear of so many inexpensive rods breaking on the hookset.
Fortunately, I’ve found the Ark Viper to have a great blend of power and sensitivity. When I’m fishing bottom-contact baits with this rod, it’s quite easy to feel the slightest changes in bottom composition thanks to the blank-through reel seat. If you’re using moving baits, you’re able to detect small differences in vibration and pressure, which is often indicative of a lethargic bass bite.
That’s a big reason why I think this would be an excellent all-purpose rod for the average angler. You can rig up a squarebill, Chatterbait, big jig or a Carolina rig and you’re going to feel the bite and have the power to get ’em in the boat.
Zirconium inserts hold up well
This rod was designed with tangle-free micro guides and zirconium inserts. I’ve used this rod with several different line types, but I made sure to test it with braided line as well. These heavy braids can really mess up the inserts on less expensive rods; they’ll actually wear a groove in them and you’ll start noticing severe line damage over time.
These inserts have help up quite nicely throughout my testing. I even accidentally stepped on the line guides a few times and you can’t tell it happened. The tip is durable, too, which is a big deal in my opinion. Although I don’t recommend doing this, I’ve stabbed at several snagged fishing lures and haven’t had any issues with damaged tips.
In today’s world of neon-colored rods, I actually really like the fact that Ark Rods decided to keep the Viper’s aesthetics simple. In my opinion, being simple is a pretty bold thing to do these days. They’re not relying on looks to sell their rods, which is pretty darn cool.
It has some tasteful green inlays throughout the rod, but other than that, it’s black. Any reel would look sharp on this rod and personally speaking, I tend to lean more towards the traditional look when choosing rods and reels.
Available at Tackle Warehouse
If you’ve been shopping around for a new rod at the $99 price point, I’d certainly suggest taking a close look at this one. With 7 model options ranging from a 7-foot, medium-action to a 7-foot, 10-inch extra heavy-action, this lineup offers a quality and affordable rod for just about every technique imaginable.