Tackle Reviews

Fenwick Elite Tech Smallmouth Spinning Rod

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My dad’s favorite rods for the longest time were these old Bass Pro rods called Mean Green Sticks. They had comfortable grips that wrapped around a large grip-sized blank that featured a sharp cone taper to them. He had a pile of them at one point that he used for everything from bass fishing to sea trout in Florida, Arkansas and other places we travelled and lived. There was nothing particularly special about the rods, but the shape was unique and at the time the green color was pretty unique.

Fast forward 25 years to now and there are rods offered in a rainbow of colors and various shapes and sizes. Now another green line of rods is trying to make a niche in the colorful and often overpopulated fishing tackle market.  The new line of Fenwick Elite Tech Smallmouth rods rounds out a nice line up of multi-species rods from the longtime rod maker.

The metallic green colors and tan hybrid cork with TAC inlay handles give it a stylish but natural look, but the looks aren’t nearly the best part of the rod. We decided to test the 6-foot, 9-inch medium power extra-fast action ESMS69M-XF spinning rod in several applications.

Features

The unique reel grip and handle stands out as the most noticeable asset on the rod. We quickly tried several different sizes and brands of reels on the reel seat. We started with an Abu Garcia Orra SX spinning reel, then a Pflueger President spinning reel and finally some of our old Shimano reels, more than 10 years old, just to see how several different models functioned on the rod.

The reel seat tightens easily upward on the rod. We like an upward tightening reel seat on a spinning rod. The reel seat features composite top and bottom caps wrapped in cork. The seat itself features an inlay of the TAC material that stays sticky and comfortable in any weather conditions and holds the reel snuggly in place. The material is lighter than cork with better grip characteristics.

The rod implements eight guides with Titanium frames with Zirconium inserts. That makes the guides strong while reducing rod weight. The guides look good on the rod and offer some flex before bending if accidentally compressed or stepped on. They seem very strong and casting was smooth and efficient on the rod event with baits down to 1/8 ounce with these guides.

The blank features high modulus graphite that offers a roughly 80-20 taper (80 percent backbone and 20 percent tip). The rod has a fast action but it’s not so fast that you can’t throw light baits, as it’s still just a medium power rod. The blank loads well under the weight of an average-sized bass. We didn’t catch any bass over the 4-pound mark on it, but it handled those bass without much effort. We even swung one fish around 3 ½ pounds on 8-pound line, however, we do not recommended it as a common practice with this rod. But we wanted to see what it could handle.

The length makes the rod perfect for a lot of different techniques. But we liked it for not only a good shaky head rod, but also a solid drop-shot rod and a great light crankbait rod.

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On the water performance

We started out testing it as a drop shot rod. It handles extremely well with light baits. The rod loads well and really launches a 1/4-ounce drop shot and worm. We tested it on open water, fishing for deep winter bass off a main river hump in 25 feet of water. The rod is sensitive enough to feel the 1/4-ounce weight ticking the bottom in that deep water as well as the light bite of several small fish. We caught yellow bass, and small bass and a few keepers deep on the drop shot. The rod loads well, sets a hook well on light line and fights the bass extremely well with the good backbone.

Next we took the rod up a little shallower to cast 1/8-ounce shaky heads with 6-inch Zoom Trick Worms. The rod will fire the small offering well and we were able to feel the bottom at the end of long casts with our 8-pound fluorocarbon line. We were also able to get good hooksets through the plastic of the worm on the small jigheads even with light line.

The final test we performed involved fishing Rapala Shad Raps on mid-depth banks. The rod cast the light finesse crankbait well, and we didn’t have any issues with wind knots because we were able to get a lot of velocity and whip cast the crankbait.

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