First Look: Ark Sniper Casting Rod

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Very rarely do I got wowed with a new fishing rod. It seems about every week a new entry into the rod building market jumps on board with re-invented buzz words, hi-tech gizmos and a song and dance that would put a carnival barker to shame. The word “revolutionary” is so overused that nothing is really revolutionary anymore. 

The Ark Sniper Casting Rod, however, has really impressed me this season. It’s made by a new rod company that teamed up with Randall Tharp to create a high-performance rod that could be offered at a reasonable price point. 

I’ve been testing the 7-foot, 3-inch magnum medium-heavy model with both jigs and boot-tail swimbaits. Several of its features have vaulted this rod into my everyday lineup. 

Here’s what you need to know about it.

Custom feel

I find the best rod builders and bait designers have a “cottage” feel meaning they build their products like they are building them for themselves for their own use. 

They build passion into each rod and the little details like cosmetics, weight, balance and guide placement are critical and “good enough” is not part of the process. Being able to not only feeling the difference but seeing the difference in the finished product equates to a stronger following. Ark Rods sees the technique as a finite process. 

It makes the cast, the hookset and the experience better as a result

Balance and taper


Due to decades of experience, I know a good one when I see it. With that being said, I have been completely set back by the new Ark Sniper Casting Rod. It’s quite obvious someone who fishes had a hand in their build. 

Balance and taper are what differentiates action and feel and the Ark Sniper Casting Rod delivers both power on the hookset and rhythm with the cast. 

Throughout my testing, this rod has loaded wonderfully with a 1/2 or 3/4-ounce jig and has enough backbone to wrench fish out of heavy cover, too.  There is something very special about that first cast or that first hook set that sets this rod apart.

Thin handles and carbon fiber fore grip


We have seen in baseball and golf that thin-diameter handles allow for better wrist action and a more natural motion when swinging them. Why not see the same thing in fishing rods? 

This rod’s EVA handle is much thinner than many others in my collection. In addition to a more ergonomic feel during long days on the water, I feel like this design gives it a much more balanced feel whether I’m roll casting, flipping or pitching.

I’m admittedly old-school in most of my preferences, so I’ve always liked cork grips. But these slip-proof EVA foam grips have really grown on me thus far. They’re comfortable, but most importantly they allow me to keep a solid grip on the rod after handling fish. I can unhook a bass and immediately keep casting, without constantly wiping my hands on my clothes.


The Fuji ACS reel seat blends well with both small and large hands and the carbon fiber fore grip not only looks classy, but also adds sensitivity when I’m fishing bottom-contact baits. I’ve been able to feel very slight changes in bottom composition and even those subtle bites for which lethargic, summertime bass are known.

The grip blends well into the Japanese Toray High Modulus Carbon-Fiber Blank and the Nano technology adds both lightness and feel to this rod.

Specialized microguides made of stainless steel are tangle free and have ultra-thin Zirconium rings.

Powerful and light


I’ve had no problems getting fish out of the thick stuff while testing this rod. They’ve been buried in thick laydowns and vegetation lately and I’ve felt completely in-control of each and every fight. You can move the fish quickly on the initial hookset and the backbone quickly transfers into a beautifully tapered tip that absorbs strong runs excellently.

Due to the power of this rod, dramatic hooksets haven’t really been necessary for me. I’ve been able to catch a bunch of bass without sore wrists, ribs or shoulders. 

Final impressions

I can absolutely see the Ark Sniper making a stir this year. If you’re in the market for a rod in that $199 price range, don’t sleep on this one. It has some very attractive features that make for an outstanding fishing experience. 

The Ark Sniper Casting Rod is available at