There are probably more than a hundred rod brands out there now. You can certainly compile a list reaching into the hundreds when you take into consideration all those brands' different lineups of rods and all the custom rod builders who push even more product into an already flooded market. With rods available from less than $50 to over $500, there's a lot to choose from and the choice can be daunting.
Today, I get the opportunity to review a rod that I've used extensively for almost four years now, the Fitzgerald Vursa Series. I have put these rods through the wringer and have been extremely pleased with them over the years. The Vursa Series hosts a great lineup of rods at a fantastic price point. Let's get into that now.
In my opinion, Fitzgerald Fishing takes a big hit on these rods selling them for $129. Having used a lot of different rods over the years, I would place this rod in the class of a $180 to $200 range rod. But I've always assumed the price point of the Vursa Series was more strategic than profit-oriented.
At the time this lineup of rods was introduced, Fitzgerald Fishing had gained a foothold with avid power-fishing bass anglers primarily through building custom rods one at a time. They had already introduced a couple quality lines of mass-produced rods, partnering with none other than world-renowned hammer Bryan Thrift for one series of those rods as well. And those additional lineups were helping the company gain momentum but they still needed one that would be extremely affordable to help them get their brand in the hands of exponentially more people for the first time.
Though there's no way they could have brought on the mass scale other larger companies do to drive their prices down, Fitzgerald still brought this rod to market at a competitive price point for a whole new demographic. Taking the hit on the front end has paid dividends as their company has exploded onto the national scene over the last few years.
Durable and innovative
A good price point only gets a product into a consumer's hands once; a quality product makes them come back and Fitzgerald Fishing certainly built a quality product here. These rods are built to last and perform. The American Tackle Company Microwave Guide System incorporated in both the baitcasting and spinning rod lineups of the the Vursa Series is both innovative and stands up to the test of time.
The Microwave System gives you all the benefits of a smaller guide, while raising the guide off the rod blank to cut down on interaction between your line and the rod itself, all the while still gradually bringing the line off the reel at a better angle to meet the rod. This, in turn, creates smoother, longer and more accurate casts.
The American Tackle guides are also insert free, trading in the traditional ceramic insert for a metal one that is far superior. You no longer have to worry about a ceramic insert breaking or falling out of your guides or chipping and cutting your line. The guides also have a single foot design, something else I've had trouble with in the past on other rods. Inevitably I'll step on a rod guide or bend one taking it in and out of the rod locker or truck. When I did that with some other rod brands I've used in the past and tried to bend the single foot guide back, it would almost always snap off. In the near four years I've used the Vursa Series I have had zero guide issues.
As the name implies, the Vursa Series is a very versatile rod lineup. With 12 baitcaster options from a 6-foot, 8-inch medium heavy to a 7-foot, 8-inch medium heavy and 2 spinning options coming in at 6-foot, 10-inch medium heavy and 7-foot, 2-inch medium heavy, there are plenty of choices to fill out most of any angler's arsenal.
The Vursa Series makes up about 70% of my personal rod collection. The exceptions are rods that I add in from time to time to be reviewed at a later date for work and then a few specialty rods. The single rod model that I have the most of is a Vursa 7-foot medium heavy. I believe I have four of these at this point and that is because they are the most versatile of the bunch.
With the 7-foot medium heavy, I can throw a topwater, buzzbait, spinnerbait, squarebill, lipless crank, medium-diving crankbait, shaky head, Texas rig, Keitech and the list goes on. I love being able to have multiples of the same rod setup so that I can keep different baits rigged up or, on the rare occasion I'm on a really strong bite, I can have the same bait rigged on multiple rods. Having a rod like the Vursa 7-foot medium heavy that I can do so much with at half the cost of other rods of the same caliber allows me to do that.
I will make a note here, as for specialty rods, I don't recommend the Vursa Series for things like big swimbaits and punching heavy mats. For those I actually use rods from Fitzgerald's Cranking Rod series and Flipping Rod series - the 7-foot, 10-inch Ledge Rod and 7-foot, 8-inch Big Jig and Heavy Mat Flippin' Rod respectively.
The little things
There are several little things I think Fitzgerald did right with the Vursa Series as well. For starters, the hook keeper is placed in a good location and multi-functional. Some rod makers put the hook keeper on the back of the rod, and some anglers prefer that. Personally, it always leads to me hanging a hook in the carpet and it catches my line whenever I'm hung and trying to pop a hook undone.
I also prefer the hook keepers like this where I can just put the bend of my hook in the bend of the keeper. Some anglers again prefer something different, where the hook keeper is more like an eye that they can run their hook points through. This hook keeper is wide enough to where both options are available.
The American Tackle Company reel seat also pairs with the rod blank and EVA foam handles nicely to create a comfortable and sensitive feel. I like to use low-profile reels and palm my reel with my left hand while fishing (I'm right handed). The whole setup in this area of the rod is dialed in perfectly for that. The same balance between comfort and sensitively is found with the American Tackle Company reel seat and accompanying accoutrement in the spinning setup as well.
I also like the split grip on all these rods. The rods are really light and balanced well to cut down on fatigue and all that comes down to cutting every corner possible when it comes to gravity. The split EVA foam grips and Microwave Guide System don't seem like they're eliminating that much weight alone, but by the time you add those two to the quality blank and other weight-conscious components throughout the rod, the total package feels a lot better than many other rods at this price range.
As you've probably guessed since I have bought several over the years, the Fitzgerald Vursa Series is an obvious buy in my opinion. A heck of a rod for $50 less than you should have to shell out, the $129 price point makes this rod a great buy. Versatile and well built with solid and innovative components form American Tackle Company, the Vursa Series can handle almost anything you can throw at it and do so with extreme efficiency. Kudos to Fitzgerald Fishing for their attention to detail and desire to sell a quality rod at a reasonable price.