To say I’m picky about my fishing rods would be an understatement. Although I won the first few tournaments of my life years ago on a two-piece spinning rod, that same fishing rod caused me a lot of heartache and missed opportunities. I finally got fed up with it and started spending a lot of time researching and testing various rods so I could find the most favorable options that match my style of fishing.
After years of experimentation, I’m convinced that if you want to maximize your success on the water, you need to have a fishing rod that’s up for the task. That doesn’t mean it needs to be expensive—just well designed.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of fishing with the new Quantum Smoke Casting Rod. I first laid eyes on this rod during ICAST this past year and I’m not going to lie, I was pretty giddy about getting my hands on it. I’ve been using the 7-foot, 4-inch heavy-action model and have really enjoyed it for pitching both Texas rigs and jigs alike.
Here’s what I think you need to know about it.
- Great backbone
- Line weight indicator
- Smart features
It has some backbone to it
When you’re flipping and pitching, you don’t want a fishing rod that feels like a wet noodle. I’ve tried it and it’s not fun. You might be able to sling some skip casts into some pretty creative places, but getting a fish out is a whole different story. Your rod needs to have a fair amount of power in order to yank ol’ big from the thick stuff.
The Quantum Smoke Casting Rod has really impressed me with its power and backbone. I’ve been flipping a bunch of deep docks with this rod and, if I’m remembering correctly, I’ve only had one fish wrap me up and break me off. And to be honest, it may have been my fault for running my mouth to my buddy instead of paying attention to my jig.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I first rigged this rod. It’s really lightweight and, as you probably know, “lightweight” and “powerful” are rarely synonymous in regards to fishing rods. It felt great in my hands, but I was anxious to see how it would pull a 4-pound bass from under a brush-covered dock.
The rod feels great while you’re fishing. It’s ergonomic, well-balanced and very comfortable to use for an entire day. When you get a bite, feel free to unleash every bit of pent-up anger or frustration you may be harboring on the hookset because from what I’ve seen, it can certainly handle it. When you’re at the top of your hookset, you won’t hear any cracking, creaking or popping whatsoever. It handles aggressive hooksets and strong, boat-side runs flawlessly and truly makes you feel like you’re in control throughout the entire fight.
I was actually using this rod to skip a jig under some docks the week before I left for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic and I made one of those boneheaded casts we all make—I probably hit every piece of wood on the dock with my jig. I was picking out a nice backlash when, out of nowhere, a 4-pounder started swimming with my jig. By the time I caught up to her, she was wrapped up around a dock post and I thought I missed my opportunity. But I just kept pressure on her with the Quantum Smoke and wrenched her out like nothing even happened. In my opinion, that says a lot about the power of this rod.
Heavy-action rods aren’t necessarily known for their versatility. There are only a handful of applicable techniques for ‘em. Fortunately, however, I’ve found that this particular rod is a great choice for both light Texas rigs and jigs.
The tip of the Quantum Smoke Casting Rod is fairly light for a heavy-action rod. I didn’t know how to feel about it at first, but as it turns out, it makes skip casts much easier than your traditional “broom stick” rods and also allows you to alter your lure weight with very little change in your casting accuracy.
It happens to all of us at some point—we get into a groove skipping a 1/2-ounce jig and when we switch to a 3/8-ounce jig, our casting ability just divebombs. I haven’t really had that problem so far with this rod. Its soft tip has proven to be fairly forgiving, making quick weight adjustments less of a hassle.
These qualities also make it a good Texas rig rod as well. Many folks use much lighter weights on Texas rigs than jigs, making it necessary to use a totally different rod for each technique. If you’re a budget-minded angler, you’ll be able to appreciate the versatility of this rod. If you need to switch between a light Texas rig and a jig, you can use this rod for both.
Line weight indicator
This is the first thing that caught my eye when I first saw this rod. And I’d be lying if I didn’t have one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments. You’ll notice a small dial on the end of the rod butt that you can adjust in order to indicate which pound test is on your particular setup.
The you can adjust the dial anywhere from 6 to 65-pound test, which is actually very convenient if you’re someone who owns a lot of rods. I’ve gotten a lot of use out of this feature, especially during tournaments and guide trips. When the fish throw me for a loop and I need to change my approach, I can open my rod locker and know exactly what type of line is rigged on this rod. No guesswork, labels or rod bands necessary.
The dial doesn’t get in your way when you’re fishing and it doesn’t add any weight to the butt-end of the rod. I don’t even notice it’s there until I need it.
Smart features for a rod under $150
For a rod priced under $150, the Quantum Smoke Casting Rod has some great features that are found on many of my more expensive rods. I’ll give you a quick breakdown of the most noteworthy features.
- Semi-micro guides— The guides on this rod are small enough to allow for great casting accuracy, but not too small as to wreck any leader knots you may use. They’re durable, too. I’ve accidentally stepped on ‘em and dropped ‘em onto concrete when loading my boat early in the morning and they’ve help up excellently. The aluminum oxide inserts also seem to hold up well to braided line.
- Hook keeper— I don’t really like a hook keeper on the top-side of a casting rod. I like to skip jigs—a lot—and I never want any slack line coming from my reel to snag on the hook keeper. When this happens, your line frays and the entire keeper can snap like a twig. This hook keeper, however, is located on the underside of the rod beneath the foregrip, which is totally out of the way when you’re fishing.
- EVA grips— I’ve always felt that EVA grips give me a bit more control over my rod, especially when my hands are wet or covered in fish slime. The EVA grips on the Quantum Smoke Casting Rod are quite comfortable and allow me to have a solid grip when I’m pitching and flipping.
If you fish a lot with jigs and Texas rigs, I’d certainly recommend checking out the Quantum Smoke Casting Rod. It’s priced at $139.99 and in my opinion, performs and feels like a much more expensive fishing rod.
They’re available at TackleWarehouse.com and other Quantum dealers.