It's long rod season, as the little bit of yellowtail
that has been around has been plenty enough reason
to bring a jig stick, like the Harnell 724 that Mikey
Schmidt is casting below, on a three-quarter day trip to the
Coronados or a half-day that is going to be up off La Jolla.
In my Tackle Room column in WON this week I go over 10 of my favorite jig sticks. Here's a look at the introduction, and three of the 10.
My first real jig stick was a Calstar 530, the mustard colored glass blank that nobody ever buys any more. It had some god-awful green and something wraps that my long-lost buddy Chuck Chon had put on.
My first yellowtail on the surface iron didn’t count. I snagged it right in the tail with a bare aluminum Tady 45. It was the ultimate high and ultimate low. The getting stopped was an incredible rush, but seeing it was snagged was the ultimate buzz kill. Chon laughed in my face.
Then I wrapped my first rod, a Calstar 6480L. There were some yellows on kelps in April when I first brought it out on the Producer. Chris Randel was running the boat and we picked some yellows off a kelp first thing in the morning. The action had died down and there were no fish going, so I grabbed my new rod and threw a Tady 45 down swell. I never really expected to get bit, but when what was maybe a 12-pound yellowtail blew up on my jig and Justin Hemmerling let out a scream from the bait tank, I suddenly knew what all the fuss was about: nothing rivals that rush of getting bit on the surface iron.
I bought a Calstar 540 and a 100J (the only two 10-foot Calstars at the time) and took every opportunity to fish with Ray Sobiek’s Harnells when I started working on his Producer that next summer. The long rod collection started to grow how rod collections grow — a rod here, a rod there, a trade there, a “dude-I’m-broke” call from a buddy who was sitting on a goldmine of classic long rods and tricked out Penns — and eventually a nice little quiver of long rods came to be. Then somehow I started writing a tackle column and every thing new started coming across the desk.
My long rod collection has grown to 18 rods. These days there are a few that come out most every trip and there’s always a reel on them in the garage. But going to the long rod rack and picking out an older rod to go along with the graphite composite stuff is most always part of the program. Put a gun to my head and say I can pick a long rod or two, and I’d go for nostalgia and that classic glass load up over modern day function that comes with the composites.
So what’s “the one?” Every jig stick has unique qualities, its own personality, really, and it’s impossible to say what is the best, because there is no end-all, be-all to what the best is. It’s that classic: the best jig stick is the one that casts the best, for you.
With that said, here are 10 sentences on my 10 favorites. While not in numerical order, the fact that some came to mind first certainly bears some weight.
THE 10-FOOT CONLON: Blank number unknown, if it’s actually a Conlon unknown (could be a Fenwick), my first Point Loma buddy, Dylan Reed, gave me the blank after he got a quiver of them at Day at the Docks in 1993 — it bends to the handle and it throws all jigs from an A1 to a 7X really good; but what I like the most about it is that one of my favorite guys to fish with gave it to me, and every time I bring it out it reminds me of fishing with Reed when we were in our teens. It also reminds me that old glass rods are unique , especially the ...
HARNELL 724: The ultimate in old school, parabolic jig sticks, nothing loads up and throws a Tady 45, Salas 7X or Candy Bar like a Harnell, but it’s a tricky jig stick to throw for anglers who do not have a lot of surface iron experience (read: a Harnell does not make a guy a great jig fisherman, a great caster brings out the best in a Harnell).
CUI 120, CUT DOWN TO 10-4: Rick Marin at H&M Landing found ’em, Danny Wade said I had to try one, and my rod wrapper Robby Cohn took the 12-foot blank, cut it down to 10 feet, 4 inches with a number 12 tip and the most Harnell like, non-Harnell (read: casting is effortless and it throws a 7X and a 45 like no other) was born.
Check out the other seven in the column this week.