2007 Buyer's Guide: Rods

Updated: November 29, 2006, 1:38 PM ET
By Steve Price | BASSMASTER Magazine, Dec. 2006
For most anglers, the innovations in new bass rods showcased each year at the national ICAST tackle show are difficult if not impossible to see. Rods have become so light that decreases in weight from one year to the next can hardly be felt anymore, and the different advantages offered by various guide styles is lost on all but the most discriminating fishermen.

This year, however, one feature seemed more apparent than in the past. It's a design basically known as the "split handle." In essence, the traditional cork or EVA foam ends a few inches below the reel seat then re-appears at the tip of the butt. In between is pure uncovered rod blank. This style has not been overly popular because it hasn't been promoted well and also because it breaks the long-accepted tradition of the full rod handle, but distinct advantages include decreased weight and yes, more sensitivity, and it won't change your fishing style at all. This is a feature you can expect to see more of in the future.

Other innovations are more difficult to see. Because of a shortage of graphite in China (which ships graphite to Japan or other locations where rods are actually made), some companies have reverted back to U.S. graphite, which is a better quality even though it's more expensive. Titanium has become more popular as rod makers learn how to better integrate it into graphite, and other rod builders like Airrus, which won the Best in Show Award for the fourth time in the last five years, have turned to different types of glass to enhance its graphite.