What's New In Fishing Rods (2006)

Advances in materials and construction, plus a focus on building rods to do specific jobs,

are giving anglers new and better choices of gear. Here's what to look for this season.

The 2006 lineup of new fishing rods continues a trend seen for the past several years: Rods are getting lighter, stronger and more responsive, with better guides, reel seats and other components. In addition, more and more technique- and species-specific models are available to anglers. If casting crankbaits for largemouths is your favorite fishing method, you can buy a rod made especially for that purpose. There are new rods made particularly for catching crappie, smallmouths, muskies and other species. And you won't have to mortgage your house to buy one. Many of the new rods are inexpensive but extremely well made.

ALL STAR RODS

All Star's new Platinum Series rods feature an ultra-thin blank with a super-fast taper that delivers superb power and cast control. Each rod is constructed with All Star's high-modulus graphite. Features include lightweight, corrosion-resistant Fuji Alconite guides with black frames; lightweight graphite reel seats with cushioned stainless-steel hoods; premium cork handles; and a stainless-steel hook keeper.

All Star Platinum Series

Casting models feature SensaTouch (blank-through) reel seats for increased sensitivity. Platinum rods are available in nine casting, seven spinning and five inshore actions, all technique-specific. For example, the spinning rods come in styles ranging from Drop Shot and Wacky Worm to Topwater and Carolina Rig.

Also just out from All Star are the new Instinct Series rods, featuring multi-modulus graphite blanks in 10 casting and 10 spinning models, and the Team All Star Salmon/Steelhead Series, available in 12 styles (eight casting, four spinning). (www.allstarrods.com)

BERKLEY

Berkley has redesigned its popular Series One rods. Made of lightweight, ultra-sensitive IM7 graphite, these rods feature a black Multi-Bias Laminate Lay-Up construction. The design incorporates individually rolled multiple graphite patterns to maximize fiber alignment and reduce pattern overlap. This reduces the amount of graphite needed in each rod while improving strength characteristics, reducing rod weight and enhancing sensitivity.

Berkley Series One Spinning Rod

Rod guides are made of Hard Chromium SS304, which is as hard as aluminum oxide but 20 times tougher and up to 55 percent lighter. Series One rods also have a precision lock-down calibrated reel seat that securely controls tension. The reel seat is also soft-touch-coated to provide a softer, more tactile surface. (www.berkley-fishing.com)

DAIWA

Back when they were still in production (almost nine years ago), Daiwa's classic Team Daiwa-S Bass Rods were easily identified by their distinctive grip's shape and greenish cast. The legendary "green handle" is back for 2006, with 10 casting rods in the series. These range from a 6-foot medium-heavy model to a 7-foot, 6-inch heavy-action rod. Buyers can choose blank materials that they like best, from high-modulus HSD graphite, the ultimate for sensitivity and hook-driving power, to the soft, highly elastic action of fiberglass, perfect for fishing reaction baits.

Daiwa-S Bass Rods

Features include Fuji aluminum oxide guides, a contoured Softouch reel seat, a cork grip that fits the natural curve of your hand for greater comfort, and an exposed-blank handle for maximum sensitivity. (www.daiwa.com)

Fenwick Techna AV Series

FENWICK

Fenwick has redesigned its popular Flippin' Stik, part of the Techna AV Series. The rod now features traditional high-performance Fuji guides and reel seats. The Techna AV features state-of-the-art Aramid Veil blank technology that is extremely lightweight and sensitive. Also featured are Fuji Alconite ring guides with S-4 stainless-steel frames that are 35 percent lighter and up to 50 percent stronger than ordinary guides.

Based on a custom design by pro bass angler Larry Nixon, the Flippin' Stik features a shorter handle on a 7-foot, 9-inch one-piece telescopic rod, perfect for flipping into those hard-to-reach areas where big bass lurk. (www.fenwickfishing.com)

G. Loomis Pro Blue Saltwater Series

G. LOOMIS

G. Loomis has introduced four new rod series for 2006. The company's new Salmon Rods are designed with actions specifically tailored for salmon-fishing techniques. Fourteen models are available: five mooching/trolling rods, two plug rods, two in-line spinner rods, two back-bounce rods, one for the unique Pacific Northwest hovering technique, and two multi-purpose spinning rods for bank anglers, especially on salmon rivers.

GLX bass spinning rods are designed with GLX technology and feature REC Recoil guides, making these some of the lightest bass rods in G. Loomis' lineup. This series includes a 6-foot, 10-inch Bronzeback smallmouth rod for finesse baits, and a 6-foot, 10-inch drop-shot rod.

Also new are two GLX walleye spinning rods, one for jigging (6-foot, 2 inch) and one for rigging (7-foot).

The saltwater angler isn't left out, either. G. Loomis' new Pro Blue saltwater series includes six stand-up rods with lightweight graphite blanks: the PBR843S spinning; the PBR843C casting; the PBR844S spinning and PRB844S casting (7-footers); the 6-foot, 6-inch PBR785C casting; and the 8-foot PBR963S spinn

ing rod. (www.gloomis.com)

LAMIGLAS

Lamiglas' new XMG Bass Series rods were designed specifically with high-stakes tournament anglers in mind. Each is constructed with XMG 50, Lamiglas' newest super-graphite, which offers the ability to construct extremely small-diameter blanks while retaining fast actions and power. Blank weight is minimal -- as well as wind-resistant -- in casting, while sensitivity and power are at a maximum.

Lamiglas XMG Bass Series

Additional features include guides with Titan titanium frames with Nanolite rings, graphite handles, and Comfort Finish reel seats. The series includes 11 models, five casting and six spinning, in lengths from 6 feet, 6 inches to 7 feet, 2 inches. (www.lamiglas.com)

PFLUEGER

Light-tackle enthusiasts get a hand up with Pflueger's new Microspin Rods. Lightweight, hypersensitive and well-balanced actions leave little room for improvement in this series, with 10 application-specific ultralight and light models from 4 feet, 6 inches to 10 feet. Features include IM-7 graphite construction, lightweight guides with stainless-steel inserts, graphite reel seats with stainless-steel cushioned hoods, stainless-steel hook keeper and blank-through-handle construction for added strength and sensitivity.

Pflueger's Microspin Rods

Comfortable premium-grade cork grips come on all models except the 8- and 10-footers with EVA grips. (www.pfluegerfishing.com)

ST. CROIX

St. Croix has put together an impressive introductory lineup of 16 new fly rods in the Reign series, designed to appeal to a broad angling audience, from savvy veterans to fly-fishing newcomers. Reign fly rods feature premium SCII graphite blanks with moderate-fast action for easy casting; uplocking, anodized aluminum reel seats (including a rosewood insert on 4-, 5- and 6-weight models); premium-grade cork grips; aluminum-oxide stripper guides; and hard chrome snake guides.

St. Croix Reign Series

Also new is the value-priced Triumph series of casting and spinning rods. These rods feature premium-quality SCII graphite; finely tuned actions and tapers for superior performance; hard aluminum-oxide guides with black frames; Fuji DPS reel seat/frosted silver hoods on spinning models; Fuji ECS reel seat/frosted silver hoods on casting models; and a premium-grade cork handle. (www.stcroixrods.com)

QUANTUM

Serious slab anglers will be doing a quick little two-step to get their hands on Quantum's new Xtralite Todd Huckabee Crappie Rods. Designed by professional crappie angler Todd Huckabee, each of the four rods in the series is made for a specific crappie fishing technique: dipping cover, spider rigging or pulling. So don't be thinking short rods with slow actions. These rods feature durable graphite blanks for exceptional sensitivity, super-ultralight tips for light baits, good backbone in all the right places, graphite reel seats, quality line guides and plenty of rod length, ranging from 9 feet to 11 feet. The rods are two-piece.

New for bass anglers are Quantum's Tour Edition PT Signature Series Rods. For years, Quantum has quietly built customized rods for its top touring pros. Each is designed to perfectly match an individual's favorite fishing style or "go to" technique. Now the rods are being made available to the fishing public.

Quantum Xtralite Todd Huckabee Crappie Rod

Also new from Quantum are 11 Xtralite XP rods, all spinning, ranging in size and action from 5-foot ultralight to 7-foot medium-light.

For the more budget-minded angler, there are new Xtralite XT spinning rods. They, too, feature graphite blanks. There are six XT models, ranging in length from 4 feet to 6 feet, 6 inches, all in ultralight actions. (www.quantumfishing.com)

SHAKESPEARE

As usual, Shakespeare has come out with a variety of rods for the new year. Top on the list is the Agility Rod Series, with a whopping 38 spinning and casting models ranging from a 4 feet, 6 inches to 10 feet, 6 inches. Designed for both freshwater and saltwater angling, the rods in this series will handle virtually any species, technique or fishery across the country. All have lightweight, sensitive 96 percent IM-8 graphite blanks and stainless-steel guides with titanium inserts. The downrigger model features a graphite reel seat with cushioned, stainless-steel hood and EVA grips. Inshore and muskie-specific actions are available, too.

Shakespeare Agility Rod Series

Also new for 2006 is Shakespeare's Powerod Series of saltwater rods, which includes 16 models of re-inforced tubular glass rods (10 spinning, four casting and two downrigger actions) to handle a huge assortment of applications. Powerods come in a range of sizes and actions from a 6-foot, 6-inch to 14-foot.

Finally, Shakespeare's tough-as-nails Ugly Stik Tiger Rod series gets some additions -- six Tiger Lite rods (three conventional and three spinning) designed for jetty- and plug-fishing. All have Howald Process Triple-built blanks with added graphite for lighter weight. (www.shakespeare-fishing.com)

SHIMANO

Shimano's Compre Rods have been totally redesigned for 2006. The series now offers 43 spinning and 12 casting rods with IM-8 graphite blanks, plus four crankbait and six walleye trolling rods with TC4 Construction. Compre rods feature New Concept Fuji Hardloy guides. Some baitcasting and spinning models have a Fuji Exposed Blank reel seat for direct finger t

ouch on the rod blank. Three new models have also been added to the existing series of Compre muskie rods, including the two-piece 7-foot CPC-M70H2; the 7-foot, 6-inch M76XH; and the 8-foot M80XH.

Shimano Compre Rod

Shimano has expanded its saltwater rod line as well. The new Calcutta inshore series -- in lengths, power ratings and actions for specific coastal fishing situations -- offers 18 casting, eight spinning and five jig/bait models. Each features Shimano's new TC4 K Construction to provide lightweight and sensitive yet high-strength blanks. (www.shimano.com)

SNAG PROOF

For more than 40 years, Snag Proof has been in the business of making fishing lures. The company is well-known for its line of soft-plastic topwater frog baits. Now Snag Proof has entered the rod market as well, with a new pair of -- what else? -- Frog Rods. The two rods, made of durable, sensitive, high-modulus, high-strain graphite, were designed in cooperation with BASS Pro Mark Rizk and are made by UltraStrike 2IG, a division of Bass Medic. Each has high-quality components such as titanium carbide guides, premium Portuguese cork handles, and a no-mark protective finish.

The 7-foot, 2-inch Frog Stick offers power for hauling big bass out of grass, yet it's light enough to fish with all day. The 6-foot, 10-inch Swimming Rod offers a great mix of power and fishability for walking a frog in sparse cover. (www.snagproof.com)

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